The hunt for Soviet submarines, a 5-foot-long shipworm, the impossibilities of deep-sea mining, and more! Massive Monday Morning Salvage: March 5, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • The secret on the ocean floor: the wild, weird origin of the modern deep-sea mining industry, complete with spies, Soviet submarines, and Howard Hughes. How much is real? How much is emergent from this first fake venture? If you only read one thing about deep-sea mining, read this.

We really misled a lot of people and it’s surprising that the story held together for so long”

source.

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Open Science in Africa, defend the ADA, the value of the outdoors, Minke whale rides, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: February 19, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • In the annuals of obvious thing that still need to be said: protecting wild places is better for Americans and better for the economy than strip mining them. Outdoor Recreation Is a Bigger Economic Booster Than Mining.
  • The Cousteau Society shares a great little clip of all the great Cousteau tech.

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A precautionary approach to health and safety while using awesome, awesome laser cutters in the home.

Holy Mola, Laser Cutters! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seem some pretty cool projects coming out of my freshly arrived Glowforge laser cutter.

But laser cutters are not all sunshine and cool, wooden hinges. Laser cutters were, until very recently, the domain of industrial fabrication shops with extensive safety systems. As a new generation of low(er) cost, hobby and household cutters enter the market, we need to step back an think critically about the potential health and safety impacts of these incredible machines.

Like I did with 3D printers a few years back, I’m taking a deep dive into the hazards of laser cutters in the home and how to avoid them.

First, the issues of least concern (not because they aren’t bad, just that they’re far less likely to occur).

Fire. Lots of materials can catch fire, including, to no one’s surprise, wood. A fire safety plan will go a long way, but you can avoid ruining your laser cutter by being aware of what materials frequently catch fire. ABS, HDPE, polystyrene and polypropylene, and anything with poor thermal properties is going to ignite rather than cut cleanly. And then you’re going to have a bad day.

Beam escape. If your machine is not well taken care of and well shielded, there’s a small chance the wrong materials or loose connections can result in a beam escape, which can injure the user, bystanders, pets, or anything else that gets in the laser’s path. Most hobby grade lasers have good safety features to prevent this (although cheap knock-off machines are starting to hit the markets that may not be up to par), but monitoring you equipment and keeping it properly maintained will go a long way to avoiding this.

But those aren’t the biggest concerns. Th biggest concern with laser cutters is the byproduct that happens every time you cut, no mater what. That’s right, I’m talking about:

Fumes! 

This is the big one and the issue that I’m most concerned about. Laser cutters haven’t really left industrial settings until now, so we don’t have very good data on chronic exposures of laser cutting fumes, especially on young children and pregnant people. What we do know is that the fumes produced by laser cutter depend heavily on the materials you choose to cut.

All materials will produce fumes when cut, which is why it’s essential that your set-up is well-ventilated. Most hobby cutters have a vent port that you can connect to a dryer vent or to the outside. I actually don’t recommend using a dryer vent. In all the rental houses I’ve lived in, not one has ever had the dryer properly vented, and hooking up to your dryer port might mean that you’re just venting into the crawlspace or the wall, rather than out of you house. Go for the window. There’s no hard and fast rule for how much ventilation you need, other than as much as possible. For 3D printers we recommended that your ventilation system moves 3 times as much air as the volume of the room per hour. For laser cutters, it should probably be more.

Everything you cut is going to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is why ventilation is essential. For things like hardwoods and paper products, the VOCs released are comparable to a woodburning stove, frying too much bacon, or sitting around a campfire (though sitting around a campfire will give you a much higher dose). Prolonged exposure can cause respiratory problems and asthma. More complex materials like plywoods and plastics can have some pretty nasty compounds, so you want to make absolutely sure you know what’s going into your laser cutter, be aware of what materials should never, ever go into you household cutter, and always ventilate, ventilate, ventilate.

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Conservation has a Trolley Problem

A train screams down the tracks. Dead ahead, a pile of of giant pandas frolic, inexplicably, through a bamboo stand growing through the rails. But wait! There’s a switch. Pulling it will divert the train onto another track, where a tank containing one of the last 30 vaquita will surely be crushed. Do you pull the lever, dooming the vaquita, or hold the line, flattening the frolicking pandas? Do you stammer indecisively, wondering how you ended up in this situation as you careen, inexorably, into into an increasingly unavoidable outcome?

What if, rather than the conductor’s seat, you’re at the helm of a conservation organization? What if the train wasn’t a hundred tons of steel and steam, but the relentless press of public will, funding, and focus upon which it is your duty to shape and direct into action?

What if conservation has a Trolley Problem?

Ah the Trolley Problem, the thought experiment turned pop-philosophy darling whose use and misuse is, at best, an annoyance to every ethicist I know. Regrettably, I do them no favors here.

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Skate saunas, clone armies, deep news from deep-sea mining, an ocean of plastic, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: February 12, 2018.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Ranja Andriantsoa/The Atlantic

ROV framegrab of Pacific white skate egg sacs near a black smoker in the Galapagos. Photo Courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust

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2 minutes to midnight, 3D printed turtle eggs, awkward fiddlers, Egyptian welders, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: January 29, 2018.

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Despite the fact that we live in extremely dangerous times, the scientists in charge of the clock said there is hope. The clock has been wound backwards before, in the wake of the Cold War or during times when nuclear superpowers expressed interest in not mutually assuring destruction.

The scientists argue that civil society should turn the screws on government to reduce carbon emissions and push for even more ambitious climate action than what the Paris Agreement calls for. That sounds like a more fruitful plan than huddling in a bunker.

Source.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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6 Essential Tips for the 3D Printing Newbie.

It’s meta.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been enjoying watching David Shiffman and Craig McClain take their first steps into 3D printing. For a small subset of people, small consumer 3D printers can be an incredibly useful tool, for a larger subset, 3D printing has fantastic teaching applications, but for most enthusiasts, it’s a fun hobby. Fortunately, the 3D printing hype train has slowed down in the last few years and it is now much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff and drill down into the applications where 3D printing really shines.

3D printers are fairly inexpensive now. You can get a pretty okay 3D printer like the Monoprice Mini (which we used at various hack-a-thons and maker events) for around $220 USD on Amazon. I’ve worked a bit with that particular printer and it’s good. It won’t blow you away but it will do everything you’d expect a solid 3D printer to do. My in house machine is a Printrbot Simple Metal, which has since been replaced by the Simple Pro. It’s not the cheapest one out there, but it’s an absolute beast, taking all the abuse I can throw at it. It’s even been to sea.

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Science as graphic novel, baby eels, anglerfish emoji, drone ocean rescue, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: January 22, 2018.

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Nan Shepherd. (Wikimedia Commons)

Nan Shepherd. (Wikimedia Commons)

Managing marine socio-ecological systems: picturing the future

Managing marine socio-ecological systems: picturing the future.

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Snot Bots for whale health, critical dolphins, lobster considerations, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: January 15, 2018.

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Screen cap of linked tweet.

Ice balls and slush waves.

Paul May via Storyful.

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