Google and BIG unveil designs for new green-roofed tech campus in Sunnyvale

January 5, 2018 by  
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Google and BIG have teamed up for yet another massive and spectacular Google campus—this time in Sunnyvle’s Moffett Park. Google recently unveiled plans for a new BIG-designed campus last month, following the acclaimed architecture firm’s work on Google’s Mountain View and London campuses . Located on Caribbean Drive, the 1.04-million-square-foot project could accommodate 4,500 employees and feature eye-catching terraced buildings topped with accessible green roofs. Designed to foster community and healthy living, Google’s new Sunnyvale campus will be flush with green space including on its roof. Unsurprisingly, the project will target LEED Gold and is expected to rack up points through its native, low-irrigation landscape and promotion of eco-friendly transit like cycling to work. Related: Google unveils giant green ‘landscraper’ for London HQ The massive site could also accommodate more than just office space. “Housing is part of our thought process in Moffett Park,” Mark Golan, chief operating officer of Google’s global real estate investments & development unit, told The Mercury News . “A new mixed-use community where you have live-work capabilities, makes a lot of sense. Housing and transportation are two huge issues for the Valley overall, and they are huge issues for Google. One of the best ways to address this is by creating mixed-use communities that allow people to live close to where they work, which allows for a vibrant community and also helps the transportation.” The project is not expected for completion until 2021 at the earliest. + BIG Via ArchDaily Images via Google

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Google and BIG unveil designs for new green-roofed tech campus in Sunnyvale

Our solar system is now tied with Kepler-90 for number of planets circling a star

December 21, 2017 by  
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Eight planets circle our sun (sorry, Pluto ), but our solar system is no longer unique in that number. NASA recently announced the discovery of an eighth planet circling the star Kepler-90, tying our solar system with that one for most number of planets around one star. Machine learning from Google helped researchers discover Kepler-90i, a rocky, hot planet that orbits Kepler-90 every 14.4 days. Scientists drew on data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to make the exciting discovery: there’s a star system out there with the same number of planets as our own. Kepler-90 is around 2,545 light-years away from Earth, and has eight planets circling it. There probably isn’t life – at least as we know it – on Kepler-90i; the planet’s surface is around 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Related: Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds “The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system. You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer,” said Andrew Vanderburg, astronomer and NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin , in a statement. The space telescope measures the dip in brightness of stars when planets orbit in front, according to a YouTube video from NASA’s Ames Research Center. So Vanderburg and software engineer Christopher Shallue of Google Brain trained computers to spot signals of small planets to uncover the presence of Kepler-90i. The two also found a sixth planet in the Kepler-80 system: Kepler-80g, which is Earth-sized. They aim to apply their neural network to the over 150,000 stars in Kepler’s full set. The Astronomical Journal accepted their research for publication. Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at the Ames Research Center, said, “New ways of looking at the data – such as this early-stage research to apply machine learning algorithms – promises to continue to yield significant advances in our understanding of planetary systems around other stars . I’m sure there are more firsts in the data waiting for people to find them.” Via NASA Images via NASA/Wendy Stenzel and NASA’s Ames Research Center on YouTube

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Our solar system is now tied with Kepler-90 for number of planets circling a star

Artist turns golden leaves of Sacramento Gingko tree into inspiring works of art

December 21, 2017 by  
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Gingko trees are renowned for their majestic beauty, but come autumn and a certain artist at Sacramento State University is busy raking those beautiful golden leaves into intricate designs. Joanna Hedrick , a counselor at the university and self-proclaimed “falling ginkgo artist,” spends hours creating her nature-based artwork , turning her design work into an annual campus tradition. Hornet Hive #exploresacstate #fallengforsacstate #sacstate #csus #ginkgo #ginkgobiloba #fallenginkgoart Una publicación compartida de Joanna Hedrick (@joanna_hedrick) el Nov 24, 2017 at 4:58 PST Joanna, who has a background in art and landscape design, began her artistic work years ago in an attempt to create a nice backdrop for family photos. What began as a simple clean up process, however, has turned into an annual tradition, beloved by all on campus. Her leaf art has become quite famous around town, but especially for those students who need a bit of distraction during finals. Related: Artist recycles leaf waste into biodegradable Beleaf chair Sunday Sunburst Labyrinth photo by @golconda1 #fallenginkgoart #sacstateginkgoart #labyrinth #ginkotree #ginkgobiloba #ginkgo #sunburst #fallingforsacstate #csus #sacstate #sacramento #rakingleaves #ginkgoleaves Una publicación compartida de Joanna Hedrick (@joanna_hedrick) el Dic 10, 2017 at 12:41 PST Hendrick uses a rake to comb the leaves into a variety of detailed shapes , from spiraling circles and honeycombs, to a complex golden labyrinth. She estimates that each design takes her about two to three hours, and is usually able to makes about six unique displays during the fall season. Having become something of a local legend, Hendrick is proud of her nature-based artwork . She told Sactown Mag , “[My art] is about taking something that’s already beautiful and making something unique—something you don’t just pass by.” + Joanna Hendrick Instagram Via Boooooom Photography by Joanna Hendrick Instagram

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Artist turns golden leaves of Sacramento Gingko tree into inspiring works of art

France completely bans fracking and oil extraction

December 21, 2017 by  
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The French Parliament recently passed into law a complete ban on the extraction of oil and gas within any of France’s territories. Beginning in 2040, fracking, oil drilling, and other extraction methods will be banned across France . Meanwhile, no new permits to extract fossil fuel in France will be given. Although this law highlights France’s commitment to take action against climate change, it is primarily a symbolic gesture. France imports 99 percent of the oil and gas that it consumes, extracting only a negligible amount from its territory. To put this in perspective, France extracts about 815,000 tons of oil per year, the same amount extracted every few hours in Saudi Arabia . While France’s recent law may not have a large direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions , French lawmakers hope that the move will inspire other European nations to make similar commitments, with Socialist lawmaker Delphine Batho telling the Guardian that she hoped the ban would be “contagious.” Left-wing members of parliament abstained from the vote to ban, while the right-wing Republicans party voted no. The law’s impact will be most felt in French Guyana, France’s South American territory where oil companies had sought to drill. Related: France is the world’s most sustainable food country French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to position France as a global leader on climate change. As the United States has retreated on the world stage, France has stepped forward. Macron has gone so far as to offer grants to climate scientists from American institutions to do research under a government that recognizes the reality of climate change. Internally, France is taking action. Gas and petrol vehicles are to be banned in France by 2040, and the government is working to shift the energy economy away from fossil fuels and nuclear power, and towards clean renewable energy. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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France completely bans fracking and oil extraction

US to lift restrictions on making viruses deadlier and stronger

December 21, 2017 by  
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The United States National Institute of Health (NIH) announced on Tuesday that it will soon end a three-year moratorium on funding research projects that aim to make pathogens more powerful than they are naturally. The restrictions were put in place during the Obama Administration while the NIH created a more comprehensive system of risk-benefit analysis for the research. Now that such a system has been developed, the NIH is moving forward with its plans to develop more dangerous forms of deadly viruses . The goal is to study these lab-grown super-viruses to determine how these viruses might evolve in the real world, enabling experts and institutions to prepare antiviral medicines or other public health responses. Projects that engineer super viruses in the hopes of learning their weaknesses are called “gain-of-function” studies. Scientists seek to learn how a virus interacts with its hosts may change based on evolution . While research involving highly dangerous pathogens is strictly regulated, the potential cost from a mistake or malicious action could be devastating. Former CIA director John Brennan recently highlighted biological weapons, like a weaponized form of the ebola virus , as one of the most pressing existential threats facing the United States. Related: Scientists harness tobacco plants to produce polio vaccine Between 2003 and 2009, there were 395 reported incidents in which human error created a situation in which people were at risk of infection from these deadly viruses. Only seven infections resulted from these 395 events. Although this research is ostensibly to serve the public’s interest, some scientists question whether the risks are worth any potential reward. Gain-of-function studies have “done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemics, yet they risked creating an accidental pandemic , said Marc Lipsitch, epidemiologist at Harvard University, according to Nature . It would seem that the NIH did its due diligence in preparing a comprehensive policy concerning the research of deadly pathogens. Hopefully it is enough to keep these super viruses behind tightly closed doors. Via Motherboard Images via NIAID   (1)  

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US to lift restrictions on making viruses deadlier and stronger

NASA uses Google’s artificial intelligence to discover the 8th planet in a distant solar system

December 14, 2017 by  
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Today NASA announced that its Kepler telescope, with the help of Google AI, has discovered the 8th planet in a distant planetary system. The solar system Kepler 90 now ties our own solar system for having the most known planets. The groundbreaking discovery confirms that artificial intelligence can assist astronomers in identifying patterns in space that may be too challenging for humans. The Kepler Space Telescope launched in 2009, and since then it has discovered 2,337 exoplanets, many of which could be possible candidates for hosting life. The most exciting discovery, made in 2015, was that of Kepler-425b, the first Earth-sized planet to be discovered in a habitable zone around a star. Building upon human research, NASA utilized Google’s neural network – a sort of artificial intelligence – to make the discovery. Essentially, the system was taught to differentiate between similar but different patterns, expanding its capability and learning over time. Now, the AI has learned enough to identify subtle differences in space to detect weak signals that humans had failed to detect. This led to the discovery of the planet Kepler 90I, which researchers hadn’t noticed after searching the area. NASA says that human researchers may have eventually identified the planet, but the AI made that process much faster and more efficient. Related: Kepler data reveals 20 potentially habitable worlds 90I is a small, probably rocky planet tucked in the middle of the Kepler 90 solar system. It likely has a thin atmosphere and isn’t very hospitable to life. While Kepler 90 appears to be similar in many ways to our own solar system, it also has some distinct differences: the planets cluster close to the sun, rather than being spread out. It is also possible that this solar system may have more planets that we haven’t identified yet. + NASA

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NASA uses Google’s artificial intelligence to discover the 8th planet in a distant solar system

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

The Power of Business Advocacy to Accelerate a Clean Economy

October 2, 2017 by  
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How does public policy determine clean economy business outcomes?  Why is it imperative for business leaders to leverage their market power to truly accelerate clean energy, climate and sustainability innovations at the policymaking level — especially under this challenging federal administration? A Congressman, Google’s head of energy policy and market development, and a former White House Chief Sustainability Officer turned renewable energy finance entrepreneur share their stories and insights on the way forward.

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The Power of Business Advocacy to Accelerate a Clean Economy

The Power of Business Advocacy to Accelerate a Clean Economy

October 2, 2017 by  
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How does public policy determine clean economy business outcomes?  Why is it imperative for business leaders to leverage their market power to truly accelerate clean energy, climate and sustainability innovations at the policymaking level — especially under this challenging federal administration? A Congressman, Google’s head of energy policy and market development, and a former White House Chief Sustainability Officer turned renewable energy finance entrepreneur share their stories and insights on the way forward.

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The Power of Business Advocacy to Accelerate a Clean Economy

What’s the best way to buy renewable energy?

September 21, 2017 by  
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Etsy, Facebook, Google, REI, Starbucks share tales of progress at VERGE17.

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What’s the best way to buy renewable energy?

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