Richard Branson signs deal for India’s first super-speedy hyperloop route

February 19, 2018 by  
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Travelers spend around three hours journeying from Mumbai to Pune by train today in India . A hyperloop could revolutionize the trip, slashing it down to a mere 25 minutes. And that’s exactly what Richard Branson -backed Virgin Hyperloop One aims to do. They signed an agreement with the state of Maharashtra, as the state announced their intention to construct what could be India’s first hyperloop route between Pune and Mumbai. Virgin Hyperloop One just signed an historic agreement with the Indian state Maharashtra. They plan to construct a hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune, a corridor 130,000 vehicles travel daily right now. They’ll begin with an operational demonstration track. Branson said in a statement , “I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century.” Related: Virgin Hyperloop One: Richard Branson invests in Musk-inspired high-speed transportation system 26 million people would be connected by the new route, which would link the two cities and Navi Mumbai International Airport. The electric transportation system would cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 150,000 tons a year. And a pre-feasibility study conducted by Virgin Hyperloop One revealed over 30 years the route could offer $55 billion in socio-economic benefits, as people save emissions and time. The hyperloop route would support 150 million passenger trips a year, according to Virgin Hyperloop One, saving more than 90 million hours. Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra chief minister, said the route would create tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction, service, and information technology. What comes after a signing? First, a six-month in-depth feasibility study. The study will scrutinize environmental impact, cost, funding models, regulations, and economic and commercial aspects. A procurement stage would follow to nail down a public-private partnership structure, and then construction would begin, with the demonstration track built in the first phase. According to Virgin Hyperloop One, the demonstration track could be built “in two to three years from the signing of the agreement,” and the second phase could see completion of the full route in five to seven years. + Virgin Hyperloop One + Virgin Images via Virgin Hyperloop One ( 1 , 2 )

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Richard Branson signs deal for India’s first super-speedy hyperloop route

Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

February 19, 2018 by  
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Nova Scotia Power has established a pilot project that utilizes Tesla’s Powerpack 2 home batteries and their utility-grade Powerpack batteries to form an improved energy storage system for local wind power. Based in Elmsdale, the Intelligent Feed Project aims to bridge any gaps found in the electrical grid by installing Powerpacks where wind turbines are generating surplus energy. These batteries would allow power to be stored for later use, perhaps when there is a power outage or a windless day. While the Powerpack’s expansion into Nova Scotia isn’t quite as massive as its application in places like South Australia , this latest move demonstrates its potential to improve energy storage in power grids. The Elmsdale battery station will serve 300 homes, 10 of which will have Tesla Powerpack 2 batteries. Partially funded by the Canadian government, the trial program will begin at the end of February and will continue until 2019. The physical infrastructure of Powerpacks will remain even after the trial has ended. If the trial is successful, Nova Scotia Power may decide to offer additional programs to local communities. Related: Nantucket to be powered by a 48 MWh Tesla Powerpack system Simply bringing the Powerpacks into the homes and neighborhoods of Elmsdale seems to be having a positive impact on engagement in clean energy infrastructure. “The Powerwall, that was something I hadn’t heard about,” said homeowner Mark Candow . “I was definitely intrigued.” The ease-of-installation and the interactive app provided by Tesla are certainly selling points for consumers. “The ability to monitor their home usage is really making them think more about how they’re using electricity in their home,” said smart grid engineer Rob Boone , “and I think it’s going to make them more energy efficient .” Via Engadget Images via Nova Scotia Power

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Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

Prehistoric womens arms were up to 16% stronger than today’s rowing champions

November 30, 2017 by  
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If a group of prehistoric women somehow time-traveled to the present, they could probably lick the rowers of Cambridge University’s boat club in a race. A new study – the first to compare bones of ancient and living women – reveals a hidden history of Central European women performing strenuous manual labor for millennia. The average ancient women had stronger upper arms than today’s female rowing champions. A new study led by Cambridge University’s Alison Macintosh adds more fuel to girl power fire by revealing prehistoric women living during the first 6,000 years of farming possessed physical prowess that would put competitive athletes to shame. These women could have grown strong tilling soil, harvesting crops, or grinding grain for as long as five hours a day. Related: Newly discovered ancient human species in South Africa had a tiny brain The University of Cambridge said bioarchaeological investigations until now compared women’s bones with men’s. But female and male bones react differently to strain, with male bones responding in a more visibly dramatic way, according to the university. Macintosh said in their statement, “By interpreting women’s bones in a female-specific context we can start to see how intensive, variable, and laborious their behaviors were, hinting at a hidden history of women’s work over thousands of years.” The researchers scrutinized Neolithic women from around 7,400 to 7,000 years ago, and found their arm bones were 11 to 16 percent stronger for their size compared against rowers part of the Open and Lightweight squads at the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club – athletes who were victorious in the 2017 Women’s Boat Race. The prehistoric women were also nearly 30 percent stronger than typical Cambridge University students. Study co-author Jay Stock of Cambridge and Canada’s Western University said, “Our findings suggest that for thousands of years, the rigorous manual labor of women was a crucial driver of early farming economies.” The journal Science Advances published the study this week. Ron Pinhasi of the University of Vienna also contributed. Via The University of Cambridge Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Prehistoric womens arms were up to 16% stronger than today’s rowing champions

3D-printed ovaries let infertile mice give birth

May 18, 2017 by  
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Three-dimensionally printed organs are pretty old hat by now. But while the technology has been applied to everything from artificial ears to replacement brain tissue , working ovaries have been outside the realm of possibility—until now, that is. Scientists from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering have developed “bioprosthetic” ovary structures that allowed infertile mice to not only ovulate but also birth and nurse healthy offspring, according to a paper published this week in the journal Nature Communications . Composed of rapid-prototyped gelatin scaffolds, and primed with immature eggs, the bioprosthetic ovaries successfully boosted the hormone production necessary for restoring fertility in the mice, researchers said. “This research shows these bioprosthetic ovaries have long-term, durable function,” Teresa K. Woodruff, a reproductive scientist and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Feinberg, said in a statement. “Using bioengineering, instead of transplanting from a cadaver, to create organ structures that function and restore the health of that tissue for that person, is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine.” Related: Organovo’s Bioprinter Technology Could Lead to 3D Printed Human Organs Woodruff and company plan to test the structures in pigs, with an eye toward human trials in the future. The technology could have significant implications for women with fertility issues, particularly cancer patients who often lose their ovarian function after intensive chemotherapy. “What happens with some of our cancer patients is that their ovaries don’t function at a high enough level and they need to use hormone replacement therapies in order to trigger puberty,” said Monica Laronda, co-author of the study and a former post-doctoral fellow in the Woodruff lab. “The purpose of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function. We’re thinking big picture, meaning every stage of the girl’s life, so puberty through adulthood to a natural menopause.” + Northwestern University Photo by Duncan Hull

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3D-printed ovaries let infertile mice give birth

Extraordinary man builds 25 plastic bottle homes for refugees in Algeria

May 18, 2017 by  
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A Sahrawi refugee in Algeria is rebuilding lives – literally. Born and raised in the refugee camp in Awserd near Tindouf, 27-year-old Tateh Lehbib Breica is constructing disaster resistant homes using discarded plastic bottles – for himself and others. These recycled homes are specifically built to endure harsh desert conditions for an affordable price. It’s no easy feat to construct homes in a climate where temperatures can spike to around 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Sandstorms also prey on refugee shelters in five camps near Tindouf, Algeria, where people live after fleeing violence in the Western Sahara War over 40 years ago. But the area also faces destructive rainstorms – in 2015 heavy rains wrecked thousands of homes. Related: Mayor born in Syria converts abandoned Greek resort into a sanctuary for refugees Breica may have found a solution in old plastic bottles filled with sand. He has a master’s degree in energy efficiency after participating in a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) scholarship program. He’d intended to build a rooftop garden, growing seedlings in the bottles, but the circular shape of the energy efficient home he was building posed a challenge to that idea. He wondered what he could do with the bottles instead and recalled a documentary on building with plastic bottles he’d seen during his time at university. The plastic bottle homes can better withstand storms than adobe , mudbrick, or tent homes, and are water resistant. The homes have thick walls, and partnered with their circular shape, stand up better to sandstorms. Breica built the first bottle home for his grandmother, who was hurt while being carried to a community center to hunker down during a sandstorm. Working with UNHCR, Breica has built 25 homes so far. He’s earned the nickname Crazy with Bottles for his work. Although he’s won awards for his design, he said, “People still see me as the guy obsessed with recycling bottles and building unusual houses.” Via UNCHR Images © UNHCR/Russell Fraser

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Extraordinary man builds 25 plastic bottle homes for refugees in Algeria

Score an organic mattress worth 2199 from PlushBeds

May 18, 2017 by  
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Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a lot of things, but a well-made, comfortable mattress can make all the difference. Unfortunately, the majority of mattresses on the market (especially the cheap ones) are made with synthetic chemicals, such as polyurethane foam doused in toxic flame-retardants, which can contribute to health problems like allergies, asthma, endocrine issues and even cancer . Non-organic mattresses also come with an environmental footprint that would give any conscious person nightmares. Now there’s a mattress company called PlushBeds that raises the bar with a luxurious line of Botanical Bliss mattresses . Constructed with the highest quality natural materials derived from ethical sources, they have zero synthetic materials, chemical fire-retardants or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mixed in, so they don’t off-gas toxic fumes – and they are carefully designed to give you lasting comfort for years to come. If you’re in need of a new mattress, you’re in luck, because we’ve teamed up with PlushBeds to give away an organic mattress worth 2199 : ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! a Rafflecopter giveaway Contest open only to residents of the continental U.S. PLUSH BEDS BOTANICAL BLISS MATTRESSES Each Plushbeds botanical bliss mattress has a dense core of 100 percent organic latex, a cover of non-woven organic cotton , and up to 10 pounds of 100 percent Jona New Zealand wool for loft. The most important element of a Botanical Bliss organic latex mattress is the natural latex – made from the ‘white milky fluid’ tapped from rubber trees. Poorly managed rubber plantations use a lot of pesticides, not to mention water and energy, to produce latex, but Plushbed’s latex is responsibly and ethically harvested. PlushBeds keeps their mattresses clean and green by using organic latex from Sri Lanka’s ARPICO , which is certified in accordance with the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and uses at least one form of renewable energy to power their operations. Unlike talalay latex, according to the company, organic latex results in a heavier, denser mattress core that provides optimum support — freeing you from the tyranny of a sagging mattress that leaves you feeling stiff and cranky in the morning. Natural latex is springy, resilient (meaning it doesn’t sag), and naturally anti-microbial. Adding to the Botanical Bliss mattress’ comfort level is its cover, which is made with 100 percent GOTS certified organic cotton . PlushBeds says their non-woven mattress covers are softer, more breathable, and more elastic than woven covers, and offer better moisture control and pressure relief. And because the cotton was grown sans harmful herbicides or pesticides , it is safer for both the environment in which the cotton is grown and the end user. Topping each mattress’ layer of latex is up to 10 pounds of Jona New Zealand wool. Wool is naturally fire-resistant, so there’s no chemical flame retardants to disturb your sleep or health. Natural wool also allows your body to quickly reach a comfortable sleeping temperature and maintain it throughout the night. Two inches of pressure-reducing latex provides additional cushion, and an orthopedic foundation comprised of all-natural spruce wood lends superior pressure-absorbing support, rounding out the five main components of an American-made Botanical Bliss mattress. If you don’t win our contest but still want your own Botanical Bliss mattress , note the price tag is reasonable for a luxury mattress of this quality – starting at $1,099. Each comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial, 100-day comfort exchange, and a 25-year warranty with free shipping and returns. Also, PlushBeds is having a Memorial Day Sale with $1200 off all Organic Latex Mattresses – use the code INHABITAT50 for an additional $50 off. + PlushBeds

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Score an organic mattress worth 2199 from PlushBeds

Why scientists will march in over 400 cities on Earth Day

April 21, 2017 by  
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Even if the president of the United States rejects science , scientists plan to make their voices heard. Tomorrow they’ll march on Washington, D.C. and over 400 locations around the world in the March for Science . While organizers say the march was inspired by the success of the January 21 Women’s March, they also emphasize their event is nonpartisan. Their march will celebrate science and highlight “the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.” Tens of thousands of people are expected to show up for the March for Science in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. People will gather at the Washington Monument starting at 8:00 AM, and will participate in teach-ins and a rally program until the march at 2:00 PM. Speakers include Bill Nye and pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha who helped expose Flint , Michigan lead poisoning. Related: Trump inspires 400 scientists to run for office Trump isn’t the only reason for the March for Science. Scientists and academics have been concerned for years now over public distrust of science. The event’s mission page says, “People who value science have remained silent for far too long in the face of policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world. New policies threaten to further restrict scientists’ ability to research and communicate their findings. We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely…We must take science out of the labs and journals and share it with the world.” The American Association for the Advancement of Science , the American Chemical Society , and the American Geophysical Union all support the march. Satellite marches will take place on six different continents. You can register for the march in Washington, D.C. or find a march near you here . If you can’t attend the Earth Day science march, you can march for climate science in the People’s Climate Mobilization on DC on April 29. + March for Science Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and March for Science

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Why scientists will march in over 400 cities on Earth Day

Deadly new bird flu strain could lead to devastating pandemic

April 21, 2017 by  
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You probably haven’t thought about the bird flu in a couple of years, unless you’re a virologist, but a new strain that resurfaced in China has the potential to be pandemic. The H7N9 virus only caused mild illness in poultry until recently, but a genetic change means the new strain is deadly for birds . Now, H7N9 has led to more human deaths this season than any other season since it was detected in people four years ago. Between September and March 1, 162 people perished from H7N9. Human cases have increased since December, with reports from eight different provinces in China. Hong Kong University research lab director Guan Yi told NPR, “We’re trying our best, but we still can’t control this virus. It’s too late for us to eradicate it.” Related: U.S. avian flu outbreak drives up the price of eggs as supplies are threatened The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for increased surveillance. FAO animal health officer Sophie Von Dobschuetz said China has started intensified observation while the FAO Beijing office has been providing recommendations for the country’s ministry of agriculture . As with past avian flu strains, patients said they were exposed to infected birds or went to live bird markets. Guan is concerned with how rapidly the H7N9 strain is evolving. He said ten years ago chickens were barely affected by the strain, but his lab’s research revealed the new strain can kill every chicken in his lab in 24 hours. There isn’t evidence the new strain will be deadlier in people, but when people do catch the virus from birds over one third of them perish. Guan said China’s government is already investigating vaccinating chickens. “Today, science is more advanced, we have vaccines and it’s easy to diagnose. On the other hand, it now takes hours to spread new viruses all over the world,” Guan told NPR. “I think this virus poses the greatest threat to humanity than any other in the past 100 years.” Via SciDev.net and NPR Images via CDC Global on Flickr and M M on Flickr

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Deadly new bird flu strain could lead to devastating pandemic

‘Drawdown’ and global warming’s hopeful new math

April 17, 2017 by  
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A new book edited by Paul Hawken offers the promise of solving, not just slowing, the climate crisis via a suite of technologies and practices that are available now.

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‘Drawdown’ and global warming’s hopeful new math

Scientists are preparing to march on Washington

January 25, 2017 by  
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With the Women’s March on Washington an unmitigated success, scientists are preparing their own demonstration at the nation’s capital. It began, as many of these things do, with a stray comment. “There needs to be a Scientists’ March on Washington,” someone wrote on Reddit , where several scientists discussed their concerns over what they perceived to be the Trump administration’s antipathy, if not outright hostility, to climate science and other environmental issues. Dozens chimed in with their approval. ”Please arrange this. it won’t change trump-mans [sic] [mind, but by all that is sacred, it needs to be done,” one participant said. “100%!” another declared enthusiastically.

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Scientists are preparing to march on Washington

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