31 August 2013

Cosmic Caterpillar ~ DM Spots Cygnus Squiggle!

The DM's Ellie Zolfagharifard spots the Cosmic Caterpillar...
"The light-year-long cosmic squiggle is currently collecting material from an envelope of gas surrounding it. [...] A previous study has called the object, which lies 4,500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, a ‘tadpole in an interstellar pond.’ Harsh winds from extremely bright stars are blasting ultraviolet radiation at this 'wanna-be' star, named IRAS 20324+4057, and sculpting the gas and dust into its long shape."

World Innovation Clusters ~ TR Spots Tech Hubs

Tech Review infographic spotlights World Innovation Clusters...

30 August 2013

Hurricane Tracker ~ NOAA Historic Storm Map!

Mark Prigg at the DM spots NOAA historic hurricanes map!
"The image charts 11,967 tropical cyclones that have occurred on Earth since the NOAA began keeping a record in 1842, when data was supplied by ships and lighthouses rather than today’s advanced satellite detection systems."
First zoom in on USA... Global visual of storm intensity...

28 August 2013

Neurobiological Engineering ~ New MIT Center!

Very exciting to have public announcement of new MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering co-directed by my MIT Media Lab colleague Ed Boyden, who's also co-instructor of our Neurotechnology Ventures class! The core mission of the CNBE is to reverse engineer the human brain. By stitching together a transdisciplinary set of colleagues at MIT and beyond, they aim to:
  • Create tools for systematic nervous system experimentation; 
  • Engineer neurons, neural tissue, and their cross-interactions with cells, devices, and prosthetics; 
  • Develop new analytic understanding of neural systems and data; and 
  • Educate and exchange ideas at the verge betwixt neurobiology and engineering.

27 August 2013

Cycle Path Details ~ Micro Design Really Matters!

Copenhagenize has nice video series on cycling infrastructure with latest installment spotlighting Micro Design ~ Top 10 Design Elements in Copenhagen's Bicycle Culture... One of my favorite nuggets is their Hold On+Foot Rest...
"The City of Copenhagen has implemented this double railing simply as a convenience for the cyclists who stop here. A high railing to grasp with your hand and a foot railing for putting your foot up..."
Mark Wagenbuur from BicycleDutch has numerous posts on cycle path details, including Drainage in NL...
"With so many people cycling in the Netherlands and with the average amount of precipitation in their country, the Dutch need a system that keeps the infrastructure dry without endangering all those people cycling. And of course the Dutch have such a system. Key difference to some of the other systems of the world is that the openings for rain water to get into the sewer system are not horizontally in the street surface, but vertically set in the kerbs [...] As a cyclist you do not have to ride over these openings that way and that makes all the difference."
David Hembrow's View From the Cycle Path spots many details, including latest piece on Bollards, both horrible and acceptable examples...
"Bollards appear primarily where cycling routes meet driving routes. They're also used to prevent minor roads from being used for through journeys (segregating modes without a cycle-path and helping to unravel driving routes from cycling routes) and in other places, for example to discourage parking of cars where they are not wanted."
Latest designs include flexible bollards... And this David Hembrow piece on Angled Curbs...
"Parallel kerbs can be quite dangerous for cyclists. A slight lapse of concentration and you can be off your bike, and possibly injured badly [...] The kerb shown here is one of many "forgiving" 45 degree kerbs in use in Assen. These kerbs make it possible to cross from the cycle path to the pedestrian path without falling from your bike. They reduce the risk of injury due to a lapse of concentration."
And here Mark spotlights David's video of NL's red cyclepath construction...

Salone Promo ~ Sierra Leone Import Exports...

SwitSalone's Vickie Remoe spots nice promo video -- Invest in Sierra Leone -- made by their Import Export team...

25 August 2013

Zaatari City ~ Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan...

With shocking speed Zaatari City has grown in Jordan from a few thousand to over 130,000 Syrians seeking refuge. The BBC reports on Zaatari refugee camp that...
"This makeshift piece of Syria has three hospitals -- meaning that healthcare and mortality rates are significantly better inside the camp than outside -- and there are a number of schools, although attendance is low. Just a quarter go to classes. Entrepreneurial residents have also set up more than 3,000 different shops and businesses along the camp's main roads -- including the humorously named "Champs Elysee" -- selling a wide range of goods and services, from groceries and fresh bread to wedding dresses and mobile phones. There are also taxi services, children's playgrounds and football pitches. [...] Yet, the vast majority of Syria's 1.9 million refugees do not live in Jordan's desert camps, but are instead spread across the region. Most are in Lebanon, followed by Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. This is not forgetting the 4.25 million internally displaced people within Syria itself."
I wonder what it would take for Jordan to assimilate the refugees and give them empowerment rights to work and own property and businesses and welcome them to build up the Jordanian economy, including such emerging cities as Aqaba and beyond.

24 August 2013

African Infrastructure ~ Visualizing Improvements

Excellent to see infrastructure blossoming in and around the African continent. Rapidly changing is broadband internet access... Existing and planned power pool connections... And planned power plants... Plus, see my earlier Maximizing Progress posts here with maps of African Seaports, Bollore's ports, rail and waterlinks, the planned roadway and current rails, and proposed African Rail Corridors, including special focus on Rail West Africa.

Slime Watch ~ LED Tracking of Garden Snails...

Prof Dave Hodgson, an ecologist at the University of Exeter, and his team embarked on a Slime Watch to find that...
"...snails will travel distances of up to 25 metres in a 24-hour period, and seek out areas of shelter, such as long grass, trees or objects, including dogs' toys, left in the garden overnight. The four researchers from Exeter University also discovered that snails move in convoys, piggy-backing on the slime of other snails to conserve energy. It is thought that a snail could use up to 30 per cent of its energy in slime production alone. The study was commissioned by the Be Lungworm Aware campaign as a resource for dog owners, whose pets are at risk from a potentially fatal parasite spread by slugs and snails..."
(See also pieces in Neatorama and at DailyMail)

Sesame Ring ~ "One Ring To (Ride) Them All"

Nice design by Singapore-MIT team for Sesame Ring, an RFID replacement for the Charlie Card to access public transit (and in principle, much more!) This "One Ring To (Ride) Them All" is now Kickstarting! (See also Jenny Xie's nice writeup in Atlantic Cities)

22 August 2013

GOES-12 ~ 10-Year NOAA Weathersat Timelapse

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite GOES-12 has finally stopped recording weather patterns after 3,788 days. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA shares this epic ten-year timelapse weather video...

Io ~ NASA's Galileo Images Jupiter Moon...

NASA APOD spotlights Galileo image of Jupiter's Io!

21 August 2013

Subversive Currents ~ China Fears Seven Perils...

Chris Buckley in the NYTimes reveals that China's unelected and dictatorial Communist Party leadership fear that...
"...power could escape their grip [...] unless the party eradicates seven subversive currents coursing through Chinese society."
These seven perils include...
  • “Western constitutional democracy,” 
  • Promoting “universal values” of human rights,
  • Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation,
  • Ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” 
  •  “Nihilist” criticisms of the party’s traumatic past. 
Surely, however, any truly strong and legitimate authority fears no criticism, embraces shared values, and benefits from active citizen participation? Or do the so-called "leaders" of China fear the light of freedom and the true voice of the people?

20 August 2013

New Routes ~ Asia-to-Europe Translogistics...

Costas Paris writes in the WSJournal that Ship Travels Arctic From China to Europe ~ Northern Passage Shaves Two Weeks of Travel Time Off Journey...
"China's Yong Sheng is an unremarkable ship that is about to make history. It is the first container-transporting vessel to sail to Europe from China through the Arctic rather than taking the usual southerly route through the Suez Canal, shaving two weeks off the regular travel time in the process. The 19,000-ton Yong Sheng, operated by China's state-controlled Cosco Group, left the port of Dalian Aug. 8 and is scheduled to reach Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, via the Bering Strait Sept. 11. The travel time of about 35 days compares with the average of 48 days it would normally take to journey through the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea."
Of course, things get even more interesting when you throw in the prospects of trans-Siberian railway links...
"So which routes have been tested? [...]
  • Shanghai China to Duisburg Germany (18 Days) 
  • Chongqing to Duisburg (16 Days) 
  • Xiangtang, China, to Hamburg (17 Days) 
The freight lead times are very good in comparison to sea freight where the usual shipping time can be 36 days or more depending on the end location in Europe. The scale of the railway is immense as it crosses 11 time zones and more than 11,000 km."

Birdsourcing ~ Citizen Scientist Ornithology!

Jim Robbins in his NYTimes pieces spotlights Birdsourcing...
"Tens of thousands of birders are now what the [Cornell Lab of Ornithology] calls “biological sensors,” turning their sightings into digital data by reporting where, when and how many of which species they see. [...] sighting of a dozen herons is a tiny bit of information, but such bits, gathered in the millions, provide scientists with a very big picture: perhaps the first crowdsourced, real-time view of bird populations around the world."
Check out BirdCast forecasts!

Iyesa Express ~ Sizwe Nzima's Rx Cycle Delivery

The BBC spotlights Sizwe Nzima, South African entrepreneur building up Iyesa Express pharmaceuticals delivery venture in Cape Town...
"Collecting medicine from a hospital or clinic-based dispensary in some of South Africa's townships is no mean feat. There is the cost of transport to the facility, often hours spent queuing, the cost to have someone look after children left at home, or the loss of pay because of missing work. But for the elderly and infirm, it can be a nightmare because they physically find it impossible to travel. Now Sizwe Nzima, a young man from the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, has started a business which has seen him win a Forbes Magazine award as one of Africa's best young entrepreneurs."

Tomorrow's Cities ~ BBC on Smart Urban Living...

Nice BBC series on Tomorrow's Cities noting that...
"In the future everything in a city, from the electricity grid, to the sewer pipes to roads, buildings and cars will be connected to the network. Buildings will turn off the lights for you, self-driving cars will find you that sought-after parking space, even the rubbish bins will be smart. But how do we get to this smarter future. Who will be monitoring and controlling the sensors that will increasingly be on every building, lamp-post and pipe in the city? And is it a future we even want?"

19 August 2013

Disaster City Revisit ~ BBC Spots Training Hub

The BBC spotlights Disaster City which we've previously seen is an emergency worker learning lab...
"... the most comprehensive emergency response training facility in the world. At the 52 acre site, Saima Mohsin learns how full-scale reconstructions of collapsed buildings are used to simulate a wide variety of disaster scenarios, from explosions to train crashes and earthquakes. The findings are then usedto equip emergency personnel from across the world with the knowledge and technology to respond effectively in the most challenging situations."

Sea Level Rise Explorer ~ Map of Coastal Risk

Check out Sea Level Rise Explorer, a zoomable worldmap of elevation relative to sea-level and thus indicator of coastal flood risk...

17 August 2013

Leaving Earth ~ Messenger Rearview Timelapse!

Wow, NASA APOD shows what Leaving Earth looks like via Messenger spacecraft rearview perspective 24 hour timelapse!

15 August 2013

Hong Kong Tramrides ~ Flow in the Intense City!

More recent Hong Kong tramrides, first westbound by day... And then eastbound by night...

Wireless Tramways ~ Alstom's APS Power...

Alstom's APS in-ground power enables wireless tramways... Here operating in beautiful Bordeaux... And the plan for Dubai...

Hi-Density & Livability ~ Lessons from Asian Cities

Lessons from Fall 2011 ULI meeting...

Liveable Hi-Density Cities ~ Singapore Principles

Earlier in 2013, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) released their joint publication 10 Principles for Liveable High Density Cities: Lessons from Singapore spotlighting lessons from...
"...Singapore’s successful urbanization
experience -- despite its population density, the city-state has consistently ranked favorably in various surveys measuring the liveability and sustainability of cities around the globe. [...] Each of the 10 principles in the publication reflects Singapore’s integrated model of planning and development, which weaves together the physical, economic, social and environmental aspects of urban living."
The ten principles are:
  1. Plan for long-term growth and renewal 
  2. Embrace diversity, foster inclusiveness 
  3. Draw nature closer to people
  4. Develop affordable, mixed-use neighbourhoods
  5. Make public spaces work harder 
  6. Prioritise green transport and building options
  7. Relieve density with variety and add green boundaries
  8. Activate spaces for greater safety
  9. Promote innovative and non-conventional solutions
  10. Forge “3P” (people, public, private) partnerships
But not everyone buys their analysis or promo graphics...

Ken Yeang ~ Talks on Bioclimatic Green Design...

Several talks and interviews with pioneering green designer and eco-architect Ken Yeang. First, Subtropical Cities 2011 Keynote... Work with Nature... CTBUH 2008 Dubai Congress on Ecoskyscrapers... In Person interview (stay past glitches up front)...

Hawkes Eye View ~ NYC Shot From Above!

The DailyMail spots photographer Jason Hawkes portfolio of aerial shots of New York City! All beautiful, but this perspective on Manhattan is one of my favorites!

14 August 2013

Drawbot ~ Newco's Robot Arm Sketches Narwhal!

Three recent grads from MIT and Cornell -- Nancy Ouyang, Cappie Pomeroy, and Hanna Lin -- have started narwhalEDU to make...
"Wicked cool & hands-on online engineering classes [...] Imagine Khan Academy with hardware projects. We are combining online curricula with wicked cool hardware kits to teach introductory engineering topics at the high school and up level. To do so, we are using the edX platform and then developing hardware modules. [...] We want to empower you to go out and make your own things and to spread the “can do” attitude."
Check out their Drawbot, a robot arm that sketches and helps kids learn about kinematics, batteries, and more! Kickstarting soon!

Giken ECO Cycle ~ Japanese Robo Underparks!

Thanks to OddityCentral for spotlighting Danny Choo's latest video of Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan, the ECO Cycle by Giken Seisakusho... Inhabitat's Lidija Grozdanic shares some of the inner workings... What makes Giken so interesting as a company is their enabling technology, harnessing the Press-In Method, for quiet and low environmental-impact construction.

12 August 2013

10 August 2013

Too Many Bikes? ~ Euro Cycle Boom Backlash

Holger Dambeck asks in DerSpiegel are there Too Many Bikes? Europe's Cycling Boom Sees a Backlash...
"More bicycles were supposed to make Europe's cities more livable. Instead, the popularity of two-wheeled travel is causing problems in some cities in Holland and Denmark, where traffic jams and parking shortages are common. [...] Cycling has been heavily promoted, and more and more people are taking to the pedal -- but eventually cycling paths, bike racks and other parking areas have begun to run out of space. The bike boom -- long seen as the universal solution to roads jammed with parked cars, dead inner cities and other urban maladies like noise, smog and lack of exercise -- threatens to choke on its own success."

Aspirant Nations ~ Mapping Separatists Regions...

China separatists... European separatists... Worldmap of separatists...

09 August 2013

One Day I Too Go Fly ~ Africans Studying @ MIT

Check out teaser for One Day I Too Go Fly film-in-production by Arthur Musah and Brook Turner. It's the ongoing...
"...story of students from Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Nigeria as they go through undergraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As they arrive from diverse African backgrounds and immerse themselves in the challenge of rigorous academics and navigating a new world, we embark with them on a unique quest -- for knowledge and for the adults they will become. What happens to them over the next four years as they are molded into first-class engineers at America’s premier technological university?"
Plus check out their completed Kickstarter campaign.

05 August 2013

Extreme Engineering ~ Statoil & Maersk Lead...

BBC's Roger Harrabin spots Norway's giant sub-marine gas platform... Get Adobe Flash player Get Adobe Flash player And here's a motivating promo piece about Maersk Drilling spotted by gCaptain!

01 August 2013

The Stack ~ Fast Modular Apartment Construction

Matt Chaban writes in Crain's NY about Modular apartment building rises in 19 days...
"Nineteen days. That is all the time it took to put up a 28-unit, six-story apartment building in the Inwood section of Manhattan this summer. The secret? Modular construction."
Check out construction timelapse!