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Environmental

A tiny copepod collected this year from the Atlantic depths

“The deep sea is the Earth’s largest continuous ecosystem and largest habitat for life. It is also the least studied,” says Dr. Chris German, who along with hundreds of other Marine Life scientists from around the globe is shedding light on these mysterious depths through an unprecedented census of deep-sea marine inhabitants. Their recordings have yielded astonishing findings of more than 17,500 species of often bizarre marine creatures - from oil-eating tubeworms to elephant-eared octopods - inhabiting the blackest depths between 200 meters and up to 5, 000 meters (~3 miles) below ocean surface. Even more remarkable is the ability of these deep-sea creatures to live and thrive in topographically challenging environments where food availability is marginal, at best.  Read More

The 'Thermeleon' roof tile changes from white to black depending on its temperature

Prototype roof tiles that turn white to reflect heat when they get hot seem like a pretty cool idea, as do tiles that turn black to absorb heat when it’s cold. That’s why a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates has won the third annual MIT MADMEC (Making and Designing Materials Engineering Contest) by demonstrating their thermally-activated, color-changing, roofing material called “Thermeleon” (as in chameleon).  Read More

200 smart fortwo cars are on the streets of Austin as part of the car2go car sharing progr...

car2go, the innovative car sharing program first seen in Ulm, Germany, has launched in Austin, Texas. A joint partnership between the City of Austin and Daimler will initially see 200 smart fortwo vehicles made available 24/7 within the city to a select group of city employees and their relatives, with plans to increase the number of cars and make them accessible to all Austin residents and students in early 2010.  Read More

Biodegradable cups made from corn at Chubby's Tacos in Durham, North Carolina (Photo: Ilda...

In recent years, polylactic acid (PLA) has attracted attention as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics. It is made from corn-starch, or other starch-rich substances like maize, sugar or wheat, and is biodegradable – reverting in less than 60 days in ideal conditions. PLA is already used as a material for compost bags, food packaging, and disposable tableware, and also for a number of biomedical applications, such as sutures, stents, dialysis media and drug delivery devices. Although its price has been falling, PLA is still more expensive than most petroleum-derived commodity plastics, but now a team of researchers has succeeded in simplifying the production of PLA and making the process much cheaper, meaning we could soon see PLA used in a much wider variety of applications.  Read More

Je Sung Park's clever concept design makes the upgrade process both inexpensive and guilt-...

In a world where concern for the environment is high on the agenda, it was only a matter of time before the laptop got a green makeover. Outstripping even the Bamboo notebook in eco-friendly credentials, designer Je Sung Park has pushed the concept to its limit and opened our eyes to the laptop of the future: a recyclable paper design.  Read More

An all too common sight - the car park oil sheen rainbow (Photo: crabchick via flickr)

The rainbow effect caused by varying thicknesses of oil film on water’s surface might be pretty to look at but is indicative of polluted water. This “oil sheen” proves especially difficult to remove, even when the water is aerated with ozone or filtered through sand. But now a University of Utah engineer has developed an inexpensive new method to remove oil sheen by repeatedly pressurizing and depressurizing ozone gas, creating microscopic bubbles that attack the oil so it can be removed by sand filters.  Read More

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission will make global observations of soil ...

The 658kg (1,450 lb) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) this week is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. The unique radiometer it carries will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land thereby playing a key role in the monitoring of global climate change.  Read More

The PUYL was the winner of the Eurobike 2009 design award

Most cyclists would agree that the two most likely things to forget after heading out on a journey are a light and a tire pump. It would make perfect sense, then, to combine the two into one handy accessory, which is exactly what designer Kai Malte Roever has done with the “PUYL”. The bonus is that when you pump up your tires, you're also charging the LED light.  Read More

A robotic fish prototype developed in the MSU laboratory

Although fish numbers are in decline in oceans all around the globe, the same can’t be said for their robotic brethren. Like the “Robotuna” from MIT and the robots developed by a team at the University of Essex, the latest robotic fish from Michigan State University also take inspiration from nature. The aim is to give researchers more precise data on aquatic conditions and provide a deeper understanding of critical water supplies and habitats... and hopefully help improve the outlook for fish of the biological variety.  Read More

Technosphere by James Law Cybertecture

It's been a while since we've taken a look at the weird and wonderful canvas that is Dubai's skyline of the future, and this proposal from James Law Cybertecture would slot neatly in among radical designs like the Almeisan Tower and the spiraling ZPO. Shaped like a giant disco ball, the Technosphere is conceived as a self-sustaining model of the Earth in miniature incorporating a range of active and passive systems to meet these goals.  Read More

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