Why MIT geeks are throwing the best dinner party ever.
After the extremely popular Blue Planet Run post last Friday, we’re still on a sustainable solutions high. And the good guys at MIT are right there with us. In a breakthrough discovery last week, they’ve found a new way of storing energy from sunlight that generates practically unlimited solar power.
Resembling plant photosynthesis, the process basically splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gases using sunlight. MIT chem professor Daniel Nocera explains. (Come on, stick with the man — he’s no stand-up comedian but let’s see Jerry Seinfeld save the world from the energy apocalypse.)
Why is this huge? Because, so far, the one thing keeping solar power from reaching critical mass has been the struggle to store energy efficiently when the sun doesn’t shine. This new method — both cheap and easy to implement — will eventually allow homes to harness daytime solar energy and store it for electricity at night.
So who’s coming to our first solar-powered dinner party? Say, November 14, 2010? Don’t be late.
What European gypsies have to teach us about sustainability and the housing market.
Real estate crunch got you in the dumps? Too broke for a boat and too proud for a trailer? Fear not, the Danish have your back.
Copenhagen-based artist and activist collective N55 just released the first prototype of WALKING HOUSE, a 10-foot-high pod home that actually walks at a strolling pace.
The solar- and wind-powered pod includes a fully-functional kitchen, toilet, living room, bed, and wood stove. An on-board mainframe computer controls the six giant legs.
Developed in collaboration with MIT, the prototype cost nearly $50,000 to make, but the team believes that as design and the production process get streamlined for larger quantities, cost will go down significantly.
Inspired by the area’s large population of travelers, the WALKING HOUSEoffers a unique hybrid of traditional nomadic culture and modern design solutions.
Today, the pod is taking its inaugural stroll around rural Cambridgeshire at the Wysing Arts Centre in Bourn.
We love the nomadic-living-gone-high-tech appeal of the house and its decidedly sustainable twist. The inside looks absolutely cozy — not in that Craigslist-euphemism-for-shoebox-dump kind of way. Makes us wanna curl up inside with Kings of Convenience playing oh-so-lazily in the background.
Summer has come and gone, and Americans are already filling their scrapbooks with photos from their 2008 staycation — you know, the stay-put vacation alternative enforced by those notorious gas prices. And while some have tried to make lemonade with it all by re-discovering and re-appreciating their home states (one has to wonder what a two-week appreciation of, say, Wisconsin entails), others have gone the other way: thinking up fun, creative stuff that can be done just as well in Manhattan as it could in the Maldives.
Case in point: Flickrer hb19′s sky play photo set, using nothing but the sky and a simple object to create clever scenes that take us back to those magical childhood days when clouds were dragons and unicorns and exotic fishes.
A year and a half after the start of the THEMIS mission (that’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms… what, it’s the government, they’re no catchphrase pros), a fleet of five satellites probing Earth’s magnetic field, scientists have pinned down the reason why the Northern Lights dance their magic dance: magnetic reconnection, a sudden burst of substorms, brightenings and rapid movements that occur when stressed magnetic field lines suddenly “snap” to a different shape, much like snapping open an overstretched rubber band.
This phenomenon, it turns out, is common throughout the universe and in our particular case happens about a third of the way to the moon.
So think of us next time you share this at a dinner party to boost your smart-cool factor, will ya?
COUTURE FOR THE EYE
That fascination with the summer sky seems like something Flickr amateurs share with the photographic legends of our time.
This summer, legendary duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott shot legendary model Giselle Bündchen for W Magazine‘s “Kiss The Sky” editorial, styled by the legendary Alex White. (See? We mean business with all that legends stuff.)
Besides the oddly brave use of seemingly safe color, we’re mesmerized by the enchanted play with light.
Keeping with the theme of clouds, fashion and scientific geekiness, there’s a different kind of cloud extracting oohs and ahhs from its observers: the smart kids at MIT have built the Fiber Optic Cloud, a mind-blowing sculpture made of 15,000 optical fibers, each individually addressable and responsive to human interaction through hundreds of sensors.
The 13-foot cloud, constructed of carbon glass, contains over 40 miles of fiber optics and expresses context awareness — which means that when admirers interact with it through touch, it reflects emotion and behavior through sound and lightness-darkness signaling.
The cloud lives in Florence and launched as an ongoing project to rethink the fashion trade show concept on an interactive, sensory level.
We just hope it’s not nearly as moody as the divas of haute couture.
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