Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village

July 18, 2018 by  
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For design collective KLAB Architecture (Kinetic Lab of Architecture), one of the biggest challenges with public buildings in Greece is the lack of architect involvement in the construction process. To circumvent the problem, KLAB Architecture turned to prefabrication for its design of a public nursery in the Athens suburb of Glyfada. Drawing inspiration from a child’s archetypal drawing of a house, the modular gabled structures are clustered together to form the appearance of a tiny urban village. Organized around an open landscaped courtyard , the prefabricated nursery comprises a series of repeating modules of three differing sizes and shapes for visual interest. Each module was constructed in a factory and then transported via truck to the site for quick installation. The nursery follows a minimalist and modern aesthetic with its clean geometric lines and all-white exterior. Timber slatted pergolas provide shade and help mitigate solar gain; once they mature, planted shade trees will also help cool the buildings. Related: WeWork and BIG design innovative new school in NYC “We attempted to employ rather common materials and construction methods in order to create a more complicated structure with a small energy footprint,” KLAB Architecture said. “The exterior walls were constructed 10 centimeters thick, allowing us to maximize the available interior area, and were cladded, along with the roofs, with exterior wall insulation. Thus, by taking also into consideration the construction of wooden pergolas along the careful placement of the windows on the exterior walls, the building is sustainable providing comfort to the children.” Related: Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade The energy-efficient nursery is also filled with natural light and warm natural materials to create a healthy and welcoming environment for the children. In contrast to the white exterior, the interior features bright and colorful wall treatments and furnishings that inject life into the various classrooms. All classrooms are open on three sides to engage the outdoors. + KLAB Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Mariana Bisti

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Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village

NET Power’s zero-emissions natural gas plant could change the game

June 4, 2018 by  
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Last week, NET Power officially began operations at its 50-megawatt, emissions-free  natural gas power plant in La Porte, Texas . If all goes well, the plant’s design could pave the way to a cleaner energy future. Instead of using air to drive a turbine and generate electricity, the plant uses heated carbon dioxide; the pure carbon dioxide emissions are then captured and stored rather than released into the atmosphere. Testing thus far has proven to be positive. “We’re still smiling,” lead designer and chemical engineer Rodney Allam told Nature . The goal is for NET Power’s technology to be as effective and affordable as conventional, emissions-producing natural gas production, but with added benefits for the environment and the company. Designed by Toshiba, the plant’s innovative turbine and carbon capture system is capable of storing carbon long-term or for use in other industrial applications. For example, nitrogen and argon captured in the process could be contained and transferred elsewhere. NET Power claims that its plant is so efficient that it will become profitable before it even starts to sell captured gases. Related: Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land “If the plant does everything they say, it’s hard to imagine why you would want to build a traditional power plant,” atmospheric scientist Daniel Cohan told Nature . “But there are still a lot of ifs ahead.” The major imminent challenge is refining the combustion process for oxygen and methane , which must contend with carbon dioxide, typically an inhibitor of combustion. The company is otherwise on track to deliver, with a 300-megawatt power plant potentially being built by 2021. The company’s plan is to achieve clean, profitable natural gas energy without the assistance of subsidies, which can be subject to the whims of changing governments in Congress and the White House.” We don’t like to rely on policy around here, we like to rely on science,” NET Power CEO Bill Brown told Nature . Via Nature Images via NetPower

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NET Power’s zero-emissions natural gas plant could change the game

18 states representing 140 million people sue the Trump administration to defend clean car rules

May 2, 2018 by  
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California is leading a coalition of states representing around 43 percent of the car market in the United States to sue Donald Trump’s administration . The 18 states say the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in attempts to weaken Barack Obama-era car emissions rules. California governor Jerry Brown said in a news conference, “This is about health, it’s about life and death. I’m going to fight it with everything I can.” The states joining today’s lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars. This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution. ? https://t.co/6t4sHygNT5 — Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) May 1, 2018 New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and the District of Columbia join California in suing the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt . The states seek to “set aside and hold unlawful” the EPA’s attempts to weaken fuel economy standards adopted in 2012 that take effect in 2022. They say the EPA violated the Clean Air Act and didn’t follow its own regulations. Related: EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars “The federal standard the states are suing to protect is estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year, and save drivers $1,650 per vehicle,” the states said. The Trump administration said the standards were too stringent, according to The New York Times , and moved forward legally with the aim of reopening them. The EPA hasn’t offered proposed new standards but has drafted new regulations that would weaken the rules post-2020. The publication also said after executives from the Big Three — General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler — visited the White House to request emissions rules that were more lenient, Trump’s administration began to try and roll back the standards. Safe Climate Campaign director Dan Becker told The New York Times, “This is California saying: You really want war? We’ll give you war. It’s a signal to the administration that they’re not going to get away with anything in this space.” + Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Via The New York Times Images via Depositphotos and Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

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18 states representing 140 million people sue the Trump administration to defend clean car rules

Tipoon’s tiny home on wheels triples in size with the push of a button

May 2, 2018 by  
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Travel campers : they’re here to stay, and they’re becoming better than ever. Case in point? French startup Tipoon’s new mobile and modular camper pod triples its size with the push of a button. The startup says the easy-to-tow, lightweight, and expandable Tipoon Travel Machine can switch between three modes—closed, half open, and fully open—in mere seconds. Designed to sit atop a utility trailer , the Tipoon Travel Machine measures approximately 5.5 feet in height and 5.5 feet in width when closed for transport. When switched to the ‘open’ mode, both sides expand to increase the width to 10.5 feet and the height to 8.4 feet. The half-open position is designed for temporary stopovers. This remote-controlled expansion also comes with a manual crank backup. Tippon Travel Machine is crafted with an insulated poly-composite mono bloc shell with a galvanized subframe. It’s designed as a standalone pod that can be removed from the trailer and stored in a garage when not in use. The unit itself is between 13.5 and 14.8 feet in length. Related: Airstream launches its first-ever fiberglass camper for under $50K The interior is available in four configurations: single sleeper, two-bed sleeper, king-size sleeper, and dining area, as well as a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet. Transforming and space-saving furniture make the most of the small footprint, as seen beneath the fixed bed, where a dining table, benches, and even storage slide out. With deliveries planned for this year, the company estimates a base price starting at €24,000 (approximately $30,000). Tipoon is finalizing its pricing and equipment lists and is accepting pre-launch reservations now. + Tipoon Via New Atlas

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Tipoon’s tiny home on wheels triples in size with the push of a button

Twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion

May 2, 2018 by  
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Archi-Union Architects combined traditional Chinese construction techniques with prefabrication technology in ‘In Bamboo,’ a pavilion located in Sichuan’s Daoming Town. Created as a multi-functional rural community cultural center, the project celebrates the town’s renowned bamboo weaving craftsmanship with a material palette mainly comprising bamboo and tile. An eye-catching Mobius-shaped roof tops the building and is finished with traditional ceramic tiles. The nearly 20,000-square-foot In Bamboo building is located on two adjacent plots of land of unequal size. The architects drew two circles—one large, one small—on each parcel and joined them together to form the beginnings of the infinity loop -shaped building. “These two circles came together determining the large contour for our building while still preserving the surrounding bamboo forest and trees,” wrote the architects. “Within this new boundary we sought to maximize the continuity, horizontality and ductility of the space.” Related: Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks An unexpectedly rushed timeline meant that the architecture, landscaping, and interior were completed in just 52 days. Thankfully, the use of a 70% light prefabricated steel frame and other prefabricated timber construction—completed previously in the span of a month—helped increase the speed of installation. Traditional bamboo weaving was used in the facades. The speedy and relatively low-waste project has encouraged Archi-Union Architects to promote prefabrication in more rural construction projects in China . + Archi-Union Architects Images ©??

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Twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion

Astronomers spot the most distant star ever seen 9 billion light-years away

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as lifting burdensome regulations on automakers to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos and the White House

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Astronomers spot the most distant star ever seen 9 billion light-years away

Scientists create revolutionary ultra-white paint inspired by beetles

March 27, 2018 by  
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Researchers have unveiled what could be the whitest natural substance, composed of cellulose and inspired by the  Cyphocilus beetle native to Southeast Asia . The material, which has yet to be named, is lightweight, thin, and has the ability to effectively scatter light, resulting in an exceptionally bright white color. The coating is also edible and non-toxic and could change how we use paint. The secret to the coating’s success is its insect inspiration, whose thin chitlin scales are formed in a dense light-reflecting mat that causes the beetle to appear vibrantly white. In a new study published in  Advanced Materials , scientists at the University of Cambridge and Aalto University in Finland explain how they used fine strands of cellulose , or cellulose nanofibrils, to create a scale-like membrane through a process known as mechanical defibrillation. At only a few millionths of a meter, the subsequent membrane is one of the thinnest materials ever created that is capable of appearing white. “What is cool is that with a really low amount of material, you can achieve a high intensity of reflection and whiteness,” Cambridge University researcher Dr. Silvia Vignolini told Hyperallergic . “You don’t need to have thick material to have get 100% white, 100% reflection.” Related: Praying mantises wearing tiny glasses help researchers discover new type of 3D vision At the moment, the coating is still somewhat weak. However, researchers hope to develop a more hardy version for wider applications. “Ideally we would like to make a powder that can be readily used and applied directly as you would do with a standard pigment,” explained Vignolini. When this pigment is mixed with an organic solvent, it would then enable for the quick, one-layer application of white paint to most surfaces. The coating’s cellulose composition makes it an ideal replacement for other white products, most of which contain unsustainable materials such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Importantly, the ultra-white powder will likely be quite inexpensive. Via Hyperallergic Images via Olimpia Onelli/University of Cambridge

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Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock

December 29, 2017 by  
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Winter is here, and it appears even marine creatures are feeling the impact. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy responded to calls of two thresher sharks stranded on Massachusetts beaches, and said the sharks likely succumbed to cold shock. The north half of the United States is battling bitter cold with a mass of Arctic air, according to The New York Times , with meteorologists saying single-digit temperatures could be here to stay for at least another week. And even sharks are battling the frigid weather . The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy shared on their social media they were called to two thresher shark strandings near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries . The conservancy said the sharks were both male, and probably stranded because of cold shock. Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries marine scientist Greg Skomal told The New York Times, “If you’ve got cold air, that’ll freeze their gills up very quickly. Those gill filaments are very sensitive and it wouldn’t take long for the shark to die.” Skomal said the thresher sharks may have been working their way south with the cooling of northerly waters, but could have gotten trapped by Cape Cod and stranded on the beach, where they may have died more rapidly because of the cold. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which promotes Atlantic white shark conservation through scientific research and education, gathered morphometric data and organ and tissue samples for analyzing once they thaw. They called on people to report anything strange they might see on Cape beaches, with a picture and location. If you’d like to help out the conservancy, they put together a shark stranding response kit wishlist on GOODdler; you can donate here . Via the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Facebook and The New York Times Images via the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Twitter

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Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock

Universal DNA vaccine could make yearly flu shot a thing of the past

December 29, 2017 by  
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There were 7,000 confirmed cases of the flu in the United States by the end of November – double the amount from the same time the prior year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Washington School of Medicine researchers are hoping to one day offer an alternative to the annual flu shot: a DNA vaccine . The vaccine could offer long-lasting protection from all flu virus strains – even as viruses genetically change. A DNA vaccine could instruct a person’s skin cells to generate antigens and induce antibodies and T cell responses to fight the flu, according to UW Medicine . A gene gun device could inject the vaccine right into skin cells. With the universal vaccine, people might not have to get a flu shot every year. Related: Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time The DNA vaccine is able to get around genetic changes in flu strains by “using genetic components of influenza virus – the conserved areas – which do not change,” according to UW Medicine. The DNA vaccine doesn’t just repel a virus but finds infected cells and kills them. The research team tested the vaccine on primates , and found T cell responses were so fast the primates just did not get sick. Department of Microbiology professor Deborah Fuller, in whose laboratory this research took place, said in a statement, “With the immunized groups, we found that using this conserved component of the virus gave them 100 percent protection against a previous circulating influenza virus that didn’t match the vaccine.” This universal vaccine could be ready for rapid deployment in case of a deadly pandemic flu strain, and has a production time of around three months as opposed to the nine months required for the United States-approved vaccine for flu season. The DNA-based approach could also offer a mechanism for vaccines for other viruses like Zika . The vaccine could still be five to 10 years away – UW Medicine said that’s about as long as it takes from promising laboratory results to commercial viability. The journal PLOS One published the research this month. 17 researchers from institutions around the United States contributed to the paper. Via University of Washington School of Medicine Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Universal DNA vaccine could make yearly flu shot a thing of the past

Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

December 1, 2017 by  
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The Trump Administration has signaled its intention to take a significantly tougher approach to trade with China, where most of the world’s solar panels are produced. This stance follows President Trump’s campaign promise to protect American jobs from being outsourced to another country. Due to increasing international competition in the solar industry, at least a dozen solar companies have closed factories in the United States . In response to Chinese domination of the global solar market, the United States had already raised tariffs on solar panels produced in China during the Obama Administration , prompting Chinese solar companies to relocate production to nearby Southeast Asian countries. Now, the Trump Administration may authorize tariffs on all solar panel imports into the United States, potentially raising costs to American consumers of solar power. China’s solar industry has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the past decade. Though its contribution to the global solar industry was once relatively insignificant, China now produces more than two-thirds of the world’s solar panels. This economy of scale has enabled the global prices for solar panels to drop by ninety percent, positively contributing to the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The current conflict in which the Trump Administration seeks to escalate pits American consumers and solar installation companies, which have benefited from cheaper solar panels, and American solar panel producers, which seek to even the playing field with China’s solar industry. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 American manufacturers contend that Chinese solar panel production benefits unfairly from state subsidies and low-cost loans backed by government-run banks. These manufacturers “are technically insolvent, but they still get capital,” said Mark Widmar, the chief executive of Phoenix-based First Solar, according to the New York Times . Interfering on behalf of American solar panel manufacturers is not without its risks. If the Trump Administration successfully implements a more expansive tariff system, which could happen as soon as January 2018, it raises the likelihood of retaliation from China and the potential for a broader trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Via the New York Times Images via The White House and Depositphotos

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Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

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