Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ocean

The proposed WindFlip system would use barges that sink stern-first into the ocean, for tr...

While large offshore turbines can be very effective at harnessing the power of the wind, they do pose at least one challenge – how do you get them out into the ocean? One option is to bring them to their deployment site on board a ship, partially assembled, then put them together on location. Doing that kind of work on the pitching deck of a ship can be challenging, however, and requires crews to stay out at sea longer. Another option involves towing them from shore in their final, vertical orientation, but this requires an uninterrupted channel of deep water, and limits the speed at which they can be transported. Now, Norwegian company WindFlip is developing an alternative method that can accommodate shallow water, while allowing for relatively high transport speeds and a minimum amount of time spent putting the turbines in place.  Read More

The FourPro is a salt-tolerant underwater housing for the iPhone 4 and 4S, which allows th...

If nothing else, the iPhone 4’s ability to shoot 1080p high-def video has certainly done one thing – provided inventors with things to make. There is currently what could almost be described as a gold rush, as products are being designed to augment the smartphone’s camera, to the point that it could be used for all of the same things as traditional, stand-alone video cameras. Some of these innovations have included interchangeable lenses, a mini SteadiCam, and a rugged helmet-mount system. Now, an underwater housing system for the iPhone 4 and 4S is in the works, which will allow users to shoot undersea video at depths of up to 100 feet (30.5 meters).  Read More

bioWAVE is a wave power system, inspired by the swaying motions of kelp plants

Anyone who has ever been scuba diving in a bull kelp forest will tell you - the stuff does not stand still. The marine aquatic plant consists of a long skinny-but-tough stem (or stipe) that is anchored to the sea floor and topped with a hollow float, from which a number of "leaves" (or blades) extend to the surface. The result is a seaweed that extends vertically up through the water column, continuously swaying back and forth with the surging waves. The researchers at Australia's BioPower Systems evidently looked at that kelp, and thought, "what if we could use that swaying action to generate power?" The result was their envisioned bioWAVE system, which could soon become a reality, thanks to a just-announced AUD$5 million (US$5.1 million) grant from the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources.  Read More

Architectural firm Dutch Docklands has developed, designed and engineered a master plan fo...

The troubled World Project in Dubai, which has been riddled with problems since the global financial crisis in 2009 including rumors that the islands are sinking, may have found salvation. Architectural firm Dutch Docklands has developed, designed and engineered a master plan for 89 floating islands, giving current World investors the opportunity to purchase a floating paradise. The solution would provide investors with an option that's more feasible and cost-effective than building on the existing land masses, whilst also incorporating several environmental benefits.  Read More

The above-water component of one of the four Wave Gliders

It may sound like the premise for the latest Pixar movie, but it’s actually happening – four small autonomous aquatic robots have embarked on a 60,000-kilometer (37,000-mile) journey across the Pacific ocean. The Wave Gliders, built by California-based Liquid Robotics, left San Francisco last Thursday. All four will travel together to Hawaii, at which point they will split into two pairs – one of those pairs will proceed to Australia, with the other heading for Japan. Called PacX (for “Pacific Crossing”), the project will constitute the longest voyage ever completed by an unmanned ocean vessel.  Read More

Artist Miles Lightwood is the leader of Project Shellter, a crowd-sourced effort to design...

If you’ve ever bought a pet hermit crab, then you may remember also having to buy several sea shells with it. This is because the crabs don’t have shells of their own, and instead have to find empty shells from other creatures and use those. As a hermit crab grows, it’ll need to upsize to larger shells, hence the need to supply it with multiple choices. Unfortunately, every empty shell gathered for the pet trade is one less for the wild hermit crabs to move into. In places where the beaches have been picked clean, the crabs have reportedly resorted to using things such as bottles and shotgun shells. That’s where Miles Lightwood’s Project Shellter comes in – he’s hoping to design 3D printed shells for use in the pet industry, and is seeking ideas from interested artists and designers.  Read More

The emergency stern settering pedestal of the SS Gairsoppa shines in the lights of Odyssey...

Ocean exploration has always been salted with the allure of sunken treasure, and with precious metal prices hitting new records and new technologies allowing access to deeper sites, that Siren's call has never been greater. Recently, a team of Odyssey Marine Exploration (OME) technicians and archeologists announced finding not one, but two British shipwrecks off Ireland, the SS Gairsoppa and the SS Mantola. Only 100 miles and a World War apart, the two hulks rusting away in the deep Atlantic collectively contain what could prove to be millions of ounces of silver.  Read More

The SeaTwirl's vertical wind turbine (1), torus ring (2), float assembly (3) and generator...

One of the main drawbacks of wind turbines is the fact that for maximum efficiency, the power that they generate must be fed into the grid right as the wind is blowing and their blades are spinning. While that power can be stored in batteries for later use, some of it will always be lost in the process. Sweden's experimental new SeaTwirl system, however, is designed to kinetically store wind energy until it's required - it's basically a seagoing flywheel.  Read More

The Velella Research Project's Aquapod, adrift off the coast of Hawaii

There are a number of reasons that many people are opposed to fish farming. Among other things, they claim that the caged fish release too much concentrated waste into the surrounding waters, too many antibiotics and anti-algal chemicals are used, the ecological balance is upset when non-native fish escape from their pens, and strain is put on populations of local fish that are captured for use in feed for carnivorous farmed fish. Unfortunately, wild-fish-capturing methods such as drift net fishing and bottom trawling have big problems of their own. A new system that involves raising fish in mesh spheres that float in the open ocean, however, is claimed to sidestep many of the drawbacks of traditional marine aquaculture. The Velella Research Project is pioneering the technology.  Read More

Researchers from King's College London have recently discovered a natural compound produce...

Researchers from King's College London have recently discovered a natural compound produced by coral that could be suitable for use in a new type of sunscreen for humans, and it may even come in a pill! As coral is generally found in shallow waters, it therefore naturally produces a type of "sunscreen" to protect itself from the sun's UV rays. It is this natural sunscreen that scientists hope to synthetically re-create for human use.  Read More

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