This 7-year-old from Maryland might be the next Einstein

February 6, 2017 by  
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Romanieo Golphin, Jr. may only be 7, but already there are whispers that he could be the Albert Einstein of his generation. The home-schooled boy from Silver Spring, Maryland, showed signs of precociousness at age 2, when he was able to tackle questions about particle physics between spoonfuls of Cheerios. Although Romanieo digs art and music and loves LEGO and candy, his real passions lie with science, a subject where he gets to articulate “big words” like “cyclohexanecarboxylic acid” that would trip the tongues of most grownups. “They’re not a mouthful for me,” he told the Washington Post . People started to take notice. Steven Goldfarb, an experimental physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which runs the Large Hadron Collider, invited the pint-size prodigy and his family to tour the facilities in Switzerland, whereupon he dubbed Romanieo a CERN “ambassador” to the Washington region. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of National Geographic’s Cosmos , is said to be a fan. The elder Golphin, an adviser for the music department at the University of North Carolina , regularly takes Romanieo to to university classes to observe. “When he looked in my classroom, all I saw was his hair, his forehead and his eyeballs,” said Brian Hogan, a professor of chemistry at UNC. “And his eyeballs, they looked like hard-boiled eggs, they were open so wide.” Related: 7-year-old California boy saves 10K for college with his own recycling company Hogan was a skeptic at the beginning, but little Romanieo quickly won him over. “He could be the next Einstein,” he said. “He’s got a mind that is built to solve problems.” Romanieo’s parents hope that their son’s aptitude for science will lead him change people’s lives for the better. But they also acknowledge that his interests could just as easily lead him to a career in the arts. “Let the boy free, and he’s going to create his world,” Golphin said. Via the Washington Post Photos from Facebook

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This 7-year-old from Maryland might be the next Einstein

6 reasons the clean energy revolution doesn’t need Trumps blessing

February 6, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump ’s anti-environment blitzkrieg is leaving many of us struggling to catch up to and understand the dramatic changes being made to long-standing federal policy. Most recently it is being reported that Trump will “definitely” pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, and that Republicans are gunning for the Environmental Protection Agency. There is no sugar coating it, these are dark times for those of us who are concerned about ensuring a livable climate and habitable planet for future generations. But, as much as Trump and his oil-soaked administration want to make fossil fuels great again, the global clean energy revolution is gaining speed to the point of being unstoppable. Here are a few reasons the renewables revolution will continue without Trump’s blessing. Congress is unlikely to reverse renewable tax credit extensions Congress gave a big boost to solar and wind at the end of 2015 with the passage of a bill that extended the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar. The 30 percent solar ITC was extended through 2019 before falling to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021 and 10 percent in 2022. The 2.3 percent wind PTC was extended through 2016 before dropping 20 percent each year through 2020. Related: U.S. extends solar and wind tax credits to boost clean energy by $73 billion over 5 years As many solar and wind jobs are located in red states, it is unlikely that Republican lawmakers will reverse the renewable tax credit extensions when they work with Trump on his expected tax reform push. Texas leads the nation in total installed wind power capacity with 18,531 megawatts while wind supplied more than 31 percent of Iowa’s in-state electricity generation in 2015, according to the American Wind Energy Association. On the solar front, Arizona (2,303 MW) ranks second for installed capacity and North Carolina (2,087 MW) is right behind in third place, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. A new report from the Department of Energy finds that solar employs more Americans than oil, gas and coal combined — 43 percent of electricity generation sector workforce in solar last year versus only 22 percent in fossil fuels. Global market forces exist Market forces are pushing the United States and the world toward renewable energy and energy efficiency regardless of politics and policy. The reality is that, as former President Barack Obama wrote recently in the journal Science, the momentum of clean energy is “irreversible.” Big companies like Google and Apple are aggressively transitioning operations to sustainable energy — Google says it will run entirely on clean energy at some point this year, Apple has committed to run off 100 percent renewable energy, and various other high-profile corporations have similar targets. A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds that global investment in renewables increased from under $50 billion in 2004 to a record $348 billion in 2015. Related: Bill Gates launches $1 billion clean energy fund to fight climate change Cost of renewables has dropped Even without a carbon pricing mechanism in place in many countries and governments continuing to prop up fossil fuels with massive subsidies, the cost of solar and wind continues to fall — and fast. The costs of utility-scale solar power fell 85 percent and wind power fell 66 percent in the past seven years. A record low solar power project bid recently took place in Abu Dhabi — the government-owned Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority received a bid of 2.42 cents a kilowatt-hour for a 350-megawatt solar plant. The reason solar and wind will continue to beat oil, coal and gas is because of the simple fact that they are technologies, not fuels. Solar and wind technologies will keep improving, becoming more efficient and cost effective, while digging up what’s left of fossil fuels will become increasingly complicated and expensive. The rest of the world still cares about climate change The United States is an extreme outlier when it comes to caring about climate change. The Republican Party is the only major political party in the advanced world that denies climate change and Trump is the only world leader who denies climate change. Thankfully the rest of the world is more in line with the scientific consensus of man-made global warming, as exemplified by the Paris climate agreement that Trump is about to withdraw the US from. A total of 194 nations have signed the landmark deal to curb carbon emissions, with 127 ratifying it so far. The agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016. As the US goes rogue on climate action, don’t expect the rest of the world to follow. Even countries already ruled by right-wing populists such as Russia, Hungary and Poland signed the Paris accord. China is taking a leadership role, investing in renewables As Trump commits to dirty energy, China is moving away from fossil fuels toward renewables as the country’s growing middle class demands cleaner air in some of the most polluted cities in the world. China’s energy agency recently announced that the country will invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020. “Renewable energy will be the pillar for China’s energy structure transition,” said Li Yangzhe, deputy head of the National Energy Administration, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Last year China invested a record $32 billion in foreign countries, according to research by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. While the US withdraws from the world, China is already taking a leadership role by increasing domestic renewables and spreading clean energy abroad. Related: China set to invest $174 billion in clean energy over next four years U.S. states are going towards renewables with or without federal help As Trump prepares to kill the Clean Power Plan , states such as New York and California are aggressively pursuing their own renewable energy mandates without federal guidance. In Virginia, the governor just announced plans for the state’s largest solar farm — a 100 MW facility that will power Amazon’s cloud computing division. Iowa recently approved the biggest wind farm in US history that when completed in 2019 will include 1,000 turbines generating 2,000 MW of electricity — enough to power 800,000 homes in the state. Republican governors of Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Vermont have recently either announced clean energy initiatives or signed legislation to increase renewables. Related: New York approves nation’s largest offshore wind farm Don’t count on the Trump Administration to realize fossil fuels belong to the past, but since the renewables revolution is unstoppable, it doesn’t matter what Trump decides. Images via Shutterstock , Pexels , Wikimedia  ( 1 , 2 ), Flickr

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6 reasons the clean energy revolution doesn’t need Trumps blessing

Researchers invent paper that can be printed with light and reused 80 times

February 6, 2017 by  
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In an effort to fight the detrimental environmental impact of inkjet printing, researchers have invented a new type of “paper” that can be printed with light and re-written up to 80 times. Their invention employs the color-changing chemistry of nanoparticles, which can be applied via a thin coating to a variety of surfaces – including conventional paper . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnCyTb6bgJA Researchers from Shandong University in China, the University of California, Riverside and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently published a study detailing the invention of light-printable, rewritable paper. “The greatest significance of our work is the development of a new class of solid-state photo-reversible color-switching system to produce an ink-free light-printable rewritable paper that has the same feel and appearance as conventional paper, but can be printed and erased repeatedly without the need for additional ink,” explains Yadong Yin, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Riverside. “Our work is believed to have enormous economic and environmental merits to modern society.” Why not just use recycled paper, you might ask? As Phys.org explains, the chemicals used in paper production are a leading source of industrial pollution, and abandoned paper makes up about 40 percent of the contents of landfills. Recycled paper contributes to the pollution problem through the process of ink removal. Add to that problems around deforestation, and the case for minimizing paper usage is a strong one. Related: Should your family give up paper towels? The new light-printable paper lends itself perfectly to applications where printed information is only needed for a short time, and it could be applied to any medium used for this purpose. “We believe the rewritable paper has many practical applications involving temporary information recording and reading, such as newspapers, magazines, posters, notepads, writing easels, product life indicators, oxygen sensors, and rewritable labels for various applications,” Yin said Via Phys.org Images via UC Riverside and Aidenvironment , Wikimedia Commons

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Researchers invent paper that can be printed with light and reused 80 times

6 Super common food additives that you need to avoid

January 14, 2017 by  
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It’s difficult for even the most dedicated person to make all of the daily meals from scratch and that often means relying on store-bought foods for condiments and other must-have kitchen items. But lurking in those kitchen staples are some food additives that can wreak havoc with the human body. Even worse, some of these pesky additives are hard to avoid because they are used in so many foods. Learn where they are hiding and how to avoid them with this handy guide.

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6 Super common food additives that you need to avoid

This award-winning map gives a more accurate view of the world

November 6, 2016 by  
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Most of us never realize it, but it turns out that transforming a three-dimensional globe into a flat, rectangular map results in some serious inaccuracies. Depending on where the map focuses, some countries and continents may appear much larger or smaller relative to other landmasses than they actually are. It’s a problem that’s vexed cartographers for centuries, but a new map featured in Japanese textbooks has made things just a little more accurate.

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This award-winning map gives a more accurate view of the world

Calling all creative costume makers – enter the Inhabitots Green Halloween Costume Contest!

October 13, 2016 by  
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Are you making an out-of-the-box Halloween costume from scratch? If so, show it off on Inhabitots! Our annual Green Halloween costume contest hosted by Inhabitots kicks off today, and we’re on a mission to find the most creatively handmade, recycled and/or repurposed Halloween costumes made for babies , kids , pets and families . Along with all the fame that comes from entering our contest, you could also win an adorable handmade critter coat from the good folks at Little Goodall . Read on for more details about the contest, the awesome prizes, and how to enter. If you have amazingly innovative costume-making skills, here’s your chance to show the world! ENTER INHABITOTS’ GREEN HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST HERE > THE PRIZES 1st PRIZE WINNER The first prize winner, determined by our judges scoring, will have their pick of one warm, cozy, hand-made critter coat from Little Goodall . Critter hoices include: lion, wolf, fox, butterfly, owl, leopard, dinosaur, bear, robot, raccoon, bunny, and more! There are even adult-sized critter coats for you grownups who want in on the action. 2ND PLACE WINNER Judges scoring will also determine the second place will, who will receive their choice of adorable hand-made critter coat from Little Goodall . READER’S CHOICE PRIZE The costume that receives the highest number of votes on our online finalist page will win a “Reader’s Choice” prize or one critter coat from Little Goodall , so encourage your friends and family to vote! Submissions will be posted and open to public voting soon after they are received, so make sure to submit early to get the most amount of votes possible. Online voting will likely begin before Halloween. ENTER HERE!

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Calling all creative costume makers – enter the Inhabitots Green Halloween Costume Contest!

Easy-to-assemble flat pack trailer can be used as emergency shelter or for glamping

October 13, 2016 by  
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The multi-use shelter, conceptualized by design brand Duffy London, combines practicality and accessibility. It is supplied flat-packed for compactness, enabling 35 shelters to fit in a standard transit van, which is small enough to access hard-to-reach areas. This makes it extremely useful during natural disasters and emergency situations. Thanks to its practical design and ease of assembly, medical teams can use it for first-aid support. Related: Shelter Pack emergency homes compress to 31-inch-tall slabs for easy transport The Duffy Shelter is built from sustainably harvested wood with a variety of finishes. Handmade by in-house and local artisans, the structures are supplied in packages with shells that include walls, floor, legs, roof, windows, hatches and hinges. Although the company doesn’t supply the shelter in trailer form, the structure is easily converted into a mobile unit. + Duffy London

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Easy-to-assemble flat pack trailer can be used as emergency shelter or for glamping

10 things your newborn DOESN’T need

October 12, 2016 by  
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When it comes to baby showers, new parents tend to fill up their registry list in accordance with trends, but do babies really NEED all that stuff? So many items designed for newborns often lose their purpose after the baby is just weeks old, and others are just not necessary at all. Before new parents get sucked in to buying up these “must-haves,” we thought we’d take a closer look at some common products newborns can do without . Read on to see 10 things you DON’T need to buy for a baby.

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10 things your newborn DOESN’T need

Proposed Italian law would jail parents of vegan children

August 12, 2016 by  
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A new bill before the Italian parliament could make it illegal for parents to feed their children a vegan diet – including up to a year of jail time even in cases where children are perfectly healthy and meeting their nutritional needs. The draft bill is the creation of Elvira Savino, a member of Italy’s center-right Forza Italia party. In the proposed bill , Savino refers to the vegetarian or vegan diet as “reckless and dangerous” and claims it is “devoid of essential elements for [children’s] healthy and balanced growth.” This is at odds with the stance of many health organizations – the American Dietetic Association , for instance, advises that parents must be careful to ensure children receive the nutrients they need (and vitamin B12 in particular), but says that otherwise the diet is safe and suitable for children. The law appears to be a reaction to several recent high-profile child neglect cases within the country where children were hospitalized for malnourishment after being fed a vegan diet. Doctors believe the parents in these cases were misinformed and didn’t understand how to properly supplement a vegan diet to meet the needs of a growing child. Though these cases are obviously tragic, the solution would be to provide better education to new parents rather than throwing them in jail for their dietary choices. Related: Meatless burger that cooks, smells, and bleeds like beef previews in San Francisco Savino’s heart may be in the right place – the bill would penalize parents whose children become injured or ill through malnourishment with four years in prison, and six years if their actions result in the death of the child. But the bill’s narrow targeting of vegans is unfair, especially considering that there are surely other laws already on the books meant to protect children from neglectful situations. For the moment, the bill is still just a proposal and nowhere near becoming a law. It needs to be discussed by parliamentary committees and then it will be passed to the chamber for debate later in the year. Hopefully Savino’s colleagues will see just how ridiculous the proposal is and it will be scrapped soon. Via Jezebel Images via Jessica Spengler and U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Proposed Italian law would jail parents of vegan children

Nation’s first urban farm school teaches kids how to grow their own food

June 2, 2016 by  
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Children are the future of humanity – so if we want to cultivate a sustainable society where people are connected to our food and the land, it is critical to raise a generation of children who understand how to be good stewards of the earth. That’s why we’re very excited about the nation’s first urban farm school being built in San Francisco, California that will educate preschoolers through 8th graders with an ecology farm curriculum based on Waldorf Education . Project architect Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects just unveiled plans for a stunning new plant-covered “living building” for the site that will house classrooms and act as a gathering space for the community at the farm. Tucked away on a hidden lot at 203 Cotter Street , in San Francisco’s Mission Terrace neighborhood is an urban farm that kindergartners, first and second graders at Golden Bridges school tend on a daily basis, growing kale, zucchini, onions, and other vegetables and herbs. The fledgling school with 55 students has been tending sections of the 1 acre lot for the past two years, while the school has been trying to design classroom buildings for the site that will serve the children and the unique character of the neighborhood. After much time at the drawing board, input from the community, and many changes in design, the school finally unveiled plans to house the nation’s first urban farm grade school in an innovative living structure that is as much landscape as it is a building. Project architect Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma architects says he was trying to design a building that would match the ecological and pioneering ethos of the Golden Bridges school, while maintaining the green space of the farm and minimizing impact on neighbors in the quiet residential neighborhood : Since connection to the natural world is such a critical part of the Golden Bridges farm school ethos, we tried to design a building that is intimately connected to the land. This building is really a piece of the landscape, and it is alive. Taking inspiration from the pattern of detached single-family houses with backyards surrounding the lot, Natoma architects envisioned the school building broken up in a similar pattern, with classroom followed by courtyard, then classroom, then courtyard. The entire building structure will be topped with a green roof for water retention, insulation, and to provide natural habitat for pollinators, and this green roof will extend down the front slope of the building, effectively creating a “school hidden behind a hill”. A golden bridge will run through the center of the structure, connecting the various classrooms, courtyards and gathering spaces into one unifying (and symbolic) thread. While the exterior facade of the building will be clad in plants, the interior will be clad mostly in wood, in keeping with the Waldorf school emphasis on warmth, texture and natural materials. Glass will be used copiously on the south-facing rear of the structures to let in natural daylight, cutting the need for electricity, as well as providing healthy, sunny, well-lit indoor classroom spaces. The Golden Bridge which runs through the entire space will arch down to the farm at the rear of structure, connecting the classrooms to the outdoor farm space and wild play space. A current photo of the 203 Cotter Street lot, pre-construction The original lot at 203 Cotter Street had been an overgrown, derelict space, and then later, an urban farm, so it has never had any buildings on it. Because of this, some nearby neighbors are concerned about the noise, crowding, traffic and flooding potential of a new building in the neighborhood. In order to preserve neighborhood character and the lot’s green space, Natoma architects designed a low-lying building, deliberately shorter than the surrounding two-story houses, hidden behind a foliage-covered “hill” that is the living wall building facade. Covering both the building’s facade and roof with soil and plants to create a ” Living Building ” achieves a number of environmental and neighborhood objectives; the plants provide green space, air filtration and oxygen, and absorb storm water runoff to prevent flooding. The living roof and walls will also absorb sound to prevent excessive noise, and flowers planted on the green roof will provide food and support for the pollinators that are so critical to agricultural production. Flooding is a very real concern for the San Francisco farm school’s Mission Terrace neighborhood. The community is situated in a low-lying valley where rainwater runoff from surrounding hills collects into Islais creek and runs downhill toward Cayuga Avenue. Added to this unfortunate geography is an overburdened and woefully inadequate sewer system which combines stormwater runoff with sewage into small clay pipes that can’t handle the volume of water. When there is more rain than usual, the stormwater backs up in the drains, mixing with sewage and then flooding Mission Terrace homes and streets with this disgusting raw sewage water. Residents of Mission Terrace have sued the city of San Francisco for damages to property , but as of yet, the issue remains unresolved. Golden Bridges open traffic circle at the entrance to the building will serve multiple functions; during school drop-off and pickup times it will provide temporary parking and traffic management, during the weekend and after school hours it will be a community space which will likely hold farmer’s markets as well as other community events. Finally the roundabout is a permeable surface with rainwater catchment cisterns hidden beneath the ground to store stormwater. The Golden Bridges School hopes to do their part to help the flooding situation by collecting stormwater onsite in water catchment basins , storing it in cisterns, and then recycling the greywater for irrigation on the farm. After construction is complete, the entire footprint of 203 Cotter Street will remain a permeable surface, as it is now, since there will be no pavement or hard surfaces, but open space combined with living roofs and facades. Natoma architects new design “lifts up the land” in addition to adding new water storage basins, so that the water carrying capacity of the site is planned to exceed that of the current empty lot to buffer stormwater. The new structure will actually provide additional storm water collection on site that doesn’t exist today – in underground basins, vastly improving the stormwater water retention and collection over the current unbuilt lot. Golden Bridges has also committed to campaigning San Francisco’s PUC to update the storm and sewage infrastructure of the neighborhood, which will be the ultimate change needed to stop the flooding. The 203 Cotter Street building will take up about 30% of the lot’s footprint, leaving the remaining 70% for open space, which will comprise both a wild landscape, and cultivated land, including a farm and orchards. The landscape designers for 203 Cotter street will be SWA landscape , the same landscape architecture firm responsible for the spectacular green roof atop the California Academy of Sciences . Having dealt with such a massive and complicated living roof landscape on the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park proves they know their green roofs and will be able to deliver a successful and sustainable green roof for Golden Bridges farm school. Waldorf education is a progressive and holistic education system, based on 19th century philosopher Rudolph Steiner’s vision for education which helps to develop the “whole individual” – not only intellectual capacities, but also practical skills and social/moral development. The education system is deeply rooted in a sense of connection to the land and the seasons, which manifests through teaching children to understanding ecology, grow their own organic food and learn important practical skills such as farming, cooking, making clothing, and woodworking. Since Steiner also wrote extensively about agriculture, and was the founder of Biodynamic Farming and the CSA movement – it is not unusual to find Waldorf Schools located on a farm, or with a farm curriculum. However, many Waldorf farm schools ( Summerfield , Hawthorne Valley ) are out in the countryside on large plots of agricultural land. Golden Bridges School is unique is that it is located on a small plot of land, in a dense urban city, and sets the goal of providing a farm-based education for urban children, many of whom never have the opportunity to get out into the country. Scholarship Video from Golden Bridges School on Vimeo . Golden Bridges is unique in its social justice vision , which is supported by a “pay-what-you-can” tuition model . The goal of this sliding scale tuition model is foster economic diversity amongst it’s student body. Despite the fact that it is a private school, the student body isn’t the typical homogenous wealthy “private school” stereotype you might expect. More than 1/3 of Golden Bridges’ students are attending the school on scholarship (with another third of the families providing tuition assistance), representing the economic diversity of San Francisco as a whole. + Golden Bridges School + Golden Bridges plans for 203 Cotter Street + Natoma Architects Images provided by Natoma Architects and Golden Bridges School First US urban farm school teaches children how to grow their own food Nation’s first urban farm school teaches kids to grow their own food

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Nation’s first urban farm school teaches kids how to grow their own food

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