Sleep in this restored WWII air control tower full of historic charm

February 15, 2019 by  
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A unique Airbnb listing in Scotland is inviting guests to stay at an amazing restored WWII air traffic control tower. Located in the Scottish Highlands area of Tain, the HMS OWL Air Control Tower dates back to the second world war, when it was used as an airbase for planes coming in and out of the country. Now, the tower has been renovated into a vibrant guesthouse with design features that pay homage to its military past. The old air tower is located in Tain, a former WWII air base that sits adjacent to the North Coast 500 Scenic Route. The former military structure was bought by Justin Hooper and Charlotte Seddon, who converted it into their family home. The family lives on the first three floors, but the top floor of the building is available for rent starting around $100 per night. Related: Sleep hundreds of feet in the air in this renovated air traffic control tower The five-year renovation process was extensive, but the couple went to extreme lengths to retain the military character of the building. To blend the tower into the expansive grassy landscape, Justin and Charlotte painted the exterior a jet black. They also left the original steel-framed Crittal windows that let in optimal natural light into the property. On the interior, large concrete pillars and exposed brickwork gives the living atmosphere a chic,  industrial feel. Large leather sofas and chairs, along with a wood-burning stove, make the living space extra warm and inviting. The top floor’s  unique guest room sleeps up to two people in a comfortable king-sized bed and beautiful en suite. The room has plenty of large windows to let in natural light as well as to offer the stunning views of the Scottish countryside. + HMS OWL Air Control Tower Via Curbed Images via HMS OWL Air Control Tower

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Sleep in this restored WWII air control tower full of historic charm

Drone operators disturbing wildlife incur fines and jail time in Scotland

September 4, 2018 by  
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The number of cases in Scotland involving drone interference with animals on nature reserves has increased, causing police and wildlife experts to become “increasingly concerned” for the welfare of the protected animals. While nature reserve managers and wildlife specialists are encouraging outsiders to watch and enjoy the environment and animals in the sanctuaries, mounting numbers of injuries caused to the creatures by drones are leading Scottish lawmakers to impose fines on or even arrest individuals caught disturbing the peace. Drones are being flown inconsiderately according to Andy Turner, wildlife crime officer with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). “There have been several incidents involving drones disturbing seals at designated haul-out sites,” he said. Seals that have protective considerations during breeding season are having their pups crushed in these haul-out zones, where they tend to flee when scared into the water by drones. Related: Daan Roosegaarde reveals vision for air-purifying Smog Free Drones “Likewise, there have been anecdotal reports of drones being used to film seabird colonies and raptors,” Turner continued. “While the footage from drones in these circumstances can be very spectacular, the operator must be mindful of the effect on wildlife.” The interference with some birds , such as guillemots and razorbills, has “almost catastrophic” implications according to nature reserve coordinators RSPB Scotland . Drones that fly in too quickly cause birds to panic and dive headfirst into the cliffs or plummet into the sea. Ian Thompson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland, had a message for wildlife observers. “Watch the animals. You will get a sign if you are causing them any stress, you’ll see from their behavior,” he warned. “You might see birds take flight or suddenly lift their heads and run off or walk off. If the birds start altering their behavior, that shows that you are disturbing them, and then it is time to move a drone away.” Fines for harassing wildlife in the nature reserves can cost disrespectful droners up to £5,000 (about $6,425 USD). Alternately, severe infractions can earn individuals up to a six-month sentence in a Scottish penitentiary. Officers of the U.K. National Wildlife Crime Unit are taking the disturbances very seriously, regardless of the perpetrator. “Irrespective of whether the offender is an egg collector, boat skipper or drone operator, the possible sentences are the same,” said PC Charlie Everitt of the crime unit. “It is therefore essential that drone operators understand the law, research the legal status and behavior of any wildlife they intend to film and obtain the necessary licences to keep on the right side of the law.” Via BBC Image via Joe Hayhurst

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Drone operators disturbing wildlife incur fines and jail time in Scotland

Energy-savvy art museum is anchored atop a historic Dutch dike

September 4, 2018 by  
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Rising out of a historic dike, the new Lisser Art Museum pays homage to the landscape’s context while offering a new contemporary cultural destination in Lisse, The Netherlands. Dutch architecture firm KVDK architecten headed the recently completed project and embraced smart, sustainable solutions from the optimization of natural daylighting to gray water collection systems. Wrapped in earth-colored Petersen bricks, the modest, light-filled building feels like an extension of the forest, and ample glazing provides connection with nature on all sides. Commissioned by the VandenBroek Foundation, the small-scale museum is located in the Keukenhof, a former country estate dating from the 17th century that had featured a terraced garden with an artificial dike — unique in the Netherlands at the time. The estate was later redesigned in 1860 by landscape architects J.D. and L.P. Zocher, who transformed it into a cultural park that has since achieved national heritage status. The recently completed museum was an addition in the Keukenhof cultural park masterplan drafted in 2010. “One ingenious but also complicated strategy involved placing the foundations in the historical dike core, thereby making the museum the pivot point between a landscaped approach, the historical terraced landscape, the open sandy area and the wooded dune ridge,” the architects explained. “Intensive consultation and careful dimensioning ensured that the plan for a museum on this sensitive spot was wholeheartedly embraced by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the government body that oversees the register of national monuments.” Related: Daan Roosegaarde uses light art to breathe new life into an iconic Dutch dike The museum comprises two main volumes, the lower of which is set into the dike — glass curtain walls emphasize and embrace the land form — and supports the upper, cantilevered volume enclosed in brick . The interior is flexible with multipurpose spaces and follow the Guggenheim principle in which visitors experience all the exhibition spaces by winding down from the highest point. In addition to natural lighting, the museum is equipped with thermal energy storage, a green roof and a gray water system for toilets. The museum depot is located inside of the dike to take advantage of the earth’s natural cooling properties. + KVDK architecten Via ArchDaily Images by Sjaak Henselmans and Ronald Tilleman

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Energy-savvy art museum is anchored atop a historic Dutch dike

In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

May 18, 2018 by  
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For the first time, wind energy provided more power than nuclear energy to the United Kingdom grid. In the first three months of 2018, wind provided 18.8 percent of all power; only  natural gas was a larger energy source. This milestone may herald the arrival of an energy economy in which renewable energy is the most cost effective option. During the first three months of the year, there was even one point — the night of March 17 — when wind energy provided nearly half of the electricity used in the U.K. Even during extremely cold weather, the wind farms continued to provide energy. Meanwhile, two of the U.K.’s eight nuclear plants were nonoperational due to maintenance, while another was offline because seaweed was stuck in its cooling system. In the last three months of 2017, wind and solar combined had contributed more to the U.K. power supply than nuclear did. Now, wind is capable of outperforming nuclear all on its own. “There’s no sign of a limit to what we’re able to do with wind in the near future,” Dr. Rob Gross, co-author of a report on wind power’s recent success, told The Guardian . Wind energy received a major boost last December when a power cable between Scotland and northern Wales came online, allowing energy produced by Scotland’s wind farms to be shared across a wider range. “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy,” RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck told The Guardian. Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” Even as the U.K. reaches new heights in its renewable energy production, it has faced a steep decline in renewable energy funding in recent years. Investment in renewable energy suffered a 56 percent decrease in 2017. “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets,” Mary Creagh, Labour Member of Parliament and chair of the environmental audit committee, said. “But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone

May 1, 2018 by  
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Underwater robots exploring off the coast of Oman made a devastating discovery this week: the largest dead zone in the world, covering at least the size of Scotland and possibly more. While scientists already knew that there was a dead zone in the Gulf of Oman, they had no idea just how bad it was–until now. Scientists from the  University of East Anglia and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University launched undersea robots to explore the dead zone, and they published their findings in Geophysical Research Letters . “Our research shows that the situation is actually worse than feared – and that the area of dead zone is vast and growing,” said Dr Bastien Queste, who led the research. “The ocean is suffocating.” Related: Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in Gulf of Mexico A dead zone is a place where oxygen is depleted because of climate change and/or chemical run-off from land. Sea life requires oxygen to live, and so, in these areas, nothing can survive. “It’s a real environmental problem, with dire consequences for humans, too, who rely on the oceans for food and employment,” said Queste. Robots ventured 1,000 meters underwater in the Gulf of Oman and spent eight months gathering data. The robots learned that the dead zone exists between a depth of 200 and 800 meters, occupies a zone larger than Scotland, and is continuing to grow. Unless we address the problem, it could have huge consequences for life both in and out of the sea. + Geophysical Research Letters Via IFLScience Images via Google Maps  and Deposit Photos

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Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone

This prefab cabin is designed to take you off grid in the Scottish Highlands

March 30, 2018 by  
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A new piece of prefab architecture will soon bring artists, researchers, and travelers closer to the spectacular Scottish Highlands. Artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod designed the Artist Bothy, a multipurpose cabin prefabricated in Scotland from sustainable materials . Conceived as an artist residency space, the gabled hut promises a low-impact and off-grid immersion in nature. The Artist Bothy was born from the Bothy Project , a network of off-grid artist residency spaces that aims to support artist mobility and access to the Scottish landscape. To withstand the elements, the 178-square-foot cabin was constructed from cross-laminated timber panels clad in Corten corrugated metal and Scottish larch. Insulated with 100 millimeters of wood-fiber insulation, the gabled structure frames views through double-glazed windows. Surface water drainage is handled by concealed downpipes. Related: Solar-powered seaside cabin blends prefab design with traditional building techniques Each Artist Bothy can be installed on site in less than a day. While the structures were envisioned for off-grid use, they can also be connected to electricity and water services. The compact interior features a mostly wooden interior and a mezzanine level for sleeping. Optional extras for added functionality include a kitchenette, bench bed, shelving units, tables, a wood-burning stove , and outer decking. The Artist Bothy is available to purchase starting from £39,000 ($54,731 USD) . + Bothy Project Images by Johnny Barrington

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This prefab cabin is designed to take you off grid in the Scottish Highlands

The disturbing reason so many farmed salmon are partially deaf

February 2, 2018 by  
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Farmed salmon are “three times more likely to be partially deaf” than wild salmon, according to the University of Melbourne ‘s Pursuit publication. Roughly every second farmed salmon that humans consume has lost a great deal of its ability to hear. And last year, scientists figured out why. Rapid growth causes a deformity in a salmon’s ear, leading to partial deafness. The scientists scrutinized salmon farmed in Australia, Norway, Canada, Chile, and Scotland and discovered the impairment was widespread – and that the fastest-growing salmon were three times more likely to be impacted than the slowest-growing ones. Study lead author Tormey Reimer told Pursuit, “We also found that we could reduce the incidence of the deformity by reducing how fast a fish grew. Such a clear result was unprecedented.” Related: FDA approves genetically engineered salmon for human consumption The otoliths, small crystals in a salmon’s inner ear, are where the deformity happens. Normal otoliths are comprised of aragonite, but deformed ones are partly comprised of vaterite – and fish with deformed otoliths can lose as much as 50 percent of their hearing, per Pursuit. Diet, genetics, and longer daylight exposure – some fish farms expose the creatures to bright lights 24 hours every day – seem to cause vaterite. Growth rate was the one factor linking them, according to Pursuit. Since fish farms are noisy, it’s possible hearing loss could actually reduce stress, but even so, study co-author Tim Dempster said their research raises “serious questions about the welfare of farmed fish.” And it could shine light on the failures of some conservation methods. With wild salmon in decline in some regions, farmed ones have been released into spawning rivers. But fish in the wild might use their hearing for detecting prey and predators. Reimer said, “Future research may find ways to prevent the deformity without compromising growth rate. Our results provide hope of a solution.” The Journal of Experimental Biology published the research last year . The University of Melbourne led the research with scientists from institutions in Norway contributing. + Pursuit/University of Melbourne Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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The disturbing reason so many farmed salmon are partially deaf

Deli-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site

January 12, 2018 by  
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Architecture studio tres birds workshop used reclaimed and locally available materials to turn the former Mancinelli’s Market in Denver into a modern distillery and cocktail lounge that emphasizes the relationship between distiller, chef, bartender, and guest. The designers paired industrial elements with rich wood details in order to create a gathering place that feels familiar and cozy. A large wooden door made from reclaimed  materials sourced on-site is the entry point into The Family Jones Distillery dominated by low-slung seating, deep blue booths, and soft lighting. During warmer months, the door can slide open to facilitate a seamless transition between the interior and the patio. Related: World’s Greenest Whisky Distillery Unveiled in Scotland Two-story wooden louvers flank the Osage Street glass facade, offering passive temperature and lighting control while drawing attention inside to the well-lit copper still which acts as the focal point of the project. This element, perched above the central bar, sits in an oculus flanked by wooden mashers. Concrete walls line the space and feature extrusions that house a combination of herbs used in spirit making, as well as light fixtures that illuminate the tables below. + The Family Jones Spirit House + tres birds workshop

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Deli-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site

Cities in Scotland to start universal basic income trials

December 27, 2017 by  
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Select residents of  Glasgow , Edinburgh, Fife, and North Ayrshire will soon begin receiving unconditional monthly payments as part of a Scottish universal basic income experiment. Universal basic income (UBI) is a policy that offers direct unconditional income for all citizens to ensure that everyone benefits from a basic standard of living. UBI is currently being tested in Scotland, as well as countries like Canada and Finland, and has attracted £250,000 (~$334,500) in public funding for feasibility studies. The selected cities must submit their plans for locally implementing the basic income program by March 2018. Proponents of a basic income claim that it will be necessary to implement UBI in some form in order to compensate for the major economic disruption and potential job losses from increasing automation due to advanced artificial intelligence . While the idea is still controversial, it is being increasingly taken seriously in cities and countries around the world. “It might turn out not to be the answer, it might turn out not to be feasible,” said Scotland ‘s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. “But as work changes as rapidly as it is doing, I think its really important that we are prepared to be open-minded about the different ways that we can support individuals to participate fully in the new economy.” Related: Wind power supplied 124% of household electricity needs in Scotland from January through June Scotland is not alone in its endeavor to understand how UBI might feasibly function. California , the Netherlands, Ontario, India, Italy, and Uganda all took steps in 2017 towards someday being able to implement a UBI system. In California, this work is being supported by companies like Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s largest start-up accelerator. “In a world where technology eliminates jobs, it will mean that the cost of having a great life goes down a lot,” tweeted Sam Altman, president at Y Combinator. “But without something like basic income, I don’t think we can really have equality of opportunity.” Via ScienceAlert Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Cities in Scotland to start universal basic income trials

First floating wind farm in the world begins generating power

October 18, 2017 by  
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Five massive wind turbines floating in the sea near Scotland have started sending energy to the grid. Statoil , a Norwegian power company, has been working on the 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland project for several years, and it’s now up and running. The wind farm can power around 20,000 homes. Hywind Scotland is around 15 miles from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. As the farm’s wind turbines are floating , they can be placed in waters far deeper than those of conventional offshore wind farms. The Hywind Scotland turbines are in water depths of as much as 129 meters, or 423 feet – offshore wind turbines that are attached to the seabed are typically in depths of up to 50 meters, or 164 feet. Related: The world’s largest floating wind farm is planned for the California coast That figure is important because according to Statoil, 80 percent of potential offshore wind locations have water depths greater than 60 meters. And they think their floating turbines could work in even deeper waters than those of Hywind Scotland. Statoil New Energy Solutions executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff said in a statement, “Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind. The learnings from Hywind Scotland will pave the way for new global market opportunities for floating offshore wind energy .” From blade tip to the surface of the sea, the wind turbines are 175 meters, or around 574 feet, large. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the project puts the country “at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world center for energy innovation.” Statoil and project partner Masdar are also working on an one megawatt-hour (MWh) battery storage project, called Batwind, that will store clean power generated from Hywind Scotland. Rummelhoff said Statoil plans to keep working on lowering costs of power from the wind farm, down to €40 to €60 per MWh by 2030. Via the BBC and Statoil Images via Øyvind Gravås/Woldcam/Statoil and Øyvind Gravås/Statoil

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First floating wind farm in the world begins generating power

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