July 1: UF in the News, 6/28/21-7/1/21

Texas Republicans who want to lure Bitcoin mining companies should be very, very careful — Slate, 6/28/21

As China shutters Bitcoin mining operations, cryptocurrency fans in the U.S. are hoping to lure the miners to their states. To earn coins, which are heavily encrypted in order to ensure security and authenticity, miners (or their computers, at least) have to solve complex puzzles, which takes up ample processing energy. China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, began this currency-shaking crackdown because it has been flailing in its climate goals.

States like Texas have plenty of cheap energy and are on the forefront of renewable energy. But the primary reason for the low-cost energy in Texas is its deregulated grid. University of Florida energy specialist Theodore Kury explained there could be competing interests in the grid with consumers and Bitcoin if the mines move. 

The Surfside building collapse and what we know about the climate risks Miami faces — Quartz, 6/29/21

Some experts are debating if the corrosive effects of sea water could have contributed to the Champlain Tower collapse.

“Salt water is very bad for concrete in the foundations of buildings,” says professor Zhong-Ren Peng, who directs research on sea level rise at UF. “The salt water can cause corrosion and cracks in the concrete, and if you don’t take care of it, over time these cracks can get bigger.”

Even pro-vaccine parents have a lot of questions. Here are the answers we found — Rolling Stone, 6/29/21

As vaccine trials continue for young children, Rolling Stone interviewed doctors to combat misinformation around the possible risks.

“Kids aren’t just little adults,” says Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a 20-year veteran of the CDC and professor in the departments of pediatrics and epidemiology at UF. 

Florida's remarkable new wildlife corridor from the panhandle to the Keys— The New Yorker, 6/30/21

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made conservation history by enacting a bill that protects the state's cast network of natural areas and secures $400 million in funding toward the project. The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act preserves large swaths of land inhabited by wide-ranging species including Florida panthers, black bears, otters, alligators and many types of birds. It also protects agricultural lands from development, provides continued recreational access to natural areas, and safeguards clean water and air.

"Florida is way ahead of the rest of the country," said Tom Hoctor, the director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning at UF. His work collecting data including animal movements, ecological measurements, habitat type and other factors helped determine what areas were most needed for wildlife to thrive.

National Geographic also reported on Hoctor's work on the corridor. 

Fact check: Plants can't restructure their DNA if exposed to human saliva, won't turn into superfoods — USA Today, 6/30/21

USA Today fact checked the claim that plants can analyze human DNA and transform into personally customized superfoods. An infographic circulating Facebook is not true. Harry Klee, professor of horticultural sciences at UF, said there was no conceivable way for a plant to take up human DNA outside of genetic engineering.

He noted the post is flawed on multiple levels. Not only is the gene modification assertion absurd, he said, the nutritional deficiency referenced would be due to diet, not genetics.

Ditching grass could help your backyard thrive — The Washington Post, 6/30/21

As the discussion around climate change continues, people are looking for steps to take to more sustainably manage the impact of a lawn. 

The value of grass falls on a continuum, said Mark Hostetler, an urban ecologist at UF. On one hand, wild, native grasses are wonderful carbon sinks that support biodiversity. But when grass is maintained, he said, it loses many of its environmental advantages.

'Scraping the bottom of the Barrel': COVID-19 relief funds are now paying off — ABC Tampa Bay, 6/30/21

Across the state, 47 clam farmers participated in the clam buyback program through the Florida Sea Grant program, operated by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at UF. Roughly 450,000 clams were purchased by Florida Sea Grant and used to restore the fragile ecosystem of the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's Space Coast.

Smaller boobs are in: Women remove breast implants as health issues mount — The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 7/1/21

The number of breast implant removals is increasing. Robyn Goodman, a UF advertising professor who studies media and cosmetic surgery, attributed the change to an evolving concept of what women should look like.