For a while there I was obsessed with PFAS. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, as erstwhile Inverser Peter Hess plainly puts it in his must-read 2019 story, “are a class of chemicals used to make materials water- and grease-proof — crucial qualities for a food takeout container.”
They are also known as “forever chemicals” because they are just that; they don’t break down in our bodies and they don’t break down on Earth. They are in you right now. They eventually end up in the most remote locations on Earth and in the waves of every ocean you’ve ever enjoyed. These chemicals are downright dystopian. Created for our convenience to enable a fast-food lifestyle, they build up in living organisms over time. It’s wild, end-times stuff.
But there’s good news — There’s legislation afoot to regulate how much of these things are allowed to be created. And scientists have just discovered a natural method to pull them out of the dirt. It’s our old friend hemp. Keep scrolling to read more about this groundbreaking discovery, reported on by nature writer Tara Yarlagadda. Perhaps the most dystopian chemical on Earth has met its match.
I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily. The Inverse mission is to share big ideas about science and innovation in an entertaining style and look at entertainment and culture with deeply curious methods.
Mailbag — What’s in your apocalypse bag? You know, the backpack you carry when the world ends. These are your essentials for the post-apocalyptic world that you can fit in a standard backpack. Take the anonymous survey here. We’ve had more than 2,200 respondents so far! There are only a few more days to vote, so get in your end-times advice now.
Hemp sucks PFAS from the ground — Scientists and indigenous community volunteers discovered hemp can remove toxic forever chemicals, known as PFAS, from the soil of a former Air Force base. Tara Yarlagadda reports on this groundbreaking finding:
Hemp, a variety of the plant Cannabis sativa, is often overshadowed by marijuana — a genetically distinct form of cannabis. Used for food, clothing, fuel, and plastics, it’s the seemingly more domestic member of the family.
Go deeper on what PFAS chemicals do:
Venmo and cryptocurrency — Venmo is getting into cryptocurrency, but is the mobile payments app the right place to buy bitcoin? Read our review for everything you need to know, from fees to how it compares to popular exchanges like Coinbase. Jack Delahunty has put together this guide:
You probably already use Venmo to split the bill at restaurants, but should you use it to buy cryptocurrency?
Users of PayPal-owned Venmo can now use the mobile wallet app to seamlessly buy four major cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash for as little as $1.
This represents yet another step for crypto into the mainstream financial world as Venmo boasts over 70 million users in the U.S. But it’s not a bad deal for Venmo, either. According to a 2020 customer survey, 30 percent of the payment app’s customers were already buying cryptocurrency last year through other services. If Venmo can capture even a slice of that market, it could make a killing.
What Carl Sagan got right about Star Wars — A clip of Carl…