Two-thirds of Americans exposed to cancer-causing drinking water, new report finds

September 20, 2016 by  
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A new report reveals everyday sources of drinking water expose 200 million American people to chromium-6 , a chemical linked to cancer. Sixteen years after the film “Erin Brockovich” brought worldwide attention to chemical pollution in Hinkley, California, two-thirds of Americans are still at risk from the dangerous heavy metal. Environmental Working Group  (EWG) released a new report on September 20 that found unsafe levels of chromium-6 in tap water across all 50 states. The EWG report summarizes the independent review of data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) for the first nationwide evaluation of chromium-6 contamination in US drinking water. The levels of chromium-6 found in drinking water across the nation put 12,000 Americans at risk for cancer, according to the report’s co-authors David Andrews and Bill Walker, senior scientist and managing editor of EWG. In response to the study results, Erin Brockovich herself is back to demand more regulatory action to ensure clean, healthy drinking water. “The water system in this country is overwhelmed and we aren’t putting enough resources towards this essential resource,” she told The Guardian in an email. “We simply can’t continue to survive with toxic drinking water.” Related: Sinkhole releases over 200 million gallons of toxic waste into Florida’s drinking water A huge part of the problem is that, despite the $333 million settlement Brockovich helped win for residents of Hinkley and mounting scientific evidence linking chromium-6 to various forms of cancer , Walker explains, “the US currently has no national drinking water standard for chromium-6.” “Part of the reason behind writing this report is really highlighting how our regulatory system is broken – in its ability to incorporate new science, and its ability to publish and update drinking water standards,” Andrews added. Chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, is used in a number of processes, but the electric power industry is one of the largest users of the dangerous chemical and the biggest source of contamination. A 2011 Earthjustice report revealed “the electric power industry reported 10.6m pounds of chromium and chromium compounds were released to the environment” two years earlier, which is 24 percent of the chromium released by all industries. At that time, the causal relationship between hexavalent chromium and cancer was already known, and even small exposure levels were proven to be dangerous to humans. Yet, the EPA and other regulatory agencies have yet to create federal standards to protect the most basic of life-supporting substances: our drinking water. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Two-thirds of Americans exposed to cancer-causing drinking water, new report finds

The galaxy-shaped Indian utopia built on principles of no money or government

September 20, 2016 by  
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As capitalism and globalization grow increasingly unpopular, new economic and social models are popping across the world – including India. But they don’t always pan out as well as their founding ideals. Case in point is Auroville, a city designed to be a grand utopia without money or government. Mirra Alfassa founded the community in 1968 on principles such as ongoing education, human unity, and research. She worked with French architect Roger Anger to design a galaxy-shaped spiral city that could inspire other ” beautiful cities where people sincerely looking towards a more harmonious future will want to live .” Inspired by her relationship with Indian guru and philosopher Sri Aurobindo, Alfassa built Auroville based on a charter that includes four ideals , chief of which include: residents “must be a willing servitor of the divine consciousness” and that the utopia would be a place of “material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.” Today the Indian government supports the utopian experiment with over $200,000 yearly. While the town was designed to hold 50,000 people, around 2,500 permanent residents dwell there (although some put that number closer to 10,000), with 5,000 visitors. Related: Utopian off-grid Regen Village produces all of its own food and energy Architecture research is included under the vision for Auroville. According to the city’s website , “The dream of building a new city for the future on a clean slate, with the purpose of promoting research and experimentation alongside integral development, has been attracting architects and students of architecture from all over the world ever since Auroville’s inception in 1968.” Architects in Auroville are encouraged to experiment with environmentally friendly designs, building materials, and technology. However, it’s not always peaceful in paradise. Faced with crime, residents often experience a different reality, even as many in the community continue to work towards Alfassa’s dream. Sexual harassment, robbery, and murder are among the crimes that have been committed in Auroville. One resident told a reporter for Slate, “When you start to scratch the surface of Auroville, it’s a lot more ugly than from the outside. You start to see all the problems here, and it’s deeply layered.” The no money idea hasn’t quite panned out either; while town visitors must buy a Aurocard with cash, some businesses prefer cash to the Aurocard. It’s not an entire failure. Auroville is home to the Matrimandir, a lovely two-story gold building designed for meditation and reflection. Many of the residents and visitors seem to strive for peace and unity. Half of the city gets its power from solar panels. Free education, organic farming, beautiful buildings, and art are among the community’s accomplishments. Via Slate Images via Auroville Facebook , Photo: Sanyam Bahga/Wikimedia Commons , and Wikimedia Commons

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The galaxy-shaped Indian utopia built on principles of no money or government

Despite Hawaii success, American wave energy lags behind rest of the world

September 20, 2016 by  
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Thanks to a Navy test site, America’s first wave-produced electricity was fed into Hawaii’s power grid  last summer. The US Department of Energy confirmed in July 2015 that the Azura prototype generator developed by Oregon-based Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) was the first to add wave energy to a US power grid, and although the test site has remained active, it could still be a decade or more before a large-scale wave energy project begins producing a substantial amount of electricity for the American people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAqNOTSoNHs Wave energy , also known as tidal energy, is a growing sector in renewable energy that holds a lot of promise. Solar and wind power have been established as viable alternatives to fossil fuels, both in cost and electricity production, but the output of wave energy could eventually help it become a leading source of clean energy. Wave energy makes a lot of sense in a place like Hawaii, which is surrounded by some of the best surf on Earth. WETS, which came online July 2015, also aims to contribute to the state’s goal to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2045. Related: 45-ton Azura generator harvests energy from Hawaii’s waves “More power from more places translates to a more agile, more flexible, more capable force,” Joseph Bryan, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, said during an event at the site. “So we’re always looking for new ways to power the mission.” More than a year after it first went online, WETS is still only a small scale pilot program. Elsewhere, the world’s first large-scale tidal energy project kicks off in Scotland using vastly different technology, and won’t be fully operational before 2020. An Australian wave energy project recently set a world record for days in operation. Meanwhile, Sweden-based CorPower Ocean pushes the envelope, promising five times the electricity production of existing wave energy technology. Other projects are planned for various sites around the globe, demonstrating the increasing popularity of this oft-overlooked clean energy source. Although the early results from the Hawaiian test site are exciting, wave energy experts say it could be up to 10 years before a large-scale wave energy project could go online. In part, they blame the very seawater that makes the clean energy possible. “The ocean is a really hard place to work,” said Patrick Cross, specialist at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which helps run the Hawaii test site. “You’ve got to design something that can stay in the water for a long time but be able to survive.” Via Phys.org Images via Northwest Energy Innovations

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Rotterdam couple lives in a skinny house built from 15 tonnes of industrial waste

September 20, 2016 by  
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The waste-based house was built on one of Rotterdam’s many empty plots of land—a consequence of the city’s post-war landscape—and is sandwiched between two existing brick-clad buildings. To match its neighbors, the architects envisioned a brick façade but also wanted to build with recycled materials to divert landfill waste. The duo collaborated with Tom van Soest of StoneCycling to create the first project made from the company’s

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Rotterdam couple lives in a skinny house built from 15 tonnes of industrial waste

Another Bangladesh factory fire leaves 34 dead, 40 injured, and 10 still missing

September 20, 2016 by  
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On September 11, a raging fire tore through a packaging factory in Bangladesh , causing the building to c ollapse and kill 34 people . Numerous criminal complaints have been filed in the wake of the disaster and the question has been raised: how many more people must die or become injured in these unsafe factories before there is significant change? Embed from Getty Images Just over three years after the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, which left 1,129 people dead and over 2,500 injured, the three-story Tampaco Foils Ltd factory was met with tragedy. At least 70 percent of the structure collapsed, due to and explosion and consequent fire. The factory worked with international clients, including Nestle and British American Tobacco. Family members of the deceased and injured have filed complaints against several people involved, including the factory owner. Related: Bad buildings kill – Rana Plaza and the case for stringent building practices Bangladesh is, unfortunately, not new to catastrophes in its industrial fields. Just last year, a cement factory caved in , killing 7, and in 2012 – before the Rana Plaza disaster – a garment factory fire claimed the lives of 112 people. Initiatives to correct future problems were set into motion, according to Human Rights Watch, including the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Building Accord and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety . Sadly, many international companies have not signed up with either initiative, leaving workers in the hands of Bangladeshi inspectors and other third parties to monitor fire hazards and workplace safety standards. For this disaster, time will tell how far the destruction and loss reach. Via Human Rights Watch Lead image via Wikimedia

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Another Bangladesh factory fire leaves 34 dead, 40 injured, and 10 still missing

Everything we thought we knew about the moon’s origins is probably wrong

September 20, 2016 by  
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Everything we thought we knew about the moon’s origins is probably wrong, according to a new study written by two Harvard scientists. The leading theory since the 1970’s suggests a Mars-sized object scratched Earth in a ” giant impact event ,” leading to the moon . But new analysis of moon rocks reveals the collision that led to the moon was likely far more violent than we thought, which could offer insight into what the solar system was like long ago. Kun Wang and Stein B. Jacobsen, who are both affiliated with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard , scrutinized ” old Apollo samples from the ’70’s ” with better technology than was available 40 or more years ago. They found elements that couldn’t fully be explained by the old theory, including ” heavy isotopes of potassium .” The process to separate out those potassium isotopes would have needed super hot temperatures. Those temperatures could have resulted after a very violent collision. Related: The Moon was created when young Earth collided with another planet, says new study Wang told Gizmodo, “We need a much, much bigger impact to form a moon according to our study. The giant impact itself should be called extremely giant impact. The amount of energy required isn’t even close.” Instead of the Mars-sized object scraping Earth, the collision would have been more akin to a “sledgehammer hitting a watermelon.” The collision was so hot and forceful that the scientists think some of Earth actually vaporized. When the vapor cooled, it condensed into our moon. Nature published their study online this week. The new information about the moon’s origins led the scientists to think long ago, the solar system could have been a lot more violent and volatile. They think the moon rocks could hold more secrets about the ” early solar system ” and plan to keep probing the samples for more thrilling hints about the past. Via Gizmodo Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Criminal charges possible in Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe’s death

June 1, 2016 by  
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Criminal charges may be possible after the death of Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo . This past weekend, a four-year-old boy climbed a barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure. The gorilla appeared to behave in a threatening manner, precipitating the decision of a zoo response team to shoot Harambe in order to rescue the child. In a statement released on their Facebook page, the zoo said they were ” devastated ” by Harambe’s death. Director Thane Maynard said, “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team. Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get worse.” Related: Polar bears are getting dosed with Prozac to keep them calm in captivity Angered, some members of the public are calling for justice for Harambe. A Change.org petition casting blame on the child’s parents has garnered around 349,400 supporters. The petition says the “negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation” and calls for an investigation. In addition, activist organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which monitors zoos as part of the Animal Welfare Act . The group cast blame on the zoo and said the enclosure was not properly constructed. If the USDA finds the zoo has violated the Animal Welfare Act, the zoo could owe the government $10,000. According to USDA reports, a polar bear escape incident and deteriorating enclosures for horses and monkeys resulted in prior citations. The zoo said in their statement that Gorilla World, where Harambe resided, has been “inspected regularly” by the USDA. According to Maynard, the barrier around Harambe’s enclosure had worked “for 38 years.” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters confirmed the Cincinnati Police Department is investigating the death of Harambe. He said , “Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges.” Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Facebook

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Criminal charges possible in Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe’s death

LEGO Music lets you turn bricks into tunes

June 1, 2016 by  
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The maker movement is king. To bring LEGO into the maker conversation, we introduce LEGO Music. With the idea, LEGO stores will carry Beatboards, a modified LEGO baseplate. By using capacitive sensing, kids are able to build their own interactive music pad using LEGO bricks. The bricks and baseplate are coated in conductive ink, making it possible to change the resistance in a circuit by simply adding and removing LEGO bricks. It’s simple: change the shape, change the sound. The Beatboard’s underlying technology is simple, consisting of a basic circuit board, a speaker , and enough wires for each note. So, the Beatboard can be adapted to any size from individual platforms to large-scale installations. ‘LEGO music’, invented by Esteban Cardona, along with Benson Rong and Andrew Kim, was awarded winner of the silver pencil at The One Show’s advertising competition and was shortlisted for Future Lions 2016 (part of the Cannes Lion Festival). + Esteban Cardona

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LEGO Music lets you turn bricks into tunes

Abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking methane across the USA

January 29, 2015 by  
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After the State of the Union  Address and the touting of the abundance of our natural resources , you’d probably think that our natural gas game in the U.S. is strong. Meanwhile, the big environmental organizations are going off about the Keystone XL Pipeline , and smaller grassroots non profits are fighting eminent domain (not to mention exploding ) pipelines like the Penn East and the Atlantic Sunrise, along with the air-polluting compressor station infrastructure that accompanies them. While all that’s going on, hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout the country are leaking extraordinary amounts of methane and being ignored by political leaders who continue to support “clean-burning” natural gas. Read the rest of Abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking methane across the USA Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: abandoned , air , Air quality , ban fracking , carbon dioxide , Climate Change , dangerous , DEP , department of Environmental Protection , Environment , environmental protection agency , epa , fossil fuels , fracking , gas , gas wells , government , greenhouse gases , health effects , leaking , McKean county , methane , natural gas , no frack , oil and gas , oil wells , PA , pennsylvania , Policy , princeton , regulations , renewable energy , research , shale gas , stanford , studies , united states , university , water issues

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Abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking methane across the USA

Nendo’s new Chocolatexture lets you taste the meaning of Japanese words

January 29, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Nendo’s new Chocolatexture lets you taste the meaning of Japanese words Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Chocolatexture , Designer of the Year , geometric , Japanese design , Maison&Objet , Nendo , textured chocolate

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