Swiss resident begins peddling jars of Alps mountain air starting at $97

March 5, 2017 by  
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Got an extra $97 lying around? With that money you can now purchase a jar of fresh mountain air from Switzerland . Resident John Green has started collecting air from the Alps and peddling it online, saying “the air in the mountains is like champagne [so] I decided I had better start selling it.” Born in London, Green says he’s resided in Switzerland for 20 years. He’s now decided to sell that fresh Swiss air from his website MountainAirFromSwitzerland.com , in three sizes. A pint costs $97, a quart $167, and a 3/4 gallon jar will run you $247. He includes a certificate of authenticity with each purchase, and captures the air in what he describes as a secret location. “Let’s just say it’s collected by a babbling mountain stream, fed by melt water from a famous glacier , near a very famous mountain,” says the website. Related: Australian entrepreneurs are selling canned fresh air to polluted China But anyone brave enough to shell out that money will also get GPS coordinates, according to the website, so they can pinpoint the location of their air on a map. Green suggests owners put the jar in the freezer first for the full effect should the owner decide to open the jar. On the website he says, “I seriously feel almost reborn every time I go to the Alps and breath the fresh air; there’s definitely something magic in that air. So get your little bit of magic right here, right now!” Green even says he’s donating 25 percent of profits to World Vision . He told The Local, a Swedish publication, “I know it’s a bit crazy but it’s a fun idea and it helps give some money to a charity that I think is deserving.” As for the price, he said he wants to make the business sustainable and must consider the costs of shipping the air worldwide. “And also don’t forget, it’s Swiss air! Everything in Switzerland is expensive.” When asked if anyone had been willing to purchase the air, he said, “It’s starting slowly, let’s put it like that!” + Mountain Air from Switzerland Via The Local Images via Wikimedia Commons and Mountain Air from Switzerland

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Swiss resident begins peddling jars of Alps mountain air starting at $97

This 7-year-old from Maryland might be the next Einstein

February 6, 2017 by  
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Romanieo Golphin, Jr. may only be 7, but already there are whispers that he could be the Albert Einstein of his generation. The home-schooled boy from Silver Spring, Maryland, showed signs of precociousness at age 2, when he was able to tackle questions about particle physics between spoonfuls of Cheerios. Although Romanieo digs art and music and loves LEGO and candy, his real passions lie with science, a subject where he gets to articulate “big words” like “cyclohexanecarboxylic acid” that would trip the tongues of most grownups. “They’re not a mouthful for me,” he told the Washington Post . People started to take notice. Steven Goldfarb, an experimental physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which runs the Large Hadron Collider, invited the pint-size prodigy and his family to tour the facilities in Switzerland, whereupon he dubbed Romanieo a CERN “ambassador” to the Washington region. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of National Geographic’s Cosmos , is said to be a fan. The elder Golphin, an adviser for the music department at the University of North Carolina , regularly takes Romanieo to to university classes to observe. “When he looked in my classroom, all I saw was his hair, his forehead and his eyeballs,” said Brian Hogan, a professor of chemistry at UNC. “And his eyeballs, they looked like hard-boiled eggs, they were open so wide.” Related: 7-year-old California boy saves 10K for college with his own recycling company Hogan was a skeptic at the beginning, but little Romanieo quickly won him over. “He could be the next Einstein,” he said. “He’s got a mind that is built to solve problems.” Romanieo’s parents hope that their son’s aptitude for science will lead him change people’s lives for the better. But they also acknowledge that his interests could just as easily lead him to a career in the arts. “Let the boy free, and he’s going to create his world,” Golphin said. Via the Washington Post Photos from Facebook

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This 7-year-old from Maryland might be the next Einstein

Foster + Partners breathes new life into the Kulm Eispavillon in St Moritz

February 1, 2017 by  
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The newly-renovated Kulm Eispavillon, designed by Foster + Partners , was just recently reopened and it’s simply spectacular. Located in St Moritz, home to Lord Foster himself, the regeneration project aimed to breathe new life into the derelict Kulm Park by converting it into a community-centered resort. The renovation process focused on retaining the historic building’s original wooden vernacular, while adding contemporary features that could accommodate future sporting events. The 1905 pavilion was home to the 1928 and 1947 Winter Olympics, but had since been abandoned, falling into extreme disrepair over the years. The new design aimed to bring the building back to life, but still retaining the site’s original style and historic features. A new public ice skating rink serves as the heart of the center and visitors can also enjoy an onsite restaurant and a “sympathetically-designed Orangerie” with beautiful views of the surrounding valley. Related: Foster + Partners’ China Resources University opens in Shenzhen In addition to restoring the existing building, the architects added a multi-purpose pavilion that will host sporting and cultural events year-round, including the medal ceremonies at the Ski World Championships held in February 2017, as well as music festivals and classic car expos. Lord Foster explained that, more than a design project, the renovation was also a labor of love, “I approached this project not only as an architect, but as a sympathetic resident of St Moritz; to me it was all about bringing the historic structure and the Davos Plaun back to life, to recreate a space for the local community. The restoration of the old eispavillon and the new extension seek to re-establish Kulm Park as the social focus of this part of the town, providing a new destination for visitors and residents of the Engadin valley alike. The new Kulm Eispavillon will be at the heart of the sporting schedule of St Moritz, and will also provide a flexible space for a variety of outdoor events throughout the year, from music concerts to car exhibitions. Using the local tradition of wood, the entire ensemble is designed to be of the place, both in spirit and materials.” + Foster + Partners Photographs via Foster + Partners  

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Foster + Partners breathes new life into the Kulm Eispavillon in St Moritz

An old Swiss farmhouse gets a striking wooden extension that juxtaposes past and present

December 28, 2016 by  
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Studio Marazzi Reinhardt recently updated an old farmhouse in the quiet Swiss village of Löhningen  with a striking wooden extension that seamlessly melds modern and classic architecture. ‘Haus Zur Blume’ ads extra living space to an existing home while juxtaposing the past against the present. The modern structure is wrapped in a wooden slat facade that filters natural light.

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An old Swiss farmhouse gets a striking wooden extension that juxtaposes past and present

An old Swiss farmhouse gets a striking wooden extension that juxtaposes past and present

December 28, 2016 by  
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Studio Marazzi Reinhardt recently updated an old farmhouse in the quiet Swiss village of Löhningen  with a striking wooden extension that seamlessly melds modern and classic architecture. ‘Haus Zur Blume’ ads extra living space to an existing home while juxtaposing the past against the present. The modern structure is wrapped in a wooden slat facade that filters natural light.

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An old Swiss farmhouse gets a striking wooden extension that juxtaposes past and present

Did Uber flub its chance to expand self-driving ride-hailing service to San Francisco?

December 28, 2016 by  
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A few weeks ago, Uber quietly expanded its self-driving ride-hailing service to its hometown of San Francisco. The launch marked a triumphant leap forward just three short months after the company initially began offering riders in Pittsburgh the option of hailing a self-driving car. Unfortunately, the California Department of Motor Vehicles swiftly shut down the San Francisco operation by revoking the registrations on Uber’s 16 self-driving vehicles, citing the company’s failure to obtain the proper permits. That decision prompted Uber to announce it would look for another city to roll out its self-driving pilot program, but many questions remain about whether they will ever be able to pull it off in their home state.

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Did Uber flub its chance to expand self-driving ride-hailing service to San Francisco?

Natural material palette brings warmth to minimalist Swiss home

December 12, 2016 by  
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Proving that minimalist design doesn’t have to sacrifice warmth, Wohlgemuth & Pafumi Architekten designed their latest project, Swiss Simplicity, to be a contemporary, yet comfortable family home. The architects incorporated basic elements of traditional Swiss construction, but broke away from the mold by using a variety of natural materials to bring a soothing harmony to the design. Located in Seltisberg, Switzerland, the home was designed as a comfortable haven for a family of four and their beloved cats. Keeping in mind the homeowners’ vision of “Switzerland style,” the architects used a sophisticated combination of wood, concrete, stone, steel, and glass throughout the design. Simple volumes and sharp angles pay homage to local building traditions, which, combined with some thoroughly modern twists, give the structure a unique character. Related: Branching addition cuts through existing Swiss farmhouse to increase structural integrity On the interior, a beautiful open floor plan was carved out for the living space, giving precedence to the communal family areas. The living room, kitchen and dining room are all seamlessly combined into one large airy space in order to create a strong sense of togetherness. Additionally, the simple color pallet of white walls and hard wood floors, along with the sleek industrial wooden and concrete staircase, creates a soothing living space. + Wohlgemuth & Pafumi Architekten Images via Wohlgemuth & Pafumi Architekten

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Natural material palette brings warmth to minimalist Swiss home

Unique meditation pavilion in the Netherlands generates its own mist

September 21, 2016 by  
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The Meditation Pavilion and Garden were designed to cultivate a tranquil atmosphere and harness the calming potential of water. The enclosed volume spreads from bank to bank and draws the water inside to blur the line between the interior and exterior space. It houses changing rooms and a bathroom at the west end, and a summer kitchen and storage at the opposite side. Related: Tiny Meditation Pavilion Sits Ever-So-Quietly Amidst Vermont’s Green Mountains The steel-framed structure features movable partitions that slide to open and close the middle part of the pavilion. Most of the exterior is defined by vertical ash wood slats that make the volume seem permeable. Skylights add natural light to the interior and partly illuminate the water. + GMAA – GM Architectes Associés Via Dezeen

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Unique meditation pavilion in the Netherlands generates its own mist

New Swiss solar cell doubles the efficiency of residential systems

September 9, 2016 by  
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As if to prove the sheer speed at which solar cell technology is evolving, a new startup called Insolight claims to have beaten the efficiency record set just over a week ago by a joint team from MIT and Masdar Institute . The new device was invented by a team while working in the innovation incubator at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and it reportedly has a solar energy conversion rate of 36.4 percent, one percent more than the Masdar/MIT innovation. That efficiency rating is effectively double what is currently available to residential customers, which is precisely the market EPFL’s new startup is trying to help. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLA7IKv7Ehg EPFL ’s Innovation Park helps technology startups with facilities and funding to help translate big ideas into a big impact on the world. The race to innovate more efficient solar cell technology is a mad dash, and there really is no finish line. With each new development building on the discoveries that came before, each new device holds a ton of promise for its potential effect on end users and, essentially, people’s pocketbooks. Insolight’s new technology is currently being tested in a lab environment, vastly different from practical applications, but the staggering energy conversion rate is a good first step. Related: Masdar/MIT solar makes a grab for world record with 35% efficiency and a lower cost Insolight’s invention is already being put through the wringer. A prototype was tested by the Fraunhofer Institute, an independent lab based in Germany, in which the 36.4 percent energy conversion rate was recorded. The device tracks the sun, optimizing its capture of solar energy, and since the team chose to build on existing technology, they were able to keep costs under control. Their aim is to produce a highly efficient, but still affordable option for solar energy, thereby competing with existing residential solar arrays . Insolight’s solar panels were also designed to be easily installed on standard mounting systems, which means homeowners would be able to choose just about any mounting system they desire, as opposed to being forced to buy a manufacturer’s proprietary design. Using a solar concentrator in the setup was the best way to boost efficiency without boosting the price. Thin, transparent plastic concentrators act as a lens to focus solar energy onto relatively tiny but super high performance solar cells , the likes of which are currently used in space applications. In doing so, the team was able to employ the best of both worlds: the high efficiency of expensive solar cells, but with just a small amount of them, due to the concentrators. “It’s like a shower: all the water goes down one small drain, there’s no need for the drain to cover the entire floor of the shower,” said Insolight CEO Laurent Coulot. Here’s hoping the technology passes further scalability tests, and doesn’t wind up going down the drain. Via Phys.org Images via EPFL/Alain Herzog

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IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

August 4, 2016 by  
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IBM researchers in Switzerland have created an artificial neuron that behaves just like the real thing . For the first time in history, artificial phase-change neurons have been grouped together (in a population of 500 synthesized in a lab) to process a neurological signal in more or less the same way that biological neurons transmit messages. They can be made exceptionally small and are similar in power and energy usage to biological neurons, and can even produce results with random variations, also just like biological neurons. For non-scientists, the importance of this discovery may not be immediately apparent. IBM ’s artificial neuron , developed by a research team in Zurich, is quite literally the next best thing to a naturally created biological neuron. The lab-created version has all the same components of a biological neuron, including inputs (dendrites), a neuronal membrane (lipid bilayer) around the spike generator (soma, nucleus), and an output (axon). Likewise, its functions mimic those of its biological counterpart. Related: Scientists create the world’s first enzymes using synthetic biology In addition to all that, the artificial neurons are durable, made from well-known materials that can withstand trillions of switching cycles. They are tiny (around 90 nanometers) and researchers believe they can make them even smaller, possibly as minuscule as 14nm. The researchers started by creating 500 artificial neurons together in a chain capable of sending signals, which means the IBM team has created the closest artificial version of a biological neuron. In the next phase of research, the team will create a much larger population of artificial neurons, with thousands of individual units, and write software to push their capabilities to the limit. The study results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Via Ars Technica Images via IBM

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IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

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