Buckwheat pillows offer a good night’s sleep without hurting the environment

February 23, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The benefits of switching from an off-gassing synthetic pillow to buckwheat are well-documented by now: The crunchy hulls of this pseudo-cereal are densely packed into a surprisingly heavy pillow that conforms to each new owner’s unique contours, providing the kind of sleep dreams are made of. Plus, the pillows last longer than their conventional cousins (with diligent care), and when the hulls do start to flatten out with time, it’s easy to replace them. But there’s more to buckwheat than comfort. Every part of this highly nutritional, fast-growing plant has something to offer, and it is typically cultivated without herbicides or pesticides , eliminating environmental harm. It’s no wonder buckwheat has such a long, illustrious history. According to the Whole Grains Council , “Buckwheat has been providing essential nutrients, vitamins, energy, and fiber to humanity for approximately 8,000 years. Its first starring role as a cultivated crop appears circa 4000 B.C. in the Balkan region of Europe, but its thought to have truly taken hold inland in Southeast Asia and from there spread to Central Asia, Tibet, the Middle East, and Europe.” They add that the Japanese emperor Gensho reportedly ordered the entire country to cultivate buckwheat in 722 to prepare for a protracted dry spell. Ideally suited to the kind of soil most plants would reject, this smother crop helps retain water in the soil, prevents erosion, and keeps weeds at bay, which in turn makes it less necessary to use pesticides. After the flowers yield buckwheat groats, the stalks can be transformed into straw for livestock, according to the Whole Grains Council , and the rest of the plant can be tilled for further water retention. Buckwheat also “likes” northern latitudes and high altitudes, hence its popularity in Russia, China and Kazakhstan. The hulls that go into pillows are simply the outer shell of the inner groat, which provides a slew of nutritional benefits for most people. Related: Why a buckwheat pillow makes a good pillow The gluten free groats provide a rich source of protein, although the Whole Grain Council warns that digestibility may be low for some people. For others, according to Purdue University , “USDA-ARS analyses indicate that the grain has an amino acid composition nutritionally superior to all cereals, including oats. Buckwheat protein is particularly rich (6%) in the limiting amino acid lysine.” It is also rich in iron, zinc and selenium, reports New World Encyclopedia , as well as antioxidants. Given its multiple benefits, of which the above are just a few examples, it’s not hard to get behind a buckwheat pillow. And it really will provide superior sleep. According to Hullo , because buckwheat doesn’t collapse or “bottom out” like down or memory foam, their pillow provides excellent support (no more stiff neck). Also, in addition to being malleable, the pillow stays cool throughout the night since it doesn’t retain body heat. Still, the soft rustling sound, the weight and texture do take some getting used to, which is why Hullo offers a 60-day money back guarantee for their durable, breathable pillows made with a 100 percent organic cotton twill case filled with carefully-sourced buckwheat hulls. And if the filling isn’t just right, you can pour out some of the hulls until it is thanks to an elegant, zipped design. Hullo comes in three sizes, ranging in price from $59 to $149. And if that sounds steep, all you have to do is check out the glowing reviews people have left on the company’s website. Customer JP wrote, “My body feels so much better. My head feels so much better. I sleep through the night and I have energy in the morning. In short: I love, love, love this pillow.” + Hullo Pillow Images via Wikipedia , Mariluna , K.G.Kirailla , Vegan Baking , Andrey Korzun , Hullo Pillow

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Buckwheat pillows offer a good night’s sleep without hurting the environment

Neanderthals, not homo sapiens, responsible for 64,000-year-old cave art

February 23, 2018 by  
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Researchers have discovered that Neanderthals, not  homo sapiens , created a series of 64,000 year-old cave drawings in Spain . Published in the journal  Science , this study marks the first time that Neanderthals have been credited as cave painters – and it deems the works of art the oldest known cave paintings. Utilizing advanced radioactive dating, the scientists determined that paintings made in three separate caves are far older than originally thought – they were created 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in the area. The Neanderthal’s reputation as a bulkier, dumber kind of human seems to be misinformed. “It’s impossible to say that one is more clever than the other,” archaeology professor Marie Soressi told the Verge . An earlier theory speculated that Neanderthals only developed a culture after the arrival of modern humans in Europe between 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. The Neanderthal cave artwork proves that the species were creative and maintained their own culture and accompanying art. Neanderthals are also known to have used eagle claws and shells in their clothing as well as pigments to add color. Related: Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa Previous efforts to determine the age of cave art were complicated by dating technology limitations. The most common method works exclusively with organic matter; using uranium ‘s radioactive decay as a metric requires a great deal of material to be dated, something that is not possible in rare, delicate discoveries like early human cave art. The scientists used a new method of dating in which they scrapped off only the crust of the cave painting, samples which are then dated in a laboratory. Via The Verge Images via D.L. Hoffman, C.D. Standish, et al.

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Neanderthals, not homo sapiens, responsible for 64,000-year-old cave art

New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

February 20, 2018 by  
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Forget lithium – this Barcelona-based company is creating batteries with paper. Fuelium is developing paper -based batteries designed for disposable diagnostic devices, OZY reported . Unlike regular batteries, Fuelim batteries don’t create toxic waste that requires complicated recycling processes. What’s not to love? Paper, carbon, and non-toxic metals: those are the ingredients for Fuelium’s batteries. These won’t be powering cars right now; the company says their paper-based batteries are suited for powering in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) applications, or tests that can detect diseases with blood or tissue samples . Fuelium says their batteries are geared for “single-use electronic devices which can be disposed of without recycling.” Regular single-use diagnostic tests are thrown out after utilizing under one percent of their batteries’ charge, according to OZY. But Fuelium’s paper batteries, according to the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Research Park , “only generate the amount of energy needed for each application and do not contain heavy metals or are harmful to health .” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria Fuelium’s batteries can be customized for different applications with voltages between one and six volts, and power between one and 100 milliwatts. They’re cost-effective and can be easily integrated as the battery materials are compatible with manufacturing processes for rapid diagnostic tests. Any liquid sample can activate the paper-based batteries, according to the company, which suggests their product could be used in the areas of infectious disease, veterinary medicine, and women’s health, to name a few. Scientists Juan Pablo Esquivel, Neus Sabaté, and Sergi Gassó of the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona started Fuelium in 2015, and according to OZY, they have signed their first contract. Esquivel told OZY their paper-based batteries are small and inexpensive, and don’t require recycling; instead, they can be tossed out with zero ecological impact. + Fuelium Via OZY Images via Self-Powered Engineered Devices and Dan Taylr on Flickr

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New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

Efficient Superlofts adapt to homeowners needs over the course of a lifetime

February 20, 2018 by  
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Marc Koehler Architects has created a series of lofts that put the design decision-making process in residents’ hands. Their Superloft design is comprised of a flexible and efficient structural system that adapts to residents’ changing needs over a lifetime. The innovative framework, integrated with a number of sustainability features , allows homeowners design “hybrid spaces” from scratch, and co-create the community’s shared spaces with their neighbors. Five Superlofts have already been completed in Amsterdam. Superloft Houthaven Amsterdam, which is located in an redeveloping industrial area in the north of the city, is comprised of 19 residences ranging from affordable mini lofts to luxury penthouses. The design was co-created by a cooperative of buyers who installed a panoramic rooftop terrace, garden space, and cooking studio. The star of the program, however, is the building’s sustainability profile. The homeowners decided to create a climate-neutral building by installing solar panels and other sustainable features , such as water-based cooling systems, CO2 sensors, wireless light switches and electric charging stations. Related: This wooden loft house has a seamless layout that continuously flows from floor to floor Using the open building movement as inspiration, the studio gives Superlofts the utmost in flexibility for home design: not only can the living spaces be personalized at move in, they can also be adapted to the future lifestyles of its inhabitants. The design uses a prefabricated concrete base that frames a series of wide modules that can be combined into a variety of configurations from housing blocks and high-rises to townhouses and more. Homeowners can build out their living or working spaces within the raw volumes, enjoying a blank canvas to customize the space to fit their individual needs, which can change greatly over a lifetime. Centrally-placed utility shafts allow the kitchens and bathrooms to be placed almost anywhere in the lofts. Suspended cross-laminated timber mezzanine floors allow for extra spaces to be added without the need for supporting walls to be built or removed. The buildings come integrated with a number of sustainability features such as an aluminum smart facade that incorporates C02 sensors for ventilation, sun shading, drainage, and more. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls flood the interiors with natural light, reducing heating and artificial lighting use. The shared living scheme creates an “urban village” feel, fostering a sense of connection within the buildings, versus the isolation that stems from the anonymous atmospheres of most city buildings. The Superloft design focuses on creating vibrant, self-organized communities through installing a series of collective community spaces such as workshops, rooftop gardens , playgrounds, co-working spaces, physical fitness centers and lounge spaces. The Superloft design not only offers optimal flexibility for homeowners, but also for cities. The adaptable design is especially beneficial to urban areas because it facilitates a circular way of building, resulting in less obsolete constructions. It can also be used to revive neglected areas and provide affordable housing solutions . + Marc Koehler Architects Via v2com

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Efficient Superlofts adapt to homeowners needs over the course of a lifetime

Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

February 20, 2018 by  
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Amit Hooda hopes to eliminate conflict with sustainable honey harvesting. He started Heavenly Organics , a company selling honey with the goal of providing ethical jobs , to foster peace . The company supports almost 600 family farmers in conflict zones across India, selling raw, organic honey they describe as the “cleanest sourced honey you can find.” Hooda discussed with his agronomist father, I.S. Hooda, how he might help people living in conflict zones. His father had spent 35 years building relationships with farmers to preserve traditional organic farming practices, according to Heavenly Organics , and help them earn money from their products. Amit grew up near a conflict zone in India during the Punjab Insurgency, and that experience inspired him to figure out a way to help others. Together, the Hoodas envisioned a company that could provide people with ethical job opportunities as a way of defeating conflict. Over a decade later, Heavenly Organics supports hundreds of farmers and sells cane sugar, chocolate honey patties, and honey. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit They don’t sell just any honey, but raw, organic honey sourced from wild beehives in the forests of Central and Northern India and the Himalayas. They say the free-range bees that create their honey and their hives have never been exposed to antibiotics, pollutants, genetically modified crops, or pesticides . Farmers harvesting honey draw on smoke-free methods to conserve wild bee colonies. Happy Fathers Day! Fathers inspire us to be our best selves and to make a real difference in the world. Amit Hooda's father is the living embodiment of this effect in action. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Jun 18, 2017 at 9:24am PDT Heavenly Organics enables displaced people to find markets for their products and earn a reliable income, according to the website. The company says, “Our goal is to increase the number of farmers we work with to 5,000 in the next five years and to extend this business model into other countries to help create long-lasting sustainable economies in other isolated areas and conflict zones.” Our honey harvesting methods are as pure as our products. Our harvesters use a bee-friendly and smoke-free way of honey collection to protect wild bee colonies and prevent forest fires and deforestation. These sweet methods keep our honey and environment clean and harmonious. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #SaveTheBees #HoneyHarvest2017 #HoneyHarvester #India #Sustainable #PeacefulProfits A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on May 12, 2017 at 3:13pm PDT Like the Native Americans in the US, there’s an indigenous population within India known as the Adivasis. Unfortunately, they have been poorly treated. As a result, they are more easily convinced to join a growing movement of insurgents looking to take up arms against the Indian Government. This conflict is known as the Naxalite Insurgency. It is rarely talked about in the West, but it is a significant source of strife throughout India. The good news is, when you purchase a jar of Heavenly Organics honey, you help put an end to this conflict by supporting families caught in the crossfire. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #Honey #RawHoney #Organic #FairTrade #USDAOrganic #Neem #SustainableHarvesting #SmokeFree #GlyphosateFree A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT Find out where Heavenly Organics products are sold near you here . You can also read more of the company’s story in this recent Wired article . + Heavenly Organics + Heavenly Organics Story Image via Pixabay

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Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

LEED Gold lab by the ocean can withstand flooding and hurricane-force winds

February 20, 2018 by  
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GLUCK+’s new research facility for Duke University boasts beautiful coastal views as well as impressive eco-friendly credentials. Recently crowned LEED Gold , the Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey Research Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina features a slew of sustainable elements from use of recycled materials and reduced water use to energy-efficient heating and cooling technologies designed to cut energy costs by 30 percent. The state-of-the-art facility’s most salient sustainability feature, however, is the engineering behind the building’s ability to weather storm surges and hurricane-force winds. Located on the southern tip of Pivers Island, Pilkey Research Laboratory is the first new research building constructed at Duke University Marine Laboratory since the 1970s. In response to current concerns of sea level rise and other extreme weather, GLUCK+ made weatherproofing the 12,000-square-foot lab a priority. To protect against storm surges, the building is made up of a series of boxy volumes of varying sizes arranged in a pinwheel formation. In a nod to the waterfront campus’ existing buildings, the lower volumes are clad in cypress, whereas white cement board covers the upper volume. Related: GLUCK+’s Green-Roofed Pavilion Pool House Melts Into the Landscape of Lake George, NY The asymmetrical volumes are centered on an area called the Collisional Commons, a public meeting area for informal interactions. Here, views of the coastline can be enjoyed through full-height glazing that also opens up to outdoor seating. All regularly occupied rooms also have access to surrounding views and abundant natural light and ventilation. Faculty offices, a PhD bullpen, teaching lab, a video conference room and service spaces surround the commons. The laboratories with equipment-intensive research spaces are housed in the upper level. + GLUCK+ Via Dezeen Images by Paul Warchol

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LEED Gold lab by the ocean can withstand flooding and hurricane-force winds

Spectacular aerial sculpture hovers above a Madrid plaza

February 20, 2018 by  
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A symphony of color has taken to the air above Plaza Mayor. The instantly recognizable aerial sculpture is the work of none other than American artist Janet Echelman , who the City of Madrid commissioned to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Plaza Mayor. Titled 1.78 Madrid, the sculpture “explores the cycle of time” and the far-reaching effects of natural phenomenon and the built environment on our lives. Unveiled February 9 this year, 1.78 Madrid was displayed for a 10-day celebratory event that concluded yesterday. Highly engineered colorful fibers 15 times stronger than steel by weight were braided, knotted, and spliced together to create a dynamic form that constantly changes in the wind and provides a soft counterpoint to Plaza Mayor’s hard edges. At night, the sculpture was illuminated with colored lights. 1.78 Madrid is the latest addition to Echelman’s Earth Time Series that began in 2010 with works exhibited across the world. According to project statement on Echelman’s website, the number “1.78” within the title “refers to the number of microseconds that the day was shortened when a single physical event shifted the earth’s mass, thus speeding up the planet’s rotation of one day,” however it’s not clear what specific event the “1.78” alludes to. In Echelman’s previous works titled “1.8,” the number was a reference to how the 2011 Tohoku earthquake shortened the length of the day by 1.8 microseconds. Regardless, the cycles of time and causality are explored in all her works. Related: Janet Echelman’s dazzling aerial sculpture maps the devastating power of an earthquake “The artwork reminds us of our complex interconnectedness with larger cycles of time and the systems of our physical world,” continues the project statement. “The sculpture’s materials embody this. When any one element in the sculpture’s network moves, every other element is affected. Our surroundings affect how we feel and how we experience our lives – we are responsible for the way our cities look and function.” + Janet Echelman Images via Janet Echelman , by João Ferrand

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Spectacular aerial sculpture hovers above a Madrid plaza

New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

February 13, 2018 by  
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Antibiotic resistance threatens humanity even as superbugs are discovered in places like pig farms . But a recent discovery offers new hope. A Rockefeller University -led team of scientists found a new family of antibiotics in dirt, the BBC reported . The researchers hope the natural compounds could be used to fight infections that are difficult to treat. 12 scientists discovered malacidins, compounds which, based on tests, kill multiple bacterial diseases now resistant to most of our existing antibiotics. That includes the superbug MRSA . They utilized a gene sequencing technique to scrutinize over 1,000 soil samples that came from around America to find the new antibiotic family. The BBC said soil teems with millions of microorganisms that produce compounds that could be potentially therapeutic or serve as new antibiotics. Related: Antibiotic resistant bugs could kill 10 million people each year by 2050 Malacidins were present in many of the samples, suggesting it could be an important find. According to the BBC, the scientists gave rats MRSA and then tested malacidins; the compound eradicated the infection in skin wounds. They’re now working to boost the drug’s effectiveness so that perhaps it could be developed into a treatment for humans – but that could take a while. Rockefeller University scientist Sean Brady told the BBC, “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.” Antibiotic Research UK professor Colin Garner, who was not part of the research team, said the find is good news but we really need antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria . These new compounds might tackle gram-positive infections like MRSA, but “our concern are the so called gram-negative bacteria which are difficult to treat and where resistance is on the increase.” The journal Nature Microbiology published the research online yesterday. Scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School contributed. Via the BBC Images via Pixabay and Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

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New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

New nanofoam catalyst generates hydrogen from water quickly and cheaply

February 6, 2018 by  
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Extra electricity from renewable energy could be used to split water to obtain hydrogen – but methods to accomplish this are usually prohibitively expensive, need too much power, or draw on catalyst materials that too rapidly break down. A research team led by Washington State University (WSU) came up with a potential answer. They developed, per a press release , “a way to more efficiently generate hydrogen from water” with a sponge-like nanofoam catalyst created with the inexpensive metals iron and nickel. Hydrogen could serve as renewable fuel in a clean energy future, but it can be difficult to generate. New Atlas said the cleanest method to obtain hydrogen from water is electrolysis , but the process typically needs rare-Earth metals for catalysts. This research team drew on two abundantly available and inexpensive metals to create a catalyst they say actually performs better than many others. Related: Startup creates renewable hydrogen energy out of sunlight and water Researchers developed a simple method to create a lot of a catalyst needed for the water-splitting reaction – and it takes five minutes. Their porous nanofoam looks much like a sponge and can catalyze the reaction using less power than others thanks to “its unique atomic structure and many exposed surfaces throughout the material.” WSU said it “showed very little loss in activity in a 12-hour stability test.” WSU PhD student Shaofang Fu said in a statement, “We took a very simple approach that could be used easily in large-scale production.” They hope to gain more support to scale up the project. Beyond potential use in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles , the university said hydrogen has a variety of uses in industry. The work appears in the February issue of the journal Nano Energy . Scientists from Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory contributed. + Washington State University + Nano Energy Via New Atlas Images via Washington State University via Phys.org

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New nanofoam catalyst generates hydrogen from water quickly and cheaply

Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa

January 26, 2018 by  
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Scientists have discovered the oldest known fossil of a modern human outside of Africa in Misliya Cave near Mount Carmel, Israel . The discovery reveals that modern humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. “[The fossil] provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed,” said Binghamton University anthropology professor Rolf Quam. The fossil , which consists of an upper jawbone with several teeth still attached, is estimated to be between 175,000-200,000 years old, at least 50,000 years before humans had been thought to have first left Africa. Using microCT scans and 3D virtual models, the research team, including scientists from Tel Aviv University , Binghamton University, and the State University of New York , determined that the fossil showed signs of potential hybridization. “While all of the anatomical details in the Misliya fossil are fully consistent with modern humans, some features are also found in Neanderthals and other human groups,” said Quam , who was a study co-author. The fossil and archaeological evidence found in the cave also indicates that these early humans in historic Palestine were capable of hunting large game animals, controlling fire for their own uses, and crafting a variety of prehistoric stone tools. “It also means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges.” Related: Turns out blood-sucking ticks really did plague the dinosaurs The region in which the fossil was discovered has long been seen as a major passage for human migration out of Africa as well as a home for various species of hominids, including Neanderthals . Piecing together the story of human migration beyond the African continent is essential to understanding the evolution of our species, the researchers emphasized. The latest discovery adds key information to this story, including details regarding the timing and nature of demographic changes and genetic mixing between populations and even species of early humans. With this new chapter, the story of ourselves becomes that much clearer. Via Phys.org Images via Rolf Quam and  Israel Hershkovitz/Tel Aviv University  

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Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa

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