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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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There May Be an Ancient Reason Why Your Dog Eats Poop
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Dogs aren't known for their picky taste in food, but some pups go beyond the normal trash hunting and start rooting around in poop, whether it be their own or a friend's. Just why dogs exhibit this behavior is a scientific mystery. Only some dogs do it, and researchers aren't quite sure where the impulse comes from. But if your dog is a poop eater, it's nearly impossible to steer them away from their favorite feces.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, spotted by The Washington Post, presents a new theory for what scientists call "canine conspecific coprophagy," or dogs eating dog poop.

In online surveys about domestic dogs' poop-eating habits completed by thousands of pet owners, the researchers found no link between eating poop and a dog's sex, house training, compulsive behavior, or the style of mothering they received as puppies. However, they did find one common link between the poop eaters. Most tended to eat only poop that was less than two days old. According to their data, 85 percent of poop-eaters only go for the fresh stuff.

That timeline is important because it tracks with the lifespan of parasites. And this led the researchers to the following hypothesis: that eating poop is a holdover behavior from domestic dogs' ancestors, who may have had a decent reason to tuck into their friends' poop.

Since their poop has a high chance of containing intestinal parasites, wolves poop far from their dens. But if a sick wolf doesn't quite make it out of the den in time, they might do their business too close to home. A healthier wolf might eat this poop, but the parasite eggs wouldn't have hatched within the first day or two of the feces being dropped. Thus, the healthy wolf would carry the risk of infection away from the den, depositing the eggs they had consumed away in their own, subsequent bowel movements at an appropriate distance before the eggs had the chance to hatch into larvae and transmit the parasite to the pack.

Domestic dogs may just be enacting this behavior instinctively—only for them, there isn't as much danger of them picking up a parasite at home. However, the theory isn't foolproof. The surveys also found that so-called "greedy eaters" were more likely to eat feces than dogs who aren't quite so intense about food. So yes, it could still be about a poop-loving palate.

But really, it's much more pleasant to think about the behavior as a parasite-protection measure than our best pals foraging for a delicious fecal snack. 

[h/t The Washington Post]

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The Prehistoric Bacteria That Helped Create Our Cells Billions of Years Ago
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We owe the existence of our cells—the very building blocks of life—to a chance relationship between bacteria that occurred more than 2 billion years ago. Flash back to Bio 101, and you might remember that humans, plants, and animals have complex eukaryotic cells, with nucleus-bound DNA, instead of single-celled prokaryotic cells. These contain specialized organelles such as the mitochondria—the cell’s powerhouse—and the chloroplast, which converts sunlight into sugar in plants.

Mitochondria and chloroplasts both look and behave a lot like bacteria, and they also share similar genes. This isn’t a coincidence: Scientists believe these specialized cell subunits are descendants of free-living prehistoric bacteria that somehow merged together to form one. Over time, they became part of our basic biological units—and you can learn how by watching PBS Eons’s latest video below.

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