Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

May 23, 2017 by  
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Cleantech pioneer Elon Musk wants you to drive a Tesla electric car or truck, power your home with SolarCity solar panels and store renewable electricity with Tesla Powerwall battery packs. Oh yeah, he also wants to zip you from DC to NYC in less than 30 minutes via Hyperloop pods that can reach speeds of more than 600 miles per hour racing through evacuated tubes. Now Musk has revealed that part of the reason he started The Boring Company , besides finding a solution for LA’s “soul-destroying traffic,” is to launch and test Hyperloop by using his new Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to dig underneath the City of Angels . “Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes,” the company’s new FAQ page states regarding its specific goals, adding that “the electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race The FAQ page mentions that The Boring Company aims to fix congestion in major cities by building an underground network of road tunnels “many levels deep” with the ability to keep adding levels. The key to making this work would be “increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more.” Costs would be mitigated by reducing the tunnel diameter, which the site claims can be accomplished by placing vehicles on a “stabilized electric sled.” Speeding up tunneling is another way to reduce costs, with the stated goal for the TBM to defeat the snail in a race. Hyperloop One has already built a full-scale test track at the company’s development site in Nevada. Countries from India to South Korea  to the United Arab Emirates  to Russia  have expressed interest in Hyperloop technology. It is clear that the race to build the first Hyperloop rapid transit system is underway and similar to his other ventures, Musk is eager to take the lead. + The Boring Company + Hyperloop One Via Archinect Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

Giant sequoia skyscrapers designed to keep rotted trees standing

May 5, 2017 by  
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Modernization has harmed giant sequoias: not only have they been cut down in groves, but climate change has diminished their lifespan. Four designers in South Korea want to help preserve the trees’ legacy with a skyscraper called Tribute: The Monument of Giant , that could be tucked inside hollowed-out trunks, helping to keep trees with rotted heartwood from crashing down. The skyscraper would allow a visitor to feel small inside the vastness of a giant sequoia, while also offering education about the natural wonders. Ko Jinhyeuk, Cheong Changwon, Cho Kyuhyung, and Choi Sunwoong believe in the past, human desires and development clashed with the natural world. They said nature’s response is the natural disasters that wreak havoc throughout the world. They pointed to deforestation as both a cause of such disasters and “one of the worst crimes on nature .” Earning an honorable mention in the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition , they offered up an answer. Their skyscraper is enveloped inside a dying tree in a bid to help keep it standing. Related: Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world Although giant sequoias can be over 300 feet tall, with diameters between 20 and 26 feet, their roots often aren’t deep, so when their heartwood – what the designers described as a structural backbone – starts to rot, the weight of the trees can cause them to topple over. A skyscraper nestled inside could prevent this ending. “This project attempts to show a new architectural approach to human coexistence with nature,” the architects said in their design statement. They said their skyscraper, inside the empty void of a giant sequoia, wouldn’t hinder the breathtaking beauty of the tree. The building would then become “active as an artificial organ to replace the trunks rotten away.” Platforms inside the tree would offer opportunities for laboratories, exhibitions, education, and photo opportunities on observation decks. A lattice-like cage would comprise an outer casing that appears to blend in with the tree. Via eVolo and Dezeen Images via eVolo

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Octopuses and their cephalopod cousins can edit and recode their own genes

May 5, 2017 by  
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Octopuses have earned a reputation as clever aquatic escape artists . But in addition to being underwater Houdinis , these creatures (and other coleiod cephalopods like cuttlefish and squid) were recently discovered to have another mind-blowing trick: they can rewire their own genetic material to adapt more quickly to their environment. Researchers found that  octopuses and their relatives can edit and recode the RNA component of genes, which allows them to reprogram cells (often in their nervous systems) and adapt to external stimuli in the environment, such as a change in water temperature. Changes at the RNA level manifest in the formation of different versions of proteins from the same gene . The result is that these cephalopods can make transient changes that don’t have an effect long-term on their overall  evolution and that could even be turned on or off by the cephalopod herself. Researchers believe the reason for the cephalopod’s overall slow rate of evolution is due to the extreme possibility of change and editing in their RNA. As per the study’s lead author Joshua Rosenthal : “If a squid and octopus want to edit a base, they must preserve the underlying RNA structure. This means that the RNA structure can’t evolve. If it collects mutations as a result of DNA mutations, it would no longer be recognized by the editing enzymes. We normally think of mutations as the currency of evolution. But in this case their accumulation is suppressed.” The slow rate of change in cephalopod DNA also may indicate that these sea creatures have been around longer than previously believed. Beyond the fact that this recoding provides yet another example for why these sea creatures  are fascinating, researchers continue to be interested in and slightly mystified by the reasons behind this action, although some believe their extreme use of RNA editing is linked to their intelligence and their behavioral complexities. Further fueling this idea were the findings by researchers that less intelligent and less cephalopod species such as the nautilus had far lower levels of RNA editing. Related: Octopuses are taking over the ocean and no one knows why However, the intelligence/RNA editing connection is not as clear as the water cephalopods love to swim around in. “It’s a really interesting phenomenon, but it’s unclear why they need so much RNA editing,” says Jianzhi Zhang from the University of Michigan . “It’s not absolutely clear if it has to do with behavior; humans have very complex brains and behaviors and in us, RNA editing is very rare.” Indeed, RNA editing is found in mere dozen of sites out of the 20,000 genes in the human body, while the cephalopods studied ranged from 80,000-130,000 editing sites. The study’s authors, however, also consider the possibility that “protein recoding may not be the primary function of editing in cephalopods” and that perhaps another purpose, such as immunity, might be the goal. The study was published in Cell . Via Science ,  Scientific American , The Atlantic Lead image via Wikimedia Commons

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Octopuses and their cephalopod cousins can edit and recode their own genes

Green-roofed house for a pilot looks like a temporarily grounded aircraft

February 27, 2017 by  
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This unique home for a young pilot and his family in South Korea looks like an aircraft that has been grounded. Appropriately called the Flying House, it was designed by IROJE KHM Architects , who drew inspiration from traditional Korean architecture to create a delicate balance between sky and land. The architects combined the elements of yard, garden and rumaru, a traditional courtyard with a canopy , to create a space which connects the ground to the roof surface. The resulting sloped roof garden allows the house to coexist with nature, with a flowing design that establishes a strong connection to the ground. Related: IROJE KHM’s green-roofed house in Seoul blooms like a flower A limited budget influenced the choice of materials. By leaving the concrete framework surfaces exposed, the architects managed to utilize the structural material as the finishing material and lower the total construction cost of the building. + IROJE KHM Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Sergio Pirrone

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Green-roofed house for a pilot looks like a temporarily grounded aircraft

South Korea unveils plan for near-supersonic hyper-tube train

January 19, 2017 by  
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Transportation that moves close to the speed of sound could be a reality in South Korea before too long. The country’s government-run Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) is working on their own super-speedy Hyperloop -esque train that could travel as fast as 1,000 kilometers per hour, or around 621 miles per hour, and they say it will be ready in the “not-too-distant future.” South Korea’s near-supersonic train could rocket travelers between Seoul and Busan, a trip that currently takes about 50 minutes by plane or over five hours on public transportation, in a snappy half hour. A KRRI spokesperson said, “We hope to create an ultra-fast train, which will travel inside a state-of-the-art low-pressure tube at lighting speeds, in the not-too-distant future. To that end, we will cooperate with associated institutes as well as Hanyang University to check the viability of various related technologies called the hyper-tube format over the next three years.” Related: The U.S. Air Force just smashed the world record for maglev speed The Korea Times notes that “hyper-tube” technology is akin to the Hyperloop technology first proposed by Elon Musk and currently under development by a couple competing companies. They say the pods rocketing through tubes can fly so fast because there isn’t any friction, that tricky little force slowing regular trains and other traditional forms of transportation. Maglev trains are free of the annoyance of friction, but they still have to battle air resistance. KRRI said it would work with other institutions to solve drawbacks the Hyperloop currently faces, such as threats from terrorism or natural disasters. “Many countries such as the United States, Canada, and China are competing to take the lead in this futuristic technology and we will also try to preempt our global rivals,” said the spokesperson. Via The Korea Times Images via Korea Railroad Research Institute and Wikimedia Commons

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South Korea unveils plan for near-supersonic hyper-tube train

Cramped historic palace in Spain renovated as a light-filled community center

January 19, 2017 by  
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The new Cultural Center Casal Balaguer in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca is a wonderful example of how historic buildings can be adapted into today’s society. Barcelona-based Flores & Prats Architects and local Palma firm Duch-Pizá teamed up to convert the privately-owned 14th century palace into a thriving, light-filled community center. Using the sprawling layout to guide the design, the team created a building plan that would focus on maintaining some of the structure’s original character while injecting some modern-day features. Although the building had undergone various renovations over the years, the architects were determined to maintain as much of its “accumulated” character as possible. Related: Plush green-roofed cultural center replaces 2004 Olympic Games facilities in Athens Due to the cramped location of the palace, the architects had to get creative when it came to renovating the space for public use. Specifically, the rooftop had an especially significant role in the design because the structure is surrounded by narrow alleyways, reducing the possibilities of using large exterior windows to let in natural light. This limitation led the architects to use the roof as a principal design feature , interspersing sloping zinc panels into the typical Spanish ceramic tiles. The asymmetrical style of the roof outline comprised a strategic decision to filter in as much daylight as possible. Keeping in mind the building’s new use as a public space, opening up the interior space and creating clear circulation routes though the building was a priority. Once the rooms were open and spaces defined, various skylights were installed to bring in even more natural light , helping to reduce the building’s energy usage. Unfortunately, the original ceilings were in very bad shape and had to be replaced with exposed wooden beams . The large inverted wooden ceilings enhance the original arched doorways found throughout the gallery spaces and in the library. Inside, a monolithic concrete staircase leads up to the building’s rooftop terrace, letting visitors experience the building in its entirety. + Flores & Prats Architects + Duch-Pizá Via Archdaily Photography by Adrià Goula

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Cramped historic palace in Spain renovated as a light-filled community center

Weird but wonderful Wind House brings whimsy to Koreas Jeju Island

January 19, 2017 by  
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A peculiar home has popped up on Korea’s idyllic Jeju island , and it’s unlike any we’ve seen before. Moon Hoon , a Seoul-based architect who’s never afraid to think outside of the box, recently completed the Wind House, a low-lying structure topped with a large-scale golden sculptural object that bears similarities to a duck head or hairdryer. Despite its alien appearance, the golden protrusion’s shape takes inspiration from the wind-swept landscape, while its golden color alludes to the island’s fall and winter foliage. Moon Hoon, the same architect behind a Star Wars House and the candy-inspired Lollipop House , was commissioned by an eye doctor with a love of contemporary art and a taste for the eccentric. The client tasked Hoon to design three small houses with the requirements that they be unique and functional. The resulting Wind House comprises a volcanic stone wall that runs the perimeter of the site, two low-lying houses that sit at right angles to one another, and a third house in the middle topped with a inhabitable and sculptural space that Hoon describes as “blossom[ing] like a golden flower.” The boxy gray-colored homes draw inspiration from traditional Jeju architecture and provide a sharp contrast to the glistening gold crown. Accessible via a spiral staircase , the duck head-shaped space includes a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Unlike the other interior spaces, which are painted a demure white and kept relatively minimalist, the interior of the “hovering flower” is painted a vibrant shade of red complemented with black furniture and a zebra print floor. A slit window offers views towards Hallasan, the volcano located at the center of the island. Related: The Force is Strong With This Sandcrawler-Inspired Star Wars House in South Korea “The sharp difference and contrast between the horizontal houses and hovering houses grounded secularly by high volcanic rock walls bring about a kind of contrasting harmony like that of flowers blossoming among the green leaves,” says the architect. Moon Hoon and Tomeny Kisilewicz also produced an unusual five-minute science fiction film that stars the Wind House as the hero that saves the residents of Jeju from the erupting Hallasan. + Moon Hoon Via ArchDaily Images © NamGoong sun

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Weird but wonderful Wind House brings whimsy to Koreas Jeju Island

Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US

January 10, 2017 by  
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A group of dogs raised for meat in South Korea are getting a new lease on life. Humane Society International (HSI) has rescued 10 dogs from a dog meat farm located about 55 miles away from Seoul. The dogs, which were raised in filthy, rusty cages for eventual consumption by humans, will be placed in forever homes throughout the US. HSI says it will take time and money to move all 200 animals off the farm, and you can help. Six months of vaccinations, medical examinations, and negotiations later, HSI has finally been able to start removing dogs from the horrifying meat factory farm. It will take a few weeks for them to ship out all the animals, as airlines will only take so many dogs per flight. Dogs like Demi, a labrador mix puppy, will journey to United States shelters and be offered for adoption. Related: Help move hundreds of chimpanzees from labs to a safe haven in Georgia HSI campaign manager Andrew Plumbly told Reuters, “As soon as they’re ready for adoption, we find that there are line-ups of people – literally people would line up at shelters – in the U.S. to adopt these dogs because people are so engaged by their sad and compelling stories.” The dogs lived in harsh, disgusting conditions. They were only fed once per day and waste collected under their rusty cages. This dog meat farm is the sixth HSI has worked to shutter in the country since 2015, but they estimate there are around 17,000 such farms left in South Korea, even as Reuters reports dog consumption is declining in the country. Up to two million dogs are still killed and consumed in South Korea each year, according to HSI. If you’d like to help them in their goal of shutting down the dog meat industry – including finding better livelihoods for dog meat farmers and caring for rescued animals – you can donate here . + Humane Society International Via Reuters Images via Humane Society International Facebook

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Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US

LEED Gold Hankook Tire R+D Centre harvests rainwater for cooling in Asias Silicon Valley

October 20, 2016 by  
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Developed to attract the industry’s top talent, the 96,328-square-meter research and development center aspires to be an inspirational place to work and one that encourages collaboration and social interaction. The contemporary glazed building is housed beneath a floating silver roof with long overhangs that shield the interior from unwanted solar gain and gives the structure a mysterious quality. The interior is organized along a top-lit central spine flanked by research spaces and bookended by the entrance on one end and a restaurant on the other. The spatial layout is flexible to allow for future changes and steps up from four to six stories. Related: Foster + Partners breaks ground on Ferring Pharamceuticals’ headquarters in Copenhagen “The key design objectives for, the Hankook Technodome were two-fold – to reinvent the Hankook Tire’s image and to create an integrated working environment for the office and laboratory staff,” says Iwan Jones, Partner at Foster + Partners. “The spatial arrangement encourages visual connectivity and physical interaction. Testing facilities are on display and circulation and meeting spaces are shared to enhance interaction.” The LEED Gold facility captures waste heat and reuses it for heating the adjacent dormitory that accommodates visitors and staff. Harvested rainwater is stored at the lake at the southern entrance and used for cooling. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , © Nigel Young

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LEED Gold Hankook Tire R+D Centre harvests rainwater for cooling in Asias Silicon Valley

South Korean production facility makes medicine out of dandelions

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Korean Dandelion Farm is located on the edge of a forest in Chungcheongbuk-do province in South Korea . It comprises a quiet retreat and a production facility for making remedies using dandelions, which have been used in traditional South Korean medicine for a long time. This wildflower, which can treat liver failure, kidney disease, fever and stomach ache, is grown in a designated area behind the building. Related: Korea’s platform_monsant cafe reflects its stunning volcanic surroundings The property is dominated by concrete and wood. Enclosed areas are made of concrete, while the open spaces are framed by wooden fences. Some parts of the building feature concrete elements cast against wooden boards. The contrast between dark and light areas is accentuated by the different treatment of closed and open spaces. A large pivoting wooden door leads to the cafe area through an open courtyard . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-PNDby5D6s Related: OBBA built this affordable 538-square-feet daylit house in Seoul for a newlywed couple and their cats “Experience of dark and light triggers your emotional experiences in this space,” said the architects. “When you enter the front courtyard, you can see the forest valley through the wide open farm cafe,” they added. + Archihood WXY Via Dezeen Photos and video by Woohyun Kang

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