215 pterosaur eggs unearthed in biggest collection ever found

December 4, 2017 by  
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Scientists recently uncovered the largest group of fossilized pterosaur eggs ever. In a 10-foot-long sandstone block in northwest China , they came across 215 eggs – 16 of which have embryonic remains. Discoveries of pterosaur eggs are exceedingly rare. The only previous discoveries with an intact embryo and well-preserved 3D structure include three in Argentina and five in China , so researchers around the world are especially thrilled with this latest find. Pterosaurs may have been around on Earth up to 225 million years ago, but vanished with the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. This new discovery of pterosaur eggs from the species Hamipterus tianshanensis reveals the reptiles – the first creatures following insects to evolve powered flight – actually couldn’t soar right away after they were born, requiring care from parents. Paleontologist Alexander Kellner of the Museu Nacional at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro told AFP, “Since these are extremely fragile fossils , we were very surprised to find so many in the same place. Because of this discovery, we can talk about the behavior of these animals for the first time.” Related: Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane The eggs are an estimated 120 million years old, from pterosaurs that as adults would have been around four-feet-tall with an 11-foot wingspan. Researchers unearthed partial skull and wing bones , and even one entire lower jaw, filling in some of the gaps in our knowledge about the pterosaur life cycle. The baby pterosaurs would have had functional hind legs not too long after hatching, but weak chest muscles. Kellner said they “could walk but not fly…This is one of the biggest discoveries we have made.” Scientists also found some adult pterosaur bones in the vicinity, leading them to think adult pterosaurs may have come back to the same nesting spots. The journal Science published the work this month. 17 scientists from institutions in China and Brazil contributed; paleontologist Xiaolin Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences led the study. He said there could be as many as 300 eggs at the excavation site – there appear to be some buried beneath the exposed ones. Via Phys.org , EurekAlert! , and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Images via Xinhua/Wang Xiaolin/Chinese Academy of Sciences and Alexander Kellner (Museu Nacional/UFRJ) ( 1 , 2 )

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215 pterosaur eggs unearthed in biggest collection ever found

Post-earthquake home in China wins World Building of the Year 2017

November 20, 2017 by  
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A humanitarian project built with affordable, low-tech materials has won this year’s World Building of the Year at the tenth annual World Architecture Festival . Designed by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Kunming University of Science and Technology, the award-winning Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Project is a prototype house located in China’s Guangming Village, an area devastated by the 2014 Ludian earthquake. The rammed-earth house was recognized for its innovative reconstruction strategy merging modern strategies with local building materials to create an energy-efficient, earthquake-resistant home that can be affordably built by local residents. The post-earthquake prototype home was built for an elderly couple and as a demonstration project to show villagers how rammed earth construction can be modern, economical, and earthquake resistant. After the 2014 earthquake flattened many traditional rammed-earth buildings, villagers sought brick-concrete construction as a safer alternative but found it cost-prohibitive. The designers and researchers developed an anti-seismic earth building strategy to turn the conversation back to the local building material, while introducing new construction components to reinforce building strength and thermal performance. The walls of the home are built of local materials , such as clay, sand, and grass. Steel bars and concrete belts are embedded into the walls for structural integrity, while double-glazed windows and an insulated roof improve thermal performance. The building’s emphasis on comfort, natural light, and respect for local architecture forms has presumably helped the new building strategy (built to meet local seismic codes) gain acceptance among the community. Related: Poland’s National Museum in Szczecin wins World Building of the Year 2016 “The architects succeeded in translating ‘four walls and a roof’ into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes a project that is much more profound,” WAF Programme Director Paul Finch commented. “This building is a demonstration that architecture is just as relevant in the poorest of communities as it is in the richest.” + World Architecture Festival

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Post-earthquake home in China wins World Building of the Year 2017

China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

October 30, 2017 by  
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Back in June, Chinese company CRRC Corporation debuted a self-driving train that runs on virtual tracks – and it just officially hit the streets of Zhuzhou in China ‘s Hunan Province. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) could ease emissions and traffic for a fraction of the cost of building a subway or streetcar system. The 100 percent electric train can transport as many as 300 passengers in three carriages through cities at speeds of 43 miles per hour. No traditional train tracks are necessary for the ART, which runs on dotted lines painted on streets, aided by sensors. The trackless train has been described as a hybrid between a bus and tram, and it’s 100 percent powered by electricity. Channel NewsAsia reported the ART could help speed up public transportation in Zhuzhou before spreading to other cities in China. The train can reportedly run for over 15 miles after charging for 10 minutes. A few outlets say the ART has lithium titanate batteries and charges via a flash charging facility . The ART is more than 103 feet long, and instead of steel wheels it has rubber tires. A twin-head system allows the train to travel without ever making a U-turn. The trackless train’s lifespan is reportedly around 25 years. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ People’s Daily Online reports that the ART is less expensive than the typical subway, which in China costs between 400 million to 700 million yuan, or around $60.1 million to $105.3 million, per kilometer. Compared against electric streetcars, which run around 150 million to 200 million yuan, or around $22.5 million to $30 million, per kilometer, the ART “is only about one-fifth the investment.” The train will be tested in Zhuzhou before opening to the public in 2018. Via Channel NewsAsia Images via New China TV on Youtube

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China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels

October 30, 2017 by  
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Boston , Massachusetts recently announced specific infrastructure projects and policies that must be implemented for the low-laying, water-surrounded city to adjust to expected sea level rise in the coming decades. A comprehensive report outlines short-term and long-term solutions in hopes of protecting communities from what is expected to be a three-foot sea level rise by 2070. “Climate change is here. It’s happening now,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “It’s more important than ever that we work together to make sure our city is ready for the changes ahead.” Two potential measures outlined in the report include raising a section of Main Street in Charlestown and building a seawall in East Boston, both of which are in neighborhoods that have experienced increasingly frequent and severe flooding in recent years. Founded in 1630, Boston, the only state capital in the contiguous United States located on the ocean, was built to take advantage of its marine location. Boston Harbor’s depth and relatively protected location thanks to dozens of harbor islands helped Boston to become a major port city in the British Colonies and later the early United States. As the city grew in population, landfill taken from nearby hills was used to cover the marshland surrounding the narrow peninsula and create new land, including the Back Bay neighborhood. Although Boston has tackled environmental challenges in the past, including a massive late 20th century clean-up of the harbor and nearby rivers, sea level rise of up to three feet in only 50 years time represents an unprecedented threat. Related: Boston man crosses harbor in a pumpkin boat If Main Street in Charlestown, historically a working-class community and now one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, were to be elevated, it would cost at least $2-3 million. This project would block all but the most extreme storm surges from flooding the area, protecting 250 residents and 60 businesses. In total, the mitigation projects for Charlestown alone could cost up to $62 million, though the report estimates that they would offer $201 million in economic benefits. In contrast, a retractable seawall in East Boston would protect 4,300 residents, at least 70 businesses, and cost only $100,000. Although not included in the recent report, Boston is also considering a massive sea wall across Boston Harbor to protect the entire city against rising sea levels. Will other cities follow suit? + Coastal Resilience Solutions Via WCVB Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017

October 20, 2017 by  
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China , a consistent leader in solar power production and installation, is having another banner year with 25 gigawatts of solar energy being installed in June and July alone. It is estimated that China is capable of installing over 50GW of solar energy by the end of 2017. As of October 1, approximately 42GW of solar energy had been installed, though the pace of installations is expected to slow in October. Although China’s solar boom yields economic benefits, an self-interest understanding of the need to protect the environment also drives the movement. “Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping at the National Congress of China’s Communist Party. “This is a reality we have to face.” Much of the recent growth has been concentrated in the non-utility distributed solar sector, in part because China is pushing a new program called Top Runner, which aims to install more efficient solar panels in smaller projects. By any measure, China is absolutely dominating the global solar race. In 2016, the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people installed 34GW of solar power, the most ever by any country in a single year. In contrast, the United States , in the second place position for added capacity in 2016, added only 14.6GW of solar power. Related: China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs Although China’s solar energy domination has proven to be valuable in the export market, with many of the components for solar systems around the world being produced locally, the domestic impact of its deliberate, consistent investment in solar energy is undeniable. In transforming its energy economy, out of necessity and strategy, China may provide important global climate leadership in a time when the United States has ceded its authority in this realm. “Taking a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change, China has become an important participant, contributor, and torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization,” said President Xi Jinping. “[China must] develop a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony with nature.” Via Electrek Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia

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Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017

New concrete roof includes thin-film PV cells to generate power

October 20, 2017 by  
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Digital design and fabrication techniques allowed researchers in Switzerland to create a curvy, super thin concrete roof that will one day help a residential unit produce more power than it consumes. Using the innovative methods, the researchers assembled the roof with much less materials than would otherwise be needed. The concrete roof is also equipped with thin-film photovoltaic cells to generate energy. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) recently unveiled the prototype for a sinuous, self-supporting concrete roof. The roof is comprised of multiple layers, including concrete , heating and cooling coils, insulation, and more concrete fitted with thin film solar cells. The prototype was around 25-feet-tall, with a surface area of around 1,722 feet squared. The average thickness of the concrete was around two inches; the support surfaces had a thickness of 4.7 inches and the edges of the roof were just around one inch thick. Related: The company that offered integrated solar roofs before Elon Musk A cable net supporting a polymer textile provided the formwork for the concrete roof. The researchers used a precise concrete mix, fluid enough to be sprayed but firm enough to not flow off. Professor of Architecture and Structures Philippe Block said in a statement, “We’ve shown that it’s possible to build an exciting thin concrete shell structure using a lightweight, flexible formwork, thus demonstrating that complex concrete structures can be formed without wasting large amounts of material for their construction.” The prototype has already been dismantled to make room for other experiments, but in 2018, the roof will be erected atop materials science and technology research institute Empa ‘s HiLo Penthouse. Guest faculty will live and work in the penthouse, which is expected to produce more energy that it uses thanks to the concrete roof’s solar cells and what ETH Zurich described as an adaptive solar facade . Via ETH Zurich Images © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Michael Lyrenmann and © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Naida Iljazovic

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Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill visitor center blends into the landscape with a rolling green roof

August 9, 2017 by  
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Prolific architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson crafted the Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill Visitor Center in Qingdao, China with a gorgeous rolling green roof . Located at the base of the Zhushan National Forest Park, the wooden building ‘s undulating canopy mimics the mountain range in the backdrop. At 223,000 square feet, the visitor center is certainly massive, however it was carefully designed to blend into its natural surroundings thanks to its subtle stature and verdant green roof. Additionally, the building is strategically oriented so that visitors can enjoy amazing views of the mountain range on one side and expansive sea views on the other end. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls provide these views while illuminating the building with natural light . Related: Manetti Shrem Museum’s 50,000-square-foot canopy was inspired by the agrarian landscape The designers choose to use wood as the building’s principle material to create a strong connection to nature. The unique wooden truss roof structure uses large logs to support a layer of Canadian Class J SPF wood. At the center of the undulating roof is an abundance of lush greenery, further integrating the building into its environment. The green roof was strategically designed to insulate the interior and reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint. + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Via Archdaily Photography by He Lian

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Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill visitor center blends into the landscape with a rolling green roof

Luscious eco-resort design in China inspired by the Silk Road

July 26, 2017 by  
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An existing native village in China is being transformed into a modern eco-resort that offers a variety of activities and spaces. Architects Jean Pierre HEIM and Carolyn HEIM of HEIMdesign approached the redesign of Sasseur eco-tourist village using “One Belt, One Road” development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among China and the rest of the world. The project will be implemented near the city of Chongqing– starting point of the Silk Road economic belt and the hub of a 21st century maritime Silk Road that connects the Chinese interior with the rest of the world. Taking advantage of the existing topography and incorporating an element of feng shui, the team divided the various buildings and facilities into categories like housing, entertainment, art etc. Related: Earthquake-Resistant Eco Village Wins Christchurch’s Breathe Competition The design combines traditional and contemporary elements, with references to the silk industry and raw silk production. The silk thread and the cocoon, the Mulberry tree and silk production in Chongqing are the inspirational elements for this project. The main idea was to keep the existing forms of the villages and existing homes and give a modern contemporary makeover. Included are a multi-media center, wellness and spa facilities , art galleries , green homes, a hotel and childcare facilities. + HEIMdesign

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Worlds first MUJI hotels to open in China and Japan

July 11, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamt of sleeping in a MUJI showroom, your retail wishes may soon become reality. The Japanese lifestyle brand is building their first-ever MUJI hotels in China and Japan designed in their beloved minimalist style. The hotels are planned for the cities of Shenzhen and Tokyo , with the first hotel expected to open in former later this year. Though it might come as a surprise, MUJI’s plans for its first hotel will be in the Chinese city of Shenzhen , not Tokyo. Creative studio Super Potato will design the MUJI development in Shenzhen that will rise to a height of four floors and include a store, restaurant, and hotel. The hotel will be located on the top two floors and comprise 79 rooms in five different layouts. The designers will furnish the rooms in a clean and minimalist style with MUJI products, from the toothbrushes to the bed sheets. Related: MUJI unveils trio of tiny prefab homes that can pop up almost anywhere Hotel guests will also have access to the fitness room, conference room, and other hotel facilities on the third floor. Retail and restaurant space will be located on the lower two levels. The world’s first MUJI hotel will be located in Shenzhen’s Futian Central District as part of the Shenye Shangcheng project. Japan’s first MUJI hotel is planned for the upscale Ginza district in Tokyo and when complete, will replace the nearby MUJI Yurakucho , currently the world’s largest MUJI store. The new MUJI development will be housed in a 10-story building, where the lower six levels will be used for retail and the remaining floors used for the hotel. Like the Shenzhen location, Tokyo’s MUJI hotel will be decked out in MUJI furnishings in an aesthetic iconic of the minimalist “no-brand” brand. The MUJI hotel in Japan will open Spring 2019. + MUJI Via Spoon & Tamago , ??

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BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement

June 1, 2017 by  
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During a highly anticipated speech at the Rose Garden, climate denier President Donald Trump announced that the United States of America will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement secured under Barack Obama’s leadership. President Trump stated that the accord was “bad” and poorly negotiated by the Obama administration, and that he “is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first.” Part of Trump’s speech read, ”The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama administration and signed out of desperation. It frontloads costs on the American people to the detriment of our economy.” Before the announcement was officially made, Donald Trump was cited by The Daily Best telling congressional staffers on a conference call that he is withdrawing from the Paris accord. Energy policy adviser for the White House, Michael Catanzaro, confirmed that “the United States is getting out of the Paris agreement.” Catanzaro added that Trump “will be open to and will immediately be looking for a better deal.” Reportedly, the Trump administration will follow steps for withdrawal laid out in the agreement. In total, says Catanzaro, removing the U.S. from the deal will take four years. “But we’re going to make very clear to the world that we’re not going to be abiding by what the previous administration agreed to,” he said. Despite the fact that countries such as Costa Rica run on 100% renewable energy and Denmark once generated 400% of the power it needs from wind turbines , the Trump administration remains resistant to transitioning the U.S. to run on renewable energy resources. This is because President Trump, a businessman, believes that energy sourced from fossil fuels is the solution to making America great again – and he thinks climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese . Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump At the time of its signing, 195 countries, including the United States, pledged to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change in order to prevent global catastrophes which may result from rising temperatures. President Barack Obama committed America to a goal of lowering emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The broad aim was to increase these cuts over time. With the United States exiting the Paris Agreement, carbon emissions are likely to increase, potentially propelling global disasters resulting from rising sea levels , severe weather conditions, and increased temperatures. On a positive note, China and the European Union are prepared to publicly recommit to the agreement with or without the United States. Also, Trump cannot technically withdraw from the agreement until November of 2019. Finally, many U.S.-based companies, including Apple , have ambitious goals to run on 100% clean energy in the near future. With support from educated consumers, the U.S. may reach its previously contracted emissions goal with or without the President’s support. Via CNN Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Creative Commons

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