World’s highest and longest glass bridge in China whacked with a sledgehammer

June 14, 2016 by  
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The world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge is expected to open in next month in central China . The glass walkway spans some 1,400 feet—over a quarter of a mile—across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon  in one of the country’s most pristine national parks. Before opening day, though, bridge officials hope to reassure people about its safety. To prove the bridge is strong enough to hold hundreds of visitors at a time, they invited BBC Click’s Dan Simmons to visit the bridge, and take a few swings at one of its glass panels with a sledgehammer . Of course, it was all captured on video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guWLBG-htrU Residents and visitors to China have reason to be a little nervous about glass-bottomed bridges. Last fall, another glass bridge in China cracked just two weeks after celebrating its grand opening. A visitor dropped a mug on the walkway, causing the glass to shatter and become unstable. The bridge had to be evacuated immediately and was closed for lengthy repairs. Related: World’s tallest and longest glass bridge announced for China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon The new bridge in Zhangjiajie is engineered to withstand a beating, though. Each segment of the bridge is composed of three layers of ultra-strong glass. It’s so strong, in fact, that it can survive a dozen or more swings of a giant sledgehammer. Simmons was tapped to perform the test on a duplicate pane of glass, the same kind used in the bridge itself, elevated on a platform midway across the bridge. With cameras rolling and the bridge’s manager looking on with encouragement, Simmons’ first blow shattered the top layer of glass . Much like a fractured windshield, the glass fragments were held together within the frame. Simmons hit the glass again and again, putting all his weight behind each swing of the sledgehammer, but the bottom two layers of the glass showed little sign of damage, and the glass platform remained stable as Simmons and the bridge president stood on top of it. Given the sledgehammer test results, would you feel safe walking across a quarter-mile bridge with nothing but a few layers of glass between you and the nearly 1,000-foot drop to the canyon floor? Via BBC Images via BBC (via screenshot)

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World’s highest and longest glass bridge in China whacked with a sledgehammer

U.S. coal production dips to lowest point in 35 years due to rise of renewable energy sources

June 14, 2016 by  
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Despite the persistence of climate change and a slew of reports this year about impending points of no return, there’s a little good news for the environment this month. According to a new report from the United States Department of Energy, nationwide coal production hit its lowest level in 35 years during the last quarter . Thanks to the steady rise of alternative energy sources, such as solar , and wind power, utilities across the country are slowly but surely putting fossil fuels in the dog house, and the declining demand has impacted the coal industry directly. Not since a major coal workers’ strike in the early 1980s has coal production been so low. The U.S. Energy Information Administration published the new report last week, which illustrates coal production measured in millions of tons. For Q1 2016, 173 tons of coal was produced – a figure that represents a steep decline over recent years. The majority of the decline was felt in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, where coal production has fallen significantly over previous quarters. Related: Obama halts new mining leases on public land, citing climate change concerns Coal production in the U.S. has been on the decline since its peak in 2007, but levels have been decreasing at a more rapid pace over the last several years for a variety of reasons. Americans did use less energy last year as a whole, but that’s not why coal production is down. The uptick in renewable energy industries is a primary factor, translating into coal companies filing for bankruptcy in record numbers. “Coal production has declined because of increasingly challenging market conditions for coal producers,” the report said. “In addition to complying with environmental regulations and adapting to slower growth in electricity demand, coal-fired generators also are competing with renewables and with natural gas-fired electricity generation during a time of historically low natural gas prices.” + US Energy Information Administration Via New York Times Images via Shutterstock and U.S. EIA

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U.S. coal production dips to lowest point in 35 years due to rise of renewable energy sources

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