Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs

April 18, 2017 by  
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Even abject carnivores in the West balk at the idea of raising dogs and cats for their meat, but East and Southeast Asian countries, particularly those mired in poverty, do not share those qualms. As incomes, not to mention concerns over animal welfare, continue to grow in those regions, however, the practice is slowly but steadily on the decline . Taiwan is willing to take the next leap: outlawing it altogether. Legislature passed recently will make the island nation the first in Asia to ban dog and cat consumption, according to Newsweek . After Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen signs the amendments, anyone caught eating dog or cat meat will be fined $8,000. Those involved in slaughtering the animals could face two years in jail and a $60,000 fine. Related: Killing dogs and cats for meat is still legal in 44 U.S. states The move dovetails with an earlier law, passed in 2001, that made illegal the sale of meat and fur of pets for so-called “economic purposes.” Tsai herself is a known animal lover. Last year, she adopted three retired guide dogs, who now cohabit a home with Tsai’s two cats, Think Think and A-Tsai. Via Newsweek Photos by Unsplash

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Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs

Tiny thermophotovoltaic device harvests energy from infrared wavelengths

April 18, 2017 by  
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Waste heat could be a valuable source of energy – if only we could find a way to capture it efficiently. Now two Duke University researchers have a plan to do just that. They have developed a new thermophotovoltaic device that harvests energy from waste heat by capturing infrared wavelengths. Thermophotovoltaics could potentially change the way we generate energy in the future. Regular solar cells simply absorb visible light, but the technology from the Duke University team absorbs infrared light. The device is made with a metamaterial , or a synthetic material containing properties not accessible in natural materials, that enables it to efficiently take in and emit infrared light. Related: New metamaterial could allow us to generate solar power from heat 24 hours a day The team’s minuscule device is an “8 x 8 array of individually controllable pixels,” according to The Optical Society; each pixel is a mere 120 by 120 microns. Controlling those pixels with microelectromechanical systems, the researchers are able to change infrared emission properties rapidly in each pixel. The device can display patterns of infrared light at speeds of 100,000 times per second. In a statement, Duke University engineer Willie Padilla said, “Because the infrared energy emission, or intensity, is controllable, this new infrared emitter could provide a tailored way to collect and use energy from heat. There is a great deal of interest in utilizing waste heat, and our technology could improve this process.” The device’s materials don’t even change temperature as they harness heat, so it can be utilized at room temperature. Many other methods of variable infrared emission need high temperatures to operate; some natural materials have been able to do the job at room temperature but are “limited to narrow infrared spectral ranges,” according to The Optical Society. Their journal Optica recently published their research online . Via Futurism and EurekAlert! Images via Xinyu Liu/Duke University and Xinyu Liu and Willie Padilla

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Tiny thermophotovoltaic device harvests energy from infrared wavelengths

The Tesla Model S just got a tiny bit more affordable

April 18, 2017 by  
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Shortly after announcing that Tesla plans to cut its relatively more affordable Model S 60 and 60D from its lineup, the company revealed that it will also reduce the price of its new entry-level models, the 75 and 75D, by $5,000 to make up the price difference. It’s still $1,500 more than the previous model, but given that it retails for almost $70,000, that might not be a major issue for potential buyers. Those aren’t the only Model S variants to receive a price cut. The 90D’s base price is being cut from $89,500 to $87,500. If you want a car packed with more features, however, there’s bad news: the 100D and P100D are seeing a several thousand dollar price hike, as are Model X variants. There are also certain upgrades which are no longer available for the “entry level” cars, including smart air suspension on the 75 and 75D. And anyone interested in a high-amperage charger will have to shell out for the 100 or 100D. Related: Elon Musk announces all new Teslas will be self-driving It may seem strange for the company to make such dramatic changes to its lineup, but it makes sense when you consider the launch of the $35,000 Model 3 later this year. The company is cutting out the products that will overlap with the Model 3’s functionality – the new car’s battery capacity stops at 75kWh, so anyone who wants a more powerful vehicle will have an incentive to upgrade. The higher prices at the top of Tesla’s range will help make up for the low cost of the Model 3, allowing the company’s average prices to remain the same. While this might be a bit frustrating for anyone interested in a 100D, overall it will help make electric cars more affordable for the average consumer. Hopefully this will result in more Tesla vehicles on the street overall. Via Engadget Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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The Tesla Model S just got a tiny bit more affordable

Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

April 17, 2017 by  
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Nuclear energy must be an option as humanity shifts away from fossil fuels , according to a recent article penned by four candidates of Finland’s Green Party , or Green League. The party strictly opposed the controversial fuel source in the past, but these four candidates said we’re running out of time to fight climate change and no longer have the luxury of picking between renewable energy and nuclear power. Humanity should take another look at nuclear power, according to Jakke Mäkelä, Tuomo Liljenbäck, Markus Norrgran, and Heidi Niskanen of the Finnish Greens. They wrote a March 6 blog post, translated by J.M. Korhonen , detailing why Finland should develop nuclear energy. Related: Germany’s massive nuclear fusion reactor is actually working Finland’s temperatures are spiking quicker than any other place in the world due to climate change, according to Forbes contributor James Conca. The country has pledged to end coal use by 2030, but they’re also widely utilizing biomass . The four Greens condemned the government’s burning of wood chips for power since it emits carbon dioxide and will destroy forests . The Greens said renewable energy won’t be able to help us wean completely off fossil fuels yet. They said solar and wind work very well up to a point, but on a large scale require lots of raw materials and land. They pointed to Germany, which shuttered nuclear power plants, but the consequence was renewable energy largely replaced nuclear energy and not fossil fuels. The four Greens said we no longer have the option of choosing between renewables and nuclear. They wrote, “Unless we spend a lot more money in all clean energy sources, we are certain to be doomed.” Korhonen notes their viewpoint is not an official recommendation from the Green Party or of the Viite, the technology and science subgroup of which Mäkelä is vice-chairman and the others are members. It’s simply the opinion of the four candidates, who were up for election in Turku. The Green Party won 12 percent of the total vote in the recent elections, gaining seats and winning the largest share in their history. Via J.M. Korhonen and Forbes Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

David Doll, OSIsoft: Where IoT means MLB

April 14, 2017 by  
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The internet of things is allowing sports stadiums to measure their energy use, water use and waste in real time. It saved the Mariners $1.5 million.

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David Doll, OSIsoft: Where IoT means MLB

World’s first full-size IBC bifacial solar module takes in light from both sides

April 13, 2017 by  
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What if both sides of a solar panel could take in light? That’s the idea pursued by researchers at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), National University of Singapore , and Germany’s International Solar Energy Research Center Konstanz . They’ve succeeded in developing and fabricating the first full-size interdigitated back contact (IBC) bifacial solar module in the world. The groundbreaking module could last longer and generate more power than the conventional variety. The team’s new bifacial solar module could offer better, more efficient solar energy in the near future. It can absorb light on both its front and back sides. Their prototype was made with bifacial ZEBRA IBC solar cells, which have an efficiency of up to 22 percent. According to SERIS CEO Armin Aberle, these IBC cells are known for reliability and durability. Related: New bifacial solar module takes advantage of direct and reflected sunlight Double- glass insulation enclosing the module means its warranty could be longer than most solar modules: 30 years or even more. And since the cells are bifacial – the researchers report a bifaciality of 75 percent – the module can produce up to 30 percent more power . SERIS’ PV Module Cluster Director Wang Yan said, “With SERIS’ new module design, panels with 350 watts front-side power can be made with 60 23 percent efficient screen-printed IBC cells. Considering an additional 20 percent of power via the panel’s transparent rear surface, each 60-cell IBC bifacial module will produce a stunning 400 watts of power in the real world.” The revolutionary solar module will be displayed at the upcoming International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference & Exhibition from April 19 to 21 in Shanghai, China. Aberle said, “The module technology offers world-class front side power while providing free extra power from the rear side.” He said the next step is transferring the technology to industrial partners, and the product could be on the market in around two years. Via Phys.org Images via Solar Research Institute of Singapore

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World’s first full-size IBC bifacial solar module takes in light from both sides

This carved wood bench hides an unexpected surprise

April 13, 2017 by  
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This simple-looking bench hides a two-fold surprise. A closer look reveals that the ‘tufted’ bench is actually carved out of solid wood – and when you sit down it’s bouncy and soft! Valentijn Rieb and Andrea Schimmer perfectly replicated the iconic form of a Chesterfield bench while marrying the look of wood with the comfot of a springy seat. Chester-Block-Hocker updates the classic Chesterfield bench with carved beach wood blocks. The soft, bouncy element comes from the inner support structure of the bench. Thanks to springs located under each diamond-shaped chunk of wood, this bench serves as a cushy seat. The legs of the bench are upholstered with leather to make the transformation complete. Related: Max Lamb’s “Exercises in Seating” is a primitive investigation of materials at Milan Design Week This design is the result of modern technology meeting manual labor and traditional craftsmanship. To realize Chester-Block-Hocker, the blocks were CNC milled and shaped by hand. Made with the utmost precision and a great attention to the detail, this bench offers a soft touch and a surprising material experience that will intrigue you each time you take a seat. The Chester-Block-Hocker won the Baars & Bloemhoff “Master of Materials” prize and is on show at the Masterly Dutch exhibition at Palazzo Turati in the 5VIE design district at Milan Design Week 2017 . + Milan Design Week images by Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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This carved wood bench hides an unexpected surprise

Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

April 12, 2017 by  
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London-based architect Asif Khan just unveiled plans for a mesmerizing building that explores the evolution of energy since the beginning of time. The massive cylindrical pavilion takes visitors on a computer-generated tour that starts with the origins of energy and ends with present-day sustainable energy production . The project will serve as the UK pavilion at the Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. Khan’s pavilion, We Are Energy, uses sound and animation to depict the creation of energy from the beginning of time. As visitors enter the 2,200 square-meter pavilion , a computer-generated simulation of the world is projected onto a 360-degree screen. At the center of the structure is an illuminated canopy – a nod to human ingenuity. Related: UN Studio pavilion in Amsterdam rises like a bioluminescent creature from the deep The architect worked in collaboration with Catherine Heymans, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh , to develop the scientific timeline of the presentation, which is broken up into four sections: the “expansion of the universe”, “human ingenuity, “landscape and nature” and “UK innovation”. Each section has its own specific soundscape composed by musician Brian Eno. The pavilion’s ethos fits in perfectly with the theme for the Astana Expo 2017, which is the “Future Energy.” Khan’s says that the pavilion seeks to promote the development of sustainable energy sources and technologies: “The universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago. At that moment all energy and matter was in the same place at the same time. The idea that everything, including life on earth, is comprised of this archaic energy is fascinating to me.” “I wanted to find a way to express this relationship to our visitors and explore how energy is being continually harnessed and balanced around us,” he added. + Asif Khan Via Dezeen

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Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

Shanghai is planning a massive 100-hectare vertical farm to feed 24 million people

April 12, 2017 by  
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International architecture firm Sasaki just unveiled plans for a spectacular 100-hectare urban farm set amidst the soaring skyscapers of Shanghai. The project is a mega farming laboratory that will meet the food needs of almost 24 million people while serving as a center for innovation, interaction, and education within the world of urban agriculture. The Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District is composed of vertical farms that fit in nicely between the city’s many towers, adding a welcomed green counterpart to the shiny metal and glass cityscape. In a city like Shanghai, where real estate prices make vertical building more affordable, the urban farm layout counts on a number of separate buildings that will have various growing platforms such as algae farms , floating greenhouses, vertical walls and even seed libraries. The project incorporates several different farming methods including hydroponic and aquaponic systems. Related:Sasaki Architecture convert a former disco club into an office space with floating walls The masterplan was designed to provide large-scale food production as well as education. Sunqiao will focus on sustainable agriculture as a key component for urban growth. “This approach actively supports a more sustainable food network while increasing the quality of life in the city through a community program of restaurants, markets, a culinary academy, and pick-your-own experience” explained Sasaki. “As cities continue to expand, we must continue to challenge the dichotomy between what is urban and what is rural. Sunqiao seeks to prove that you can have your kale and eat it too.” Visitors to the complex will be able to tour the interactive greenhouses, a science museum, and aquaponics systems, all of which are geared to showcase the various technologies which can help keep a large urban population healthy. Additionally, there will be family-friendly events and workshops to educate children about various agricultural techniques . + Sasaki Via Archdaily

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Shanghai is planning a massive 100-hectare vertical farm to feed 24 million people

Groundbreaking new material for longer-lasting batteries inspired by leaf veins

April 11, 2017 by  
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Biology may hold the clues to better batteries . An international team of scientists designed a porous material inspired by the vascular structure of leaves that could make energy transfers more efficient. Similar to the way leaf veins efficiently transport nutrients, this material could help rechargeable batteries perform better and last longer. A team of researchers led by Xianfeng Zheng of China’s Wuhan University of Technology and Australia’s University of Queensland scrutinized the way leaf veins optimize the flow of nutrients, with minimum energy consumption, “by branching out to smaller scales” according to the University of Cambridge , and then applied that to their groundbreaking porous material. The nature-inspired material could help relieve stresses in battery electrodes that currently limit their lifespan. The material could also enhance the charge and discharge process. Related: American fern inspires groundbreaking new solar storage solution The team calls their product Murray material after Murray’s Law. Cambridge said according to the rule the whole network of pores in biological systems is connected in a manner “to facilitate the transfer of liquids and minimize resistance throughout the network.” Scientist Bao-Lian Su of Cambridge, Wuhan University of Technology, and University of Namur in Belgium said they applied that biological law to chemistry , saying, “The introduction of the concept of Murray’s Law to industrial processes could revolutionize the design of reactors with highly enhanced efficiency, minimum energy, time, and raw material consumption for a sustainable future.” The scientists applied Murray material to gas sensing and photocatalysis as well. Su is a co-author on a paper published online by Nature Communications late last week. There are seven other co-authors on the paper from institutions in China, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Another co-author, Tawfique Hasan of Cambridge University, said it could be possible to manufacture the porous material on a large scale. Via the University of Cambridge Images via Christoph Rupprecht on Flickr and Pixabay

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