Jul 172010
 

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As if Mainers needed another reason to spend time outdoors in July.

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XoxV0sZZO-I/Forest-Bathing-Considered-Healthful via Byline

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that although allergies and the promise of air-conditioning tend to drive people indoors at this time of year, when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks, and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. A study of 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing,’ found that being among plants produced ‘lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,’ among other things. Another study in 2007 showed that men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells, and a third study found an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jul 172010
 

As if Mainers needed another reason to spend time outdoors in July.

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XoxV0sZZO-I/Forest-Bathing-Considered-Healthful via Byline

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that although allergies and the promise of air-conditioning tend to drive people indoors at this time of year, when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks, and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. A study of 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing,’ found that being among plants produced ‘lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,’ among other things. Another study in 2007 showed that men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells, and a third study found an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jul 152010
 

This would have been a great eco-tech capstone.

thefickler writes “The Pacific Ocean trash dump is twice the size of Texas, or the size of Spain combined with France. The Pacific Vortex as it is sometimes called, is made up of four million tons of Plastic. Now there’s a proposal to turn this dump into ‘Recycled Island’. The Netherlands Architecture Fund has provided the grant money for the project, and the WHIM architecture firm is conducting the research and design of Recycled Island. One of the three major aims of the project is to clean up the floating trash by recycling it on site. Two, the project would create new land for sustainable habitation complete with its own food sources and energy sources. Lastly, Recycled Island is to be a sea worthy island. While at the moment the project is still more or less a pipe dream, it’s great that someone is trying to work out what to do with one of humanity’s most bizarre environmental slip ups.”

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/15/0033244/Pacific-Trash-Vortex-To-Become-Habitable-Island?from=rss via Byline

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jul 152010
 

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This would have been a great eco-tech capstone.

thefickler writes “The Pacific Ocean trash dump is twice the size of Texas, or the size of Spain combined with France. The Pacific Vortex as it is sometimes called, is made up of four million tons of Plastic. Now there’s a proposal to turn this dump into ‘Recycled Island’. The Netherlands Architecture Fund has provided the grant money for the project, and the WHIM architecture firm is conducting the research and design of Recycled Island. One of the three major aims of the project is to clean up the floating trash by recycling it on site. Two, the project would create new land for sustainable habitation complete with its own food sources and energy sources. Lastly, Recycled Island is to be a sea worthy island. While at the moment the project is still more or less a pipe dream, it’s great that someone is trying to work out what to do with one of humanity’s most bizarre environmental slip ups.”

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/15/0033244/Pacific-Trash-Vortex-To-Become-Habitable-Island?from=rss via Byline

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jul 022010
 

Augmented politics, inspired by BP.

http://theleakinyourhometown.wordpress.com/

“the leak in your home town” is an iPhone app that lets users see the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill whenever they see a BP logo. A user simply launches the app and aims their iPhone’s camera at the nearest BP logo. What the user sees is one of the broken BP pipes coming out of the BP logo, and out of the pipe comes the oil, pluming upward.

“This work mixes computer generated 3D graphics with the iPhone’s video camera to create an augmented reality. The user is able to see the computer generated 3D objects at specific locations in the real world. The 3D graphics create the broken BP pipe which comes out of the BP logo.

“An important component of the project is that it uses BP’s corporate logo as a marker, to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics. Basically turning their own logo against them. This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.”

“This project was created by Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking and is a work in progress.”

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/06/augmented-reality-bp-logo-hack/

Jul 022010
 

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Augmented politics, inspired by BP.

http://theleakinyourhometown.wordpress.com/

“the leak in your home town” is an iPhone app that lets users see the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill whenever they see a BP logo. A user simply launches the app and aims their iPhone’s camera at the nearest BP logo. What the user sees is one of the broken BP pipes coming out of the BP logo, and out of the pipe comes the oil, pluming upward.

“This work mixes computer generated 3D graphics with the iPhone’s video camera to create an augmented reality. The user is able to see the computer generated 3D objects at specific locations in the real world. The 3D graphics create the broken BP pipe which comes out of the BP logo.

“An important component of the project is that it uses BP’s corporate logo as a marker, to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics. Basically turning their own logo against them. This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.”

“This project was created by Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking and is a work in progress.”

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/06/augmented-reality-bp-logo-hack/

Apr 302010
 

Notes on the Sustainable Orono meeting of April 28, 2010: From: Sustainable Orono

Aproximately 30 persons attended the meeting at the Orono Public Library. We viewed the documentary, In Transition 1.0, which, for those who were unable to attend, can be viewed online at:

We discussed a variety of ideas for making Orono more sustainable, including the establishment of a town farm; having community gardens on town land with personal plots that could be cultivated by those without access to land; having a municipal hydroelectric plant; increasing the number of households that heat with natural gas rather than heating oil, as an interim way of cutting the carbon footprint of the town until more sustainable methods can be employed; and the importance of more comprehensive recycling. A number of persons spoke about the importance of having a strong community in facing the challenges of peak oil and climate change.

A steering committee for Sustainable Orono was formed to ensure continuity until a more formal structure could be created. This committee can be contacted at sustainable_orono at hotmail.com.

A committee that will examine and work on initiatives for local food production was also formed, with Claudia Lowd as the committee convener (Email: clowd at myfairpoint.net)

There were also volunteers for a committee on local energy use and production, but as of yet there is no convener for that committee. If you wish to serve on any of these committees, please contact sustainable_orono at hotmail.com.

We tentatively decided that the next Sustainable Orono meeting would be held on May 26 at the Birch Street School, if it is available at that time, as the library meeting was too small to comfortably accommodate the group.

Finally, until a better means of communication is found or developed, the Sustainable Orono group on Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sustainable_orono/) can be used for posting notices and reports of meetings and activities Sustainable Orono committees and any other local groups that are working on sustainability issues.

Apr 302010
 

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Notes on the Sustainable Orono meeting of April 28, 2010: From: Sustainable Orono

Aproximately 30 persons attended the meeting at the Orono Public Library. We viewed the documentary, In Transition 1.0, which, for those who were unable to attend, can be viewed online at: [vimeo groups]

We discussed a variety of ideas for making Orono more sustainable, including the establishment of a town farm; having community gardens on town land with personal plots that could be cultivated by those without access to land; having a municipal hydroelectric plant; increasing the number of households that heat with natural gas rather than heating oil, as an interim way of cutting the carbon footprint of the town until more sustainable methods can be employed; and the importance of more comprehensive recycling. A number of persons spoke about the importance of having a strong community in facing the challenges of peak oil and climate change.

A steering committee for Sustainable Orono was formed to ensure continuity until a more formal structure could be created. This committee can be contacted at sustainable_orono at hotmail.com.

A committee that will examine and work on initiatives for local food production was also formed, with Claudia Lowd as the committee convener (Email: clowd at myfairpoint.net)

There were also volunteers for a committee on local energy use and production, but as of yet there is no convener for that committee. If you wish to serve on any of these committees, please contact sustainable_orono at hotmail.com.

We tentatively decided that the next Sustainable Orono meeting would be held on May 26 at the Birch Street School, if it is available at that time, as the library meeting was too small to comfortably accommodate the group.

Finally, until a better means of communication is found or developed, the Sustainable Orono group on Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sustainable_orono/) can be used for posting notices and reports of meetings and activities Sustainable Orono committees and any other local groups that are working on sustainability issues.

Apr 182010
 

Wired magazine spoke with Science writer and Hack the Planet author Eli Kintisch about the moral and scientific dilemmas of considering global interventions to solve climate change. On reading the interview, I’m terrified to learn how many companies are itching to get into the geoengineering business, by marketing sun-absorbing aerosols to disperse in clouds or patenting new types of algae that munch up carbon in the oceans.

Kintisch makes the analogy between nuclear weapons and geoengineering as two horrific projects that scientists research, all the while hoping they will never be used. If that analogy is justified, then we should no sooner entrust private enterprise with saving the planet than we should put them in charge of building and deploying atomic bombs.

Continue reading »

Apr 072010
 

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GM introduced its Electric Networked Vehicle prototypes, one third the size of a typical car, as a way to reduce big urban auto emissions and traffic congestion. The EN-V relies on dynamic stabilization technology similar to that of the one-person Segway scooter to keep its balance, and can be operated autonomously or under manual control. In autonomous mode the EN-V is designed to use high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route, based on real-time traffic conditions gleaned from the Web or some other networked source of traffic information.”

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/yGpOe8knI9I/GM-Unveils-Networked-Electric-Mini-Cars

Apr 072010
 

GM introduced its Electric Networked Vehicle prototypes, one third the size of a typical car, as a way to reduce big urban auto emissions and traffic congestion. The EN-V relies on dynamic stabilization technology similar to that of the one-person Segway scooter to keep its balance, and can be operated autonomously or under manual control. In autonomous mode the EN-V is designed to use high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route, based on real-time traffic conditions gleaned from the Web or some other networked source of traffic information.”

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/yGpOe8knI9I/GM-Unveils-Networked-Electric-Mini-Cars

Feb 182010
 

Biomimicry meets architecture. Could be a great leap forward in sustainability, but could also give a whole new meaning to the concept of a “sick” building.

http://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/events/event_diary_details.asp?id=510

Unconventional Computing & Architecture

Friday 26 February, 9.00am – 6.00pm

This one-day conference explores new materials for architectural practice in the 21st century. International architects and scientists will explore the decision-making properties of matter and how this may be applied to create increasingly life-like buildings.

Organised by The Bartlett´s Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research (AVATAR) group, (((A-OK name for 2010))) the conference aims to bring together architects and scientists who are working with new technologies that are capable of self-assembly and organization.

Such technologies may form the basis for architecture generated by unconventional computing techniques which range from the actions of protocells, (entirely synthetic DNA-less agents), slime moulds (simple organisms with very complex behaviours), crystalline computing (using the organizing properties of molecules) and algae (that can be engineered to respond to environments in new ways).

“Increasingly life-like buildings.” Uhm… what if they’re predatory?–Bruce Sterling

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/unconventional-computing-and-architecture/

Feb 182010
 

Biomimicry meets architecture. Could be a great leap forward in sustainability, but could also give a whole new meaning to the concept of a “sick” building.

http://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/events/event_diary_details.asp?id=510

Unconventional Computing & Architecture

Friday 26 February, 9.00am – 6.00pm

This one-day conference explores new materials for architectural practice in the 21st century. International architects and scientists will explore the decision-making properties of matter and how this may be applied to create increasingly life-like buildings.

Organised by The Bartlett´s Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research (AVATAR) group, (((A-OK name for 2010))) the conference aims to bring together architects and scientists who are working with new technologies that are capable of self-assembly and organization.

Such technologies may form the basis for architecture generated by unconventional computing techniques which range from the actions of protocells, (entirely synthetic DNA-less agents), slime moulds (simple organisms with very complex behaviours), crystalline computing (using the organizing properties of molecules) and algae (that can be engineered to respond to environments in new ways).

“Increasingly life-like buildings.” Uhm… what if they’re predatory?–Bruce Sterling

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/unconventional-computing-and-architecture/

Feb 172010
 

“Computer as furoshiki, here we come”–Bruce Sterling

BERKELEY — In research that gives literal meaning to the term “power suit,” University of California, Berkeley, engineers have created energy-scavenging nanofibers that could one day be woven into clothing and textiles.

These nano-sized generators have “piezoelectric” properties that allow them to convert into electricity the energy created through mechanical stress, stretches and twists.

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/computer-as-furoshiki-here-we-come/

Feb 172010
 

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“Computer as furoshiki, here we come”–Bruce Sterling

BERKELEY — In research that gives literal meaning to the term “power suit,” University of California, Berkeley, engineers have created energy-scavenging nanofibers that could one day be woven into clothing and textiles.

These nano-sized generators have “piezoelectric” properties that allow them to convert into electricity the energy created through mechanical stress, stretches and twists.

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/computer-as-furoshiki-here-we-come/

Feb 112010
 

The debate over cell phone radiation and cancer is still raging, thanks to a report that one in four of studies paid for by the phone industry showed harmful effects, while three in four of independently funded studies showed bioeffects. This review isn’t proof of the influence of mobile phones on cancer, but it does make a pretty scary case for the influence of economics on science.

Geeks may protest that the energy of phone photons is too low to fold proteins in carcinogenic ways, but meanwhile many of them (er, us) are exposing ourselves to much greater hazards through technologies we take for granted.

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Feb 092010
 

Wired discovers permaculture!

“Haiti was an ecological disaster before the earthquake. Deforestation and topsoil loss have made farming on the island difficult. One organization suggests that permaculture techniques could restore productivity to the land and rural residents”

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/vNxIahkEaLE/a-permaculture-strategy-for

Feb 092010
 

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Wired discovers permaculture!

“Haiti was an ecological disaster before the earthquake. Deforestation and topsoil loss have made farming on the island difficult. One organization suggests that permaculture techniques could restore productivity to the land and rural residents”

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/vNxIahkEaLE/a-permaculture-strategy-for

Jan 222010
 

I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.