Three glass arms and a sunken visitor center enhance this renovated Dutch park

August 22, 2017 by  
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Some people have a wonderful knack for devising new ways of seeing the world – including Studio Maks and Junya Ishigami + Associates, who designed this sublime park expansion in the Netherlands . The new triangular-shaped visitor center in Park Vijversburg acts as an extension of the adjacent historical villa, while ensuring minimal impact on the parkland. Three sweeping glass corridors extend from the center, providing visitors with a more immediate perspective of the surrounding landscape. The addition to the recently refurbished park aims to accommodate the increasing number of visitors by providing new exhibition and meeting spaces. Studio Maks’ Marieke Kums and Tokyo-based architect Junya Ishigami designed the center as a partially sunken single-floor structure that has minimal impact on the site. Related: New light-filled learning center celebrates the food history of one of Denmark’s oldest towns Its three curved arms are fully glazed and free of columns and other structural elements. This creates an uninterrupted flow and views of the parkland , while giving a floating appearance to the roof. “We wanted to make a most subtle intervention,” Kums said. “Although the pavilion is an architectural project, it was designed and imagined as part of the landscape.” Rotterdam studio LOLA Landscape, Utrecht-based Deltavormgroep, Hummelo-based Piet Oudolf and Frankfurt-based artist Tobias Rehberger designed an additional 15 hectares of new landscape. + Studio Maks + Junya Ishigami + Associates Via Dezeen Photos by Iwan Baan

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Three glass arms and a sunken visitor center enhance this renovated Dutch park

Scientists just created green solar cells – and they’re working on white, red and additional colors

August 17, 2017 by  
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Do you love solar panels , but hate the color blue? You’re in luck – researchers in the Netherlands have developed a process for making conventional solar panels bright green, and they’re working on developing other colors as well. By making the panels more appealing, they hope to entice more people and businesses to invest in clean energy. Researchers at AMOLF devised a method of imprinting solar panels with silicon nanopatterns that make them appear green. Though the process decreases the efficiency by 10 percent, it’s considered to be an acceptable trade-off if the panels are installed on more buildings. Said Verena Neder, lead author of the paper and researcher at AMOLF, “The black appearance of the [conventional] solar panels is not attractive for many people and a reason to not put solar panels on their rooftop. Making solar cells colored makes it possible to integrate them in an architectural design of houses and full cities, but also to merge them in the landscape.” CleanTechnica reports that to turn the panels green , researchers “use soft imprint lithography to apply a dense array of silicon nanotubes onto the surface of solar cells.” At approximately 100 nanometers wide, each nanotube is carefully shaped to scatter a certain wavelength of light. The cells appear green to observers, and the color is constant regardless of where one is standing. “The structure we made is not very sensitive to the angle of observation, so even if you look at it from a wide angle, it still appears green,” said Neder. Related: Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy Because the color can be adjusted by altering the geometry of the nanotubes , the researchers have started planning imprints that create red and blue solar colors. After the three primary colors of light are developed, they will be able to create any color — including white. “You have to combine different nanoparticles, and if they get very close to each other they can interact and that will affect the color,” said Albert Polman, a scientific group leader at AMOLF. “Going to white is a really big step.” The technology could make it possible to create tandem solar cells which are stacked in layers. Each layer would be fine tuned to absorb certain portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Theoretically, this could result in sunlight conversion efficiencies of 30 percent more. Considering commercially available solar cells are about 20 percent efficient, this could be a game-changer for the renewable energy industry. Affirmed Neder, “The new method to change the color of the panels is not only easy to apply but also attractive as an architectural design element and has the potential to widen their use.” + AIP Applied Physics Letters + AMOLF Via Clean Technica Images via Pixabay and Depositphotos

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Scientists just created green solar cells – and they’re working on white, red and additional colors

Global population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute

July 3, 2017 by  
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We’re drowning in plastic bottles . You already know plastic water bottle use – and their disposal or lack thereof – is a worldwide dilemma, but new statistics released by The Guardian reveal just how staggering the issue has become. Every minute humans purchase one million plastic bottles, consuming nearly 500 billion a year. And while it’s true many of these bottles can be recycled , it’s becoming harder for us to keep up with the sheer volume of trash that needs recycling, and a great deal of it lands up polluting our oceans . In 2016 humans bought over 480 billion plastic water bottles. But that’s only the beginning of the bad news. Less than half of those 480 billion bottles were collected for recycling. And a mere seven percent of those found a second life as new bottles. What happened to the rest? You guessed it: they’re littering our oceans and landfills . And estimates from Euromonitor International indicate their use will only increase, to 583.5 billion by 2021. Related: Plastic waste pop-up pavilion rethinks recycling in the Netherlands Surfers Against Sewage chief executive Hugo Tagholm told The Guardian, “The plastic pollution crisis rivals the threat of climate change …Current science shows that plastics cannot be usefully assimilated into the food chain . Where they are ingested they carry toxins that work their way on to our dinner plates.” Plastic is already showing up in our food, according to recent studies. Scientists at Belgium’s Ghent University found people who eat seafood unwittingly consume 11,000 tiny plastic pieces yearly. Researchers at Plymouth University in England discovered plastic in one third of fish caught in the United Kingdom. According to The Guardian, plastic was first popularized in the 1940’s – but much of the material manufactured then is still around today because plastic takes hundreds of years at best to break down. These bottles could be comprised of 100 percent recycled plastic , but many brands haven’t made the switch because they prefer the shiny look of traditional plastic. And many companies have fought against a tax on single-use bottles. But a similar tax on plastic bags has been quite successful: England’s five pound plastic bag tax has resulted in usage of the polluting bags plummeting by 85 percent . Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Emilian Robert Vicol on Flickr

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Global population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute

Artist recycles old typewriters into beautiful guns

July 3, 2017 by  
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The Art of War takes on new meaning in Canadian artist Eric Nado’s evocative typewriter-guns. Inspired by the old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword,” these beautiful and futuristic Typewriter Guns are fully recycled from colorful vintage typewriters. These powerful pieces explore the impact of words, over arms, in shaping history. Nado’s reconstructive artworks are crafted with all original parts of vintage typewriters, including brands such as Underwood and Royal. Though startlingly realistic, these steampunk-esque guns are non-functional. The assemblage artist has also worked with other mediums, most notably in his Seamstress Series where he transforms vintage sewing machines in sculptures reminiscent of workingwomen of the post-war era. Related: Fascinating Sculptures Made from Recycled Typewriter Parts In an interview with Creators , Nado said he was motivated by his childhood memories of playing with his mother’s typewriter. “The sound of the keys evoked, for me, the sound of guns going off. It is this memory that initiated in me, years later, a new obsession, fueled by what were now years of experience in technical manifestations of art,” he said. “I wondered, could it be possible to transform these evocative machines into representations of a gun arsenal? My intuition was that it could be done and the objective was to do so by deconstructing and reconstructing solely the pieces of one typewriter at a time, making each and every gun an art piece with a history in itself.” + Eric Nado Via Creators Images via Eric Nado

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Artist recycles old typewriters into beautiful guns

Ethereal bubble building pops up in the middle of a Dutch forest

June 28, 2017 by  
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This gigantic bubble tucked in the middle of a forest may look like something out of a fairy tale, but it’s actually a gorgeous performance space in the Netherlands. Berlin-based collective Plastique Fantastique created the monumental inflatable pavilion – named Loud Shadows – for the Oerol Festival as a music and art space that integrates completely with the surrounding forest. Loud Shadows was conceived as a joint project of Plastique Fantastique, Kate Moore, The Soltz, and LeineRoebana. It references the name of the festival, which means “everywhere’ in Dutch, and the intent to use the entire island as a large performance and exhibition space . Related: Inflatable pop-up night club can disappear as soon as the party is over The transparent skin blurs the line between the interior and the exterior, the building and its natural surroundings. It offers views of the forest, while creating an intimate space where art, music and dance merge together. The temporary installation is divided into three parts: two bubbles placed on either side of an opaque walkable circular tube. Made of plastic, this space can be installed almost anywhere. + Plastique Fantastique Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Marco Canevacci , Jelte Keur, Maria Purik

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Ethereal bubble building pops up in the middle of a Dutch forest

Brand new island sprouts off the North Carolina coast

June 28, 2017 by  
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In an age of rising sea levels and shore erosion , the sudden appearance of new coastal land can encourage and inspire. Along North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a brand new island has emerged from the sea like a plant sprouting from a seed. The sandbar, which has been called Shelley Island by some locals for its abundance of sea shells, is attracting adventurous visitors, who choose to brave the elements and the occasional discarded fish hook so that they may see the shoreline’s newest addition. Shelley Island is located near Cape Point, a globally-renowned surf-fishing location, and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on North Carolina ‘s Outer Banks. To reach Shelley Island, visitors must pass near powerful currents that could easily pull a person out to sea. “We’re worried about shark bites, but we’re more worried about drownings,” said Bill Smith, president of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association. Rays and sharks patrol the waters and the discarded hooks from many fish tales could be embedded in the sand, threatening barefoot revelers. Related: Discreet new home in North Carolina acts like a gateway to the surrounding wilderness It is entirely possible that Shelley Island may disappear within a year, or it may expand even further into the ocean. Cape Point is constantly shifting. Admirers of the wild seashore have been fortunate with a particularly accessible season, the better through which to enjoy the scenery. Those who visit should count themselves fortunate, as future generations may not be able to experience this unique and fragile ecosystem . The coastline of North Carolina is among the most vulnerable parts of the Eastern United States to the effects of climate change . The barrier islands, which have served to protect the inland areas from devastating storms, may be overwhelmed and submerged by the end of the century. Via CNN / The Virginian Pilot Images via Claude Betancort and  Nicolas Marchildon

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Brand new island sprouts off the North Carolina coast

Incredibly rare two-headed porpoise found in the North Sea

June 15, 2017 by  
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An unsuspecting fisherman recently stumbled across an incredibly rare two-headed dolphin. Only nine examples of conjoined twins have ever been found among cetaceans , according to Erwin Kompanje, curator of mammals for the Natural History Museum Rotterdam in the Netherlands . So he jumped at the chance to study a rare specimen of conjoined harbor porpoises caught the end of May by Dutch fisherman. But when he reached out to the fisherman, what happened next was a scientist’s nightmare. It’s not unheard of for trawlers to accidentally catch a porpoise. There are hundreds of thousands of the cetaceans near the coast of the Netherlands. But no one has ever caught conjoined twin harbor porpoises. The fisherman snapped photos, which made their way to Kompanje. He couldn’t wait to study the creature in the laboratory. Related: Fish with “human-like teeth” spotted in Michigan lakes Kompanje could tell the twins were male, and had likely recently been born – and he thinks they were born alive. They probably didn’t live for long; either they had two brains which might have told them to swim in different directions, or a single heart may have failed to pump enough blood to keep them alive. Conjoined twins are an extremely rare find. And these looked to be in good condition. Others that have been discovered were undeveloped fetuses – such as one found near Japan in 1970 in a dolphin’s womb – or have started to decompose, such as a dolphin with two beaks found in 2001. Kompanje reached out to the fisherman to try and obtain the specimen for study. But this story doesn’t have a happy ending for science. The fisherman thought it was illegal to catch the conjoined twins, so after the photographs, they tossed the creature back into the sea. Kompanje told The Washington Post, “For a cetologist, this is a real horror.” Based on the photographs he was still able to publish a paper in DEINSEA, the online journal of the natural history museum, joined by one scientist of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and one from Wageningen Marine Research . Sadly, we may never know more about the rare twins. Via The Washington Post Images via Kompanje, E.J.O.; Camphuysen, C.J.; and Leopold, M.F.

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Incredibly rare two-headed porpoise found in the North Sea

Germany, Denmark, and Belgium to boost offshore wind 5-fold within the next decade

June 12, 2017 by  
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Germany, Denmark, and Belgium just announced a landmark agreement to boost their offshore wind power capacity five fold within the next decade. This means that by the year 2027, the countries will increase energy generated via wind from 13.8 gigawatts to more than 60 gigawatts. Because the prices for offshore wind continue to decline (in 2016 alone, there was a 22 percent decrease ), the move is being hailed as an economic and environmental win. To accomplish the task, the governments of all three nations have pledged to work with more than 25 private companies, such as Dong Energy. As The Independent reports, Germany has already proven the viability wind power. In April, bids for offshore wind in Germany fell below the cost of conventional power for the first time — and without the benefit of government subsidies. Related: World’s largest offshore wind farm opens in The Netherlands The agreement, signed on Tuesday in London, builds on a partnership between 10 northern European countries to collaborate on cutting the cost of installing offshore wind turbines. The seven countries absent from the signing will be asked to support the new statement. Some delays are expected as several nations need to wait until after their general elections are held — such as the UK . “With this joint statement, leading businesses and governments are taking the next step by committing to cooperate on the deployment of big volumes for offshore wind energy,” said Giles Dickson, chief executive officer at WindEurope. “Today’s statement is a clear recognition of the strategic importance of offshore wind as a clean, competitive and reliable energy source for Europe.” Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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Germany, Denmark, and Belgium to boost offshore wind 5-fold within the next decade

Redesigned Ocean Cleanup arrays to start scooping up Pacific garbage patch within a year

May 11, 2017 by  
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The Ocean Cleanup  just made a huge announcement from Werkspoorkathedraal , an exhibition in the Netherlands. CEO Boyan Slat  revealed exciting new  design changes to The Ocean Cleanup Array , which will enable the system to be more durable and collect more plastic . They once estimated their array could clean up 42 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years – now with their groundbreaking new arrays, they will be able to scoop up 50 percent of the patch’s plastic just five years. Even more exciting, deployment will start within the next 12 months – two years earlier than expected. In a presentation titled “The Next Phase,” Slat detailed their progress from the time he began The Ocean Cleanup around four years ago to today, and unveiled their plans for the future. He said one of their main design challenges was how to tether the array to the seabed. But then they realized a tether might not be their best option. Following their core principle of working with nature , they took the idea one step further. Slat put it this way: “To catch the plastic, act like the plastic.” Related: The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic What does that mean? Well, an anchor attaches to the cleanup array, and effectively tethers the array not to the seabed but to a deep water layer. The system still moves slower than plastic, but can now drift with the ocean currents. The array is then free to rotate and orient itself in the direction from which the plastic is coming to scoop up even more. The vast breakthrough in design also enables the array to be more survivable; drifting with the currents means it doesn’t have to withstand the full force of the ocean. So the array acts like plastic – floating through the oceans – to catch the polluting material. The Ocean Cleanup will now deploy a fleet of smaller arrays instead of one massive system. Slat pointed out this will be easier to fund; it will still cost several hundred million dollars, by his estimate, but they can gradually scale up the cleanup process array by array. Slat said in his talk, “Four years ago when I founded The Ocean Cleanup, everyone told me that there was no way to clean up what’s already out there, and the only thing you could do is avoid making it worse. But to me, that was just such an uninspiring message. Don’t we all want a future that is better than the present? And now, we are able to show, with data, that we can actually make things better again. We can do this. We must do this. We will do this.” Parts of the system are already in production, according to Slat, who unveiled some of the newly-designed anchors at the event. Slat said they’d made a promise to start cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 2020. He said they wouldn’t be able to keep that promise. Instead, they’ll now be deploying the first cleanup system in the Pacific Ocean in the next 12 months. + The Ocean Cleanup Images via screenshot

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Redesigned Ocean Cleanup arrays to start scooping up Pacific garbage patch within a year

The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

May 3, 2017 by  
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Last fall The Ocean Cleanup found 1,000 large pieces of plastic in two hours in the Pacific Ocean during their first aerial reconnaissance mission. Today the Dutch foundation announced they’ve raised $21.7 million, and can now begin large-scale trials of their passive plastic capturing technology – in the Pacific – as soon as this year. The Pacific Ocean, plagued by the Texas-sized Great Pacific Garbage Patch , desperately needs to be cleaned up. The Ocean Cleanup is ready to tackle the problem with their plastic gathering technology tested in the North Sea thanks to new funding amounting to $21.7 million. Investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff and entrepreneur Peter Thiel . Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Founder and CEO Boyan Slat said in a statement, “Our mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal. Thanks to the generous support of these funders, the day we’ll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight.” The Ocean Cleanup’s technology draws on ocean currents to collect trash and could reduce the theoretical cleanup time of plastic in the Pacific Ocean from millennia down to years – their Ocean Cleanup Array could scoop up almost half of the patch’s garbage in 10 years . When they launch their technology in the Pacific later this year, it will be the first experimental cleanup system in that ocean, according to the foundation. The Ocean Cleanup will share more details at the Werkspoorkathedraal , an exhibition in the Netherlands, on May 11 at 2:00 PM EST. According to their website the talk will unveil The Next Phase and share “what we’ve been working on for the past two years, and what will be happening next.” They’ll be live streaming the event on their website . + The Ocean Cleanup Images courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

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