8-Story Antigravity Forest Facade Takes Root

August 30, 2009 at 8:22 pm (ecology, Psychogeography) (, , , )

Probably one of the best ideas I have seen all day:
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When Patrick Blanc was a boy, he suspended plants from his bedroom wall and ran their roots into a fish tank. The greenery received nourishment from the diluted—ahem—fertilizer and purified the water in return. Forty-five years on, the French botanist’s gardens have grown massive in scale. One inside a Portuguese shopping mall is larger than four tennis courts, and there’s one in Kuwait that’s almost as big. But Blanc’s recently completed facade for the Athenaeum hotel in London (shown) could be his most high-profile project yet. Looming over Green Park, it’s an eight-story antigravity forest composed of 12,000 plants.

(the rest: Wired)

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Microbial Fuel Cell which cleans brackish water and produces electricty

August 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm (ecology) (, , , , , )

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Desalinization technology has long been trapped between two competing nightmare scenarios. Without desalination, fresh water resources run out and large swaths of the earth suffer crippling water shortages. But if we desalinate on a large scale, we keep burning fossil fuels, the earth warms, the ice caps melt, and sea levels rise to wreak havoc on coastal regions.

Desalinization could theoretically solve the impending water crisis if it weren’t such an energy-intensive process; desal requires large amounts of electricity, which is primarily generated by burning fossil fuels. Call it a catch-22. But researchers at Penn State think they’ve solved the problem by creating a process that cleans wastewater while generating electricity, simultaneously removing 90 percent of salt from seawater.

(via: POPSCI

[Another potential application of this type of fuel cell is the creation of living solar panels using cyanobacteria (which can photosynthesize with limited sunlight and using the grey water from ones home to cycle through the cell as part of a purification process. ]

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Survival in a post-apocalypse blackout

August 26, 2009 at 8:13 pm (ecology, science) (, , )

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NATURAL catastrophes such as asteroid impacts, massive volcanic eruptions or large-scale wildfires would have periodically plunged our planet into abnormal darkness. How did life survive without the sun’s life-giving rays during such episodes? With a little help from organisms that can switch to another source of energy while they wait for sunlight to pierce the darkness once more.

To figure out how organisms might have endured periods of so-called “catastrophic darkness”, Charles Cockell of the Open University’s Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research in Milton Keynes, UK, and his team placed samples of both freshwater and marine microorganisms in darkness for six months – a period similar to what might be expected following a catastrophic event. The samples included phototrophs, which convert sunlight into usable energy, and mixotrophs, which can use sunlight or consume dead organic matter.

via New Scientist

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Living root bridges

August 26, 2009 at 4:24 pm (ecology, Psychogeography) (, )

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In the depths of northeastern India, one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren’t built – they’re grown. What could 21th century architects learn from these dynamic construction principles? I would like to see this applied on highways.
Full story at NextNature.net

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Jurrasic park is scary in the dark

August 26, 2009 at 5:33 am (ecology, mad science, mutate) (, , , )

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Jack Horner has a vision. A world-famous paleontologist who gives “an awful lot of lectures,” Horner pictures himself strolling out on stage before a crowd, just as he’s done countless times before. Instead of carrying the standard sheaf of notes or dusty slides, though, he has with him the ultimate prop: a real live dinosaur on a leash. “It’s small, but bigger than a chicken,” he writes in his new book, How to Build a Dinosaur. “Let’s say the size of a turkey, one day maybe even the size of an emu.” The emu-size dinosaur, he adds, “might have a muzzle or a couple of handlers.”

If it sounds straight out of Jurassic Park, it’s no coincidence: Horner served as scientific advisor on all three films, and is said to be an inspiration for the rugged protagonist, Alan Grant. Unlike in the movie, though, Horner thinks he can bring back a dinosaur without using its DNA—a crucial difference, because in real life, dino DNA hasn’t been recovered. Horner has a different plan. By making a few genetic tweaks to its modern-day ancestor, the bird, he wants to hatch a dinosaur straight from a chicken egg.

It’s Horner’s vision, and McGill University paleontologist Hans Larsson is working to make it happen. With Horner’s encouragement, Larsson is experimenting with chicken embryos to create the creature Horner describes: a “chickenosaurus,” they call it. If he succeeds, Larsson will have made an animal with clawed hands, teeth, a long, dinosaurian tail and ancestral plumage, one that shares characteristics with “the dinosaur we know that’s closest to birds, little raptors like the velociraptor,” Horner says.

The rest via: Next Big Future

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UFO shaped, solar powered water purifiers in Japan

August 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm (ecology, mad science, mutate) (, , )

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As part of the upcoming Aqua Metropolis festival in Osaka, engineering firm NTT Facilities has developed a pair of solar-powered, UFO-shaped floating water purifiers that will be deployed in the city’s canals and in the moat at Osaka Castle.

Pink Tentacle: ‘Solar UFO’ water cleaners afloat in Osaka canals

thanks mutateweb

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Continuous lightning on the Catatumbo Rive

August 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm (ecology, Psychogeography) (, , , )

Venezuela’s Catatumbo River has near continuous lightning for over half a year every year.

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Building off-planet human environments

August 15, 2009 at 3:18 am (ecology, mad science, mutate) (, , )

Here is a slide show from the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) highlighting current work done in the pursuit of terraforming.

Building off-planet human environments: The role of microbial engineering. Building self fertilized food ecosystems.

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