Why hydrogen fuel cells are a boon for the military

September 27, 2017 by  
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About a decade ago, the United States federal and state governments began experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells, said Stan Osserman, director of the Hawaii center for advanced transportation technologies. The push was driven by high oil prices at the time. As the prices tapered, however, the development kept going. “The prices have come down and the weight has come down on [hydrogren fuel] equipment,” said Osserman. “Lots of companies are realizing this is a good business case on its own.” 

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Why hydrogen fuel cells are a boon for the military

UAE unveils plans for massive city simulating human settlement on Mars

September 27, 2017 by  
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced plans to build a 1.9-million-square-foot city that will simulate conditions for humans living on Mars . Mars Scientific City comprises the Emirate’s first step towards their ultimate goal of building a city on the red planet itself by 2117. The UAE Government unveiled plans for the Mars Scientific City at the first annual review of their plans for the future, according to The National. The project will cost 500 million United Arab Emirates Dirham, which is around $136.1 million. Inside the city, research laboratories will be set aside to investigate how future Mars colonists will produce everything from food and water to energy . Related: The UAE joins race to build first city on Mars Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president, said the Mars Scientific City is an extraordinary national project and released some images on his Twitter page. From these pictures, it appears scientists could carry out research in the desert in large bio domes. In addition to research on Earth, the Emirates Mars Mission is working towards launching the Hope spacecraft in 2020. The spacecraft is set to arrive and begin orbiting Mars in 2021, in time for the UAE’s 50th anniversary. According to The National, the probe would be the first sent to Mars by a Muslim country. Earlier this year, the UAE unveiled their Mars 2117 plan and their goal of building the red planet’s first city within 100 years. They plan to conduct research for the Martian city with the help of an international scientific consortium. According to The National, the Mars Scientific City, as a specialist research city, could offer a first step towards Mars 2117 as scientists delve into how humans might survive in Mars’ harsh environment . Via The National Images via Dubai Media Office on Twitter

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UAE unveils plans for massive city simulating human settlement on Mars

How termites draw on solar power for climate control

September 22, 2017 by  
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Termite mounds could hold clues to passive climate control , according to new research. Seven scientists scrutinized African termite mounds to see how they keep their homes cool in the sun while maintaining a uniform concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers have looked at south Asian termite mounds in the past, but those are often more shaded; they say uncovering the secrets of African termite mounds could lead to energy-efficient building ideas. Termite mounds are impressive not only because the creatures that construct them are so small, but because they naturally maintain a comfortable temperature – no air conditioner necessary. Researchers led by Samuel Ocko, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student, dug further into climate control in termite mounds, specifically those of the Macrotermes michaelseni termite in Namibia . Their mounds can be around 10 feet high, with millions of workers residing inside. Related: BIOMIMETIC ARCHITECTURE: Green Building in Zimbabwe Modeled After Termite Mounds Ocko and his team measured air velocities and temperatures in the mound over 35 days in Namibia’s autumn and found even though temperatures outside the mound changed by 27 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, inside temperatures only varied by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The termites drew on the sun more than wind to achieve climate control. According to IFLScience, convection from the temperature gradient between outside the mounds and their centers drove smooth airflow. During 24 hours, CO2 levels stayed around five percent. The mounds have holes that can be up to 0.2 inches in diameter, which IFLScience said creates an array of tunnels and allows for gas exchange. They said the mounds also lean towards the equator. CO2 levels vary more in Indian mounds during the day, while temperatures remain even. African mounds have large thermal gradients between the center and the sun-facing side. The researchers said in their paper abstract that even though African and Indian mounds differ, they can harness periodic solar heating for ventilation ; they said the system functions like as an external lung. The Journal of Experimental Biology published the research this year. Ocko was joined by scientists at institutions in the United States, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Via IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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How termites draw on solar power for climate control

Astronomers observe an object in space unlike anything they’ve seen before

September 22, 2017 by  
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Astronomers recently observed a type of object in space unlike anything we’ve come across before. 288P is a binary asteroid – or two asteroids orbiting one other – that has features similar to a comet , like a long tail and bright coma, or cloud of dust and gas surrounding a comet’s nucleus. It is the first binary asteroid we’ve ever found that can also be classified as a comet. Scientists learned of 288P’s existence in 2011, but they weren’t able to really scrutinize the binary asteroid – it was too far away – until recently when it came a little closer to Earth. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope , a group of scientists led by Jessica Agarwal at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany were able to get a better look at the strange system. Related: Astronomers discover that exoplanet WASP-12b is “darker than asphalt” 288P is a main-belt comet as it’s located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter . Each of the two pieces that make up 288P are about 0.6 miles in diameter, and the research institute said they are unusually far apart: they’re orbiting one another at a distance of around 62 miles. The astronomers also observed ongoing activity in 288P. Agarwal said, “We detected strong indications of the sublimation of water ice due to the increased solar heating – similar to how the tail of a comet is created.” 288P has probably been a binary system for just around 5,000 years. And according to Hubble’s website, we’re not likely to find any more objects like 288P for a long time, since finding the binary main-belt comet “included a lot of luck.” The journal Nature published the research online earlier this week. Agarwal was joined by four other researchers from institutions in the United States. Via Hubble Space Telescope and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research Images via ESA/Hubble, L. Calçada and ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser

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Astronomers observe an object in space unlike anything they’ve seen before

Why moms (and the rest of us) must fight for EPA’s future

September 19, 2017 by  
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Women control 85 percent of spending power in the United States. Time to mobilize.

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Why moms (and the rest of us) must fight for EPA’s future

Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis

September 15, 2017 by  
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Traveling between Mexico City and Guadalajara takes over six hours by car today – but imagine making that trip in under 45 minutes. It could be possible in the future with a new Hyperloop system proposed by Mexloop , a Mexican consortium which includes names like Arup and Fernando Romero Enterprise , co-designers of Mexico City’s New International Airport. Their suggested Hyperloop network is a winner of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Mexloop’s Hyperloop network could connect four major metropolises in Central Mexico , including the country’s capital and two of its cities with the greatest populations, according to Mexloop. The resulting megalopolis would connect 42 million people – which could be 60 million people by 2050. Mexloop says the proposed Hyperloop corridor would boost the economy and ease traffic in what they described as the most congested city in the world. Related: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system In addition to Mexico City and Guadalajara, Santiago de Querétaro and León would also be on the Hyperloop route, which would span 330 miles. It would take around 38 minutes to travel the full route. And the project could be cost-effective; according to Mexloop, early estimates hint a Hyperloop system could be two thirds of the cost of a high speed rail project. And Hyperloop tickets would cost around the same amount as a car or bus trip, or the price of a low-cost flight. Mexloop is already looking to the future, saying Phase 2 of the project could involve extending the route to Manzanillo in the west and Veracruz in the east, and north to Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexico-United States border. The Hyperloop One Global Challenge drew more than 2,600 entrants, and Mexloop was one of 10 winners . Other winning teams submitted proposals for the United States, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Hyperloop One now plans to work with the winning teams to further hone the proposals. + Mexloop + Hyperloop One Images courtesy of Mexloop

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Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis

Let’s not greenwash the SDGs

September 13, 2017 by  
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The United Nations’ Global Goals are about more than buzzwords.

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Let’s not greenwash the SDGs

BSR at 25: What businesses need to succeed

September 13, 2017 by  
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Three lessons on collaboration, communication and resilience, based on a quarter century of fostering corporate leadership.

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BSR at 25: What businesses need to succeed

Scientists observe ‘diamond rain’ similar to that found on icy giant planets

August 24, 2017 by  
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You may have heard that icy planets like Neptune and Uranus experience diamond rain. But now, scientists have been able to mimic conditions of those planets and observe diamond rain at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Since it’s difficult for us at this point to directly observe the interiors of these planets, such research could help scientists better understand and classify worlds. For a long time, scientists have hypothesized that diamond rain arises over 5,000 miles below the surface of planets like Neptune and Uranus. In this recent experiment, a group of researchers simulated the conditions of these planets “by creating shock waves in plastic with an intense optical laser ” in the laboratory , according to a recent press release. They were able to observe that almost every carbon atom of the plastic was incorporated into diamond structures. The diamonds were tiny – only around a few nanometers wide – but on Uranus and Neptune, the researchers think the falling diamonds could weigh millions of carats. Related: Mysterious object near Neptune just made space a lot weirder Study lead author Dominik Kraus of research center Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf said in a statement, “We can’t go inside the planets and look at them, so these laboratory experiments complement satellite and telescope observations.” The scientists think diamond rain could produce an energy source, generating heat as it falls. Beyond observing a neat phenomenon, the experiment could help scientists learn about how elements mix together under pressure in the interiors of planets, providing them with more information on a planet’s defining features. These researchers plan to apply their methods to study the processes of other planets as well. Nature Astronomy published the study online this week. 23 scientists of institutions in Germany, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom contributed to the research. Via SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Images via Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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Scientists observe ‘diamond rain’ similar to that found on icy giant planets

Elon Musk urges UN to ban artificially intelligent killer robots

August 21, 2017 by  
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The same man who brought you PayPal , Tesla and SpaceX is now urging the UN to ban the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in weaponry. Elon Musk believes that artificially intelligent “killer robots” are “morally wrong” and a potential threat to humanity – and he’s petitioning the UN along with 115 other experts in robotics to prevent “a third revolution in warfare.” In a letter to the United Nations, the experts ask for killer robot technology to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. ”Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” the letter says. “These can be weapons of terror , weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.” The urgent tone of the letter cannot be missed. The leaders warn, “we do not have long to act” and add, “Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.” The BBC reports that a killer robot is a fully autonomous weapon capable of selecting and engaging targets without human intervention. Developed for the purpose of war, the technology could be a potential threat to humanity. For this reason, the experts in robotics are requesting autonomous “kill functions” be banned. The UN group focusing on autonomous weaponry was scheduled to reconvene this Monday. However, the meeting has now been postponed to November. Related: Elon Musk has a simple plan to power the US entirely on renewable energy This isn’t the first time the faction of the UN has considered a ban on killer robot technology. In 2015, more than 1,000 tech experts, researchers, and scientists wrote a letter warning about the dangers of autonomous weaponry. Stephen Hawking, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Musk were among the signatories. Via BBC Images via Depositphotos , Pixabay , OnInnovation

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Elon Musk urges UN to ban artificially intelligent killer robots

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