Looking at all the recycling bins on curbsides these days you’d think the manufacture of new plastic must be dwindling. Not so-increases in production of virgin plastic packaging outpace the gains in plastic recycling by an order of magnitude. One reason is the difficulty recyclers have in separating various kinds of plastic; if they’re mixed, the whole batch is useless. But researchers at SpectraCode of West Lafayette, Ind., have invented a point-and-shoot device that could solve the problem.
The system shoots a laser beam at the plastic, then analyzes the light reflected from the surface. The distribution of wavelengths serves as a “molecular fingerprint “identifying the type of plastic. The device can distinguish most kinds of plastic in 10 microseconds, which when automated could mean 500 tons of plastic per day in a typical recycling operation. The system’s utility goes beyond plastic: Researcher Ed Grant has used it to distinguish between various kinds of flours and sugars.
Five poems about the mind
Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution
As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.
I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.
We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.
Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?
The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.
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