First newly-developed chocolate in 80 years is made from Ruby cocoa beans

September 13, 2017 by  
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Chocolate aficionados rejoice! There’s a new version of your favorite velvety treat, and it’s ruby red in color. Made from the Ruby cocoa bean, the newly-invented variety of chocolate is the first to be developed in 80 years — since white chocolate was introduced to the world. And though we haven’t tried it ourselves, apparently it has a fruity and slightly sour flavor. The new chocolate was recently unveiled in Shanghai, China by Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut . MNN reports the company spent 13 years developing the treat and describes it as a “tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness.” It’s “an intense sensorial delight,” says the company. Part of the chocolate’s appeal is its unique color, a result of the Ruby cocoa bean’s pigment. The product is all natural and is made using an “innovative process” that unlocks the bean’s unique flavor and color. Barry Callebaut says no berries, berry flavor or any color is added to the chocolate. Related: HOW TO: Make delicious, raw chocolate pudding from avocados! This is the #rubychocolate that everyone is on about. Taste is like white choc w/ berry fruits – but all from bean… pic.twitter.com/NqGs90Lmda — Andrew Baker (@ccAndrewBaker) September 5, 2017 Unfortunately, it will be at least six months until you can try the ruby chocolate for yourself since Callebaut only makes the chocolate, and not the consumer products that would go with it. Raphael Warmth wrote on the company’s Facebook page : “So far you cannot buy the ruby chocolate. This very much depends on our customers when ruby chocolate will be available … as we are a B2B company and selling ruby chocolate to food manufacturers. Usually, it takes from 6 up to 18 months until an innovation from our side hits the retail shelves.” Judging by the gleeful reactions of people taste-testing the ruby chocolate in the video below, it will be worth the wait. + Barry Callebaut Via MNN Images via  Barry Callebaut

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First newly-developed chocolate in 80 years is made from Ruby cocoa beans

Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers

August 16, 2017 by  
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Would you eat a burger made of mealworms? Coop , the second-largest supermarket chain in Switzerland , will start selling food made with insects . The country will be the first in Europe to allow sales of insect-based food for people, thanks to laws changed in May. Coop will sell insect burgers and balls from Switzerland-based startup Essento . Switzerland’s food safety laws allow sales of food made from mealworms, crickets , or grasshoppers. Coop will be selling Essento Insect Burgers and Essento Insect Balls, both made with mealworms. The burgers also contain rice, vegetables like leeks and celery, and spices like chili and oregano. The balls – which could be eaten inside pita bread, for example – are filled out with chickpeas, garlic, onions, parsley, and coriander. Related: BUG BUG cutlery set might just make you want to eat insects Coop Head of Category Management Silvio Baselgia said they’re Switzerland’s first retailer to sell Essento’s insect products, which the company has been developing for more than two years. Essento co-founder Christian Bärtsch said in a statement, “As food, insects are convincing in many respects: they have a high culinary potential, their production saves resources, and their nutritional profile is high quality. Thus insects are the perfect complement to a modern diet.” According to Essento’s website, mealworms don’t produce as many greenhouse gases as animal food sources like pigs or cows. 80 percent of insects are edible, as compared with 40 percent of cows, and raising insects requires less food and water. Insects are a good source of protein and also contain unsaturated fatty acids, the vitamins A, B, and B12, and minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron. Essento’s products will be on sale on August 21 in seven Coop stores to start, including branches in Zurich and Geneva. + Essento Via The Guardian and Coop Images via Essento Facebook and Coop

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Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers

This robotic "eel" hunts down the source of water pollution

July 27, 2017 by  
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Lake Geneva’s latest resident—all four feet of it—is neither man nor beast. Dubbed the Envirobot , the critter is a biomimetic robot designed by Swiss researchers to pinpoint the source of pollution in tainted waters. Bereft of fins or propellers, Envirobot slithers through water like an eel, leaving mud and aquatic life undisturbed. Just as stealthily, it uses sensors to gather data from various locations, which it transmits to a remote computer in near-instantaneous fashion. Even for an automaton, Envirobot is uncommonly clever. Besides its capacity to follow a preprogrammed path, it can also make its own decisions, independently sniffing out the origin of the contamination. Related: Fukushima robot finds lava-like deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel “There are many advantages to using swimming robots,” said Auke Ijspeert, head of biorobotics at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne , in a statement . “They can take measurements and send us data in real-time—much faster than if we had measurement stations set up around the lake.” The serpentine design, which is supported by a series of small electric motors, has several advantages, as well. “Compared with conventional propeller-driven underwater robots, they are less likely to get stuck in algae or branches as they move around,” Ijspeert said. “What’s more, they produce less of a wake, so they don’t disperse pollutants as much.” Funded through a grant from Switzerland’s Nano-Tera program, Envirobot comprises several modules. Some of these contain conductivity and temperature sensors; others have miniaturized biological sensors that harbor bacteria, small crustacean, or fish cells that respond to water toxicity in different ways. The modular tack also makes it easy for engineers to change Envirobot’s composition or vary its length when the occasion calls for it. “The robot can be easily taken apart, transported to a remote water reservoir, for example, and put back together to begin testing,” said Behzad Bayat, another biorobotics scientist at EPFL. Already, Envirobot has taken several dips in Lake Geneva. It recently underwent a test that simulated water pollution by diffusing salt into a tiny area just off the shore, changing the water’s conductivity. The ersatz eel, researchers said, performed swimmingly. Although the ultimate goal is for Envirobot to pick up heavy metals and other pollutants, field tests for the “eel’s” biological components are trickier to carry out. “We obviously can’t contaminate a lake like we do the test water in our lab,” said Jan Roelof van der Meer, project coordinator and head of the department of fundamental microbiology at the University of Lausanne . “For now, we will continue using salt as the contaminant until the robot can easily find the source of the contamination. Then we will add biological sensors to the robot and carry out tests with toxic compounds.” + École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne [Via Techcrunch ]

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This robotic "eel" hunts down the source of water pollution

8 gorgeous green hotels to add to your bucket list

May 11, 2017 by  
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Need an escape but don’t want to harm the environment in the process? There are hotels throughout the world centered around sustainability – from a seaside resort in Thailand that grows 100% of its produce to a self-sustaining vacation spot in Mexico. Featuring beautiful design and eco-friendly accommodations, these hotels allow you to satisfy your wanderlust in a conscious way. Hit the jump to check out the eight green hotels we’ve rounded up, and get your adventure started. Blue Lagoon hotel connects with Icelandic landscape When you think of Iceland , you probably think of the famous Blue Lagoon , colored via minerals in waste – but safe! – seawater from a nearby geothermal plant. But you may not know there’s a new resort, the Moss Hotel, under construction there, perched near the pools. The resort design is meant to connect seamlessly with the landscape. Visitors can explore lava corridors and waterfalls in a subterranean spa , and a new restaurant will feature seasonal and local ingredients. The 62-room hotel will open this fall. Related: Solar-powered cylindrical treehouse in Mexico is made with sustainable bamboo Thailand resort grows 100 percent of its produce Traveling to Thailand ? Look no further than The Tongsai Bay Hotel . The hotel was constructed with the environment in mind; not even one tree was cut down to make room for the family-owned resort. 66 species of birds and wildlife reside within the hotel’s 28 and a half acres. The resort also grows 100 percent of its produce , with food waste getting a second life as fertilizer. They practice radical reuse; a few examples include reusing old bathtubs as planters and old sheets as napkins. 121-year-old warehouse on Singapore River given new life as chic hotel An old Singapore warehouse – that once acted as an opium den – got a second chance as the classy Warehouse Hotel . The waterfront warehouse is 121 years old, but Zarch Collaboratives gave it new life with a design inspired by its industrial past in 37 rooms and a double-height lobby. The hotel kept some original elements of the warehouse like its peaked roofs and renovated others like the louvre windows. Self-sustaining Mexico resort incorporates permaculture principles Near Tulum, Mexico rests a self-sustaining, eco-luxe villa that’s the stuff of travel daydreams. The resort designed by Specht Architects is cooled in part by large cutouts in the walls and insulated with native plants adorning the roof. Solar-powered , the villa collects and filters rainwater for use. It even utilizes constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. Not only does the hotel boast impressive sustainability but stunning bay views and gorgeous modern design as well. Switzerland visitors enjoy connection to nature in open-air hotel Brothers and artists Frank and Patrik Riklin took sleeping under the stars to a whole new level with their one-room, open-air hotel in Switzerland – with no walls or roof. Visitors to the second reincarnation of Null Stern (the first being a nuclear bunker turned luxury hotel) may not have access to a bathroom but do have a butler for the night who will bring breakfast in bed. The minimalist experience provides stunning views of the Swiss Alps . Sweden’s famed Treehotel welcomes Snøhetta-designed 7th room amidst the pines Treehotel , a collection of designer treehouses in Sweden , recently welcomed their 7th room designed by Snøhetta . The cabin is lifted over 30 feet above ground and immerses guests among the enveloping pine trees – Snøhetta said their goal was to bring nature and people closer together. Massive windows and skylights afford opportunities to gaze at the Northern Lights, and a pine tree print across the bottom of the cabin makes it appear invisible from underneath. Locally sourced, natural materials comprise spruce-clad Swedish hotel As you might guess, there’s more than one eco hotel in Sweden. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed Öijared Hotel with a similar aim of blending the buildings into surrounding nature . Locally sourced and natural materials were used in the hotel’s 34 prefabricated rooms. Natural wood materials inside add to the earthy aesthetic. Whimsical hotel in Romania built with sand and clay In Romania , a storybook hotel built of clay and sand, hearkens back to both ancient stories and ancient building techniques. The Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor , designed by owners Razvan and Gabriela Vasile along with eco architect Ileana Mavrodin , includes 10 rooms and was constructed without drawing on any modern building techniques. Natural materials , shaped by local craftsmen, give the hotel a fairytale feel. Images via Blue Lagoon , Laura Mordas-Schenkein for Inhabitat, Warehouse Hotel , © Taggart Sorensen, Null Stern , © Johan Jansson, Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture , and Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor

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Researchers want to save shrinking Swiss glacier with 4,000 snow machines

May 1, 2017 by  
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Climate change is shrinking the Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland by around 98 to 131 feet every single year. Scientists led by Johannes Oerlemans of Utrecht University think they have an answer: artificial snow . 4,000 snow machines could recycle water into flakes that could hopefully preserve the famous glacier. Oerlemans presented the idea in late April at the European Geosciences Union annual meeting. He thinks artificial snow blown over the glacier during the summer could help protect its ice . Sunlight melts that ice, but as Oerlemans said, “as long as there’s snow on top, the ice beneath is unaffected.” According to New Scientist, if artificial snow was put over the glacier, it would be the first attempt in the world to protect a glacier on this large of a scale. Related: Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic Morteratsch draws tourists every year because its snout, or the end of the glacier, is easy to reach. Oerlemans said, “Locals claim it’s the only place you can reach a glacier from a wheelchair.” But the natural wonder has dwindled from an 1860 length of five miles to 3.7 miles today. Residents of nearby Pontresina asked Oerlemans and other colleagues to save their treasure. They’d heard white fleece coverings on the smaller Diavolezzafirn glacier helped it grow around 26 feet across a decade. Oerlemans thinks Morteratsch could win back a length of around 2,625 feet in 20 years with some type of covering. A few centimeters of artificial snow fanned across a 0.2 square mile plateau high upon the glacier could help save it, according to the scientist. That may sound like a relatively small area, but it would still take 4,000 snow machines, using water recycled from meltwater lakes near Morteratsch. Scientists are starting with a pilot project at Diavolezzafirn’s foot. They’ll blow snow over an artificial glacier to see how the method works. If they’re successful, researchers hope the Switzerland government might fund the project with the millions of Euros required for Morteratsch. Via New Scientist Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Researchers want to save shrinking Swiss glacier with 4,000 snow machines

Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race

May 1, 2017 by  
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Boldness has never been a problem for Elon Musk , who decided to improve the experience of driving through Los Angeles – while the rest of us just honk our horns. After tweeting in December that the city’s notorious traffic was driving him nuts, he immediately set up The Boring Company to dig underground tunnels for relief from the congestion above ground. Now the company has released a YouTube video envisioning exactly what that system might look like. Check it out after the jump. Forget freeway on-ramps. In the future imagined by The Boring Company, cars simply drive onto a sled-like device on a city street that lowers them into the tunnel network. The sleds then connect to a track and shoot the cars under Los Angeles at speeds of 124 miles per hour, according to the video. A supercomputer could direct car movement to potentially eliminate accidents. Related: Elon Musk says new company will start drilling under LA next month There’s no mention of what travel times could look like via the futuristic underground tunnels in the video, but a Gizmodo article threw out the estimate of Compton to Malibu in a few minutes; right now that journey takes around an hour, at best. Musk recently spoke more about The Boring Company at TED2017, in addition to Tesla and SpaceX . The interviewer, TED Head Curator Chris Anderson, asked how much of the entrepreneur’s time the project takes up, and Musk estimated just two or three percent. “This is basically interns and people doing it part time…we bought some secondhand machinery…it’s kind of puttering along but it’s making good progress,” he said in the talk. Anderson joked The Boring Company is “what an Elon Musk hobby looks like.” One can imagine all sorts of regulatory hurdles his hobby company would have to jump before they could build the vast tunnel network envisioned in the video, but if anyone can do it, it’s probably Musk. If you want to learn more, settle in over a lunch break; Musk’s TED talk is 40 minutes long and can be watched here . + The Boring Company Via Gizmodo Images via screenshot

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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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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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