Welcome to STEMology – Show Notes

Season 1, Episode 23

Sperm book, ocean eruptions, phosphorescent fingerprints, and whiskey fueled trucks

In today’s episode of STEMology…

Sophie and David are talking about how Japanese scientists have been air mailing mouse sperm on a postcard, sea level controls volcano eruptions, new phosphorescence technique to acquire hidden fingerprints and whiskey delivery trucks fueled by whiskey production waste

Sperm books

apparently all you do is you take your plastic sheet from …  your book that contains all of your plastic sheets of sperm in weighing paper, you take your plastic sheet and simply attach it to a postcard with nothing else. You take your plastic sheet, you stick it to a postcard, you mail the postcard

Ocean eruptions

Some volcanoes will be more susceptible to others than others to this effect, but they also say something pointed out something pretty cool, which is if the sea level is controlling the activity of volcanoes near the ocean, then you’d expect all of these volcanoes to be in sync with one another.

Phosphorescent fingerprints

This new one works on the phosphorescence, which is much better because you shine a great big light on it, then you take it away and  then you just look the shining fingerprints and apparently it means then it works quite well on what they’ve referred to as challenging surfaces that have in-built fluorescent security feature.

Image : Dr William Gee

Whiskey fueled trucks

 The idea is you’re getting all of these byproducts when you’re making whiskey. So what they’re looking for is this closed loop, sustainability kind of things

This is a “kind of, sort of, vaguely close” copy of the words that David & Sophie speak in this episode.

IT IS NOT 100% accurate.  We are very sorry if we have spelt something completely incorrectly.  If it means a lot to you to have it corrected, email us at stemology@ramaley.media

STEMology s1e23

[00:00:00] Sophie: Welcome to episode 23 of STEMology

[00:00:03] Dave: a podcast sharing some of the interesting fun, and sometimes just patently bizarre news in science, technology, engineering, or maths.

[00:00:10] Sophie: Your hosts are Dr. David Farmer and Dr. Sophie Calabretto

[00:00:13] Dave: In today’s episode of STEMology, we’ll be chatting about sperm books, ocean eruptions,

[00:00:19] Sophie: phosphorescent fingies, and whiskey fueled whiskey trucks.

Sperm Book

[00:00:24] Sophie: All right, Dave, I’ve got some great news for you. It’s that scientists no longer have to worry about their bottles of mouse sperm breaking in transit.

[00:00:35] Dave: That is a relief to me

[00:00:36] Sophie: Isn’t it just.

[00:00:38] Dave: So this is some work by researchers at the University of Yamanashi in Japan, scientists no longer have to worry about their bottles of mouse sperm breaking in transit.

[00:00:50] They have, developed a way of freeze drying the sperm, which is something they did before right. They manage the previous innovation was that they managed to freeze dry and reanimate the sperm, which was [00:01:00] exciting because they could send them to the international space station using that method.

[00:01:02] Sophie: Yeah, because of course in the past they’ve had these issues with, you know, if you sell, if you send like an ampule of sperm into space, like glass is very fragile, you’ve got to cushion it and you need a lot of sperm for your experiments. But like with all this cushioning and this like, you know, weight and mass around these ampules, so they don’t break and hence make the sperm unusable, like you can’t actually send as much sperm as you want, because of the bulk. So they, yeah.

[00:01:26] So the first thing they did was they worked out of freeze dry, and then, you know, the important step as you suggested reanimated, because without, you know, you can freeze dry, but if you can’t use it again, you’ve really just put like sperm in the freezer.

[00:01:37] Dave: I mean, you can, you can set fire to it and put it in the post. It’s not going to help the person who receives it in the mail. there’s actually, and I don’t know if I got into the paper a little bit and this one, and this is a really, really great sentence in the paper where they say the storage of freeze dried sperm and glass ampules has the following problems.

[00:01:52] Glass ampules can’t be broken by falling due to shaking during earthquakes or through human error. That is not the [00:02:00] order I would have listed those things in

[00:02:01] Sophie: No. You’d think the human error was probably far more likely than the earthquakes, but Dave, these people are in Japan and we know that that country is very seismically active.

[00:02:11] Dave: That’s true. You’re absolutely right. They then go on to further clarify that once the bottles have been broken, this makes it impossible to continue storing sperm afterwards. Thanks science. clarifying that. That’s great. So basically we can’t use glass bottles as part of the innovation and the next bit of the innovation, what’s been innovated here is that they freeze dry the sperm on a plastic sheet on weighing paper. And when they say weighing paper, I think they mean paper used for weighing out very small amount of chemicall compounds

[00:02:42] Oh,

[00:02:42] Sophie: yeah, I Googled it because as a scientist who has done experiments, but nothing that has to do with weighing things, I was like, what is weighing paper? But Dave, I’m glad you asked weighing paper is used when weighing solid and or powdery substances on an analytical balance. And it prevents that substance from making contact with unwanted [00:03:00] materials, increasing position of the measurement.

[00:03:02] I also learned about the two types of weighing paper, but we probably don’t need to go to that specifically, but just letting you know that one of them has a low nitrogen weighing paper and one of them has a sulfur free weighing paper and they’re used for different reasons. But yeah, so my understanding was they tried, so we’ve got these plastic sheets and the plastic sheets are like very good because they take up not very much space and you can’t, you know, they’re very flat and you, you know, you can bend them and they don’t break and stuff, but apparently the plastic sheet is toxic to the sperm.

[00:03:28] Dave: As everybody knows

[00:03:30] Sophie: Everyone, you know, there’s just something about plastic sheets that sperm don’t like, you know, I think I like to think of it as a toxic personality as opposed to anything else. And, so what they did is they tried and failed to, and they tested various materials to go inside those plastic sheets,

[00:03:44] including vinyl sheet wrap, which I think is like a plastic wrap, like washi or washi which is a certain type of like slightly thicker Japanese paper made out of like specific kinds of trees. And you can use it for like origami, but also like other things where you need robust [00:04:00] paper and they also tried filter paper oblate, which if you Google it, a Japanese oblate is just circular filter paper. I think I’m not sure, but the filter paper and oblates are too problematic. So in terms of their actual testing, they went with a washi, the wrap, the vinyl sheet, and the weighing paper. And they discovered that as you said, the weighing paper was the easiest way to, um, it was the easiest to handle and it had the highest offspring rate of all of the papers that they tried for their freeze dried sperm storage in the plastic sheet.

[00:04:31] Dave: So in the offspring rate is, so you put it on the paper, you freeze dry it, you then have it stored at a sub, a slightly Sub-Zero

[00:04:39] Sophie: think it was negative 30, actually.

[00:04:41] Dave: So quite cold, but not super cold.

[00:04:43] Sophie: we’re not talking about zero Kelvin here people.

[00:04:46] Dave: And then basically you would just rehydrate it and the sperm would become free and solution again. And then hopefully some of them will reanimate and

[00:04:53] Sophie: Exactly.

[00:04:53] Dave: So this means that you can basically, because the paper is flat, you can mail them to [00:05:00] people. And one of the things did you look at the visual abstract for this paper?

[00:05:03] Sophie: a visual abstract is something that I’ve never experienced before in my particular research area, but it might be, and I know every week I claim I have a new favorite thing, but a visual abstract is magnificent because even if you don’t understand any of the science words in the paper, you’re like, I know exactly what they’re doing.

[00:05:20] Dave: Yes. Yeah. So, so what I loved about this one is it had the two step one it was at. So the first part which we’re going to get onto was the sperm on paper. So that was sperm on the paper was the first bit, and it was like quite scientific. It’s like you put it on the paper, you select this kind of paper, here’s your freeze drying technique. And then, then you reanimate. And then it was like step B, which was labeled sperm air mail.

[00:05:43] Sophie: Oh my gosh, I have that in quotation marks, just so he made sure that we got in that’s verbatim, written in a scientific paper, sperm air mail.

[00:05:53] Dave: But then when you look at the visual abstracts, which you expect to contain the science, it’s just someone like having an [00:06:00] envelope, I’m putting it in a postbox and that posts be loaded onto a van, and then you get like halfway through and you’re like, this is just how mail works. They’ve just explained how the mail works.

[00:06:09] Sophie: Yeah, but that’s the simplicity of it, David.

[00:06:11] Cause apparently all you do is you take your plastic sheet from, and I’m going to get you to talk about the sperm book in a second, but that is your, your book that contains all of your plastic sheets of sperm in weighing paper, you take your plastic sheet and simply attach it to a postcard with nothing else. You take your plastic sheet, you stick it to a postcard, you mail the postcard. And so that means, obviously you’re taking it out of that cold storage, but if your mail can go faster, then I think three days. So apparently this freeze dried sperm survives three days at room temperature.

[00:06:45] So like easy. Like, I mean, that would be like, I dunno, like an express postcard, but maybe not. I presume like Japan have pretty good everything systems. I presume them like post system is sensational. So then you can mail it to someone. And then apparently Yeah. what they did is they took it like [00:07:00] mailed it from one lab to the other, And then the other lab, they put it straight back in, you know, cooling until they used it. But a hundred percent could make mouse babies from mailed, they just stuck to a postcard. So it turns out that that visual abstract was like fairly accurate.

[00:07:14] Dave: And how excited would you be to be going down to the mailbox to be like, oh, bills, bills, bills. Oh, the new addition of the seed creed is in.

[00:07:21] Sophie: did you see the bit in the press release where they went ” one scientist even sent another happy new year card with a mouse sperm attached as a gift”.

[00:07:31] Dave: I enjoyed that too. I also enjoyed the quote. “We think the sperm never expected that the day would come when they would be in the mailbox.”

[00:07:38] Sophie: Funnily enough that that was the other direct quote that I wrote down that felt like I needed to be

[00:07:43] Dave: I also enjoyed it.

[00:07:44] Sophie: Yeah. So, um, and yeah, anyway, so they, this is quite good, Dave, because it means that we’ve gotten our way to send sperm in the mail. And like for scientific reasons, this is not a, we’re not asking anyone at home to send their sperm in the mail, hopefully. You’ll get arrested if you try that. I mean, [00:08:00] do what you want. Um, but Yeah.

[00:08:01] so the, scientists believed these sperm book and mailing method method once perfected will have a strong impact in their field worldwide. And the next goal is to, freeze dry the sperm in a way that they can store it at room temperature for one month. So that’s for the countries where they have very slow postal systems. and then I just I did look into the paper, Dave, you know, I get interested about the technicalities or one might say trivialities of some of the details. I was interested how they harvested the sperm from the mice

[00:08:27] Dave: Oh, I didn’t get to that. Tell me.

[00:08:29] Sophie: I do, you know, one of my favorite documentaries is Blackfish and I need to stop watching it because it’s horribly depressing.

[00:08:34] But, there is a particularly troublesome scene where they are milking an Orca. I believe it’s, Tillikum the one who goes psychotic and kill was a bunch of people because his sperm is very, I guess it’s worth a lot of money. And, I was like, do they milk the mice? No, Dave, they killed them. They killed them and they take their sperm., but they were, and I quote, I love it.

[00:08:53] “After the male mouse were sacrified by cervical dislocation, the epididymis were collected. Semen was [00:09:00] suspended in 750 mils of HTF”. I didn’t bother to look up what that was cause that’s not the part I was interested in and the spermatozoa were cultured. So that’s a anyway, they killed the mice to get the sperm. They did not milk lots and lots of mice.

[00:09:12] Dave: I’m glad. I mean, am I glad,

[00:09:14] Sophie: Um, well, I mean, it just, it sounds a finicky and, inappropriate, but yeah, so this is important, right? Cause I think, you know, you used to work in an area where you needed to receive liquids from places and often they cost a lot of money right. So this is a good way to send.

[00:09:28] Dave: Well that’s, this is no, this is not the time to be talking about my personal life, but no, in the lab we used to, we used to do things like order antibodies, or viruses that had to be transported long distances. and you know, it would be like 500 bucks for the virus and then like 20, you know, $10,000 for shipping.

[00:09:45] so any time you can do work like this and reduce those kinds of like costs is very desirable. So they’ve done

[00:09:51] Sophie: Yeah. Excellent work.

[00:09:52] Thank you, Japan.

Ocean Eruption

[00:09:53] Sophie: [00:10:00] Dave from mouse eruptions to sea level controlled volcanoes.

[00:10:07] Did you know Dave that the eruptive activity of the Santorini volcano is controlled by sea level rise in full?

[00:10:14] Dave: I didn’t until this week. And then I read a very, very interesting press release and study that explained just that to me. This is about the Santorini volcano in Greece. And apparently when the sea level drops to about 40 meters, where it is today, it triggers a fit of eruption.

[00:10:33] Sophie: Yes, no, just one a fit.

[00:10:34] Dave: not just one, a fit. And during times of higher sea levels, the volcano, is quiet. And the big deal about this seems to be that this is the first time that the ocean has been shown to control volcanoes in this way.

[00:10:45] Sophie: Yeah. And so that’s quite significant when you think about the fact that, a lot of volcanic systems are sort of in the ocean or near the ocean, if you have sea level rising and falling, controlling those in that significant. And also, as we love to do on this planet, we destroy everything and we are making the oceans rise, which so, [00:11:00] as you said, like when the, the sea level drops it causes a fit of eruptions, which means that, you know, when it then rises, it doesn’t. So do you think that by destroying the planet and causing the sea levels to rise due to climate change, we are stopping all of the volcanoes from erupting in the future Dave?

[00:11:18] Dave: Uh, I don’t know. It’s probably, uh, it’s probably a risk thing, right. So probably not.

[00:11:23] Sophie: And also, um, I think it would, depends on the specifics of the volcano, but let’s get into this, eruption functionality. So, um, What they did is they created a computer simulation of Santorini’s magma chamber, which sits about four kilometers beneath the surface of the volcano. and they found that as you said, in the simulation, when sea level dropped at least 40 meters below the present day level, the crust above the magma chamber splinted, giving an opportunity for magma stored under the volcano to move up through these fractures and make its way to the surface. But they didn’t just do that. They actually then looked at the, past eruption activity. So [00:12:00] they compared the activity of the volcano with sea levels over the past 360,000 years. which I thought was like, quiet. That’s quite impressive.

[00:12:10] It Seems like a long time. And apparently like these things matched up quite well, which is good because I looked at the simulations and they used Comsol multiphysics.

[00:12:17] And I may have talked about comsol multiphysics before in the past, it is, essentially like a big set of sophisticated finite element packages and you plug in a problem and it spits out a picture. And I have problems with codes that you can’t see the inner workings of, but the results match up really well. So let’s just say it’s fine.

[00:12:36] Dave: Okay. Excellent. So, so it’s basically fine.

[00:12:38] Sophie: fine.

[00:12:38] Dave: Basically fine, Sophie Calabretto. So one thing I enjoyed about this, so we described that when the sea level dips more than 40 meters below the present day level, it triggers a fit eruptions, but that’s in geological terms. So according to their simulation, I enjoyed this. It should take about 13,000 years for cracks in the mantle that occurred due to the ocean level dropping [00:13:00] to reach the surface and awaken the volcano. And then as the water rises again, it takes about 11,000 years for the cracks to close and the eruptions to stop. So while we’re talking about fits of things happening, they’re geological fits that still take just a hugely, hugely long, long time

[00:13:17] Sophie: Yeah, it is true that we are not as old as the planet. I was saying so our relative time is different from the planet’s relative time and yeah, a fit is a fit. That’s a planet fit.

[00:13:27] Dave: So they talk a little bit about the mechanism and I think I have a rough idea about it. Like I kind of psych on level understanding. So basically what they’re saying is that you have a volcano and a magma chamber and as the sea level drops, basically the sea provides an inward pressure on the whole thing. So when that drops off, you’ve basically got less pressure on top of the thing. So it’s free to expand and crack, which lets the magma flow out.

[00:13:50] Sophie: yeah, so basically like what they modeled was, the global sea level rises the load on the crust or like the lithosphere, which is just the Rocky outer part of the earth, like that increases. And [00:14:00] then when you said the sea level falls, the load decreases and here, the load is just the vertical stress due to hydrate pressure of seawater. So hydrostatic pressure is just pressure that fluid, like exerts in a confined space. Right. So if you’ve got, I don’t know, like a flimsy box and filled it with water, like the walls would start to buckle and that’s because the water is exerting pressure.

[00:14:20] So obviously like The higher, the water is the more pressure that’s exerted and that’s because hydrostatic pressure, Dave, you can calculate it very simply. So hydrostatic pressure is just the density of the water multiplied by acceleration, due to gravity multiplied by the depth below the water surface. So the deeper the water, the higher the hydrostatic pressure is. So obviously, as you said, when it drops, it lowers the pressure. And then yeah. Basically it’s that pressure, which has almost providing support, as you said.

[00:14:48] And so then the idea is once that pressure isn’t there, then these like fishes, or I think they refer to them as dykes in the paper, you know, they can sort of splinter their way up to the surface. and then it’s interesting that, Yeah. So once that pressure [00:15:00] increases again, it can kind of fix itself apparently I looked at some of the, it gets into like, they’re all quite simple equations, but it’s, you know, geophysics stuff that I don’t really know heaps about, but apparently Dyke injection from a chamber occurs when there’s like one specific condition that’s satisfied. So you’ve got the litho static pressure, which is just like the pressure of the rocks, plus the magmatic excess pressure. So that’s the pressure of the magnet. Isn’t it great when that is equal to then something called the minimum compressive principle stress in the roof next to the changer or Sigma three plus T note, which is the in-situ tents, strength of the root.

[00:15:38] So basically all that saying is when the pressure is greater than the strength, then this thing breaks, which like makes sense in a nutshell. even if I don’t quite understand the intricacies.

[00:15:50] Dave: Beautiful. So they also, they go on to say that basically some volcanoes will be more susceptible to others than others to this effect, but they also say something pointed out something pretty cool, which is if the sea level is [00:16:00] controlling the activity of volcanoes near the ocean, then you’d expect all of these volcanoes to be in sync with one another.

[00:16:05] So basically you’ve developed a means of explaining why volcanoes that might be on opposite sides of the world might erupt at roughly the same time geologically one another, which

[00:16:15] Sophie: Yeah, I thought that was really cool as well. And then the fact that, so what they did is orbit three of the volcanoes 211 world data eruptions in the past 360,000 years happened during periods of low sea level. Three out of 211 is not a lot. And yeah, so their simulations match up really well with, you know, that the history of these eruptions and they say that, you know, the low sea level in the past is occurred when more of the earth water was locked up in glaciers during the ice age.

[00:16:43] So it’s, you know, natural ice ages that we had, But that’s. Yeah, I think that’s really cool.

[00:16:48] I like the idea that they’re all linked. we’ve got all these volcanoes that are going to go off at the same time. But then as I said, apparently, maybe not anymore, or the ones that used to go out with rising sea level will never erupt again cause we broke the planet.

[00:16:59] Dave: It’s [00:17:00] broken. and maybe we should end with a quote we’d like to end with a quote. And this one I particularly enjoyed cause it didn’t understand why it was included in the article. it’s hard to see why our coastal, our islands volcano would not be affected by sea level, says Ian Stewart a bit glibly in my opinion, given that he’s a geoscientist at the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan in Amman, who was not involved in the work. It’s just like

[00:17:23] Sophie: well, like obviously I don’t care that people did all this work and quantified it. Like, yeah,

Phospherescent Finger

[00:17:29] Dave: Bright fingies phospherence fingies have happened.

[00:17:41] Sophie: They sure have. So this is a model that’s come out of Griffith university. So Dr. William G from the Queensland Micro and Nano Technology Center has found that imaging phosphorescent after glow from a newly developed environmentally friendly fingerprint powder outperformed traditional [00:18:00] commercial fluorescent powder by eliminating background interference.

[00:18:05] Dave: Yes. So, what’s cool about this new powder is that it is phosphorescent.

[00:18:11] And I went down to a little bit of a rabbit hole here, and there’s a bit of a rabbit hole to go down in terms of fluorescence and luminescence. And phosphorescence because these are photo luminescence, which are all different things or subsets of other ones of those

[00:18:23] Sophie: All right. Tell me about the rabbit hole. Cause I thought I managed to, uh, get a pretty simple understanding what you may have gone deeper than I have.

[00:18:29] Dave: Okay. So phosphorescence is a type of photo luminescence related to fluorescence. Fluorescence is just the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light. So you shine a light on something and it glows, it is a form of luminescence and luminescence just means something emits light that isn’t related to how hot it is

[00:18:46] Sophie: Yeah. So my understanding that both fluorescents and phosphorescence, are both kinds of photo luminescence, but the mechanism is different. And so that’s why fluorescents, you need the light and then phosphorescent, you can have light after

[00:18:58] Dave: Yeah. So phosphorescence you [00:19:00] shine the light on it and it absorbs the light in some capacity. And then over time, once you’ve turned the light off, it continues to emit light. So basically if anyone who’s listening has ever had anything that is glow in the dark, it was phosperescent

[00:19:14] Sophie: Yeah. And fluorescence is just like, yeah, you need the light shining on it at the time for it to

[00:19:19] glow. yeah. And so it actually has to do with, spin and spin quantum numbers, Dave and electrons. And there’s also so basically the way that it works is like, yeah, so it absorbs light, um, and it absorbed it to a level. And then like, it drops from one level to another and emits a photon of that energy. And so they call it.

[00:19:35] Dave: Oh yeah. The photoelectric

[00:19:37] Sophie: And you’ve got the S null and the S one excited states. And so that’s what happens in fluorescence, but in phosphorescence what there is, there’s an excited triplet T one state, which lies energetically between the S and S one excited state.

[00:19:51] So basically rather than it, like, just dropping in and missing the photon, it does some, some fancy thing in the middle where it goes to like another state, somewhere else that takes [00:20:00] longer to get to, I think, I don’t know, but I think that’s the, there’s something crazy happening down at like yeah. Quantum level

[00:20:07] Dave: Because of physical

[00:20:08] Sophie: cause a physical chemistry, but yeah.

[00:20:10] And so that, yeah, the main difference as you said, is fluorescence shine light on thing thing, fluoresces. Phosphorescence shine light on thing, turn light off thing, things still glows.

[00:20:21] Dave: Right. So how this relates to the fingerprints is that current fingerprint powders emit short-lived fluorescence that needs constant elimination. So basically you have to have a powerful light on these fingerprints in order to be seeing the fingerprint itself. that’s difficult because you’ve got weak emissions coming from fingy print, but you’ve got a big light source shining.

[00:20:41] So you have to be able to distinguish the two. So you have to try and use filters and stuff and it’s all a bit fiddly and you need protective equipment because you’ve got this great big light on. And so it’s not ideal. So basically this new one works on the phosphorescence, which is much better because you shine a great big light on it, then you take it away and [00:21:00] then you just look the shining fingy prints.

[00:21:02] Sophie: Yeah. And so, and apparently it means then it works quite well on what they’ve referred to as challenging surfaces that have in-built fluorescent security feature. So if you think of bank notes or passports, like they’ve got some, like, you know, funky,

[00:21:15] Dave: Passport. It’s not difficult to image a fingerprint on a passport as well as difficult to acquire,

[00:21:20] Sophie: Exactly. Yeah, it is. they really make yo u work for it

[00:21:22] Dave: um, which was the, the demonstration,

[00:21:23] Sophie: Uh, you try, try getting a French one, see how that bureaucracy works. but yeah, so it means that basically this particular phosphorescent powder can be like effectively use to image fingerprints on these like challenging surfaces that are a bit glowy.

[00:21:38] And it’s quite a funny Dave because the, press release refers to passports and bank notes. But I looked in the paper and you know, they also used Skittles packets.

[00:21:45] Dave: Oh, yeah, just that, natural accompaniment to the identity document.

[00:21:48] Sophie: Yeah, a hundred percent. and also the commercial, if anyone’s playing at home, the commercial fluorescent fingerprint powder used was just the flouro magnetic print powder, which I Googled. And it comes in all these colors and very cheap. And I [00:22:00] had to use all of my self-control not to buy a bunch of different fingerprint powder, cause like, what am I going to do with those Dave?

[00:22:07] I don’t need it. I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. But it was, I had to use all of my effort or something.

[00:22:13] Dave: Well, you’d seem, very silly until someone stole your passport and then it’d be like, well, who’s laughing

[00:22:18] Sophie: exactly.

[00:22:19] Dave: as you casually Chuck a Skittle up in the air and catch it in your mouth

[00:22:21] Sophie: I did eat a lot of Skittles last week. So yeah, so apparently Dave, this new powder is called 4 TPT and it was chosen because it contains no heavy metals, which means that it’s both beneficial in terms of sort of safety for the users and the environment. And all you need is a commercial, digital camera and forensic light source to make it work, which has equipment that is like very readily available.

[00:22:43] But 4 TPT Dave is actually stands for the metastable 2,4,6-tris(4-pyridyl)-1,3,5-triazine. . Does that sound like the way you meant to say it?

[00:22:55] and what I found really interesting is that, so these metal containing [00:23:00] powders that they’ve used in the past have actually been implicated in DNA degradation, which hampers the collection of touch DNA. And I heard touch DNA and I panicked Dave. Cause if someone who’s vivid true crime tragic

[00:23:11] like touch DNA is not, they don’t use it in court very often because you get all of these basically false positives. And then I was thinking about that to touch DNA, the idea is you touch something and you leave behind some skin cells and they can literally get your DNA profile on most of it from like a couple of skin cells that you have left behind. The reason that they don’t use touch DNA heaps in court, is because like it’s been highly criticized for the rate of high rates of false positives due to contamination. But like the greatest example of contamination is literally investigators leaving behind trace amounts of touch DNA by fingerprinting. And so then I was like, oh, okay, well then that’s And so all of a sudden, like the issues with touch DNA now becomes like severely less problematic because. It’s actually the degradation [00:24:00] from the bad things. And they’ve come up with like an, maybe we can use touch DNA is what I’m saying, Dave, I don’t know.

[00:24:04] Dave: that’s

[00:24:05] Sophie: It is exciting cause normally I think now in like in court, it’s used by the defense to help exclude suspects rather than like the prosecution to implicate them just because of this like high contamination rate. but then I don’t know, like, I guess if you’re still fingerprinting with phosphorescent powder, you’re still brushing things and you could be leaving like your hand, skin everywhere.

[00:24:23] Dave: I guess you could it’s all about applying the, um, powder correctly. they actually touch on that in the paper. It’s another thanks science moment where they say fine particles of metallic or non-metallic materials are applied to a surface typically using an appropriate brush, but sometimes a leaf blower where upon adhesion to latent fingerprint residues

[00:24:40] Sophie: Sometimes you just, stick some in your mouth and just kind of blow it at the surface and whatever sticks is, the right amount. That’s not true. That’s not science.

[00:24:47] Dave: it’s not science, but yeah, it’s lovely. And it’s so rare. We get to talk about the fight against crime.

[00:24:52] Sophie: It’s true and, there you go science doing another good for the planet. Solving crime.

Whiskey Truck

[00:24:56] Sophie: [00:25:00] Dave from whiskey fueled murder rampages to whiskey fueled whiskey trucks.

[00:25:12] Dave: Oh, I think I resent the implication that the whiskey field are somehow more inclined to murder then the rest of the general population,

[00:25:19] Sophie: I think

[00:25:19] You’ve got to have like a predilection to kill. I don’t. I think if you don’t and you have a lot of whiskey, you’re still probably not going to kill anyone. I think you need to sort of have that underlying desire to kill and then maybe too much whiskey would take away some of your, um, inhibition.

[00:25:33] Dave: Okay. So you’re talking about overlap region in a very

[00:25:36] Sophie: Yeah, I’m not saying Dave, as a Scottish person likes whiskey, you, I’m more likely to murder people and then have your fingerprints tracked with a phosphorescent fingerprint powder. Let’s talk about Scottish whiskey maker, Glenfiddich, Dave.

[00:25:50] Dave: Glenfiddich

[00:25:51] Sophie: Fiddich I know, but I sound

[00:25:53] like, it’s like, you know, when people say Croissant as a French,

[00:25:57] I know as a French, a person who [00:26:00] is legally French and speaks French in English, I say croissant because I feel like I sound too Okay. I feel like we’re very different people with justice respect.

[00:26:12] Dave: And then no other respect, except I’m going to kill people because I drink whiskey. So Scottish whiskey maker, Glenfiddich has announced they will convert its delivery trucks to run on low emissions bio gas made from waste products from its own whiskey distilling process. So I had a quick look. Bio gas is a mixture of gases produced by organic matter, in the absence of oxygen.

[00:26:35] primarily methane and carbon

[00:26:37] Sophie: Yeah. So my understanding is, so biomass is basically any plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity or heat. And then biofuel or bio gas is basically produced through contemporary processes from biomass. So biomass creates biofuel and biogas, obviously biofuel could probably be like a liquid it’s like your all encompassing term. Whereas bio [00:27:00] gas is your gas shifts, uh, particular kinds of biofuel.

[00:27:04] Dave: Yes. See, yeah, they say ultra low carbon fuel don’t they? So, and that, encompasses a whole range of things like biodiesel and renewable diesel and dimethyl ethar ethanol butanol, et cetra

[00:27:16] Sophie: I think they actually say ultra low carbon fuel gas.

[00:27:19] Dave: Do they, oh, you’re absolutely right. There is the word gas in there

[00:27:21] Sophie: But that’s all right. Cause yeah, cause the past they would sell, spent grains leftover from the malting process and they’d sell it as high protein cattle feed. . And I tried to look that up and Dave, and basically all I could find is you can take, spent grains and you can convert them into pellets and you can sell them to farms as protein rich cattle feed.

[00:27:46] Dave: Okay. So

[00:27:47] Sophie: it’s that simple.

[00:27:47] but they use, as you said, so it’s through anaerobic digestion. So it’s where we have bacteria that break down organic matter to produce bio. So the idea is you’ve got bacteria, they eat your waste products. And then like [00:28:00] far out, a lot of, kind of like methane and other like delicious things that we can burn. Um, and then the idea is anaerobic means that there’s no oxygen, which means that in the gases that are produced, you’re going to get like less oxygen, which means that you can get cleaner burning. I think it’s my understanding vaguely of this.

[00:28:17] Dave: Yeah, I think so. I got a bit confused to be honest because the ultra low carbon fuel gas is kind of a catch-all term

[00:28:24] Sophie: Yeah. So I think that actually comes from, so there’s a low carbon fuel standard, which basically like there are fuels have like, they sit somewhere within the standard and that the whole reason they enacted this was just to reduce the carbon intensity for transportation fuels.

[00:28:38] So t o count as a low carbon fuel, like it has to meet a certain criteria and then ultra low carbon fuel is just like the better version of that. And so I think the idea is a lot of these bio mass made fuels or biofuels as we established their code, often they do just like fit into these categories because they cut like [00:29:00] CO2 emissions as well as like, they don’t produce these other like harmful particulates in greenhouse gas emissions when you burn them.

[00:29:07] Dave: Yes. So they’re going to use, trucks, which have been converted using liquid natural gas

[00:29:14] Sophie: Yeah. Yeah. So I think they’ve converted three of them so far. Is that right? Yeah.

[00:29:17] Dave: Yes. So they’ve, they’ve got these trucks that run on liquid natural gas, which is a bit, um, that’s a bit of a new, sexy thing to do as well

[00:29:23] Sophie: It is. Yeah. Cause you know, gas burns nicer than things like coal, but then the whole problem with gas is like, it is a fossil fuel and it takes like a long time to create, whereas these biofuels, like we can create from bio mass in like a much more sustainable way.

[00:29:38] Dave: Yes. Okay.

[00:29:39] Sophie: And then, yeah. so this particular bio gas that they’ve created, from their whiskey production process, cut CO2 emissions by over 95% compared to diesel or other fossil fuels. And it reduces other harmful particulates and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 99%, which is fairly hefty. And apparently each of [00:30:00] these bio gas trucks that as you said, would normally run on liquified natural gas. each of these bio gas trucks will displace up to 250 metric, tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is like also, I guess, pretty big. That’s a large amount of carbon dioxide.

[00:30:16] Dave: Yes. And they talk about this. They talk about the scalability of the whole thing as well. So basically, and the UK government has apparently announced the 10 million pint fund to assist the UK distilleries with transition to low carbon fuels, including hydrogen

[00:30:28] Sophie: and I think the best thing here. So the, the Scottish whiskey industry hopes to hit carbon net zero target by 2040. And it’s almost like Yo Australia like, what are you doing? Like the Scottish whiskey industry is paving the way And we’re like, nah, planet.

[00:30:42] Dave: And they’re all really busy cause they’re all quite murderous. So they’re like killing people and then obviously not getting caught. It’s very time-consuming and yet they’ve still got the time to devote, to turn operation renewable

[00:30:52] Sophie: I just feel like you’ve misinterpreted my use of whiskey fueled.

[00:30:56] Dave: I might have done it deliberately it’s not, it’s

[00:30:58] Sophie: But yeah, so I think That’s great. And apparently, yeah. So the [00:31:00] idea is you said they can scale it up. So they’ve got their three trucks, but they’re talking about converting their fleet of 20 trucks and they reckon the technology could be applied throughout the delivery fleet of the William Grant and sons whiskey brands.

[00:31:11] So William Grant and sons are the owners, and, um, could also be scaled up to a few other companies’ trucks. And apparently they’re not the only one using its waste products to fuel vehicles. So in 2012, independent whiskey maker, am I going to say this one wrong? Is it just like Tullibardine

[00:31:28] Dave: That’s probably how I’d say it.

[00:31:29] Sophie: Uh, became the world’s first distillery to supply, but they supply add ingredients to make biofuel for vehicles from its waste products. Whereas this is kind of like an in-house, thing, and that they’ve already done it.

[00:31:39] and they’re fitted out their own trucks. And I don’t know, I think It’s quite good on them for being very responsible for the environment. I say.

[00:31:45] Dave: It’s plaudable and good. And when I’m on my whiskey fueled murder rampages, I can now do it with a slightly cleaner conscience with regards to, if not the people I kill the, um, consequences for the planet of the whiskey that I’ve been drinking. So that’s a, good thing

[00:31:59] Sophie: [00:32:00] I’m gonna make you a t-shirt now just says whiskey fueled murder rampage, but yeah, whiskey fueled whiskey trucks. Great. Thank you. We can all drink more whiskey and, be at peace with the world.