Could evaporating water be the newest renewable energy source? Columbia researchers harnesses the power of bacterial spores
A biophysicist at Columbia University has discovered how to tap evaporating water as an electrical energy source using a simple device made from bacterial spores, glue, and LEGO bricks. Ozgur Sahin’s findings operate at the cellular level, based around his research on the Bacillus bacteria, a microorganism commonly found in soil—and its implications could potentially be far reaching.
“They don’t rely on anything except each other to stand up,” noted Heather Roberge, principal of the architecture practice Murmur, as she wove through the leaning, gleaming steel columns of her installation En Pointe. “There is a structural interdependence between each member, showing that you can use strategies of eccentricity to produce stability.”
Landscape lighting, kitchen systems, pavers, and wire mesh: readers of SpecSheet certainly have wide-ranging interests. Here are some of the most popular products of the year thus far, as measured by the volume of online traffic.
The always-superlative Dubai is set to build the world’s first fully functional 3D-printed office building
What do office buildings and onions have in common? Layers! Dubai is gearing up to 3D-print an entire office building to temporarily house staff of the Museum of the Future. The high-tech structure takes the shape of an elliptical-shaped spectacle engraved with Arabic letters set to open in 2017. Its breathless marketing vaunts the fact that all interior fixtures and furniture will also be 3D-printed.
The last project Michael Graves completed for Alessi references one of his earliest creations for the company: The 9093 kettle, better known as the Bird Teakettle. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the iconic piece, the late architect designed a new component for what’s being called the Tea Rex kettle.
In January 2015, Graves explained the development of this update.
Students at RISD imagine how a climate change museum in New York City could reclaim a vulnerable site
James Hansen, one of the world’s preeminent climate scientists, has issued an alarming new paper about the impacts of climate change—and the findings are way worse than what anyone expected. According to Hansen and the team of 16 scientists he worked with, sea levels could rise up to 10 feet over the next 50 years. “Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating,” conclude the scientists. “It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”
Open data from Transport for London spurs 3D axonometric plans of the Tube so passengers can mentally map their next trip
Now you can strategize your next rush-hour skedaddle through the labyrinthine London Underground ahead of time—and choose all the right shortcuts. Transport for London (TfL) has released a series of 3D axonometric maps of the world’s oldest tube network, following a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request by Londoner Georges Vehres.
IBM Watson launches a “Siri for Cities” app as more tech companies clamor for smart cities where “things” can communicate and supply data
The IT industry is pushing relentlessly to institutionalize smart cities by installing internet-connected lampposts, digital signage, building facades, and more. IT research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 2.9 billion connected “things” will be in use in the consumer sector.
IBM Watson jas joined the breakneck race with the launch of its “Siri for Cities,” a cognitive computing platform that enables users to ask complex questions about city services. By speaking into their smartphones, laptops or Apple Watches, residents can inquire about fire and police services to parking and waste collection.
Monday, August 3, 2015
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California – and much of the Western United States – is currently in the midst of a severe and unprecedented water crisis. In a recent op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, laid out the dire situation in California, brought on by historic drought and depleting water supplies: “Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing.”
The stakes couldn’t be higher: not only is California the most populous state in country, it is by far the largest agricultural producer. According to many experts, the drought in California correlates to both unsustainable human practices and the larger product of unsustainable human activity: climate change. With current responses largely amounting to “too-little-too-late,” the clock is ticking for California.
In response, Archinect is launching “Dry Futures”, a future-focused ideas competition seeking imaginative, pragmatic, idealist, or perhaps even dystopic, design proposals for the future of California’s drought.Dry Futures is divided into two categories: one for speculative projects (ie. proposals that involve realities, futures or technologies not yet imagined), and one for pragmatic responses (ie. proposals that could actually be implemented within current economic and technological conditions). Water may very well end up being the determining issue of the next century, and architects, progenitors of the built environment, have a responsibility to act.
The competition launched on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Submissions will be open until Tuesday, September 1, with jury deliberations taking place September 7 – 11. Winners will be announced on September 14.
While Google is photographing your street, its cars will also be mapping the air city dwellers breathe
Will we call it Air View? Google is collaborating with San Francisco–based, pollution-tech start-up Aclima to begin assessing air quality in metropolitan areas across the United States. Cars Google uses to capture its popular Street Views have been equipped with Aclima’s environmental sensors and will be able to detect pollutants such as Methane, Carbon Dioxide, and Black Carbon.