IKEA is offering furniture for pets – and it’s adorable

October 10, 2017 by  
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It’s here – the modern, inexpensive pet furniture of your dreams. IKEA is now selling furniture and accessories for dogs and cats , and they’re just as well-designed and affordable as the company’s furniture for humans. From a cute cat house to a cozy dog bed, you’ll drool over the Swedish giant’s pet collection . Pets are members of the family to many people, and IKEA said they were inspired by that sentiment to create the LURVIG – Swedish for ‘hairy’ – line of pet furniture. They got a little input from veterinarians to design their pet collection “so you and your pet can enjoy your home together.” LURVIG “covers all the bases of our shared life with pets indoors and out.” Related: Light-filled home for book lovers and their cute cats is built of recycled materials Pets can snuggle in on IKEA’s $49.99 pet bed , which looks like a mini couch for a cat or dog. There’s a $19.99 pet blanket , to minimize fur on the couch or car seat. The most expensive item in the new collection is a $54.98 cat house on legs that comes with a pad inside. A cheaper $5.99 cat house can even be incorporated with human furniture – it fits inside the open squares of a KALLAX shelf unit. There are also several inexpensive accessories that would be ideal for someone getting their first pet, including food and water bowls ranging from $0.79 to $4.99 and a $7.99 water dispenser. There’s a $4.99 litter tray, and $3.99 brush. IKEA is also offering several different dog leashes, with reflective, retractable, and anti-shock options – and even a cat leash if you have aspirations of grandeur. An IKEA spokesperson told Mashable the LURVIG collection had its pilot launch the beginning of October in five countries: the United States, Canada, France, Japan, and Portugal. You can check out the entire collection here . + IKEA Pets Via Mashable Images via IKEA

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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

The roots of forest bathing

September 29, 2017 by  
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Power suits, meet “Power Forests.” In Japan, Nissan and Mazda maintain agreements with a Forest Therapy Base.

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The roots of forest bathing

Beautiful cedar home stands high on stilts to accommodate heavy snowfall in Japan

September 13, 2017 by  
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Fukushima-based firm Life Style Koubou has embedded a beautiful vacation home in the middle of an evergreen forest with stunning mountain views. Built at the base of Mount Bandai in Japan, the One Year Project is made from locally-sourced cedar and it’s set on high stilts to allow snow to gather around its base. The two structures that make up the home are connected by a bridge and separated by use. One building holds a wet area with the kitchen and bathrooms, while a living room with a cozy fireplace is located in the dry building. The entire structure was built using cedar, but the dry building has floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy 360-degree views of the amazing scenery. Related: Life Style Koubou’s House In Itsuura is a timber treehouse-like home in Japan The area around Mount Bandai is known to get quite a lot of snowfall in the winter, so the architects built the home on stilts to accommodate the snowfall. The white stilts, which run up through the interior of the buildings, are embedded into large rocks that sit on the ground underneath in order to reduce the building’s pressure on the land . The strategic design lets the homeowners enjoy the natural area without damaging the landscape. + Life Style Koubou Via Contemporist

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Beautiful cedar home stands high on stilts to accommodate heavy snowfall in Japan

LAGI announces location for 2018 renewable energy design competition

July 18, 2017 by  
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Energy infrastructure of the past, like oil refineries and rigs, aren’t typically considered beautiful. But as the world transitions to more renewable sources of power, what if utility-scale energy installations could double as art ? That’s the dream pursued by the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), which holds a design competition every two years to present visions for energy-generating art able to power hundreds of homes. 2016’s winners included ethereal sailboats that harvested wind for power and fog for water, and a whale-inspired design generating wind, solar , and wave energy . LAGI just announced the location for their 2018 competition: Melbourne , Australia. LAGI is being sponsored by the State of Victoria to bring their 2018 contest to Melbourne, a city which hopes to be net zero by 2020. Artists, scientists, engineers, designers, and other creatives from around the world will be invited to submit designs tailored to the area for large-scale installations that add to the beauty of the area while generating clean energy . Related: Land Art Generator Initiative Santa Monica winners address California’s energy needs and drought One goal for these designs is to show how renewable energy installations, like solar and wind, can be integrated into the nature and culture of a region. LAGI2018 is part of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan under Action 13, which calls for “supporting important artistic and cultural sustainability events.” 2016’s top three winners included teams from Japan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The last four competitions – Dubai/Abu Dhabi in 2010, New York City in 2012, Copenhagen in 2014, and Santa Monica in 2016 – garnered over 800 submissions from more than 60 countries. The competition will launch in around six months, in January 2018, with submissions due in May. Public exhibitions will introduce some of the ideas to the people of Melbourne and nearby cities. According to LAGI, “2018 will be a year to celebrate the beauty of our sustainable future!” + Land Art Generator Initiative Images via Wikimedia Commons and courtesy of the Land Art Generator Initiative

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LAGI announces location for 2018 renewable energy design competition

Worlds first MUJI hotels to open in China and Japan

July 11, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamt of sleeping in a MUJI showroom, your retail wishes may soon become reality. The Japanese lifestyle brand is building their first-ever MUJI hotels in China and Japan designed in their beloved minimalist style. The hotels are planned for the cities of Shenzhen and Tokyo , with the first hotel expected to open in former later this year. Though it might come as a surprise, MUJI’s plans for its first hotel will be in the Chinese city of Shenzhen , not Tokyo. Creative studio Super Potato will design the MUJI development in Shenzhen that will rise to a height of four floors and include a store, restaurant, and hotel. The hotel will be located on the top two floors and comprise 79 rooms in five different layouts. The designers will furnish the rooms in a clean and minimalist style with MUJI products, from the toothbrushes to the bed sheets. Related: MUJI unveils trio of tiny prefab homes that can pop up almost anywhere Hotel guests will also have access to the fitness room, conference room, and other hotel facilities on the third floor. Retail and restaurant space will be located on the lower two levels. The world’s first MUJI hotel will be located in Shenzhen’s Futian Central District as part of the Shenye Shangcheng project. Japan’s first MUJI hotel is planned for the upscale Ginza district in Tokyo and when complete, will replace the nearby MUJI Yurakucho , currently the world’s largest MUJI store. The new MUJI development will be housed in a 10-story building, where the lower six levels will be used for retail and the remaining floors used for the hotel. Like the Shenzhen location, Tokyo’s MUJI hotel will be decked out in MUJI furnishings in an aesthetic iconic of the minimalist “no-brand” brand. The MUJI hotel in Japan will open Spring 2019. + MUJI Via Spoon & Tamago , ??

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Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie

June 21, 2017 by  
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Dirt may seem an odd material choice for an upscale patisserie in Tokyo , but design studio nendo playfully pulls it off with style. The Japanese designers layered compacted soils of varying colors to mimic the layers of an ice cream cake. The earth walls lend the “à tes souhaits!” shop a sense of warmth and contrast beautifully with the glass-and-steel facade. Located in the trendy Kichijoji neighborhood in Tokyo, à tes souhaits! is a small and elegant shop specializing in ice cream and chocolates . The earth walls comprise stacked soils of varying shades arranged in a staggered pattern to look like cut slices of ice cream cake with different flavors. “The wall guides people into the shop by the soft curvature from the outer wall, and then creates a gentle all-enveloping effect, like melted ice cream, all the way into the back of the shop,” writes nendo. “This created a relaxing ambience, taking advantage of the compactness of the space.” Related: Ancient Japanese tombs inspire nendo’s first public space design Since the new patisserie is the second location of à tes souhaits!, Nendo wanted to differentiate the two shops. The flagship uses bright lighting with mostly white surfaces and hard materials like marble and metal. In contrast, the new location uses a subdued color palette and softer lighting to complement the dominant use of wood and soil . + Nendo Images by Takumi Ota

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Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie

G7 leaders openly say climate change consensus does not include US

May 29, 2017 by  
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The rest of the world is beginning to count the United States out of the climate change battle, if a recent statement after the 2017 Group of Seven (G7) summit is any indication. The G7 leaders met late last week in Taormina, Italy, and naturally climate change was on the agenda. But in a rather blunt statement, they said America “is not in a position to join the consensus” on the Paris Agreement and one of the biggest challenges humanity faces today. Leaders from the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Japan, and the European Union met at the G7 summit to discuss what they described as their citizens’ greatest concerns, which ranged from trade to the global economy to gender equality to climate change. The statement released after the summit declared the leaders committed to strengthening energy security and harnessing economic opportunities stemming from clean energy . The leaders also reaffirmed their dedication to the Paris Agreement – that is, all did but President Donald Trump . Related: China, Canada, EU join forces on climate action – without Trump The statement reads, “The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics. Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit.” There were mixed feelings over the results of the G7 summit. Trump called it an “tremendously productive meeting.” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said they were satisfied after the meeting but was open about disagreements with the United States: “We do not disguise this division. It emerged very clearly in our conversations.” Recently elected President of France Emmanuel Macron seemed optimistic, saying he was certain Trump would support the agreement after conversations at the summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t seem as hopeful. She told reporters, “The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying. There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.” Via Reuters Images via G7 Italy 2017 on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

May 19, 2017 by  
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China has claimed a major energy breakthrough, but its eco credentials are dubious at best. Researchers say they managed to extract gas from flammable ice in the South China Sea. A frozen mix of natural gas and water known as methane hydrates, the ‘breakthrough’ is expected to revolutionize the future of energy . We’re not sure that’s a good idea. Flammable ice could be our planet’s final great source of carbon-based fuel , according to the BBC. Vast deposits can be found under essentially every ocean. But it’s incredibly difficult to extract gas from flammable ice – in part because it catches fire so easily – a lighter held up next to the ice will do the trick. Related: Japan Successfully Taps ‘Flammable Ice’ as an Energy Source for the First Time Japan so far has led the way in working to mine the potential energy source, but China’s latest efforts could mark a milestone on the path to extracting gas from methane hydrates. Chinese media said the country had succeeded in extracting an average of 16,000 cubic meters of gas per day in the South China Sea. Scientist Praveen Linga of the National University of Singapore told the BBC, “Compared with the results we have seen from Japanese research, the Chinese scientists have managed to extract much more gas in their efforts. So in that sense it is indeed a major step towards making gas extraction from methane hydrates viable.” But Linga warns extraction must be done carefully. Methane could escape from the methane hydrates during extraction, which could harm the planet as methane holds greater potential to affect climate change than carbon dioxide, according to the BBC. It’s hard to tell if flammable ice extraction will fall into the pitfalls of the oil and gas industry, with greed taking precedence over our planet. The BBC also described flammable ice as a very energy intensive source of fuel. Linga says there’s still a long way to go, and he said realistic commercial options might be ready in 2025 at the earliest. Via the BBC Images via William Winters, USGS and U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr

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Scientists will attempt to be the first to drill into Earth’s mantle

April 21, 2017 by  
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Scientists want to plumb the Earth for one of its last secrets. An international group of researchers led by  Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology say they plan to be the first to successfully drill into the mantle, that is, the region sandwiched between the planet’s outer crust and its inner core. Although the mantel makes up about 80 percent of the Earth’s mass, much of it remains a geological enigma. “We don’t know the exact [composition] of the mantle yet,” researcher Natsue Abe told CNN . To access the mantel, JAMSTEC will deploy the Chikyu, one of its biggest and most sophisticated drilling vessels, to penetrate 2.5 miles of ocean, then another 3.7 miles of sea floor (a.k.a the crust). The Japanese government is backing the expedition in the hopes that the data gleaned will help scientists better predict earthquakes. Related: Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight “In Japan we have some volcanoes, earthquakes and such kind of natural hazards,” Abe said. “People [want to create] some monitoring or analysis equipment but we don’t know … what kind of factor to use. So we need to know the natural system more clearly or precisely … we have to observe the Earth more precisely.” All three drilling sites currently under consideration are located in the Pacific Ocean. The first is off Hawaii, the second off Costa Rica, and the third is off Mexico. “We already drilled and have taken some samples from the ocean floor but [only] from the top,” Abe said. “[We want] to dig from the ocean floor to the deep pristine mantle.” Via CNN Earth image via Wikimedia  and Flickr

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