This terrifying glass walkway in China cracks as you step on it

October 16, 2017 by  
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Would you trek across this “cracking” glass walkway? In China ‘s Taihang Mountains there’s a frosty glass walkway that gives visitors a heart-stopping experience. The skywalk is approximately 873-feet-long and it’s located 3871 feet off the ground. Somewhere in the middle, however, there is a high-tech panel that simulates the effect of breaking glass. It’s so realistic that it has caused more than one person to nearly lose themselves in fright. The floor of the skywalk is all glass, but it alternates between clear and frosted panels. Because of this, it is impossible to know which panel will simulate the near-death experience — and possibly spawn a heart attack in the process. As the video above reveals, even the bravest of the brave will likely find themselves crawling the remaining portion of the glass walkway . The “fake” cracking glass panel is actually a high-tech display with pressure sensors. The moment an unsuspecting tourist steps on it, it begins to crack — giving them the sense they are about to drop to their death. There are even matching sound effects to complete the experience. Related: Spiraling treetop walkway gives visitors a bird’s eye view of a Danish forest There has been quite an uproar about the cracking glass skywalk. As a result, the local government issued an apology. A promotion video was also created to inform trekkers about the “fake” danger. Because the skywalk is checked daily for actual cracking glass, the likelihood of a panel breaking is said to be small. Via SlashGear Images via YouTube

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This terrifying glass walkway in China cracks as you step on it

Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife

October 5, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based firm, Olson Kundig Architects  unveiled a brilliant T-shaped home called Rimrock whose elongated design ‘floats’ over a local wildlife trail. Located deep in the forest of Spokane, Washington, the 5,200-square-foot structure is supported by a platform that hovers over the path so local wildlife can easily make their way from the high woodland plateau on one side of the home to the Spokane River below. The home’s elongated form – which is clad in untreated steel – is partially supported by stilts embedded into a platform. This platform spans over a natural  animal trail , allowing for an unobstructed passage from the high forest plateau on the back side of the home to the river some 300 feet below. Entirely clad in floor-to-ceiling glass panels, the first floor living area is perfect for watching the animals make their way to the water. Related: Olson Kundig Architects’ Transforming Micro Cabin Folds Up to Protect Against the Elements Creating a strong connection between the house and its natural surroundings was central to the design. Not only was the layout carefully crafted with the local wildlife in mind, but also the area’s natural landscape. Located cliffside, the structure is only partially embedded into the landscape. Adding more volume to the top level allowed the architects to alleviate some of its ecological footprint . The glass-enclosed lower level, which includes the living room, kitchen, and dining area, lets in optimal natural light and provides 180 degree views of the spectacular surroundings, including the adjacent forest, the valley below, and even the city of Spokane in the distance. Equally as stunning is enjoying the views from the home’s open-air deck with reflecting pool. The bedrooms and personal spaces are found on the second floor, and were intentionally shielded from the outside elements in order to provide the occupants a cozy, interior space to spend time during inclement weather. + Olson Kundig Architects Via Yatzer Photography by Benjamin Benschneider and Kevin Scott

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Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife

Florida residents prohibited from using solar energy after Hurricane Irma

September 20, 2017 by  
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Millions of Florida residents lost power after Hurricane Irma raged through the state. But homeowners with solar energy installations couldn’t use them during the outage – or they’d be breaking the law. State code requires people to connect their homes to the local electric grid – and when parts of it were damaged after the hurricane , even those homeowners with backup solar power were legally obliged to sit in the dark. Florida Power and Light (FPL), which is one of the state’s major suppliers of electricity, has lobbied against letting people power their own houses with solar panels, according to Miami New Times. On their website , FPL says, “Operating your renewable system without the bi-directional meter can result in an inaccurate meter reading causing your bill to increase.” Related: Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida Up to 40 percent of Floridians lost power after the hurricane. Residents were angered because under FPL’s rules, if its system goes down, solar power systems must be shut down as well. According to Miami New Times, state rules say customers must install a switch so their solar systems can be disconnected from FPL’s systems. But residents can’t flip the switch to power panels during a disaster. FPL can even disconnect solar panels from the grid without warning homeowners. Under FPL’s net metering guidelines, “Renewable generator systems connected to the grid without batteries are not a standby power source during an FPL outage. The system must shut down when FPL’s grid shuts down in order to prevent dangerous back feed on FPL’s grid. This is required to protect FPL employees who may be working on the grid.” Miami New Times says people have criticized FPL for spending money on lobbying rather than on hurricane-proofing grids. The Energy and Policy Institute found a FPL lobbyist drafting anti-solar laws for Republican state representative Ray Rodrigues this April. FPL contributed $15,000 to Rodrigues’ campaign. According to the Miami New Times, the Sunshine State trails behind other states in solar adoption due to power company influence. Via International Business Times and Miami New Times Images via The National Guard on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Florida residents prohibited from using solar energy after Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

August 29, 2017 by  
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After Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas last weekend, you probably didn’t think the situation could get any worse. Sadly, it did. On Tuesday, ExxonMobil acknowledged that two of its refineries were damaged during the natural disaster, causing hazardous pollutants to leak into the environment. The acknowledgment was made in a regulatory filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, following repeated complaints on social media of an “unbearable” chemical smell in parts of Houston. In the filing, ExxonMobil said that a floating roof covering a tank at ExxonMobil’s Baytown oil refinery sank due to heavy rain. This, in turn, caused it to dip below the surface of oil or other materials stored there, causing “unusually high emissions, especially of volatile organic compounds, a category of regulated chemicals,” reports the Washington Post. The Baytown Refinery is the second largest in the country. ExxonMobil is seeking a permit to empty the tank and make repairs. Reportedly, the company is planning to “conduct an assessment to determine the impact of the storm once it is safe to do so.” A spokesperson for ExxonMobil refused to say what was in the tank. The extent of Hurricane Harvey’s damage doesn’t end there. ExxonMobil’s Beaumont petrochemical refinery suffered damage to its sulfur thermal oxidizers, which capture and burn sulfur dioxide. As a result, the plant expelled 1,312.84 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere — well in excess of allowable emissions. The company said in a statement, “The unit was stabilized. No impact to the community has been reported. Actions were taken to minimize emissions and to restore the refinery to normal operations.” Related: CA communities sue Exxon, Shell and 35 other fossil fuel companies over climate change According to Luke Metzger, director of the group Environment Texas, “Most of the unauthorized emissions come from the process of shutting down, and then starting up, the various units of the plant, when pollution control devices can’t be operated properly and there’s lots of flaring.” Flaring is usually done when releasing chemicals without burning them is more hazardous for the local community and environment. The company admitted to flaring hazardous materials at its Baytown refinery both Sunday and Monday. ExxonMobil isn’t the only company responsible for environmental damage in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Washington Post reports that many facilities belonging to major companies filed notices with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Cedar Bayou chemical plant, for instance, exceeded permitted limits for several kinds of hazardous pollutants, including 1,3-butadiene, benzene and ethylene, during shutdown procedures. Litigation may now follow, considering the release of carcinogens increases the risk of cancer for those living near the plants. Via Washington Post Images via ExxonMobil , Pixabay

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Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

August 29, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based architects, Hoedemaker Pfeiffer  just unveiled a contemporary cabin-style home built on the banks of beautiful Lake Chelan. The architects used planks of reclaimed wood to build the stunning home, which sits overlooking incredibly scenic views. Think they have a guest room for us? The lake house design is a contemporary take on the traditional wooden cabin , with plenty of carefully cultivated rustic charm included throughout. The 3,300- square-foot structure – which is clad in reclaimed lumber and roofed with corrugated galvanized steel – sits on a heavily-wooded lot with front slope of natural stone. The interior is a bright and airy space with wooden flooring and exposed Doug Fir beams in the kitchen and living room. Related: Architect Jim Olson spent 55 years renovating this breathtaking Puget Sound cabin However, it’s clearly the lake view that inspired the beautiful home’s design. Large windows in virtually every room flood the interior with natural light as well as offer breathtaking views of the picturesque surroundings. The heart of the home is the open-air terrace that sits adjacent to the lake’s edge. Covered with a chunky wooden pergola , the outdoor area is complete with a glass-enclosed fire pit and plenty of comfy seating. + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Photography by Thomas J. Story  

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Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

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

NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth

August 23, 2017 by  
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A new study from NASA’s Jet Propulsion unit has determined that the threat of a supervolcanic eruption to life on Earth may be more pressing than any interstellar collisions. An eruption of a supervolcano, like that found in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, could trigger a collapse of the global agricultural and economic systems and result in the deaths of potentially millions of people. Although NASA scientists can’t predict when such an event would occur, they have already begun preparing a preventative measure: drilling into the magma chamber of a supervolcano to cool it down. Although the potential consequences of a supervolcano eruption would be devastating, earthlings should rest easy knowing that the chance of such an eruption taking place this year is roughly 1-in-730,000. Even then, there is a chance that it could be nothing more than a little lava flow. Nonetheless, NASA scientists are preparing to deal with the problem before it happens. Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight Magma eruptions occur only when it is thoroughly melted by intense heat; cooling magma down by 35 percent would prevent a supervolcano from erupting. To do this, the scientists envision using a drill to puncture above the chamber, where hydrothermal fluids are pushed to the surface. Adding water in this highly pressurized environment would be sufficient to cool the magma. To avoid fracturing the surrounding rock and potentially setting off an eruption, NASA scientists suggest drilling into the supervolcano from below. It is estimated that such a plan would cost around $3.5 billion, although governments would be encouraged to think of this as an investment : Excess heat could be captured and transformed into clean energy . Via IFLScience Lead image via Pixabay , others via Laineema/Flickr  and Peter Hartree/Flickr

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NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth

Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats

August 10, 2017 by  
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Humanity has a plastic bottle addiction, purchasing one million a minute , and many bottles wind up not in recycling bins but in our oceans. Cameroon -based nonprofit Madiba & Nature is pioneering a creative use for all those polluting bottles: boats . They’re fabricating floating canoe-shaped crafts out of collected empties in an effort to prompt people to think differently about how they consume and dispose of plastic bottles. A group of students is transforming plastic trash into boats. They aim to promote a circular economy in Africa ; according to their website: “…we want to help change people’s attitudes and bad habits on the management of plastic waste that degrades sensitive ecosystems.” One Green Planet reports Cameroonian Essome Ismael invented the boats. Related: The world’s population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute Madiba & Nature volunteers have gathered to pick up thousands of plastic bottles near Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, to use those bottles for what they call ecological canoes. The boats could help not just the environment , but the local community as well. In a video, Ismael said there’s a great need for fishing boats in his area, and the plastic bottle boats could meet that need. Local fisherman Emmanuel Japa said at first they thought the plastic bottle boats were a joke, but it turns out the crafts are actually strong and seaworthy. Ismael also said plastic bottles clogging their waterways have led to flooding in the local area. The boats are just the beginning. Madiba & Nature’s website says in around a year of work, they’ve started a program for students and engineers to learn more about green business , and have developed an environmental awareness and education program. They’ve also helped develop a local waste management system and have supported other groups laboring to protect the environment. Their website also says they aim to research how to use recycled plastic in building or paving systems. + Madiba & Nature Via One Green Planet Images via Madiba & Nature Facebook

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Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats

Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva

August 10, 2017 by  
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In addition to aiding digestion, it turns out saliva can also power batteries. Researchers at Binghamton University discovered this while inventing a small, paper-based battery that generates energy when mixed with a drop of saliva. The batteries, which are more like tiny microbial fuel cells, are inexpensive to make and could be used in natural disasters and remote settings where on-demand power is hard (if not impossible) to come by. As a result, access to medical care and screenings in rural settings could improve. Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi spent the past five years developing the micro-power sources. His ultimate goal was to find a way to power medical diagnostic tests in poverty-stricken regions; finally, he succeeded at developing paper-based bacteria -powered batteries “On-demand micro-power generation is required especially for point-of-care diagnostic applications in developing countries,” said Choi. “Typically, those applications require only several tens of microwatt-level power for several minutes, but commercial batteries or other energy harvesting technologies are too expensive and over-qualified. Also, they pose environmental pollution issues.” Related: Indian startup pioneers new battery swapping system for electric buses The batteries contain freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells which generate power when saliva is added. Astonishingly, with just one drop of spit, the paper batteries can produce enough power for low-power biological sensors in just a matter of minutes. Eureka Alert reports that a benefit of freeze drying the cells is that they can be stored for a long time before use. This means they can be stocked in medical clinics around the world. An additional perk is that the required biological fluid (saliva) can be easily obtained anywhere, anytime. At present, the battery can only produce a few microwatts of power per square centimeter. However, Choi and his research assistant, Maedeh Mohammadifar, are working on boosting the output. In the future, the team hopes to make the paper batteries more robust so they can sustain devices other than LED lights when connected in a series. The paper, “A Papertronic, On-Demand and Disposable Biobattery: Saliva-Activated Electricity Generation from Lyophilized Exoelectrogens Preinoculated on Paper,” was published in Advanced Materials Technologies. + Binghamton University Via Eureka Alert Images via  Binghamton University , Pixabay

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Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva

The Hatchery announces new $30M food incubator for ‘global culinary capital’

July 11, 2017 by  
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A food incubator planned for Chicago’s East Garfield Park could provide much-needed economic growth for a struggling community. Nearly 40 percent of households there live below the poverty level, according to the Chicago Tribune . But the $30 million facility, being built by The Hatchery , could create 150 jobs in its first year, and in five years offer 900 jobs. The organization expects to break ground on the facility later this year. The Hatchery is a non-profit food business incubator started by three Chicago organizations: Accion Chicago , IFF , and Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago . They offer financing, production space, and other resources for startup food businesses, and the new $30 million facility could help them assist even more people in the community. Related: Rooftop wheat fields elevate Chicago’s urban farming scene to exciting new heights 75 to 100 entrepreneurs will be able to start their businesses in The Hatchery’s planned space, which will be around 65,000 square feet. The City of Chicago is providing around $8 million for the venture, largely through tax increment financing, and large food companies like Kellogg Company and Conagra Foods have also pitched in undisclosed amounts. Shared kitchen spaces will help businesses get on their feet, and as they grow they’ll be able to rent one of the 56 private production spaces. Event spaces, meeting rooms, and food storage will also be found inside The Hatchery, where entrepreneurs will be able to receive coaching and training. Accion Chicago will relocate their headquarters to the new facility. Locals will be able to obtain job training or go to food classes there. The space will also host a neighborhood market. Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the project in a press release, saying, “Chicago is the global culinary capital and The Hatchery will give our local entrepreneurs access to food and beverage companies that operate across the world.” Construction is slated to begin in October or November of this year, and the space could open in 2018. + The Hatchery Chicago Via the Chicago Tribune Images via The Hatchery Chicago Twitter and The Hatchery Chicago Facebook

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