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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China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

Scientists may have found evidence for a parallel universe

May 19, 2017 by  
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A parallel universe may not just be a quirk of science fiction anymore; scientists think they may have found evidence for the idea of a universe other than our own. It all has to do with a strange Cold Spot, which researchers haven’t had an easy time explaining; some even suggest it could actually be an optical illusion. But new research reveals something far more bizarre may be going on. NASA first discovered the baffling Cold Spot in 2004. The Cold Spot is 1.8 billion light years across and, as you may have guessed, colder than what surrounds it in the universe. Scientists thought perhaps it was colder because it had 10,000 less galaxies than other regions of similar size. They even thought perhaps the Cold Spot was just a trick of the light. Related: ‘Largest-ever’ new map of universe shows 1.2 million galaxies But now an international team of researchers think perhaps the Cold Spot could actually offer evidence for the concept of a multiverse. The Guardian explains an infinite number of universes make up a multiverse; each having its own reality different from ours. These scientists say they’ve ruled out the last-ditch optical illusion idea. Instead, they think our universe may have collided with another in what News.com.au described as something like a car crash; the impact could have pushed energy away from an area of space to result in the Cold Spot. Physicist Tom Shanks of the University of Durham said in a statement , “We can’t entirely rule out that the Spot is caused by an unlikely fluctuation explained by the standard model. But if that isn’t the answer, then there are more exotic explanations. Perhaps the most exciting of these is that the Cold Spot was caused by a collision between our universe and another bubble universe.” If more research backs up this new idea, “…then the Cold Spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse – and billions of other universes may exist like our own.” Eight scientists from institutions in the United Kingdom, Chile, Spain, and the United States collaborated on a study recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . Via The Independent , News.com.au , and The Guardian Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Scientists may have found evidence for a parallel universe

Japanese food artist carves fruits into incredible masterpieces using just an X-Acto knife

May 15, 2017 by  
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Playing with your food is generally frowned upon, but Japanese artist Gaku elevates humble fruits and veggies into art with his skilled and gorgeous carvings . With a simple X-Acto knife, he expertly embellishes radishes, papaya, apples, taro root and more. Honoring and exploring the Japanese and Thai traditions of food carving, Gaku makes precise cuts into his chosen fruit or vegetable. His designs often take on traditional Japanese floral and wave patterns and are amazingly detailed and intricate, especially considering the ephemeral nature of his creations . Some of his elaborate works incorporate real and fantastical animals , such as a crab design carved into an apple or dragons carved into eggplant or a banana. As bananas are cheap and readily available, Gaku says they are an good option for practicing food carving. Gaku’s attention to detail and careful cuts are truly impressive. This self-taught food artist began food carving as a hobby, and he is also a chef. Related| Extraordinary banana art etchings are inspiring and edible One of the most amazing elements of these designs is how quickly Gaku must work. As any foodie knows, bananas, apples, and avocados are fickle, turning brown and less visually attractive within mere minutes. Gaku’s pristine photos, which he chronicles on Instagram , barely show any sign of the dreaded oxidation . Almost 60,000 followers anxiously await his next mukimono-style food carving. In addition to apples and lemons, Gaku has carved pumpkins, carrots, zucchini, and some type of leaf or stalk, which he transformed into grasshoppers. One of the ideas behind these food carvings is to appreciate the beauty of simple fruits and vegetables, and we love how the stunning images instantly expand viewer’s artistic imaginations. We also love Gaku’s not-so-precious approach to his creations when they are done: he eats them. You can watch some of Gaku’s process here in this mesmerizing Instavideo. + Gaku on Instagram Via Booooooom and This is Colossal

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Japanese food artist carves fruits into incredible masterpieces using just an X-Acto knife

This charred wood cabin can be rearranged in an infinite number of ways

May 12, 2017 by  
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This beautiful prefab house by Antony Gibbon Designs is made up of six modules that can be configured in an endless number of ways. Each unit has one or more open sides that can be attached together, providing the opportunity to build an incredible variety of layouts. The closed sides of each module are clad in charred wood siding for an elegant, low-maintenance facade. Called the Moduu House, it is comprised of six different variations of a single staggered form. Each module measures 2.5 x 2.5 meters with one or more sides ‘open’ to allow each unit to be connected onto another increasing the interior space. The structures can be connected in a wide variety of spatial sequences to create the house you want. Related: These gorgeous glass homes can pop up in 8 hours for under $50k Traditional Japanese charred wood cladding known as Shou Sugi Ban cover the exterior of the house, giving it a natural appearance. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow ample natural light into each structure, with the option of adding sliding doors for direct access to the terraces, also available as modules. + Antony Gibbon Designs

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This charred wood cabin can be rearranged in an infinite number of ways

Hundreds of radioactive wild boars run amok in Fukushima, Japan

March 18, 2017 by  
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Packs of radioactive wild boars are running loose in northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 forced entire towns and villages to abandon ship. Six years later, the beasts pose more than a minor nuisance to displaced residents, a number of whom are eager to return to their homes as the Japanese government begins to lift evacuation orders in certain areas. Besides their obvious toxicity—tests by officials show that some animals possess levels of cesium-137 300 times higher than what is considered safe—the boars are also known to attack humans. Swaths of farmland, now gone to seed, have become prime real estate for foraging varmints. According to Yomiuri , a local newspaper, boars have caused more than $854,000 in agricultural damage in Fukushima prefecture. Local authorities in the affected towns have hired teams of hunters to shoot the boars with air rifles, or trap them in cages using rice flour as bait. Related: Fukushima radiation levels at highest since 2011 disaster “After people left, they began coming down from the mountains and now they are not going back,” Shoichiro Sakamoto, who leads a group of 13 hunters in the town of Tomioka, told Reuters . “They found a place that was comfortable. There was plenty of food and no one to come after them.” A recent government survey found than half the 21,500 former residents of the town of Namie, one of the towns included in the proposed evacuation-order lift, have decided against returning, citing fears over the safety of the nuclear plant, which will take decades to dismantle. Several have also raised concerns about the bands of marauding boars. “I’m sure officials at all levels are giving some thought to this,” said Hidezo Sato, a former seed merchant in Namie. “Something must be done.” Via Reuters Image via Wikipedia

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Hundreds of radioactive wild boars run amok in Fukushima, Japan

RiverBlue: Jason Priestley-narrated documentary exposes the dark side of your blue jeans

March 18, 2017 by  
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Are your clothes causing the world’s rivers to bleed blue? Directed by David McIlvride and Roger Williams and narrated by Jason Priestley, RiverBlue is a new documentary that delves deep into the shocking underbelly of fast fashion to expose its destructive and widespread impacts on our environment. For those of you in New York City, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator will be hosting a screening of this powerful film on March 22 for World Water Day . Read on for more details about the screening and post-film discussion with Williams and Paul Gallay, President of Riverkeeper, and learn more about the movie by checking out BF+DA’s interview with McIlvride here . RiverBlue follows acclaimed river conservationist Mark Angelo on a waterborne trip around the world to uncover the truth behind the garment industry and its effects on the Earth’s waterways and ecosystems. Infiltrating one of the world’s most pollutive industries, and speaking with fashion designers and water protectors world-wide, RiverBlue reveals stunning yet, shocking images that will forever change the way we look at fashion, and the impact of the clothes we wear. – Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator BF+DA will be screening RiverBlue on Wednesday, March 22 from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm. Tickets are $10. Click here for more details and to RSVP. + RSVP to see RiverBlue here

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RiverBlue: Jason Priestley-narrated documentary exposes the dark side of your blue jeans

Architect tops Japanese community center with a series of striking wooden roofs

March 3, 2017 by  
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Hiroshima-based architect Hiroshi Sambuichi has covered a cultural center in the small Japanese island of Naoshima with a series of strikingly beautiful wooden roofs . Much of the design of the complex is based on traditional Japanese architecture – including the low-rise hipped roofs, which strategically provide fresh air circulation throughout the buildings. The complex is comprised of multiple buildings that share a series of wooden roofs . The largest roof covers the main volume of the community hall, which is built into a grassy slope. Made out of multi-tonal Japanese cypress or “hinoki,” the massive roof follows the low incline of the landscape. A large triangular opening is carved into its apex, which lets additional fresh air into the interior. Related: Kengo Kuma’s new community center hides a hilly indoor landscape under its zigzag-roof The two roofs cover four buildings underneath, which have multiple indoor and outdoor spaces – another feature that pays homage to traditional Japanese architecture . “A structure that provides protection from rain while allowing breezes to gently pass through, it inherits the principles of the Japanese traditional thatched roof,” said Sambuichi. Inside, natural materials create a simple and elegant atmosphere. The flooring is made from Hinoki panels, some of the walls are made out of adobe clay, and some rooms have compacted earth flooring made from a leftover solution from a local salt factory. The complex also has a number of typical Japanese tatami rooms, which were laid out to receive optimal air circulation. “Emulating the traditional layouts found in Naoshima, gardens and verandas are placed at the north and south, so that breezes will pass through the tatami rooms,” said the architect. To further cool the interior spaces in the hot summer months, an innovative system feeds underground water into pipes in the community center’s ceiling. Via Dezeen Photography by Sambuichi Architects

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Architect tops Japanese community center with a series of striking wooden roofs

Twin live and work cubes demonstrate superior material and spatial economy

December 8, 2016 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of shortening your commute to mere steps, take a look at this brilliant project in the Czech Republic. Petr Stolin was commissioned to design two identical buildings using structural insulated panels (SIPs) – one for living, and one for working. The corresponding design, called Zen Houses, demonstrates a flair for spatial and material economy without compromising on style. Located in a rural landscape outside Liberec, the double-story cubes, which are just 10 meters wide, are clad in transparent acrylic sheets that reveal simple timber framing and surprisingly voluminous interiors. The two buildings, which lie side-by-side, were constructed with a variety of low-budget materials that give them something of a shabby chic aesthetic, including chipboard, plywood, wooden beams, raw metal and rubber. The cubic buildings are connected by a simple walkway and create a series of public, semi-public and private areas between them. They are carefully designed to frame views of the surrounding landscape, while ensuring plenty of natural light reaches the interiors. Related: Green live / work space is a modern update to the vernacular barn The interior of the studio half of the duplex is finished in white, while the residential building is finished in black – providing a subtle distinction between the two. Each building has a half-mezzanine, which increases the interior volume and living space. Its minimalism was inspired by Japanese design . “The experimental character of the houses was the conceptual starting point,” the architects write in their design brief. “Yet the deliberate austerity of the achieved forms definitely brings new lifestyle qualities to an environment built in this way.” + Petr Stolin Architekt

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Twin live and work cubes demonstrate superior material and spatial economy

Gorgeous net-zero energy home offers luxury living in Washington, D.C.

December 8, 2016 by  
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A leafy and sought-after neighborhood in Northwest Washington, D.C. hides a luxurious gem of a home with a net-zero energy footprint. The local architecture office of Robert M. Gurney designed the contemporary residence, named the Brandywine House, with light-filled interiors and a natural palette that includes high-end materials like zebra wood, granite, and Santos mahogany. Despite its large size, the carefully constructed home is respectful of the scale of its neighboring homes and is incredibly energy efficient. Located just a stone’s throw away from the Smithsonian National Zoo and the high-end shops of Connecticut Avenue, the three-story Brandywine House enjoys the conveniences and benefits of city living, while still preserving privacy and a tranquil environment. The architects retained the majority of mature trees on site and installed a lush planting plan that separates the home from the street. The building’s boxy exterior is composed of traditional and natural materials , like stone, wood, and stucco, to help the building recede into its green surroundings. Carefully placed windows on the street-facing facade ensure privacy. Related: Stunning energy-smart home near D.C. looks like a super swanky Tetris ensemble While the street-facing facade is mostly closed off, floor-to-ceiling glazing wraps around the other sides of the home to bring in ample amounts of natural light and views of the wooded landscape beyond. Arranged in an “L” shape, the house wraps around outdoor living spaces, a swimming pool, and the large, south-facing rear yard. The light-filled interior is modern and cozy, featuring a diverse palette of different timbers—all forest-certified or reconstituted—and stones like limestone and granites, that complement the white-painted walls. To achieve net-zero energy over a calendar year, the daylit house is equipped with computer-programmed shading devices to mitigate solar gain, a geothermal HVAC system with hydronic heating, solar hot water tubes, and photovoltaic panels. + Robert M. Gurney Architect Images © Anice Hoachlander

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Gorgeous net-zero energy home offers luxury living in Washington, D.C.

US veterans who protested DAPL are fighting a new fight

December 8, 2016 by  
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Last week, thousands of American veterans descended on Standing Rock to defend the anti-pipeline protesters from police brutality. Now that the news has been handed down that the US Army is blocking the pipeline (at least for the time being), the veteran’s group is on the move once again. Their next stop ? Flint, Michigan, where residents are still struggling with a lack of access to clean water. In early 2014, the city of Flint switched its water source from Detroit’s utility system to the polluted Flint River, without adding the anti-corrosion agents needed to keep the water safe. The new water ate away at the city’s pipes, causing lead to leach into the water of homes and schools through the area for nearly a year before the city alerted residents to the problem. Despite a national spotlight, the water crisis still hasn’t been resolved. In fact, the state of Michigan seems to be doing all it can to avoid delivering fresh drinking water to residents in the meantime. A federal judge recently ordered state officials to oversee deliveries of bottled water to all affected homes in Flint to help residents avoid exposure to dangerous levels of contaminants. However, the state has appealed the ruling and is apparently defying the order. Those in affected homes can still pick up bottled water from state-run distribution centers and call to request a personal delivery if needed. Related: 6 Michigan state workers charged with misconduct over the Flint Water Crisis There’s no set date for the veterans’ trip to Flint yet, but if it’s anything like the Standing Rock campaign, it’s likely to be an impressive effort. In the end, supporters donated more than $1.1 million on GoFundMe to help send more than 4,000 veterans to the reservation. Via The Independent Images via Wise Woman Rising , Kelly Kolisnik , and Ruth Hopkins

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US veterans who protested DAPL are fighting a new fight

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