Monday, June 27, 2011

Expedition Finds 300 Species in One Trip to the Philippines [Science]


Expedition Finds 300 Species in One Trip to the PhilippinesFor most of us, discovering a new species is a big deal. So it's always a little startling when you hear about some expedition rolling out of bed and stumbling into 300 undocumented species in one trip to the Philippines.

The California Academy of Sciences claims they found a "new species during nearly every dive and hike" during their expedition, which really sounds more like bragging than anything else. Even though the team documented their findings with some pretty gorgeous photos, the species will still have to be confirmed under microscope before the number is official. But considering scientists estimate 90 percent of the world's species are still undiscovered, the number isn't too hard to swallow.

We'd be lying if we didn't admit that "photos of a never before seen slug" are a lot more alluring than "pretty pictures of some slug we found," so fingers crossed that they come back positive. [CAS via IBTimes]


Inhabitat's Week in Green: 'round the clock solar plants, USB camping pot and wave energy farms


Green transportation soared to new heights this week as Inhabitat showcased the world's first true hybrid-electric airplane, and we spotted plans for a zero-emission hypersonic jet capable of traveling from London to New York in a single hour. Meanwhile, Japan gave the green for the construction of a blazing fast 313 MPH maglev train line, and we spotted a crazy high-speed rail concept that would allow passengers to change trains while speeding along the tracks. We also watched as an 11-year-old student piloted a 1,325 MPG hypermiling supercar and we saw an 8-ton Volkswagen beetle sculpture sink into the sea to start a new life as an artificial reef.

It's been a scorching summer for solar power as Torresol opened the world's first 24/7 solar plant in Spain, and Samsung unveiled the first photovoltaic-laden laptop to be sold in the US. We also saw Aquamarine Power break ground on a massive wave energy farm in Orkney, while Germany hatched a plan to store excess wind power in abandoned coal mines. Finally, we spotted several novel incredibly odd new energy-generating gizmos -- a t-shirt that converts rock music into electricity and a power-generating USB camping pot that charges your gadgets as you cook.

Speaking of renewable energy, this week we caught a first look at the amazing EDV-01 shelter -- a high-tech solar-powered building with a luminous LED facade that is capable of doubling its capacity with the flick of a switch. We also brought you Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill's plans for the world's 4th tallest skyscraper, and we showcased an ultramodern paperless office in the Netherlands that looks like a meteor fallen from space. Last but not least, we took an exclusive first look inside BIG's mountainous green-roofed eco village in Copenhagen, and tech expert Peter Rojas tackled the question of whether it's better to turn your laptop off or set it to sleep in our Ask a Tech Geek column.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: 'round the clock solar plants, USB camping pot and wave energy farms originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 26 Jun 2011 21:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pininfarina's stunning tree-shaped Antares EV charging station should be more than a prototype


Despite being first showcased in May, Pininfarina's Antares has just slipped across our desks -- and frankly, it's a concept too gorgeous for us not to share. The beautiful tree-like structure -- comprised of steel and aluminum -- supports 20 photovoltaic cells, which the Italians reckon can produce up to 4.6 kilowatts, or just about enough juice to top up two fifty-mile range EVs. That's the plan anyway; we'll supposedly know more later this year, but given Pininfarina's past EV efforts, maybe not. Either way, consider this our formal pre-order request for two -- they'd look perfect right outside Engadget HQ.

Pininfarina's stunning tree-shaped Antares EV charging station should be more than a prototype originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Jun 2011 05:24:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

SafetyNet Only Reels Big Fish [Fishing]


SafetyNet Only Reels Big FishThe ocean's been running a bit short of fish lately, due in part to the seven million tons of dead "by-catch" thrown back every year. The next generation of trawling net aims to simultaneously save fishing stocks and the fishing industry.

The problem with traditional trawling nets is that they catch everything, marketable and unmarketable fish alike — including the juveniles necessary to maintain a species' population. The SafetyNet, on the other hand, is engineered to catch only legally-sized fish from specific species.

The net employs hydro-speakers and lights to drive fish towards the back where the smaller juveniles can leave through specially-sized "escape rings." The lower section incorporates a wide mesh that Cod can easily navigate but Haddock and Whiting (the target species) cannot. If widely adopted, this new design may drastically reduce the amount of fish thrown back and lessen the impact of commercial fishing on the worldwide fish population. [via SafetyNet]


Why Satellites are the New God for Farmers [Space]


Why Satellites are the New God for Farmers Farmers have been using GPS-tracking to better organize their fields for a while but now they have a new god who watches them from space: Satellites that tell them exactly what they need to make perfect crops.

RapidEye is based in Germany but they have a view of the entire world thanks to their fleet of five satellites. Using spectral analysis, they can tell any farmer, anywhere in the world how to best manage their land without ever leaving the office.

Each individual satellites focuses on a specific band of the electromagnetic spectrum; by compiling this data, RapidEye can determine the fertility of any plot of land in the world (so long as there aren't any clouds). They then relay this information to their clients who range from cotton farmers in North Carolina to wheat producers in Kazakhstan. Using the images provided to them, farmers can then determine exactly what fertilizer to spray, where to spray it, and how much to use.

Science fiction writers have always fantasized about farming in space and while this isn't the same as importing Martian carrots, it still boggles the mind to think how far we've come from scattering seeds and praying for rain. [IEEE Spectrum]


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

There Is Too Much Electricity in the Northwest [Power]


There Is Too Much Electricity in the NorthwestAfter this long winter, spring's warmth has begun to melt all that pesky snow. In the Northwest, the resulting runoff helps power everyday life. Only this year there's too much power for them to handle.

The waters that came with spring went on to overwhelm the Federal Columbia River Power System, creating so much electricity that it's threatening service and rates for the millions of customers in the region. So what did the Bonneville Power Administration, power provider to a full third of the Northwest, do? They cut wind power, deciding it was the easiest and safest way to solve the overgeneration problem.

Wind power advocates are pissed, as the disruption of wind power hurts their bottom line:

Since May 18, the decision has disrupted operations at 35 wind farms with more than 2,000 turbines stalled almost daily in the Columbia Gorge along the border of Oregon and Washington. Those generators have contracts with BPA to transmit wind power. Now, they are tallying ongoing losses already in the millions.

They argue that BPA's policy, even in the midst of a bad situation, only stands to benefit. What's more, rural communities suffer from the loss of revenue from wind farms. Even salmon are harmed by excess water being allowed to flow over dams.

Both sides are still at loggerheads on how to solve the issue. It seems the federal government will soon have to step in. [The Atlantic, Image via Shutterstock]


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New 'semi-solid' battery for EVs could recharge as fast as pumping gas


Researchers at MIT reckon they've struck oil. In fact, you're looking at what they call "Cambridge crude" -- a substance that could halve the weight and cost of EV batteries and make them quicker to charge too. The black goo is packed with a high concentration of energy in the form of particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte. When separated by a filter, these particles function as mobile electrodes that can be pumped into and around a system before the energy is released. So instead of waiting up to 20 hours to juice your Nissan Leaf, you could potentially just pump this pre-charged substance into it -- rather like dirty old gas. Until now, no such "semi-solid flow cell" has been able to hold useful quantities of energy, but this stuff literally oozes with it. Not only could it power EVs, it could even be used for large-scale electricity storage for utilities. The researchers insist this energy revolution is years off -- but when it comes, there will be blood.

New 'semi-solid' battery for EVs could recharge as fast as pumping gas originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 08 Jun 2011 12:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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