"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

March 23, 2017 by  
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A venerated sea turtle who was fed hundreds of coins by supplicants seeking good fortune is dead . The 25-year-old animal was living in a pond in a town near the Gulf of Thailand in late February when rescuers found her close to drowning from the weight of her cache—about 11 pounds worth. After naming her Omsin, which is Thai for “piggy bank,” a team of veterinary surgeons operated on the turtle for seven hours. By the time they were finished, they had filled a bucket with 915 coins, in currencies both foreign and domestic. Omsin was expected to survive, if not thrive. By all accounts, her rehabilitation at Bangkok’s Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animals Research Center went smoothly. She received laser therapy on her belly incision. A large kiddie pool, coupled with physical therapy for a wonky flipper, helped her ease back into water. Following a liquid diet, Omsin returned to eating solid food. “She is getting stronger,” Nantarika Chansue, a veterinary scientist who tracked Omsin’s progress on Facebook, wrote on March 9. Just as her doctors began planning her release to the wild, Omsin’s condition suddenly deteriorated. They found her intestines in a tangle in the space where the coins once filled. An infection had developed, causing her abdomen to swell up with gas and fluid. Related: Sea turtle is rescued after being dragged onto a beach and beaten for selfies Despite rushing the turtle into intensive care on Sunday night, then emergency surgery on Monday, Omsin lapsed into a comma. On Tuesday, she died, a victim of ignorance and superstition. “At 10:10 a.m., she went with peace,” Nantarika said during a news conference. Visibly weeping, she called Omsin her “friend, teacher and patient.” Nantarika was comforted by just one thought. “She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed,” she said. Via the Washington Post Photos by Unsplash

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"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

Historic Dutch nursery transformed into stunning solar-powered home

March 21, 2017 by  
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A stunning solar-powered home has emerged from the bones of a former school for infants in Leiden, the Netherlands. Design firm ATELIER SPACE completed the beautiful adaptive reuse project , taking care to preserve historic elements while imbuing fresh contemporary touches to the renovation. Energy efficiency was a major focus in the redesign, which includes energy-saving features such as improved insulation, underfloor heating, and home automation. Built in 1925, the historic brick nursery was constructed with great open spaces and tall ceilings filled with natural light from skylights and large windows. These features lend themselves easily to reuse as a residence and the architects made no major changes to the overall structure of the building. A single classroom, for instance, were repurposed into three bedrooms. The architects also preserved the tiled floors in the corridor, original doors, and wooden rafters to maintain a connection to the building’s past. While the tiled corridor was kept intact, the architects replaced the other floors with insulated concrete with underfloor heating . The roof and glass windows were also bolstered with improved insulation to minimize heat loss. A water and air-based heat pump heats and cools the building. Solar panels provide electricity. JUNG KNX home automation allows the homeowners to control aspects of the house, such as lighting and the shutters, remotely from their phones. Related: Cigarette factory reborn as a light-filled city hall in Brussels The spacious 694-square-meter home includes five bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, a media room, workout room, and an open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area housed in a converted gymnasium. The school’s old playground was transformed into a sunny courtyard with plastered brick banks and planters around a “conversation pit.” The second floor contains a small guesthouse. + ATELIER SPACE Via ArchDaily Images via Brigitte Kroone

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Historic Dutch nursery transformed into stunning solar-powered home

Architects transform an old hay barn into a stunning minimalist home

February 28, 2017 by  
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OFIS Architects have converted an old hay barn in Slovenia into a gorgeous living space. The barn was originally used to house cattle on the first floor and store hay on the upper level, but had been left empty for years. To convert the space into a comfortable loft space without sacrificing the building’s local vernacular, the architects were determined to use as much as the existing structure as possible. The Slovenian countryside is full of decrepit barns that serve as symbols of the country’s rural lifestyle. To pay respects to the local vernacular, the architects made impressive strides to use what they could of the barn’s original materials . Related: Architects transform 18th century barn with seamless contemporary extension Surprisingly, the renovation team was able to maintain almost all of the external wooden cladding and concrete roof slates. A few strategic renovations were made to include windows and an opening for the front porch to let in natural light to the home, and a ramp that previously led animals into the barn was also fixed to serve the same purpose for the new, human inhabitant. https://youtu.be/cBDAeyO7WC0 Inside, the home has an open floor plan with minimal furnishings and exposed wooden beams. The interior floors, walls and furniture are covered in locally-sourced spruce panels, resulting in a homey cabin feel. The open living and dining area make up the main volume, and a raised bedroom was installed in the back. The kitchen, sauna, fireplace and bathroom are all strategically placed out of sight behind a wall of sliding vertical planks to further open the living space. + OFIS Architects Via Ambienti TV Photography by Tomaž Gregori?

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Architects transform an old hay barn into a stunning minimalist home

Famous swimming pigs in Bahamas found dead after consuming ‘wrong food’

February 28, 2017 by  
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A pod of swimming pigs has delighted tourists in the Bahamas for decades, but several of them were recently found dead. Wayde Nixon, who owns some of the pigs, said they appear to have eaten food they aren’t accustomed to. The tragedy has drawn criticism of irresponsible tourists who often feed the animals human food, including alcohol like rum or beer. About 20 swimming pigs once frolicked in the Exuma Cays, according to the Bahamas’ tourism website . Swimming alongside the animals and photographing them may be harmless, but Nixon said people have also tried to ride on top of the pigs or give them alcohol. He told The Nassau Guardian, “We had them pigs there almost 30 years, and never has this happened before, but now we are going to have to regulate it. Right now it’s blowing out of proportion with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do.” Related: Yoda the Piglet Escapes Slaughterhouse, Finds Love and Safety He blamed their deaths on someone giving them bad food, but Bahamas Humane Society president Kim Aranha said it could have been an accident, and the animals could have consumed something poisonous. She told The Independent, “It could be malicious but I don’t really see why anyone would go out of their way to hurt those lovely animals. I know there are a lot of silly sailors that go and feed them alcohol to try and get them drunk but that’s not to mistake them with the tour operators based out of Nassau who have treated them with excellent care.” Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray said the government will work to prevent tourists from feeding the pigs, such as through a boundary line so visitors could still see the pigs but wouldn’t be able to feed them. He said his department is working with the Ministry of Tourism to implement a safeguard for the remaining 15 or so pigs. Via The Nassau Guardian and The Independent Images via Pixabay and cdorobek on Flickr

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Famous swimming pigs in Bahamas found dead after consuming ‘wrong food’

SpaceX is sending two private citizens to the moon next year

February 28, 2017 by  
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Since humans first walked on the moon in 1969, many people have gazed up at the night sky and longed to do the same. Leave it to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to make those dreams reality. SpaceX announced yesterday they’ll be sending two tourists, who have reportedly paid the company quite a bit of money up front, to the moon. The groundbreaking mission could happen as soon as 2018. SpaceX didn’t say who the two private citizens are, although, according to Musk, they aren’t Hollywood celebrities. The two unnamed travelers will start with fitness and health tests, and commence training this year. According to SpaceX, “…these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.” Related: Watch Elon Musk’s emotional rollercoaster during successful SpaceX Falcon 9 landing They’ll be aboard a Crew Dragon, or Dragon Version 2, which has not yet ventured to space. Dragon capsules have made their way to the International Space Station (ISS), but the crew version of the vessel, with life-support equipment, won’t blast off until the end of this year, in an unmanned demonstration mission to the ISS. A manned mission could come early in 2018, before the tourists journey to the moon from the exact launch pad Apollo missions utilized near Cape Canaveral. According to the BBC, the moon trip could be at least six to seven days long. SpaceX said in a statement, “This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.” This historic trip will also serve as a stepping stone for the company on their target of sending humans to Mars . NASA released a statement on SpaceX’s announcement, saying they commend their “industry partners for reaching higher.” Musk and SpaceX said the moon mission wouldn’t be possible without the agency. Via SpaceX and the BBC Images via SpaceX on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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SpaceX is sending two private citizens to the moon next year

Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

February 23, 2017 by  
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Last year, during the 2016 Summer Games , it would have been hard to imagine the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro sitting empty in the hot Brazilian sun. Sadly, this is what has become of the space today. Despite having been officially reopened in January as a public recreation area, the park is treated to only a few visitors and a longstanding bad reputation. The $800 million Olympic Park was constructed in the months prior to last year’s Summer Games in a process that displaced residents and enraged others. Clare Richardson of Vice visited residents of the old Vila Autódromo favela, a community that was forced to move, later granted new public housing in the area. The city’s promises have fallen short of the agreed upon vision of building playgrounds, a court for sports, and a community center, leaving people with plain housing in an asphalt jungle. Residents have even resorted to creating their own speed bumps out of stones and trash cans to keep nearby roads safe. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Visitors to the area feel shortchanged, as well. Vital services that were available during the park’s grand opening event, such as running water and electricity, are no longer available. The typical two-hour journey from the center of the city greets commuters with a sad skatepark , playground, and the ghostly spectacles of towering arenas. Bigger events, like the Rock in Rio music festival, are planned, but the park has become an inconvenient eyesore for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen about 12 people here since I arrived five hours ago,” Vinicius Martini, a beer vendor at the park, told Vice. “And I haven’t sold any beer.” Via Vice Images via Clare Robinson

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Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

February 23, 2017 by  
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Planning to attend SXSW but still searching for a place to stay? You may be in luck— HomeAway is opening up its human-sized Birdhouse in downtown Austin to two lucky groups of SXSW attendees for free. The vacation rental website teamed up with West Elm to transform the quirky space in their headquarters into comfortable and stylish bedrooms that sleeps six. Keep reading to take a tour inside of the world’s biggest human birdhouse. Perched in the middle of downtown Austin at 5th and Lamar, HomeAway’s giant two-story Birdhouse is an iconic landmark for Austinites and an ideal place to stay for SXSW. In hopes of providing a last-minute alternative to groups still looking for housing—there are less than 10,000 hotel rooms in downtown Austin—HomeAway has opened up the Birdhouse as part of a competition open to anyone over the age of 21. Entrants must answer the question “Why do you want to stay in the Birdhouse during SXSW?” and explain how the experience will impact them and the creative enterprise that they are part of. Entrants can choose from two two-night timeframes from and the winners will also receive a free two-night stay at a different HomeAway vacation rental for the nights that they do not stay in the Birdhouse. Related: SXSW Eco Announces Winners of the 2014 Place by Design Competition The Birdhouse is located on HomeAway’s third floor and has been converted into a rental with sleeping areas on two floors. HomeAway also rented the Birdhouse to guests last year with an auction with proceeds donated to Habitat to Humanity . You can enter the contest by sending HomeAway a message on their Birdhouse listing. + Birdhouse

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Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

Couple builds dream solar-powered home on an awkward lot in Rotterdam

February 23, 2017 by  
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When it came time for Dutch architects Gwendolyn Huisman and Marijn Boterman to build their dream home, they chose an extremely narrow plot of land in the city of Rotterdam. The plot presented a few challenges, which the pair overcame with a minimalist 12-foot-wide design that comes with its own rooftop garden and indoor hammock. If you need some inspiration, take a closer look at their SkinnySCAR house after the jump. The plot of land had been vacant for decades due to its small size. However, the couple was determined to efficiently convert the skinny space into a fully livable home. They clad the three-story strucure in a sophisticated black brick with two extra large windows, adding a strong character to the previously empty lot. Related: Super skinny 4-meter-wide home is squeezed between buildings in Tokyo https://vimeo.com/203146648 Of course, working with such a narrow space created a number of challenges on the interior. To create a sense of openness, the architects took advantage of the tall, skinny space by building three stories, all with incredibly high ceilings. Multiple large windows offer optimal natural light , and exposed concrete and white walls enhance the minimalist interior design. The entranceway to the 1,506-square-foot space opens up into the kitchen and dining area in the back of the home, which leads out into a shared garden space. The second floor houses a small library and reading lounge that includes a reading hammock that looks out over the interior garden space. Two small bedrooms and a unique bathroom with an open shower and aquatic green accents are housed on the third floor. For private outdoor space, the architects put a quaint little herb garden on their rooftop, which shares space with the home’s solar array . + SkinnySCAR House + JagerJanssen Via New Atlas Images via SkinnySCAR House

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Couple builds dream solar-powered home on an awkward lot in Rotterdam

New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties

February 23, 2017 by  
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Email already hobbled one politician; could it prove to be the downfall of another? The writing might be on the wall for Scott Pruitt , longtime foe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , as well as its newest administrator. While serving as attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt regularly colluded with oil and gas producers and electric utilities with ties to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch to oppose federal environmental regulations, according to 7,500-plus pages of email that were made public on Wednesday. “The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry, with frequent meetings, calls, dinners and other events,” said Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy , which sued to obtain the documents. Indeed, the correspondence portrays a rapport that isn’t just amicable, but downright cozy. Devon Energy , an oil and gas exploration firm based in Oklahoma City, for instance, drafted—and redrafted—letters for Pruitt to sign and send to federal officials in opposition of regulations designed to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and ozone pollution. “Attached is a potential first-cut draft of a letter a (bipartisan if possible?) group of AGs might send to the acting EPA administrator and some others in the Administration in response to the NE states’ notice of intent to sue for more E&P emission regulation,” William Whitsitt, executive vice president for public affairs at Devon, wrote in 2013. Related: Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of Months later, Clayton Eubanks, a deputy solicitor general, asked Whitsitt for advice on a draft the letter was preparing to send to the EPA regarding proposed regulations of methane emissions. “I would like to get the letter out in the morning,” Eubanks wrote. “Any suggestions?” Whitsitt was quick to respond. “Here you go. Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none,” he wrote back. Hope this helps.” “I sent the letter today,” Eubanks emailed the next day. “Thanks for all your help on this.” Communications reveal a similar fraternity between his office and Koch Brothers-funded conservative political groups such as Americans for Prosperity , which emailed the offices of Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman thanking them for helping “push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states.” The emails’ release comes just days after Pruitt was promoted from EPA critic to EPA overseer. The road to his appointment was a rocky one, to say the least. Senate Democrats, environmental groups, and former and current members of the EPA staff launched a vociferous campaign against Pruitt, even calling for a delay on his confirmation vote until after the emails were made public. It was mostly for naught, however. Susan Collins from Maine was the sole Republican who voted against him, and Pruitt was confirmed by a 52-to-46 vote on Friday. Making his first speech at EPA headquarters in Washington on Tuesday, Pruitt told employees that he was here to “listen, learn, and lead.” Related: Scott Pruitt attacks critics and EPA employees in first speech Pruitt said the EPA needed to respect states’ roles in enforcing standards, and that “regulations ought to make things regular.” He also insisted that there shouldn’t be a disconnect between environmental protection and energy production. Nor should regulations hamper job creation. “We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” Pruitt said. “That we don’t have to choose between the two. I think our nation has done better than any nation in the world at making sure we do the job of protecting our natural resources and protecting our environment while also respecting the economic growth and jobs our nation seeks to have.” Pruitt’s words did little to smooth staffers’ hackles, however. “Pruitt’s talk [was] as bad as expected,” one anonymous employee told Mother Jones . “Not one word about public health. And talking about the rule of law as if we didn’t do everything with the realization that it will end up in court. It was condescending and hypocritical.” + Center for Media and Democracy Photos by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties

The UAE joins race to build first city on Mars

February 16, 2017 by  
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The race to colonize Mars first is in full swing, with everyone from Mars One to Elon Musk angling for the prize. Now the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced their intention to build Mars’ first city within 100 years. Their plan, called Mars 2117, aims to inspire, and act as a seed for future generations to grow. Mars 2117 was launched on February 14 , on the sideline of World Government Summit in Dubai, where a Mars 2117 virtual reality experience was offered. UAE Prime Minister and vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum announced the plan : “We aspire to great things, so my brother Mohammed bin Zayed and I today decided the UAE will join the global effort to send humans to Mars. Mars 2117 is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge.” Related: Elon Musk reveals his big plan for colonizing Mars Mars 2117 isn’t just a dream for the UAE. In a statement Al Maktoum said, “The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.” The UAE government plans to create an international scientific consortium to pursue research for the project. Thus far only the United States has been able to land a craft on Mars – Europe and Russia have both failed. And the UAE just started their space agency in 2014, but they already plan to send a spacecraft, Hope, to orbit the red planet in 2021. Popular Science notes although the country lacks rockets, they have plenty of money and have shown they can move swiftly to achieve large goals, such as transforming Dubai from the pearl-fishing village it was around 40 years ago to the architectural wonder it is today, boasting the world’s tallest structure in the Burj Khalifa . Via International Business Times , Popular Science , and Government of Dubai Media Office Images via Dubai Media Office on Twitter

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