Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane

November 1, 2017 by  
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Pterosaurs roamed the skies long ago as the first animals to evolve powered flight after insects – and in the Gobi Desert , scientists recently found the remains of one that could have been nearly as big as a small aircraft. The massive pterosaur lived around 70 million years ago and could have been one of the biggest pterosaurs to ever walk the Earth, with a 36-foot wingspan. Pterosaurs were reptiles , according to the American Museum of Natural History . They were close cousins to dinosaurs , and some were as tiny as a paper airplane. But this new pterosaur was anything but tiny. An international team led by the University of Tokyo found what they described as fragmentary cervical vertebral elements. From these fossil bones they determined the creature was huge. No pterosaur that large had been found in Asia until this one. Related: Brand new “mega-carnivore” dinosaur discovered in Africa The two biggest pterosaurs we know of are the Quetzalcoatlus , found in the 1970’s in Texas, and Hatzegopteryx , found in the 1990’s in Romania. These reptiles had wingspans of around 32 to 36 feet, and could have reached 18 feet high on the ground – around as tall as a big bull giraffe, according to National Geographic . Pterosaur expert of the University of Portsmouth Mark Witton, who was not a co-author on this study, said there’s a chance this new pterosaur could have been even bigger than those other two. The new pterosaur is part of a group called azhdarchids, though scientists are reluctant to say they come from a new species given the incomplete remains. The pterosaur possibly ate baby dinosaurs, but could have been capable of taking prey the size of a human, according to Witton. It wouldn’t have been an apex predator, because it was alive alongside a 5.5 ton-relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex , Tarbosaurus – although the pterosaur probably wouldn’t have been lunch for those creatures because in mere seconds it could have hurled itself towards the sky from a standing start. The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology published the discovery online in October. Scientists from Mongolia, the United States, and Japan contributed to the research. Via National Geographic Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane

Five bridges topped with urban farms could revitalize war-torn Mosul

November 1, 2017 by  
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Architect Vincent Callebaut recently unveiled plans to rebuild war-torn Mosul as a sustainable, self-sufficient city. Callebaut’s proposal includes five bridges built with stalactite-inspired housing amid self-sustaining urban farms that run on solar power and advanced hydroponic systems. After months of intense fighting, the Islamic State was finally pushed out of the Mosul in summer of 2017. The city had been occupied since 2014, and much of the urban areas have been destroyed over the years, including the beloved five bridges that span the Tigris River. Callebaut believes the bridges could be rebuilt as inhabited spaces covered in self-sustaining urban farms . Related: Visionary eco-resort design for the Philippines features rotating seashell towers The architect submitted his design, 5 Farming Bridges, to a competition that sought potential designs and ideas to rebuild the war-torn city: “ Rebuilding Iraq’s Liberated Areas: Mosul’s Housing “. The proposal features mountainous 3D-printed buildings covered with urban farms that would guarantee food independence while providing excellent thermal insulation. The buildings on the bridges are inspired by the Islamic Muqarnas – ornamental vaults – and the homes are stacked in a vertically efficient manner. Wind chimneys would be installed in the new urban areas to provide cool natural air circulation using the thermal energy of the rivers. Solar water heaters would provide hot water thanks to hundreds of photovoltaic-clad pergolas. The bridges’ many farms and orchards would be irrigated with water from the river. Gray water from the communities would be recycled and filtered by plants in lagoon waterfalls that cascade off the bridges into the river below. Biomass composters would be used to fertilize the various suspended vegetable gardens, creating an amazing, self-sufficient urban oasis. + Vincent Callebaut Images by Vincent Callebaut

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Five bridges topped with urban farms could revitalize war-torn Mosul

Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings

November 1, 2017 by  
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It would be safe to say that Italian firm Zanon Architetti Associati really loves nature. The firm recently renovated a country home in Treviso, Italy by not only adding a new glass and steel extension to the home, but by covering its exterior walls almost entirely with lush vegetation . The renovation of the 1,500 square-foot home was focused on blending the new addition into the home’s existing structure, without taking away from its original character. Accordingly, the architects used a combination of glass and steel to create a seamless connection between the home’s expansive living space and its idyllic surroundings. Related: Stunning home in India blends into the earth with segmented green roofs “From the outside, the glass volume reflects the surrounding landscape and becomes part of it,” the architects said. “From the inside the windows become invisible giving the impression of being outdoors: the living room becomes one with the countryside.” The interior of the home is an eclectic design that is perfect for both quiet contemplation or lively socialization. The ceilings are covered in weathered steel panels that give off an industrial look, which is enhanced by the brick-tiled flooring. These two materials create a nice frame for the home’s main feature: the various large glazed walls that flood the new living space with natural light and incredible views. + Zanon Architetti Associati Via Freshome Photography by Paolo Belvedere

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Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings

Some troubling new math on carbon reductions

July 12, 2017 by  
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It’s official: 100 companies officially have declared their intention to move entirely to renewable energy. But real reductions will require bolder action from the fossil fuels sector.

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Some troubling new math on carbon reductions

90-million-year-old embryo from ‘exceedingly rare’ Gigantoraptor discovered

May 10, 2017 by  
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Twenty-five years ago, a mysterious egg was discovered. For a good portion of that time, the unknown specimen that failed to hatch has been studied by paleontologists of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Finally, the dinosaur embryo has been identified and given a scientific name, and researchers say the discovery is more profound than they once thought. The study, published on May 9 in the journal Nature Communications , was co-led by researcher Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology. She told Live Science in an email, “This is the first embryo known for a giant oviraptorosaur, dinosaurs that are exceedingly rare.” Additionally, it is the second known giant oviraptorosaur (B. sinensis) on record. 15 inches in length (38 centimeters), the embryo would have developed into a gigantic bird-like dinosaur with a toothless beak and a crest on top of its head. Another name for the dinosaur is Gigantoraptor, as it was a beast that stood as tall as 16 ft (5 meters). Reportedly, the two-legged dinosaurs look like modern-day cassowaries – large, flightless birds that live in Australia. Researchers believe B. sinensis measured up to 26 feet long from its snout to the end of its tail and weighed up to 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) by the age of 11. This means it would have been 9 lbs by the time it hatched. The fossilized embryo was discovered by a Chinese farmer in Henan Province in 1992. One year later, it was exported to the U.S. by The Stone Co., a Colorado firm that sells fossils and rocks. After word spread that the embryo had been discovered, National Geographic featured it on a magazine cover in 1996. Related: World’s largest dinosaur footprint found in Australia’s “Jurassic Park” Enthralled by the discovery, people began calling the dinosaur embryo “Baby Louie.” The embryo representing a new species was eventually repatriated to China (2013) and put on display at the Henan Geological Museum. There, researchers flocked to study the intriguing discovery. After years of speculation and research, the 90-million-year-old embryo has finally been identified. + Nature Communications Via Live Science

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90-million-year-old embryo from ‘exceedingly rare’ Gigantoraptor discovered

Arckit building blocks let you design and build the city of your dreams

May 10, 2017 by  
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Move over LEGO , a new set of building blocks wants to unleash our inner urban planner. Arckit , the makers of award winning architectural building blocks, have scaled up to create a modeling kit for cities. The firm just launched its first ever Kickstarter campaign today to bring its new city building kits to life. Founded by architect Damien Murtagh, Arckit took the architecture world by storm with the debut of their architecture building kits in 2014 . The reusable building blocks share similarities to LEGO with their interchangeable components, however, are better tailored for constructing scale models. Arckit’s new city modeling kits replicate the flexibility of their predecessors and give anyone, enthusiasts and professional urban planners alike, the chance to rapidly experiment with simple and complex urban layouts in a virtually unlimited fashion. Arckit introduced twelve new modeling kits in their Kickstarter campaign in the categories of ArcKit Cityscape and Arckit Masterplan. The kits are developed for all ages, however, the Cityscape XL, Cityscape XXL, Masterplan, and Masterplan Pro are geared for professional-level models. Each kit includes unique components inspired by iconic world architecture and the components are available in white or color. Related: Arckit’s architectural building blocks make LEGOs look like child’s play “From developing suburban neighbourhoods to downtown skyscrapers , city parks to piazzas, now designers of all ages can experience what it’s like to be a real architect or city planner,” writes the firm. “Arckit allows you to create your very own miniature model worlds complete with subtle colours and graphics – then stand back to marvel at a true 3D perspective of your masterpiece.” The ArcKit Kickstarter campaign is targeting a €30,000 goal. + Arckit + Kickstarter campaign

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Arckit building blocks let you design and build the city of your dreams

First dinosaur brain tissue discovered in 130-million-year-old fossil

October 31, 2016 by  
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In 2004, Jamie Hiscocks found a strange fossil in Sussex, England . This wasn’t your typical fossil – researchers from the University of Oxford , University of Cambridge , and other international institutions now say the fossil is the first example of dinosaur brain tissue ever found. This extremely rare find comes from a dinosaur likely related to the herbivorous Iguanodon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T5_NlRs-5o Hiscocks discovered the fossil, which is around 130 million years old, in a brown pebble unearthed from a beach rock pool. According to the University of Cambridge, the dinosaur’s meninges, cortical tissues, and capillaries were ” preserved as mineral ‘ghosts’ .” Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging and computed tomography (CT) scanning helped the researchers to see the tissues. The specimen unfortunately doesn’t provide many clues into the size of the dinosaur’s brain, but its tissues do resemble those of modern-day birds and crocodiles. Related: Antarctic fossil hunters hit a 71-million-year-old jackpot According to the researchers, conditions must have been just right for the fossil to be preserved as it was, but they hope for similar discoveries in the future. Paper co-author David Norman of the University of Cambridge said in a statement, “What we think happened is that this particular dinosaur died in or near a body of water, and its head ended up partially buried in the sediment at the bottom. Since the water had little oxygen and was very acidic, the soft issues of the brain were likely preserved and cast before the rest of its body was buried in the sediment.” The Geological Society of London released a special publication detailing the find. + Geological Society of London Via The Guardian and University of Cambridge Images via Jamie Hiscocks and screenshot

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First dinosaur brain tissue discovered in 130-million-year-old fossil

Prefab Glass House lets you bring home the spirit of Philip Johnsons masterpiece

October 31, 2016 by  
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Alan Ritchie’s reinterpretation of the Glass House follows the design principles of Johnson’s original with its entirely glazed facade that blurs the line between indoors and outdoors. “I think doing it in a prefabricated version is a whole different approach,” said Ritchie. “But we can still maintain the spirit of the original Glass House.” Although this prefabricated version similarly immerses owners in nature, Ritchie had to consider new challenges including how the different modules would connect together and weatherproofing the structure for a variety of climates. Related: Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use The home, which is not a direct replica, is available in different sizes from a one-bedroom 80.5-square-meter home to a four-bedroom 172.1-square-meter home. The structure would be constructed off-site in a factory and then shipped and installed on-site, thus minimizing construction waste . Interested buyers of this limited edition house can submit an inquiry on Revolution’s website. + Modular Glass House Images via Revolution Precrafted

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Prefab Glass House lets you bring home the spirit of Philip Johnsons masterpiece

Worldwide fossil fuel consumption set a new record in 2015

June 10, 2016 by  
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Two global energy records were broken in 2015. On one hand, the amount of renewable energy produced worldwide has never been higher than it was last year. But, one step forward is met with two steps back as reports show we also consumed more fossil fuels in 2015 than ever before. The Renewables 2016 Global Status Report reflected a big step in the right direction, as renewable forms of energy continue to grow. BP’s Statistical Review , however, revealed an ugly truth about our fossil fuel consumption, which grew 0.6 percent since last year. While coal production went down one percent, petroleum and natural gas production went up. The seemingly small percentage increase is actually a big one when considering it amounts to 127 million metric tons of fossil fuels. Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy Carbon dioxide emissions, naturally, have also increased 36 million metric tons between 2014 and 2015. Sadly, this counts as the sixth year in a row these numbers have increased. A closer look shows the increases have been a bit smaller over the last few years, but an increase is an increase, nonetheless. U.S. oil production accounts for much of the rise worldwide, steadily growing for the third straight year, according to Forbes . Oil production has apparently not been this high since 2008. In fact, the U.S. can enjoy its spot at the top of the list of crude oil producers worldwide, with Saudi Arabia coming in second place. Via Forbes Images via Pixabay , Flickr

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Worldwide fossil fuel consumption set a new record in 2015

Gorgeous LEED Gold library was designed with the help of Facebook and Twitter

June 10, 2016 by  
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In lieu of community charrettes, Bing Thom Architects launched an online “Ideabook” that welcomed everyone to submit ideas, photographs, and texts of what they wanted the library to look like. Of the library’s Facebook fans, the largest percentage was under 25 and the second largest group was women between the ages of 35 and 44. The librarians also aided those who were digitally challenged. Requests ranged from a prayer room for the Muslim population to computer training facilities to drawing areas in the children’s section. Related: South Vancouver’s Soaring Sunset Community Center Connects With Nature The architects distilled the ideas into the final people-centered library design that sports a tapered ship-like appearance and curvaceous, ultra-modern lines. “With advances in easily available electronic information, the role of libraries is changing and the book collection is no longer the central focus,” said the architects. “The building design evolved out of the need to provide a space for reading, studying, and above all, gathering as a community.” Large windows, an upward winding central atrium, and skylights bring in copious amounts of natural light, while the outward sloped walls mitigate solar gain. + Bing Thom Architects Images via Bing Thom Architects

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Gorgeous LEED Gold library was designed with the help of Facebook and Twitter

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