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Everyday Objects Roundup

October 1, 2013

Discarded compact discs could be used to treat wastewater.



Stopping sewage with CDs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Arun Kulshreshtha/ Wikipedia)

As more and more people store music as sound files, they’re tossing out their compact disks. But those billions of unwanted disks may find a new use: cleaning up sewage. Researchers from National Taiwan University report that they have a method for coating CDs with zinc oxide nanorods, tiny hairlike structures that break down organic compounds in the presence of light. The researchers spin the coated disks underneath UV lights as wastewater drips onto them. They say the systems are more effective than conventional techniques, and there’s no shortage of unwanted CDs to use in them.

In other news, seismologists in Italy report that iPhones make good seismometers, thanks to the phones’ motion sensing devices. Data collected from millions of phones could provide valuable information on earthquakes larger than magnitude 5. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.