If you think you’re smart enough to break codes, you may want to wait around for the next Cicada 3301 set of puzzles. Very few people know why you would want to try to break the various puzzles put forth by the mysterious organization save the few that have jumped through the hoops in time. Those who have broken it aren’t talking.
Sep. 23, 2013 — Audio CDs, all the rage in the ’90s, seem increasingly obsolete in a world of MP3 files and iPods, leaving many music lovers with the question of what to do with their extensive compact disk collections.
While you could turn your old disks into a work of avant-garde art, researchers in Taiwan have come up with a more practical application: breaking down sewage.
"Optical disks are cheap, readily available, and very commonly used," says Din Ping Tsai, a physicist at National Taiwan University. Close to 20 billion disks are already manufactured annually, the researchers note, so using old disks for water treatment might even be a way to cut down on waste.
Tsai and his colleagues from National Taiwan University, National Applied Research Laboratories in Taiwan, and the Research Center for Applied Sciences in Taiwan used the large surface area of optical disks as a platform to grow tiny, upright zinc oxide nanorods about a thousandth the width of a human hair.
Zinc oxide is an inexpensive semiconductor that can function as a photocatalyst, breaking apart organic molecules like the pollutants in sewage when illuminated with UV light.