Lyme disease shot could offer 100% protection

July 24, 2017 by  
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Lyme disease is a growing issue in the United States. Since the 1990’s, the number of cases has more than doubled . Scientists at a laboratory associated with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School are working on an answer, and have made progress on a shot that could protect people against contracting the disease . Lyme disease, which is contracted after infected ticks transmit a bacterium to humans, is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is “ the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the United States .” 14 states, most on the East Coast of the country, have reported 95 percent of confirmed cases. Every year 30,000 cases are reported to the CDC, and that number is only increasing. Related: GUIDE: Effective Non-Toxic Bug Repellents for You and Your Family The shot – which Western Mass News makes clear is not a vaccine – could be groundbreaking. Professor Mark Klempner said the scientists have isolated one antibody that could prevent Lyme disease from being transmitted to humans. The antibody could kill the bacteria in the tick’s gut when it bites so a person won’t get the disease. One injection could last from the spring through the fall. So far, the team has tested the antibody in mice . Klempner told Western Mass News, “We take ticks that carry the bacteria – many of them – six or seven, put them on a small rodent, and then give that mouse a little bit of that antibody. It’s been 100 percent effective in preventing many ticks from transmitting.” The method has been entirely effective in preventing mice from contracting the disease. Klempner said the discovery of the antibody came during research in which he was involved for a vaccine, now discontinued. With the new research, the team thus far has not seen any unfavorable side effects, but needs to do more testing. Undergoing Food and Drug Administration trials could take around two to three years. Via Western Mass News Images via Pixabay and U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr

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Lyme disease shot could offer 100% protection

This boy accidentally found a 1.2 million-year-old fossil by tripping over it

July 21, 2017 by  
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Sometimes, there are benefits to being clumsy – so discovered 9-year-old Jude Sparks on a recent hike in New Mexico’s Orange Mountains. On a trip with his family, Sparks tripped over an object which he first thought was “just a big fat rotten cow.” Instead, it turned out to be a Stegomastodon fossil from 1.2 million years ago. The young boy told KVIA TV, “I didn’t know what it was. I just knew it wasn’t usual.” His family agreed, which is why they contacted Peter Houde, a professor at New Mexico State University, and returned to the site the next day. Sure enough, what Sparks had tripped over was a fossilized tusk belonging to an ancient Stegomastodon . According to The New York Times , the ancient mammal was a cousin to the wooly mammoth and modern-day elephants. Not only are the remains large, they are quite rare, considering prehistoric bones tend to disintegrate quickly after being exposed to the elements. “This is really very unusual to find,” said Houde. Elated to have made the find, the family set up a fundraiser for a formal dig. It took months to organize a team and secure a permit, but earlier this May, an entire skull made of delicate “egg-shell thin” pieces was discovered. Houde hopes to display the remains at the university. “We’re really, really grateful that they contacted us, because if they had not done that, if they had tried to do it themselves, it could have just destroyed the specimen,” he said. “It really has to be done with great care and know-how. Jude — now 10-years-old — says he isn’t as interested in fossils as he used to be but likes the attention that comes with discovering the fossilized remains of a mammal which is slightly smaller than the average African elephant . Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion-years-old Believe it or not, this isn’t the first Stegomastadon that’s been “accidentally” discovered. A hiking bachelor party found a 3-million-year-old skull in 2010 while hiking in New Mexico’s Butte Lake State Park. Via The New York Times , All That Is Interesting Images via Peter Houde

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This boy accidentally found a 1.2 million-year-old fossil by tripping over it

Vertical farming startup raises $200M from Alphabet, Jeff Bezos

July 21, 2017 by  
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Indoor vertical farming is on the rise, if a recent funding round for San Francisco startup Plenty is any indication. The company just scored what they say is the largest agriculture technology investment in history. Plenty has attracted attention – and quite a lot of money – from well-known tech greats like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Plenty is utilizing technology to improve agriculture. The startup draws on big data processing, micro-sensor technology, and LED lighting in an effort to make affordable, local food available for people around the world. Their system uses less water and space than conventional farms, and grows food more efficiently. Plenty says they can yield as much as 350 times more crops per square foot than a typical farm. Their recent Series B funding round, led by Japanese media corporation SoftBank ‘s Vision Fund, turned out to be quite fruitful at $200 million. Related: 40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement, “By combining technology with optimal agriculture methods, Plenty is working to make ultra-fresh, nutrient-rich food accessible to everyone in an always-local way that minimizes wastage from transport. We believe that Plenty’s team will remake the current food system to improve people’s quality of life.” Plenty will use the $200 million to start expanding, and plan to bring their first produce to market later this year. They plan to grow two to five acre indoor farms, which the BBC said is around the size of a Walmart or Home Depot. The company already employs 100 people working in three facilities in Wyoming and San Francisco. Initially, Plenty will provide mainly leafy greens and herbs for distributors that have already signed on, according to co-founder and CEO Matt Barnard. He said in a statement, “The world is out of land in the places it’s most economical to grow these crops. After a decade of development driven by one of our founders, our technology is uniquely capable of growing super clean food with no pesticides nor GMOs while cutting water consumption by 99 percent…We’re now ready to build out our farm network and serve communities around the globe.” + Plenty Via Plenty and the BBC Images via Plenty Facebook

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Vertical farming startup raises $200M from Alphabet, Jeff Bezos

Why British coffee and tea maker Taylors prioritizes supplier resilience

July 20, 2017 by  
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For Taylors of Harrogate, the family-owned company behind the Yorkshire Tea brand, helping farmers source coffee and tea ethically and sustainably is a long-term business strategy.

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Why British coffee and tea maker Taylors prioritizes supplier resilience

13-year-old Ohio girl taps traffic to generate renewable energy

July 10, 2017 by  
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We may be one step closer to tackling our energy crisis if this 8th grader has anything to say about it. 13-year-old Laalitya Acharya from Ohio came up with TraffEnerate, an invention that uses vehicular traffic to generate clean power . She’s a finalist in the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge , and stands to win $25,000. Acharya started researching cheap, easily renewable resources of energy, and came across a device she calls a piezo. She explains when stress is applied to a piezo, it generates electricity . She wanted to make it easy to utilize piezos, so she designed TraffEnerate to obtain power when cars drive over the devices. Her prototype incorporates 11 piezo sensors and a 3D-printed block so stress will be applied to all 11 piezos even if a car just barely passes over the corner of the prototype. Related: 13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5 Acharya also designed a reciprocating motion machine to test the prototype. Her robot consistently applied stress to the invention, seen in an oscilloscope reading. She hopes to implement TraffEnerate in the busiest intersections of her hometown of Mason, Ohio . Acharya said on the challenge website, “I wanted to change the world, that simple. On my family’s yearly trip to India, I saw children who have no power in their homes, huddling near dangerous fires. I wanted to change their position in life, to make it better by creating clean energy and electricity.” The 2017 Young Scientist Challenge is put on by Discovery Education and 3M . There are 10 finalists for this year’s challenge, with innovative projects such as a way to detect lead in water, treating Alzheimer’s with plant components, and cleaning up oil spills with pomegranate husks and orange peels. A winner will be chosen in October. + Young Scientist Lab Via Young Scientist Challenge and Rajesh Acharya Images via screenshot

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13-year-old Ohio girl taps traffic to generate renewable energy

Praying mantises hunt down and eat small birds, including hummingbirds

July 10, 2017 by  
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We know praying mantises are carnivorous – they’ve been documented consuming frogs, lizards, and snakes. But they also kill and consume small birds like hummingbirds , according to new research from zoologists in Switzerland and the United States. We expect birds to eat insects , not the other way around, so the reversal is startling – and humans may have had a role to play in the deaths of these hummingbirds. The zoologists gathered 147 cases of mantids capturing small birds. Praying mantises from 12 species and nine genera engaged in the behavior, which was found on every continent except Antarctica, in 13 countries. The insects weren’t too picky about the birds they ate either – 24 different species and 14 families of birds were among the prey. Related: 9 things you can do to help wild birds this summer But 70 percent of the cases in this research occurred in the United States. There, the insects have been employed as pest control – a practice which had unintended consequences. Several alien species of big praying mantises were released in North America decades ago for pest control, and now threaten small birds. They snare hummingbirds at hummingbird feeders, or in home gardens filled with plants the birds pollinate . These hummingbirds comprise the majority of the birds preyed upon by praying mantises. 78 percent of the birds captured were eaten, according to the researchers. 18 percent were liberated by humans. Only two percent escaped on their own. Scientist Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel said in a statement, “Our study shows the threat mantises pose to some bird populations. Thus, great caution is advised when releasing mantises for pest control.” Nyffeler was the lead author on a paper recently published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology , joined by zoologists from National University and Louisiana State University . Via TreeHugger and the University of Basel Images via Zoran Ožetski on Unsplash and Beckie on Flickr

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Praying mantises hunt down and eat small birds, including hummingbirds

Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land

July 10, 2017 by  
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Battles against fossil fuel pipelines aren’t limited to North Dakota. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania , a group of Catholic nuns is fighting against a natural gas pipeline that would run beneath land they own. They’re protesting the pipeline in a unique way by building an open-air chapel for people to visit and reflect on “just and holy uses of land.” The nuns, part of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ order, own land in West Hempfield Township that stands in the path of the Atlantic Sunrise Project, a pipeline for natural gas being pursued by Williams Partners to extend the Transco pipeline system that already runs from Texas to New York. Even though the nuns have not wanted their land used for the pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the pipeline, pointing to eminent domain. Related: Trump approves new pipeline that will go “right under” the US-Mexico wall The nuns are working against the pipeline, which they say goes against their land ethic, with the group Lancaster Against Pipelines . Protester Ann Neumann told CNN, “They see the pipeline as a violation of their faith,” saying 20 members of the order reside on the land. In a visible symbol of protest, the nuns allowed Lancaster Against Pipelines to construct this outdoor chapel, intended for people of all faith backgrounds. The nuns hope the chapel will draw people to come and pray at the location. They said in a statement they know the pipeline company might call for the chapel’s removal, but “believe that having this structure on their land, for however long, gives tangible witness to the sacredness of Earth.” The chapel was dedicated over the weekend, and according to Lancaster Online, around 300 people showed up for the ceremony. A Williams Partners spokesperson referred to the chapel as a “blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction.” Via CNN , Adorers of the Blood of Christ , and Lancaster Online Images via NoPipelinesLancaster on Twitter and Adorers of the Blood of Christ

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Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land

Gorgeous Washington barn house marries rustic elements with modern style

June 19, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous American barnhouse in Washington is the fruit of four years of collaborative architect-client labor. Seattle-based SkB Architects worked together with clients Charlie and Tracey Brown to design and build the Manson Barn, a large and modern multipurpose farmhouse built from the ground up with local materials. The gambrel structure puts a modern twist on traditional American barn vernacular and frames stunning views of the Cascade Mountain Range. Located within twelve acres of apple orchards in central Washington state, the Manson Barn combines a working barn with qualities of a luxury vacation retreat. The 10,000-square-foot barn distinguishes itself from its rural neighbors with its hybrid roof that adds dormers and gull wings to a traditional gambrel roof. The large dormers help break down the scale of the building, increase natural light to the upper levels, and provide additional floor space for guest rooms. Black-stained wood siding clads the exterior, which will develop a silvery gray patina over time, blending into the landscape. The Manson Barn’s ground floor is mostly an open-plan space for entertaining – it includes a commercial kitchen with a custom-design pizza oven, a dining area, and storage for orchard equipment. Large, sliding carriage doors open up to expansive exterior patios on both ends of the building, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living. The garage doors beneath the gull wings also open up to reveal stunning landscape views. A wine cellar with sanded cobblestone flooring is on the basement level. Related: Family renovates century-old barn into stunning modern home in Washington state The upper floor houses the master bedroom, guest bedrooms, and a living area that wraps around the building in mezzanine fashion. The center of the upper floor is left open to the ground floor below. Cedar sink wood pulled from the bottom of a nearby lake was milled and reworked into sliding barn doors in the wine cellar and master bedroom. In a nod to the apple orchards, the architects added a solid wall clad in vintage apple crate panels next to the three-story steel staircase. + SkB Architects

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Gorgeous Washington barn house marries rustic elements with modern style

This garden house grows enough food for three generations of one family

April 14, 2017 by  
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Vietnamese firm Vo Trong Nhia Architects are no strangers to bringing green space indoors, but their new Binh House can actually grow enough food for three generations of one large family. The architects were charged with creating a comfortable home with greenery on every level, and they responded with a lush design that balances communal family areas with individual spaces, all right in the middle of a busy neighborhood. The concrete home, which is located in a high density neighborhood in Ho Chi Minh City , is a large space that houses a family of three generations. Further challenging was the fact that many heavily populated cities in Vietnam are destroying natural tropical green spaces to meet the needs of the population . As part of the architect’s ongoing “House for Trees” series, Vo Trong Nhia Architects used the Binh House design to reconnect the family space with nature, creating a veritable jungle inside the home. Related: Abandoned greenhouse transformed into gorgeous glass office filled with trees The home is a multi-level design stacked lush green spaces on every floor. Large sliding glass doors allow for optimal natural light throughout the home. The glass separations also help create an open space at the inner core of the home where family members can easily interact between the rooms. The home is filled with green plants and large trees that shade the interior spaces, providing a nice, even temperature throughout the home. Additionally, the green spaces, many already vertical, offer flexible growing options for the large family. To further reduce energy consumption , the service areas including the kitchen, bathrooms, stairs and hallways are located on the west side of the home. This strategy blocks the family areas from excessive heat radiation, helping cool the home during the hot summer months and reducing the need for air conditioning. Along with the greenery and specific layout strategies, building with sustainable materials such as natural stone, wood, and exposed concrete also help create the home’s pleasant microclimate. + Vo Trong Nhia Architects Via Archdaily Photography via Hiroyuki Oki, Quang Dam

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This garden house grows enough food for three generations of one family

Architecture graduate celebrates her first year living in a tiny home she built herself

April 5, 2017 by  
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Most architecture graduates daydream about creating larger-than-life buildings – but 27-year-old Stephanie Henschen is celebrating her first year living in a tiny home she designed and built herself. The University of South Florida grad student spent 10 months building the home for her thesis project. Not only did she get an A for her work, but she’s become a fully-fledged member of the tiny home revolution. Henschen began the project with little experience in construction. After buying a building plan at a tiny home workshop, she began to build the design in her grandmother’s backyard in St. Petersburg, Florida with some help from her family. Once finished, she hauled it to the USF campus to present as her thesis project, and she received a glowing review. Initially, she had plans to sell the home to pay off her debt, but she became so attached to the project that she decided to live in it. She eventually moved the home to a RV resort where she has lived comfortably for the last year. Related: How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer Although the project wasn’t necessarily driven by the need to minimalize her life, Henschen says that sustainability and minimalism came easily as soon as she began designing the compact space. The timber home measures 210 square feet and it’s loaded on a trailer for easy transportation. On the interior, multi-colored wooden panels give the space a nice cabin feel, which is enhanced with personal touches such as white curtains. The bedroom sits up on an elevated loft-like space reached by ladder, and a honeycomb-shaped window floods the interior with natural light. Although she’s become quite attached to her first tiny home, she has recently put it on sale for $30,000. She hopes to use the money to build two more tiny homes – one to live in and one to sell. + Searching for Hamlet Photo courtesy of Stephanie Henschen

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Architecture graduate celebrates her first year living in a tiny home she built herself

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