Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction

March 6, 2017 by  
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Life without honeybees would be less than sweet – it’d mean a lot fewer fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. But honeybees aren’t the only bees we need to worry about. The future of many Native North American and Hawaiian bee species is also in peril: a new study found that more than half of the region’s native bee species are declining , and nearly one in four native bee species is imperiled and at risk for extinction. Image © Dominik Scythe via Unsplash A new report by the Center for Biological Diversity entitled “Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian bees” outlines the importance of these native bee species by valuing their financial importance as well as their ability to help ecosystems thrive. As fruit-pollinators, native bee species are worth more than three billion dollars, yet their work pollinating wild flowers and plants is equally important in maintaining diverse and colorful flora. As if the information regarding known declining populations wasn’t cause enough for alarm, the author warned that this study and other bee studies simply don’t have enough data on thousands of native bee species – many of which are found in areas of “great environmental degradation” – to determine if they are at risk. Image © Jenni Peterson via Unsplash Related| This could be the United States’ first endangered bee species The study cites loss of habitat due to agriculture, heavy use of pesticides , climate change, and urbanization as large drivers of the native bee populations’ decline and endangerment. Lead author Kelsey Kopec said, “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” The report includes case studies of five distinct bee species around the country that are in great peril, including the wild sweet potato bee, which is the only known species in the world in its genus, and the sunflower leafcutting bee, which is the largest and most distinctive leafcutting bee on the continent. While a casual eye might be tempted to group these bee species together, their unique habits and contributions to varied ecosystems highlight their individual importance and fragility. Via Time Lead image © Jenna Lee via Unsplash

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Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction

New details of feathered dinosaur could elucidate the origins of flight

March 2, 2017 by  
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A small red-crested dinosaur from the Late Jurassic era could help us unlock the origins of flight, now that we have a better idea of what it looked like. Using high-powered lasers, scientists from the University of Hong Kong have illuminated previously invisible soft tissues of the foot-tall Anchiornis , providing, for the first time, a detailed outline of the avian-like creature. The quantitative reconstruction of Anchiornis , which was first discovered in northeastern China in 2009, show that the animal possessed drumstick-shaped legs, long forearms connected by wing-like membranes, foot scales, and a slender tail. “The detail was so well lit that we could see the texture of the skin,” said paleontologist Michael Pittman, who described the discovery in a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These traits, Pittman added, could help us understand how dinosaurs eventually took to the skies as birds. As a field of science, paleontology is riddled with mysteries. The skeletons scientists dig up from the ground are seldom complete, and soft tissues like organs, muscle, or skin almost never survive into the present. On the rare occasion that tissues have endured the test of time, they’re unobservable with the naked eye. Related: Scientist finds dinosaur tail trapped in amber and it is covered with feathers That’s where a technique known as laser-stimulated fluorescence comes in. By bouncing wavelengths of light aimed a fossil sample in a dark room, Pittman and his team were able to manifest high-fidelity features that offer clues to how Anchiornis attempted, or even achieved, aerodynamic flight 160 million years ago. Anchiornis didn’t necessarily fly, of course. Even modern birds with wing folds, like the weka of New Zealand , never escape the pull of gravity. Nevertheless, the research remains vital to our understanding of where birds came from, since they appeared around the same time, Pittman said. “What our work does underscore,” Pittman told National Geographic , “is the broad extent to which bird-like dinosaurs were experimenting with their anatomy and functional capabilities before we had the first unequivocal gliding and flying birds.” + Nature Communications + University of Hong Kong Via National Geographic

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New details of feathered dinosaur could elucidate the origins of flight

Go way, way off grid at this amazing tiny house Airbnb in Oaxaca

March 2, 2017 by  
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Located near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Tiny Casa is an ultra tiny Airbnb cabin perfect for those looking for a completely off-grid getaway . Inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”, the compact concrete casita is a simple one-bedroom, one-bath retreat surrounded by complete serenity. Raw concrete covers the tiny Airbnb escape on the interior and exterior. Sliding wooden shutters are used to cool the house in the hot summer months, and they open up to stunning panoramic views of the natural surroundings. Related: 8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small Although the casita only offers the basics in terms of amenities, it comes with a lovely outdoor pool and is just steps away from a pristine stretch of beach. Visitors can also make use of a pizza oven and read the day away in the swinging hammock . The owner says that the simple, austere ambience of the home, which was inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, is meant to bring people back to the basics of simple living , “Casa Tiny is a place to escape from society. Enjoy a simple life for a couple of days, a week or a month in this minimal, low-impact, isolated abode.” + Casa Tiny Airbnb Via Gardenista  

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Go way, way off grid at this amazing tiny house Airbnb in Oaxaca

Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff

February 8, 2017 by  
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https://youtu.be/OVRI7pEmKkg At just 22-inches-tall, Gita (meaning “fast trip” in Italian) can move at speeds up to 22 miles per hour, with the capacity to carry up to 40 pounds and a zero turning radius that lets it navigate easily through even the most complex environments. It also has a communicative personality along with the ability to learn and navigate both indoors and out, provided it has the guidance of a human. When on the move, it can either follow you as you walk, or navigate independently in places it is familiar with. Related: Chrysler unveils all-electric self-driving Portal car “designed by millennials for millennials” In terms of its design, it features a sleek and shiny surface, with compartments that barely show their presence. It has large rubber tire treats, with LED lights embedded that illuminate in various colors, along with cameras positioned throughout the body to help Gita navigate. According to Kris Naudus at Engadget, Gita’s main compartment was big enough to store his work backpack and contents, including a 14-inch notebook computer laid flat, with some room to spare on the edges. For those seeking to lug larger loads, Piaggio is currently working on Gita’s sibling, Kilo, which will be able to carry up to 200 pounds. Gita is currently not available to purchase, but Piaggio Fast Forward is in the process of sending the helpers out on business-to-business missions, with an eye toward consumer applications. + Piaggio Fast Forward Via Businesswire and Engadget, Images via Piaggio Fast Forward

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Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff

Patagonia boycotts huge Outdoor Retailer show to protest Utah Republicans

February 8, 2017 by  
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Sustainable outdoor gear company Patagonia is putting their popularity, and revenue, towards defending conservation in Utah . After Republican governor Gary Herbert urged Donald Trump’s administration to snatch away protection for the newly created national monument Bears Ears, Patagonia announced their boycott of Outdoor Retailer , a show that rakes in millions of dollars for Salt Lake City. Founder Yvon Chouinard wrote in a recent opinion editorial , “If Governor Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home.” President Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument in December. But Utah’s governor recently signed a resolution calling on the new administration to yank away protection for Bears Ears, and Patagonia isn’t happy about it. CEO Rose Marcario announced in a February 7 press release Patagonia would withdraw from Outdoor Retailer, and felt confident other retailers and manufacturers would “join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.” Related: Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort In his opinion piece, titled “The Outdoor Industry Loves Utah; Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry?” Chouinard said outdoor recreation supports 122,000 jobs in Utah, and generates $12 billion in consumer spending. He described Outdoor Retailer as a cash cow for Salt Lake City, noting hundreds of companies spend loads of money to show off products at the event, and USA Today said the show brings in $45 million in annual direct spending for Utah. But due to the new overture to rescind public land protection, Chouinard accused Herbert of creating “a hostile environment that puts our industry at risk.” “The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry, yet the Governor has spent most of his time in office trying to rip taxpayer-owned lands out from under us and hand them over to drilling and mining companies,” wrote Chouinard. He said Bears Ears contains archaeological treasures from thousands of years of Native American history, and beautiful red rocks cherished by rock climbers worldwide. “Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry – and their own economy – depend on access to public lands for recreation.” Via Patagonia Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Patagonia boycotts huge Outdoor Retailer show to protest Utah Republicans

MIT researchers invent an ingestible battery powered by stomach acid

February 8, 2017 by  
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MIT researchers have developed a new safe-to-swallow battery powered by stomach acid. The technology could significantly aid in the powering of ingestible electronic devices currently being used for drug delivery and internal medical procedures like colonoscopies – as well as other wearable technology . MIT drug delivery device As New Atlas reports, “safe-to-swallow batteries” are currently being developed to power these ingestible electronic devices, but up until recently they have posed problems. This recent development out of MIT is expected to provide a cheaper and safer alternative to those batteries currently on the market. The battery was the result of a study by a team of MIT researchers led by senior authors, Giovanni Traverso and Robert Langer who have developed a number of internal devices, for which they wanted a safe, reliable power source. “We need to come up with ways to power these ingestible systems for a long time,” Traverso told New Atlas . “We see the GI tract as providing a really unique opportunity to house new systems for drug delivery and sensing, and fundamental to these systems is how they are powered.” They started with the fact that the majority of batteries are powered by acid, and realized they could take advantage of acid in the stomach. Their concept is based on the simple battery concept that involves putting a piece of zinc and copper into a lemon, where the citric acid becomes an electrolyte that can carry a current between the two metals – creating enough power to run an LED . Related: MIT designs innovative wearable tech that makes it easier to network As New Atlas explains, “The researchers scaled that principle down by attaching their own zinc and copper electrodes to the outside of a small, ingestible device containing a temperature sensor and a 900 MHz transmitter. Like in the lemon, the stomach acid can carry the electric current from the zinc to the copper and power the device, which, when tested in pigs, was able to take temperature readings and then send that data wirelessly, every 12 seconds, to a receiver up to 2 m (6.6 ft) away.” According to senior author Anantha Chandrakasan, this design solves problems with internal medical devices, such as energy generation , conversion, storage and utilization, opening up new horizons for the technology. “This work allows us to envision new medical devices where the body itself contributes to energy generation enabling a fully self-sustaining system.” Via New Atlas Images via MIT

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Small and windowless garage in Lisbon transformed into an elegant modern loft

February 8, 2017 by  
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Living in a garage isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but an open-minded couple manages to pull it off with style in Lisbon. Local design studio Fala Atelier was asked to convert a 200-square-meter windowless garage into the couple’s new abode. The result is a dramatic transformation from a lifeless gray garage into a bright and contemporary house that still retains a parking spot for the couple’s car. Since the architects weren’t able to add windows on any of the walls besides the entrance, they painted the walls white and created an open-plan living area to create a sense of spaciousness. The ceiling is also painted white and punctuated with large redesigned skylights. The floor is covered in polished concrete to create a neutral base to balance the vibrant pops of colorful furniture. Decoration is kept to a minimum to reduce clutter and large aquamarine curtains allow the homeowners to cordon off spaces as needed. Related: Old garage is transformed into a daylit, treehouse-like library “The proposed intervention intended the clearest reading possible of the existing structure, emphasising its strength,” write the architects. “While the garage was careless and grey, the house is clean and white; its materiality is flat, its light is abstract.” The L-shaped home is entered through a long hallway that then opens up to a large living area. Two bathrooms are tucked behind a curved wall built to replace a broken corner. Limited furnishings and freestanding elements allow the homeowners to easily rearrange the interior space. + Fala Atelier Via ArchDaily Images © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

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Small and windowless garage in Lisbon transformed into an elegant modern loft

Melissa McCarthy is hilarious as a luckless eco-warrior in Kia’s Superbowl ad

February 8, 2017 by  
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When she isn’t lampooning White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live , Melissa McCarthy is off saving the planet—or at least trying to. In a 60-second spot that aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, the actress is at the height of her physical-comedy prowess as her eco-hero character gamely zips around in her Kia Niro to rally for the whales, tthe rhinos, and the icecaps, often to hapless—and hysterical—effect. McCarthy’s watercraft is capsized by a breaching whale. A lumberjack sends a tree she has climbed crashing down. In another scene, McCarthy triumphantly stakes a “Save the Icecaps” sign through the ice, creating a fissure that she tumbles into with an ear-splitting scream. Related: 6 vegetarian and vegan snack alternatives for Super Bowl Sunday “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior, but it’s easy to drive like one,” a voiceover says as Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero” plays in the background. McCarthy may not be the hero we deserve, but in these trying political times, she’s precisely the kind we need. Via EW

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Melissa McCarthy is hilarious as a luckless eco-warrior in Kia’s Superbowl ad

Leonardo DiCaprio appointed brand ambassador for Chinese electric vehicle maker

February 8, 2017 by  
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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has played many roles – and not just in the movies. He is a United Nations Messenger for Peace, climate change documentary maker, and a bold advocate of climate action . Now our favorite climate justice activist has been appointed brand ambassador for Chinese company BYD’s new line of electric vehicles. DiCaprio will be brand ambassador for BYD’s new line of what they call new energy vehicles, or electric vehicles . They describe themselves as one of the world’s biggest new electric vehicle manufacturers, comprising 11 percent of the 2015 global market. They experienced a 130 percent increase in electric vehicle sales in the first half of 2016. They’re developing the new cars as part of their Cool the Earth by One Degree Celsius campaign as they aim to transform how each person consumes energy while raising awareness about climate change. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio says climate action is America’s “biggest economic opportunity” Sounds like a perfect mission for DiCaprio – the company says he will help them highlight their new developments in China . BYD Brand and Public Relations General Manager Sherry Li said in a statement, “Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio has greatly inspired the world with his outstanding dedication to saving the planet’s ecological environment . As our brand ambassador in China, we are pleased to work with him in promoting public awareness of climate change through the use of new energy vehicles.” In a statement DiCaprio said, “All over the world people are realizing that cars that run on fossil fuels are inefficient and a major threat to the planet. I am very pleased to be joining an effort to increase the number of clean vehicles on the road in China and beyond.” Via CleanTechnica Images via BYD Twitter and BYD Facebook

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Leonardo DiCaprio appointed brand ambassador for Chinese electric vehicle maker

What Donald Trump’s "Brder Wll" would look like if IKEA made it

February 8, 2017 by  
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Germany’s version of The Onion knows that President Donald Trump’s plan to wall off America’s southern border isn’t just a contentious proposition, it’s an expensive one, too. An “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” that runs some 1,000 miles between the United States and Mexico would cost taxpayers anywhere between $12 million to $15 million, minus labor and maintenance costs. Research firm Bernstein estimated a price tag of $15 billion to $25 billion, while the number crunchers at MIT placed that figure closer to $40 billion. What’s a fiscally cinched nation to do? It clears the roof rack of its Toyota Camry and sets a course for the land of plywood, Allen wrenches, and köttbullar. In other words, it heads to IKEA . At $9 billion, the Börder Wåll, in all its presumably flat-pack glory, is a comparative steal. A satirical concept by Germany’s The Postillion , the faux product comprises 471,612 pressboard panels, 313,329 coils of barbed wire, 3,772,896 screws, and a single Allen key to pull everything together. Also included is a 12,000 page instruction manual with “easy-to-understand pictures makes construction child’s play—as long as there is not a single screw missing.” The basic Wåll is 33 feet tall and 1,954 miles long, according to The Postillion, although the “height and length can be extended as desired.” Related: Mexican designers envision Trump’s border wall in “all of its gorgeous perversity” Assembly, the site adds, requires two people: one to hold the panels and the other to screw them together. Since Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are pro-wall, we suggest starting with them. This isn’t the first time people have openly mocked Trump’s proposed wall. Mexican design studio Estudio 3.14 rendered the barrier in hot pink to underscore the “gorgeous perversity” of the idea. In July, an L.A.-based street artist by the name of Plastic Jesus erected a very wee wall —complete with barbed wire, warning signs, and a tiny American flag—around Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “In the U.S. you’ll interact with immigrants from all over the world and it’s one of the things that makes the U.S. so great,” the artist, who originally hailed from the United Kingdom, told BBC News last year. “Donald Trump’s policy proposals are a threat to all of the immigrants.” + The Postillion Via Cnet

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What Donald Trump’s "Brder Wll" would look like if IKEA made it

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