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A Way to Get Every Last Drop of Ketchup

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We all know the drill: You go to brush your teeth and, upon reaching for the toothpaste tube, notice it's nearly empty. But some part of you knows there’s enough in there for at least one more brush. You squeeze from the bottom of the tube, desperately hoping just one little drop of Crest will emerge.

Or how about this one: You sit down to a hot plate of french fries only to find that, by the time you’ve hit the ketchup bottle hard enough to produce enough of the condiment to coat about three fries, they’ve gone cold. How much time wasted? How much food wasted?! The struggle is real, and it’s a surprise no one has done anything about it until now. 

Enter LiquiGlide, the brainchild of MIT dropout David Smith. He heard our distress calls and has answered them with a super-slippery coating that makes any viscous material—from toothpaste to peanut butter to wood glue—flow easily from a bottle. No more desperate tube-squeezing or violent bottle-shaking. Watch: 

The LiquiGlide coating serves as a slippery buffer between a surface and a liquid material. Smith and LiquiGlide’s president, Carsten Boers, describe the stuff as a “structured liquid” that is “rigid like a solid, but it’s lubricated like a liquid.” It can be sprayed on a surface to make it permanently wet.

But if we’re going to be putting this magical material in our ketchup bottles, can we be sure it’s safe to consume? Smith and Boers are secretive about the exact formula for LiquiGlide (“we’ve patented the hell out of it”), but say it's odorless, tasteless, and made of non-toxic FDA-approved materials. “The materials we use for the food coatings are actual food,” Boers told Fast Company

This week, the company announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Elmer’s Products Inc., the makers of every preschool kid’s favorite craft adhesive. “We certainly see a chance for a competitive advantage,” Anthony Spath, associate manager for innovation and business development at Elmer’s, told The New York Times

Here’s LiquiGlide at work on a bottle of glue: 

“They actually sell more product—as the consumer always dispenses a full dosage, they actually empty the product quicker than without the coating,” Boers said. “It's an exceptional win-win: the consumer gets the product out easier and the brand sells more.” 

LiquiGlide’s goal, aside from making all our lives a little bit easier, is to reduce waste. They estimate they could save roughly one million tons of food from being thrown away each year if every sauce bottle were equipped with a layer of LiquiGlide’s coating. And the material has other potential applications, too, like preventing clogs in oil pipelines, keeping windshields crystal clear, and improving medical equipment. It can also do wonders for saving every last drop of paint in a bottle, and has licensed its technology to a packaging company in Australia with this idea in mind. 

The exclusive deal with Elmer’s will likely be temporary to keep with LiquiGlide’s goal of reducing waste on a large scale. A LiquiGlide-treated mayonnaise bottle and a toothpaste tube could be on the market by 2017, and Smith says he expects his slippery invention “to be ubiquitous” in a few years.

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environment
Environmental Pollution Is Deadlier Than Smoking, War, AIDS or Hunger, Experts Find
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In 1970, Congress pushed forward the Clean Air Act, which took aggressive steps to monitor and control pollutants in the environment via federal regulations. Over the years, people living in the United States have been exposed to considerably fewer contaminants such as lead and carbon monoxide.

But as a new study in the Lancet medical journal points out, pollution continues to be a global crisis, and one that might carry a far more devastating mortality rate than previously believed. Analyzing the complete picture of contaminated regions around the globe, study authors believe pollution killed 9 million people in 2015—more than smoking, AIDS, war, or deaths from hunger.

The study’s authors aggregated premature deaths on a global basis that were attributable to pollution, singling out certain regions that continue to struggle with high concentrations of toxic materials. In India, one in four premature deaths (2.5 million) was related to environmental contamination. In China, 1.8 million people died due to illnesses connected to poor air quality.

A lack of regulatory oversight in these areas is largely to blame. Dirty fossil fuels, crop burning, and burning garbage plague India; industrial growth in other locations often leads to pollution that isn’t being monitored or controlled. Roughly 92 percent of deaths as a result of poor environmental conditions are in low- or middle-income countries [PDF].

The study also notes that the 9 million estimate is conservative and likely to rise as new methods of connecting pollution-related illness with mortality in a given area are discovered. It’s hoped that increased awareness of the problem and highlighting the economic benefits of a healthier population (lower health care costs, for one) will encourage governments to take proactive measures.

[h/t Phys.org]

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This Just In
Pablo Neruda's Death Wasn't Caused by Cancer, Experts Conclude
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Pablo Neruda—whose real name was Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto—died on September 23, 1973, less than two years after he was awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. The official cause of death was recorded as cancer cachexia, or wasting syndrome, from prostate cancer. But while Neruda did have cancer, new tests on his remains indicate that the left-leaning Chilean politician and poet didn’t actually succumb to the disease, according to BBC News.

It’s still unclear what, exactly, caused Neruda’s demise. But in a recent press conference, a team of 16 international experts announced that they were "100 percent convinced" that the author's death certificate "does not reflect the reality of the death,” as quoted by the BBC.

Neruda died in 1973 at the age of 69, less than two weeks after a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet ousted the Marxist government of President Salvador Allende. Neruda, a Communist, was a former diplomat and senator, and a friend of the deposed politician.

In 2011, Manuel Araya, Neruda’s chauffeur, claimed that the poet had told him that Pinochet’s men had injected poison into his stomach as he was hospitalized during his final days, Nature reports. The Communist Party of Chile filed a criminal lawsuit, and Neruda’s remains were exhumed in 2013 and later reburied in 2016, according to the BBC.

Many of Neruda’s relatives and friends were reportedly skeptical of Araya’s account, as was the Pablo Neruda Foundation, according to The New York Times. But after samples of Neruda’s remains were analyzed by forensic genetics laboratories in four nations, Chile’s government acknowledged that it was “highly probable” that his official cause of death was incorrect.

And now, the team of scientists has unanimously ruled out cachexia as having caused Neruda’s death. “There was no indication of cachexia,” said Dr. Niels Morling, a forensic medical expert from the University of Copenhagen, as quoted by The Guardian. Neruda “was an obese man at the time of death. All other circumstances in his last phase of life pointed to some kind of infection.”

The investigating team says that their analysis yielded what might be lab-cultivated bacteria, although it could have also originated from the burial site or been produced during the body's decomposition process. Test results will be available within a year, they say.

[h/t BBC News]

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