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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It’s raining tequila from a cloud in Berlin

Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

March 23, 2017 by  
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Beijing’s pollution problem is no secret – earlier this year the city even created an environmental police squad in a bid to stop smog . Now, the nearby province of Hebei  – which contributes to Beijing’s smog with it’s heavy industry economy – is taking some creative new steps to combat the dangerous health risk that kills millions of people each year. The government is turning to nature to create a “green necklace” of trees and green belts as a natural way to fight pollution. People have recently pointed fingers at Hebei’s heavy industry as a source for some of Beijing’s hazardous pollution . The city has suffered from numerous smog outbreaks, often during the winter, according to Reuters. So the Hebei government announced this week both they and Beijing will plant trees and use wetlands and rivers to create a green necklace to protect the major global city. In a website notice, the government said it will increase forest coverage and set up green belts with the help of river systems, farms, mountains, and wetlands near Beijing. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working Transportation rules for Beijing and border areas are also part of the plan, which according to Reuters is part of a government effort to integrate the city, Hebei, and Tianjin, a major port city just southeast of Beijing. What have been described as fortress economies in the area could have prompted a race to the bottom in environmental law enforcement, according to Reuters. The cross-regional plan could also help address overpopulation – around 22 million people currently live in Beijing – by trying to limit urban development on the city’s borders. Beijing also plans to move some industries and “non-capital functions” out to Hebei, hoping such moves will also help cut pollution and congestion. Limited coal consumption is another piece of the strategy to clear the skies over Beijing, and the city just decommissioned the last coal-fired power plant earlier in March. Via Reuters Images via Bert Oostdijk on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

March 23, 2017 by  
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Pollution has plagued India recently; a 2017 report showed people are more likely to die from air pollution not in China, as might be your first guess, but in India. But one area of the country could receive a breath of fresh air. Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world, could become the country’s first carbon-neutral district. Majuli, which is found in India’s Assam state, is home to plentiful biodiversity and the neo-Vaishnavite culture, which according to The Guardian is a monotheistic branch of Hinduism. But the river island is in trouble: monsoons and the river absorb homes as land is disappearing rapidly. In the middle of the 19th century, the river island was around 463 square miles, but in 2015 it was just around 154 square miles, and some research says Majuli could be gone in two decades. Related: New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth “Majuli is facing an existential crisis and therefore initiatives like designating [it] a carbon neutral district and biodiversity heritage site are [the] needs of the hour to preserve its rich heritage and legacy,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The government aims to make the river island the country’s first carbon-neutral sector by 2020 . Sonowal aims to raise awareness among locals as the area works to become free of pollution. He suggested parents could give a sapling to their children for their birthdays, and plant trees around their homes. He also started an electronic registry to scrutinize the climate impact of any projects proposed for Majuli. A project called the Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development, started late last year, will ensure the river island’s infrastructure is low carbon . According to Sonowal’s office as quoted by The Times of India, “Further declaration of Majuli as a Biodiversity Heritage Site, the first in the state, enforces the rich biological biodiversity in the wild, cultivated areas of the island and cultural heritage of Majuli.” Via India Times , The Times of India , and The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

Solar-powered skin could help prosthetics imbue sense of touch

March 23, 2017 by  
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Engineers from the University of Glasgow have developed a synthetic skin that could help amputees regain their sense of touch. Clad in graphene, a form of graphite just one atom thick yet tougher than steel, the “electronic skin” even uses photovoltaic cells to harvest power from the sun. “This could allow the creation of an entirely energy-autonomous prosthetic limb,” said Ravinder Dahiya , head of the School of Engineering’s Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies group and the author of a paper on the subject in the current issue of Advanced Functional Materials . Graphene and solar cells are ideal bedfellows because of the former’s unique physical properties, Dahiya said. The material’s optical transparency, for instance, allows 98 percent of the light that hits its surface to pass through. Graphene is also electrically conductive, which means it can channel power to sensors that measure attributes like temperature, pressure, and texture. “Those measurements mean the prosthetic hand is capable of performing challenging tasks like properly gripping soft materials, which other prosthetics can struggle with,” Dahiya said. Related: Thought-controlled robotic arm returns the sense of touch to amputees Because the new skin requires only 20 nanowatts of power per square centimeter, even the lowest-rated photovoltaic cell on the market will suffice. The energy generated by the skin’s cells cannot be stored at present, but the researchers are exploring ways of diverting any unused energy into batteries that can be drawn from at a later time. Beyond prosthetics, the breakthrough could fuel further advances in robotics—a boon for an increasingly automated world. “Skin capable of touch sensitivity also opens the possibility of creating robots capable of making better decisions about human safety,” Dahiya said. “A robot working on a construction line, for example, is much less likely to accidentally injure a human if it can feel that a person has unexpectedly entered their area of movement and stop before an injury can occur.” + University of Glasgow

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Solar-powered skin could help prosthetics imbue sense of touch

American veterans arrive at Standing Rock to defend Dakota Access Pipeline protesters

December 2, 2016 by  
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United States veterans are mobilizing to protect water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline . The first veterans rolled in this week, and over 2,000 more who are part of the group Veterans for Standing Rock aim to arrive this weekend. They plan to gather peacefully, unarmed, according to their GoFundMe , to defend activists from what they describe as militarized law enforcement. Army veteran Wesley Clark and Marine Corps veteran Michael A. Wood, Jr. organized the group Veterans for Standing Rock. They have raised over $850,000 on GoFundMe to help pay for travel expenses. Navy veteran Matthew Crane told Reuters he purchased a one-way ticket to North Dakota, and hopes the protesters and veterans can “shut this down before Christmas.” He also said the veterans were “standing on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.” Related: 8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation Some veterans condemned the group, saying protests had not been wholly peaceful. President Russ Stabler of the North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council said joining the protest would mar veteran’s reputations. Meanwhile President-elect Donald Trump said this week he supports finishing the Dakota Access Pipeline. His transition team said in a statement, “We respect all Americans’ first amendment right to peacefully protest, and we hope that local and federal officials continue to give support to local law enforcement so they are able to continue to protect these protesters.” We’re not sure if by “protect” they actually mean “spray protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas, and freezing water.” Thousands of pipeline protesters now face snow and sub-zero temperatures. Items currently on the Sacred Stone Camp’s Amazon wishlist include propane, a snow plow, and a solar generator. Veterans for Standing Rock is still shy of their $1 million goal on GoFundMe; you can donate here . You can also donate money to the official Sacred Stone Camp GoFundMe here . Via Reuters Images via Sacred Stone Camp Facebook and Standing Rock Rising Facebook

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American veterans arrive at Standing Rock to defend Dakota Access Pipeline protesters

Irish town plans to plant world’s largest giant redwood grove

November 11, 2016 by  
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Lookout northern California ; a small town in central Ireland is vying for the title of most-populous giant redwood grove . Birr plans to plant and grow as many as 3,000 of the massive trees, and you can buy one of your very own. According to the Irish Times, the trees are planned for planting on 20 acres of land at Birr Castle Estate, near the town of Birr in County Offaly. The estate’s owner Lord Rosse, also known as Brendan Parsons, wants to plant a grove of the world’s largest living organisms, which grow to be over 300-feet tall. Redwoods thrive in northern California’s year-round temperate client, but Birr is known to be so cold in the winter that jokes are made about its name. Despite the climatic disparity, Parsons feels his plan is a solid one. “We are experimenters by nature,” the 80-year old lord told the Irish Times. “Trying new things in Birr is an old tradition. It’s absolutely cut out for Birr, this. We never do what other people do. The redwood grove will add a fantastic new dimension to Birr Castle Demesne, in line with the project we already have going on here – and also because of the new concept of a different sort of diaspora, an arboreal diaspora.” Related: Poachers are destroying California’s giant redwood trees According to Parsons, the “arboreal diaspora ” concept comes from the fact that giant redwoods once grew in Ireland – roughly two or three ice ages ago. So he wants to give them another shot at taking root in Irish soil en masse once again. And he is already apparently having some success. “At the moment, we have nine redwoods growing in ones and twos across the demesne: four of one species, five of the other,” he notes. “They were probably planted around the time of the third earl’s death, in the 1860s.” He says the coast redwoods seem to be doing the best, particularly those planted in the wettest places. What with redwoods being an endangered species and all, such a project can’t be cheap to undertake. So Parsons is offering folks an opportunity to participate by sponsoring trees at a cost of 500 Euros (about $540 US) per tree as a tribute to family members who are either living or have lived abroad. You can get yours today by visiting www.giantsgrove.ie . Via Irish Times Images via Kirt Edblom and IceNineJon , Flickr Creative Commons

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Irish town plans to plant world’s largest giant redwood grove

This UK supercomputer can predict winter weather a year ahead of time

October 25, 2016 by  
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It’s incredibly difficult for scientists to accurately predict North American and European winters . The weather in these regions is driven by a phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and it’s often hard to pin down in advance. But thanks to a new supercomputer , researchers at the UK’s Met Office are now able to predict winter weather a full year ahead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_G7NFMDsVY According to the Met Office, changes in air pressure in the North Atlantic Ocean are the primary driver of winter climate variability for Europe . The NAO can affect other areas of the world too; the Met Office is currently researching links between the NAO and China’s winter weather. The phenomenon influences temperatures and precipitation. Met Office researchers published a paper on their predictions this month in the journal Nature Geoscience . Not only would it be convenient to know what winter weather we’ll face, according to lead author Nick Dunstone, predicting the NAO could offer economic benefits. For example, the energy and transportation industries could operate more efficiently with a better picture of what the weather would be like in the coming winter. Related: 7 winter home improvement tips to save you money and energy in the cold season The researchers are able to better predict the winter NAO because of a shiny new supercomputer. The first phase of the supercomputer started operations over a year ago in August 2015. The UK government invested £97 million in the Met Office’s ” new high performance computing facility .” Back then the Met Office said the supercomputer would help them forecast the weather in greater detail, and it appears they’re delivering on that promise. So what will the weather be like this winter? According to paper co-author Adam Scaife, “Current signals suggest that the start to winter is likely to be cooler and drier than in 2015.” + Nature Geoscience + Met Office Images via Met Office Facebook

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This UK supercomputer can predict winter weather a year ahead of time

Modern alpine home is built on the ruins of an old rustic structure

October 25, 2016 by  
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The S.V. house retains a traditional gabled form, but the interior and the front facade are decidedly modern in design. A reinforced concrete slab connects the stone walls on the first floor, while the use of brushed larch wood for the second floor, roof, and part of the facade soften the look of the natural stone and reinforce the building’s connection to nature. Large windows overlook views of the countryside and mountains while allowing natural light to flood the interior. Related: Tiny alpine hut is a cozy refuge in the harsh yet spectacular Slovenian Alps The interior design makes efficient use of the building’s 22-square-meter footprint. “Overall space is limited but this condition and the choice of materials, helped to create that feeling of ‘hearth’ with evocative power and was one of the cardinal principles of many rural architecture as well as much of the academic architecture,” writes the architect. + Rocco Borromini Via Gessato Images via Rocco Borromini, by Marcello Mariana

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Modern alpine home is built on the ruins of an old rustic structure

Diamond-shaped Casa Forest house in Switzerland makes the most of a wooded lot

August 19, 2016 by  
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The house features a double-height central space that connects the ground floor dining area and kitchen with a lounge located on the upper floor. Two bedrooms and bathrooms are located next to the living spaces on the ground and first floor, while the auxiliary spaces occupy the basement. The crystalline form of the house allowed the architects to make the most of the plot and create windows that blend the interior and exterior into an immersive environment dominated by nature. Related: HHF Architects’ House D Floats Upon a Daylit Glass Volume in Switzerland “Breathtaking views into the dense, deep-green foliage in the summer and the leafless and airy branch structure in the winter were a decisive factor in calibrating the daylight and arranging the spaces in this home,” said Juan González and Rubén Daluz, principals of Daluz Gonzalez Architekten. + Daluz Gonzalez Architekten Via Dezeen Photos by Alexandra Kreja and Philippe Wiget

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Diamond-shaped Casa Forest house in Switzerland makes the most of a wooded lot

Penda unveils interlocked double-helix bridge for the Beijing Winter Olympics

July 25, 2016 by  
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The architecture studio , based in Beijing and Vienna, proposed this design as part of the larger infrastructure projects Beijing is undertaking in preparation for the Olympic Games. The bridge ’s name—San Shan—means “three mountains” in English, which is meant to describe the three peaks seen when looking at the bridge from either side. The elliptical shapes connect and link together to create the bridge’s overall shape, dressed in stark white against the forested background and the muddy river water. Related: Beijing selected to host 2022 Winter Olympic Games  The bridge’s helix-shaped arches were designed and engineered by ARUP , the British structural engineering firm. Their contribution enabled the bridge’s design to use the thinnest supports possible (without sacrificing strength), lending to the bridge’s delicate aesthetic. The surrounding area will be transformed into a hub linking bustling Beijing with its surrounding lands, gearing up for the Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019 and the Winter Olympic Games three years later. Austrian architect Chris Precht founded Penda with Dayong Sun in 2013 after working together for several years. In the intervening time, the duo have elevated their international firm to global acclaim, winning awards for several designs along the way. This bridge demonstrates the epitome of their combined talent. + Penda Via ArchDaily Images via Penda

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Penda unveils interlocked double-helix bridge for the Beijing Winter Olympics

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