New discovery suggests humans are 100,000 years older than previously thought

June 8, 2017 by  
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The surprising discovery of fossilized remains of five early humans in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco has led archeologists to believe that Homo sapiens originated 100,000 years earlier than previously thought. What’s more, the remains — which are estimated to be 300,000 years old — are resettling all former notions of how and where modern humans evolved. Dissatisfied by previous archeological findings in Morocco in the 1960’s, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the National Institute for Archeology and Heritage in Morocco renewed the dig site. The excavation resulted in the discovery of partial skeletal remains of five people — three adults, one adolescent, and one child. Stone tools, animal bones and signs of fire use were also found. The researchers then used thermoluminescence to date the objects, which is how they learned that the objects are between 300,000 and 350,000 years old. Until this discovery, the oldest known samples of H. sapiens were discovered in Ethiopia and dated back 150,000 to 200,000 years. Because there was a lack of evidence showing Neanderthals and “archaic” Homo Sapiens (humans that pre-date H. sapiens) diverged from a common ancestor, scientists figured H. sapiens emerged rather suddenly. The remains that were found, however, now point to the possibility of an early version of H. sapiens who originated in northwest Africa approximately 300,000 years ago. This challenges the “rapid emergence” theory, which is why this discovery is so spectacular. Related: Archaeologists uncover 3,400-year-old Egyptian necropolis Archeologists now assume that after diverging from a common ancestor, a group of archaic H. sapiens spread across Africa , gradually acquiring traits that would come to characterize modern-day humans. These conclusions appear in two separate studies which were published today in the science journal Nature . Scientists describe the fossils and artifacts found at the site in the first paper and analyze and date the stone tools in the second paper . As Gizmodo reports , many groups of humans existed around the same time but it was Homo sapiens who eventually prevailed and spread out across northern Africa between 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. They then continued to migrate into Asia, Australia and North and South America . Though there is still much to discover about where humans originate, a big piece of the puzzle has been solved which will undoubtedly help archeologists learn more in the future. + Nature Via Gizmodo Images via Max Planck Gesellschaft

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New discovery suggests humans are 100,000 years older than previously thought

LEGO celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday with Guggenheim Museum kit

June 8, 2017 by  
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Visionary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright – who was born on June 8th, 1867 – designed and built over 500 buildings over the course of his lifetime. To celebrate the beloved architect’s 150th birthday, LEGO is releasing 740-piece lego set that lets architecture lovers recreate one of Wright’s most iconic works – NYC’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The custom lego set is highly detailed, recreating the museum’s beautiful modernist curvaceous facade and even has the building’s eight-story annex tower sitting adjacent to a stretch of NYC’s 5th Avenue Museum Mile, complete with tiny yellow cabs. The kit even includes a scaled replica of the Guggenheim sign, which features Wright’s own architectural lettering. Related: LEGO Announces Model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House “This accurately detailed Lego model faithfully recreates the curves and distinctive lines that have made this building an architectural icon for the last half-century,” said LEGO. Although the Guggenheim set is a celebration of one of the architect’s most iconic building, it’s not the first time that LEGO has shown the architect some love. Six years ago, the company released a 2,276-piece version of his beautiful Robie House . This isn’t the first time LEGO has released the Guggenheim museum, either, but the previous set was much smaller and less detailed than this newest set. The Guggenheim Museum will also be celebrating the architect with architecture-themed tours and various activities throughout the month of June. + LEGO Via Dezeen Images via LEGO and Wikimedia Commons

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LEGO celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday with Guggenheim Museum kit

Trump nominates BP oil spill lawyer as DOJ environmental attorney

June 8, 2017 by  
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Who better to stand for the environment than a lawyer who represented BP after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy? At least, that appears to be President Donald Trump’s logic. This week he nominated Jeffrey Bossert Clark , who has consistently worked against climate action , for the role of Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources at the Department of Justice . Clark is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C. Over his career he’s challenged the scientific basis of climate policies , according to InsideClimateNews. His career is littered with work against the environment, not for it. He successfully defended BP after Louisiana parishes challenged the company over their multi-billion settlement of claims over Deepwater Horizon. But representing BP after America’s worst oil spill is just part of it. Related: Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding Clark represented the United States Chamber of Commerce in lawsuits attacking the government’s power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions . He’s argued in court multiple times it’s inappropriate to form government policies based on scientific consensus given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . InsideClimateNews said Clark was prominently involved in challenges from industry to the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding offering a scientific basis for efforts to regulate greenhouse gases . Natural Resources Defense Council Director of the Climate & Clean Air Program David Doniger said of Clark, “He has a long history of opposing climate action for corporate and ideological clients. I would expect that history would require him to recuse himself from cases as over the Clean Power Plan , where he filed an amicus brief against the rule.” In the George W. Bush administration Clark served as deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department, from 2001 to 2005. Senate confirmation is required for him to serve in the Trump administration . Via InsideClimateNews Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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COP22 Marrakech welcomes visitors with low-carbon Ark22 gate

November 9, 2016 by  
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Described by the designers as a cross between minimalism and baroque , the beautiful gate is a “pointillist composition” constructed from repeated singular elements, the timber planks, strategically stacked to create a cohesive mass. The identical 3-by-4-inch boards were sourced from local, sustainably managed forests and were not produced specifically for the event; rather they were “temporarily diverted from their regular journey.” The resulting mass is a 164-foot-wide, 49-foot-tall monument that is porous to allow views, light, and cooling breezes to pass through. Related: COP22 kicks off in Morocco with controversial presence of fossil fuel industry representatives “Both Ark and Damocles sword, each blade of wood is suspended in time,” writes Stephane Malka Architecture. “Each timber is showing both the fragility and the potential power of forces: The scenography highlights the singular unity and the whole, stressing the importance of each of the actions taken by the parties to take concrete action towards environmental disasters.” After the conference, the low-carbon structure will be completely dismantled and rebuilt as a pavilion in Marrakech’s Agdal garden, while other materials will be distributed to local associations and reused. + Stephane Malka Architecture + Oualolou+Choi Images by Laurent Clement

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California’s BrightSource Energy inks deal for massive new solar farm in China

September 28, 2016 by  
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As part of the country’s ongoing bid to invest in renewable energy, China’s state-run utility this week inked a deal with Oakland-based BrightSource Energy to build a massive new solar mirror farm. The technology, which uses thousands of mirrors to concentrate sunlight and heat water to power a steam turbine, is the same design used in BrightSource’s Ivanpah power plant outside of Las Vegas. The main advantage of thermal solar plants over traditional solar panel arrays is that they’re able to generate far more power that photovoltaic panels. These power plants can be massive, producing hundreds of megawatts of energy – an advantage that makes them competitive with coal-burning plants in a way that many renewable plants aren’t yet. The Ivanpah plant produces a whopping 392 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 140,000 California homes. Another mirror farm under construction in Morroco, slated to the be world’s largest when complete, will generate 580 megawatts and serve 1.1 million people. Related: Ivanpah: The World’s Largest Solar Thermal Plant Just Switched Online for the First Time This deal certainly won’t be the last of its kind for the Chinese government. Right now, BrightSource Energy is committed to a 135-megawatt pilot project in China’s northwest Qinghai province. It’s also going to include energy storage in the form of molten salt tanks, which are able to retain heat and produce power even after the sun has gone down. Another American company, SolarReserve, is also in the process of building a mirror farm in China. Related: Morocco switches on phase one of the world’s largest solar plant If it seems strange that these American companies are focusing on exporting their expertise abroad, it’s because the US has been slow to adopt the technology. Apart from a few high-profile projects like Ivanpah, thermal solar farms haven’t really taken off. That’s due in large part to a drop in costs for traditional solar panels and natural gas. Hopefully, as thermal solar plants gain acceptance in China and the rest of the world, they’ll see a resurgence in the US as well. Via Fortune Images via  BrightSource Energy

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California’s BrightSource Energy inks deal for massive new solar farm in China

Dubai to build the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant

June 6, 2016 by  
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Once again, Dubai is seeking to lead the way in the clean energy sector. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) recently announced their intention to build a massive concentrated solar power plant that would generate a staggering 1,000 megawatts (MW). That would nearly double the current record holder for the largest concentrated solar plant, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex in Morocco, which will generate 500 MW by 2018. DEWA CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer announced the plant could be operational in 2030, the year the country hopes to obtain 25 percent of energy from clean sources. Private companies to be selected will build and operate the plant. The first stage, to be finished in 2021, will generate 200 MW. Related: Record-breaking solar prices in Dubai prove cheaper than coal According to Al Tayer, ” several thousand ” heliostats will reflect radiation to a tower. He said a huge advantage of concentrated solar power is the thermal heat generated can be easily stored, so the plant could continue to produce electricity at night. The project will employ thermal storage for ” eight to 12 hours daily .” Al Tayer said , “…we constantly work, led by the vision of our wise leadership who instructed us to prepare to bid farewell to the last drop of oil. This is based on a vision that recognizes the significance of renewable energy in achieving a balance between development and sustainability. DEWA continues building projects to achieve this vision and consolidate sustainability to ensure a brighter and happier future.” The plant could help the country achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. The strategy aims for energy from 75 percent renewable sources by 2050. As a step towards that goal, DEWA is working to provide energy from 61 percent natural gas, 25 percent solar power, 7 percent “clean coal,” and 7 percent nuclear power by 2030. Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia Commons and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority Facebook

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Beautiful Marrakesh Congress Center design brings a modern touch to traditional Moroccan architecture

June 3, 2016 by  
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Known colloquially as “The Red City” for the prevalence of red sandstone architecture, Marrakesh is packed with mosques, palaces, and markets ringed by old fortified city walls. In keeping with the local vernacular, the 14,000-square-meter Marrakesh Congress Center would be built with red natural stone. Its blocky form brings to mind strength and fortification. The facade’s patterned perforations allow diffused natural light to pass into the interior while blocking unwanted solar gain. Related: Libya’s Stunning Tripoli Congress Center is Protected by a Tree-Inspired Mesh Facade The building’s robust form is softened by the addition of crawling vines and trees on the facade, as well as integrated gardens that punctuate the interior on different levels. “The interplay of the inside and outside will be a central theme for the building, communicated through such integrated gardens, as well as with the sunlight piercing the façade throughout the day,” write the architects. “At ground level the atrium will be visible through porticos and one central focus door that will reference the striking local doors in Morocco, emphasizing a dynamic interior / exterior flow.” + Tabanlioglu Architects Images via Tabanlioglu Architects

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Beautiful Marrakesh Congress Center design brings a modern touch to traditional Moroccan architecture

Morocco switches on phase one of the world’s largest solar plant

February 5, 2016 by  
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The king of Morroco has switched on what will be the world’s largest solar power plant – in the Saharan desert near Ouarzazate. When it is completed in 2018, the Noor Concentrated Solar Power complex will be the size of the country’s capital city and generate 580MW, enough power to serve 1.1 million people. Read the rest of Morocco switches on phase one of the world’s largest solar plant

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COBE designs a tiny light-filled “village” for children in Copenhagen

February 5, 2016 by  
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6 Floating love nests and houseboats around the world

February 5, 2016 by  
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