Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service

March 27, 2018 by  
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Waymo, an autonomous vehicle company owned by Google ‘s parent company Alphabet, will add 20,000 all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUVs to its self-driving car fleet over the next two years. The stylish I-PACE SUV will be one of several vehicles available for use in the company’s self-driving car service set to open in 2018. “This year in 2018, starting in Phoenix, Arizona — members of the public will be able to take these fully self-driving cars anywhere within our service area,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said . “To work, to school, to the grocery store. Anywhere they’d go with a typical car.” Waymo’s Arizona debut comes amid the recent news that an Arizona woman was struck and killed by a self-driving car operated by Waymo’s rival Uber. Waymo recently reached a $245 million settlement with Uber over allegations that Uber had stolen trade secrets regarding Waymo’s LIDAR system. The Arizona Department of Transportation has suspended Uber from testing its autonomous vehicles in the state, while Waymo remains on the road. Uber has also shut-down similar autonomous vehicle programs in Toronto, San Francisco and Pittsburgh while investigations into the crash continue. Related: Poor urban design could be at fault for Uber driverless car crash The 20,000 Waymo I-PACE SUVs would be capable of servicing up to one million rides per day. In expanding its operations, Waymo emphasizes its safety record. “We’ve created 20,000 individual test scenarios for our cars to test on,” said Krafcik. The announcement of a substantial vehicle fleet for the Phoenix roll-out demonstrates that Waymo has taken a significant step forward in the race to pioneer the world of self-driving cars . The upcoming trials should demonstrate the challenges and opportunities of autonomous vehicles in greater detail. Via Mashable Images via Waymo

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Scientists create ‘umbrella’ spray to protect coral reefs from sun damage

March 27, 2018 by  
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Researchers have crafted a new liquid substance that can be sprayed onto the surface of the water above vulnerable coral reefs , shielding them from intense UV and visible light beaming down from the Sun . In doing so, the spray may help to defend reefs from extreme bleaching events. 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, the biodegradable spray is made from a natural lipid and calcium carbonate, a key component of coral reefs. “It is white so it reflects and scatters all the light which hits the ocean surface,” study researcher Andrew Negri told the Sydney Morning Herald . Laboratory tests revealed that the spray was capable of reducing the amount of light reaching underwater coral by 20 percent. “In the laboratory, it actually stays on the surface for several weeks, but in the ocean it could be broken up by wave action and moved around by the currents,” explained Negri. The spray will quickly biodegrade after it is broken up. Trials in a real-world environment will begin soon to refine the spray and make it more resilient to sometimes turbulent waters . Related: Spraying spiders with graphene helps them spin webs 6 times stronger than normal Conservationists are enthused about the idea of using the spray to protect acute vulnerabilities in coral reefs. “The idea being that you could in the future, knowing there is going to be hot days ahead… spray this film on top of key reefs… and this will act as a bit of a shield… almost like an umbrella, to protect these reefs underneath and the animals underneath,” Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden told the Sydney Morning Herald . “It’s important to note that this is not intended to be a solution that can be applied over the whole 348,000 square kilometres of Great Barrier Reef ,” Marsden noted. “That would never be practical, but it could be deployed on a smaller, local level to protect high value or high-risk areas of reef.” Via The Sydney Morning Herald Images via Depositphotos (2 , 3 )

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Scientists create ‘umbrella’ spray to protect coral reefs from sun damage

Most active volcano in Europe ‘sliding into the sea’

March 27, 2018 by  
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Volcanic eruptions or lava flows you’ve heard of, but what about a volcano sliding into the sea? Scientists say that’s exactly what’s happening to Mount Etna, which The Open University described as the most active volcano in Europe. It’s the first time scientists have directly observed anything like it, and it could have disturbing consequences in the future. “Constant movement could contribute to a major landslide along Etna’s coast, causing devastating tsunamis to surrounding areas.” Mount Etna in Italy is headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers have observed parts of volcanoes move, but according to the BBC , these scientists think this is the first time anyone has directly observed basement sliding of a whole active volcano. They drew on 11 years of GPS measurements all over Etna to make the discovery. Related: Mount Etna eruption creates a display of fire, ash, and lightning over Sicily The Open University ‘s John Murray, lead author of the study on the work, said Mount Etna is moving 14 millimeters (mm) a year toward the Mediterranean. “While 14 mm might not seem much, previous studies of long-extinct volcanoes found those sliding downslope in a similar way have resulted in catastrophic landslides later in their history,” Murray said in the university’s statement. Should we be worried? Etna might not slide into the sea in our lifetimes, so local residents needn’t be afraid, but “continued sliding for hundreds or thousands of years could cause it to become dangerously unstable,” Murray said. He told the BBC scientists should monitor the motion to see if it accelerates. Mount Etna’s movement may impact research today, however; Murray said it could interfere with signals that clue scientists into where magma is. It could be trickier to monitor the likelihood of an eruption. The Bulletin of Volcanology published the research online late last week; scientists from Université Clermont Auvergne in France and Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom contributed. + The Open University + Bulletin of Volcanology Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Non-profit uses machine learning and solar energy to protect the rainforest

March 23, 2018 by  
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San Francisco-based non-profit Rainforest Connection has created a unique, technologically advanced system to defend the rainforests of Brazil . The high-tech protection system incorporates machine learning and solar energy to operate sensor devices called Guardians that listen to the rainforest and send real-time messages if illegal logging activity is detected. Built out of modified cellphones, the Guardians are placed high in the canopy. The solar panels mitigate the need for battery changes or maintenance. With assistance from Google, Rainforest Connection has focused their efforts on the Amazon Rainforest in Pará, northern Brazil, where they have also collaborated with the local Tembé people, who are defending their homeland from encroaching logging. About 30 members of the Tembé people regularly patrol the forest to repel illegal loggers. Even with refined knowledge of the local environment, the Amazon Rainforest is difficult for anyone to navigate. Up in the canopy, the Guardians capture sounds, which are then sent to Rainforest Connection. The company recently announced it will be using Google’s TensorFlow tool, which facilitates the use of machine-learning software by other companies. The sounds are then analyzed so that the location and origin of the sounds can be determined. Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests “The people on the ground, they’re the solution,” said Rainforest Connection founder and CEO Topher White. “They’re the ones who can fight off deforestation . But technology can play a really big part in helping them do it more safely and more effectively.” Rainforest Connection intends to provide services for those who live in rainforests and other ecological treasures all across the world. Communities equipped with the tools they need to thrive are more resilient.”The system pinpoints exactly where the problem is, so we no longer need to spend months patrolling the land like we used to,” said Chief Ednaldo Tembé . “That means we have more time for our culture, for our family, and for our survival.” Via Gizmodo Images via Google

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This adventurous couple revamped an old Airstream into a dream house on wheels

March 23, 2018 by  
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Many people purchase items on eBay–but only a few decide to live in them. When Atlanta-based couple Sheena and Joe stumbled upon an old Airstream  for sale on eBay, they decided to transform it into a home on wheels perfect for avid travelers like themselves. They revamped the Airstream and had it road-ready 10 months later. The original owners intended to use the trailer as a retirement home, but their plans fell through, leaving the Airstream in storage for eight years. After Sheena and Joe purchased it, they affectionately named it Mavis and set about turning it into a mobile living space. Related: Airstream unveils new off-grid ready Globetrotter trailer The couple renovated the structure, including the plumbing and electrical work, themselves. They also included two dedicated work areas and relocated the bedroom from the rear to the front of the trailer, which receives the most sunlight during the day. They added wood accents to the walls and countertops and designed the space in a minimalist Scandinavian style. Ample storage spaces are hidden under the sofa and bed, as well as under the refrigerator. Because of the lack of space, the couple learned to make every inch count and have everything inside serve a purpose. Related: Apollo 70 Airstream trailer renovated as an amazing “green” cocktail bar on wheels Sheena and Joe have already tested the road-readiness of the trailer by traveling through the western part of the United States. They plan to continue using the trailer while traveling and, eventually, to build a small solar-powered container home , with a special place in the backyard for Mavis. + Mavis the Airstream Via Dwell

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This adventurous couple revamped an old Airstream into a dream house on wheels

The clean economy needs more vocal corporate advocates

March 5, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. On this episode, a Google executive, California congressman and venture capitalist debate the role of corporate advocacy in the clean energy economy.

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The clean economy needs more vocal corporate advocates

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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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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