Scientists just discovered evidence of a hidden chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza

November 2, 2017 by  
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Legend says that there are undiscovered chambers hidden within the Great Pyramid of Giza — a monument which has existed for over 5,000 years. Scientists recently announced a startling discovery supporting this notion, which was previously passed off as myth. Using cosmic rays, researchers confirmed the presence of a large empty space — a void which might signal the presence of a hidden chamber. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built around 2500 B.C. and is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Until now, no one knew the hidden void even existed — which his why scientists are so baffled. The void is located above a tall, cathedral-like room known as the Grand Gallery. According to a report in the journal Nature , the room is about 100 feet long. Said Peter Der Manuelian , an Egyptologist at Harvard University who did not take part in the research: “All we know is that we have a void, we have a cavity, and it’s huge, which means possibly intentional and certainly worthy of further exploration .” He noted that it is unknown whether or not there is more than one chamber. “In that sense it’s obviously frustrating,” Manuelian added. “On the other hand, as an architectural discovery, something we didn’t know about the interior of the Great Pyramid, it’s absolutely big news.” This is the first significant internal structure found within the Great Pyramid since the 19th century. Related: Ancient papyrus scroll offers insight into Great Pyramid of Giza mystery Mehdi Tayoubi , with the HIP Institute in Paris, said that the goal was to investigate the pyramid using non-destructive analytical techniques. He and his colleagues settled on a type of imaging that involves muons, tiny particles similar to electrons . NPR reports that muons are formed when cosmic rays from deep space hit the atoms of the upper atmosphere. As they rain down, they pass through materials — like the thick stones of the pyramid — and lose energy. When the researchers placed muon detectors in strategic locations, they were able to create a kind of picture that reveals whether the material above is dense — like stone — or an empty space. Said Tayoubi, “The first reaction was a lot of excitement, but then we knew that it would take us a long, long time, that we needed to be very patient in this scientific process . The good news is the void is there. Now we are sure that there is a void. We know that this void is big. I don’t know what it could be. I think it’s now time for Egyptologists and specialists in ancient Egypt architecture to collaborate with us, to provide us with some hypotheses.” The researcher is eager to see if small robots might somehow enter the space through tiny cracks or holes to reveal more information. + Nature Via NPR , Gizmodo Images via ScanPyramids Mission

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Scientists just discovered evidence of a hidden chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza

Black butterfly wings provide inspiration for superior solar cells

October 23, 2017 by  
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Researchers took cues from butterflies to design thin film solar cells that can better absorb light. The rose butterfly, common to India, has soft black wings that help keep the insect warm with the sun’s heat. Mimicking the design of the butterfly’s wings, the scientists created a solar cell that The Verge reports can gather light twice as efficiently. California Institute of Technology and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology researchers went to nature for inspiration for improved solar power technology. They scrutinized butterfly wings under an electron microscope and discovered the wings’ scales were pockmarked with holes, which are under one millionth of a meter wide, according to The Verge. These holes not only allowed the wings to be lighter, but scattered light so the butterfly can absorb more heat. Related: Bio-inspired wind turbines with flexible blades are 35% more efficient The holes are random in shape, size, and distribution, according to Radwanul Siddique, lead author of a study recently published online in the journal Science Advances . Computer models helped the scientists realize the shape wasn’t important for absorbing light, but position and order did matter. The scientists utilized hydrogenated amorphous silicon sheets, according to Phys.org, to create similar structures. A top layer had small holes that could scatter light, allowing it to hit the silicon base. This design collected around twice as much light as others. They were able to create their solar cells with a five- to 10-minute process. Thin film solar cells could be more efficient than traditional solar panels , according to Phys.org, if they could operate for longer time periods. This new research could move thin film solar technology forward: The Verge reports solar panels with the butterfly wing- inspired design could allow the panels to produce more power during the day. Via The Verge and Phys.org Images via Wikimedia Commons and Radwanul H. Siddique, KIT/CalTech

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Black butterfly wings provide inspiration for superior solar cells

Herzog & de Meuron are upcycling a historic gasometer into a stunning residential tower

October 23, 2017 by  
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A former industrial area in Stockholm is on its way to a stunning makeover. Several old gasometers in Hjorthagen are being  repurposed into a vibrant new residential area called Gasklockan at the hands of several talented designers. For one tower, Swiss architects, Herzog & de Meuron will convert the old brick building into a soaring residential tower, while Piet Oudolf and LOLA Architects  will create a lush green space that snakes through the development. Besides being a local landmark, the late 19th century buildings have quite a bit of historical value to the city, representing 100 years of gasworks in the area. Accordingly, the master plan for renovating the area focuses on integrating the beloved gasometers into the newly revamped residential area. Related: INTERVIEW: Walking the High Line with its garden designer Piet Oudolf The team behind Herzog & de Meuron will be converting the tallest gasometer into a 330-feet-high residential tower with 45 floors while the smallest gas holder will be turned into an art gallery (konsthall) for exhibitions. The remaining buildings will be rearranged to coexist with several new social areas around the complex, including a sculpture park, cafes and restaurants, as well as plenty of green space . Not only will the development count on amazing architecture, but will boast an equally stunning landscaping design . Led by renowned architect Piet Oudolf and LOLA Landscape Architects, the landscape design will focus on providing ample green space and a central plaza for residents and visitors to come together. According to the project description, the landscaping scheme will focus on creating a sustainable , natural environment that will enhance the climate around the complex and be accessible throughout the year, in every season. At the heart of the project will be an expansive meadow garden with a 300-feet long sun bench. Several walking paths will wrap around the meadow and snake between the buildings, creating a seamless connection between nature and the manmade. + Herzog & de Meuron + Piet Oudolf + LOLA Architects

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Herzog & de Meuron are upcycling a historic gasometer into a stunning residential tower

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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Sea turtles appearto be bouncing back from the brink of extinction

September 22, 2017 by  
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Good news! Despite man-made catastrophes and the unwelcome effects of climate change , populations of sea turtles appear to be making a comeback. Comprehensive analys published in the journal Science Advances  reveals that even small populations (which normally have a tough time reviving their numbers) are “bouncing back.” However, most sea turtle species are still listed as “vulnerable” or “endangered,” which is why conservation efforts must continue. The analysis was led by Antonios Mazaris , an ecologist at Aristotle University in Greece , and a team of international researchers. He and his colleagues analyzed data on sea turtle nesting sites around the world over periods ranging from six to 47 years. They evaluated each site separately and then combined those findings with standardized individual sets to look for changes. It was discovered that most populations of sea turtles are reviving after historic declines. One species that is not thriving is the leatherback sea turtle which can be found in the Eastern and Western Pacific. This finding supports previous assessments made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature , which lists six out of seven sea turtle species as vulnerable , endangered or critically endangered. Related: Sea turtle is rescued after being dragged onto a beach and beaten for selfies The researchers think the sea turtle populations are rebounding because the threats to the species are more tangible. For instance, sea turtles are most likely to be poached on accident by fisherman or intentionally by those who seek to sell their parts as “aphrodisiacs” and/or “delicacies.” By addressing these concerns and enforcing conservation measures which have been in place for decades, the public is more likely to advocate for their protection. While this recent analysis is positive news , research is still lacking. More information needs to be gathered on male to female ratios, for instance. In the paper, Mazaris advises “cautionary optimism.” He also says commends conservation efforts which have persisted for the past 70 years, and says the “long term efforts need to be supported.” + Science Advances Via New York Times Images via Pixabay

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Sea turtles appearto be bouncing back from the brink of extinction

Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

September 14, 2017 by  
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Even those who despise arachnids can’t help but admire the gorgeous peacock spider . And now there are even more of them to admire. Researchers from Australia have just announced the discovery of four new species and one subspecies, bringing the total number of peacock spider varieties to 65. Dr. Jurgen Otto in Western Australia has been studying peacock spiders for about a decade. Reportedly, four of the species are completely new to science and one is believed to a be a sub-species. “Each new species is a complete surprise — the patterns and colours of each species are so different and so unpredictable, you never know what the next one and its display and courtship dance will look like,” Otto told ABC News . Otto and Hill named 39 of the species and sub-species that have been discovered. Reportedly, the latest species were found in Western Australia , but the peacock spiders are more native to the southern part of the continent. Related: First spider-silk garment to hit the market is this necktie from Bolt Threads To help people easily identify the spiders, Otto has shared incredibly detailed photographs on his YouTube channel . “In most peacock spider species — and the new ones are no exception — the males are strikingly coloured, and the patterns and colours are very distinctive, making it easy to distinguish one from another,” said Otto. “Cristatus has a pattern on its back that resembles the Union Jack and in addition has eight plumes of white setae (hairs) at its back that no other peacock spider has.” “Electricus stands out by its striking pattern of parallel red lines that make it look like a circuit board, and trigonus can be easily recognised by the white crown at the tip of its abdomen that is not present in any known species ,” Otto added. “One could think that the novelty of this would all have worn off by now, but people still get excited when they see them.” These findings were published in the journal Peckhamia . + Peckhamia Via ABC News Images via Dr. Jurgen Otto

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Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

September 14, 2017 by  
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The game-changing power of solar energy is a gift to all of the global community. Nations of the world, having recognized the absolute necessity to do so, are slowly shifting towards a clean energy economy while reaping the benefits. These benefits are being particularly felt in the developing economies of the Global South , where communities are making the transition from no electricity access to resilient, local power through solar energy. SOLARKIOSK, a Berlin-based social enterprise, is supporting this movement and empowering local communities by installing innovative multi-purpose structures called E-HUBBs that are powered by the sun and operated by members of the communities they serve. SOLARKIOSK has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge – read on for a closer look at this world-changing initiative. Although similar in appearance to shipping container homes , the E-HUBB is emphatically much more – it’s “an energy-connectivity gateway.” With the energy generated through its solar panels, a single E-HUBB can provide power for phone and computer charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an LED TV, a refrigerator, a printer, interior and exterior lighting, and more. It also offers a display area and storage space, solar products and sustainable consumer goods. “SOLARKIOSK is continuously working on the design of the E-HUBB, in order to make it more efficient in terms of maintenance, implementation and transportation,” said Marija Makejeva, Business Development Manager at SOLARKIOSK. “Over time, the design has evolved across 3 different E-HUBB models from an aluminum to a steel structure, which is more cost-efficient and easier to source. Solar components and remote metering options have also undergone significant improvement as technology has evolved.” Related: Compact OffGridBox provides drinking water and power where it’s needed most E-HUBBs have proven their versatility by serving the needs of different communities. A last-mile distribution retail E-HUBB brings underserved populations much needed products and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s also a Connected Solar Clinic operated by the Jordanian Ministry of Health, a banking kiosk that offers financial tools to off-grid populations in Nigeria , and a solar school unit for the displaced population at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan . In addition to the tangible impacts of power generation, commercial empowerment, and more, the E-HUBB also has the ability to positively impact and inspire younger generations who will one day inherit these changing communities. “The fascination always surfaces in the eyes of the kids as they gaze upon the site clearly delighted by the atmosphere emitted by SOLARKIOSK,” reads a statement by the company. “Being accepted and loved by the children is a great reassurance for our work directive and personal initiative; a true blessing.” Related: The Great Green Wall of Africa could fight desertification and poverty Each E-HUBB is uniquely fitted for the local community’s needs and is operated by members of the community, ninety percent of whom are women . “SOLARKIOSK sees great value in empowering women through job creation within the network of E-HUBBs,” said Makejeva. For its success in supporting localized community development, SOLARKIOSK has been nominated for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. “The Fuller Challenge was established to draw attention to a ‘whole systems’ approach to addressing some of the complex problems facing the world,” said Founding Director Elizabeth Thompson. “Fuller’s hypothesis was that integrated solutions that focus on root cause, and are designed to be models for replication elsewhere, lead to long lasting, transformational change.” The prize winner receives $100,000 in funding as well as inclusion in the Challenge’s Catalyst Program, which offers support in expanding the winner’s work. “Our criteria have been distilled from Fuller’s voluminous writings and talks about the fundamental principles of what he called design science,” said Thompson. “The program set a very high bar for what we are looking for, so the projects selected as semi-finalists, finalists, and winners are truly exceptional examples!” If it were to receive this award, SOLARKIOSK would be well-positioned to scale up its operations in the coming years. While the economic empowerment gained in a local community through the support of SOLARKIOSK is exceptional, the mission and impact is more than that. An E-HUBB is a center for the community, a gathering place around which people can share stories, build strong relationships, and find inspiration for a brighter future. + SOLARKIOSK + Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

September 14, 2017 by  
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As more people purchase electric vehicles (EVs) – and countries move to ban sales of gas-guzzling cars – the world will need more charging stations . German company Sortimo plans to build what’s been described as the world’s biggest EV fast-charging station – with 144 charging ports. It is slated for construction near the A8 highway in Germany . 4,000 cars a day could be charged at Innovationspark Zusmarshausen, Germany’s upcoming charging station, according to the company. 24 of the 144 charging ports could be supra-superchargers with charging capacities of 350 kilowatts (kW), which beats out the Tesla Supercharger with its capacity of around 150 kW. According to Sortimo, Innovationspark Zusmarshausen could offer savings of 29.5 million liters, or around 7.8 million gallons, of fuel , and could save nearly 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Related: This electric car charging tower can power up a dozen EVs at the same time Innovationspark Zusmarshausen goes beyond the typical vision of a gas station. According to FAZ, the station could also feature offices, shopping, and eateries; Sortimo said people could order food before they arrive so they could eat while their car charges. Commuters might be able to park and charge their vehicles simultaneously in DC parking, perhaps even while working in the offices onsite. Images of the planned station suggest it could be topped with green roofs , and Sortimo mentions in their press release that Innovationspark Zusmarshausen “is very close to nature and architecturally aware of the environment,” so they envision people resting in a park at the charging station as well. As you may have guessed, renewable energy is part of the plan for the massive charging station. Sortimo said solar power can be stored at the station and used during peak times “in a network of surrounding companies and private households.” The charging stations are also integrated into Innovationspark Zusmarshausen’s thermal station management, according to Sortimo, so waste heat can help supply the buildings. FAZ said engineering firm Steinbacher Consult is also behind the design, technology, and operation. A translated version of the German press release suggests the charging station, which is receiving support from the Ministry of Transport, will be constructed in 2018. Via Sortimo , FAZ , and CleanTechnica Images via Sortimo

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Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

Australias first carbon-positive and zero-waste home is built of non-toxic materials

September 14, 2017 by  
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Australia’s first carbon positive and zero waste home to achieve a “10 Star” energy rating has popped up in Cape Paterson, Victoria. Designed in collaboration with Clare Cousin Architects , this impressive dwelling is one of the latest projects produced by The Sociable Weaver , an innovative design and build company that creates affordable, beautiful, and sustainable architect-designed homes for the masses. The coastal home, called the ’10 Star Home’ after its energy rating, is naturally heated and cooled thanks to passive solar strategies and maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, even in mid-winter. Built in the green coastal development The Cape, the 10 Star Home is permanently open to the public as a display home to educate architects, builders, and students on sustainable architecture . The Sociable Weaver and Clare Cousin Architects considered all aspects of the home, from the building materials to the bedsheets, to achieve their stringent requirements for sustainability, affordability, and social responsibility. The architects even worked with suppliers to reduce packaging delivered to the construction site, and recycled and reused material wherever possible, such as composting plasterboard off-cuts in the garden. A five-kilowatt rooftop solar panel powers the home, which experiences minimal energy loss thanks to superior under-slab insulation, industrial concrete floors that improve thermal mass, and double-glazed windows. The hardwood used is FSC-certified . Non-toxic materials line the interiors, from natural sealants and paints for the floors, walls, and ceilings, to organic and sustainable furnishings like the organic cotton bedding. The display home is fully furnished and decorated with hand-selected products that are stylish and beautiful, yet meet high environmental standards. Related: A Tiny Timber Box in a Tiny Urban Flat Makes Room for a Couple’s First Child In addition to environmentally conscious building practices, the 10 Star Home is designed to inspire a more sustainable lifestyle. The architects followed Building Biology principles to create an edible garden where occupants are encouraged to compost and grow their own food. To keep the home healthy and non-toxic, the 10 Star Home is also equipped with a “green switch” that turns off all power to the home, except for the fridge, so that occupants can reduce the impact of electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) at night. “Through Life Cycle Analysis by eTool, modelling shows that over the lifetime of the home, the 10 Star Home will not only negate its carbon footprint but will positively exceed it,” said The Sociable Weaver, according to Dezeen . “This equates to 203 kilograms of carbon emissions saved per year per occupant, equivalent to planting 9.55 million trees or removing 48 million balloons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” + The Sociable Weaver + Clare Cousin Architects Via Dezeen Images via The Sociable Weaver

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Australias first carbon-positive and zero-waste home is built of non-toxic materials

How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

August 23, 2017 by  
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There’s more to oranges than juice! Back in the 1990’s, two ecologists suggested orange juice manufacturer Del Oro donate some of their land near a national park in Costa Rica ; in exchange, they’d be able to deposit agricultural waste for free on degraded land inside the park. Del Oro agreed and dumped 1,000 truckloads of orange pulp and peels on the land. Today, that area is a thriving forest . A Princeton University -led team of researchers journeyed to the forest to discover just how much that food trash transformed the forest – and how other businesses might do the same. Del Oro donated land to Área de Conservación Guanacaste at the suggestion of husband and wife ecologist team Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, who’d worked as advisors at the park. The company unloaded around 12,000 metric tons of orange waste for biodegradation until rival company TicoFruit sued, saying Del Oro had defiled the park. TicoFruit won and the land went largely overlooked for over a decade. Related: 16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels Years later, environmental researchers decided to evaluate the site. They discovered a lush forest that had a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass – what Princeton described as the trees’ wood – in the seven acres they studied. They also found a difference between areas where orange peels hadn’t been dumped and where they had – according to Princeton, the latter showed richer soil, greater tree-species richness, and more closure in the forest canopy. The researchers think regenerating forests with agricultural waste could help us sequester carbon . Princeton graduate student Timothy Treuer said in a statement, “This is one of the only instances I’ve ever heard of where you can have cost-negative carbon sequestration. It’s not just a win-win between the company and the local park – it’s a win for everyone.” Princeton University ecologist David Wilcove thinks more businesses could help the environment in similar ways. He said while companies do generate environmental problems, “…an awful lot of those problems can be alleviated if the private sector and the environmental community work together. I’m confident we’ll find many more opportunities to use the leftovers from industrial food production to bring back tropical forests. That’s recycling at its best.” University of Pennsylvania , Beloit College , and University of Minnesota scientists joined the Princeton researchers to write a study published by the journal Restoration Ecology this week. Via Princeton Environmental Institute Images via Pixabay and Princeton University

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How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

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