World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet

March 29, 2018 by  
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200 gigawatts of solar power . $200 billion. 100,000 jobs. Those are the numbers attached to the SoftBank Solar Project, which is set to become the biggest solar farm in the world thanks to a deal signed by Saudi Arabia and Japanese conglomerate company SoftBank ‘s Vision Fund . The move could help Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter in the world, progress from fossil fuels to renewable energy . The Saudis and SoftBank, signing a memorandum of understanding, are moving forward on a massive solar development that could see hundreds of gigawatts installed by 2030. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman unveiled the plan earlier this week; the crown prince said, “It’s a huge step in human history. It’s bold, risky, and we hope we succeed doing that.” Related: Saudi Arabia announces plan for $500B megacity powered by renewables The project is planned for the Saudi desert, Bloomberg said. According to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, it could be around 100 times bigger than the next largest proposed development, and could “more than double what the global photovoltaic industry supplied last year.” The $200 billion investment will go towards solar panels , battery storage , and a Saudi Arabia solar panel manufacturing facility, according to Reuters. The project’s initial phase will be 7.2 gigawatts and cost $5 billion. The SoftBank Solar Project could mark a huge step away from oil and towards clean energy for Saudi Arabia; Bloomberg said the country only has small-scale solar projects operating at the moment and Reuters said they obtain a bulk of their electricity via oil-fired plants even though they’re one of the sunniest countries in the world. Economist Intelligence Unit lead energy analyst Peter Kiernan told Reuters, “Saudi Arabia is clearly preparing for a post-fossil fuel dependent economy in terms of domestic energy consumption, and this huge bet on renewables would free up a lot of domestic output of oil for exports, while probably saving domestic gas resources as well.” Via Bloomberg and Reuters Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet

Restorative Healing Gardens take over a concrete garage rooftop in L.A.

August 15, 2017 by  
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A healing green landscape has blossomed in the place of a former concrete plaza in Los Angeles. Local firm AHBE Landscape Architects transformed a concrete site atop a multi-level garage into the new Healing Gardens for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The unique, green roof -inspired system features four distinct gardens that promote healing, health, and well being for patients, hospital staff, and visitors. Since the site was located atop a building, AHBE had to develop a multi-layered landscape solution that would protect the existing building’s structural and mechanical integrity while accommodating four lushly planted gardens. “The Cedars-Sinai Healing Garden Plaza project presented several constraints that encouraged innovative thinking,” said Calvin Abe, FASLA, RLA, who led the project team. “The terraces had previously been unused for many years. We aimed to heal the epidermis of the complex by grafting a piece of living, breathing landscape above the existing parking decks.” The addition of the Healing Gardens is an extension of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s mission to prioritize quality patient care. Related: Light-filled Crown Sky Garden Offers Healing Properties at Children’s Hospital in Chicago The Healing Gardens comprise four distinct gardens with carefully crafted planting palettes. The Garden of Whimsy “lift[s] and energize[s] the human spirit” with undulating planters and a sculptural pavilion by Ball Nogues Studio as the focal point. In contrast to the more active Garden of Whimsy, the shaded Blue Garden is designed for quiet meditation and features private nooks and small circular reflecting pools. The open Plaza Garden accommodates a variety of events with moveable and convertible furniture ; the space is complemented with textural plants such as agaves and succulents. The Education Garden features “adaptive natives” from non-U.S. Mediterranean climates and includes space for outdoor lectures, health fairs, and informal meetings. + AHBE Landscape Architects Images by @heliphoto.net

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Restorative Healing Gardens take over a concrete garage rooftop in L.A.

Scientists turn spinach into human heart tissue

March 28, 2017 by  
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Popeye was right: spinach really is good for the muscles, and not just the ones in your biceps. In fact, scientists have discovered a way to use the leafy stuff, which has a vascular system not dissimilar to ours, to grow layers of working heart muscle, according to a paper published this month in the journal Biomaterials . The new technique, a collaboration between Worcester Polytechnic Institute , the University of Wisconsin-Madison , and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro , marks a breakthrough in the field of human tissue regeneration, which has hitherto been stymied by scale. To wit, although current bioengineering methods can recreate cellular scaffolding on a large scope, fabricating branching networks of tiny blood vessels has proven far trickier. But then scientists noticed that plants and animals evolved parallel means of distributing water and nutrients to their respective cells. “Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals, and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures,” the authors wrote. “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal.” To test their theory, the researchers stripped a bunch of spinach leaves of their cells, leaving behind a network of cellulose. They then seeded the spinach veins with beating human-heart cells. With the leaf fully networked, the team pumped fluids and microbeads through their pint-size proto-heart, mimicking the flow of human cells through our own arterial system. Related: Engineers build artificial muscles from onion skin and gold So far, so successful. “We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” said Glenn Gaudette, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI and corresponding author of the paper. And it’s not just spinach that’s up for the job. Other decellularized plants could help deliver oxygen to damaged tissue in victims of heart attacks or other kinds of cardiac trauma. Even better, bioengineers could tweak different plant species to repair a range of tissues in the body. Spinach might work best for highly vascularized cardiac tissue, for instance, but the cylindrical hollow structure of something like jewelweed might be more appropriate for an arterial graft. Similarly, the vascular columns of wood could one day play a role in healing human bones. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field,” Gaudette added. + Worchester Polytechnic Institute Via National Geographic

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Scientists turn spinach into human heart tissue

Stanford scientist develop a blood-separating centrifuge out of paper

January 12, 2017 by  
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If you were a kid before the age of smartphones, you probably played with a whirligig at least once. The design for this simple toy, which will spin twine threaded through a button at rapid speeds with only a gentle pull, inspired Stanford University researchers to create a cheap and effective medical tool for countries in need. The “paperfuge” is, quite literally, a centrifuge made out of paper . The human-powered device can separate blood in just 90 seconds and costs only $.20 to make. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPePaKnYh2I There are still many parts of the world without access to the medical technology necessary to properly diagnose and treat disease. Stanford bioengineers hope to change that by providing a cost effective centrifuge to affected regions so medical professionals can detect deadly diseases , such as malaria, HIV, African sleeping sickness and tuberculosis. With the paperfuge, there is no need for electricity, as it is powered by human touch. Related: Shining lasers on human blood could help detect tumors The engineers behind the design say the device can spin at speeds up to 125,000 rpm. The paperfuge can also exert centrifugal forces of 30,000 Gs and separate blood in just a minute and a half. “To the best of my knowledge, it’s the fastest spinning object driven by human power,” said Manu Prakash, a Stanford bioengineering assistant professor. Prakash’s lab is also responsible for creating a “ foldscope ” miscroscopy instrument that costs lest than one dollar to produce and a tiny chemistry kit inspired by children’s music boxes. + Stanford University Via Stanford University Images via Youtube (screenshot)

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Stanford scientist develop a blood-separating centrifuge out of paper

INTERVIEW: Dorothy Neagle of the Good Food Jobs "gastro-job" search tool

January 12, 2017 by  
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In 2004, friends Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis Suazez created Good Food Jobs , an innovative “gastro-job” search tool, with the compelling tagline “satisfying the hunger for meaningful work.” The site offers a highly personalized support system to both employers and job seekers in every aspect of the food industry – from agriculture to education. We spoke to Dorothy Neagle, one half of Good Food Jobs, about taking a stand against unpaid internships, the vulnerability associated with job-hunting, and revolution in the food industry . Good Food Jobs is a two-woman show. The co-founders are not only good friends but also ice-cream aficionados. INHABITAT: At first glance, Good Food Jobs is a job site where people can post and find work opportunities involving food (whether it be service, production or other) in some way. Yet it is also much more than that. Can you describe the mission behind the endeavor? DOROTHY: When we started Good Food Jobs, we were creating something that we ourselves had a need for: a one-stop-shop for job opportunities that were not just related to food but were also personally fulfilling. One of our fundamental goals was to expand awareness around what a good food job was, and how working in the food industry went beyond the kitchen – that’s why we created eight categories for the jobs (Agriculture, Business, Culinary, Education, Media, Nonprofit, Production, and Other). INHABITAT: What is each of your own career trajectories? How did food, design, and values-driven initiatives intersect in each of your own paths? DOROTHY: My background is in Interior Design, and I spent my early years out of university working for an architecture firm in New York City. But I had a secondary goal in life that began to creep forward over time, a strong desire to merge environmental activism with my daily work. I quickly became unsatisfied with the client-driven goals of working in design and architecture, and I turned to food because agriculture and food culture are inherently planet-driven. Having met Taylor while studying at Cornell, we ultimately put our heads together and took the leap to start GFJ. INHABITAT: We are in an era where both the traditional workplace and the expectations of workers are changing (seeking meaningfulness in what they do, flexibility, user-friendly and collaborative, open workspaces, for example). How is Good Food Jobs disrupting the traditional job listings site and offering members (who sign up for free) more? DOROTHY: Good Food Jobs is a community space. When people find us through word-of-mouth or Google searching, they often remark that they feel as if they’ve been welcomed by something they had always yearned for but didn’t know existed. We personally answer every email in our business inbox, and we frequently catch typos and errors in job postings because we’re personally reviewing each one before we publish. We also took a stand against unpaid internships in 2014 (we no longer post them) and this year we’ve required that all employers be more transparent about the wages offered in their jobs. We make these changes incrementally as a result of feedback from our users. INHABITAT: GFJ primarily serves not only job-seekers, but also companies, institutions, restaurants and farms – to name a few. When it comes to the website design, imagery, newsletters and social media channels of GFJ, how do you reach and engage your target demographic? DOROTHY: I’m not sure what our target demographic is…human beings? Since we’ve never conducted a formal PR campaign, or placed more than an occasional advertisement, we rely on human connection to help us spread the word organically. Our daily work is basically customer service, and we take it very seriously (but not too seriously). When GFJ resonates with people, it’s because we’re identifying and opening up real conversation about some of our most vulnerable human experiences – and what makes you feel more vulnerable than looking for a job? INHABITAT: There is the perception that a GFJ job applicant likely exhibits a certain set of qualities and values. Can you speak more about your mission and your definition of a “good food job” – “a pursuit involving the efforts to nourish one’s own life, and the lives of others?” DOROTHY: Our tag line really says it all: satisfying the hunger for meaningful work. When you feel compelled to align your daily life with your deepest need for connection and fulfillment, it’s either because you are personally craving that change, or you experienced an event or situation or interaction outside of yourself that prompted the craving. Either way, doing work that is helpful to your own mind and body and spirit is inherently helpful to the mind and body and spirit of others, and vice versa. GFJ recognizes and acknowledges that need, and hopefully provides some possible avenues for meeting it. Good Food Jobs features weekly “Words of Wisdom” in its newsletters, which are downloadable via the Good Food Jobs site. INHABITAT: GFJ posts jobs from around the country and even international postings. How do you work with employers that are looking to find, via GFJ, talent with not only specific skills but maybe also a certain mindset or approach? DOROTHY: Our job posting form has built-in advice for crafting a job description that will help you to reach the kind of folks that are truly passionate and love – or want to love – what they do for a living. We offer free trials and discounted job packages, as well as standard discounts for nonprofits, small farms, and other budget-challenged businesses. We’re constantly striving to bridge the employer/employee divide by offering honest, supportive advice. INHABITAT: In recent years, in the United States there has been a huge interest in how things are made, by who, where, and by what standards-whether it be what we eat, or the textiles that we wear against our skin. Magazines like Kinfolk, Good Food Jobs, “artisanal” shops, the campaign Small Business Saturday-all seem to speak to this growing nationwide interest. What is your take on this, and how do you see this evolving, not only in places like Brooklyn, but in small towns and cities across the country? DOROTHY: I think it’s fantastic. It comes from a real place. Many businesses will jump on the marketing bandwagon, and try to ‘identify the trends’ and adjust their ‘branding’, and that can feel false at times. But regardless of the motive for increasing the sustainability of the products that affect our daily lives, the end result is positive change. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s my hope that establishing these kinds of practices will become habitual, and create a new standard of quality that we all strive for and come to expect. INHABITAT: What are some recent trends you see in the fields of agriculture and the service industry? DOROTHY: There’s an increasing need that we continue to encounter, and that is for respect and courtesy on all sides of the hiring process, in spite of the shortcuts that technology affords. I also see a tremendous opportunity to create healthier, more supportive work environments, especially with service-oriented positions that have traditionally been viewed as entry level or low/no-skill. Educating our employees through their daily work, and recognizing that we can learn from them, as well, is the key to continued growth. Agricultural work continues to be a growing field, and there are now so many more ways to get involved in fresh, local food – from urban farms to grocery delivery services to creating links between farms and restaurants, it hasn’t even begun to answer the demand that exists. INHABITAT: At a time of rapid change in the country, how do you think this will impact how we grow, market and enjoy our food? DOROTHY: It’s really hard to say, but I can tell you that in spite of the change swirling around us, our focus at GFJ remains the same: bringing people together around the shared hunger for meaningful work. I think that what we all hold constant in uncertain times is what will ultimately make the biggest personal and professional impact. + Dorothy Neagle + Good Food Jobs Photos courtesy of Good Food Jobs This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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INTERVIEW: Dorothy Neagle of the Good Food Jobs "gastro-job" search tool

Boeing and HRL win Guinness World Record for world’s lightest metal

November 10, 2016 by  
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Boeing and HRL Laboratories created a metal microlattice that has been awarded the Guinness World Record for the world’s lightest metal . The entire structure of the microlattice is 99.99 percent air, making it 100 times lighter than styrofoam. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the new metal is not its light weight, but the fact that it was created to emulate human cell structure. It’s far from a bionic metal, but it illustrates that developing technology to mimic nature can help us achieve great things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6N_4jGJADY While the weight of a material is often associated with its strength, that isn’t always the case. For many applications, the use of a lighter material can lend a number of benefits in terms of durability and flexibility, all important considerations where all sorts of structures are concerned. Like human bones, which are porous, the microlattice is incredibly strong despite being mostly air. Its spindly structure is capable of absorbing and distributing force to reduce damage. The team placed the metal microlattice atop the delicate head of a dandelion (already gone to seed) to demonstrate its ultra light weight. Related: Scientists develop world’s lightest metal, 100x times lighter than styrofoam Boeing’s new metal microlattice is made from nickel phosphorus and is approximately 100 times lighter than styrofoam. While the aerospace company is certainly looking forward to potential applications in commercial airplane wings, the lightweight yet durable microlattice could have other uses in vehicle engines, military protective gear, and possible even in the medical world. Because of the way the microlattice’s structure mimics porous human cells, it could someday be used to develop an artificial lung. The microlattice is the product of several years of research and development, and initially introduced in 2011 . The Guinness World Record was just awarded last year , after a long application and review process. Via ArchDaily Images via Boeing

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Boeing and HRL win Guinness World Record for world’s lightest metal

World’s first 3D-printed heart-on-a-chip could help end animal testing

October 25, 2016 by  
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When it comes to medical breakthroughs, the most exciting advances tend to involve technology that can lead to better and earlier diagnoses of various health problems , but breakthroughs that save animals are pretty good too. A team of Harvard University researchers has done just that by developing an entirely 3D-printed “heart-on-a-chip” that may some day eliminate animal testing in medical research. The innovation, which makes it possible to monitor heart performance, is the latest in a medical technology trend of building functional, synthetic replicas of living human organs in an effort to better understand how they work, or—more to the point—how they fail. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHhMlL9flMY Each organ-on-a-chip (also known as a “microphysiological system”) is constructed from a translucent, flexible polymer. The 3D-printed organs mimic the biological environment of our internal organs, and give scientists an up-close look at how they function. The heart-on-a-chip developed at Harvard can help researchers collect reliable data for short-term and long-term studies. Because the device is 3D-printed , scientists can easily customize its design to meet the specifications of their research, and the chips can be fabricated quickly. Related: See-through microchip organs help scientists test new drugs “This new programmable approach to building organs-on-chips not only allows us to easily change and customize the design of the system by integrating sensing but also drastically simplifies data acquisition,” said Johan Ulrik Lind, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). Other Harvard research teams have developed microphysiological systems that mimic the microarchitecture and functions of lungs, hearts, tongues, and intestines. These synthetic organs could replace animal testing with a customizable and completely humane alternative that may also lead to more accurate results. Unfortunately, the cost for fabricating these organs-on-a-chip is still quite high, and the process is also time-consuming. Researchers are continuously pushing forward to improve their methods, though, in the hopes of making this a viable and cost-effective alternative toward the cruel practice of animal testing. The results of the team’s research were published this week in the journal Nature Materials. Via Gizmodo Images via Harvard University

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World’s first 3D-printed heart-on-a-chip could help end animal testing

REI announces plan to close all 149 stores on Black Friday

October 25, 2016 by  
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Feeding the frenetic consumerism beast, Black Friday takes a hefty environmental toll each year. To combat the craziness, REI decided to close all 149 branches again this year with their #OptOutside campaign. They’ll pay their 12,287 employees and encourage participants to skip the mall and spend time in nature instead. Want to join in? Share your outdoor adventures on social media with the hashtag #OptOutside. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEVXU4RDUoI With the goal of creating new traditions for the Thanksgiving holiday, REI offers a green alternative through their #OptOutside campaign. To make it even easier for people to forgo shopping and spend time in nature, REI has created an outside activity finder online so people can find state parks or trails close to where ever they are spending Thanksgiving. Explorers can search for places to go hiking, climbing, mountain biking, skiing, or snowboarding. They can also filter for family- or dog-friendly activities. Related: California and Minnesota state parks are free on Black Friday CEO Jerry Stritzke said in a statement, “This year, REI will shut down on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday because fundamentally we believe that being outside makes us our best selves – healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle. I love that there is a community of people in this country who dedicate their lives to that mission, so together, we are asking America, ‘Will you go out with us?'” 275 local and national organizations will join REI to promote the #OptOutside campaign through activities or social media posts, including Subaru, Google, and Meetup. For example, Subaru will offer pet owners in New York City shuttle rides for them and their dogs out of the urban jungle to nature, and will drive shelter dogs to the outdoors to spend time outside of their cages. You can check out the full list of #OptOutside partners here . + REI #OptOutside Images via REI Facebook and REI

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REI announces plan to close all 149 stores on Black Friday

New $150 gadget lets your smartphone detect cancer with laboratory precision

October 20, 2016 by  
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While smartphone spectrometers are already being used to help detect cancer, they have only been able to evaluate one sample at a time, making the work slow and tedious. A breakthrough by a Washington State University research team led to the creation of a low-cost multichannel smartphone spectrometer that uses optical sensors to scan multiple samples simultaneously . The team, led by Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, found their spectrometer to be highly accurate and sensitive, thanks to the custom prism array designed especially for this device. The WSU team has created a device, perhaps the first of its kind, with the same sensitivity level as existing laboratory equipment, capable of detecting proteins and cancer biomarkers with a high degree of accuracy. The team used a customized prism array they built through a hybrid manufacturing process, which makes it possible for the smartphone spectrometer to scan several samples at once in search of cancer biomarkers. The eight-channel smartphone spectrometer can detect human interleukin-6 (IL-6), a known biomarker for lung, prostate, liver, breast and epithelial cancers. Related: World’s first pocket spectrometer lets you measure the molecular makeup of nearly anything The smartphone-based cancer screening device is also a cost-effective solution, with a price tag around $150. The design was based on the iPhone 5, but the team is currently working to make it compatible with other smartphone models. A portable, low-cost spectrometer that produces lab quality results is just the sort of device in high demand in rural areas and especially in developing countries where hospitals lack high-tech cancer screening equipment or are absent altogether. The team’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation along with a WSU startup fund, and the report on their results was recently published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics. Via WSU Images via Wikipedia and Lei Li/WSU

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New $150 gadget lets your smartphone detect cancer with laboratory precision

Brain implants allow paralyzed man to feel his fingertips again

October 14, 2016 by  
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New brain implant technology has given a paralyzed man a whole new lease on life. Since a devastating car accident a decade ago, Nathan Copeland hasn’t been able to feel his hands and fingers. That all changed after scientists implanted chips into his brain to give him sensation through a prosthetic arm . Nathan can not only move and manipulate objects using his mind, but also feel when the robotic fingers are touched. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently published their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine . They believe the innovative technique could ensure future prosthetics include physical touch sensations, which is an essential part of holding, squeezing, and gripping everyday objects. Related: Mind-controlled robotic arm to transform the lives of the paralyzed Two arrays of electrodes were implanted into Nathan’s sensory cortex, allowing him to manipulate objects with his mind. The revolutionary part is the additional two electrode arrays implanted into his sensory cortex. After a month, he started to feel “like I was getting my fingers touched or pushed.” He was also able to identify which finger was being touched when blindfolded. Right now the implant is being evaluated by the FDA, as is done with any new medical device. The researchers behind the study are still unsure how the technology can be applied to become a part of a portable prosthesis , as the system now involves a separate robotic appendage, lots of cables, and a bunch of desktop computers. Nathan has expressed his excitement about the advancement, citing Luke Skywalker’s instantaneous, fully-functional hand replacement; he says such an apparatus could be “not even that far in the future.” Via The Verge Images via University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (screen shot)

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Brain implants allow paralyzed man to feel his fingertips again

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