Stories tagged 100

Aug
28
2007

Money makeover: New high-tech threads will be put into U.S. $100 bills that will allow you to test if its real. Little lenses in the threads will make it appear as if Ben Franklin moves when you move the bill.
Money makeover: New high-tech threads will be put into U.S. $100 bills that will allow you to test if its real. Little lenses in the threads will make it appear as if Ben Franklin moves when you move the bill.
Maybe I’m ready to move on to one of MSNBC’s money shows, but here’s more news about science, technology and our money.

The $100 bill will be getting a makeover soon, with special threads being put into the paper that will give it some pretty funky high-tech effects. All of this is to make it harder of counterfeiters to be able to pass off their efforts as real money.

Here’s what’s going to happen to Ben Franklin and the $100 bill. The new threads have tiny lenses built into them – so small that there will be about 650,000 lenses in a single bill. What will they do? When you move the bill from side to side, it will appear that Ben Franklin is moving up or down. Move the bill up and down, and will appear that Ben Franklin is moving from side to side.

This process is already being used in some Swedish high denomination currencies. You should be able to see the new effects in the $100 bill by late next year, when the high-tech bills will go into circulation. Other changes for the $100 include a variety of colors used in the printing of the bills, much like recent changes to $10s, $20s and $50s. Ben Franklin’s face will be getting a little bit of a makeover, as well, on the new bills.

Recently, I posted some other information about possible changes in store for our coins. You can read about that here.

And of course, if you’re tired of the old-fashioned $100 bills we have in circulation right now, I’ll gladly take them off your hands.

May
27
2007

Rachel Carson, inspiration for the modern environmental movement: Photo from US Fish & Wildlife Service
Rachel Carson, inspiration for the modern environmental movement: Photo from US Fish & Wildlife Service

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rachel Carson, whom many credit as the inspiration for the modern environmental movement. Her 1962 book Silent Spring warned the world of the dangers of environmental degradation, especially due to the overuse of chemical pesticides. The book stirred millions of people worldwide to take action. In the United States, we saw the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency – all the result of the movement Carson inspired.

Today, our air and water are cleaner thanks to these actions, and dangerous chemicals are more closely regulated. But some people are re-evaluating Carson’s legacy, especially with regards to the pesticide DDT. Carson explained how insects absorbed the poisonous chemical. Birds which ate enough insects often died themselves, or would have trouble hatching eggs. Carson promoted restricting the use of DDT.

However, some of her followers went further, pushing for a total ban of DDT in many countries. Unfortunately, DDT is extremely effective at killing mosquitoes that spread malaria – a disease that kills some one million people each year. Responsible, limited use of DDT could save millions of lives.

(Science Buzz has discussed malaria here and here,and the possible effects of preventative measures such as mosquito nets, drugs, and genetic engineering.)

Carson’s legacy reminds us not only of the importance of protecting our environment, but also that one person can have a tremendous impact. It also reminds us that even the best ideas can have unintended consequences, and any major changes need to be undertaken in a balanced, rational and flexible manner.

May
25
2007

Plastic is a ball: Look how far plastic technology has come. We wouldn't have these cool balls without its invention 100 years ago. (Photo by Liethwalker)
Plastic is a ball: Look how far plastic technology has come. We wouldn't have these cool balls without its invention 100 years ago. (Photo by Liethwalker)
Benjamin Braddock, Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film “The Graduate,” should have listened to that sage piece of advice…that the wave of the future was plastics.

It’s proven to be quite a resilient substance. This year marks 100th anniversary of the creation of the plastic. Can you think of a day in your life that plastic hasn’t played some important part of?

Inventor of the process of making plastic – Leo Baekeland – created the process of developing phenol-formaldehyde polymer resin in 1907. The new material found new uses over the quickly as rayon, cellophane, PVC and polyethylene, to name just a few.

Sticking around: New and new uses are being found for plastic, even in its 100th year. These hay bales in Ireland are wrapped in plastic to keep the moisture out. (Photo by bigeoino)
Sticking around: New and new uses are being found for plastic, even in its 100th year. These hay bales in Ireland are wrapped in plastic to keep the moisture out. (Photo by bigeoino)
And it’s probably going to be around for a while longer. New coming uses for plastic, things that are still in the development stages, include plastic hemoglobin-like material that can be used in human blood and airplane parts that can change shape depending on the weather and air conditions that a plane is flying through.

With all that development, however, there are still some big challenges. Only about 10 percent of all plastic is recycled, which means a growing supply of plastic wastes that have to be dealt with in a reasonable fashion.

So if you’re looking for a reason to have a party, why not celebrate plastic’s 100th birthday!