Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is an invasive herb in the carrot family which was originally brought to North America from Asia and has since become established in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Northwest regions of the United States. Giant hogweed grows along streams and rivers and in fields, forests, yards and roadsides, and a giant hogweed plant can reach 14 feet or more in height with compound leaves up to 5 feet in width.
Giant Hogweed sap contains toxic chemicals known as Furanocoumarins. When these chemicals come into contact with the skin and are exposed to sunlight, they cause a condition called Phytophotodermatitis, a reddening of the skin often followed by severe blistering and burns. These injuries can last for several months, and even after they have subsided the affected areas of skin can remain sensitive to light for years. Furanocoumarins are also carcinogenic and teratogenic, meaning they can cause cancer and birth defects. The sap can also cause temporary (or even permanent) blindness if introduced into the eyes.
If someone comes into physical contact with Giant Hogweed, the following steps should be taken:
Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and COLD water as soon as possible.
Keep the exposed area away from sunlight for 48 hours.
If Hogweed sap gets into the eyes, rinse them with water and wear sunglasses.
See a doctor if any sign of reaction sets in.
If a reaction occurs, the early application of topical steroids may lessen the severity of the reaction and ease the discomfort. The affected area of skin may remain sensitive to sunlight for a few years, so applying sun block and keeping the affected area shielded from the sun whenever possible are sensible precautions
PLEASE, DO NOT JUST READ AND SCROLL! THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT AND POTENTIALLY LIFE-SAVING INFORMATION!!!
Extra note: if you live in Oregon, New Jersey, Michigan or New York and see one of these, call your state’s department of agriculture to report it, and trained professionals will come kill it before it can produce seeds and spread.
Frankly, if you see one in general, probably call your DOA and see if there’s a program in place.
Do not burn it, because the smoke will give you the same reaction.
If for some ungodly reason there isn’t a professional who can handle it for you (and please, please use a professional), the DOA of New York has [this guide] for how to deal with it yourself.
Earth’s upper atmosphere—below freezing, nearly without oxygen, flooded by UV radiation—is no place to live. But last winter, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that billions of bacteria actually thrive up there.
Expecting only a smattering of microorganisms, the researchers flew six miles above Earth’s surface in a NASA jet plane. There, they pumped outside air through a filter to collect particles.
Back on the ground, they tallied the organisms, and the count was staggering: 20 percent of what they had assumed to be just dust or other particles was alive. Earth, it seems, is surrounded by a bubble of bacteria.
“Whatever your beliefs, most people would agree that the body left behind when we depart this mortal coil is just a heap of bones and flesh. But what happens to those leftovers? Assuming that nature is left to its own devices, our bodies undergo a fairly standard process of decomposition that can take anywhere from two weeks to two years.”
Written & narrated by Mark Fischetti Assistant editor: Kathryn Free Produced, edited & animated by Eric R. Olson
Research Yields Better, Greener Polyester from Cork
On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you’d be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out how to extract a natural, waterproof, antibacterial version of the former from the latter. Their new technique, which could have applications in medical devices, appears in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules.
The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers, including the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
The study showed that forests growing in fertile soils, with ample nutrients, are able to sequester about 30 percent of the carbon that they take up during photosynthesis. In contrast, forests growing in nutrient-poor soils may retain only 6 percent of that carbon. The rest is returned to the atmosphere as respiration.
This miniature ecosystem has been thriving in an almost completely isolated state for more than forty years. It has been watered just once in that time.
The original single spiderwort plant has grown and multiplied, putting out seedlings. As it has access to light, it continues to photosynthesize. The water builds up on the inside of the bottle and then rains back down on the plants in a miniature version of the water cycle.
As leaves die, they fall off and rot at the bottom producing the carbon dioxide and nutrients required for more plants to grow.