This pinecone-inspired gazebo is a playground for kids and adults alike

May 2, 2018 by  
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This nature-inspired mobile gazebo is a place where both kids and adults can play. Czech designers Atelier SAD designed the structure, named “Altán Šiška,” as a small building with pinecone-like scales that facilitate natural ventilation and double as drawing boards for kids to express their artistic sides. The building was crafted from 109 waterproof scales made of plywood . The boards are coated with a glaze to make them more durable. They are joined by galvanized joints, creating a structure that is strong and sustainable. The structure’s scales are deliberately spaced for ventilation. The gazebo is perfect for taking a classroom outdoors, practicing yoga or enjoying a campfire. Related: Atelier SAD’s Modular Port X Home Can Pop Up on Land or Water! “It is on the cutting edge of architecture and design, and can even serve as a meditation space ,” said designer and owner of Altán Šiška, David Karásek. “During the design process, we were aiming to smash boundaries and move forward. The Pinecone project was a big challenge for us because it was more than just a one-dimensional product,” the designers said. The building can be placed anywhere — from a backyard, to a park, to school campuses — in one day. + Atelier SAD Via Archdaily

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This pinecone-inspired gazebo is a playground for kids and adults alike

Hawaii is about to ban reef-killing chemical sunscreens

May 2, 2018 by  
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Hawaii lawmakers just approved a ban on coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens. If the governor signs the bill, the state will be the first in the nation – and the world – to outlaw the products. Chemical sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate have been shown to alter the DNA of young coral so that it isn’t able to develop properly. Yesterday, state lawmakers passed a bill that would ban sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. In addition to harming coral reefs, there is some evidence that these chemicals pose a danger to humans by acting as endocrine disruptors and potentially damaging human DNA. Related: Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals Opponents to the ban say that Hawaii, which already has a high incidence of skin cancer, will experience an increase in skin cancer rates. The ban won’t include prescription sunscreens that contain those ingredients, nor does it include sunscreens with physical sun blockers like zinc, so protection options will still be available. If signed into law, the ban will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Via Huffington Post Images via Channey and Deposit Photos

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Cow escapes pen to live wild with herd of bison in Poland

January 26, 2018 by  
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A domesticated cow in Poland seems to have decided it didn’t want to be so domesticated anymore. The animal escaped from its pen on a farm last fall and was then spotted by naturalists hanging out with a herd of around 50 bison near the Bialowieza Forest – and it seems to have stayed with them for several months now. Bison expert Rafal Kowalczyk told The Associated Press he’s never seen a cow living with bison before this. The adventurous cow in Poland picked freedom and left a farm, heading to roam with wild bison instead. The BBC said ornithologist Adam Zbyryt spotted the cow first, telling Polish news outlet TVN24 in a November piece, “It’s not unusual to see bison near the Bialowieza Forest, but one animal caught my eye. It was a completely different light-brown shade from the rest of the herd. Bison are chestnut or dark brown.” With binoculars, he was able to see this animal was, in fact, a Limousin cow. She looked healthy, and TVN24 said it seemed the herd had fully accepted her. Related: Wild bison return to Canada’s Banff National Park for the first time in 140 years (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); A krowa uciekinierka ma się dobrze w stadzie żubrów, Już prawie 3 miesiące na gigancie! (Puszcza Białowieska,… Posted by Rafa? Kowalczyk on  Friday, January 19, 2018 Naturalists figured the cow would meander back to its pasture when winter really came on. But the animal has been with the herd for around three months now. Kowalczyk, director of the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Mammal Research Institute, spotted her recently, and she still seemed healthy. She’s been glimpsed on the edges of the herd; Kowalczyk told TVN24, “She is not very integrated with the group, as bison act like one organism and she stands out.” But the presence of the herd could have kept her safe from wolves throughout the winter. The cow’s wild adventure will likely need to end before spring. Right now, she’s too young to breed, but if she mated, she could die during birth because the hybrid calf would be so large. The offspring could also contaminate the endangered bison population with hybrids, so the cow will probably need to be recaptured. Via the BBC , The Associated Press , and TVN24 ( 1 , 2 ) Images courtesy of Rafal Kowalczyk and via Wikimedia Commons

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Cow escapes pen to live wild with herd of bison in Poland

EPA ends "always-in" clean air policy opposed by fossil fuel companies

January 26, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing a key  Clean Air Act provision. They’re reversing the “once-in always-in” policy for major sources of pollution , which requires sources like  power plants , to always be classified as a major source. Under the new change, if a source “limits its potential to emit below major source thresholds,” per the EPA , it can be reclassified as an area source. What’s the impact of all this? According to a statement from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) clean air director John Walke, “This is among the most dangerous actions that the Trump EPA has taken yet against public health .” The EPA , in their own words, is “reducing regulatory burdens.” They’re withdrawing a policy “for the classification of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.” According to Reuters, the “once-in always-in” policy was established in 1995. The agency said it had acted as a disincentive for sources to put pollution abatement and prevention attempts in place, “or to pursue technological innovations that would reduce hazardous air pollution emissions .” Reuters reported the petroleum industry, utilities, and others sought the withdrawal. Related: EPA cancels plan to clean up polluting Texas coal plants A major source emits or could emit 10 tons a year of any risky air pollutant, according to the EPA, or 25 tons or more of a combination of air pollutants a year. Area sources are those with emissions under that threshold, and according to Reuters, are subject to pollution control standards that aren’t as strict as those for major sources. The NRDC doesn’t agree with the move. Walke said it would “allow the greatest increase in hazardous air pollutants in our nation’s history.” “This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxins that cause cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental problems, and even death,” he said in a statement. “And those harmed most would be nearby communities already suffering a legacy of pollution.” + Environmental Protection Agency Via Reuters and the Natural Resources Defense Council Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Electric off-road motorcycle with 50-mile range is ready for when the paved road ends

January 26, 2018 by  
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Today there are plenty of electric motorcycle options, but no so many if you want an electric dirt bike. That’s why Cake might be just what you’re looking for. Cake’s specialty is lightweight electric off-road motorcycles and the company recently announced that it is taking pre-orders for a special edition off-road motorcycle called KALK. The Cake KALK is an all-electric off-road motorcycle that’s ready for when the paved road ends. It has unique minimalistic style, a range up to 50 miles and a top speed of 50 mph. The KALK also only weighs 150 pounds, which is around 100 pounds lighter than a typical off-road motorcycle. ”With a clear mission to contribute speeding up the transition towards a zero-emission society, Cake aims to turn the motorized two-wheeled future upside down,” said Stefan Ytterborn, founder and CEO of Cake. “Light, silent and clean electric off-road motorbikes will make the era of noise, disturbance, pollution and complexity a thing of the past. The category will evolve into an independent pursuit, offering action and magic in combination with responsibility and respect towards people and planet.” Pricing for the KALK starts at $14,000 and Cake requires a $1,000 deposit. Images @Cake +Cake

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Electric off-road motorcycle with 50-mile range is ready for when the paved road ends

"World’s first smog vacuum cleaner" heads to Poland

January 25, 2018 by  
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After touring in China, Studio Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project will offer a vision of clean air in a new location: Poland . Daan Roosegaarde’s studio will install a Smog Free Tower – described by the studio as “the world’s first smog vacuum cleaner” – in Kraków’s Park Jordana. Studio Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Tower will start sucking pollution out of the air in Park Jordana from February 16 to April 15. Visitors to the project will also have an opportunity to see the Smog Free Ring at a Smog Free Project pop up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK). The tower, which is almost 23-feet-tall, draws on patented positive ionization technology to scrub the air of pollutants. Roosegaarde told Inhabitat last year the tower offers “a local solution on a park level: to create these bubbles of clean air in the city.” He said areas around the tower are “55 to 70 percent cleaner than the rest of the city” – and research from the Eindhoven University of Technology confirmed the tower’s efficacy. Related: INTERVIEW: Designer Daan Roosegaarde on smog temples, space trash, and what’s next Krakow has wrestled with smog in the past; a 2016 article in the Krakow Post reported the city’s air quality has often been worse than other cities known for their air pollution like Los Angeles and Beijing . A 2017 Bloomberg article delved into fashion statements made by locals with smog masks to stave off harmful small particles – and said on high smog-alert days, the city’s particulate-matter pollution can hit levels six times those thought to be safe, according the World Health Organization. ING Bank ?l?ski S.A. is the project’s main partner in Poland; MOCAK, the Municipality of Kraków, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ in Poland are also supporters. + Studio Roosegaarde + Smog Free Project in Poland Images via Studio Roosegaarde/World Economic Forum and Studio Roosegaarde ( 1 , 2 )

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redhouse studio is making a mobile machine that recycles old buildings

January 25, 2018 by  
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Did you know that buildings are responsible for 39 percent of the United States’ carbon emissions? Architect Chris Maurer of redhouse studio told Inhabitat he loves being an architect, but finds it difficult to reconcile that figure. To help lighten the construction industry’s footprint, Maurer is teaming up with NASA , MIT , and the University of Akron to create the Biocycler: a mobile machine that literally recycles old buildings. The machine will use living organisms, not glue, to bind construction waste into durable bricks that can be used to build brand new structures. Read on for a closer look at this groundbreaking project. Maurer was inspired to create the Biocycler in part through his experience at demolition sites throughout Cleveland. “We do many projects that are adaptive reuse to preserve old buildings, but even then the demolition waste can be quite extensive,” he said. During a design/re-build project at Kent State University, the team was dismayed at how much waste their preservation project produced. “We dropped the material ourselves at the landfill ,” Maurer said. “It was hard to do (it was hard to see it all go to waste) but there was no economically feasible way to use the materials.” Related: New self-healing concrete uses fungus to fix cracks The Biocycler could change all that. redhouse plans to experiment with fungal mycelium and calcite-producing microbes as building and binding materials in the Biocycler. Maurer explains that “A symbiosis of the microbes and fungi can be made to feed each other and [they] are working towards using the microbes as bio-signals to tell us things about the structure and air-quality within it.” The incorporation of fruiting fungus (i.e. mushrooms) could serve the additional purpose of food production. “Where food security is an issue, we are looking to make mushroom production the main activity and the bio-materials the secondary output,” he said. redhouse studio is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the construction of a proof of concept. “Truth be told, we’re already recycling buildings, or at least materials,” said Maurer. “The kickstarter will lead to a mobile unit to put these processes on display and get closer to building entire structures out of the waste.” redhouse has already constructed and tested bricks and panels from recycled materials, as well as some model prototypes, and hopes to complete a full-size structure in 2018. Related: Church built for $35k stays naturally cool in Malawi Prior to starting the Cleveland-based studio in 2014, Maurer served as director for studioMDA in Malawi and MASS Design Group in Rwanda, where he came to more fully understand the value and potential of sustainable design. “[In Africa], we needed to innovate with limited resources,” said Maurer. Related: This company wants to turn food waste into building materials — here’s how redhouse has worked for commercial clients, such as the Hulett Hotel in Cleveland , while also developing humanitarian design projects, such as the Bioshelter , a prefabricated home that mitigates waste while providing food security and economic opportunity through crops grown on-site. As with much of the studio’s work, the Bioshelter was conceived to be as self-sustaining as possible. “We are constantly looking for new resource loops, finding benefits to waste streams,” he said. Change can sometimes be uncomfortable for the mainstream consumer, particularly if it includes the words “fungus” and “microbe.” Nonetheless, Maurer believes the time has come for fresh, green solutions to global problems. “Think about the pro-biotic craze right now,” he said. “People are waking up to the fact that antibiotic medicines and sanitizers can be dangerous, and that you want the right kinds of microbes around.” Similarly, biological building materials can also be pro-biotic. “There are many organisms that can be used in bio-materials that naturally battle pathogens,” he said. “We want them on our team.” Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms To complete a project as ambitious as the Biocycler, collaboration is key. “ Architecture is by nature collaborative,” said Maurer. “Through our network in biomimicry, we’ve learned the advantages of working with biologists in addition to engineers.” redhouse is collaborating with scientists at NASA and MIT to create the Biocycler, which may only be the beginning of a revolution in smart, living building materials. “When you consider all the possibilities of the materials – bio-luminescence, radiation protection, self cleaning, pathogen protection, etc, it sounds sci-fi, but we’re not that far out from some of these features,” he said. With a Biocycler proof of concept in action, redhouse will have taken us another step further into this sustainable, bio-future. + The Biocycler on Kickstarter + redhouse studio Images via Keith Hayes/redhouse studio

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Researchers discover a new family of viruses swimming in the ocean

January 25, 2018 by  
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Scientists at MIT and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have identified a new family of ocean-dwelling viruses that can’t be detected using standard lab tests. Despite their previously hidden existence, these tail-less viruses are quite common. Scientists suspect they may be abundant everywhere. “We don’t think it’s ocean-specific at all,” MIT environmental microbiologist and study leader Martin Polz told ScienceAlert . The discovery adds a key missing piece to our understanding of viral ecosystems and may lead to developments in human health, medicine, and bio-sciences. The most common variety of viruses on Earth are double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses, the most well-known of which is the Caudovirales order, also known as the “tailed” viruses. The newly discovered tail-less viruses were first identified in a new study published in the journal Nature , in which scientists incubated the viruses from seawater collected along the coast of Massachusetts and sequenced their DNA . The scientists have dubbed the tail-less viruses  Autolykiviridae, in honor of Autolykos (“the wolf itself”), a character in Greek mythology known for its ability to avoid detection and capture. Related: Scientists harness tobacco plants to produce polio vaccine Autolykiviridae viruses have shorter genomes than tailed viruses and are notably more aggressive in their predation of bacteria , playing a major consumer role in microscopic ecosystems. “They caused about 40 percent of the bacterial killing observed, despite comprising just 10 percent of the viruses that we isolated,” study co-author and microbiologist Libusha Kelly told ScienceAlert . Now that a utolykiviridae have been identified, scientists have determined their presence in human digestive systems. “We’ve found related viral sequences in the [human] gut microbiome,” said Kelly , “but we don’t yet know how they influence microbial communities in the gut or how important they are for health.” While more research is necessary and forthcoming, this discovery alone is significant. “In a practical sense, it also shows how we need to alter some commonly used methods in order to capture these kinds of viruses for various studies,” Jed Fuhrman, a marine biologist at University of Southern California unaffiliated with the study, told ScienceAlert . “I’d say it is an important advance in the field.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Kaufmann et al. and Depositphotos

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Researchers discover a new family of viruses swimming in the ocean

Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light

January 9, 2018 by  
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Design studio antyRAMA collective converted a dark underpass in the city of Katowice, Poland, into a colorful neon-lit sound installation. The music tunnel, illuminated by polychromatic LED lights , houses an inventive structure made from hanging PVC pipes that form the shape of a sound wave. The PVC pipes, hung from the ceiling of the underpass , are rocked by the strong breeze that passes through the tunnel and hit each other to create a variety of sound effects. Passersby have the opportunity to interact with the structure and put the hanging pipes in motion. Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. The installation consists of 2018 white PVC pipes suspended on different lengths of a steel wire rope attached to a net placed just under the ceiling. The composition of the tubes creates waves similar to the recording of sound waves and gets denser as it exits towards the Wojewódzka street. Twenty-three new points of colorful LED light have also been added, which effectively illuminate the area and create a unique ambiance. The project pays homage to the musical tradition of Katowice, which was named Creative City by UNESCO. Its interactive nature reflects the evolution of the city’s music which had for centuries connected people from different corners of the world and different cultures. + antyRAMA collective

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Too much antimatter is hitting Earth and scientists aren’t sure why

November 21, 2017 by  
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Among the cosmic rays that normally immerse the Earth, scientists say there are too many high-energy positrons, the antimatter counterparts of electrons. Now a group of researchers from the United States, Mexico, Germany, and Poland are attempting to shed light on the mystery, and if they’re right, according to the Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN), the excess positrons might be “the first particles recorded by humans to be derived from the interaction of dark matter .” In 2008, a probe in our planet’s orbit detected more positrons reaching us than scientists would anticipate. So a large team conducted observations at the recently activated High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory in Mexico to see if pulsars were the source of these baffling extra positrons. They analyzed data from two relatively close pulsars around 800 and 900 light years away. These pulsars, Geminga and PSR B0656+14, are “among the strongest sources of cosmic rays in our region of the galaxy,” according to IFJ PAN. Related: Scientists observe light spectrum of antimatter for the first time ever The pulsars, albeit responsible for some of the positrons, contributed too small an amount to account for all the antimatter hitting Earth. Instead, the researchers’ observations bolstered a competing hypothesis IFJ PAN described as much more exotic: the “annihilation or decay or dark matter” could be the origin of the positrons. If the hypothesis is correct – and we won’t know for sure until future observations back it up or not – these perplexing positrons would be the first particles we’ve ever recorded coming from the interaction of dark matter. The journal Science recently published the research . The University of Utah led the international team. Via the Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences and ScienceAlert Images via John Pretz/IFJ PAN and Jordan A. Goodman/IFJ PAN

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