PAU’s inclusive Penn Station revamp is a sustainable alternative to the current plan

August 1, 2017 by  
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Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU)’s  revamped Pennsylvania Station plan represents a more inclusive alternative to the government’s current concept for a new Amtrak station in the Farley Complex. PAU decided to reuse the superstructure and foundations of Madison Square Garden and create a civic space that reflects the historical complexity of the site and enhances capacity, safety, and user experience for all of Penn’s users, regardless of income or social status. Passively heated and cooled, the transport hub  aims to create a grand commuter pavilion at minimal public cost and disruption, at the same time complementing the Amtrak station in the east end of the Farley Complex, entrances and concourses to the north and west, and the tracks and platforms planned to become part of the Gateway tunnel project. Related: Governor Cuomo reveals updated renovation plans for NYC’s Penn Station Inspired by Philip Johnson’s circular New York State World’s Fair pavilion and Pan Am’s “Worldport” building at JFK, the architects proposed to reclad the structure of the Madison Square Garden– which will find its new home 800 feet away in the west end of the Farley building– in a double-skin glass wall which allows natural light to penetrate into the interior, but regulates solar gain for maximum comfort. A sawtooth pattern in the glass picks up changes in light through the day, acting as a sundial for travelers as they ascend from the platforms. The entire concept has not only environmental control in mind, but safety as well. The suggested oculus at the center of the circular building quickly purges smoke in the event of a fire and all of the glass is blast-proof. + Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) Via Architizer

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PAU’s inclusive Penn Station revamp is a sustainable alternative to the current plan

Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say

August 1, 2017 by  
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In just three weeks, one of the “events of the century” will makes its way across the United States, inspiring awe, excitement and even fear. On August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse , and scientists are saying that it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that is not to be missed. Educator at the American Museum of Natural History Joe Rao has been speaking to audiences about the coming eclipse. He told them a total eclipse is something you never forget and defies words. As the moon begins to block out the sun, the temperatures drops, the light changes and the birds begin to quiet. Related: Alaska Airlines is intentionally delaying a flight for the coolest reason Rao warned people not to look at the sun under any circumstances, even while it is covered by the moon. You can purchase eclipse glasses, though be sure to purchase them from a reputable company, since faulty eclipse glasses have been hitting the market. If you don’t have glasses, you can look at the trees, since leaves will show a crescent shadow.  You can also try one of the DIY methods . Viewers can check out NASA’s eclipse website for the 100-mile wide  path of totality , which will carve through South Carolina starting around 1:15 pm, up to Nebraska and will exit the US through Oregon at 9 am (local time). Hotel rooms in the path are already selling out and experts warn travelers to be aware that traffic will be difficult. Some airlines are selling tickets for eclipse-viewing flights. For those not lucky enough to be in the path, viewers will be able to see a partial eclipse as far away as South America and parts of Africa. Via Fox News Science Images via Deposit Photos and Pixabay

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Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say

Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land

July 10, 2017 by  
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Battles against fossil fuel pipelines aren’t limited to North Dakota. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania , a group of Catholic nuns is fighting against a natural gas pipeline that would run beneath land they own. They’re protesting the pipeline in a unique way by building an open-air chapel for people to visit and reflect on “just and holy uses of land.” The nuns, part of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ order, own land in West Hempfield Township that stands in the path of the Atlantic Sunrise Project, a pipeline for natural gas being pursued by Williams Partners to extend the Transco pipeline system that already runs from Texas to New York. Even though the nuns have not wanted their land used for the pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the pipeline, pointing to eminent domain. Related: Trump approves new pipeline that will go “right under” the US-Mexico wall The nuns are working against the pipeline, which they say goes against their land ethic, with the group Lancaster Against Pipelines . Protester Ann Neumann told CNN, “They see the pipeline as a violation of their faith,” saying 20 members of the order reside on the land. In a visible symbol of protest, the nuns allowed Lancaster Against Pipelines to construct this outdoor chapel, intended for people of all faith backgrounds. The nuns hope the chapel will draw people to come and pray at the location. They said in a statement they know the pipeline company might call for the chapel’s removal, but “believe that having this structure on their land, for however long, gives tangible witness to the sacredness of Earth.” The chapel was dedicated over the weekend, and according to Lancaster Online, around 300 people showed up for the ceremony. A Williams Partners spokesperson referred to the chapel as a “blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction.” Via CNN , Adorers of the Blood of Christ , and Lancaster Online Images via NoPipelinesLancaster on Twitter and Adorers of the Blood of Christ

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

May 9, 2017 by  
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What if instead of prescribing medicine to treat a disease , doctors could prescribe fresh food to help prevent one? Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is testing their food prescription idea with Fresh Food Pharmacy, a service that currently provides diabetic, food insecure patients with recipes and nutritious fare. It turns out giving away healthy food for free is not only socially beneficial, but could ultimately save the healthcare system a decent amount of money. The Fresh Food Pharmacy brims with whole grains, fresh produce, lean meats and fish, greens, and low-fat dairy products. Patients aren’t just handed food, but provided a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian, recipes , and instructions on how to make nutritious meals. They receive enough food for five days. Related: HUMAN Healthy Vending Machines Fight Childhood Obesity by Offering Healthy Snacks Some people thought handing out free food might rack up a hefty price tag. But diabetes costs are greater than $240 billion a year in the United States. In contrast, Geisinger Health System will pay around $1,000 a year for each diabetes patient in the food pharmacy program. The Geisinger team is tracking hemoglobin A1C levels to help see how much the Fresh Food Pharmacy could save them. CEO David Feinberg estimates each point of decrease in hemoglobin A1C could save them around $8,000, and many of the around 180 patients in the pilot program have seen a drop of three points. America’s health care system today is often termed a disease care system instead; physician Mitesh Patel of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania said, “We wait until people get sick and then spend a lot of resources helping them get better.” But he says the Fresh Food Pharmacy offers social and financial incentives to actually help people make a change in their own health. The Fresh Food Pharmacy has made a huge difference for Type 2 diabetes patient Tom Shicowich. He said he used to stop at Burger King or McDonald’s for dinner, or heat up a frozen meal. Now he cooks meals at home with his girlfriend. He’s lost around 45 pounds. And his A1C level has changed significantly. The threshold for Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5. Shicowich’s A1C level was almost 11 a year ago; today it has plummeted to the high-six range. Via NPR Images via Peyri Herrera on Flickr and Geisinger Health System

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8 thoughtful Mother’s Day gift ideas for the eco mama in your life

May 9, 2017 by  
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Finding the perfect gift for the eco-conscious Mama in your life is a little more labor intensive than just running out for generic cards or super-market flowers at the last second. You want to find something that shows you really care – about her and about the planet. We’ve made your life a bit easier this year with a roundup of eight thoughtful gift ideas we think will appeal to the earth-loving mama in your world. 1. Ladies-only outdoor adventure Adventurous outdoor Moms will love REI/Outessa’s three-day retreats , where they can dabble in rock climbing, yoga , paddle boarding, and more while being treated to chef-prepared and locally-sourced meals. After a weekend spent with other nature -loving women, Mom will come back ready to tackle parenting and life with feeling connected and rejuvenated. 2. Jewelry Andrea Bonelli ’s gorgeous handmade jewelry (like the above pink sapphire necklace ) incorporates recycled and ethically mined stones and metals. Bonelli is also a member of Ethical Metalsmiths and gives back through the Toolbox Initiative, which provides jewelers in West Africa with tools and supplies to encourage their ability to work autonomously. If the sky’s the limit for the Earth Mama in your life, gift her with a premium piece from Monique Pean , beloved among the eco-celeb set for her sustainable and unique pieces, who counts former First Lady Michelle Obama as a fan. 3. Books Whether purchasing a physical book or the e-version, you have plenty of choices that will expand Mom’s reading horizons. A few of our hot picks: Phenomenal , which has readers join a new mother as she traipses across the planet in search of migrating butterflies in Mexico and lightening storms in Venezuela and  Lab Girl , the bestselling and intriguing memoir of geo-biologist Hope Jahren. Others may enjoy How To Read Water , which provides insightful instructions for forecasting the weather by looking at waves or using puddles to figure out directions. If the Mom you’re gifting these books to has little ones, earn bonus points by also gifting her some time and a quiet space to actually read them. RELATED: 11 Eco-tastic gifts for Mother’s Day 4. Ceramic breakfast bowl These hand-painted and hand-thrown Moroccan bowls  from Raven & Lily are wonderful mood boosters for Mom when she’s throwing down a bowl of cereal amidst the before school morning chaos or snacking on some dried fruits and nuts for a midday break. It’s no coincidence they are also perfectly sized for use as a chai or latte “mug”; the bowls also come in a mini size  and are pretty enough to corral rings, change, keys, or perhaps chocolate chips. 10 percent of sales goes towards an after-school program in Morocco that provides academic support, life skills mentoring, and leadership coaching. 5. S’Well water bottle We probably all have a reusable water bottle (or five) at home, but somehow they manage to migrate to kids’ backpacks or end up on spouse’s desks. S’Well ’s sleek BPA-free stainless steel water bottles are triple wall insulated to keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. The limited edition Terra bottle is decorated with lush flora and fauna; we’re also loving the Elements collection, inspired by natural beauties such as pearls and marbled stone. A portion of S’Well’s sales go towards supporting clean and safe water supplies in vulnerable communities. Staying hydrated, whether Mom’s adventures take her on a hike or to the carpool line, never looked so pretty. 6. Flowers No sad, tired, on-their-last-stem arrangements here: Bouqs partners with local artisan florists around the country and sustainable farmers around the world to provide vibrant custom bouquets. In certain areas of the country, a “bouq” can even be delivered on demand within hours, a lifesaver for spouses and children who perhaps procrastinated a bit too long. All the vendors in this “farm to table” arrangement approach practice sustainable farming that minimizes waste. Want to give Mom the gift that keeps on giving? Consider gifting a living plant that can provide beauty (and clean air) to her space for years. Any potted plant will do nicely, but if you’re looking for an easy, low-maintenance gift idea, moth orchids (phalaenopsis) , in particular, are beautiful, usually easy to find at your local market, extremely low-maintenance (you barely need to water them), and great indoor-air cleaners . RELATED: 7 indoor plants that purify the air naturally 7. Edible goodies INNA Jam ’s jams , shrubs, pickles, and salts are next-level delicious. With a focus on organically grown produce from a 150-mile radius of the company’s California kitchen and a strict seasonal sensibility, Moms and anyone who gives these treats a try will fall in love with the flavorful, jewel-toned, single-origin jams as well as the game-changing shrubs (basically a fruit/vinegar/sugar syrup). Other ideas? Try hand-crafted, non-GMO pickles in flavors including Maple Bourbon Whiskey Sour from Brooklyn Brine  or a 111-year-old dehydrated sourdough starter . 8. Art Adjusting to life with kids often means mamas have to modify their travel and adventure expectations. If she can’t lay her eyes on a far-flung island or peak in real life for the time being, playful and cheerful wall art that brings to mind her love of nature may be a temporary salve. Printed on FSC-certified or recycled paper,  options from Graphic Anthology  include abstract geometric trees or mountains , Scandinavian design-inspired fish , and a sweet reminder to all to Go Outside and Play  and would make also great additions to a nursery, kitchen, or family room. You can even pick up a gorgeous Mother’s Day card while you are browsing the site. Lead image © REI/Outessa

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Uber launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month

August 18, 2016 by  
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Uber has been quietly working on research and development for its own self-driving cars, and the first units in its autonomous fleet will tool around the streets of Pittsburgh before the end of this month, according to a new report. Bloomberg broke the exciting news today, backed up by an interview with John Bares, who heads Uber’s autonomous car project at the company’s Advanced Technologies Center. The company aims to eventually replace its human drivers with a self-driving fleet that passengers can summon on demand through the smartphone app, just like always, but different. Last spring, residents of Pittsburgh first spotted Uber’s research car , and the rideshare company finally  confirmed its self-driving car project a few months ago. Later this month, Uber’s self-driving test fleet will hit the road with humans in the driver seat (both for safety and legality) and passengers will be able to use their smartphones to summon a ride like usual, without knowing whether they will be picked up in one of the new cars. Although Google, Tesla, Ford, and other companies have all been testing self-driving cars on the road, this may be the first time any company has invited the public to participate in the testing process. Related: Uber’s self-driving test car spotted on the streets of Pittsburgh Right now, the self-driving cars are factory Volvo XC90 models that have been retrofitted with sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers to control the vehicle’s driving mechanisms. Bloomberg reports that Volvo has delivered just a few of these modified SUVs so far, but will reach 100 by the end of the year. Volvo and Uber have apparently agreed to invest $300 million in developing a fully autonomous car by 2021. Uber may source self-driving cars from other manufacturers, but little is known about whether the company has any deals in the works. For now, we’ll wait and see how the ridesharing company’s new self-driving prototypes perform in downtown Pittsburgh, and wonder which company will be next in line to put members of the public in the backseats of their own autonomous vehicles. Via Bloomberg Images via Uber

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Uber launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month

Winning suspended greenhouse design envisions hanging gardens for New York City

August 18, 2016 by  
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Once a part of the 1964-65 World’s Far in Queens, the pavilion was used as a concert hall and skating rink before being abandoned. The National Trust for Historic Preservation partnered with the People for the Pavilion to launch the design competition, announced by Bustler , which brought in over 250 submissions. Botanical gardens, metro stations, and museums were among the proposed designs. Related: Iconic New York State World’s Fair Pavilion saved from demolition First place went to Aidan Doyle and Sarah Wan of Seattle , Washington, for “Hanging Meadows.” They summarize their project as seeking “to rekindle the powerful legacy of the NY State Pavilion by repurposing the original structure to create a suspended natural environment. Hanging Meadows will collect, organize and exhibit flora native to particular parts of the Northeastern US.” Second place was given to Javier Salinas of New York for “Civic Hub.” He described how “this multi-purpose space would work in conjunction with public programming. Shuttles from local community and senior centers would be sure to include everyone on the various local events and festivals that would be hosted in the open event space.” Third place went to Rishi Kejrewal and Shaurya Sharma of Bhopal, India, for “Pavilion for the Community.” The team notes, “Features such as a communal children’s play area and solar panels pave the way towards a brighter future for the coming generations.” The Queens Award was given to locals Cesar Juarez and Alida Rose Delaney for “Pavilion Park.” The public park incorporates the original landmark. They said: “With a focus on the integrity of the original structure, the flexible communal space would be centered around a stage with built-in stadium seating.” A special Fan Favorite Award was handed to Houiji Ramzi of Saint Etienne, France, for “Tent of the Future,” which is described as “a combination between sustainable development and new technologies.” Solar panels throughout the public-accessible park capture energy for the Earth-friendly feature. Via Bustler , Archinect Images via Bustler

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Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change

August 18, 2016 by  
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Two days ago the small village of Shishmaref in Alaska faced a vote. Threatened by rising sea levels , they had to decide whether to stay in the village they and some of their ancestors have called home for around 400 years , or relocate. The results are in, and it was a close vote. Around 600 people reside in Shishmaref, and the majority are Inupiat Inuit. Both tribal and non-tribal people were invited to vote. Shishmaref voted to leave in a 89 to 78 vote. Those are the unofficial numbers; city council secretary Donna Burr says the vote has yet to be certified. It appears locals grappled with the decision as they tried to decide what would be best for future generations. Related: Five Pacific Ocean islands have already disappeared because of climate change Resident Tiffany Magby has a son who is three, and she’s afraid away from Shishmaref, he won’t have as much contact with traditional values. She told Grist, “I waited until the last hour to vote. I…am worried about what it means for his upbringing.” She says others also waited until near the end to cast their vote. Because of rising sea levels due to climate change , however, in the next few decades the residents may or may not have a choice. According to NOAA’s Arctic Change website , reduced sea ice stemming from climate change has led to “higher storm surges.” Infrastructure, homes, and even the village water system are at risk. Shishmaref also voted to leave and go to the mainland in 2002, but there wasn’t enough federal funding for them to actually make the move. They’d likely need around $200 million to relocate, but the U.S. Department of the Interior has only offered $8 million for tribes looking to move. Burr said the village would have to work around the limited funds. She told Grist, “It’s not going to happen in our lifetimes. We just want to take the right steps forward for our children.” Via Grist Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change

New analysis shows fracking chemicals in Pennsylvania drinking water

May 8, 2015 by  
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The true consequences of fracking are finally being shown, after a test found fracking chemicals in Pennsylvania homes that are located near a reported well-pad leak. The New York Times reports that a team of scientists conducted an analysis using a new technique to determine that a chemical compound known as 2-BE was present in homes near the fracking well. The compound is an “unidentified mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in the flowback water from Marcellus shale activity.” Read the rest of New analysis shows fracking chemicals in Pennsylvania drinking water Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: drinking water contaminated by fracking , fracking chemicals found in drinking water , fracking contaminates drinking water , pennsylvania fracking , pennsylvania fracking chemicals water

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New analysis shows fracking chemicals in Pennsylvania drinking water

Astronauts need caffeine too, and now they can make it an espresso

May 8, 2015 by  
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If you were waiting to go to the International Space Station until they had good coffee, well, NOW you can go. Like any good Italian, Samantha Cristoforetti is fond of her morning cuppa. In particular, she’s partial to her morning espresso . But when you work on the space station, that can be a little hard to come by, until now. Cristoforetti isn’t just an astronaut and the first Italian woman to orbit the Earth, she’s also the first space barista. But making the the shot of espresso  was no mere lark. It was actually a study in specialized physics. Until now, physicists were unsure just how a highly pressurized and piping hot liquid would react in the near weightless environment of the International Space Station. A specialized espresso maker, called the ISSpresso was designed by Argotec, an engineering and software firm in Turin as well as the Italian coffee producer Lavazza. Making a proper espresso—a singular alchemy of high temperature, water pressure and perfectly tamped coffee—is difficult enough to master on earth. Microgravity conditions made the task still more complicated, and Argotec took two years to work out how to do it… but the force of coffee was strong with this one. Via The New York Times Images via NASA Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: coffee in space , espresso in space , italian astronaut , samantha cristoforetti , space station espresso , woman italian astronaut

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