15 Soothing Bedroom Plants to Help You Sleep

November 16, 2017 by  
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Sleep is an essential part of our well-being. The process … The post 15 Soothing Bedroom Plants to Help You Sleep appeared first on Earth911.com.

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15 Soothing Bedroom Plants to Help You Sleep

Smart living wall monitored by artificial intelligence purifies indoor air

November 14, 2017 by  
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We spend around 22 hours per day inside, often exposed to more pollutants than we are outside. In an effort to improve indoor air quality and reconnect humans with nature , Finland -based health technology company Naava has designed a smart green wall monitored by sensors and artificial intelligence . They describe their product as a “fully automated air purifier, humidifier, and living plant wall all in one,” and even boast a scientific study to support the claim that their wall sucks pollutants out of the air. The philosophy behind Naava’s green wall is fairly simple: plants absorb air, the microbes of their roots purify that air, and then fans send the purified air back into the room. Plants grow in a soiless growth medium on the vertical garden , which can be attached to a wall or act as a space divider. It can even be set up on a wheelbase to move freely around a room. The green wall is equipped with an integrated water tank, and doesn’t require natural light as it has a lamp. Related: Nearly 10,000 plants grow on NYC’s largest public indoor green wall Naava co-founder and chief technology officer Niko Järvinen said in a statement , “Every American inhales as much as 3,000 gallons of contaminated indoor air every day…Humans are not at their most efficient and healthiest in an artificial indoor environment. Naava wants to change that and create human-friendly and health-enhancing indoors spaces with the help of the world’s only smart green wall.” The green walls naturalize 650 square feet of air, according to the company. They say their product reduces harmful chemicals in the air, and a study released online late October in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health seems to back that up. Seven researchers from institutions in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom tested Naava’s green wall and found a high level of volatile organic compound removal efficiency, according to the study. The Naava service team maintains the green walls every four to six weeks, and charges $249 a month for their Nature as a Service solution. The team boasts more than 1,000 smart green wall installations, and recently introduced their green wall to the United States at this year’s Greenbuild . They also recently opened a New Jersey production facility. + Naava Images courtesy of Naava

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Smart living wall monitored by artificial intelligence purifies indoor air

Nearly 10,000 plants grow on NYCs largest public indoor green wall

September 26, 2017 by  
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A tropical oasis has blossomed inside Manhattan’s concrete jungle. Greenery NYC recently unveiled the city’s largest public living green wall in Korean beauty brand Innisfree’s flagship store in Union Square earlier this month. Lush, textured, and evergreen, the beautiful 1,820-square-foot wall grows nearly 10,000 plants with eleven different tropical varieties that can be enjoyed year-round. Korean beauty brand Innisfree prides itself on its use of natural materials and is no stranger to the use of green walls in their shops. The living wall at this new Union Square location, however, is at a much larger scale than the company typically handles. Measuring 76 feet in length and 24 feet in height, this lush living wall of plants fills up an entire wall and is equipped with a custom-designed irrigation system that minimizes water use and maintenance. Related: The world’s tallest vertical garden lives and breathes in Sydney “Construction is already a difficult process with many moving parts, but when you factor in almost 10,000 living organisms that each need individual care to stay alive during the build out, it almost feels like you’re trying to juggle while walking a tight rope,” said Adam Besheer, Director of Operations at Greenery NYC. “Seeing the finished product is an incredible reward though—we’re excited to work with a company that shares our values, and for the chance to once again introduce the enormous beauty of natural plant life in the city.” Greenery NYC, which creates plant-filled multi-sensory sanctuaries in the city, has also created similar lush green walls and projects for high-profile clients such as Etsy , The Brooklyn Nets, and TED Talks. + Greenery NYC

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Nearly 10,000 plants grow on NYCs largest public indoor green wall

Antarctica plants show potential as natural sunscreen ingredients

July 28, 2017 by  
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Antarctica may be the last place you’d expect to find sunscreen ingredients, but scientists from Chile have a hunch the molecules that shield two species of Antarctic flowers from the harsh effects of the sun could also protect people and crops from the same. Researchers from Universidad de Santiago de Chile studying Colobanthus quitensis (a.k.a pearlwort) and Deschampsia antarctica (hair grass) under controlled conditions found that the plants were able to withstand high levels of ultraviolet radiation. A group of molecules in the flowers— Colobanthus in particular—act as a kind of solar filter to circumvent radiation damage, according to project leader Gustavo Zuniga. The only two that flower on the frosty continent, the plants typically grow in milder zones along its edges. Climate change is expanding their range, however, researchers said. Related: 40% of the top sunscreens don’t meet official guidelines for sun protection The university is on the lookout for partners who are able to use its findings to develop commercial products, such as natural sunscreen or human skin or gene therapy for agriculture. Testing could begin in earnest then. “It could be used in the not too distant future,” Zuniga told Reuters . “For example, for a crop that doesn’t tolerate increasing levels of radiation, that genetic information could be used to make the crop respond better.” + Universidad de Santiago de Chile Photos by Herson Rodriguez and Cassie Matias on Unsplash [Via Reuters ]

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Scientists discover plants have ‘brains’ that decide when to sprout

June 8, 2017 by  
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Researchers are quickly learning that plants are far more complex than once thought. Not only has it been determined that plants are capable of sensing and preparing for drought conditions, a team from the University of Birmingham recently learned that a cluster of cells in seeds act like a brain that decide when they should germinate. As a result of this finding, crop yields may be improved. The study, published in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) , explains that the researchers worked with a species called thale cress to determine whether or not plants have human-like “brains.” After locating the group of cells in the seed that are responsible for controlling decision-making processes, they discovered something interesting. Reportedly, the group of cells is made up of two competing types: one promotes germination and the other promotes dormancy. The scientists describe the relationship as a “tug of war” match, as hormones are swapped back and forth in a process that’s very similar to mechanisms in the human brain when someone decides whether or not to move. The team says the separate competing cells are key to the decision-making process in both humans and plants . The mechanism serves an important purpose in vegetation, because germinating too early may result in death due to frost. Alternatively, germinating too late will result in growing complications due to the wrong climate conditions. Said George Bassel, lead author of the study, “Our work reveals a crucial separation between the components within a plant decision-making center. In the human brain , this separation is thought to introduce a time delay, smoothing out noisy signals from the environment and increasing the accuracy with which we make decisions. The separation of these parts in the seed ‘brain’ also appears to be central to how it functions.” Related: Seed-Planting Tumbleweed Robot Draws From Nature to Fight Desertification After creating a mathematical model of how the separate cells work to control how sensitive the plant is to its environment , the researchers concluded that the more variation there is in environmental conditions, the more seeds will sprout. This sounds counter-intuitive, but the results were confirmed when the team tested it in a laboratory. “Our work has important implications for understanding how crops and weeds grow,” said Bassel. “There is now potential to apply this knowledge to commercial plants in order to enhance and synchronize germination, increasing crop yields and decreasing herbicide use.” + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Via New Atlas Images via Pixabay

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This twisting wooden skyscraper is inspired by the shape of Baobab trees

June 8, 2017 by  
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Cameroonian architecture firm Hermann Kamte & Associates just plans for a stunning wooden skyscraper inspired by Africa’s iconic Baobab trees. The Native Skyscraper is a twisting tower built with natural and locally-sourced materials that shows how biomimicry can make the future of urban design more sustainable. According to the architects, the tower design is a smart building concept for the future; a solution for cities looking to address massive urban growth while simultaneously trying to reduce their ecological footprints. The green building materials and sustainable features would make the tower design a “marketable, serviceable, economical sustainable, environmental, ecological and social” option for the urban designs of tomorrow. Related: Anders Berensson unveils wooden Trätoppen skyscraper with a numerical facade Plans for the Native Skyscraper show a soaring tower that twists as it rises. Columns of greenery are infused throughout the wood and glass exterior. The design team chose wood as the primary building material not only for its green properties , but also for the ability to connect the tower to its surroundings, “Wood is the fingerprint of Mother Nature in our buildings, this fingerprint connects us to nature in our artificial environment. There are no two identical pieces of wood in this Earth and it is wonderful.” The interior of the tower is also heavily influenced by nature. The wooden beams and columns will be left exposed, providing a treehouse-like appearance for the common areas. An abundance of greenery, including a series of living green walls will also fuse the man-made tower with its natural surroundings as well as create a pleasant microclimate throughout the interior. + Hermann Kamte & Associates

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This twisting wooden skyscraper is inspired by the shape of Baobab trees

World’s Smallest Garden lets you recycle old bottles into adorable hydroponic gardens

June 7, 2017 by  
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You can always recycle an old wine bottle , but what if you could transform it into a tiny garden instead? Urban Leaf empowers people to grow food at home through the World’s Smallest Garden, and upcycle used bottles into planters. It takes minutes to put together one of the mini gardens, which can grow greens and herbs year-round – and you can snag one on the cheap right now on Kickstarter . The World’s Smallest Garden is comprised of a 3D-printed cylindrical device, or plug, that fits right into the neck of an old bottle. The plastic used in the product is biodegradable . Users fill the bottle with water, insert the device filled with soil and seeds, and sit back and let the plants grow. Plants can draw on that initial water source for a month, and then users can add water as needed. Related: Build your own indoor garden with modular LEGO-like blocks Dill, lettuce, bok choy, and basil are just a few of the plants that can be grown with the World’s Smallest Garden. Users will be able to start harvesting the plants after around four to six weeks. The team designed the garden with the idea that plants would grow just in the bottle, although co-founder Robert Elliott told Inhabitat it should work to move a plant into a planter since hydroponically grown plants typically transplant well. They’ve been able to grow herbs like mint and parsley for five months in bottles, and even grew dwarf tomatoes to fruit in a World’s Smallest Garden. Elliott and Nathan Littlewood started Urban Leaf to work towards a better food system. On their website they say they believe growing food in urban areas solves many of the issues with the modern food industry , allowing for less waste, less packaging, and shorter supply chains. But many people living in cities don’t have a lot of space to grow gardens, an obstacle Urban Leaf overcomes with the World’s Smallest Garden. Elliott told Inhabitat, “The design process for the World’s Smallest Garden was an effort to create the most minimal product that still effectively grew plants. We started with a ‘bells and whistles’ prototype and removed lights, pumps, multiple substrates, nutrient packets, and even the reservoir. Brown or green glass bottles are a natural fit for a reservoir (they block harmful red/blue light while allowing you to see in) and most people just throw them away! By selling just the essential component to turn existing waste into a hydroponic reservoir we save customers money and reduce our manufacturing and shipping environmental impact.” Urban Leaf is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter . You can get a single pack that comes with three plugs and seeds for $15. Check out the Kickstarter here . + Urban Leaf Images courtesy of Urban Leaf

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‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars

June 7, 2017 by  
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Charging an electric car remains an obstacle for some people, especially in areas lacking charging infrastructure. But new battery technology developed by researchers at Purdue University could change that completely. They’ve designed an instantly rechargeable battery that could allow electric vehicles to be charged in roughly the same amount of time it takes to fill up a car with gasoline today. The researchers designed a flow battery system, which in itself isn’t unique, but the Purdue scientists removed battery membranes, something they say no one else has done. Membranes in batteries break down over time, so the new battery technology allows for a longer lifespan and cuts costs. This rechargeable battery could be a game changer for electric cars. Related: New battery concept could give electric vehicles a 621-mile range Drawing on the Purdue energy storage technology, electric car owners would pull up to a station and fill up their cars with not gas, but fluid electrolytes. The spent battery fluids could be gathered and recharged at a solar or wind farm . Earth, atmospheric, and planetary science professor John Cushman said in a statement, “Instead of refining petroleum, the refiners would reprocess spent electrolytes and instead of dispensing gas, the fueling stations would dispense a water and ethanol or methanol solution as fluid electrolytes to power vehicles…It is believed that our technology could be nearly ‘drop-in’ ready for most of the underground piping system, rail and truck delivery system, gas stations and refineries.” They say their instantly rechargeable method is affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly. Cushman recently presented their findings at the International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in the Netherlands. With two other Purdue researchers, he started a company, IFBattery, to commercialize their technology. Cushman said they are seeking financing to develop large-scale prototypes, and from there they’ll look for manufacturing partners. Via Purdue University Images via Purdue University and Håkan Dahlström on Flickr

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Cambridge scientists use light and plants to make cheap, clean hydrogen

March 15, 2017 by  
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Everyone from startups to car companies as big as Toyota have seen the potential of hydrogen as a clean fuel source for vehicles, since its only byproduct is water. But hydrogen is often made with natural gas , which may be less polluting than oil but isn’t exactly clean, so six University of Cambridge scientists developed a way to make the fuel source using sunlight and biomass like leaves. The researchers created clean hydrogen with biomass as a starting point. They suspended biomass in alkaline water and added catalytic nanoparticles. In a laboratory, these components were placed in light mimicking light from the sun , and the nanoparticles got to work, using the light to begin the chemical reactions necessary to produce hydrogen from lignocellulose, part of plant biomass. The university notes the process is both sustainable and relatively cheap. The journal Nature Energy published their research online earlier this week. Related: Startup creates renewable hydrogen energy out of sunlight and water In the past, to turn lignocellulose into hydrogen scientists had to use high temperatures in a gasification process, but the Cambridge scientists say they could simply use sunlight in their method instead. Joint lead author David Wakerley pointed out biomass stores lots of chemical energy, but since it’s unrefined, it’s not feasible to just burn biomass in car engines, for example. He said, “Our system is able to convert the long, messy structures that make up biomass into hydrogen gas, which is much more useful.” The scientists were able to make hydrogen with leaves, paper, and wood. Co-author Erwin Reisner said, “Our sunlight-powered technology is exciting as it enables the production of clean hydrogen from unprocessed biomass under ambient conditions. We see it as a new and viable alternative to high temperature gasification and other renewable means of hydrogen production. Future development can be envisioned at any scale, from small scale devices for off-grid applications to industrial-scale plants.” A United Kingdom patent application has already been filed for the process and thanks to Cambridge Enterprise , which helps academics bring their concepts to market, discussions with a possible commercial partner are ongoing. Via New Atlas and the University of Cambridge Images via Wilerson S Andrade on Flickr and the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry

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Cambridge scientists use light and plants to make cheap, clean hydrogen

50% of Earth’s species face extinction by 2100

February 27, 2017 by  
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Biologists, economists, and ecologists have gathered at the Vatican to discuss what actions humanity can take to preserve Earth’s biosphere . Attending the Biological Extinction conference, these researchers say one in five species are currently threatened with extinction , but that statistic could skyrocket to 50 percent of all species on Earth by 2100 if we do nothing to stem the preventable carnage. The conference organizers said endangered species like the rhinoceros or tiger may make headlines now and again, but we’re largely overlooking the peril other living things face. In case we think otherwise, Earth’s animals and plants are vital for the planet and for us: they provide food and medicine, absorb carbon emissions , purify the air and water, and regenerate soil, to name a few functions. The organizers said, “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.” Related: First mammal species succumbs to climate change Paul Ehrlich, a biologist from Stanford University , blamed the destruction of the environment on the lifestyles of rich Western countries. He said, “Rich Western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate. We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs , and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?” Researchers will be at the Vatican today talking about economic and social changes we could take to try and save the planet’s species. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences are sponsoring the workshop, which continues until March 1 to explore several ecological issues. Ehrlich said, “If you look at the figures, it is clear that to support today’s world population sustainably – and I emphasize the word sustainably – you would require another half a planet to provide us with those resources. However, if everyone consumed resources at the U.S. level – which is what the world aspires to – you will need another four or five Earths.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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