Desert Twins produce water through condensation in driest place on Earth

May 29, 2017 by  
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One in 10 people on Earth lack access to safe water , which is why artist Ap Verheggen has been working so hard to address water scarcity over the last decade or so. He and the rest of the SunGlacier team, invited by the Dutch Ministry of Defense, recently tested their idea of making water from thin air in what they describe as the driest, hottest place on the planet: the Sahara Desert . They were able to accomplish the feat solely with the power of the sun and a bit of basic physics. Take a closer look at their groundbreaking Desert Twins , designed specifically for this project, after the jump. From an ice-making leaf in the desert to a solar-powered desert waterfall , SunGlacier has pioneered creative, artistic approaches to the lack of water in Earth’s dry areas. They recently made water from air in Mali with the solar-powered Desert Twins, two devices built for the Sahara Desert test. One device makes water, the other houses an energy unit. Condensation enables the devices to create water. Related: Produce your own water from thin air with SunGlacier’s solar-powered DC03 But it’s much harder to pull water from air in the Sahara than it is in the Netherlands, where SunGlacier is based. According to the team, air in Mali on a summer day only has around half the water vapor of a dry summer day in the Netherlands. They faced several days of challenges as they tinkered with their devices, adding insulation and re-configuring cooling air streams before they finally succeeded in producing any water. The team knew their design could operate in ideal conditions, but the Mali success shows it can work just about anywhere in the world. SunGlacier says their device is “probably the world’s first artificial water well to work entirely off the grid .” SunGlacier intends to keep improving their technology, and say in the future they plan to focus on cleaning and enriching water with salts and minerals, and water storage. Their goal is to build a machine that is able to operate without electricity or a liquid water source, much like a well. + SunGlacier Via SunGlacier Images courtesy of SunGlacier

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Desert Twins produce water through condensation in driest place on Earth

New autopilot software update improves performance and feel of Tesla cars

May 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla may be the most valuable car company in the United States, but they are still raising the bar for autonomous vehicles. The company has been working to improve their software , and their new Autopilot update comes with relaxed speed restrictions that make driving on undivided roads and off highways even better. Tesla recently began pushing a new software update for cars with the second generation Autopilot. The new update allows cars to zoom along up to speeds of 90 miles per hour (mph), but also threw out the old limit of 35 mph for off-highway driving and aligned it with the old speed restrictions on the first generation Autopilot, which is five mph greater than the speed limit detected. If the Model S doesn’t detect a speed limit, the restriction is 45 mph. Related: Did Tesla Autopilot predict an upcoming accident before it actually happened? Vice president of Autopilot software Chris Lattner said on Twitter the performance and feel of the car is much improved. It appears Autosteer now is on par with the feature in the first generation Autopilot, according to Electrek – they said Autopilot 2.0 didn’t show signs of progress as Tesla moved away from using Mobileye technology and started using their own computer vision. Elon Musk said his company saw “a bit of a dip” after they unexpectedly transitioned away from Mobileye. But Electrek said it appears they’ve now largely overcome the issue. Musk said in a conference call, “…we had to basically recreate all the Mobileye functionality in about six months – which we did.” Electrek said Tesla has been better utilizing front-facing cameras on their vehicles. Handling around curves and turns looks better with the new update, as does driving on roads that aren’t divided and have little markings. Whether or not the car detects speed limits could be an issue; Electrek suggested that feature could be improved in future updates. YouTube user Tesla Trip took a spin with the new software and posted a 23 minute video showing the excellent handling on roads with few markings; you can check it out here . Via Electrek ( 1 , 2 ) Images via screenshot

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New autopilot software update improves performance and feel of Tesla cars

New on-demand energy system generates and stores power in one device

May 24, 2017 by  
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Your entire home could be powered, heated , and cooled with one system in the near future – thanks to scientists at the University of Newcastle and Infratech Industries . They’ve designed a Chemical Looping Energy-on-Demand System (CLES) that eliminates the need for a battery to store energy , instead generating and storing power in just one device. The university described the CLES as a Swiss army knife for energy . The CLES could totally change how we power our homes and businesses. The device can either generate electricity with natural gas , or store electricity from the grid or renewables to be utilized later. It centers around a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction in which particles oxidize and create steam that powers an electricity-generating turbine. When the particles reduce they release oxygen. Related: These mini spherical reactors could help scale fusion energy by 2030 The University of Newcastle says it can perform its functions – climate control and energy generation – with a fraction of the resources required by other systems. The system can also produce oxygen or hydrogen, which could be used or sold. The CLES is based on a Chemical Looping Air Separation invention from Behdad Moghtaderi, a professor at the university, and Infratech, which has been involved since the early stages of the project, aims to commercialize the technology. Their industrial-scale reference plant in Australia could power a retirement village or hospital. The reference plant will go through testing before it’s relocated to be used commercially. From there the team hopes to scale down the system to around the size of a refrigerator for use in houses. This should be available in around 18 months according to the University of Newcastle. A home system might generate 24 kilowatt-hours of power each day, and the scientists told New Atlas the system – which could cost around $4,500 for homeowners – would pay for itself in a year and a half. Via New Atlas and the University of Newcastle Images via screenshot and the University of Newcastle

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New on-demand energy system generates and stores power in one device

Dwell on Design 2017: The West Coast’s largest design event is coming to Los Angeles!

May 24, 2017 by  
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Dwell on Design , the West Coast’s largest design event, is back and better than ever for 2017. The highly-anticipated three-day design event to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 23 – 25 will feature 300 exhibitors, continuing education opportunities and onstage programming from design’s foremost leaders. Visitors will be able to tour homes curated by the talented editors at Dwell and attend conversations hosted by notable architect Sir David Adjaye , designer-to-the-stars Martyn Lawrence Bullard and founder of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux. If you don’t want to miss this treasure trove of design-goodness, register here to reserve your spot and you can use the code INHABITAT to get a $5 discount. For it’s 12th year, Dwell on Design will welcome 300 new and returning exhibitors in 100,000 square feet of space. In order to foster a shared experience, all sessions and featured panels will be hosted on the main stage, with more intimate fire-side chats and panels taking place throughout the fair. These conversations will focus on five themes: Technology/Smart Home, Health & Wellness/Aging, Urban Space/Densification, Resiliency, and Business of Design. Every year, the home tours are a real highlight of the show. This year, attendees will be treated to yet another inspiring series of Dwell-worthy home designs, including the minimalist Drexel home, cleverly remodeled Kuehl House and the mnmMOD-constructed Sherbourne Residence. Returning pavilions will include the ever-popular prefabricated Cocoon9 and Method Homes . Other exhibitors will include Benjamin Moore, Ergotron, Build.com, Hansgrohe, Humboldt Redwoods, Koble & Koble, Marvin Windows, Smith & Fong, and Stokke. The fair will also feature the AIA LA Photography awards, book signings by Sir David Adjaye, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and more, Meet the Architects Night, and a silent auction. Architect Sir David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates will be the keynote speaker on Friday, June 23. He’s known for his ground-breaking use of materials and has created such noteworthy designs as the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, the Moscow School of Management, and the stunning, recently-opened Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture . Then there’s Martyn Lawrence Bullard, star of Million Dollar Decorators and designer to Hollywood’s A-list, who has received international acclaim for his impressive mastery of style, and Christiane Lemieux, an acclaimed designer who founded DwellStudio  and Cloth & Company, as well as acting as creative director of Wayfair. Ongoing education partners include such respected names as the American Society of Interior Designers , U.S. Green Building Council , Sustainable Furnishings Council , and the National Kitchen and Bath Association . Attendees will be able to expand their knowledge on emergent topics, including the latest color trends, NetZero building practices, Passive Design principles, psychological effects of color use, sustainable landscapes, modern prefabricated design, living in small spaces, and sustainable housing. Year after year, Dwell on Design showcases groundbreaking and life-changing designs that end up transforming the industry. We can’t wait to see what is turning heads this year, but until then, you can check out all of the best Dwell on Design coverage from past years here . And don’t forget to nab your tickets for this year’s fair before they’re all gone,

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Dwell on Design 2017: The West Coast’s largest design event is coming to Los Angeles!

Richard Branson’s new supersonic jet will fly 2X faster than the speed of sound

May 12, 2017 by  
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Would you like to travel between New York City and London in just 3 hours and 15 minutes? In a few years, that could be possible. Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic and startup Boom Technology have partnered to build a supersonic aircraft capable of zipping through the skies faster than the speed of sound. Live Science reports that the passenger aircraft would be capable of traveling through the skies faster than the Concorde jet or any other commercial aircraft today. The plane won’t be the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound, but it will be the first modern, supersonic passenger jet that travels at Mach 2.2. In case you’re wondering, that is twice the speed of sound, or 1,451 mph (2,335 km/h). The now-retired Concorde was capable of flying at speeds of about 1,350 mph (2,180 km/h). At Mach 2.2, passengers could travel between San Francisco and Tokyo in 5.5 hours, or between Los Angeles and Sydney in less than 6 hours and 45 minutes. In a blog post , CEO and founder of Boom Technology Blake Scholl said that one of the startup’s goals is to set a new speed record for civil aircraft. “Building a supersonic airplane is not easy — but it is important,” Scholl wrote. “While we love the hard engineering and technical challenges, what really drives us is the enormous human benefit of faster travel . Related: Sir Richard Branson urges prime minister David Cameron to back renewable energy Reportedly, Scholl is most excited about the positive implications supersonic commercial travel may bring, as it will make the farthest regions of the planet more accessible. “Imagine traveling across the Atlantic [Ocean], getting business done [in Europe] and being home to tuck your children into bed,” Scholl wrote, “or saving two whole days of a typical round-trip itinerary to Asia. … When time is no longer a limit, where will you vacation? Where will you do business?” Having raised $33 million in funding to develop the startup’s first supersonic passenger jet , the company will begin constructing the “Baby Boom” prototype. Then, a prototype of the eventual full-size Boom aircraft, which will carry 55 passengers in all-business-class configuration, will be built. Air Transport World (ATW) reports that the Baby Boom’s first test flight is scheduled for 2018, and the full-size Boom for 2020. Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to follow shortly afterward. Via Live Science Images via FighterSweep , Forbes

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Richard Branson’s new supersonic jet will fly 2X faster than the speed of sound

New MIT water purification method eliminates even trace chemical waste and pesticides

May 12, 2017 by  
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Ridding water of tiny concentrations of pollutants isn’t easy. Typically, a lot of energy or chemicals are required to remove these dangerous contaminants – but that could change. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany have come up with an electrochemical process able to pull out toxins like chemical wastes, pharmaceuticals , or pesticides . Their process could help people in developing countries obtain water without those unhealthy compounds. The scientists pioneered an electrochemical process able to selectively get rid of organic pollutants, which can be harmful even in minimal amounts. Here’s how it works: small surfaces are coated with Faradaic materials which can become positively or negatively charged after reactions. An electrical source is added to the surfaces, and then as water flows around the materials, the surface materials are tuned to bind with noxious pollutants. Unlike other systems that require either high pressures or high voltages to work, the new way can function at what chemical engineering professor T. Alan Hatton described as relatively benign low voltages and pressures. Related: Researchers develop solar-powered device to harvest water in the desert The system could help people in the developing world obtain water free of toxic pollutants. Chemical engineer Xiao Su of MIT , lead author on a paper published recently in Energy and Environmental Science , said in a statement, “Such systems might ultimately be useful for water purification systems in remote areas in the developing world, where pollution from pesticides, dyes, and other chemicals are often an issue in the water supply.” Su said the system, which is highly efficient, could operate even in rural locations with a little help from solar panels . The new method isn’t quite ready to go yet, but mechanical engineer Matthew Suss of Technion Institute of Technology in Israel seems hopeful. He said the system still needs to be tested under real-word conditions and for lengthy periods of time to see if it’s durable, but the prototype “achieved over 500 cycles, which is a highly promising result.” Via MIT News Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Felice Frankel

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New MIT water purification method eliminates even trace chemical waste and pesticides

Dutch scientists zero in on pothole cure

May 5, 2017 by  
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Potholes plague roads around the world. These pits are annoying for drivers, but even worse, those that haven’t been well maintained may cause as much as a third of all deaths on highways. So scientists in the Netherlands are investigating materials able to repair themselves, and have zeroed in on asphalt and concrete . Many roads are laid with asphalt. The material is porous, which is both a blessing and a curse: the pores absorb noise but also lead to cracks and potholes. Materials scientist Erik Schlangen , chair of Experimental MicroMechanics at Delft University of Technology , is working on self-healing asphalt. He mixed steel fibers with asphalt to make the material conductive, and then when a large induction machine is run over the asphalt, heat helps close any cracks. The Verge pointed out since the machine is necessary, the asphalt isn’t entirely self-healing, but it does allow for easier repairs. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Need to Improve Self-healing asphalt is undergoing testing on 12 roads in the Netherlands; one has been open since 2010 and all are in excellent condition. Regular asphalt roads tend to stay in good condition for seven to 10 years, however, so Schlangen said in upcoming years the difference will be clearer. He said self-healing asphalt could be 25 percent more expensive than typical asphalt, but could last twice as long. One estimate put the Netherlands’ savings with the self-healing asphalt roads at 90 million Euros every single year. And asphalt isn’t the only material with which scientists are innovating. Schlangen’s team is also looking at adding bacteria to concrete to make it self-healing as well. Bacteria produce calcium carbonate to fill in cracks. Schlangen said these bacteria can live for over 200 years in nature, so they’ll last for the lifetime of concrete. They also don’t harm humans. The scientists have applied the material to some structures and are working to improve it. Via The Verge Images via Pixabay and Alan Stanton on Flickr

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Dutch scientists zero in on pothole cure

The Biggest Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles

May 3, 2017 by  
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Electric vehicles (EVs) have made huge technological strides since they were first introduced, and they’re more popular than ever before. Yet some drivers are still hesitant to make the switch from traditional gas-powered cars, in large part…

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The Biggest Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles

The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

May 3, 2017 by  
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Last fall The Ocean Cleanup found 1,000 large pieces of plastic in two hours in the Pacific Ocean during their first aerial reconnaissance mission. Today the Dutch foundation announced they’ve raised $21.7 million, and can now begin large-scale trials of their passive plastic capturing technology – in the Pacific – as soon as this year. The Pacific Ocean, plagued by the Texas-sized Great Pacific Garbage Patch , desperately needs to be cleaned up. The Ocean Cleanup is ready to tackle the problem with their plastic gathering technology tested in the North Sea thanks to new funding amounting to $21.7 million. Investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff and entrepreneur Peter Thiel . Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Founder and CEO Boyan Slat said in a statement, “Our mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal. Thanks to the generous support of these funders, the day we’ll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight.” The Ocean Cleanup’s technology draws on ocean currents to collect trash and could reduce the theoretical cleanup time of plastic in the Pacific Ocean from millennia down to years – their Ocean Cleanup Array could scoop up almost half of the patch’s garbage in 10 years . When they launch their technology in the Pacific later this year, it will be the first experimental cleanup system in that ocean, according to the foundation. The Ocean Cleanup will share more details at the Werkspoorkathedraal , an exhibition in the Netherlands, on May 11 at 2:00 PM EST. According to their website the talk will unveil The Next Phase and share “what we’ve been working on for the past two years, and what will be happening next.” They’ll be live streaming the event on their website . + The Ocean Cleanup Images courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

May 2, 2017 by  
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Are humans an endangered species ? Some scientists think so. Author Phil Torres wrote a piece for Salon detailing evidence from various sources – from climate change data to a recent article by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking – showing the possibility of an apocalypse that could occur in some of our lifetimes. Torres said, “We are in a unique moment of human history, one marked by an exceptionally high probability of disaster.” Climate change isn’t the only issue humanity must contend with today. Overpopulation , ocean acidification, antibiotic resistance , and the potential of a global pandemic threaten us. In a December 2016 article for The Guardian , Hawking said, “Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.” And all of this while an anti-intellectual president sits in the White House. Related: Scientists say we have 10 years to save Earth Donald Trump’s election prompted The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight – the closest it’s been since 1953. In a New York Times article , scientists Lawrence Krauss and David Titley wrote their organization made the move because Trump had pledged to impede progress on climate change action and nuclear proliferation. They aren’t the only scientists predicting disaster. Microbiologist Frank Fenner, whose work helped defeat smallpox, said in 2010 “humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction , and climate change.” Biologist Neil Dawe said it wouldn’t surprise him if the generation following him saw the end of humanity. Ecologist Guy McPherson went so far as to say humanity could be extinct by 2026 . But we don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs just yet. Hawking said humanity must break down barriers inside and outside nations, and help equip people for a changing economy with training and financial support. He said he is an optimist for our species, but elites must learn lessons from 2016 – and “above all a measure of humility.” Via Salon Images via David Blackwell. on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

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