Incredibly rare two-headed porpoise found in the North Sea

June 15, 2017 by  
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An unsuspecting fisherman recently stumbled across an incredibly rare two-headed dolphin. Only nine examples of conjoined twins have ever been found among cetaceans , according to Erwin Kompanje, curator of mammals for the Natural History Museum Rotterdam in the Netherlands . So he jumped at the chance to study a rare specimen of conjoined harbor porpoises caught the end of May by Dutch fisherman. But when he reached out to the fisherman, what happened next was a scientist’s nightmare. It’s not unheard of for trawlers to accidentally catch a porpoise. There are hundreds of thousands of the cetaceans near the coast of the Netherlands. But no one has ever caught conjoined twin harbor porpoises. The fisherman snapped photos, which made their way to Kompanje. He couldn’t wait to study the creature in the laboratory. Related: Fish with “human-like teeth” spotted in Michigan lakes Kompanje could tell the twins were male, and had likely recently been born – and he thinks they were born alive. They probably didn’t live for long; either they had two brains which might have told them to swim in different directions, or a single heart may have failed to pump enough blood to keep them alive. Conjoined twins are an extremely rare find. And these looked to be in good condition. Others that have been discovered were undeveloped fetuses – such as one found near Japan in 1970 in a dolphin’s womb – or have started to decompose, such as a dolphin with two beaks found in 2001. Kompanje reached out to the fisherman to try and obtain the specimen for study. But this story doesn’t have a happy ending for science. The fisherman thought it was illegal to catch the conjoined twins, so after the photographs, they tossed the creature back into the sea. Kompanje told The Washington Post, “For a cetologist, this is a real horror.” Based on the photographs he was still able to publish a paper in DEINSEA, the online journal of the natural history museum, joined by one scientist of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and one from Wageningen Marine Research . Sadly, we may never know more about the rare twins. Via The Washington Post Images via Kompanje, E.J.O.; Camphuysen, C.J.; and Leopold, M.F.

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Incredibly rare two-headed porpoise found in the North Sea

Why long-term investors are killing fossil fuels

May 1, 2017 by  
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Remember the date April 26, 2017: it will go down as an important day in the history of solving climate change. That’s because Moody’s Investor’s Service released a research paper titled “Oil and Gas Industry Faces Significant Credit Risks from Carbon Transition.”

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Why long-term investors are killing fossil fuels

Humans may have lived in America 115,000 years earlier than we thought

April 27, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have believed that humanity was a relatively recent visitor to the North American continent, migrating from Siberia only 15,000 years ago. Now, more accurate dating of mastodon fossils from California shows that an early human ancestor likely existed on the continent 130,000 years ago , far further back than even the most extreme estimates made by previous researchers. The fossils consist of elephant-like teeth and bones, which were discovered in Southern California during the construction of an expressway in 1992. The fossils bear clear signs of deliberate breakage using stone hammers and other early human tools – but until recently, dating technology was not sophisticated enough to accurately pinpoint the era from which they originated. Related: Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification Using new methods to measure traces of natural uranium in the bones, researchers with the US Geological Survey and the Center for American Paleolithic Research found these bones were far older than the era when humans are generally accepted to have lived in America. While these people were clearly somehow related to modern-day humans, and were advanced enough to create and use stone tools, researchers say that they wouldn’t have been Homo sapiens as we know them. Our species didn’t leave Africa until 80,000 to 100,000 years ago. Instead, some likely candidates are Homo erectus, the Neanderthals, or perhaps a little-known hominid species called the Denisovans , whose DNA can still be found in Australian aboriginal populations today. It’s likely this ancient human population died out before Homo sapiens eventually crossed the Pacific. It’s believed they did not interbreed with modern humans and likely are not direct ancestors of any Native American groups. The new findings have been published in the journal Nature . Via Phys.org Images via San Diego Natural History Museum

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Humans may have lived in America 115,000 years earlier than we thought

Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

March 30, 2017 by  
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The day when tourists venture to space could arrive sooner than we think. Blue Origin – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ‘ spaceflight company – just unveiled images of the interior of their New Shepard capsule that could transport travelers to outer space as soon as 2018. Blue Origin’s emphasis on tourism means the capsule is filled with large windows to allow stunning views of Earth. New Shepard could transport the first space tourists to just above the Kármán line, commonly considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. There they’ll float around weightless for a few minutes. Naturally windows are an all-important component of space tourism, and Blue Origin says on their website their capsule will have the biggest windows in the history of spaceflight . In an email, Bezos said, “Every seat’s a window seat, the largest windows ever in space.” Related: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the first to land a rocket intact upon return from space Inside reclining black seats featuring the Blue Origin feather logo hint at luxury aboard the New Shepard, which can seat six. The company draws on the romanticism surrounding astronauts as they describe the experience on their website, from communicating with Mission Control to earning astronaut wings. The reusable New Shepard rocket has successfully launched and landed five times to this point, but a person has not yet traveled in the capsule. The interior is quite a departure from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule interior – which has smaller windows – but The Verge pointed out while SpaceX’s primary target is transporting astronauts to the International Space Station , Blue Origin focuses on tourism. But Elon Musk did say recently two private citizens could travel around the moon in a Crew Dragon – also in 2018 – so it appears a new space race is on. After New Shepard’s booster and capsule separate, the capsule free falls for a few minutes before landing with the help of parachutes. The booster also returns to Earth courtesy of an autonomously controlled rocket-powered landing so both can be reused. A New Shepard capsule mockup will be on display at the 33rd Space Symposium from April 3 to 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. + Blue Origin Via The Verge Images via Blue Origin

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Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

February 1, 2017 by  
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The Japanese reverence for nature has been well established, especially in the world of design. However, if anyone still has doubts, they should take a stroll through the Kayashima train station in Neyagawa, a northeastern suburb of Osaka. The train station was carefully constructed around a massive camphor tree that has stood on the site for 700 years. The Kayashima Station opened in 1910 and was built next to the large tree , whose exact age goes back before local records. As the local population began to grow, it became clear that the station would need to be upgraded. In 1972, plans were approved to expand the site and, according to Spoon and Tamago , those plans called for the tree to be cut down to make space. Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung Although the history of the train station’s upgrades is a matter of records, there are multiple stories behind the tree’s intact presence today. Some say that it was indeed the Japanese respect for nature that saved the tree from being chopped down . Yet, others say it was nothing more than pure superstition. Apparently, the tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity, and its impending demise caused quite the uproar by the local community. Stories began to swirl that the tree was also angry and would curse anyone that dared to cut it down with bad luck. Whatever the case, station officials were persuaded to keep the tree, and ended up incorporating it into a new elevated platform . The construction was completed in 1980, and features a large hole cut into the roof of the platform where the tree majestically sticks out over the roof. Just to be on the safe side, the officials surrounded the base of the tree with a small shrine. Via Oddity Central Lead photo via Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei . Additional photography via Studio Ohana.

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Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

New elevated cycleway in China soars over traffic

February 1, 2017 by  
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Even China is getting on the bike wagon with a soaring new cycleway in Xiamen. The 4.7 mile-long bike path is 16 feet higher than the road at its tallest point, and allows for rapid, clean transportation through the city, connecting six public transportation centers. Over 2,000 bikes per hour can travel on the new aerial path. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1sxEUEnQ4A Curbed reports the elevated bike lane is China’s first and the world’s longest. It is 16-feet-wide and includes both a pedestrian path and bike lane. Part of the path stretches beneath an elevated road utilized by rapid transit buses, which now serves the double purpose of keeping bikers dry in the rain. 30,000 lights adorn the cycleway so people can ride safely at night. There are 11 entries, which provide access to two subway stations and 11 bus stations. Related: London mayor announces plan for two new bike superhighways The aerial bike lane provides a green transportation alternative for people in three business areas and five major residential areas, and is now open for a month-long trial. Locals already seem to enjoy it. One resident, Chen Yimin, told Xinhua the commute from home to work on the bike path only took 10 minutes, which is the same amount of time it would take to drive. Another local, Wu Xueying, said at first the height was intimidating but the guardrails made biking high above city streets feel safe. Xiamen City Public Bicycle Management said during the trial period, the bike lane will be open from 6:30 AM till 10:30 PM for private and public bicycles. When finished, it will be equipped with on-ramp gates that will shutter if the cycleway is too full. Xueying told Xinhua, “It’s nice to ride a bicycle under the blue sky in the sunshine.” Via Curbed and Xinhua Images via screenshot

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New elevated cycleway in China soars over traffic

Bold incisions grant new life to historic New Hampshire school

February 1, 2017 by  
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A meeting of art and architecture can have energizing results. Rather than demolishing two unusable upper floors of a historic building in New Hampshire, Joseph Cincotta of LineSync Architecture proposed a different approach to the school’s renovation , borrowing inspiration from the work of artist Gordon Matta Clark. And then, in order to further celebrate the building’s rich history, cinematographers Chibi Moku captured the renovation process in a video – check it out after the jump. https://youtu.be/xEgDrH7ZMCE The building has a long and complicated history: it was built as a residence in the late 19th century and altered several times before it became the Hampshire Country School for gifted students with learning differences. Its upper floors were condemned by unsafe stairways while the lower floors lacked organization and natural lighting . Related: New solar-powered Massachusetts college center is as green as a building can be The architects, taking cues from Gordon Matta Clark’s “building cuts”, strategically placed two-storey incisions into the building, adding safe stairs, natural light, and ending clutter in one deft swoop. The modern section of the house references the original design, and the building is now heated with locally-produced wood pellets that lowers its energy consumption. Newly introduced windows infuse the interior with natural light. LineSync Architecture’s interventions granted new life to this beautiful example of historic New England architecture and made it more compatible with its current use. + LineSync Architecture Photos and video by Chibi Moku

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Bold incisions grant new life to historic New Hampshire school

Angular residence by Moon Hoon maximizes privacy and a tiny plot

January 18, 2017 by  
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This striking angular residence in Seoul channels the client’s creative personality and the history of the plot, previously occupied by a fortuneteller and shaman. Architecture firm Moon Hoon designed the house, named Dogok Maximum, for a photographer and her mother as an original urban residence with a basement photography studio, built to maximize privacy from the busy area. The five-story building has a relief-patterned facade with small openings that allow natural light into the interior, but protects the occupants’ privacy. Located in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood, the house reflects the enigmatic history of the plot and the client’s personality. Diagonal pattern of raised and recessed sections runs across the facade and is reflected in the interior of the house. Wooden patchwork , checkered tiles and parquet flooring is in line with the daring, sculptural form of the building. Related: Crescent-shaped cutouts give Moon Hoon’s Two Moon building its playful edge The windows are small to provide privacy in the high-density area. “I feel uncomfortable whenever I see contemporary buildings with large openings,” said Moon Hoon. “Such an entrance could be even worse if it is for a residence because personally I think it is often feared that it would only allow too much light inside and violate my privacy.” + Moon Hoon Via Dezeen Photos by Namgoong Sun

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Angular residence by Moon Hoon maximizes privacy and a tiny plot

Architects Newspaper sneaks a peek at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

August 17, 2016 by  
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Over at Architect’s Newspaper we spotted new photographs of Washington D.C’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)—and they’re fantastic. Photographer Darren Bradley captured dramatic snaps of the striking museum, which comprises a three-tiered structure inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa, a region where over half of the entire slave trade took place during the 18th century. The facade is clad in 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels inspired by the design produced by African American slaves. Click the link to see all the images and to whet your appetite for the NMAAHC opening on September 24, 2016.

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Architects Newspaper sneaks a peek at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Scientists discover traces of air breathed by Earths very first animals

July 26, 2016 by  
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A literal breath of fresh air from the time of Earth’s first animals was recently found, extracted, and analyzed by University of Aberdeen scientists. The discovery of atmospheric gas trapped in a sample of halite shows that a breathable atmosphere was around long before many scientists previously thought. The study , published in the journal Geology , details the analysis of an 815 million year old sample of halite, or rock salt. Oxygen measurements were taken from the traces of gases found in the material, surprising the researchers with a level of 10.3 to 13.4 percent of the atmosphere (for comparison, Earth’s modern oxygen content is 20.9 percent). Related: Scientists found oxygen in a galaxy 13.1 billion light years away Many studies had pegged the first breathable atmosphere occurring much later, yet the discovery sets the date of the first possible animals breathing Earth’s air back much further. Professor John Parnell of the university said, “What is especially significant in this study is that we actually discovered a real atmosphere sample, where previous estimates have been made using indirect modeling methods.” The finding was made possible through a collaboration between the US, Canada, France, UK, Australia, and China. Via Phys.org Images via Pexels , Wikimedia

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Scientists discover traces of air breathed by Earths very first animals

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