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What can you feed your dog on Mars?

The students at the Barboza Space Center are learning about the chemistry of food.

People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

Our Animal Poison Control Center experts have put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

Avocado
Avocado is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants including sheep and goats. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds.  Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Citrus
The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset.

Coconut and Coconut Oil
When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.

Grapes and Raisins
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.

Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk and Dairy
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Nuts
Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.

Onions, Garlic, Chives
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.

Xylitol
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).

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Creative Ideas from Students to help Puerto Rico

We are asking students, teachers and others to send their creative ideas and STEM & STEAM++ projects to help Puerto Rico keep their lights on and their water clean enough to drink.   We invited you to visit our new website and see what we have so far.

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Do what you can to keep the conversations and solutions for Puerto Rico going.

http://www.KidsTalkRadioPuertoRico.WordPress.com

How can you help?

Bob Barboza

Barboza Space Center, Kids Talk Radio Science

Suprschool@aol.com

 

*STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages.


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Should I study chemistry?

Chong Liu one-ups plant photosynthesis

New system generates clean energy on the small scale

BY
1:48PM, OCTOBER 4, 2017
Chong Liu

SOLAR STAR Chong Liu, an inorganic chemist at UCLA, has pioneered new approaches to artificial photosynthesis that combine bacteria and inorganic materials.

Chong Liu, 30
Inorganic chemist
UCLA

SN 10 - full list of scientists

For Chong Liu, asking a scientific question is something like placing a bet: You throw all your energy into tackling a big and challenging problem with no guarantee of a reward. As a student, he bet that he could create a contraption that photosynthesizes like a leaf on a tree — but better. For the now 30-year-old chemist, the gamble is paying off.“He opened up a new field,” says Peidong Yang, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley who was Liu’s Ph.D. adviser. Liu was among the first to combine bacteria with metals or other inorganic materials to replicate the energy-generating chemical reactions of photosynthesis, Yang says. Liu’s approach to artificial photosynthesis may one day be especially useful in places without extensive energy infrastructure.

Liu first became interested in chemistry during high school, and majored in the subject at Fudan University in Shanghai. He recalls feeling frustrated in school when he would ask questions and be told that the answer was beyond the scope of what he needed to know. Research was a chance to seek out answers on his own. And the problem of artificial photosynthesis seemed like something substantial to throw himself into — challenging enough “so [I] wouldn’t be jobless in 10 or 15 years,” he jokes.

Photosynthesis is a simple but powerful process: Sunlight helps transform carbon dioxide and water into chemical energy stored in the chemical bonds of sugar molecules. But in nature, the process isn’t particularly efficient, converting just 1 percent of solar energy into chemical energy. Liu thought he could do better with a hybrid system.

Story continues below graphic

Fake it

artificial leaf diagram
CHONG LIU, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Artificial “leaves” designed by Chong Liu and colleagues collect solar energy to generate electric current. The current splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, and bacteria in the water transform carbon dioxide and hydrogen into fuels or other useful chemicals.

The efficiency of natural photosynthesis is limited by light-absorbing pigments in plants or bacteria, he says. People have designed materials that absorb light far more efficiently. But when it comes to transforming that light energy into fuel, bacteria shine.

“By taking a hybrid approach, you leverage what each side is better at,” says Dick Co, managing director of the Solar Fuels Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Liu’s early inspiration was an Apollo-era attempt at a life-support system for manned space missions. The idea was to use inorganic materials with specialized bacteria to turn astronauts’ exhaled carbon dioxide into food. But early attempts never went anywhere.

“The efficiency was terribly low, way worse than you’d expect from plants,” Liu says. And the bacteria kept dying — probably because other parts of the system were producing molecules that were toxic to the bacteria.

As a graduate student, Liu decided to use his understanding of inorganic chemistry to build a system that would work alongside the bacteria, not against them. He first designed a system that uses nanowires coated with bacteria. The nanowires collect sunlight, much like the light-absorbing layer on a solar panel, and the bacteria use the energy from that sunlight to carry out chemical reactions that turn carbon dioxide into a liquid fuel such as isopropanol.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Harvard University chemist Daniel Nocera, Liu collaborated on a different approach. Nocera had been working on a “bionic leaf” in which solar panels provide the energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Then, Ralstonia eutropha bacteria consume the hydrogen gas and pull in carbon dioxide from the air. The microbes are genetically engineered to transform the ingredients into isopropanol or another liquid fuel. But the project faced many of the same problems as other bacteria-based artificial photosynthesis attempts: low efficiency and lots of dead bacteria.

Bottled up

The bionic leaf doesn’t resemble something you’d find on a tree. Here, wires carry electric current into bottles filled with water and microbes. The electricity splits the water molecules, and then microbes transform the resulting hydrogen into fuel.

bionic leaf setup
ALINA CHAN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

“Chong figured out how to make the system extremely efficient,” Nocera says. “He invented biocompatible catalysts” that jump-start the chemical reactions inside the system without killing off the fuel-generating bacteria. That advance required sifting through countless scientific papers for clues to how different materials might interact with the bacteria, and then testing many different options in the lab. In the end, Liu replaced the original system’s problem catalysts — which made a microbe-killing, highly reactive type of oxygen molecule — with cobalt-phosphorus, which didn’t bother the bacteria.

Chong is “very skilled and open-minded,” Nocera says. “His ability to integrate different fields was a big asset.”

The team published the results in Science in 2016, reporting that the device was about 10 times as efficient as plants at removing carbon dioxide from the air. With 1 kilowatt-hour of energy powering the system, Liu calculated, it could recycle all the carbon dioxide in more than 85,000 liters of air into other molecules that could be turned into fuel. Using different bacteria but the same overall setup, the researchers later turned nitrogen gas into ammonia for fertilizer, which could offer a more sustainable approach to the energy-guzzling method used for fertilizer production today.

Soil bacteria carry out similar reactions, turning atmospheric nitrogen into forms that are usable by plants. Now at UCLA, Liu is launching his own lab to study the way the inorganic components of soil influence bacteria’s ability to run these and other important chemical reactions. He wants to understand the relationship between soil and microbes — not as crazy a leap as it seems, he says. The stuff you might dig out of your garden is, like his approach to artificial photosynthesis, “inorganic materials plus biological stuff,” he says. “It’s a mixture.”

Liu is ready to place a new bet — this time on re-creating the reactions in soil the same way he’s mimicked the reactions in a leaf.

Citations

C. Liu et al. A fully integrated nanosystem of semiconductor nanowires for direct solar water splitting. Nano Letters. Vol. 13, May 6, 2013, p. 2989. doi: 10.1021/nl401615t.

C. Liu et al. Nanowire-bacteria hybrids for unassisted solar carbon dioxide fixation to value-added chemicals. Nano Letters. Vol. 15, April 7, 2015. doi:10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01254.

C. Liu et al. Water splitting-biosynthetic system with CO2 reduction efficiencies exceeding photosynthesis. Science. Vol. 352, June 3, 2016. P. 1210. doi:10.1126/science.aaf5039.

C. Liu et al. Ambient nitrogen reduction cycle using a hybrid inorganic-biological system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. May 2, 2017. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706371114.


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Calling On Students From Around the World to Help Puerto Rico

Kids Talk Radio Science Helping Puerto Rico

We are calling on students from around the world to help other students in Puerto Rico.  We are looking for your creative ideas to make drinking water safe to drink.  We are looking to use solar energy to to create light and to charge cell phones.

What other ideas do you have?

Visit the new Puerto Rico Website today and you will see what we are starting to do to help fellow students on the island.

www.KidsTalkRadioPuertoRico.WordPress.com

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