The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Jun 2012

The Not-So-Silver Lining of Your Anti-Microbial Outdoor Apparel

Nanotech_research_bed Simulated wetland used in silver nanoparticle research at Duke University. Photo: Benjamin Espinasse

In recent years, many outdoor apparel manufacturers have embraced a new range of anti-microbial textile coatings that are designed to inhibit the growth of bacterial and fungus that cause odors. Less stinky clothes means less stinky people, so it obviously has great marketing appeal—especially for clothing and socks that one might wear for numerous days in the backcountry. Plus, less stinky clothes means having to do less laundry, so that could add up to real energy and water savings for consumers.

But anti-microbial coatings might have a dark side. Many of these coatings use nanoparticles of silver—silver being the anti-microbial agent. A 2009 study showed that washing these textiles releases silver nanoparticles into waste water. From there, they could then enter the environment. And because silver is a known aquatic toxin, that concerns scientists. Now, a study conducted by researchers from Duke University and other institutions for the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology, has revealed something even more troubling: Silver nanoparticles released into the environment can end up as a silver contaminant in terrestrial plants and aquatic animals. What's more, the silver was found in the organisms' offspring.

"You expose silver nanoparticles to one generation and it shows up in the next generation," says Martin Mulvihill, the executive director of U.C. Berkeley's Center for Green Chemistry and the author of a recent article about the study published in Environmental Health News. "It crosses the barrier between generations, and that is of the greatest concern. The Duke study shows silver nanoparticles persisted in the environment and underwent changes that might make it dangerous [to plants and animals]," he says.

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NASA Releases White Marble, an Amazing Hi-Res Image of the Arctic

BlueMarble_arcticWhite Marble. Photo: NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/Flickr

By now you've probably heard of Blue Marble, the super hi-res composite image of earth. It's not the single biggest hi-res picture of our planet, but it is a pretty amazing stitch job. Previously, NASA had released Blue Marble pictures of the Western Hemisphere, Eastern Hemisphere, and Australia. (I've included all of the pictures below in case you missed them.) Now they've released an Arctic image called White Marble that required more stitching than any of the other images. Before we go into that, here's a little background on how these images are made.

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On Auction: The IMBA Niner

Niner Bikes IMBA S.I.R. 9Bid to win this S.I.R. 9 IMBA edition and support trail advocacy with your entry.

Yesterday at Bike Press Camp in Park City, Utah, Niner Bikes launched a fully revised edition of it's venerable S.I.R. 9 mountain bike. That's Steel Is Real for you acronym-impaired. This bike has been a fixture in the big-wheel specialist's line for ages, but the 2012 edition is certainly the most refined version ever.

Eschewing the perception that steel is obsolete as a bike-building material, the S.I.R. 9 pairs the lightest tubing out there (Reynolds 853 DZB) with every modern detailing available. "Steel tends to get overlooked these days, but it has a very particular ride characteristic," says Carla Huckee, Niner's brand manager. "We wanted to build a production bike that you could only otherwise get from a custom frame builder."

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The USOC Announces Coaches of the Year

The United States Olympic Committee has announced its 2011 coaches of the year. Rick Bower, coach of the U.S. snowboarding halfpipe team, took home the top honor. In the past, that award has gone to prominent names, including cycling coach Chris Carmichael and soccer coach Bob Bradley. Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching in Boulder won the Doc Counsilman Science Award for his work to improve cycling performance. Here's a quick summary of the winners and their achievements, as lifted from the USOC press release.

2011 USOC COACHES OF THE YEAR

Olympic Coach of the Year: Rick Bower
During his six seasons as coach of the U.S. snowboarding halfpipe team, Bower has played an integral role in advancing women’s snowboarding. In 2011, he led his athletes to 31 major event podiums and took snowboarding to new heights after helping Kelly Clark become the first female to land a 1080 in competition. This achievement, at the pinnacle of snowboarding events for the year, had a monumental influence on up-and-coming female athletes and the progression of women’s snowboarding. For his efforts, Bower was recognized as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association International Coach of the Year and USSA International Snowboarding Coach of the Year in 2011.

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Giro Donne Day 3: Passo Dello Stelvio

201206_untitled0135

Passo dello Stelvio may be the best known stage of the Giro d'Italia, and for roadies it’s the crown jewel of climbs in the Italian Alps. Today we rode the ninth stage from the 2010 Giro Donne, Livigno to Stelvio, finishing with the classic climb and descent.

A few weeks ago, during the 2012 Giro d'Italia, Thomas DeGendt, a Belgian riding for the Vacansoleil team, executed a bold breakaway solo on the Stelvio16.5 from the top of the climb. He held his lead to the top of the mountain to win the stage, pulling himself from eighth to fourth place overall.

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