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Heroes

This plant might be the answer to water pollution we've been searching for.

Arsenic, once used in pesticides, has been a worry across the U.S. for many years. Food production pollution and natural contamination (arsenic is found in certain rock) has contaminated water and food across the country, from Maine to California's Central Valley.

But one recent scientific breakthrough could help clean up water for good.

Image via iStock.


Meet the arsenic-eating power of warnstarfia fluitans, better known to the outdoorsy as floating hook moss.

Aquatic moss in Stockholm University greenhouse. Photo by Arifin Sandhi, used with permission.

It's mostly found in the Great Lakes region, but floating hook moss also has a home in northern Sweden. That part of Sweden has been the home of iron mining for years, and a type of iron pyrite called arsenopyrites piles up and leaches arsenic out into water supplies. Researches at Stockholm University observed the floating hook moss living in the contaminated water, in water no plant should be able to survive in.

"We thought that this plant could be used as an arsenic phytofilter plant species in a constructed wetland system," says Arifin Sandhi, a doctoral candidate at the university.

Could this moss clean up the water?

In general, plants are extremely effective at cleaning up heavy metals and poisons, which they evolve as a defense mechanism. They take it out of their environment, bind it up in their tissues, and essentially bury it inside themselves. As long as we don't eat it for a snack, and as long as the plant stays alive, it's effectively gone.

The researchers discovered that the floating hook moss not only sucks up arsenic, it sucks it up faster than you can watch your favorite TV show.

When introduced into a container of water with dangerous levels of arsenic, the moss filtered 80% of the chemical out of the water in less than an hour.

[rebelmouse-image 19346900 dam="1" original_size="700x364" caption="Image via Hermann Schachner/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Image via Hermann Schachner/Wikimedia Commons.

Even more surprising was that the moss seemed to thrive in the arsenic. It continued to live and grow with as much as double the arsenic it takes to kill other types of moss.

Why does it suck up so much arsenic so fast? Theories abound, and we'll have to wait for molecular biologists to weigh in for any clear answers. The most likely theory, at the moment, is that the moss does it as a form of immunization. By taking in the arsenic and incorporating it into its tissues, it both reduces the chances of the arsenic damaging it externally and gives every branch of the moss a better chance to survive.

This mighty moss has the potential to quickly clean up water sources far beyond northern Sweden.

With it's poison-sucking abilities, the floating hook moss could be used in special gardens planted and grown near sources of pollution. In several towns in France, for example, these handpicked gardens are so good at their jobs that when you reach the final outlet for their sewage treatment plants, you can take a nice dip in the water and never even know where it came from.

The moss is found across the planet, so there's not a huge risk of introducing an invasive species to natural waterways. That said, care will have to be taken that the moss doesn't run out of control, but its speed means that it can be introduced and removed far faster than machine-based solutions.

We don't have to accept the pollution of the past (or present) as the way of the future.

We can do our part by petitioning to build pollution-guzzling gardens and, in places where we can grow aquatic gardens and where we know they won't be invasive, growing them ourselves.

We can make changes, often faster and more powerfully than we thought possible with a little help from the Earth itself.

The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

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Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

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I have plenty of space.

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A woman treats her miniature pig like a toddler and it even 'talks' with electronic buttons

Merlin will tap buttons that say “eat,” “outside” and “ice cream.”

Photo by Ben Mater on Unsplash

A woman treats her pig like a toddler and the internet can't get enough.

Pigs are cute. Well, piglets are cute, but they usually don't stay those tiny little snorting things very long. That is unless you get a mini pig and name it something majestic like Merlin. (I would've gone with Hamlet McBacon, but no one asked me.)

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Democracy

More than seven thousand people shared their best ideas to stop mass shootings. Here are the best.

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A makeshift memorial after the 2019 El Paso mass shooting.

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It’s hard to see these stories in the news every few weeks—or days—and not get desensitized, especially when lawmakers have made it clear that they will not do anything substantive to curb the availability of assault weapons in the U.S.

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Pop Culture

People rally behind a 12-year-old actress who was 'humiliated' with a 'Razzie' nomination

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Ryan Kiera Armstrong in the 2022 film 'Firestarter'

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However, this year people found the Razzies a little more than harmless fun when 12-year-old actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong was nominated for "Worst Actress" for her performance in the 2022 film "Firestarter." She was 11 when the movie was filmed.

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