46 - Plastic


Each Listener Support W. NYC Studios hello welcome to sideshow Tangents Lightly Competitive Knowledge Showcase starring some of the geniuses. Dan Uses the Victory Youtube series sideshow happened. This week is always. I'm joined by Steph and welcome how you doing bud. I'm all right What's your tag on? Oh I'm real busy like a be buzz buzz. I Dunno at the great so minister Sam. I'm show is also here good they might go. What's your favorite Marsupial? There's only like four of them that marsupial mammals smaller kangaroo kind of bigger longer and then a bunch of wallabies all counts Zina's possum as a Marsupial yeah with the one. We got that one my favorite. I like that I like them. They're cute. I think I liked it. They're cute and then really scary yeah on the sides of their mouth. What's your tigon roast beef? You eefje like sorry Riley's also here. I am how're you doing okay. I'm wearing a vacation. It's time for vacation. Sarah Buckle up kids ooh would start and I'm hank green and my tagline is one hundred per Saleh gator every week here on Sochaux tangents to get together to try to one up amazing delayed each other with the facts about science playing for glory and we're also keeping scar an awarding wording Hank Bucks from a week to week so we do what we can to stay on topic but the podcast is called tangents and if you're tangent is deemed unworthy will force you to give up one of your Hank Bucks and as always choice. We're going to introduce this week's topic with additional science poem this week it's from me long organic polymers of high molecular weight massive chains ends of Atoms twisty curved or straight sometimes created from fossil fuels sometimes from agriculture. It's a useful and convenient part of our disposable culture. We use it every day of course as Barbie said life in plastic is fantastic as long as we're not dead yeah yeah wife plastic is dead. I added Aloe Yeah because you know plastics do have their downsides and I don't want them to I don't know I feel like we worry a lot about politics like the oceans clogged with plastic. I'm like ooh. It's there but small yeah. It's a big ocean. There are bad bad areas so it's fine but it's not like Texas sized island of plastic. Which is the impression I get some time? I thought there was a thought there was no will then what what are we worried about. I mean there is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is it's micro-plastics mostly yeah you like incised area where there's a slightly higher concentration of rancor plastic in the water yeah or you know we could sit. It's it's you know how much higher than you would like right right but he kept like walk on. It was just a rubber ducky is on kinds of stuff just floating out there well. That's the other thing is that like the the classic in the ocean is mostly mostly fishing nets and that's also the most concerning piece of plastic designed to catch fish in it but we do have too much plastic does last forever and we should stop drinking out of disposable containers. I agree when people are so close to not doing that anymore and that's kind of relapsed to Williams what direction where we going where we stopped drinking soda or thinking taking more about like don't use plastic water bottles right now. It likes right out yeah. Nobody cares anymore except what's plastic career. He did a pretty good job to find it in the poem because it is a organic compound often along Polymer Jane Okay we got unpack some things here what's an organic compound so yeah so it's a carbon containing compound and they can be synthetic or semi synthetic so they can be made from just manmade manmade materials like chemicals or they can be made from like structural compounds that we find in nature and that we react with one another like says there any purely natural natural plastic like rubber from rubber trees. This is where the definition gets a little fuzzy for me because I'm not a material scientist sure it seems like rubber is not plastic. Okay Okay because plastics main property is plasticity so that it deforms irreversibly but rubbermaid property as elasticity which means that deforms on snaps back into its original shape rubbers can be mixed with plastics to form different compounds but they are too like ends of a material material science and now it's time for one of our panelists has prepared three sides facts for us but only one of those facts this is true and the rest of us have to guess or no which one is the real fact and if we get it right we get the Hank Bucket if not Sarah gets the Hank Book Seri. It's time for you to try and fool US event. Semi synthetic plastics have been around for a while like how celluloid film can be traced back to the sugar polymers cellulose from plants if you can get a substance to pull him rise through through chemical reactions and have flexibility. You basically made a plastic so I guess I contradict myself already trek so which of these proteins was historically used to make a plastic elastic number one case in from milk to try and make a raceable whiteboards instead of black chalkboards okay gross to hemoglobin mclovin from animal blood to make jewelry beads that oxidized to be a deep red hue over time for three can Volkswagen from snake venom to make exceptionally strong but expensive plastics us in handguns for decoration and functionality. WHOA convulsing Yeah Yeah An X. C. O. N. B. U? L. X. who won something instinct definitely don't put that add inside of you then I've heard of the that protein in milk. The other stuff goes road white milk whiteboards also white makes me think it's alive live. That's misleading connections. That seems like one of those things where you're just trying to play on my like biases my psychological bias. I guess I'm not sure if the trick is is what it was made into or exists ochre hemoglobin turned it like it's just a very complicated protein hemoglobin. It seems like it would be a difficult thing to preliminary is as my my main concern with that one is it easier to plummer is simple things well. Most Palmer's are really simple. does hemoglobin have. Is that the part heart that has the iron yeah so hemoglobin is a complex of different proteins like four different proteins around the sort of iron containing part of again again there that seems like a lie because then it's like okay the hemoglobins the iron and you make a beat in it. oxidises like iron twinkling yeah I mean making snake venom into guns also feels best just weird. It must be true. It feels kind of like the same kinda lowered its white. It's a whiteboard. It's a snake and it's a gun is going to kill. You and it's still gonNA kill you. Okay okay. I see that it's it's it's it's blood like object to be. I'm leaning towards case and making White Ford's means. I think though I want 'cause I know case in is like a thing that they tried to make into stuff. I'm going to go with the snake venom one scoreless Nick Van. I'M GONNA go with my own gut. I'm not gonNA listen to these boneheads overtake. They knew the answer on sorry Stephan de and the Snake Venom one is just the one that I completely made up because snakes and if you can put venom into anything what would rich people oh by a fancy gun yeah did they try to make blood into stuff into products like plastic products so yeah there was a thing called Hima site it in eighteen eighty five which was apparently animal blood which they didn't have a use for mixed with Sawdust and then this article Cole in whatever old newspaper I found was not very specific. It said some chemicals they mushed together and really squeezed it to make it compact hacked and they would make the doorknobs out of it would make roller skating wheels out of what's called Hima Site H. E. M. C. I. T. It was like a tough material material. I don't think it would be considered a plastic necessarily on what no. I don't think I don't think it had a it was a polymer thing. It was just like very squished together would with blood what is a binder in in twenty eighteen. Apparently someone took one hundred percent cow's blood and also put it under a lot of pressure and dry it out and made into into some sort of compounds like people have turned into solid objects before nice. Can I do that can like Catherine and I make blood jams and where where the money is fingers Cheryl blood diamonds yes but milk plastics totally thing which is really weird to me. Yes weird polymerase a pro team yeah it was first created around eighteen ninety seven and patented in eighteen ninety nine when in a German materials scientist or printing press owner something like that it was developed as an alternative to blackboard boards they were like what can we do to make a whiteboard basic but it didn't end up being good for whiteboards but it was fairly easy to make as far as synthetic plastics go at the time it was easy to color whatever you want it ends up became a staple in like jewelry and other. It was basically anything you could think think of for a cheap plastic at the time people used it as that and it became popular when Coco Chanel I think used what is called Galilee with or case in plastic because the name of it in an ad like an clothing Adam people were like oh milk plastic is fashionable. Okay next up. We're going to take a short break and then it's time for the fact off hello and welcome back Hank Buck totals as for the episode thus far Sarah. You have one Sam you have one Stephan you have zero and I have to as I did so my comeback time well. I guess sure yeah come back because it's time for the fact off in which two of our panelists this week Stephan and Sam are going to present a mean sorry science facts in an attempt to blow our minds. Our minds are sturdy so you have to work Hong. We each have a hank buck toward the fact that we like the most but if we hate them both we can and throw them away and burn them in the fire and decide who goes first. We're going to go by WHO which one of you has the most credit cards on you right now ooh on. I don't carry all all of mine with me. I have a debit card. It's just loosen your fucking to live dangerous when you got three three is one of my debit card. It's five including debit card how guys five to debit cards and I have an Amazon Zahn card and Atari Card and a costco card. Oh I see you're loaded down with plag- guy that'll give me your fats. Do It so I think we've talked about before on the show. The different ways that bees are affected by the presence of humans like colony collapse disorder that kind of thing but some species of bees which I didn't know for a longtime are solitary so they don't have hives or make a bunch of honey and honeycomb and all that in those species each individual female has to construct its own nest and it seems like a lot of the time they like to find little long narrow tube holes to do that in yeah and some of these species are also leaf cutter bees have really strong like manuals that let them cut little sections of leaves out and then they bring those back to their tube in like line the walls and make a little nest and so in the last ten years what we've been seeing is that various leaf cutter bees are incorporating pieces of plastic into the nest construction okay instead of cutting out little bits of leaf. They'll cut out a bit of of like a plastic bag or something like that still like soft and thin pliable plastic but then they incorporate that into the lining their nests cells there was a two thousand nineteen report. That was the first time that they'd seen the entire nest constructed out of classic. They were even stealing little bits of polyurethane based sealants off of buildings links to like glue the latest together but we are yeah those from like material to like sealant like everything that they were using plastic based East and they don't really know if it's good or bad it could be a sign that like they're just really adaptable and like grabbing whatever's there right and they can make it work but it could mean that like the plants that they normally used for that sort of thing or not around as much they did say that it didn't seem like the best building material because they found found only three cells total in this one nest and one had a dead larva in it and one seemed to have worked fine and then the other one wasn't finished so not the best track record there also a pretty small sample but right yeah but in other papers they had noted that like they'd seen bees nesting in straws Nokia in that protected them them from parasites because they can't penetrate the straw within they also lose most of the larvae to mold because it can also get rid of moisture so kind of uh-huh. I just did not build a bee nest out of Boba teas straws had that thought you know in a pinch it might be able. I'M NOT GONNA speak for the B.'s. I'm not a representative of the alliance of Bees but yeah so that that's the fact is that they they had a one hundred percent plastic banana style. They found the bodies like the PLA like there's some bees who think they think that might be one. The possibilities to is that there's some reason they haven't figured out yet that the bees actually preferred using a plastic like this is great. It's super gets not rotting. It's like an ahead insurable and I can do a better seal with this stuff that I can would leave parasites. They also mentioned that they've seen like birds lining their nests with cigarette butts because it keeps parasites out but it probably isn't great for the eggs or yeah so yeah. I don't know I like it or not covered this. I need you to go interview. Bees go find them. I am the Steph and I speak for the hello. My name is Stephan. May I interest you boba teas. GotTa what Abo- Oh between Sam. What's your fact all right so in America in the eighteen sixties billiards was a big honking deal billiards but like caboodle in general I think any pool so there were thousands of pool halls across the country but America's foremost billiard ball manufacturer Falen and colander had a big problem billiard balls made out of ivory and the tables and other accessories that were made for billiard balls took into account like how ivory every moved how bounced how heavily was but ivory was incredibly expensive and they are running out of people who were rich enough to be able to afford a set of billiard balls they needed needed to come up with a cheaper solution fast so they offered ten thousand dollars in cash or two hundred thousand dollars in today money to anybody who could come up with an alternative to ivory every to use for these balls so John Wesley Hyatt who was a photo printer from Albany and his brother Isaiah heard about this competition and it just happened that John had had fairly recently acquired a patent from British inventor named Alexander Parks for a waterproofing agent that was made when parks realized that when a a certain kind of developing agent dried like a hard left behind thing he had a lot of this stuff sitting around dry so they started messing around with it and figured out how how to Hartnett and shape it and they made their own ivory free pool balls and they dubbed the thing that they were made out of celluloid their new balls had a few problems that prevented them from actually winning the contest so mainly was that they were kind of just really shitty the bounce right the infield right? Nobody who played pool like with them and the company would not give them the prize money for it but they still set up a pool supply company and they sold even worse versions of the balls that were just plaster. They had a thin layer. the stuff on there like you don't like our balls fine. We'll show you bad ball but it seems like a lot of people out West bought them but the lack of quality of the ball seems like a small issue compared with another problem which is at celluloid a super flammable so hall yeah when the balls would hit together too hard they would make a little explosion catching fire a huge explosion but like loud enough that they were getting letters from people out West I own bars who said did that win. This would happen the people in the bars all draw their guns eventually they pivoted celluloid into fo ivory products products in general like combs and buttons for close but they also had the same problem where if you were like in the sun too long and they got too high or something like that they will burst into flames what and then eventually of course they started using celluloid for movie film reels and now it also catch on fire fire and kill everybody in the theater or occasionally that would happen to but it was like good enough yeah so at the end of the day it was good enough that it was the first commercially really successful form of plastic and also probably kick started people trying to find forms of plastic that did not explode yeah this celluloid brothers today were they like commercially successful like when we started using celluloid film like they made money off of that I think cellular phone came him after them go because they couldn't find anything that linked their company to making that shirt but I- celluloid fashion products pretty successful and they roy combs and stuff that like when you have like a thing on your head a barack that just like you go outside for too long in your head catches on this is this is a bad thing and Did they feel bad. I don't see why anybody early human life yeah. It was the team pool. Supply Company was successful. Even they're making bad balls else making bad balls for way cheaper and people out West. They don't know they've never seen as an eye revolt. Yeah it's all brand new and they're like it's great because sometimes they go by my Powell uh-huh and then it bounces different when there's an explosion you know that's an introduction of new. If you really want the ball to move fast you've gotta hit an extra hard and then there's an explosion pool to answer more features to ten so we've got solitary bees constructing their nests entirely entirely of plastic sometimes but also more than sometimes partially out of plastic and we got Sam with exploded billiard balls from the eighteen sixties that were so bad no one would use them except that then they went on to be a commercially successful product that occasionally like help people I'm GonNa give my point my paint buck to Stephan because I didn't know about bees and plastics and even though we're slowly destroying the earth. I like to think that there are some species out there that could maybe adapt and so maybe they won't die of mold at some point in his very dry B.'s I'M GONNA give mine to Sam because I love weird science history and the all of the all of the stupid little directions we went on the way to getting to where we are now even if it did make your head catch on fire now I have the ask the science couch we've got a question to be read to us by Sam for our couch of finally hold scientific mind at s path seventy seventy three asks what exactly is corn plastic. I don't think the corn plastic is any one thing so you can you know once you got organic compounds. You can pull him reisman various ways but I think that there there's more than one way to turn corn into plastic molecules from corn into a polymer and sometimes uh-huh you do that with the intent for it to be it's easily by people are like Oh that must be easier to compost but like not if you don't have that as a goal right so it's sort of it depends on what you end up doing with it is the thing that like because we talked about cellulose to and like is it a property of sugars that because their sugars are made up of these like chains of things that that makes it easier to make into a plastic which is a chain of it has the carbon. They're it's like it hasn't husband to forget it. Compounds a cellulose is a polymer to Palmer of sugar but like I think a lot of what happens is you break that down and you create great ethanol or or something like that and that sort of your feet stock going into the biochemical process mad. I guess is that because cellulose is a structural polymer of glucose in the way that like Blige's less structural and just exists or gene but like cellulose is like gives plant structure so then it itself is a sturdier compound and then can add functional groups onto it or break it down a reassemble at an L. Make something sturdy like plastic whereas like glycogen from our bodies. It'd be floppy in a mall going jonasson yeah trash. Yes good at one thing a hot. Take thank you. Jim is fine. It's very the only thing it does which is just store energy for quick availability in our bodies but yes cellulose is very sturdy very good at being sturdy and then if you know how to do organic chemistry can do organic chemistry to it. I'm not sure how corn last actually happens if you you are using the sugar from the corn or if using the cellular's from the corn born in mines probably both so the reading that I've done corn is usually used to make one type of plastic called poly lactic acid which is made from fermented plant starch starch is another sugar polymer their cellulose and starch and those are the two like plant sugar polymers but you have to ferment it. I I see acid starches. The other one's cellulose is one of the structural plant sugar compound starches the other and like the fermentation is probably just like the chemical reactions yeah. You need to turn it into the plastic. I don't have specifics about that process. I don't know if it's proprietary or if I'm just like not chemist so didn't dig dig into the the research about that and you can also make it from other plants besides corn defined starchy compounds you can turn it into poly lactic acid through this this process and benefits of corn plastic that are like proponents of of corn plastic say that it's carbon neutral because it's coming from plants that absorb absorb carbon from the environment and then returning back into plastic that goes gets reintroduced and the environment again so it's like the whole process ankle as a whole rather than just like generating trash and corn which would have been trash at some point like poop. We're turning into plastic that we then throw away four four in a deal world compost to recycle it back and is this stuff is poly. LACTIC ACID is the compostable it is compostable but what is interesting Zane is that it's only compostable in specific conditions under specific conditions what a scientific American article looked into they talked the people who actually do this kind of composting work. Poly lactic acid will decompose carbon dioxide and water in a controlled composting environment in fewer than ninety days but what that means is they need to have microbes digest yet not just worms not dislike backyard composting thing it has to reach one hundred forty degrees for ten consecutive cutive days and so it's like biodegradable but there are only like between one hundred and one hundred fifty facilities as of the writing time I am of this article that can compost things in this very specific industrial way to handle food processing waste are compatible waste in this way and you can't just like conflicts tutoring yard yeah and like that is also choice that you have to make create so like people have these corn pasta but if they're thrown into landfills there's no evidence at bell degrade any faster than any other type of plastic so this has to be very intentional change in the way that people use these single use plastic objects objects and so if you fro- poly lactic acid cup into a landfill. It's like to start any other plastic cup in the landfill yeah and there's no benefit from one plastic in that way what also says apparently so you can make a bunch of different plastics from corn but now we like the thing corn plastic is poly lactic acid this sort of like we've decided that that's what we're gonNA. Call poly lactic acid is corn plastic but it is not the only place you could make from corn which is interesting. How many plastic Eczema from corn will you can make polyethylene from corn so just normal polyethylene but it select from a different feed the stock and then you can make and I think that's true of various like existing mm plastics? I guess that makes sense. If you break down corn enough then you can get right monomer you can then polymerase into something. If you want to ask the science catch your questions follow us on twitter at Sochaux tangents where we'll tweet out upcoming topics for our future episodes every week. Thank you to add bridget mcgann at cocco ammonia and everybody else altuve tweeted us your questions this week final anger everybody laughing at Gakuen Omonia here look Quedo it's poop demon final scores Seri one on Sam to Steph and one hank to Coen. If you like this show and you want to help us out you can and do that by leading a review wherever you listen that helps us know what you like about the show and also will be looking at I tunes reviews for topic ideas for future episodes. Leave your ideas all right tunes reviews second you can tweet out your favorite from this episode and finally if you want to share your persona tangents just to help people and if you want to read more about any of our topic today check out sideshow tangents dot org to find links to all of our sources probably some pictures of blood stuff made out of blood. Thank you for joining us. I've been the Hank Green Jin Sandbox sideshow Tangents co-production complexly in the lovely team at WNYC studios. It's by all of us produced by Caitlin Hofmeister. If Mr and Sam Schultz who also edits a lot of these episodes along with her Okamatsu Shema our sound design is by Joseph Tuna Mesh our social media organizer Victoria on Journal and we couldn't make any within our patrons veterans on patriotic. Thank you and remember the mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire but one more thing in two thousand eighteen a group of Australian scientists had six adults swallow the head of a Lego mini figure in order to figure yeah how long it would take for travel through their bodies so first they established the participants standard poop characteristics and habits before eating the Lego heads and formulated what they called the stool hardness and transit or Shat score then took another shot score after it was in their bodies and traveling through their digestive systems systems and then they measured the amount of time the LEGO had spent in their subject systems with the found and retrieved time or the Fart they found no meaningful changes in the Shatt score before and after the eating of the head and determine an average score of one point seven one days and they concluded that basically you can eat like oh heads all day long and not suffer any negative repercussions from it feel like my score would be lower than that well but you know he probably would have been filtered out of

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