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Unruly solar flares, broadband outages could presage connected world problems | FierceIPTV

Unruly solar flares, broadband outages could presage connected world problems | FierceIPTV | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A pair of disparate news bits--increasingly active solar flares and an AT&T U-verse broadband breakdown--recently offered a foreboding and somewhat ominous glimpse of what the future could hold--at least for an increasingly connected society. It wasn't pretty.

 

First doomsday reports suggested a series of solar flares in 2013 might go beyond routine and cause more than a case of nasty sunburn.

 

"The concern of a strong solar flare in the direction of Earth is legit," Seton Hall University professor Jose Lopez told Fox News in a story reported by The Inquisitr. "The possibility [is] that such a sun burst could hit Earth and could cause extensive damage as it would charge-up our electrical equipment and destroy [it]."

 

In short, the flares will toast the nation's aging electrical grid, which will fail and throw massive portions of the population back to the stone age--at least for a brief time.

 

It's probably nothing to lose sleep over--and if the power's out your electric alarm won't work anyway, so you'll get even more shuteye. But then another news bit served up a taste of what a disconnected society could face. The AT&T U-verse network suffered something between a hiccup and a major stomach virus, throwing untold consumers into despair.

 

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Our Global Future in the 21st Century is based on "The Third Industrial Revolution" which finally connects our new ICT infrastructure with distributed energy sources that are both renewable and sustainable
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Nearly 80 Percent of Germany’s Power Came From Renewables Last Saturday | Araz Hachadourian | Yes! Magazine

Nearly 80 Percent of Germany’s Power Came From Renewables Last Saturday | Araz Hachadourian | Yes! Magazine | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Last Saturday, on July 25, 78 percent of Germany's electricity was produced by wind and solar power.

Germany hopes 80 percent of the country's energy will come from renewables by 2050.

What caused the record-breaking numbers? According to Craig Morris, a writer for the German website Energiewende, it was the weather. Morris attributs the rise in wind power to a storm passing through the north of the country, where the majority of Germany's wind turbines stand. It also helped that it was a sunny day in southern Germany, home to most of the country's solar panels.

The infrastructure that allowed Germany to harness energy from this “perfect storm” has been in place for a few years now. Back in 2011 Germany's government announced plans to phase away from nuclear power. Through a project called Energiewende, Germany hopes 80 percent of the country's energy will come from renewables by 2050.


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Is Ireland’s Economy Really Growing Almost as Quickly as China’s? | Paul Hannon Blog | WSJ.com

Is Ireland’s Economy Really Growing Almost as Quickly as China’s? | Paul Hannon Blog | WSJ.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

For a country that was the birthplace of modern statistics, Ireland is having a difficult time measuring just how big its economy is.

Back in 1656, William Petty completed the Down Survey, a detailed assessment of Ireland’s assets—mainly its land—to prepare for their division among members of Oliver Cromwell’s conquering armies. It was the first attempt at measuring the size of a national economy.

Things are a little more complicated in 2015. While relatively small, Ireland’s economy is one of the most globalized on earth, hosting a variety of multinational companies that account for a large share of its economic output.

Its complexity may explain why Ireland is so much later than most other developed economies in releasing economic growth figures. On Thursday, its Central Statistics Office published gross domestic product figures for the first three months of 2015. That release came on the same day that the U.S. released growth figures for the three months to June, and a day after the. U.K. did the same. The rest of the eurozone released first quarter growth figures on May 15.


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A year ago, an algae monster attacked Toledo. It will happen again if we don't clean up Lake Erie. | Barry Yoeman | onEarth.org

A year ago, an algae monster attacked Toledo. It will happen again if we don't clean up Lake Erie. | Barry Yoeman | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it
Brenda Snyder wasn’t supposed to be at work on August 1, 2014. The chief chemist at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant in Toledo, Ohio, was taking a vacation day at home, enjoying some downtime before the anticipated arrival of last year’s late-summer algal blooms. Although the expected peak of the blooms was still a few weeks away, Snyder knew that once the cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, started spreading like scum over the surface of Lake Erie’s western basin—the source of Toledo’s drinking water—it would require constant vigilance at the plant to protect people from microcystin, the liver-damaging chemical it produces. Best to relax a bit, Snyder figured, and conserve her energy before the onslaught.

But a TV reporter had asked for an interview that Friday afternoon, and Snyder had agreed to come in for a few hours. Before she went home, two chemists on her staff who had been performing routine tests shared some curious data with her: Most of the recently collected samples had tested comfortably within the safety zone for microcystin, but Friday’s levels had spiked almost sixtyfold over the previous day’s. At 2.5 parts per billion—the equivalent of 2.5 blades of grass on a football field—these microcystin levels now represented more than double what the World Health Organization suggests is the safe limit for drinking water.
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Former Hacking Team developer reportedly in contact with a terrorist group | Philip Willan | NetworkWorld.com

Former Hacking Team developer reportedly in contact with a terrorist group | Philip Willan | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

An individual who did work for Hacking Team was in contact with hackers working for a terrorist organization, and disgruntled employees—who deny the charge—were planning to sell an antidote to the spyware vendor’s surveillance software, an Italian newspaper reported Friday.

A general in the Italian foreign intelligence service (AISE), identified as “G” in internal emails published by WikiLeaks three weeks ago, told Hacking Team CEO David Vincenzetti that “an ex-collaborator of Hacking Team is working with foreign hackers who collaborate with terrorist organizations,” according to Il Fatto Quotidiano.


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Nigerian telephony users near 150m mark | TeleGeography.com

Nigeria ended June 2015 with a total of 148.775 million active fixed and mobile telephone subscribers, up from 143.934 million three months earlier and 139.143 million at the start of the year, according to the latest statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).


GSM mobile operators accounted for 98.5%, or 146.486 million, of the country’s total telephony user base at the end of the second quarter of 2015 (up from 136.772 million users six months earlier), followed by CDMA mobile networks with 1.4%, or 2.106 million customers (down from 2.188 million at 31 December 2014).


Fixed line and CDMA fixed-wireless operators claimed just 0.1%, or 182,643, of the total telephony base, down from 183,290 at the end of 2014.


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MA: Worcester seeking to build large-scale solar project atop landfill | Nick Kotsopoulos | The Telegram

MA: Worcester seeking to build large-scale solar project atop landfill | Nick Kotsopoulos | The Telegram | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The city is looking to build what would be the largest landfill solar project in the state – an 8.16-megawatt solar photovoltaic array on the 26-acre top plateau of the former Greenwood Street municipal landfill.

According to a filing with the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the system being planned calls for the installation of 29,128 solar panels, each one measuring 5.5 feet by 3.3 feet.

The panels would be mounted at a fixed 25-degree angle facing south, and the rows of racks that the panels would be mounted on would be spaced about 14 feet apart, to reduce shadow impacts and allow for maintenance of the system.

The system is being designed, permitted and constructed by Borrego Solar Systems Inc., which is headquartered in San Diego and also has an office in Boston.


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New Zealand Prime Minister Admits Drug Prices Will Rise Under TPP -- Leaves Out The Part About More People Dying | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

New Zealand Prime Minister Admits Drug Prices Will Rise Under TPP -- Leaves Out The Part About More People Dying | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As we're in the middle of crunch time for the final TPP negotiations, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key has finally admitted what many experts have been saying for years -- that under the TPP, drug prices will undoubtedly rise, because it extends monopoly protections on important medicines.


Key tries to play this off as no big deal, because it's the government paying for the medicine so the public won't notice (leaving aside the fact that it's their tax dollars).


However, folks who actually understand basic economics note that, when the price goes up, access to drugs gets more difficult even in New Zealand, where it's noted that some key life saving drugs have not been made available because they're too expensive. One doctor in New Zealand talked about how other expensive drugs are not available:


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CA: BMW paying Bay Area i3 owners up to $1,540 to delay charging | Chris Paukert | CNET

CA: BMW paying Bay Area i3 owners up to $1,540 to delay charging | Chris Paukert | CNET | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

With more and more plug-in cars hitting the roads, there's been growing concern over the strain these vehicles will have on the nation's power grid. BMW thinks it may have a solution in California.

The German automaker is partnering with utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for an 18-month pilot program in the Bay Area that's just getting underway. The trial, dubbed BMW iChargeForward, incentivizes 100 area i3 owners to charge their vehicles during off-peak times by offering them up to $1,540 in gift cards.

The so-called "demand response program," which runs from July through December 2016, involves participating owners giving BMW the power to remotely manage the in-home charging of their i3 hatchbacks. The automaker can delay charging of select vehicles by up to an hour depending on demand information provided by PG&E.

Participating i3 owners can track the value of the incentive, as well as temporarily opt out of the program using a phone app if their charging needs are more pressing.


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Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 154 degrees, near world record | Jason Samenow | WashPost.com

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 154 degrees, near world record | Jason Samenow | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 154 degrees (67.8 Celsius) today, factoring in the humidity.

Its actual air temperature was 109 degrees (42.8 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32.2 Celsius). (If you use NOAA’s calculator, that actually computes to a heat index of 159 degrees).

Probably the most incredible ob I've ever seen. Bandar Mahshahr, Iran today: Temp: 109F (43C) Dew Point: 90F (32C). pic.twitter.com/Lb2AsDAtK0

— Anthony Sagliani (@anthonywx) July 30, 2015

Bandar Mahshahr sits adjacent to the Persian Gulf in southwest Iran where water temperatures are in the 90s. Such high temperatures lead to some of the most oppressive humidity levels in the world when winds blow off the water.


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Is Apple planning to catapult ahead of Tesla smart grid technology? | Jaclyn Brandt | Smart Grid News

Is Apple planning to catapult ahead of Tesla smart grid technology? | Jaclyn Brandt | Smart Grid News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Apple is a company that likes to be first, but when it comes to the smart grid, they are lagging painfully behind -- or are they?

Although rumors have been swirling for a while that Apple is working on an electric vehicle (EV), German magazine Manager has said that Apple is in talks with BMW over using their i3 electric vehicle as the basis for their own EV.

According to CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives met with the car company in Germany to look at their i3 production line. Apple declined to comment on the rumor, but BMW told CNBC it holds "regular talks with companies from the telecommunications and IT industry, including Apple, about vehicle connectivity topics," and "vehicle development and production are not the subject of these talks."


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Rail power could light up rural crossings | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com

Rail power could light up rural crossings | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

While city dwellers may be used to railway crossings marked with flashing red lights, the easier-to-miss warnings at rural crossings often just consist of a sign. That's because there's no easy way of providing electricity to such isolated locations.


While solar panels could provide part of the solution, a team of engineering students and faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln believe that photovoltaics alone can't consistently provide enough power. Instead, they devised several systems that harness power from the rails themselves.


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UK parliamentary committee undertaking inquiry on rural delivery of superfast broadband | TeleGeography.com

A House of Commons Select Committee for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced an inquiry into coverage, delivery and performance of superfast broadband in the UK, and into progress being made in extending and improving mobile coverage and services.

With the government having set out its stall to ensure that superfast broadband is available to 95% of UK premises by the end of 2017, earlier this year the National Audit Office reported that the Government’s programme was on track to meet the revised targets, with superfast broadband likely to reach 90% coverage of premises ahead of December 2016.


However, with regards to the challenge of extending coverage to the nation’s hardest-to-reach rural areas and pockets of poor connectivity in inner cities, the Committee noted that the remaining 5% (approximately 1.5 million of premises) is dispersed across 70% of the UK’s landmass.


With it noting that there is ‘marked concern’ both in Parliament and among the general public that many people in such areas may never have access to adequate broadband and mobile services, it suggested that this is already having a serious impact on them and the communities around them.


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Watch a Cruise Ship Pollute as Much as 13 Million Cars—in One Day | Taylor Hill | Take Part

Watch a Cruise Ship Pollute as Much as 13 Million Cars—in One Day | Taylor Hill | Take Part | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The cruise industry markets its ocean voyages as a chance for vacationers to “return to the sea” and forget their troubles onshore.

But keeping 5,000 people afloat, fat, and happy comes with hidden environmental costs.

The 16 major cruise lines plying the waters today generated more than 1 billion gallons of sewage in 2014. Thanks to lax laws, ships can dump that sewage straight into international waters—polluting the pristine ocean near cruise destination hot spots.

This year, the industry is expecting a record 23 million passengers to hit the high seas—meaning the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

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People Will Remember Shell Oil As a Symbol of Planet-Destroying Greed | Bill McKibben | The Nation

People Will Remember Shell Oil As a Symbol of Planet-Destroying Greed | Bill McKibben | The Nation | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Shell Oil’s icebreaker Fennica is apparently on its way to the Arctic from the Pacific Northwest, ending a dramatic week-long siege that saw activists dangle from bridges and blockade the Portland harbor with kayaks, and a federal court threaten environmentalists with heavy fines.

Amidst the drama of the action, and the drama of the courtroom, and amidst the outpouring of thanks for activists from Greenpeace, Rising Tide, 350PDX, and others, one more thing is worth remembering: there is no more contemptible company on earth than Shell Oil.


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Young Asia-Pacific Scientists Tackle Climate Change Challenges | Business Wire

Young Asia-Pacific Scientists Tackle Climate Change Challenges | Business Wire | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Science, innovation and technology officials from APEC member economies have identified twelve young scientists in the Asia-Pacific region whose cutting-edge research is leading the way in the fight against climate change.

The scientists are finalists for the 2015 APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education under the theme: “Disaster Risk Reduction: Understanding the Role of Climate Change and Variability.” The focus of the program, known as the ASPIRE Prize, is on the cross-border development of technologies to help economies adapt to changing natural conditions, strengthen environmental protection and build more resilient, sustainable communities.


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Italian police shutter Dark Web marketplace | Philip Willan | NetworkWorld.com

Italian police shutter Dark Web marketplace | Philip Willan | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Italian police have shut down a Dark Web marketplace offering illegal goods ranging from child pornography to forged luncheon vouchers, and seized 11,000 bitcoin wallets worth about 1 million euros, authorities said Friday.

Officials compared the marketplace discovered by “Operation Babylon” to the Silk Road online black market that was taken down by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013.

More than 14,000 people had signed up to the illegal community, which was allegedly run by an Italian living near Naples. There was evidence of 170,000 transaction messages on the Tor platform, which provided 12 kinds of hidden services, police said. These ranged from pornographic images to arms, drugs, false identity papers, hacker kits and credit card codes.


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Belarus: Minsvyazi reports 2.1m byfly broadband users for Beltelecom | TeleGeography.com

Belarus’ Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (Minsvyazi) has reportedly issued a statement confirming that the country’s state-owned telco Beltelecom had more than 2.1 million ‘byfly’ broadband subscribers at 1 July 2015.


Telecompaper quotes the ministry as saying that the PTO added a net 90,700 high speed internet subscribers in the year to end-June, while over the same period the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots in service climbed by 42,500 to 345,000.


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Spark unveils Rural Wireless Broadband service in NZ | TeleGeography.com

Following nationwide trials, Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand) has officially launched its ‘Rural Wireless Broadband’ service, giving eligible New Zealanders throughout the Heartland region access to a reliable and faster internet service.


Over the last two months people living in locations such as Kaitaia in the far north to Alexandra in the south have participated in a user trial, as Spark sought to make a number of final tweaks to its network.


The new service will initially be supported by Spark’s 700MHz 4G mobile platform.


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Drought's lasting impact on forests | PHYS.org

Drought's lasting impact on forests | PHYS.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the virtual worlds of climate modeling, forests and other vegetation are assumed to bounce back quickly from extreme drought. But that assumption is far off the mark, according to a new study of drought impacts at forest sites worldwide. Living trees took an average of two to four years to recover and resume normal growth rates after droughts ended, researchers report today in the journal Science.

"This really matters because in the future droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change," says lead author William R.L. Anderegg, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah. "Some forests could be in a race to recover before the next drought strikes."

Forest trees play a big role in buffering the impact of human-induced climate change by removing massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and incorporating the carbon into woody tissues. The finding that drought stress sets back tree growth for years suggests that Earth's forests are capable of storing less carbon than climate models have calculated.


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Germany fights Facebook over real names policy | Alex Hern | The Guardian

Germany fights Facebook over real names policy | Alex Hern | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook has been told to allow people to use pseudonyms on its site by a German regulator, which has ruled that the site’s “real name” policy violates the right to privacy.

The Hamburg data protection authority said on Tuesday that the site could not force users to give official ID such as a passport or identity card, nor could it unilaterally change their chosen names to their “real” names on the site.

Facebook’s enforcement of its policy, which limits individuals to one account each and requires that those accounts be held under their real name, frequently results in accounts with suspected pseudonyms being locked by the company until the owner can prove their name, or even just the name being changed back by Facebook.


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New Leak Confirms the Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Horrorshow | Jordan Pearson | Motherboard

New Leak Confirms the Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Horrorshow | Jordan Pearson | Motherboard | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

At a luxury hotel in Maui, representatives from the 12 countries participating in the highly controversial and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal are negotiating behind closed doors. Thanks to a secret letter from a 2013 meeting, released today by WikiLeaks, we now have a clearer idea of what they’re discussing.

Unsurprisingly, based on what we know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, so far, the letter is mostly about limiting the power of government in favour of private commercial development.

The TPP is a massive free trade deal that is set to impact everything from the cost of medicine in Australia, to milk production in Canada, to internet governance the world over. The letter was drafted for a ministerial meeting of the TPP countries in early December, 2013, and seeks guidance on key topics relating to the negotiations. Namely, how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) should be treated under the trade deal.

According to the letter, “the majority of TPP countries” support obligations for these companies—which can include public utilities, telecommunication providers, mining companies, and state-run investment firms—that “go beyond existing obligations” laid out in existing free trade agreements and by the World Trade Organization.


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TransCanada Keystone XL Hits New Turbulence As South Dakota Permit Hearing Implodes Over Pipeline Corrosion, Market Demand | JUlie Dermansky | DeSmog Blog

TransCanada Keystone XL Hits New Turbulence As South Dakota Permit Hearing Implodes Over Pipeline Corrosion, Market Demand | JUlie Dermansky | DeSmog Blog | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Holes too big to fix were poked in TransCanada’s narrative that its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built. And questions were raised about how the pipeline company’s financial dealings are set up during Public Utilities Commission hearings in Pierre, South Dakota this week where state regulators are tasked to decide if the company is capable of following the rules the state set when the original Keystone pipeline permit was granted in 2010.

A team of lawyers representing Native American tribes and the grassroots group Dakota Rural Action took the upper hand during the proceedings as they tried to have a TransCanada executive’s testimony impeached. The proceedings took on a circus-like atmosphere when TransCanada was unable to prevent lines of questioning it didn’t like.

The commissioners seemed unsure of its own procedures. At one point, Commissioner Gary Hanson expressed frustration that he was having trouble drawing a distinction between TransCanada’s evidence and its advertising statements.

The testimony of TransCanada’s key witness, Corey Goulet, president of Keystone Pipeline Projects, turned out to be an important centerpiece of the hearing.

In pretrial testimony filed by Goulet, he stated the company would have no problem meeting the Commission’s amended conditions.

However, TransCanada’s promises to build safe pipelines have been called into question with several high-profile incidents involving its existing pipelines, particularly the corrosion problems with the Keystone 1 pipeline.


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Nanoscale device emits light as bright as an object 10,000 times its size | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Nanoscale device emits light as bright as an object 10,000 times its size | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Amplifying light a few hundred times with magnifying lenses is easy. Amplifying light by altering the resonant properties of light itself is a much more difficult proposition. However, if recent research by engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) engineers is anything to go by, the effort is well worth it: They claim to have constructed a nanoscale device that can emit light as powerfully as an object more than 10,000 times its size.

According to the researchers, the light-amplifying properties of the device – known as a nanoresonator – are analogous to that of a guitar string that vibrates in sympathy to local acoustic energy. As such, this tiny optical device receives light energy from its surroundings to produce a light output much larger than expected. This, according to the team, offers many advantages in imaging techniques over normal lenses, as the device's light-harvesting ability is not limited by its physical properties to direction and size.


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Facebook made a solar-powered plane to deliver internet | Edgar Avarez | Engadget

Facebook made a solar-powered plane to deliver internet | Edgar Avarez | Engadget | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook started teasing its internet-beaming planes last year, but now we're seeing one that it actually built. Pictured above is Aquila, a solar-powered, 140-foot unmanned plane that's designed to deliver internet connectivity from altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet.


The UAV, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 and weighs roughly 880 pounds, will be able to circle a specific area for up to 90 days when deployed -- a feat possible thanks to its dependence on nothing but solar energy.


What's also interesting is how it gets up in the air; Facebook says it uses a balloon to carry Aquila to the aforementioned altitude range, although it's still unclear how the Federal Aviation Authority plans to control this type of traffic.


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Sri Lanka signs Project Loon MoU with Google to deploy 3G balloons | TeleGeography.com

The Sri Lankan government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US search engine giant Google to deploy the latter’s ‘Project Loon’ balloons in order to increase 3G coverage across the country.


According to Deputy Economic Policy Minister Harsha de Silva, the deal, which was signed on 28 July, will enable operators to enter into agreements with the floating tower cells, bringing down transmission costs and leading to reductions in the cost of service provision.


‘Hopefully in a few months every person and every device on the island will be covered by 3G,’ commented de Silva, adding that the move will ‘provide a huge boost to our game plan to create a knowledge-based economy.’


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