Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

October 2, 2017 by  
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Pedestrians and cyclists cheered yesterday as Paris closed all of its streets to cars. The government held a Car Free Day and the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issues

San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . + Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

California may ban gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030

September 29, 2017 by  
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Following in the footsteps of France, the UK, and Scotland, the state of California is now considering passing a ban on the sale of new gas and diesel-powered vehicles. The initiative, which is supported by the state’s Air Resources Board, is being considered to curb carbon emissions and, as a result, help to prevent climate change from worsening. During an interview with Bloomberg last week, Mary Nichols, the chairman of the California Air Resources Board, confirmed the rumors. She said that after learning China is considering a similar ban, it became a matter of “when” the state would adopt similar measures, not “if.” Nichols said, “I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’ The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California .” The southwestern state already set the goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of the 1990 levels by 2050. As Elektrek reports, that would require replacing virtually all combustion engines with sustainable alternatives by the year 2040. However, there’s no policy mandating gas and diesel-powered cars be phased out, which is why the state is considering the ban. Related: China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs So far, no specific timeline has been set. According to Nichols, however, 2030 is not “out of the question.” She said, “There are people who believe, including who work for me, that you could stop all sales of new internal- combustion cars by 2030. Some people say 2035, some people say 2040. It’s awfully hard to predict any of that with precision, but it doesn’t appear to be out of the question.” There are presently more than 300,000 electric vehicles on California roads today. And every year, the state adds approximately 2 million more. If a ban was to be enforced, not only would the automotive industry take a hit, a new standard would be presented for other US states to uphold. Via Elektrek Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Commons

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California may ban gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030

Rocks discovered in Canada hold the oldest evidence of life

September 29, 2017 by  
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3.95 billion-year-old rocks could offer the oldest evidence we’ve found for life on Earth . A team led by the University of Tokyo found graphite in Labrador, Canada that they think is biogenic, or produced by living organisms. They contend this is the oldest evidence of life, as opposed to microfossils found earlier in Quebec , saying the dating process used in the latter was highly controversial. In March, the journal Nature published the findings of an international team of researchers who’d found fossils in Quebec that they said could be between 3.77 and 4.28 billion years old. Now, nine scientists at institutions in Japan say they’ve actually found the oldest evidence of life on this planet, and it’s in 3.95 billion-year-old rocks. Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion years old These researchers found graphite in sedimentary rocks. Tsuyoshi Komiya of the University of Tokyo said, “Our samples are also the oldest supracrustal rocks preserved on Earth.” Phys.org pointed out the Quebec fossils were found in a similar formation. The Japan team measured the isotope composition of the graphite to find it was biogenic, although the identity of the organisms that produced the graphite or their appearance are mysteries. Komiya said the team could work to identify the organisms by scrutinizing “other isotopes such as nitrogen, sulphur, and iron of the organic matter and accompanied materials.” They can also analyze the rock’s chemical composition to try and figure out the organisms’ environment . Other researchers, like geochemist Daniele Pinti of the University of Quebec at Montreal, seem impressed by the new team’s findings and process. He told CBC News, “For the moment, it looks very convincing.” Phys.org said that should the discovery be accurate, it would mean life sprung up on Earth a geological second after the planet formed around 4.5 billion years ago. Nature published the new study this week. Via Phys.org and CBC News Images via Wikimedia Commons and Tashiro, Takayuki, et al.

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Rocks discovered in Canada hold the oldest evidence of life

Meditative lakeside Prism Cabin reveals Bordeaux through stained-glass windows

September 27, 2017 by  
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This pyramid-shaped cabin in France features beautiful stained glass windows and lookout towers that offer unique views of the surrounding landscape. Visual artist Lou Andréa Lassalle designed the Prism Cabin to allow occupants to rediscover the world around them through the colors cast from its faceted windows. The cabin comprises part of the Refuges Périurbains project, which offers overnight stays in temporary installations built all around the periphery of Bordeaux. Related: Kengo Kuma’s Transparent Temporary Shelter Pays Homage to Classic Japanese Literature Built by Zebra3 , the pyramid-shaped structure reveals unsuspected aspects of the landscape through color and shape. The designers say it “evokes the esotericism of the water bank where local fish, monsters from the depths, high voltage towers and natural fog mix.” Full of playful design features, the cabin includes lookout towers built in the shape of the Great Sphinx. It can host up to eight people at once and encourages people to reconnect with Bordeaux’s gorgeous landscapes. + Lou Andréa Lassalle + Zebra3 + Refuges Périurbains Via Treehugger Photos by Lou Andréa Lassalle

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Meditative lakeside Prism Cabin reveals Bordeaux through stained-glass windows

Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi set to open in November

September 15, 2017 by  
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Jean Nouvel ‘s Louvre Abu Dhabi – the first universal museum in the Arab world – will open its doors to the public on November 11th. Nestled underneath a huge porous dome, the museum galleries will house an extensive collection of artworks, artifacts and loans from France’s top museums, with a particular focus on shared human stories across civilizations and cultures. The project is part of a 2007 intergovernmental agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates . Its 8,000 square feet of exhibition space will house permanent collections and temporary exhibits, combining artifacts and artworks from France’s top museums. Related: Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi is a museum that is its own work of art The museum’s most distinctive feature is its vast dome comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. This porous structure filters sunlight and creates a ‘rain of light’ effect reminiscent of overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases. Two prestigious events coproduced under the French-Emirati Cultural Program will mark the inauguration week. These events were initiated over a year ago by the two countries and supported by the creative momentum generated by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. + Jean Nouvel + Louvre Abu Dhabi Images by Muhamed Somji

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Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi set to open in November

University of Queensland scientists uncover an ‘explosion’ of new life forms

September 15, 2017 by  
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The Tree of Life just got bigger. University of Queensland scientists found thousands of organisms that don’t into any known phylum. They acquired 7,280 bacterial genomes and 623 archaeal genomes, raising the number of known genomes by nearly 10 percent. Scientist Gene Tyson, who was part of the effort, said, “The real value of these genomes is that many are evolutionarily distinct from previously recovered genomes.” There are some 80,000 genomes in genome repositories, according to the university. This new work, published online in September by Nature Microbiology , recovers almost 8,000 genomes – what the university called an explosion in the number of life forms we know about. Related: Tree of Life redesigned to reflect thousands of new species The scientists drew on the technique metagenomics, which is relatively new, according to Futurism. Researchers sequenced all the DNA in a sample – including water, feces, or dirt – to generate a metagenome. They were then able to reconstruct individual genomes of new bacteria and new archaea . Around a third of those microorganisms were distinct, allowing the researchers to create three archaeal phyla and 17 bacterial phyla. Microbes can be hard to scrutinize; scientists can only culture under one percent, according to Tyson. Utilizing metagenomics may offer a new method of studying microorganisms researchers can’t grow in a laboratory – and such research could be vital as microbes are opposing our life-saving antibiotics , and we face antibiotic resistance . According to Futurism, it’s possible some of these new species could be used in better antibiotics. And there could be more discoveries to come – study lead author Donovan Parks said in a statement, “We anticipate that processing of environmental samples deposited in other public repositories will add tens of thousands of additional microbial genomes to the tree of life.” Via Futurism and the University of Queensland Images via Pixabay and Parks, Donovan, et al.

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sCarabane: a self-sufficient collapsible caravan powered by sun and wind

August 29, 2017 by  
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Green camping is about to get a lot more glamorous. Green Cat Technologies from France -has designed the sCarabane, a self-sufficient caravan with several fancy clean technologies: you’ll find solar cells but also a solar concentrator to generate hot water, and a telescopic wind turbine . The foldable caravan can rotate 360 degrees to follow the sun – and provide incredible views. The sCarabane folds up for easy travel, and one person can do the job in around half an hour. It can then be towed as a standard caravan. Once in place, it unfolds into a futuristic getaway that rests on a circular stand so it’s able to rotate and make the most of the renewable technologies on board. Related: Live off the grid and rent-free in the charming Wohnwagon mobile caravan A parabolic mirror atop the sCarabane tracks the sun. A telescopic vertical axis wind turbine can generate 500 watts of clean power. Solar cells supplement the renewable energy generation, providing another 500 watts. The bright space includes fold-out components to connect the indoors and outdoors. A hatch can open to connect the kitchen with a full-length deck outside. There’s a 77.5 square foot master bedroom, with a 59 square foot children’s bedroom next door. Each of these opens to the outdoors with a full-size door. The dining area in the kitchen also doubles as an extra bed. A bathroom area includes a toilet, sink, shower, and compact washing machine. A rotating bubble window offers a fun way to look outside, and rose windows on the bedroom roofs let those beneath control the sunlight’s intensity inside. Green Cat Technologies notes the sCarabane may not be completely self-sufficient anywhere a person could travel – that depends on weather and geographical location. They said right now, users still need a bottle of propane to cook. They are still developing the caravan – including rainwater harvesting and water filtration systems – so don’t yet have a date for when it will be on the market (or what it will cost). + Green Cat Technologies Via New Atlas Images via screenshot

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sCarabane: a self-sufficient collapsible caravan powered by sun and wind

Frank Gehry’s twisting, mountainous skyscraper takes shape at LUMA Arles

August 24, 2017 by  
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New photos of Frank Gehry ‘s tower at LUMA Arles show a mountainous, twisting structure taking shape on the 16-acre site in France. The tower will house a variety of functions, including research facilities, workshop and seminar room, as well as artist studios . The building is expected to be completed in spring 2019. The 9,000-square-metre stainless steel tower sits on LUMA Arles, a large site previously occupied by 19th century railroad workshops. Today, this area is undergoing a rehabilitation process helmed by New York-based Selldorf Architects, while Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets plan to create a beautiful park adjacent to Gehry’s mountain-like tower . Related: Gehry Partners unveils plant-covered offices for Los Angeles LUMA Arles will function as an experimental contemporary center where artists and researchers can collaborate on a variety of multidisciplinary projects. Swiss pharmaceutical heiress and contemporary art collector Maja Hoffmann leads the cultural project, expected to cost around €100 million, and is the Executive Director of LUMA Arles and President of the LUMA Foundation. + LUMA Arles + Gehry Partners Via World Architecture Community Photos by Victor Picon , via LUMA Arles

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Frank Gehry’s twisting, mountainous skyscraper takes shape at LUMA Arles

Elon Musk reveals first official photo of the SpaceX space suit

August 24, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk surprised fans on Instagram by sharing the first official photo of the SpaceX space suit. In the caption, he teased details about the suit, mentioning that it definitely works and was tested to double vacuum pressure. Musk admitted that it was “incredibly hard” to balance the suit’s look and function. “First picture of SpaceX spacesuit,” Musk wrote on Instagram. “More in days to follow. Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup). Already tested to double vacuum pressure. Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function. Easy to do either separately.” First picture of SpaceX spacesuit. More in days to follow. Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup). Already tested to double vacuum pressure. Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function. Easy to do either separately. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Aug 23, 2017 at 12:59am PDT Though Musk failed to mention the specific purpose of the suit, The Verge suggests they are to be worn by astronauts when riding inside the SpaceX Dragon Capsule. Because they are pressure suits, they are not meant for spacewalks. Rather, the gear is designed for astronauts to wear during transport – just in case the capsule depressurizes. NASA astronauts will also don the suits for the commercial crew program, when SpaceX starts launching people to and from the International Space Station . Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth The helmet and sleek aesthetic of the suit make it look as if it’s ready to debut in a sci-fi flick. At the same time, it pays homage to “old school” space suits NASA astronauts wore to the moon. Within days, more information on the new SpaceX suit will be revealed. Via The Verge , CNBC Images via SpaceX , Elon Musk

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