Former Angry Bird marketing guru proposes 80-mile underwater tunnel to link two cities

January 18, 2018 by  
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Peter Vesterbacka, the former marketing chief for the smash hit mobile game Angry Birds, has embraced a new challenge: the construction of an 80-mile-long tunnel between Helsinki , Finland and Tallinn , Estonia. This tunnel would facilitate a high-speed rail connection between the capital of Finland, an artificial island in the Baltic Sea that Vesterbacka plans on building, and the capital of Estonia. “Digging is just a few billion [euros],” Vesterbacka told Buzzfeed News . “Let’s say $15 billion and then it’s done. It’s pretty big.” Big is perhaps an understatement, not only in the resources required and procedural obstacles but in the potential economic impact of linking these two historic cities into one metropolitan area. Vesterbacka was inspired to revisit the old idea of connecting Helsinki and Tallinn, first proposed in 1871 as a bridge built with the assistance of massive balloons , during a May 2016 conference in Tallinn. “When Finns and Estonians get together, they typically start talking about the need to cooperate more,” he said . “It happened again and then I thought that OK, I will finally build it. Let’s walk the walk.” Vesterbacka then stood up, walked to Marina Kaljurand, then-minister of foreign affairs for Estonia, and told her that he and his friends now planned to build a tunnel . “I looked at him quite skeptically, as an enthusiastic and very naive Finn. But when he introduced his background, he started to sound more believable,” Kaljurand told BuzzFeed News . Related: Finland’s longest bridge will be a beautiful pedestrian and cyclist superhighway Admittedly, Vesterbacka had not entirely thought his plan through. For example, he later learned that the world’s largest traffic tunnel, the 35.5-mile-long Gotthard tunnel in the Swiss Alps, took two decades to finish and only recently opened in 2016. Nonetheless, Vesterbacka remains confident. “Building a tunnel is different than building a game, but not that different,” he said . “It’s about making things happen, bringing the right people together.” To this end, Vesterbacka has enlisted the services of two engineering firms with tunnel-building experience. Seventy percent of the project’s funding would come from undisclosed Chinese sources while the rest would be sourced from bank-run public pension funds. Even as the process of securing permits, funding, and a solid plan are daunting, Vesterbacka sees his initiative as a patriotic endeavor. “It is important for Europe as well. France, Germany, and the UK are totally incapable of doing anything. It is very important for the Nordic countries to step up and show the leadership,” he said . Via BuzzFeed News Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Former Angry Bird marketing guru proposes 80-mile underwater tunnel to link two cities

The Revolve Wheel is a puncture-proof tire that folds into a compact pod

January 18, 2018 by  
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It’s often said that there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, but one revolutionary designer has done just that. Andrea Mocellin’s Revolve Wheel is an airless, puncture-proof and foldable wheel that is compatible with most bicycles and wheelchairs. Mocellin says that the new take on the old wheel was inspired by the growing trend of foldable vehicles , which are typically limited in how small they can get by the size of their wheels. REVOLVE: The wheel in a new form from Andrea Mocellin | REVOLVE | on Vimeo . The Revolve Wheel is designed to be the first modular wheel that can be taken easily on the road. The unique hexagonal structure folds down to a compact pod, allowing for effortless pack up – perfect for biking excursions or city adventures. Related: BriTek’s Brilliant Airless Bicycle Tire Reinvents the Wheel Since the tire is airless, it’s even more convenient for adventure cyclists – there’s no need to bring along a bulky tire pump. According to the designer, the wheel is made with foldable bikes in mind as well as wheelchairs and other wheel-based forms of travel. + Revolve Wheel Images via Revolve Wheel

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The Revolve Wheel is a puncture-proof tire that folds into a compact pod

The world’s first 100% solar-powered train launches in Australia

December 18, 2017 by  
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The world’s first 100% solar-powered train is now gliding down tracks in Byron Bay, Australia . The Byron Bay Railroad Company refurbished a three-kilometer, or almost two-mile, stretch of tracks and restored a heritage train, outfitting it with a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) solar array with flexible solar panels . A limited service launched over the weekend, with full service set to commence in January. Byron Bay Railroad Company restored tracks and a bridge between the town of Byron Bay and the Elements of Byron Bay resort to provide affordable public transportation for locals and visitors. 100 seated passengers and other standing passengers can ride the solar train , and there’s room for luggage, bikes, and surfboards. The fare for a one-way trip is $3 for adults, $2 for ages six to 13, and free for children up to age five. Related: Indian Railways launches first train with solar-powered coaches The flexible SunMan solar panels lining the carriage roofs produce energy that is stored a 77 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery system, which can also charge up between trips via a 30 kW solar array at the main station. The battery bank has around the same capacity as a Tesla Model S, according to RenewEconomy , and can make 12 to 15 runs off one charge as it only takes the solar train around four kWh for each leg of the trip. A regenerative braking system “recovers around 25 percent of the spent energy each time the brakes are applied,” according to the Byron Bay Railroad Company website . The train’s lighting, traction power, control circuits, and air compressors are all battery-powered. Byron Bay Railroad Company said they originally intended to offer a diesel train service before switching to solar, but the “accelerated development of technology in this area” made it technically feasible to create the solar train. One of two original diesel engines is still part of the train as a backup and for weight and balance. You can find out more about the train here . + Byron Bay Railroad Company Via TreeHugger and RenewEconomy Images via Byron Bay Railroad Company

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The world’s first 100% solar-powered train launches in Australia

America’s first private high-speed train could take 3M cars off the roads

December 11, 2017 by  
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America isn’t known for high-speed rail travel. But a new express train project taking off in Florida could shake up that perception. Brightline , owned by Florida East Coast Industries , will be the country’s first private, high-speed rail service, and will allow people to travel from Fort Lauderdale to Miami in half an hour, on trains powered by diesel electric engines. Floridians could soon get around Southeast Florida in around an hour aboard Brightline. The $3 billion project could take up to three million cars off the roads, on trains the company says were “designed with green in mind” with diesel electric engines that are quieter and spew less emissions . They’ll operate in Florida’s densest population corridor, where over six million people live and tourists continually visit. Related: Amtrak purchasing new high-speed trains to speed up travel between New York, Boston and Washington DC Brightline will start transporting travelers from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale this month, and in early 2018 into downtown Miami . Phase 2 will take people all the way to Orlando . Much of Brightline’s marketing revolves around ease, advertising frequent departures and the ability to book on the fly. They say rideshares will be waiting at their modern stations, and while traveling people can take advantage of free WiFi. All Aboard Florida obtained state approval earlier this year to sell bonds to finance Brightline, and said no public money will go towards paying for it. The Brightline project is the first test into an American foray into high-speed rail, according to Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions director John Renne. The vehicle speeds still won’t be as fast as some trains in other countries. Brightline trains will travel at 120 miles per hour (mph) at their fastest, but during the rollout they’ll operate at around 80 mph. The company has not yet confirmed ticket prices; a 2015 study they commissioned suggested it could be around $16 to go from Miami to West Palm, which is around $10 more than the price to journey on a government-run train on a similar route. + Brightline Via Brightline and NPR Images via Brightline and Brightline Twitter

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America’s first private high-speed train could take 3M cars off the roads

World’s fastest bullet train can travel between Beijing and Shanghai in 4.5 hours

September 25, 2017 by  
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Traveling between Shanghai and Beijing can take more than 12 hours by car, or over eight hours on public transportation . But a new bullet train could slash those travel times. China recently launched the fastest bullet train in the world that travels at a speed of 217 miles per hour. This month, China launched the world’s quickest bullet train in Beijing. The service is called Fuxing and will travel the route between the country’s capital and Shanghai – a 777-mile trek – in around four hours and 30 minutes. Related: China takes on the Hyperloop with a supersonic ‘flying train’ This isn’t the first time China has run a 350 kilometer per hour (km/h) bullet train. They first launched a train that travels at that speed in August 2008, but lowered speed limits in 2011 to 186 miles an hour after a two-train crash close to Wenzhou that killed 40 people. A signaling failure caused the crash, according to Al Jazeera. The BBC said Fuxing trains have an improved monitoring system that can slow the trains down and stop them if there’s an emergency. Now the Chinese government is thinking of building more bullet trains, and taking their technology abroad. Experts wonder about the economic benefits of the super fast bullet train – estimates from international think tanks indicate it could cost 90 percent more to construct lines for 217 mph trains than for those that only travel at 155 mph. Economics professor Zhao Jian told Al Jazeera, “The purpose of raising the speed is mainly symbolic. The train is the fastest in the world, which implies the strength of Chinese train technology and science.” According to The Telegraph, the country has laid over 12,400 miles of high-speed rail , and aim to add 6,214 more miles by 2020. Along with looking to take their technology overseas, according to the BBC, China’s rail operator might even be looking into how to upgrade tracks so that trains could travel at speeds close to 250 mph. Via The Telegraph , Al Jazeera , and the BBC Images via screenshot and Pixabay

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World’s fastest bullet train can travel between Beijing and Shanghai in 4.5 hours

South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

June 20, 2017 by  
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Travelers looking to explore Peru in style can now jump aboard South America’s first luxury sleeper train – the Belmond Andean Explorer . The train’s interior was designed by London-based Muza Lab to pay homage to the golden age of train travel, enhanced with vibrant colors and textures inspired by the local Peruvian culture and landscape. According to the founder of Muza Lab, Inge Moore, the train’s interior is designed to take travelers back to another age of train travel: “We design journeys, and with Belmond Andean Explorer, we have distilled the romance, nostalgia and freedom of the train voyage. The train is a place of transition where time seems to slow down between the departure and the arrival. Our vision was to design somewhere to ponder and dream, a space where the beauty of the land can infuse the soul.” Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train Although the name and the design of the Belmond Andean Explorer are new, the 16-carriage train was originally the Great South Pacific Express. During the renovation process, the design team worked hard to renovate the space while retaining some elements out of respect for train’s long history. The train’s original timber walls were painted soft, neutral tones to help create an open, airy feel that runs throughout the interior. However, it’s not quite a minimalist color palette; touches of vibrant colors and varying textures are found throughout the train thanks to the various Peruvian crafts and artistry that were found locally. In fact, most of the design touches were locally sourced – from the timber floors and roman blinds to the hand-crafted woven textiles. The sleeper cabins were designed to provide a luxurious travel experience. Once again using local culture for inspiration, each cabin is named after Peruvian flora and fauna. In addition to the comfortable beds and soft Saffiano leather seats, vibrant tapestries can be found in each car as well as baby alpaca blankets for extra chilly nights. Even the smallest detail speaks to the country’s rich culture, such as the brass room keys in the shape of the Chakana Cross – a symbol of the Incan civilization as well as the train’s crest. Outside of the private sleeper cars , guests can also enjoy watching the beautiful landscape pass by from the rounded outdoor deck of the Observation Car, called Ichu after the tall grasses that grow on the Peruvian plains. There are also two dining cars, a serene spa, and an old-world piano bar named after the herb Maca. + Muza Lab + Belmond Andean Explorer

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South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever

June 20, 2017 by  
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Fear not the flat tire, road trippers! The future of tire technology is rolling into reality, thanks to Michelin’s Vision tire. The 3D-printed tire does not need to be inflated, and it’s designed to last through the entire lifetime of a vehicle. It’s also equipped with high-tech sensors and it’s 100% biodegradable to boot. Michelin used 3D printing technology to create an airless tire modeled on alveolar structures – like as the air sacs found in human lungs. This means that the tire’s interior is structurally solid, while the outer layers are more flexible, which prevents blowouts and flat tires. The tire is printed from organic , recyclable, biodegradable materials and it can be recycled when it has reached the end of its product life. Related: Continental Tire looks to dandelions for a more sustainable tire 3D printing allows the tire’s treads to be customized to meet the needs of a specific vehicle , and Michelin minimized the amount of rubber used in the tire to enhance its sustainability. Embedded sensors keep track of each tire’s wear and proactively order reprints for smooth driving. Michelin imagines an eventual product that incorporates butadiene – a major component of modern synthetic rubber that is derived from wood chips or straw. Although Michelin has not discussed when these tires will be available for purchase, the company believes that the concept may soon become a reality. Via Yanko Design Images via Michelin

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Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever

Forgotten ancient city recently found in Ethiopia offers new insight into country’s history

June 20, 2017 by  
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Archaeological research in Ethiopia has largely centered around early humans , but there’s more to the country’s past than just our origins. Researchers recently found an ancient city at Harlaa, Eastern Ethiopia, that offers clues into the early days of international trade between the 10th and early 15th centuries. Legends has it the city was once the home of giants. Archaeological work has been lacking around Harlaa, where University of Exeter researchers, working with archaeologists from Leuven and Addis Ababa , recently uncovered the forgotten city. But local farmers, who had found pottery and even Chinese coins, suspected there may be more to find in the area. The massive size of some of the building stones for the city – which is around 1,640 feet by 3,280 feet big – led to stories it had once been populated by giants. Related: Research suggests humans emerged 2.8M years ago amid major climate change event Giants didn’t live there, according to Timothy Insoll, professor in the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the university. But the area was home to a wealth of archaeological treasures. Researchers uncovered a 12th century mosque as well as indications of Islamic burials. They found glass vessel pieces, beads, and imported cowry shells. They unearthed pottery that came from faraway places like China, the Maldives, Madagascar, and Yemen. They also discovered silver and bronze coins that came from Egypt in the 13th century. Insoll said in a statement, “This discovery revolutionizes our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia…The city was a rich, cosmopolitan center for jewelry-making and pieces were then taken to be sold around the region and beyond. Residents of Harlaa were a mixed community of foreigners and local people who traded with others in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and possibly as far away as the Arabian Gulf.” Archaeologists partnered with the local community to excavate the area over two years. So far they’ve dug down around eight feet, and plan to continue the work next year. Many findings will be displayed in a heritage center operated by locals for a new source of income. Some pieces will go to Ethiopia’s national museum in Addis Ababa. Via the University of Exeter Images courtesy of Tim Insoll

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Forgotten ancient city recently found in Ethiopia offers new insight into country’s history

Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact

June 20, 2017 by  
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A decrepit lumberjack’s shack has been transformed into a beautiful light-filled weekend getaway just outside of Montreal . Local studio YH2 led the renovation of the shack, renamed La Colombière, turning the simple one-story building that lacked running water into a cozy three-story retreat with all the luxuries of home and minimal landscape impact. When the owner Suzanne Rochon commissioned YH2 for La Colombière, she required that the renovation not expand past the shed’s existing footprint for fear of damaging the surrounding forest. Thus, the architects built upwards, drawing inspiration from the way a tree branches into a canopy. No trees were cut and heavy machinery was avoided to minimize site impact . Related: Sublime Nook Residence blends seamlessly into the snowy Canadian landscape The redesigned three-story retreat is clad in dark cedar in reference to the bark of nearby conifers, while the vertiginous interior is painted all in white. “Materials and structure of the previous phase are kept and uninterrupted so that the addition acts as an extension rather than an insertion,” write the architects. A living room is located on the first floor while the bedroom and bath are placed on the second. The eye-catching third-floor is bookended with oversized windows and an outdoor covered terrace to the west. + YH2 Images by Francis Pelletier

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Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact

Luxury tree house lets owners hide away in a Cape Town forest

June 20, 2017 by  
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Not all tree houses are rustic backyard projects—some, like the stunning House Paarman in Cape Town, take the typology to luxurious new heights. Designed by South African studio Malan Vorster , this one-bedroom getaway is a modern interpretation of the forest and blends in with its surroundings. The compact cabin is elevated off the ground and immerses guests into the tree canopy with views overlooking the forest and a quartet of square reflection pools. The freestanding House Paarman is an abstraction of the forest and comprises four cylindrical units that symbolize trees, each with a tree trunk-like steel pillar with branch-like beams and circular rings that provide support to the floors above. The four cylindrical units are arranged in a pinwheel layout around a square base. The columns, arms and rings are constructed from laser-cut and folded Corten steel plate. Western red cedar wraps the building and is left untreated so as to develop a patina over time. The architects write: “Inspiration was drawn from the timber cabins of Horace Gifford and Kengo Kuma’s notions of working with the void or in-between space, while Louis Kahn’s mastery of pure form and the detailing ethic of Carlo Scarpa informed a process of geometric restraint and handcrafted manufacturing.” Related: Dreamy treehouse hidden in Woodstock offers magnificent Catskills views This masterful attention to detail can be seen everywhere in the compact cabin , which was designed with ample glazing to give it a sense of lightness. Connections between the mostly vertical steel elements and the horizontal timber elements are joined with hand-turned brass components. Furnishings, such as the bed and cabinetry, were custom-made from solid oak. In addition to floor-height glazing, natural materials and a subdued color palette reinforce connection with nature. The House Paarman features a living space on the first floor, a bedroom on the second, and roof deck on the third. A sculptural staircase connects the floors. A plant room is tucked below the building on the ground floor. The half-round bays created by the cylindrical shapes include a patio, dining alcove, bathroom, and built-in seat. + Malan Vorster Images by Adam Letch and Mickey Hoyle

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