Thursday, July 25, 2013

Giant Mirror Lakes Invade Beijing To Reflect China's Water Crisis

Source: http://gizmodo.com/giant-mirror-lakes-invade-beijing-to-reflect-chinas-wa-909754610

Giant Mirror Lakes Invade Beijing To Reflect China's Water Crisis

At first glance, it looks like Beijing is being swallowed up by rising tides. But these aren't giant bottomless puddles—they're mirrors, installed throughout Beijing by the Chinese wing of advertising agency Grey Group. The point? To draw attention to the country's rapidly-disappearing lakes.

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The North Pole Is Now a Lake

Source: http://gizmodo.com/the-north-pole-is-now-a-lake-907239981

The North Pole Is Now a Lake

If you think these images from the North Pole look more like a lake than the snow-covered expanse you'd expect, that because it is is—the North Pole has melted.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Nonprofit Is Quietly Cloning the World's Largest (and Oldest) Trees

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-nonprofit-is-quietly-cloning-the-worlds-largest-883316803

This Nonprofit Is Quietly Cloning the World's Largest (and Oldest) Trees

The 2,500-year-old Ankerwycke Yew, which sits near a medieval nunnery in Southern England, has borne witness to some serious history. It shaded the King of England during the signing of the Magna Carta. It was a favorite meeting spot of Anne Boleyn and King Henry. And it’s likely going to see a whole lot more, after the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive finishes cloning it.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

drag2share: Fukushima's Leaking Radioactive Water into the Ocean After All

source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/vip/~3/40lhhIg6epU/fukushimas-leaking-radioactive-water-into-the-ocean-af-870532242

Fukushima's Leaking Radioactive Water into the Ocean After All

Well over two years after the Tōhuku earthquake and tsunami, TEPCO officials admit that radioactive groundwater has been leaking into the nearby ocean for, well, two years.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Volvo's Folding Solar Panels Are Basically The Coolest Thing Ever

Source: http://jalopnik.com/volvos-folding-solar-panels-are-basically-the-coolest-805447493

Volvo's Folding Solar Panels Are Basically The Coolest Thing Ever

Solar panels have been around for ages, and they've all looked the same. And boring. So boring. But now there's a concept for some new solar panels that fold. They. Are. Awesome.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

drag2share: AND NOW: Robots Are About To Take All The Farm Jobs

source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/~3/Ty2MgvKoPlg/robots-being-developed-to-automate-farm-labor-2013-7

farmer, american farmer

SALINAS, Calif. (AP) — On a windy morning in California's Salinas Valley, a tractor pulled a wheeled, metal contraption over rows of budding iceberg lettuce plants. Engineers from Silicon Valley tinkered with the software on a laptop to ensure the machine was eliminating the right leafy buds.

The engineers were testing the Lettuce Bot, a machine that can "thin" a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 workers to do the job by hand.

The thinner is part of a new generation of machines that target the last frontier of agricultural mechanization — fruits and vegetables destined for the fresh market, not processing, which have thus far resisted mechanization because they're sensitive to bruising.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Elon Musk's Dream Is Coming True: 'Evacuated Tube Transport' Company Is Building A Three-Mile-Long Hyperloop Transport System (TSLA)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/hyperloop-transport-system-being-built-2013-7

Hyperloop Concept

Elon Musk's dream of a hyperloop transport system could arrive sooner than even he anticipated.

Hyperloop transportation — referred to by Musk as a "cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table" — is a super fast tubular transport system with the ability to theoretically send someone from New York to L.A. in 30 minutes.

Utilizing vacuum-sealed tubes, six-person capsules could be propelled up to speeds of 4,000 miles per hour. All while only feeling the G-forces similar to a car ride.

Colorado-based company, ET3, is planning to build and test its own version of such a hyperloop system, Yahoo reports.

Coining the term "Evacuated Tube Transport," ET3 will build a three-mile-long version to test by the end of 2013. 

With prototypes already constructed, ET3's pioneering foray into hyperloop transportation could quickly move the new travel system from science fiction dream into a feasible reality.

ET3 has released a video detailing their Evacuated Tube Transport system and how it will work, which you can watch below.

 

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

This Clever Egg Washer Could Save 90 Million Chickens a Year

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-clever-egg-washer-could-save-90-million-chickens-a-708089931

This Clever Egg Washer Could Save 90 Million Chickens a Year

Regardless of which came first, chickens and their eggs are big business. In the US alone, we raise nine billion fowl—more than the total number of humans on Earth—every single year. Problem is, eggs have a natural failure rate (due to bacterial infections and such) of one percent—90 million birds annually—and our best methods of cleaning the eggs leaves them more exposed to infection. But this prototype egg sanitizer from Texas A&M could save a lot of soon-to-be chicks from early termination.

When an egg exits the hen, it's coated with a waxy protective cuticle. This coating prevents bacterial infections for the first week or so (the most critical time for an embryo) by clogging the shell's pores. The coating later wears off to facilitate gas exchange, allowing the developing chick to breathe. But in industrialized chicken propagation, newly laid eggs are often bathed in a hot (110-120 degree F) detergent wash that strips this coating, leaving the embryo exposed to all sorts of infection. Seriously, you ever see inside an industrial hen house? It's filthy. Even getting eggs wet after washing is enough to significantly increase the number of bad eggs.

So rather than scrub off the cuticle along with the bacteria, Dr. Craig Coufal, a poultry specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and his team created an egg sanitizer that does away with the detergent altogether. Instead, Coufal's washer relies on hydrogen peroxide and UV light to clean them. Eggs are first doused in a fine mist of hydrogen peroxide, then exposed to the UV light. The hydrogen peroxide interacts with the UV rays to generate hydroxyl ions, which kill germs without disintegrating the cuticle.

Early lab tests are extremely promising, with zero chemical residue, no change to the yolk's texture or taste (as 120 degree detergent baths are wont to do), and low secondary infection rates, thanks to the intact cuticle. The machine is still in the prototype stage but Coufal's team is working to install a pilot machine in a local hatchery in the coming months. [Texas Bionews]

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Friday, July 5, 2013

IKEA Uses a Massive One Percent of the World's Commercial Wood Supply

Source: http://gizmodo.com/ikea-uses-a-staggering-one-percent-of-the-worlds-wood-677540490

IKEA Uses a Massive One Percent of the World's Commercial Wood Supply

The easiest joke to make about IKEA is that few of its products—from shelves to meatballs—are made from what they seem. But even particleboard still requires wood—and a lot of it, when you’re selling 100 million products every year.

According to Pacific Standard, IKEA uses almost one percent of the world’s commercial wood supply. That’s 17.8 million cubic yards, or 3.2 million cubic miles .00326499108 cubic miles.

Plenty of critics would argue that IKEA is unnecessarily depleting the world's forests, given the short half-life of most of its products. To its credit, though, IKEA seems pretty committed to sourcing its materials sustainably; 25 percent of its wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which ensures that the wood is legally and sustainably sourced (the goal is to increase that figure to 50 percent within the next five years).

It turns out that IKEA actually split its wood sourcing and production arm into its own company, Swedwood, back in 1991. Right now, it employs 15,000 people at 46 different manufacturing sites, where the engineering group sources, harvests, and readies raw wood for production. Now, if only some intrepid photojournalist would go visit. [Pacific Standard]

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Using Algorithmic Modeling to âPrintâ Smarter Fields

Source: http://gizmodo.com/using-algorithmic-modeling-to-print-smarter-fields-678564326

Using Algorithmic Modeling to “Print” Smarter Fields

Combination planting—where certain crops are planted together to stave off pests or enhance taste—is as old as farming itself. But up until recently, it’s been difficult to be precise about where and how different crops can benefit from each other. Benedikt Groß, a UK-based interaction designer, is using algorithmic processing t0 improve on a practice that's thousands of years old.

Groß’s idea actually stems from a fairly recent development in European farming culture: Biogas production. Across the EU, government subsidies for farmers who farm biogas crops are inspiring what Der Spiegel recently called “a modern day land grab.” Across the continent, farmers are buying up new land to plant corn and other biogas crops.

But just like every other crop, these plants are still subject to age-old problems, like vermin—which generally means farmers have to use pesticides. That’s where Groß comes in. His idea is to use the thousand-year-old concept of combination planting to reduce the need for chemicals.

Using Algorithmic Modeling to “Print” Smarter Fields

Combination planting is old, but the way Groß applies it is new. Using an algorithm written in the visual scription program Processing, he’s developed a way to generate complex planting maps that play to the unique complexities of each plot of land (the crops are planted using a GPS system, which is actually a fairly common approach among modern farmers).

As part of his interaction design studies at the RCA, in London, Groß tested his script on an irregular, 28-acre plot of land in southern Germany. Using his algorithm, he created a Voronoi diagram-style map of oats, destined for biogas production, interwoven with a delicate thread of eleven wildflowers and herbs, known to repel vermin and pests. He supplied the map to his farmer collaborator in May, and the crops are due to be harvested for biogas this month. “These additional areas establish, or improve, the connectivity for fauna and flora between habitats,” he writes. “This increased diversity also eases typical problems of monocultures.”

Does this mean parametric design is poised to transform farming? Not quite. After all, it’s hard to say whether the money saved in pesticides is more than the cost of mapping and precision planting. Groß explains on his website that the point of his testbed was simply to illustrate how digital fabrication could eventually aid farmers.

But it’s not out of the question. After all, agricultural scientists are exploring how GPS-controlled shock collars for livestock could revolutionize crop rotation and eradicate fences altogether. Could algorithmically-planned fields be far behind? It’s a brave new farm—but let’s stay away from Soylent Green, shall we? [Creative Applications]

Using Algorithmic Modeling to “Print” Smarter Fields

Avena+ Test Bed — Agricultural Printing and Altered Landscapes from Benedikt Groß on Vimeo.

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