Specially structured bird of paradise feathers function like a "black hole"

January 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Scientists have discovered that bird of paradise feathers are physically structured in such a way as to absorb nearly all light that reaches them, much like a black hole. Viewers of the acclaimed nature documentary series Planet Earth may recall the bird of paradise from its featured segment, in which male members of the species display their pitch-black feathers, punctuated with spots of vibrant color, while they dance in hopes of attracting a mate. These feathers are not simply a darker shade of black. In fact, their physical structure enables a level of near-total light absorption that is rare in the animal kingdom. Optical measurements of the bird of paradise feathers indicate that they are capable of absorbing 99.95% of light that reaches it, a similar level of light absorption to man-made ultra-black materials such as the lining of telescopes. “ Evolution sometimes ends up with the same solutions as humans,” said senior author and Yale professor Rick Prum, according to Phys.org . The super-black feathers, coupled with patches of bright color, function as an evolved optical illusion. “An apple looks red to us whether it is sitting in the bright sunlight or in the shade because all vertebrate eyes and brains have special wiring to adjust their perception of the world according to ambient light,” said co-lead author Dakota “Cody” McCoy. “Birds of paradise, with their super-black plumage, increase the brilliance of adjacent colors to our eyes, just as we perceive the red even though the apple is in the shade.” Related: Birds that escape from captivity teach wild birds how to speak (and swear) in English The difference between regular feathers and super-black feathers is found in the structure of the main stem and barbs in the feather. Where regular feather has single barbs attached to the main stem, super-black feathers have many spines that serve to create a dense thicket of feathers. “When you have no flat surfaces, the light gets completely absorbed by the feather,” said McCoy, according to Gizmodo . While these feathers are unusually effective at absorbing light , the light-absorption effect is most strong when seen from directly ahead. Still, the biologically developed super-blackness may offer lessons to engineering humans. “Sexual selection has produced some of the most remarkable traits in nature,” Prum said, according to Phys.org . “Hopefully, engineers can use what the bird of paradise teaches us to improve our own human technologies as well.” Via Gizmodo and Phys.org Images via Ed Shoales/Birds-of-Paradise Project and Yale University

Original post: 
Specially structured bird of paradise feathers function like a "black hole"

Denmark is cleaning up US pollution in Greenland

January 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Denmark is cleaning up the United State’s mess – literally. Half a century ago, the US abandoned several military bases in Greenland, leaving behind toxic pollution . Now, the Danish government announced that it will foot the bill to clean it up, to the tune of $30 million dollars. After World War II , the US didn’t need it’s Greenland military bases anymore, so it abandoned them without cleaning up after themselves. Since then, Greenland has petitioned Denmark, which controlled the island as a colony during WWII, to clean up the pollution or request that the US do so. It appears that Denmark has opted for the former, and they signed a document last week committing to the cleanup process. Related: Greenland’s ice is melting faster than previously thought Although the extent of the remaining pollution remains unclear, it includes things like 100,000 oil drums at one airfield. Other bases contain radioactive and toxic materials, but those bases aren’t covered under this agreement. The current funding likely won’t cover the entire cleanup efforts, but Denmark has stated that it will make more money available if necessary. For now, specialists will take a look at the sites and determine just how much cleanup is necessary. Via Arctic Now Images via Wikimedia ( 1 , 2 )

Read more from the original source: 
Denmark is cleaning up US pollution in Greenland

New double-pane quantum dot solar windows generate power with better efficiency

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on New double-pane quantum dot solar windows generate power with better efficiency

Researchers at an American national laboratory have now employed quantum dots for double-pane solar windows that offer shading, insulation, and, of course, generate energy – with greater efficiency. The Los Alamos National Laboratory team drew on a new window architecture utilizing two layers of low-priced quantum dots, tuned to take in distinct parts of the solar spectrum. The double-pane windows were equipped with manganese-doped quantum dots, absorbing blue and ultraviolet, on the surface of the front glass pane, and copper indium selenide quantum dots, absorbing the rest of the spectrum, on the back pane’s surface. Once light is absorbed, dots re-emit it at a longer wavelength. Total internal reflection guides the light to the edges, where it can be gathered and turned into power by solar cells in the window frame. Related: National laboratory scales up quantum-dot solar windows that can power entire buildings Solar-spectrum splitting – in which higher- and lower-energy solar photons can be processed separately – is key to the research, according to Los Alamos. And the dots in the front layer are essentially reabsorption free, which the laboratory said the team accomplished by incorporating into quantum dots manganese ions “that serve as highly emissive impurities. Light absorbed by the quantum dots activates these impurities. Following activation, the manganese ions emit light at energies below the quantum-dot absorption onset. This trick allows for almost complete elimination of losses due to self-absorption by the quantum dots.” The journal Nature Photonics published the research online on New Year’s Day. Per the article’s abstract, the researchers’ prototype “exhibits a high optical quantum efficiency of 6.4 percent for sunlight illumination and solar-to-electrical power conversion efficiency of 3.1 percent. The efficiency gains due to the tandem architecture over single-layer devices quickly increases with increasing LSC [luminescent solar concentrator] size and can reach more than 100 percent in structures with window sizes of more than 2,500 centimeters squared.” Double-pane quantum dot solar window research could lower the cost of solar power , according to lead researcher Victor Klimov, who said in a statement , “Because of the strong performance we can achieve with low-cost, solution processable materials, these quantum-dot-based double-pane windows and even more complex luminescent solar concentrators offer a new way to bring down the cost of solar electricity.” Via Los Alamos National Laboratory Images via Los Alamos National Laboratory Twitter and Depositphotos

Here is the original: 
New double-pane quantum dot solar windows generate power with better efficiency

Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

If you thought Microsoft’s awesome treehouse offices were the ultimate step in the tech giant’s efforts to make its employees a top priority, think again. The tech giant just announced that it will be razing its 500-acre Redmond campus in order to construct a sustainable Microsoft mini city, complete with 18 new buildings, a two-acre open plaza , retail space, jogging and walking trails, two soccer fields, a cricket field, and its own light rail station. According to the company, the expansive campus, which will be divided into “team neighborhoods”, will be focused on providing a “more open and less formal” working environment. Inside, the spaces will be filled with social hubs and light-filled offices, but the new layout will be primarily focused on providing plenty of outdoor and recreational space for the employees. Once complete, the campus will have 18 new buildings, offering workspace for the 47,000 employees that currently work on site, as well as extra room for an additional 8,000 people. The Redmond campus is already a Zero Waste Certified campus, but will be renovated with increased waste-reduction initiatives . Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air As part of the green transportation focus, all of the cars will be parked in an underground parking lot, so that above ground, the employees can travel by foot, bike or, eventually, by a light rail system scheduled for completion in 2023. As part of the green transportation focus, a new foot and bike bridge will be built over the WA-520 in order to connect both sides of its campus. This will connect with a planned Redmond Technology Transit Station where the Link Light Rail is expected to arrive in 2023. Microsoft president Brad Smith said the project will run approximately $150m, and expects the rebuild to create 2,500 construction and development jobs.”We are not only creating a world-class work environment to help retain and attract the best and brightest global talent, but also building a campus that our neighbors can enjoy, and that we can build in a fiscally smart way with low environmental impact,” explained Smith in the announcement. + Microsoft blog Via ZD Net Images via Microsoft

View post:
Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

MIT’s new thermal battery releases heat on demand with light

November 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on MIT’s new thermal battery releases heat on demand with light

Heat is often plentiful during the daytime for people in developing countries – but at night, when they’re cooking and the sun is down, they don’t typically have access to that heat and must use a material like dung or wood for fuel. A new chemical composite developed by three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists could offer an alternative by storing the sun’s heat during the day in what MIT described as a thermal battery, and releasing that heat on demand later for cooking or heating. Scientists commonly approach thermal storage with a phase change material (PCM): when heat melts the PCM, it changes from solid to liquid stores energy , according to MIT . When it’s cooled and changes back into a solid, it releases the stored energy as heat. But all current PCMs need a lot of insulation, and MIT said they go through “that phase change temperature uncontrollably, losing their stored heat relatively rapidly.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months Researchers overcame challenges to thermal storage with a system drawing on molecular switches that alter shape in response to light . They integrated these molecules into traditional PCM materials to release heat on demand. MIT professor Jeffrey Grossman said in a statement, “By integrating a light-activated molecule into the traditional picture of latent heat, we add a new kind of control knob for properties such as melting, solidification, and supercooling.” Their chemical heat battery could harness solar heat and potentially even waste heat from vehicles or industrial processes. With the system, heat could stay stable for at least 10 hours – and a device of around the same size storing heat directly would release it in just a few minutes. The MIT material can store around 200 joules per gram. Postdoctoral researcher Grace Han said there’s already been some interest in their thermal battery for use in cooking in rural India. The journal Nature Communications published the research online earlier this month. Via Massachusetts Institute of Technology Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and courtesy of the researchers

Excerpt from: 
MIT’s new thermal battery releases heat on demand with light

Dande-lier: Everyday objects transformed into stunning art in Singapore

November 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Dande-lier: Everyday objects transformed into stunning art in Singapore

Umbrellas and PVC pipes might not mean much to you, but in the right hands they can be turned into a stunning work of art. That’s what happened in Singapore earlier this year with the unveiling of Dande-lier, a temporary art installation and public space crafted from everyday objects. Design collective Colours: Collectively Ours used dozens of transparent umbrellas and PVC pipes to create an unusual dome-shaped pavilion that lit up at night like a glowing lantern. Created for Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival i Light Marina Bay in Singapore, Dande-lier was constructed to wow visitors at night, yet appeal to passersby during the day. Built for easy assembly, the pavilion was constructed from seven layers of triangular PVC pipe modules held together with metal pipe clamps. The resulting dome-shaped structure supported a canopy of tied translucent umbrellas . “Dande-lier conveys a feeling of weightlessness by using lightweight umbrellas, transforming an everyday object into a device to change the visitors’ perspective of their surroundings,” wrote the designers. “The umbrella spans across scales, individually as a chandelier, and collectively as a dandelion – hence, “Dande-lier”. Within, the view of the outside world is warped, transporting visitors into an alternate world, with a smart lighting system that responds dynamically to the visitors’ position in the sculpture.” Related: Mesmerizing Cube Pavillion Made from Mundane PVC Pipes While the installation provided shelter and respite from the sun during the day, at night it was transformed into a dynamic art installation illuminated by a smart lighting system. Motion sensors triggered changes in the colored lights and projected animations. + Colours: Collectively Ours Via ArchDaily Images © Oddinary Studios

Read the rest here: 
Dande-lier: Everyday objects transformed into stunning art in Singapore

Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

The Netherlands’ legendary Afsluitdijk dike has been in use for 85 years but it needed a renovation — so the Dutch government turned to designer Daan Roosegaarde for help. Studio Roosegaarde recently unveiled their Icoon Afsluitdijk project featuring three eye-catching designs: Gates of Light, Windvogel, and Glowing Nature, with elements from clean power -generating kites to live bioluminescent algae . Studio Roosegaarde launched three striking designs at the Afsluitdijk. Icoon Afsluitdijk is intended to bolster the causeway’s iconic value, with the installations bringing light to the area after sunset. Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Gates of Light includes restored 1932 floodgates fitted with prisms that reflect light from vehicle headlights. If there are no cars by the Gates of Light – which the studio described as an example of a “futuristic and energy neutral landscape” – the structures don’t light up. Studio Roosegaarde said they were inspired to utilize retroreflection based on how butterfly wings reflect light. Windvogel could offer enough power for 200 households. The smart kites’ lines move back and forth in the wind to generate energy , much like a dynamo on a bicycle, according to Studio Roosegaarde. Glowing Nature is an exhibit in the dike’s historic bunkers featuring living algae. The bioluminescent microorganisms only light up when touched under optimal conditions and care. They could offer inspiration for light or energy solutions for the future, according to the studio. Roosegaarde said in a statement, “The Afsluitdijk represents a part of Dutch daring and innovation. We live with water, we fight with water, and we endeavor a new harmony…By adding a subtle layer of light and interaction, we enhance the beauty of the dike and form new links between man and landscape, darkness and light, poetry and practice.” Gates of Light will become a permanent part of the dike. Glowing Nature and Windvogel can be glimpsed until January 21, 2018. + Studio Roosegaarde Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

View original post here: 
Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

Cloud lamp erupts into a frenzied lightning storm every time Donald Trump tweets

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Cloud lamp erupts into a frenzied lightning storm every time Donald Trump tweets

French artist Parse/Error has created an ingenious lamp that erupts into a miniature lightning storm whenever Donald Trump tweets. The lamp is connected to Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and it reacts in real time to his infamous “tweet storms” with flashes of light and rolling clouds. In its normal state, La Political Lamp is a simple light fixture filled with calming clouds . However, once connected to Trump’s account – or any account for that matter – each tweet precipitates a series of flashing lightning bolts, converting the lamp into a raging mini storm. Related: Dazzling Storm Cloud of Light Born from Ordinary Pot Scrubbers According to the artist, the lamp symbolizes the current rise of intolerance throughout the world when it comes to political leaders : “The choice of setting the Political Lamp to follow the tweets of Donald Trump is explained by the fact that he perfectly embodies a dangerous era. A world where the words of one man, released without reflection and with spontaneity on a global social network, can endanger the fate of millions by spreading the ghost of nuclear war on the planet.” + Political Lamp Via Notcot

Read the original: 
Cloud lamp erupts into a frenzied lightning storm every time Donald Trump tweets

The brilliant folding M.A.Di Home can be assembled in hours

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on The brilliant folding M.A.Di Home can be assembled in hours

The M.A.Di Home is an ingenious a-frame home that can be easily assembled in just a few hours. The foldable design, created by Italian architect, Renato Vidal, , is earthquake-resilient and can be equipped with rooftop solar panels LED lighting, and grey water systems to take it totally off-grid. The modular, flat-pack design of the M.A.Di Home is meant to create a streamlined, sustainable process between manufacturing and assembly. Thanks to their unique folding ability, the homes are prefabricated off site, flat-packed and easily transported via truck or container to virtually any location. Once onsite, the construction process includes unfolding each module before adding the roof pitches, interior flooring, and walls to the home. The company estimates that each structure takes a team of three just six or seven hours to assemble. Related: Affordable flat-pack Surf Shack shelter operates completely off the grid Made out of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) with a galvanized steel frame, the foldable homes are designed to last, even through earthquakes. The walls are insulated with a high-density rockwool and a polyurethane foam is used to waterproof the home, increasing its thermal insulation as a result. The structures can be built to go completely off grid by adding solar panels , grey water systems, and LED lighting. Additionally, the homes don’t necessarily need to be built on a concrete foundation, allowing the structure to have zero impact on the environment. For living space, the modules come in a variety of layouts and sizes, starting at a 290-square-feet tiny home to a larger 904-square-feet family home. Each model is two stories and comes with a kitchen, dining area and bathroom on the first floor, with the bedrooms on the upper floor. The A-frame design allows for an all-glass facade that lets in optimal amounts of natural light. They can also be equipped with an upper floor balcony off the bedrooms and a deck space on the ground floor. + M.A.Di Home Via New Atlas Images via M.A.Di Home

Read the rest here:
The brilliant folding M.A.Di Home can be assembled in hours

7 global megatrends that could beat climate change

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on 7 global megatrends that could beat climate change

Is it too late for us to avert disastrous impacts of global warming ? Maybe not, thanks to megatrends changing the way humans live on a global scale. The Guardian’s environment editor Damian Carrington laid out trends that could turn the tide: renewable energy , electric cars , plant-based meat , energy efficiency , batteries , coal dying, and planting new forests . It’s clear we haven’t yet won the battle – but there could be reason for hope. Even as our world is warming, we haven’t yet lost the fight against climate change . Christiana Figueres, former United Nations climate chief and Mission 2020 convener, told The Guardian humanity still faces serious challenges as the climate turning point is just three years away. She said, “But the fact is we are seeing progress that is growing exponentially, and that is what gives me the most reason for hope.” Related: Here’s some climate hope: global CO2 emissions stayed static last year The seven megatrends outlined by Carrington suggest we could win humanity’s most complex global struggle. First? The development of lab-grown or plant-based meat products. Cows are responsible for emitting methane , a powerful greenhouse gas that traps heat on Earth. And people’s appetite for meat is increasing. But investors from Bill Gates to the Chinese government are starting to back tasty, environmentally friendly alternatives. Then there’s renewable energy: production costs have plummeted and installations have soared. According to The Guardian, renewables comprised two-thirds of new power last year. On the other hand, coal’s grip on the world is slipping: production could have peaked back in 2013. The International Renewable Energy Agency expects a large battery storage increase, as batteries are connected to smart and efficient grids . Meanwhile, if current growth rates keep going, by 2030 80 percent of new cars will be electric, according to The Guardian, which would reduce carbon emissions. Home energy efficiency is also making progress. In the European Union, for example, since 2000, efficiency in houses, industry, and transportation has improved by around 20 percent. The creation of new forests is another megatrend “not yet pointing in the right direction,” according to The Guardian, as deforestation continues apace. But tree-planting in South Korea, China, and India has already scrubbed over 12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich told The Guardian, “We are not going to get through this without damage. But we can avoid the worst.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

See more here: 
7 global megatrends that could beat climate change

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 978 access attempts in the last 7 days.