Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

February 22, 2018 by  
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According to the ancient Romans, the Mediterranean is riddled with places where mortals can access the underworld. These “gates to hell” (or Plutoniums) are marked by stone structures, and some of them, like a cave in Hierapolis (now modern-day Turkey ) seem to have supernatural powers. Ancient Romans would bring animals into the mysterious haze inside the cave, where they would swiftly die. Now, scientists have answered the mystery of what is killing these animals and how humans could escape seemingly unscathed. According to the ancient Romans, humans would enter the grotto as part of a ritualistic sacrifice and leave unharmed, while animals would quickly die. The Greek geographer Strabo once said, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” Some believed that the vapor was the breath of the hellhound Kerberos. Legend also has it that even birds flying by would drop out of the air. Related: Egyptians discover three sunken ships full of 2,000-year-old treasure Scientists have found that the cause of this deadly mist is actually carbon dioxide from a volcanic fissure in the earth underneath the cave. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are stronger towards the ground, which helps explain why animals were impacted more than humans. The time of day also impacts its concentration, with wind and sunlight dispersing the vapor. That means that nighttime, and particularly right before dawn, are the deadliest times to enter the cave. At dawn, concentrations are strong enough to kill a human within a minute. Researchers believe that priests participating in the rituals understood that the higher you were from the ground, the longer you could stand in the cave, making them to appear to have supernatural powers. They may have also adjusted the time that they entered the cave to coincide with lower concentrations. The cave was actually forgotten until just seven years ago, but the mystery around it has remained. Brave researchers, led by Hardy Pfanz at the University of Duisburg-Essen , wanted to understand the enigma, so they examined the grotto in detail. Pfanz’s method could be used to help solve the mysteries of other Plutoniums as well. Via IFL Science Images via Chris Parfitt and Carole Raddato

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Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

Angular Casa Casi Cubo in Chile plays with light, wind and shadow

February 20, 2018 by  
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Casa Casi Cubo in Chile uses geometry and patterns to provide shelter from the strong local winds — letting in tons of light. LAND Arquitectos designed the house as a pavilion -like structure that plays around with different shapes to create a balance between protection from the elements and exposing its occupants to expansive views of the sea. The designer deconstructed the shape of a parallelepiped and used pine wood to generate a series of bends that demarcate the edges of the roof and the facades of the building. Instead of trying to stand up to strong winds, the design breaks them up and channels them along the exterior. Related: Chile’s rustic Casa Pollo is made from recycled zinc plates and reclaimed wood The main shared space, where the stove and barbecue area are located, face the north side of the site and is the most protected from strong air currents. This space is connected to a semi-covered area enveloped by a perforated wooden skin. This outdoor space allows occupants to watch the passing sun and enjoy the constant interplay of light and shadow. + LAND Arquitectos Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Sergio Pirrone

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Angular Casa Casi Cubo in Chile plays with light, wind and shadow

New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

February 20, 2018 by  
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Forget lithium – this Barcelona-based company is creating batteries with paper. Fuelium is developing paper -based batteries designed for disposable diagnostic devices, OZY reported . Unlike regular batteries, Fuelim batteries don’t create toxic waste that requires complicated recycling processes. What’s not to love? Paper, carbon, and non-toxic metals: those are the ingredients for Fuelium’s batteries. These won’t be powering cars right now; the company says their paper-based batteries are suited for powering in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) applications, or tests that can detect diseases with blood or tissue samples . Fuelium says their batteries are geared for “single-use electronic devices which can be disposed of without recycling.” Regular single-use diagnostic tests are thrown out after utilizing under one percent of their batteries’ charge, according to OZY. But Fuelium’s paper batteries, according to the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Research Park , “only generate the amount of energy needed for each application and do not contain heavy metals or are harmful to health .” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria Fuelium’s batteries can be customized for different applications with voltages between one and six volts, and power between one and 100 milliwatts. They’re cost-effective and can be easily integrated as the battery materials are compatible with manufacturing processes for rapid diagnostic tests. Any liquid sample can activate the paper-based batteries, according to the company, which suggests their product could be used in the areas of infectious disease, veterinary medicine, and women’s health, to name a few. Scientists Juan Pablo Esquivel, Neus Sabaté, and Sergi Gassó of the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona started Fuelium in 2015, and according to OZY, they have signed their first contract. Esquivel told OZY their paper-based batteries are small and inexpensive, and don’t require recycling; instead, they can be tossed out with zero ecological impact. + Fuelium Via OZY Images via Self-Powered Engineered Devices and Dan Taylr on Flickr

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New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

Efficient Superlofts adapt to homeowners needs over the course of a lifetime

February 20, 2018 by  
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Marc Koehler Architects has created a series of lofts that put the design decision-making process in residents’ hands. Their Superloft design is comprised of a flexible and efficient structural system that adapts to residents’ changing needs over a lifetime. The innovative framework, integrated with a number of sustainability features , allows homeowners design “hybrid spaces” from scratch, and co-create the community’s shared spaces with their neighbors. Five Superlofts have already been completed in Amsterdam. Superloft Houthaven Amsterdam, which is located in an redeveloping industrial area in the north of the city, is comprised of 19 residences ranging from affordable mini lofts to luxury penthouses. The design was co-created by a cooperative of buyers who installed a panoramic rooftop terrace, garden space, and cooking studio. The star of the program, however, is the building’s sustainability profile. The homeowners decided to create a climate-neutral building by installing solar panels and other sustainable features , such as water-based cooling systems, CO2 sensors, wireless light switches and electric charging stations. Related: This wooden loft house has a seamless layout that continuously flows from floor to floor Using the open building movement as inspiration, the studio gives Superlofts the utmost in flexibility for home design: not only can the living spaces be personalized at move in, they can also be adapted to the future lifestyles of its inhabitants. The design uses a prefabricated concrete base that frames a series of wide modules that can be combined into a variety of configurations from housing blocks and high-rises to townhouses and more. Homeowners can build out their living or working spaces within the raw volumes, enjoying a blank canvas to customize the space to fit their individual needs, which can change greatly over a lifetime. Centrally-placed utility shafts allow the kitchens and bathrooms to be placed almost anywhere in the lofts. Suspended cross-laminated timber mezzanine floors allow for extra spaces to be added without the need for supporting walls to be built or removed. The buildings come integrated with a number of sustainability features such as an aluminum smart facade that incorporates C02 sensors for ventilation, sun shading, drainage, and more. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls flood the interiors with natural light, reducing heating and artificial lighting use. The shared living scheme creates an “urban village” feel, fostering a sense of connection within the buildings, versus the isolation that stems from the anonymous atmospheres of most city buildings. The Superloft design focuses on creating vibrant, self-organized communities through installing a series of collective community spaces such as workshops, rooftop gardens , playgrounds, co-working spaces, physical fitness centers and lounge spaces. The Superloft design not only offers optimal flexibility for homeowners, but also for cities. The adaptable design is especially beneficial to urban areas because it facilitates a circular way of building, resulting in less obsolete constructions. It can also be used to revive neglected areas and provide affordable housing solutions . + Marc Koehler Architects Via v2com

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Efficient Superlofts adapt to homeowners needs over the course of a lifetime

Raining on the Starman’s Parade: Why Elon Musk’s space stunt was a bad idea

February 14, 2018 by  
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The rest of the world loved the stunt by the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. But beware the new “frontier economics.”

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Raining on the Starman’s Parade: Why Elon Musk’s space stunt was a bad idea

Calling all value creators, futurists and change agents

February 14, 2018 by  
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A new BSR report finds that evolving roles for the sustainability sector will open exciting leadership opportunities within global companies.

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Calling all value creators, futurists and change agents

NASA officially logs Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster as a celestial object

February 9, 2018 by  
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Elon Musk’s red space -traveling Tesla Roadster continues to make history. NASA has now officially listed the vehicle as a celestial object – in the same system tracking bodies in the solar system like planets. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted the news and a link to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s HORIZONS Web-Interface so you can check it out – and the listing reveals a few details about what else was aboard that Roadster. Gizmodo shared instructions for how to see NASA’s listing of the Tesla Roadster: once you click on the HORIZONS link: “click ‘change’ next to the target body, type in ‘ SpaceX ,’ hit enter, then click ‘Generate ephemeris.’” The Tesla Roadster is now described as a spacecraft , and the listing mentions the car’s passenger, a mannequin in a spaceman suit nicknamed Starman. Related: Elon Musk releases historic video of Starman cruising through space in a Tesla Roadster The Tesla Roadster, now in solar orbit, has been officially logged as a celestial object by NASA: https://t.co/bDz2zFWdIc pic.twitter.com/CEVjBZXeKH — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) February 8, 2018 The description of this new celestial object also says it “includes a Hot Wheels toy model Roadster on the car’s dash with a mini-Starman inside. A data storage device placed inside the car contains a copy of Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ novels. A plaque on the attachment fitting between the Falcon Heavy upper stage and the Tesla is etched with the names of more than 6,000 SpaceX employees.” Musk recently shared on Instagram what he said will be the last photo of Starman on the way to Mars orbit and from there, the asteroid belt. Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Feb 7, 2018 at 2:00pm PST The HORIZONS System “provides access to key solar system data and flexible production of highly accurate ephemerides for solar system objects (755,287 asteroids , 3,510 comets , 178 planetary satellites, eight planets, the Sub, L1, L2, select spacecraft, and system barycenters),” per the website . It seems Musk’s Tesla Roadster is now among those select spacecraft. + HORIZONS Web-Interface Via Eric Holthaus and Gizmodo Images via Elon Musk on Instagram , HORIZONS Web-Interface screenshot , and NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA officially logs Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster as a celestial object

Sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing

February 9, 2018 by  
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The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has long been considered at great risk to sinking beneath the rising sea levels of climate change. However, scientists at the University of Auckland have learned that it is actually increasing in size, with the island’s total land area having grown 2.9 percent between 1971 and 2014. “We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise , but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” study co-author Paul Kench told Phys.org . “The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion.” Researchers used aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the geographical changes on Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands. They found that eight atolls and nearly three-fourths of the reef islands grew during the period studied, all while sea level at Tuvalu rose twice as quickly as the global average. Wave patterns and sediment deposits brought by storm activity seemed to have counteracted any “sinking” effects due to sea level rise. Related: 14 Pacific island nations considering world’s first ban on fossil fuels While climate change remains an existential threat to island nations like Tuvalu, this study could prompt a rethinking of how sea level rise will actually manifest in light of compounding factors that resulted in Tuvalu’s growth. “On the basis of this research we project a markedly different trajectory for Tuvalu’s islands over the next century than is commonly envisaged,” said Kench . “While we recognize that habitability rests on a number of factors, loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu.” The study authors recognize the need to make drastic changes while acknowledging that there is still time to adapt. “Embracing such new adaptation pathways will present considerable national scale challenges to planning, development goals and land tenure systems,” the authors said . “However, as the data on island change shows there is time (decades) to confront these challenges.” Via Phys.org Images via  Tomoaki INABA/Flickr (1)

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Sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing

Elon Musk releases historic video of Starman cruising the stars in a Tesla Roadster

February 7, 2018 by  
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In what may be the greatest car commercial of all time, SpaceX has released a video portraying the journey of the mannequin Starman and Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster riding the Falcon Heavy rocket through space. SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket currently in use, on February 6, 2018 from Cape Canaveral as hundreds of thousands of people gathered from across the world to witness a part of history. The Roadster, which is attached to the rocket’s upper stage, will now be subjected to intense radiation in the Van Allen belt zone beyond Earth’s atmosphere before being launched into an elliptical orbit of Mars . As majestic as he is now, Starman was very nearly trapped on Earth as launch day conditions forced hours-long delays. Even after the rocket ignited on the planetary surface, those involved were apprehensive. “If it goes, don’t clap,” Jeff Lucas, a NASA communications staffer, told the launch audience, according to the Guardian . “Don’t clap until you see those orange flames clearing the tower.” When it became clear that the rocket had launched successfully, David Bowie’s Life on Mars began to play at the SpaceX launch center. Related: SpaceX to launch reused rocket in a historic first for NASA While some critics have questioned the value of hitching a car to the world’s most powerful rocket , the now-iconic images speak for themselves. The fact that the Falcon Heavy was strong enough to allow for the extra weight of a car, simply for the fun of it, is further demonstration of the rocket’s power. “If we are successful, it’s game over for other operators of heavy-lift rockets,” said Musk prior to launch, according to the Guardian . Though the game is still far from over, Starman is a hero, not just for one day , but for the foreseeable future. Oh man, I wonder if he’ll ever know… Via The Guardian Images via SpaceX

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Elon Musk releases historic video of Starman cruising the stars in a Tesla Roadster

This rustic Norwegian cabin looks like four different buildings all joined together

February 6, 2018 by  
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This rustic cottage in Norway looks like a patchwork of different buildings, all mashed together to create a cohesive home. The building, designed by Oslo-based studio Rever & Drage Architects , comprises a sequence of distinct spaces, each one addressing a different daily need of the owners. The cabin has a transparent garage that acts as an entry point and storage area where the family can leave their gear for various outdoor activities. This space leads to a laundry area, bathroom, and kitchen and into the main lounge that offers views of the surrounding landscape. Related: Coastal cabin in Norway is a perfect indoor retreat for outdoor lovers Each of the spaces uses different cladding materials and construction techniques, with the imperative of being able to withstand the harsh weather as an overarching design principle. The cabin, in a way, can be seen as a single building or four separate structures. “The outside composition is that of a traditional row farm, where buildings with different functions and different construction techniques are arranged in a line corresponding with the dominant direction of wind,” explained the architects. Related: Fantastic Norway’s Mountain Hill Cabin is Part Ski Slope, Part Winter Retreat While the north part was built using a late-medieval building technique with large, narrowing logs, the living room features more elegant 19th century notched logs, all stained in a dark tar finish. The kitchen has a contemporary feel, with a green roof. The garage, at the southern end of the building, features an exposed timber frame and polycarbonate sheets to let in tons of light all year long. + Rever & Drage Architects Via Dezeen Photos by Tom Auger

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This rustic Norwegian cabin looks like four different buildings all joined together

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