Tiny ice pods provide shelter for cold weather adventurers

February 10, 2017 by  
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Czech architecture firm Mjölk Architekti has built a series of tiny ice pods, the design of which took first place in the Warming Huts Competition five years ago, in their home town of Liberec. The “Polar Hens” sit adjacent to the Liberec dam so that local hikers and ice skaters can take a break in the  icy retreats . The igloo pods are made out of a  very thick ice shell  of compressed frozen river water. To construct the pods, a large inflatable balloon is equipped with a sprinkler connected to a compressor and generator. A water pump sprays icy water over the air-filled silicone balloon, creating a thick wall of ice that glows with a light blue tint . When the walls are thick enough, the inflatable base is removed, leaving a nicely formed igloo in its place. Although the pods look small from the outside, the smooth interior is quite spacious, and provides a nice haven for cold weather adventurers. Related: Ice Sculptures Embedded with Seeds Repopulate Riverbeds as they Melt The Polar Hen design won the Warming Huts Competition in 2012 . The annual event features architecture firms from all over the world showcasing their unique cold-weather shelter designs along the Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The winning designs are chosen by a “blind” jury who judge the entries based on creativity in terms of materials, shelter characteristics , assembly and form, along with integration with the landscape. + Mjölk Architekti Via Archdaily Images via Mjölk Architekti

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Tiny ice pods provide shelter for cold weather adventurers

Japanese scientists build tiny drone that pollinates like a bee

February 10, 2017 by  
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As concern over dwindling bee populations mounts, a team of chemists at a Japanese institution came up with a robotic solution. They designed pollinating drones : tiny machines that grab and deposit pollen in flowers . The scientists hope their drones won’t utterly replace bees, but would instead take some of the pressure off the remaining pollinators should more perish. Chemists from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology designed the little drones. On the underside of a two-inch G-Force PXY CAM drone they attached animal hair, and covered it in sticky gel. When the altered machines brushed up against Japanese lilies, they were able to pick up and drop off pollen. Related: Bees placed on the endangered species list for the very first time The journal Chem published a study this week about the advance. Paper co-author Eijiro Miyako told Gizmodo, “TV programs about the pollination crisis, honey bee decline, and the latest robotics emotionally motivated me. I thought we urgently needed to create something for these problems.” Miyako said this is the first instance of drones pollinating flowers, but the little machines aren’t yet ready to zoom out into the world. The scientists aim to add GPS, artificial intelligence , and high resolution cameras to the small machines, which also need to crawl inside certain plants, as bees do. Critics aren’t so convinced pollinating drones is the best solution to the worrying bee crisis. Biologist David Goulson of the United Kingdom’s University of Sussex wrote a blog post on the topic and said, “I would argue that it is exceedingly unlikely that we could ever produce something as cheap or as effective as bees themselves. Bees have been around and pollinating flowers for more than 120 million years; they have evolved to become very good at it. It is remarkable hubris to think that we can improve on that.” Goulson said there are roughly 3.2 trillion bees – which feed themselves at no cost to us but also give us honey – and argued to replace them with machines would be incredibly expensive. Gizmodo points out it could cost $100 per bee to employ pollinating drones. Plus, unless the machines could be made biodegradable , Goulson said we’d potentially experience a huge amount of drone litter. Via Gizmodo and Engadget Images via Eijiro Miyako and G-Force Hobby Facebook

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Japanese scientists build tiny drone that pollinates like a bee

Earth’s water may not have originated with comet collisions after all

February 10, 2017 by  
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Scientists used to think our planet’s water arrived on Earth after comet collisions deposited ice. But a new study reveals that liquid so vital for life may have originated on Earth after all. Research led by University College Dublin shows chemical reactions between fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide deep down in Earth’s mantle could create water. At high temperatures and pressures, fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide in quartz can react to form liquid water, scientists discovered. They ran computer simulations, checking different temperatures and pressures similar to those found in the upper mantle 25 to nearly 250 miles below Earth’s surface. When fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide are exposed to a pressure 20,000 times greater than the atmospheric pressure on Earth, and a temperature of around 2,552 degrees Fahrenheit, the two substances can produce water. Scientists thought water resulting from the chemical reaction would form on the quartz’s surface. But the water was instead trapped inside the quartz, building up pressure. The scientists think when this pressure is released, it could result in earthquakes under the Earth’s surface. Related: There may be water far deeper in our planet than previously thought The journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters published the study online in January. Along with two scientists from University College Dublin, three other researchers from Canada’s University of Saskatchewan and China’s Jilin University collaborated on the paper. Their findings lend further credence to Japanese 2014 experiments on fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide. Paper co-author Niall English of University College Dublin said, “We were initially surprised to see in- rock reactions, but we then realized that we had explained the puzzling mechanism at the base of earlier Japanese experimental work finding water formation. We concluded that these findings help to rationalize, in vivid detail, the in-mantle genesis of water. This is very exciting and in accord with very recent findings of an ‘ocean’s worth’ of water in the Earth’s mantle.” Via University College Dublin Images via Pexels and James St. John on Flickr

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Earth’s water may not have originated with comet collisions after all

Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week

February 10, 2017 by  
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If your dream garden look like something from a fantasy world, you’ll love this Dragonfly Pavilion built for a backyard in Hoboken, New Jersey. Built from sustainably harvested and FSC-certified Sapele mahogany and recycled aluminum, this beautifully intricate garden shed takes inspiration from the complex pattern of butterfly and dragonfly wings. New York-based CDR Studio Architects designed this prefabricated backyard retreat, which took less than one week to install. Prefabricated by SITU Fabrication , Dragonfly Pavilion is made with a recycled aluminum frame clad in Sapele lumber and large sections of glazing. A single timber bench is built into the interior while a laminated-tempered glass sits on the roof. The glazing is broken up by a gradient of complex geometric shapes, or cells, that give the structure its delicate, dragonfly wing-like appearance. “These cells are more than just aesthetically appealing,” write the architects. “Their shape and size respond directly to the forces acting on it.” Related: Glowing bamboo pavilion promotes ecological design in Hong Kong The wing-like pattern was derived from a computer-generated algorithm. Mosquito netting is also installed on the interior of the mahogany cells, giving the structure a second, inner skin. The Dragonfly Pavilion’s simple rectangular form allows for a variety of programs, from use as a yoga studio to a small dining area. The pavilion was prefabricated offsite and then reassembled onsite in less than one week. + CDR Studio Architects Photography by John Muggenborg

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Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week

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