Entries Tagged 'Environment' ↓

Flying Home

God’s glory….

What can one possibly add to this otherworldly image of Golden Rays migrating off the coast of Mexico?

As amateur photographer Sandra Critelli said in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, via BoingBoing,

“It was an unreal image, very difficult to describe. The surface of the water was covered by warm and different shades of gold and looked like a bed of autumn leaves gently moved by the wind.”

No, Sandra. You described it perfectly. Thanks for photographing it even better.

Nothing Cools You Off on a Hot Day Like a Big, Foaming, Cold, Refreshing Glass of Piss.

Presto change-o

I think it was on my 8th-grade class trip to the New York Hall of Science in Queens that I first learned our astronauts, in order to conserve precious water while in space, recycled their pee.

The fact was so startling then that I don’t think, mentally, I’ve ever made it to the next, obvious step: Reflexively grokking what pee, in one’s mouth, would actually taste like. The factoid just rests in my brain as an odd, disgusting byte, to be activated every now and then, like, for example, with the August 2007 news that trapped Chinese miners survived nearly a week by eating coal and drinking their own piss.

Now, two artists—the aptly-named Britta Riley and her partner Rebecca Bray—are investigating “the role our bodies play in larger ecosystems” through their drinkpeedrinkpeedrinkpee project. (Thanks for tipping us off, City Dirt and Eyebeam. Why these activists call their site “drink pee” x3 when it seems more about reprocessing urine, I don’t know.

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Lighting My House by Otherwise Impossible Means

Gravia lamp and friend

Did a young and promising clean-energy consortium just give a big prize to the wrong guy?

This cool “gravity-based kinetic energy lamp,” Gravia, above, by designer Clay Moulton, placed second at the Greener Gadgets Conference (GGC)’s design competition, held here in New York City, on February 1.

Said the contest summary,

The driving idea of Gravia is that light is generated when the user raises weights from the bottom to the top of the lamp. As the mass slowly falls it spins a rotor. The energy created by the movement is harnessed by an internal mechanism to make electricity. Ten high-output LEDs light the four foot high acrylic column with a diffuse glow (600-800 lumens) for about 4 hours of ambient light.

You can see a schematic here.

Obviously, using gravity for power means environmental cleanliness exceeding the surgical. Gravity is a fundamental, universal force, everywhere, free, abundant.

But there’s a problem with the prize-winning Gravia, a big one:

Gravia isn’t actually manufacturable: “The criticism is that a great deal of weight –- tons — would be required [for it to work] and [, as well,] current LEDs are not sufficiently efficient.” Designer Clay Moulton has acknowledged this fact and says that [“]the current design is probably not possible given current LED technology, but could be soon.”

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Love You, Inside and Out

PreFab Modern coverI met Jill Herbers at a WBAI fete which she attended with a friend, then proceeded to spend almost all the rest of that evening talking to her. Thoughtful, more than a little opinionated, and utterly serious about the art and science of fabricating living spaces, what was not to love? I’ve grabbed her books: 1996’s Tile, and 1990’s Great Adaptations to find out more on her ideas. But I would have picked up 2004’s Prefab Modern for the cover alone. O.K.: The cover, and pages 50-59 alone.

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Ocean’s Infinity

Gulf Stream going past the East CoastThinking about the kind of power we might one day derive from the movement of open water has me amped. This is from an Associated Press article, “Oceans eyed as new energy source,” running Feb. 14:

Just 15 miles off Florida’s coast, the world’s most powerful sustained ocean current — the mighty Gulf Stream — rushes by at nearly 8.5 billion gallons per second. And it never stops.

To scientists, it represents a tantalizing possibility: a new, plentiful and uninterrupted source of clean energy.

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