Powered by sun and fed by rainwater, the building doesn't produce any waste. Its automated window shades open and close like an organism’s pupil, regulating the amount of light that enters. The 600-panel solar array, which is expected to generate all the energy the building needs in a year, is arranged on the roof so that rays of sunlight can pass through and create a dappled pattern on the sidewalk below — similar to the way light passes through a forest canopy. And all the wood used in the structure came from local forests that harvest trees sustainably.
New Harvest is a non-profit research organization working to advance new alternatives to conventionally-produced meat, including cultured meat - meat produced in a cell culture, rather than in an animal - and plant-based alternatives.
Recently released timelapses of images from NASA’s Landsat satellite highlight the dramatically rapid urbanization of the desert in places like Dubai over the past couple decades. Cities sprout so quickly from nowhere, you can see the landscape morphing from space.
But another photography project is a reminder that these cities are just as shocking to behold up close. PhotographerMatthias Heiderich’s series "UAE" reveals a post-modern kingdom in the desert, hauntingly empty and utterly lifeless. Glistening buildings appear unused. Construction projects seem endless. Parking lots are barren.
In the summer of 1935, a pair of Bavarian climbers arrived in the Bernese Alps, hoping to become the first people ever to scale the monstrous north face of the mountain known as the Eiger. On their first day, they made good progress. On the second day, less so, and on the third, even less. Then a storm swept over the mountain and they froze to death. The next year, four more mountaineers attempted the face, and all four died. After a third failed attempt in 1937, a quartet of climbers finally reached the summit in 1938, taking three days to get there.
Twelve years and many more fatalities later, a pair of climbers managed to surmount the Eiger in 18 hours. The 1960s saw the first successful solo climb. In 1988, Alison Hargreaves climbed the Eiger while six months pregnant. By the 1990s, people were making the climb in the dead of winter. In 2008, Swiss climber Euli Steck speed-climbed the peak, solo, in winter, in 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 33 seconds. You can watch the video. Last month, a trio of Brits stood on a ledge near the top of the Eiger, then spread their arms and legs like wings and flew down.
Bitcoin is disruptive in the most raw sense of the word. Not the “hey, it’s another photo sharing app!” form of disruptive, or even the libertarians wanting new ways to get from point a to point b without saying the word “taxi” kind of disruptive. The biggest bitcoin bulls say it has the potential to be the third major way to buy and sell goods that the world has ever known, after bartered goods and government-backed money.
If the promises of bitcoin could ever be unlocked – perhaps one of the biggest ifs in the tech world today – it’s about as big of a venture-style opportunity as you could imagine. Right now the value of the system is a headline-grabbing $1 billion. But if its potential to be a global, borderless way of buying and selling goods via the Internet were ever achieved, it’s value would one day be in the trillions. It’s a massive potential for value creation that suddenly has people in a lather. Investors like Fred Wilson’s Union Square Ventures have already placed some significant bets – with many more investors quietly mining for opportunities. But despite the massive potential upside, bitcoin is fraught with so much complexity and risk that the potential seems almost impossible to unlock.
The term "Big Data" naturally conjures up images of Big Users, like the government or Google or Costco. It's easy to see why big enterprises crunch data to learn, for example, which groceries people want on the first day of a heat wave and which they want later on, or how warmed-up Scots buy different foods than people on a hot day in England, or how your recent Facebook activity hints that you're in the market for a new printer. But Big Data is now so abundant and accessible that it can also be used by us smallfolk. Case in point: Buycott, a new app for smartphones that scans a product code and tells you in an instant who will profit if you buy the thing. Don't want to help the Koch brothers make more money? Want to reward companies that took your preferred position on Internet freedom or marriage equality? Just scan and tap.
In the second installment of our “8 Trends That Will Shape Humanity” series, we look at the rise of the "city state" and how the coming consolidation of humanity into cities will change life for residents of these massive urban hubs.
What is the sharing economy? It’s a growing movement that enables the sharing of personal resources amongst members. Recently estimated to be worth $3.5 billion by Forbes magazine, the sharing economy was heralded by innovators like Zipcar (a car sharing service) and Airbnb (a house and apartment sharing service). While there are numerous free sharing services, generally the sharing transaction is monetized and handled by a third party company. These sharing services have allowed members to make money by renting out things and space that would have otherwise sat unused. And people are truly sharing almost everything.
The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first. For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution. But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look:
Every single adult member receives a weekly payment from the state, which is enough to live comfortably on. The only condition is citizenship and/or residency.
You get the basic income whether or not you’re employed, any wages you earn are additional.
The welfare bureaucracy is largely dismantled. No means testing, no signing on, no bullying young people into stacking shelves for free, no separate state pension.
Street lights are an important part of our urban infrastructure — they light our way home and make the roads safe at night. But what if we could create natural street lights that don’t need electricity to power them? A group of scientists in Taiwan recently discovered that placing gold nanoparticles within the leaves of trees, causes them to give off a luminous reddish glow. The idea of using trees to replace street lights is an ingenious one – not only would it save on electricity costs and cut CO2 emissions, but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities.
Work, friendships, exercise, parenting, eating, reading — there just aren’t enough hours in the day. To live fully, many of us carve those extra hours out of our sleep time. Then we pay for it the next day. A thirst for life leads many to pine for a drastic reduction, if not elimination, of the human need for sleep. Little wonder: if there were a widespread disease that similarly deprived people of a third of their conscious lives, the search for a cure would be lavishly funded. It’s the Holy Grail of sleep researchers, and they might be closing in.
As with most human behaviours, it’s hard to tease out our biological need for sleep from the cultural practices that interpret it. The practice of sleeping for eight hours on a soft, raised platform, alone or in pairs, is actually atypical for humans. Many traditional societies sleep more sporadically, and social activity carries on throughout the night. Group members get up when something interesting is going on, and sometimes they fall asleep in the middle of a conversation as a polite way of exiting an argument. Sleeping is universal, but there is glorious diversity in the ways we accomplish it.
Engineering nature to sustain our needs is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do in efforts to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting”.
Bioluminescence – the production and emission of light by a living organism – is the overarching concept of the Glowing Plant Project, and the approach can be divided into three basic steps: design, print and transform.
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Google and NASA have teamed up to launch a new laboratory focused on advancing machine learning. The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab — hosted at NASA's Ames Research Center in California — will contain a quantum supercomputer that will be used by researchers from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and all over the world to pioneer breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.
Google believes quantum computing may prove invaluable in developing its web searching and speech recognition technology, while also assisting researchers in the creation of better models of disease and climate patterns. It has already developed quantum machine-learning algorithms that are capable of quickly recognizing data to save power on mobile devices and efficiently sort out erroneous information from "highly polluted training data." Supplied by D-Wave Systems, the quantum computer operates differently from traditional supercomputers by combining atoms to work together as quantum bits. By isolating and forcing these bits to interact, Google and NASA will be able to carry out two or more calculations simultaneously, helping them find "the optimal solution."
It’s been 17 years since Dolly the sheep was cloned from a mammary cell. And now scientists applied the same technique to make the first embryonic stem cell lines from human skin cells.
Ever since Ian Wilmut, an unassuming embryologist working at the Roslin Institute just outside of Edinburgh stunned the world by cloning the first mammal, Dolly, scientists have been asking – could humans be cloned in the same way? Putting aside the ethical challenges the question raised, the query turned out to involve more wishful thinking than scientific success. Despite the fact that dozens of other species have been cloned using the technique, called nuclear transfer, human cells have remained stubbornly resistant to the process.
Until now. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University and his colleagues report in the journal Cell that they have successfully reprogrammed human skin cells back to their embryonic state. The purpose of the study, however, was not to generate human clones but to produce lines of embryonic stem cells. These can develop into muscle, nerve, or other cells that make up the body’s tissues. The process, he says, took only a few months, a surprisingly short period to reach such an important milestone.
There will be a special attraction for deaf people in theaters nationwide soon. By the end of this month, Regal Cinemas plans to have distributed closed-captioning glasses to more than 6,000 theaters across the country.
Sony Entertainment Access Glasses are sort of like 3-D glasses, but for captioning. The captions are projected onto the glasses and appear to float about 10 feet in front of the user. They also come with audio tracks that describe the action on the screen for blind people, or they can boost the audio levels of the movie for those who are hard of hearing.