The US just experienced its hottest May on record

June 11, 2018 by  
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It’s a familiar theme: each year, it seems, is the hottest year on record. The most recent climate change milestone in the U.S. occurred last month, when the country experienced its hottest May ever recorded. “Nature is dealing cards from a very different deck now compared to the 20th century,” climate scientist David Titley told USA Today . The average temperature for May in the lower 48 states was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the average temperature for the month in the 20th century. Prior to this year, the record hottest May occurred in 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl. While climate change contributed to the record warmth, two significant tropical storms brought heat and precipitation north from the Gulf of Mexico. While more than a quarter of the contiguous U.S. remains in drought, some states, including Maryland and Florida , experienced their wettest month of May on record. As a result of heavy winter snow melting rapidly in a warm spring, locations in Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming have experienced significant flooding. Related: Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades Beyond the average monthly temperature, more than 8,590 daily warm temperature station records were either broken or tied throughout May. “This was 18 times more than the approximately 460 daily cold temperature station records during the month,” NOAA wrote. “Several of the daily records were noteworthy, including 100°F on May 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota  — the earliest such occurrence on record.” + NOAA Via Ecowatch and  USA Today Images via NOAA

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The US just experienced its hottest May on record

A prefab hotel with lakeside views pops up in northern Russia

June 11, 2018 by  
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St. Petersburg-based architecture firm Rhizome group designed and built Tochka na Karte Hotel, a prefabricated structure crafted to embrace the outdoors. Located in the northern Russian town of Priozersk in Leningrad Oblast, the hotel complex is a sleek and modern getaway nestled among mature pine trees. The use of modular technology has helped reduce construction waste and minimize site impact , including the preservation of existing trees. Located just a two-hour drive north of St. Petersburg , the Tochka na Karte Hotel (Russian for ‘a point on the map’) is set on the shore of Lake Ladoga on the border of the Republic of Karelia. Due to its proximity to St. Petersburg, historical points of interest and abundance of pristine nature, the area has long served as a major tourist destination for Russians and foreigners alike. The hotel taps into the region’s natural beauty by using floor-to-ceiling glazing to frame outdoor views from every room, thus blurring the line between indoors and out. The prefabricated building comprises three two-story blocks with 32 standard rooms, detached suites (built of two modules) and a reception building (assembled from three modules and some prefabricated elements). The modules, which measure 3.5 meters by 7 meters, were constructed in a factory and then assembled on site. Stairways and terraces connect the modular blocks. The facade was built of timber and dark metal to tie the building into the wooded landscape. To further blend the hotel into its pine forest backdrop, the structures were “dispersed” among existing mature pines near where the Vuoski River meets Lake Ladoga. Related: This minimalist prefab hotel offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps “We believe we succeeded in achieving the essence of a place inherent to modern Nordic architecture,” the architects wrote. “Terrain forms, trees layout and our strive to provide a view of the shore from every room constitute the buildings’ location on the site.” + Rhizome Images by Dmitry Tsyrencshikov

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A prefab hotel with lakeside views pops up in northern Russia

Stephen Hawking reveals what existed before the Big Bang

March 7, 2018 by  
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In an interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson , iconic physicist Stephen Hawking reveals what he believes existed prior to the Big Bang. “Nothing was around,” said Hawking, who fortunately elaborated on this point. “The Euclidean space-time is a closed surface without end, like the surface of the Earth,” said Hawking, referring to the four-dimensional conceptual model that incorporates the three dimensions of space with time. “One can regard imaginary and real time as beginning at the South Pole, which is a smooth point of space-time where the normal laws of physics hold. There is nothing south of the South Pole so there was nothing around before the Big Bang.” At least, there was nothing around that humans can currently experience or conceptualize. Since there is no way to measure time prior to the Big Bang , Hawking concludes that simply nothing existed prior to the Big Bang. In his interview with deGrasse Tyson, Hawking also spoke about the questions he would ask of Sir Isaac Newton, were he able to do so by some twist in space-time. “Is the solar system stable? And what happens to a star that cannot support itself against its own gravity ?” Hawking wondered. The stability of the solar system is of particular interest to residents of Earth. Related: Stephen Hawking: Humans must leave Earth within 100 years to survive Hawking has offered some pessimistic assessments of the near-future of our planet. He predicts that the Earth will become a ball of fire within the next 600 years while also warning humanity that we have less than a century to leave Earth before it becomes uninhabitable. He also warned about the existential dangers of artificial intelligence . “Computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence, and exceed it,” he said in 2017 . “Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.” Via USA Today Images via Star Talk and NASA

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Stephen Hawking reveals what existed before the Big Bang

VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

December 4, 2017 by  
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Uber , get ready for more competition. Volkswagen’s mobility startup Moia just introduced a fully electric vehicle optimized for ridesharing . Unveiled at TechCrunch in Berlin, the concept also includes an app so customers can book and pay for rides easily. The startup plans to roll out the six-seaterout on the streets of Hamburg, Germany next year, with an overall goal of removing one million cars from roads. Moia could offer travelers an easy, eco-friendly new way to get around cities. The startup, which began just a year ago at TechCrunch in London, aims to get cars off the streets to ensure cleaner air and reduced traffic . Six people can ride inside the vehicle, which features standalone seats with USB ports and dimmable reading lights so everyone’s comfortable. Passengers can check their emails or surf the Internet with WiFi. There’s also a storage area next to the driver for luggage or bags. Moia’s range is 300 kilometers, or over 186 miles, and can be charged to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Osnabrück designed and built it in a record 10 months. Related: Volkswagen confirms when the Microbus is coming back as an EV With the app, users can see available cars and ride costs before booking. The startup said they’ll employ a pooling algorithm to put riders with similar destinations in the same car to avoid detours and have as many people riding in one car as possible. Since October of this year, Moia has been testing their service in Hannover. They’ll debut the concept in Hamburg, with more locations to follow. CEO Ole Harms said in a statement, “In 2018, we’ll be ready to launch our ride pooling concept internationally and take the first steps toward our goal of reducing the number of cars in major cities by one million in Europe and the USA by 2025.” + Moia Via Moia Images via Moia

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VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

Worlds first negative emissions power plant opens in Iceland

October 13, 2017 by  
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Go, Iceland! On Wednesday, the nation flipped the switch on the world’s first power plant that eliminates more CO2 than it produces. The pilot program, which is operated by Climeworks , can remove an estimated 50 metric tons of CO2 from the air each year. The gases aren’t just contained; rather, they are turned into limestone where they will remain for at least one million years. The process works by capturing the CO2 from ambient air using Climeworks’ patented filter. The geothermal power plant then heats up the filter using low-grade heat; this extracts pure carbon dioxide . The gases are then bound to water and sent 700 meters deep into the ground. When CO2 reacts with basaltic bedrock, it forms a permanent solid mineral. Quartz reports that by burying the harmful greenhouse gases in rock, the odorless gas is prevented from being released for at least one million years. The project is still in its pilot stage, but scientists with Climeworks are optimistic that similar negative emissions plants could be rolled out across the globe. There are some challenges to this vision, however. The process isn’t exactly cheap, for instance. Climeworks estimates that it costs $600 to extract just one ton of CO2 from the air. Related: Midwest greenhouse heated with geothermal energy produces citrus year-round for $1 per day By the end of 2017, the full capacity of the plant is expected to be 900 tonnes per year — but that’s only the equivalent of the annual emissions of 45 American people. Nonetheless, the company remains hopeful that this is the beginning. Said Christoph Gebald, the founder and CEO of Climeworks, “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous.” By 2025, the company seeks to cut costs to $100 a tonne and capture 1 percent of man-made carbon emissions each year. There are no details on how this will be accomplished, but with investors such as Bill Gates and the European Space Agency throwing money into research for “direct air capture,” it could be accomplished. Of course, it’s still important — now more than ever — that the general populace adopts sustainable habits , as data from the UN shows that humans are far from reaching the 2 degrees Celsius limit set by the Climate Agreement. + Climeworks Via Quartz Images via Climeworks , Arni Saeberg , Sandra O Snaebjornsdottir

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Worlds first negative emissions power plant opens in Iceland

Scaling the Movement Toward Future-Proofed Buildings

October 3, 2017 by  
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Bridging the gap between a deep green architect and futurist seeking to drive “regenerative buildings” and the Chief Sustainability Officer at Skanska USA, one of the biggest construction companies in the country — What will it take to “future proof” our buildings and businesses in the age of pressing climate challenges?

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Scaling the Movement Toward Future-Proofed Buildings

Pence vows America will put boots on the face of Mars in near future

July 7, 2017 by  
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During a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, Vice President Pence made a bold promise that in the near future, the United States of America will send astronauts to both the moon and Mars. Now the chair of the National Space Council — which was revived this last Friday – Pence explained that new, ambitious goals will ensure America becomes a leader in space exploration  once again. “Here from this bridge to space, our nation will return to the moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” said Pence. He then applauded the space organization’s efforts to make “science fiction ‘science fact.” Pence made sure to pay homage to Donald Trump, as well, who he referred to as a “champion” who will “usher in a new era” of American space leadership. According to CNN , Pence then noted the importance of space exploration for American national security interests. He also reaffirmed President Trump’s desire, which was revealed during his inaugural address in January, for the US to “unlock the mysteries of space.” He said, “I can assure you that under President Donald Trump , American security will be as dominant in the heavens as we are here on Earth.” Plans to reconvene the National Space Council before the end of summer were also shared. Reportedly, the Council will be comprised of many experts who are sourced from government agencies, such as the military , private industries, and academic institutions to enhance the present space policy. Related: NASA unveils 6 prototypical deep space human habitats for Mars and beyond Originally established in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, the National Space Council was discontinued in 1993. One individual pleased with President Trump’s executive order to revive the Council is NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. Said Lightfoot, “The establishment of the council is another demonstration of the Trump administration’s deep interest in our work, and a testament to the importance of space exploration to our economy, our nation, and the planet as a whole.” Support from the White House is undoubtedly a positive achievement for the NASA, which already has plans to send humans — specifically teachers, farmers, and engineers — to Mars by 2030. With the revival of the National Space Council and a renewed vigor to investigate the “final frontier,” America may very well become a leader in space exploration. Via CNN Images via  Schriever Air Force Base , Pixabay

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Airbnb’s brand new Paris office is a loft-like space that feels like home

July 5, 2017 by  
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In line with Airbnb ‘s “Belong Anywhere” adage, the firm’s new office space in Paris is an airy loft-like workspace that fosters creativity and communal working. Airbnb’s Environments Team collaborated with design firm STUDIOS Architecture to create a space that boosts collaboration and feels like home. The new office, designed for 60 employees, utilizes the traditional mansard roof and atypical corners of the building to establish a variety of spaces which include a foyer, salon, library, kitchen, sit-stand desks, private phone booths and a hospitality lounge. As if this weren’t enough of a reason to quit your job and join Airbnb, the office offers its guests and staff incredible views of the Eiffel Tower and Opera Garnier. Related: 8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small A vegetation-filled solarium acts as a transitional area between the main entrance and the rest of the office. To help elevate the low ceilings and bring more natural light into the space, the architects introduced cover lighting throughout the office. The meeting rooms reference Airbnb’s listings around the world like those in China, Tasmania, Morocco, USA and UK. A moss wall is a replica of a listing in Moganshan, China, while vintage door panels sourced from an old barn in Normandy mirror a listing in West Hobart, Tasmania. All these features are filtered through the distinct nonchalance of Paris, its restaurants, hotels, flea markets and bistros. + STUDIOS Architecture + Airbnb Environments Photos by Donal Murphy

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Airbnb’s brand new Paris office is a loft-like space that feels like home

Volkswagen’s mobile robot automatically plugs in your EV

July 5, 2017 by  
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Over the past year Volkswagen has unveiled several concepts that are a preview of its new line of electric vehicles . But the company isn’t stopping there. Its research group has just unveiled some other groundbreaking EV technologies they are working on, including a new mobile charging robot that will automatically plug your EV into the grid. Related: Volkswagen may offer more electric cars than any other brand We’ve seen prototypes for new induction charging systems, but VW’s new mobile charging robots present another way that will make it easier for EV drivers to charge their vehicles in the future. The mobile robots could one day show up in underground garages or city parks, although the jury is still out on if it is easier than future induction systems. VW unveiled the new charging system alongside its newest EV concept, the Gen.E research vehicle, which also happens to look closer to a production model than the recent VW I.D. concepts . The Gen.E is a fully-electric concept car that can travel up to 249 miles on a single charge. According to VW, the Gen.E also features a lightweight platform that has been designed for maximum crash safety including the battery. The long range battery is based on advanced lithium-ion cells and the efficiency of the electric motor that powers the Gen.E has been optimized. VW’s research team isn’t saying much about the overall design of the Gen.E, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t raised a few eyebrows. Its overall shape is so close to the VW Golf, they may be using the concept to preview the next e-Golf. Images @Volkswagen + Volkswagen

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It’s raining tequila from a cloud in Berlin

March 31, 2017 by  
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Berlin winters see a lot of rain, but this is the first time it’s rained tequila. The Mexico Tourist Board wanted to lure Germans to Mexico by combining one of the things they hate most: rain , with one of the things they love best: tequila. The result is a puffy cloud of happiness that rains tequila any time it rains outside. The Mexico Tourist Board teamed up with Lapiz USA to create a cloud that rains tequila. Lapiz took ultrasonic humidifiers to turn tequila into a mist, which they shot into the air to create a tequila-based cloud. Once that mist condensed, it created droplets of tequila that you can actually collect and drink. It’s an ingenious way to turn the winter blahs in Germany into a party. Related: San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater Unfortunately, tequila clouds won’t be filling the skies anytime soon. The exhibit is being featured in an art space in Berlin called Urban Spree, but if you can’t make it there, you can still grab a glass of tequila next time it rains and dream. Via The Daily Mail Images via Lapiz USA

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