"Extraordinary" levels of pollution found in deepest parts of the ocean

February 16, 2017 by  
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To paraphrase the immortal words of Diana Ross and the Supremes, ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough to keep us from mucking it up. Case in point? The Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, both tens of thousands of feet deep, remain two of the planet’s most inaccessible reaches. But even they are not immune to environmental damage from humans. Samples of amphipods—tiny, shrimp-like scavengers who call these dark, impenetrable depths home—have revealed “extraordinary levels” of persistent organic pollutants , according to new research. These included long-banned or restricted chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, both of which are thought to cause neurological, immune, and reproductive issues, or even cancer. As published in the latest edition of Nature Ecology & Evolution , the findings offer a stark reminder of the extent of mankind’s impact. The Mariana and Kermadec trenches are 4,300 miles apart, yet toxic compounds were found “in all samples across all species at all depths in both trenches,” the researchers wrote. Startlingly, the amphipods they sampled contained levels of contamination similar to those found in Japan’s Suruga Bay, a hotbed of industrial pollution. In the Mariana, the highest levels of PCBs were 50 times more concentrated than those found in crabs living in flooded plains fed by one of China’s most tainted rivers. “We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth,” Alan Jamieson, a biologist from Newcastle University who led the study, said in a statement. Related: James Cameron completes historic dive into deepest point on the planet How the pollutants found their way into these extreme locales, which are characterized by immense pressure and a lack of light, is still a matter of conjecture, though the scientists have their suspicions. The chemicals may have found their way to the trenches through contaminated plastic waste and animal carcasses, which, like everything else in the ocean, eventually sink to the floor, where they’re devoured by resident fauna. Because pollutants accumulate through the food chain, by the time they reach the deep ocean, they’re many times more concentrated than they were in shallower waters. The compounds could recirculate back to the surface as scavengers like amphipods fall prey to larger predators. (To quote another song, it’s “the circle of life.”) “This research shows that far from being remote the deep ocean is highly connected to the surface waters. We’re very good at taking an ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach when it comes to the deep ocean but we can’t afford to be complacent,” Jamieson said. “The fact that we found such extraordinary levels of these pollutants in one of the most remote and inaccessible habitats on earth really brings home the long term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet.” He added: “It’s not a great legacy that we’re leaving behind.” + Newcastle University

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"Extraordinary" levels of pollution found in deepest parts of the ocean

Self-assembling shelters that could revolutionize emergency housing

February 16, 2017 by  
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Emergency shelter design is becoming increasingly important due to the various refugee situations occurring around the world. Although some designs have already been awarded for their crucial role in providing emergency housing, other forward-thinking designers such as Haresh Lalvani are actively working to create a biomimicry-based system where shelter structures would be able to assemble themselves. As cofounder of the Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures , Lalvani is employing a “wildly interdisciplinary range of tools” to create a type of generative geometry that would be able to assemble and repair, grow, and evolve all on its own. The designer is using concepts found in biology, mathematics, computer science and art to create systems where matter would start encoding information, a similar process to that of stem cells and genes in the human body. Lalvani explains that these biological systems are “the only place where software and hardware are the same thing.” Related: ASU’s new Biomimicry Center offers first-ever master’s degree in biomimicry https://youtu.be/fh-fMUo0Kjk Using biomimicry as inspiration, Lalvani is testing the potential of giving physical objects the power to assemble through a similar system of genomic instructions encoded into the raw material. His prototypes stem from a concrete and humanitarian approach that could potentially create, for example, rapidly deployable disaster housing . Creating an “inherently ephemeral building type”, however, is no easy task, and one that requires a futuristic level of technology. Working with metal fabricator, Milgo/Bufkin, Lalvani has managed to convert 2D sheets of perforated metals into rigid 3D structures using a computer controlled laser cutter that perforates “variable openings” into the sheets. Using a force such as gravity for instance, the spaces can be pulled apart or stretched, therefore creating another, more flexible form that is completely distinct from the original material. This type of installation could be a potential game changer for shelter design considering some of Lalvani’s installations take less than one minute to bend into shape. Additionally exciting is the fact that the raw material is just one thin sheet of metal, and can be easily transported and requires no tools for assembly, making it especially useful for emergency situations. + Haresh Lalvani + Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures Via Archdaily Images via Haresh Lalvani

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Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight

February 16, 2017 by  
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There’s another continent on Earth , and it’s been lurking in plain view for a long time. Geologists have traditionally identified six continents, combining Asia and Europe into Eurasia, but a new study reveals New Zealand and New Caledonia are actually part of a seventh geologic continent called Zealandia. In the Geological Society of America ‘s journal GSA Today , 11 scientists from institutions in New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Australia revealed the find. They claim New Caledonia and New Zealand aren’t just an island chain as was once thought, but are part of one 1.89 million square mile piece of continental crust that comprises Zealandia. Once part of the supercontinent Gondwana, now just around five percent of Zealandia is above the ocean’s surface. Related: Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius To discern a continent, geologists consider four criteria: first, elevation above the ocean floor; second, if igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks can found; third, if the land is comprised of a thicker piece of crust compared against the ocean floor; and fourth, if there clearly defined limits around an area bigger than a continental fragment or microcontinent. Geologists have known for decades New Zealand and New Caledonia fit criteria one through three, but in their new study, the 11 scientists drew on satellite gravity data to help recognize Zealandia as a continent around the size of greater India. If you think you’ve heard the word ‘Zealandia’ before, it’s because geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk, who wasn’t part of the new study, coined the name back in 1995, to refer to the two islands and other submerged pieces of crust that once broke off Gondwana. Luyendyk said he wasn’t trying to describe a new continent then, but he thinks the scientists’ find will be accepted. He told Business Insider, “These people here are A-list earth scientists. I think they have put together a solid collection of evidence that’s really thorough. I don’t see that there’s going to be a lot of pushback, except maybe around the edges.” Luyendyk said there are clear economic implications to the study. United Nations agreements often describe continental shelves as boundaries that help determine resource extraction, and according to Business Insider New Zealand might have tens of billions of dollars of minerals and fossil fuels near its shores. Via Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons and N. Mortimer, et al./GSA Today

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Young carpenter builds cost-effective timber cabin for his first home

February 16, 2017 by  
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When a young carpenter with a modest budget wanted to build his first home, he turned to Atelier l’Abri for help with the design. The Montreal-based architecture firm responded with a modern and uncomplicated design for a cabin that recedes into its forested surroundings of Bolton in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The self-build project is l’Abri’s first built house design and is named Wood Duck in reference to the project’s use of timber for the structure, cladding, and interior finishes. The architects kept the design of the Wood Duck as simple as possible to accommodate the client’s tight budget. To make the most of its compact footprint, the boxy home faces south to overlook the valley with views of the ski slopes of Mount Glen and river below. Three large windows on the south facade take advantage of these vistas and their size help blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors, visually expanding the home’s small footprint. Hemlock spruce, a cost-effective and rugged material, clads the exterior and helps the cabin blend into its surroundings. Related: Stunning Finnish Micro-Cabin Built For Just $10,500! The home is square in plan and spans two floors. Entered from an east door, the Wood Duck’s ground floor features the open-plan and double-height living room, dining area, and kitchen in the south, while the service-oriented rooms, like the laundry and mudroom, are tucked away in the north. The open-plan living areas are bathed in natural light and overlook the landscape and an outdoor deck. The master bedroom, secondary bedroom, office, and shared bathroom are located upstairs. + Atelier l’Abri Via ArchDaily Images via Atelier l’Abri , © Jack Jérôme, Alexandre Desourdy, Jean-Christophe Laniel

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Why is This Praying Mantis Wearing the World’s Tiniest Pair of 3D Glasses?

April 29, 2014 by  
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Animals can teach us a lot about the world, which is why we’re always dragging them into our scientific experiments. While some of this research is downright cruel and unnecessary, some is more bizarre than anything else. In a recent project at Newcastle University neuroscientists strapped the world’s tiniest pair of 3D glasses onto a praying mantis, and then expose the bug to a series of weird 3D videos. Strange as it may sound, the researchers say the project could reveal important clues about how 3D vision evolved, and lead to novel approaches in implementing 3D recognition and depth perception in computers and robots. Read the rest of Why is This Praying Mantis Wearing the World’s Tiniest Pair of 3D Glasses? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3D glasses , 3D vision , newcastle university , Praying Mantis , praying mantis vision , praying mantis wears 3D glasses , world’s smallest 3D glasses

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Why is This Praying Mantis Wearing the World’s Tiniest Pair of 3D Glasses?

Student Built Recycled Pallet Pavilion Connects Architecture with Nature

December 12, 2013 by  
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This awesome pavilion constructed by the students of Newcastle University  was made from recycled pallets wrapped with hessian and stuffed with straw. The pavilion was constructed to showcase how architecture should be aware of its natural environment and how it can foster reciprocal ecological relationships. The students intended to raise awareness of the exceptional wildlife corridors that run through Newcastle upon Tyne and their biodiversity, and from a sustainable perspective, to show to the general public how building materials can be locally sourced and recycled. + Newcastle University Architecture and Planning The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: architecture student designs , newcastle university , pallet pavilion , Recycled Pallet Pavilion , recycled pallets , student design        

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NASA’s New Valkyrie Robot Looks Like a Futuristic Superhero

December 12, 2013 by  
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NASA’s new Valkyrie robot looks like a space-age superhero! Created for the DARPA Robotics Challenge by the Johnson Space Center , the six-foot-tall robot is packed with cameras, sensors and sonar to help it maneuver with grace. The flexible Valkyrie can also be repaired on the spot with modular pieces, making it adaptable for different working conditions. Read the rest of NASA’s New Valkyrie Robot Looks Like a Futuristic Superhero Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: DARPA Robotics challenge , eco design , green design , modular robot , NASA Robot , sustainable design , Valkyrie        

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Slimy Seaweed Bacteria Works Better than Toothpaste to Keep Your Teeth Pearly White

July 5, 2012 by  
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Seaweed photo from Shutterstock Most people enjoy minty fresh toothpaste – but would you ever consider starting your day with a mouthful of seaweed ? In a new study scientists at Newcastle University have found that certain types of marine bacteria found in seaweed can polish up your pearly whites and remove plaque in places that regular toothpaste simply cannot reach. Read the rest of Slimy Seaweed Bacteria Works Better than Toothpaste to Keep Your Teeth Pearly White Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Bacillus licheniformis , eco design , green design , newcastle university , Seaweed , sustainable design , tooth decay

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Slimy Seaweed Bacteria Works Better than Toothpaste to Keep Your Teeth Pearly White

Inhabitat Exclusive Pics: Newcastle University Invites the Public to Build a Model LEGO City

March 23, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Inhabitat Exclusive Pics: Newcastle University Invites the Public to Build a Model LEGO City Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: green design , Institute for Social Renewal , lego , Lego City , newcastle university , sustainable design , The Great North Build , UK , Urban design , urban planning

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Infiniti to Unveil New Nissan Leaf-Based EV at New York Auto Show

March 23, 2012 by  
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Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand is about to get a new electric vehicle that will be based on the Nissan Leaf EV . Nissan is being quiet about the details of the upcoming Infiniti EV, but company officials have stated that it will share its powertrain with the Leaf , while placing more emphasis on performance. To give us a preview of what we can expect, Infiniti is going to unveil a concept version of the EV at the 2012 New York Auto Show next month. Read the rest of Infiniti to Unveil New Nissan Leaf-Based EV at New York Auto Show Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2012 New York Auto Show , electric car , electric vehicle , ev , green car , green transportation , Infiniti , Infiniti electric vehicle , leaf , new york auto show , NISSAN , Nissan Leaf

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