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21 Jan 23:03

Congress requires NASA to build outer space living module by 2018

by Greg Beach

NASA Habitat, NASA, NASA living modules

In an uncharacteristic burst of productivity, the United States Congress has passed a law that provides a boost to NASA scientists working hard to make space a more habitable place for humans. Along with a desperately needed transportation funding bill, the United States Congress wrapped up its legislative year by passing an omnibus budget bill signed into law by President Obama that requires NASA to devote at least $55 million out of its $350 million Exploration Research and Development funds to produce “a prototype deep space habitation module” by 2018.

NASA Habitat, NASA, NASA living modules Transhab, Transhab NASA, NASA

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21 Jan 23:01

Eco Mushroom: A solar streetlight that absorbs vehicle pollution

by Joe

Roads are a highly polluted areas, with polluted air rising up and spreading across an area to create a blanket of toxic atmosphere – not to mention the impact on climate change. The ‘Eco Mushroom’ is a compact design for a solar powered street light equipped with CO2 scrubber to help remove some of this pollution. This artificial mushroom houses four directional LED street lights and an Air Purification System (APS). Four intakes suck in polluted air and pass it through the APS, positioned centrally within the structure. The purified air is finally released through the annular vent on the air duct built around the light pole. A network of Eco Mushrooms integrated into the existing roads could help curb automotive pollution effectively while allowing for smart integration that can send information to a central hub about pollution trends and maintenance needs.

+  RISEpad 

Images via RISEpad/Tony Thomas Narikulam

Eco Mushroom, RISEpad, solar streetlight, solar light, air pollution, vehicle pollution, co2 pollution, co2, air purifier, air purification, air filter, air filter street light Eco Mushroom, RISEpad, solar streetlight, solar light, air pollution, vehicle pollution, co2 pollution, co2, air purifier, air purification, air filter, air filter street light Eco Mushroom, RISEpad, solar streetlight, solar light, air pollution, vehicle pollution, co2 pollution, co2, air purifier, air purification, air filter, air filter street light Eco Mushroom, RISEpad, solar streetlight, solar light, air pollution, vehicle pollution, co2 pollution, co2, air purifier, air purification, air filter, air filter street light Eco Mushroom, RISEpad, solar streetlight, solar light, air pollution, vehicle pollution, co2 pollution, co2, air purifier, air purification, air filter, air filter street light Eco Mushroom, RISEpad, solar streetlight, solar light, air pollution, vehicle pollution, co2 pollution, co2, air purifier, air purification, air filter, air filter street light

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18 Jan 17:30

An Automated Floating Garbage Can That Cleans the Ocean

As an industrial designer with a proficiency in injection molding, Pete Ceglinski's job was to "make plastic products," he explains. "And after a while I realized that we didn't need the stuff that I was making, so I stopped."

Ceglinski instead turned his attention to designing an awesome product conceived of by fellow Aussie surfer Andrew Turton, a boat builder and sailor. Both men had witnessed marinas covered in floating garbage, and resolved to do something about it. What they've come up with is the clever Seabin:

I love that Ceglinski and Turton's long-term goal is for the product to make itself obsolete, but in the best of ways. It takes a lot of conviction to quit a bill-paying job for the sake of the greater good, and we're happy to report that the Seabin has just reached its $230,000 crowdfunding goal.

They can still use more help, of course. "The possibilities of what we can do if we get some smarter brains involved are endless!" Ceglinski writes. "This is just the beginning!"

One thing I wondered was how they end up trapping fish in the device. The diagram below explains:

"We have never caught a fish or marine animal in 4 years of testing Seabins," writes Ceglinski. "We also have a meeting with a marine Biologist on the 22nd dec [presumably an update is pending] to start a study into the microscopic marine life."

If you'd like to contribute to the project, click here. (At press time there were three days left to pledge.)

18 Jan 17:22

A Simple, DIY System for Getting Organized

Last time, I showed you how I got rid of all my useless stuff. But it doesn't help much to be clutter-free if you don't have a good way of keeping everything organized. As a designer, you can imagine that I gather a whole lot of things for my job: material samples, working models, various tools, etc. So I'm always looking for new ways to organize these things. I've been using several okay strategies for a while, but it wasn't until I discovered this streamlined system that I got really excited. 

I started with basic, plastic crates that you can find pretty much everywhere—I always see them used for storing produce in the supermarket, for example. Aside from the fact that they are very strong, what really excites me about them is that they are built according to a modular, industry standard. This makes it really easy to create a customized framework around their measurements—and then upgrade or change the system over time as your needs change. So, I set out to build a framework for my work/life and it became an ideal storage solution. If you are interested in trying this out for yourself, let me know and I can share with you the blueprints I created. 

As always, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you adapt any found objects for your storage needs?

This story originally appeared on Story Hopper, a collection of design stories worth sharing squeezed into short videos.

18 Jan 17:19

Slow/d: "The First Distributed Design Factory"

At first glance, this design for a stacking chair called the RJR might not seem like much:

It's simple, clean, consists entirely of 90-degree cuts and looks like anyone could make one. But that's actually the point. That's because Italy-based industrial designer Mario Alessiani designed it for Slow/d, an Italian outfit that bills themselves as "the first distributed design factory." What Slow/d is shooting to be is, in essence, a production company with no warehouses, no inventory and no fabricating facility of their own; instead individual craftspeople and artisans scattered throughout Italy are their production arm.

Under Slow/d's scheme, designers submit their designs to the Slow/d site for approval. Consumers peruse the chosen designs, and when they purchase one, an artisan local to the consumer that's been pre-approved by Slow/d is then tasked with building and delivering the piece. "In this way," explains Alessiani's entry to the VModern Furniture Design Competition, "everyone works and we have less transportation and pollution."

The aim of the designer was to make a wooden chair that can be [built] by the most number of carpenters in order to make the net of artisans capable of doing it as big as possible. The idea was to create a design that could be done with base carpentry tools but with something more that makes the chair recognizable and functional.

Thus far Slow/d claims to have some 1,300 designers and artisans signed up, but I could only find 20 products currently for sale on their site. Some examples of the furniture currently being sold are Nicola Dalla Casta's Woodrope, a flatpack stool with structural stability being provided by rope in tension:

FareDesign's similarly flatpack Join coatrack:

Mess+Simoni's Cullatonda cradle:

All of the designs feature straightforward construction similar to Alessiani's. While design snobs might sniff at what they perceive to be "idiot-proof" construction designed to attract producers of varying talents, I think the idea of distributed manufacturing has merit, and the long-term environmental benefits, if such a thing were to work, are undeniable.

Less clear are some of the details of the precise payouts offered. First off, the site states that designers score a 10% royalty on each piece sold—if that percentage sounds low to you, it's still far higher than what you'd get from an established furniture brand—and the initial fabricator who helps them prototype that design gets a 5% royalty. Those numbers seem fine to me, and is a particularly good way for a fabricator to continuously earn a little coin after a one-time job.

Where it gets murky, at least for me trying to puzzle through the badly-translated English description, is that once a particular design's "manufacturing license" is sold to the fabricator who will ultimately build the exact version going to a consumer, the designer gets 65%; is that a one-time fee, and who determines the price of the license? Furthermore, that last-mile fabricator is said to receive only 5%. The website is not clear on whether the fabricators are also paid for the actual materials and labor, but I imagine they'd have to be; otherwise the payout in building a €280.60 (US $305) RJR chair only amount to €14 (US $15.25) per unit for the last-mile fabricator, which hardly seems worthwhile for what is likely several hours of labor.

In any case, here is Slow/d's pitch, and I hope they can hire a proper translator in the future to make the financials a bit more clear:

18 Jan 17:00

Inside NASA's Plan To Radically Redesign How We Fly

by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

A new wave of aircraft design is emerging—and NASA is helping.

It's probably been a long time since flying amazed you. Air travel tends to feel like an inconvenience these days—not a miracle of engineering. This is partially due to market forces and security theater. It's also the fact that aircraft design itself hasn't changed dramatically in decades.

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15 Jan 23:32

The Crazy, Brilliant Plan For A Huge Hydropower Plant In South America's Driest Desert

by Adele Peters

A solar farm will pump seawater up the Andes mountains, so renewable power can be available day and night.

Stuck between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth. But the area's weird geography means that it will soon be home to a massive hydropower plant—the first step in a new system that could theoretically provide all of South America with 100% renewable energy.

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14 Jan 00:44

Find Alien Planets That Could Support Life With This Amazing Chart

by Katie Peek

Planets orbit their host stars, arranged as they are in the night sky. Courtesy

The number of known exoplanets now numbers in the thousands. A new explorer tool, released today, visualizes them all with an eye toward finding the most Earth-like. It’s called Goldilocks, after the idea that for a planet to be habitable, it has to be not to hot, not too cold, but just right.

The project is by data visualizer (and friend of Popular Science) Jan Willem Tulp, in consultation with experts at the European Space Agency. It’s exoplanet data sliced many ways: In one view, stars are placed as they are on the night sky [above], and a dense cloud of planets pops out where the Kepler space telescope trained its eye. In another, planets are arranged by their similarity to Earth:


The Earth Similarity Index

Known exoplanets are arranged by how closely they resemble Earth, with the most Earth-like at the center. A few planets come close, but so far, a true Earth twin remains elusive.

But if you’re not in the mood for a science lesson, they also just look nice:

The known exoplanets that cross their stars’ habitable zones are all visualized orbiting a single central point, scaled to a single habitable zone [in blue]. Courtesy

13 Jan 23:59

Can We Stop The Surge Of Man-Made Earthquakes?

by Barry Yeoman

M. Weingarten et al., Science, June 19 2015

Earthquakes East Of the Rockies, 1973-2014.

In a recent study, published in Science, geophysicists analyzed earthquakes east of the Rockies and found a strong link to injection sites. Those colored in red were near active wells. Those in gray were not.

Mark Crismon and I were sitting outside his Oklahoma house, looking at the day lilies that lined his pond, when our conversation was interrupted by a distant boom. “Did you feel that?” Crismon asked. “Just be quiet. Sit still.” He’s a lanky 76-year-old, retired from an electronics career, with gray hair combed straight back from his ruddy face. The booms continued, once or twice per minute; I felt them under my skin. “That’s a small earthquake,” he said, seconds before the sound recurred. “There it was again. We’ll go and look on the seismometer—I’ll show you what it looks like.”

We walked into his garage. It was July and approaching 100 degrees in the countryside north of Stillwater. The building was filled with freezers where Crismon and his wife store the food they grow, catch, shoot, and smoke. Deer and coyote tails covered corrugated-tin walls. On a desk in the corner, beside a hand-labeled bottle of peach brandy, sat a Dell laptop connected by a cable to a buried seismometer. Oklahoma State University scientists had given Crismon the seismometer in 2014, as part of a project to monitor the state’s current rash of earthquakes.

He took a drag from his cigarette, then turned his attention to three parallel bars scrolling across the screen: blue on the bottom, red in the middle, green on top. They were mostly straight but had become jagged for the several minutes we had felt the tremors. “How’d you like to put up with that day and night?” he asked.

Sebastian Meyer

Mark Crismon monitors earthquake activity caused by injection wells at his home in Oklahoma, as part of a seismic network set up by scientists.

Crismon sits at this desk, on and off, for 14 hours a day. He arrives at six in the morning and takes pictures of the spikes with a digital camera to document what he calls a growing menace (even though the data gets recorded regardless). There’s plenty to photograph: Oklahoma, which historically has had few earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher, started rumbling regularly in 2009. The Oklahoma Geological Survey recorded 35 such quakes in 2012, 109 in 2013, and 584 in 2014. (The prior annual average was fewer than two.) By late October, the 2015 figure had already exceeded 700.

Scientists have figured out the reason: the oil-and-gas industry’s practice of injecting wastewater deep underground.

The granite basement that underlies the continent, a mile below Oklahoma’s wheat and alfalfa fields, is full of faults. Usually, natural stresses clamp the rocks and keep them from moving—like “a vise that’s slammed on the east and west side, and someone’s turning the screw,” says Todd Halihan, a hydrogeophysicist at Oklahoma State University. Inject fluid deep enough, he says, and it travels into the fractures in the granite, in effect lubricating the rock and causing faults to slip.

Halihan compares this to tabletop air hockey. “When it’s off, the puck doesn’t move particularly well,” he says. “Turn on the air, and it’s like you’re injecting. That puck moves real well.”

Sometimes these quakes arrive as jolts like those Crismon and I felt outside his house. Sometimes they topple buildings and claim lives.

It’s not only in Oklahoma where we’re giving the proverbial puck more room to slide. Our species, unintentionally, keeps finding new ways to unleash earthquakes. We have rattled the ground by impounding reservoirs, excavating mines, testing nuclear weapons, tapping geothermal power, and pushing carbon dioxide underground to slow global warming.

Sometimes these quakes arrive as jolts like those Crismon and I felt outside his house. Sometimes they topple buildings and claim lives. Whether they hit the Midwest, California, Switzerland, India, or China, some of those who feel the shocks are asking: Can we control the tremors, or are damaging quakes an inevitable feature of the future?


We first recognized the problem of man-made earthquakes around the turn of the 20th century, as they began hitting the regions around South Africa’s gold mines and Europe’s coal mines. The release of gravitational energy, when the rock above the mines sagged, triggered them.

It took until the 1930s for Americans to notice man-made quakes beneath our own soil. When engineers created Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam, the sudden addition of 12 billion tons of water apparently set off hundreds of small tremors along the Arizona-Nevada border.

“This was an ‘aha moment,’ an important benchmark in the science,” says Bill Ellsworth, an emeritus seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and geophysics professor at Stanford University. Since then, reservoirs have been linked to devastating quakes around the world: definitively to a magnitude-6.3 quake that killed 200 people in 1967 near India’s Koyna Dam, and more speculatively to the 2008 Sichuan quake, a magnitude-­­7.9 colossus that flattened schools and hospitals in China, and left more than 80,000 people dead or missing. The Sichuan quake was triggered less than 6 miles from the Zipingpu Dam reservoir, says natural-hazards researcher Christian Klose, who has linked water levels there to tremor frequency.

The most ominous precursor to Oklahoma came in the 1960s, when a series of earthquakes walloped the normally quiet Denver area. During two particularly lively days in 1962, the shocks broke windows, cracked plaster, and left electrical outlets hanging by wires. “Children cried with fright,” read a federal field report from Dupont, a town just north of the city.

Sebastian Meyer

Oil-and-gas operations produce wastewater made up largely of brine. Injection wells in the U.S. pump 2 billion gallons of it a day underground.

Scientists traced this seismic uptick to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, an Army facility that manufactured chemical weapons and rocket fuel. Weeks before the trembling began, the arsenal had started injecting wastewater 2 miles down into the crystalline basement rock. After the injections stopped, in 1966, it took a year for the shaking to cease: A magnitude-5.3 quake knocked bricks from chimneys in 1967 and caused more than $1 million in damage.

A geologist named David Evans found an association between the amount of fluid injected at the arsenal and the number of earthquakes, and suggested cause and effect. (To demonstrate how lubricated rocks slip, Evans reportedly would perform the “Coors experiment”: He perforated the bottom of a beer can, and then showed how the seeping liquid eased its slide down an incline.) The Army disputed Evans’ hypothesis, but he was vindicated by USGS researchers, who triggered seismicity soon after by methodically injecting fluid into Colorado’s Rangely oil field.

Since then, scientists have grown more sophisticated about documenting changes in earthquake activity. About 200 miles south of Rangely, in Colorado’s Paradox Valley, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been injecting briny groundwater into a deep limestone formation in order to keep it from contaminating a river. “Somebody had the foresight to say, ‘Let’s see what kind of seismicity’s out there before we start injecting,’” says bureau geophysicist Lisa Block. Six years of baseline data showed almost no natural activity. By contrast, the agency has recorded 6,200 quakes, most of them small, since underground disposal began in 1991.

By the time Oklahoma starting ramping up its own wastewater injection—now more than a billion barrels a year—the notion that humans can induce earthquakes by putting fluid underground was already familiar. Still, Sooner State residents were caught off-guard when that geologic principle hit home.


Th e Surge in Shaking

A decade ago, this part of North America experienced just 14 tremors a year. In 2014, 650 quakes hit the area, most of them clustered around wastewater injection wells.

map showing that there were many more earthquakes in 2014 than there were in 2004 in oklahoma

Data visualization by Pitch Interactive

Both maps show tremors stronger than magnitude 3.0. Color represents strength; dots mark centers. The map omits a few quakes along the west of New Mexico and Colorado, to avoid earthquake-prone mountain regions. Source: U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center


Todd Halihan was standing in the hallway of his Stillwater home one night in November 2011 when he noticed glasses starting to rattle. As the building shook, the hydrogeophysicist flashed on his sleeping 6-year-old. “Should I get my kid out of bed and run out of the house?” he recalls thinking. “Should I get him under a table?”

Halihan was feeling the effects of a magnitude-5.7 quake—Oklahoma’s largest, it turns out. Its center was near Prague (rhymes with “vague”), almost 50 miles away, where it buckled a highway and destroyed 14 homes. In one living room, rock from a fireplace and chimney struck a woman as she watched TV. The earthquake also toppled a historic turret at St. Gregory’s University in nearby Shawnee. A team from the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University, and USGS determined the source: a fault rupture that began about 650 feet from active injection wells.

“That’s when a lot more people started paying attention,” says Austin Holland, Oklahoma’s state seismologist until this past summer.

The idea that the oil-and-gas industry could be producing these quakes was a touchy subject, both for companies and for the administration of Gov. Mary Fallin. One study shows the industry has created one-fourth of Oklahoma’s new jobs since 2010. Emails obtained by the EnergyWire news service paint a picture of a government that, in the words of Fallin chief of staff Denise Northrup, tried to “make this go away.” Shortly after the Prague earthquake, Fallin aides contacted Devon Energy, an oil-and-gas producer, and obtained talking points to use with constituents. Among them: “There is no current evidence that oil-and-gas operations had anything to do with the recent large earthquakes in Oklahoma.” When Fallin addressed a National Governors Association forum on shale-energy development in 2013, a reference to underground injection wells was deleted from her speech. “We had other issues we wanted to highlight,” says Alex Weintz, Fallin’s communications director until this past November.

The problem doesn’t stop at Oklahoma’s borders; man-made earthquakes have hit other midcontinent states too.

Weintz says Fallin’s personal views were always more nuanced than Devon Energy’s talking points, even if those points were used by her staff. Her own reticence to blame disposal wells, he says, reflected the state of the research when she took office in 2011. “It was only the beginning of a spike in seismic activity,” he says. “Since then, the science has evolved.”

Even the Oklahoma Geological Survey, a university-­affiliated state agency, was slow to acknowledge the disposal-well connection. In a 2013 statement, it noted that the Prague earthquake appeared to be the result of “natural causes.” Holland, who worked for the survey, says, “Oil-and-gas is a very important industry, and so . . . some of the public statements saw a lot of wordsmithing.”

As scientists dug into data, a consensus emerged that fluid injection was indeed behind the spike in earthquake activity. Even Fallin has come around. “We all know now there is a direct correlation between the increase of earthquakes that we’ve seen in Oklahoma and the disposal wells,” she said at an August meeting of her administration’s Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity.

In fact, new research shows earthquakes now pose a risk to the oil- and-gas industry itself. The largest crude-oil storage facility in the world sits in Cushing, Oklahoma, right above a fault recently acti­vated by injection. Continued injection could produce a magnitude-5.7 earthquake, large enough to rupture oil tanks and pipelines.

The problem doesn’t stop at Oklahoma’s borders; man-made earthquakes have hit other midcontinent states too. On New Year’s Eve 2011, a magnitude-4.0 tremor in Youngstown, Ohio, shook buildings and led to the shutdown of a disposal well that was deemed the likely culprit. Waste injection has also been linked to quakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

“Oil-and-gas is a very important industry, and so . . . some of the public statements saw a lot of wordsmithing.”

If the same quakes had happened overseas, they might have caused far more damage. “The technologies that have been pioneered primarily in the U.S.—to unlock gas from tight shale and to produce oil from unconventional reservoirs—have the potential to be applied around the world,” says Ellsworth, the USGS seismologist. “Many countries will find it irresistible to produce their own resources. Unfortunately, in many of these countries, the building standards are not what they are in the United States, and the potential for severe damage and loss of life is really high.”


As we keep using the earth as a vault to stash our waste—and as a tappable resource—we’re creating a global-­energy system that will likely increase the risk of small and potentially large earthquakes. Engineers will need to weigh every resource, looking at how much power it provides, how green it is, and what type of seismic risk it poses.

In some cases, the technologies we’ve engineered to ease our impact on the environment have proved likely to shake the ground. In a pilot project in Decatur, Illinois, carbon dioxide captured from an ethanol plant is being injected, in liquidlike form, almost 7,000 feet down into a sandstone formation. The goal is to slow climate change by keeping the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere (a tactic also advanced by proponents of “clean coal”).

So far, the injections have caused only the smallest of tremors, too faint to be felt. But Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback and hydrogeologist Steven Gorelick have argued that for underground carbon storage to benefit the climate, it must happen at a “massive scale”—one that will likely trigger more seismicity, and therefore potentially defeat its own purpose by discharging the carbon into the atmosphere. “Even small to moderate earthquakes threaten the seal integrity of a CO2 repository,” they wrote in a 2012 journal article. For that reason, they concluded, carbon injection will be “an extremely expensive and risky strategy” to reduce greenhouse gases.

Ole Kaven—a USGS geophysicist involved in the Illinois project—says that if researchers can map faults, fractures, and fluid pathways using sophisticated instruments, they can reduce the hazard, though not eliminate it entirely. “If one factors in the cost of greenhouse-gas emissions, and what effect CO2 sequestration can have on reducing some of the long-term effects, this conversation changes,” he says. “Some of these risks might be tolerated.”

Sebastian Meyer

Hydrogeophysicist Todd Halihan says it might not take much pressure to increase seismicity—as little as 15 pounds per square inch. “Half of a car tire,” he says.

That’s a critical point: A technology might produce earthquakes, but what harm might come from not using it? Take geothermal production, a reliable and underused source of electricity that causes little environmental damage. “If we could tap all the heat in the earth, we wouldn’t need anything else,” says Ernest Majer, a geophysicist affiliated with both the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

That was no comfort in Basel, Switzerland, where in December 2006 operators of the Deep Heat Mining project began injecting cold water into the naturally hot granite below the city. The following week, a magnitude-3.4 shock rattled windows and cracked plaster. Injection was halted. A government study projected a 15 percent chance of a man-made earthquake causing more than $500 million in damage if production resumed. In 2009 the project was scrapped entirely.

Geothermal production continues in rural areas—most notably at the Geysers, north of California’s Bay Area, where locals have routinely endured minor quake damage. “Sometimes it feels like a big truck just bumped into the house,” says Jeff Gospe, who sits on a seismic-­monitoring advisory committee there. Neighbors have reported cracked windows and a retaining wall that crushed a van.

Majer believes that the hazard posed by geothermal fields is minor compared with their potential to produce clean energy. (He says the Geysers alone could power all of San Francisco.) “There’s no such thing as zero risk,” Majer says. “Driving to the grocery store is a risk. Everybody risks when they get out of bed in the morning.” Compare that, he says, with the cost of carbon emissions: “If you start looking at the health impacts, the climate impacts—all the nasty things coming out of the fossil-fuel economy—well, maybe we better do something else. Induced seismicity associated with putting carbon into the ground, associated with geothermal: Those are minor, minor things compared with all these other risks facing us.”


Assuming we’re not going to shut down energy production, scientists now face a more complex question: whether it’s possible to minimize the hazard.

After the experiments in Colorado’s Rangely oil field in the 1960s and ’70s, which showed that we could control induced seismicity by varying the pressure of injected fluid, scientists were bursting with hope. Not only might they reduce damage from man-made quakes, the thinking went, but maybe they could control natural ones. Rather than waiting for the next bridge-toppler to hit California, USGS scientists suggested drilling wells along the San Andreas Fault, injecting water, and releasing the accumulated stress in a series of small, harmless quakes.

The idea never got traction. Not only would it take thousands of mini quakes to offset a major one, but it is also too risky. More than a century has passed since San Francisco’s deadly 1906 quake, which means the city is sitting on highly stressed rock. Inject water underground, says Oklahoma’s Halihan, and “you might not release 100,000 small ones. You might release a big one.” Even if the experiment did work locally, he says, “you might set off the next segment of the fault. It’s 3D and it’s complicated: ‘Hey, we didn’t cause an earthquake in San Francisco.’ ‘Well, you just knocked down LA.’ ‘Sorry.’ ”

Today, nobody’s talking about setting off micro­tremors in Oklahoma in order to avoid the next Prague earthquake. But scientists are talking about more-­modest ways to manage seismicity.

“The toolbox is growing,” says Austin Holland, who now works for USGS in New Mexico. It includes avoiding known faults, scaling back the volume and rate of fluid injected into the rock, injecting at a shallower depth, improving monitoring, and preparing to abandon wells altogether if seismicity can’t be stopped. This past year, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission—which regulates the industry—ordered volume reductions for some wells, as well as “plug backs” to limit how deep some wastewater is injected. The state’s “traffic light” system, instituted in 2013, allows regulators to scale back or halt drilling in response to seismic activity.

Sebastian Meyer

A truck carrying wastewater dumps it into a storage facility in Oklahoma before it is re-injected into the ground.

Still, eight magnitude-3 and -4 quakes struck northern Oklahoma during a 24-hour period as this story went to press. There’s a lot we haven’t yet learned about what happens underground—and that knowledge gap stymies us from managing the earthquakes we do create.

“Probably the greatest unknowns are the properties and processes deep within the earth, things that are very difficult to measure directly,” Holland says. “How is pressure being communicated? Do faults act as seals or as conduits? What are the actual stress states deep within the earth? That’s where science has to spend a significant amount of effort and resources.”


Back in Stillwater, Todd Halihan understands both sides. He wants his students to find work in the energy industry when they graduate. But he also doesn’t want to have to dive for his son the next time an earthquake shakes his house.

“We’re going to make some decisions, and none of them are going to be super-simple or super-pleasant,” he says. Ideally, that means talking levelheadedly about both the value of oil-and-gas production and the threat of earthquakes—how to balance those competing concerns and how much uncertainty we’re willing to tolerate.

It’s not easy to talk, though, when the ground is rattling. Each side retreats into a corner. Some industry and political leaders refuse to acknowledge the emerging science. Some quake-zone residents, feeling ignored and outgunned, pull out the only weapon they have: their rhetoric. The conversations grow polarized rather than solution-oriented.

It’s not easy to talk when the ground is rattling. Each side retreats into a corner…The conversations grow polarized.

Technology, Halihan says, often carries harm. “The Titanic’s a nice example,” he says. “We were developing big ships, and we sank them. Developed airplanes; we crashed them.” Addressing unintended consequences doesn’t necessarily mean scrapping innovations. Nor does it mean pretending the consequences don’t exist.

With seismicity, as with addiction, the first step is admitting we have a problem that’s not fully within our control. “The government, as well as these companies, should be upfront,” says Leonardo Seeber, an earthquake geologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “You want to drive your car. It takes gasoline. To produce that, you have to make wells. You have to pump in here and pump out there. And when you are doing that,” he says, “you are changing the stress in the subsurface. Sometimes there could be earthquakes that we can’t predict. There could be consequences. But we’re all in it together.”

This article was originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Earthquake Nation”

The Case for Human-Caused Earthquakes, in Charts

13 Jan 23:29

Congress Wants NASA To Create A Deep Space Habitat By 2018

by Sarah Fecht

Inspiration Mars

Mars capsule concept

The nonprofit Inspiration Mars envisions sending humans to Mars in a modified SpaceX Dragon capsule fitted with an inflatable element.

NASA may dream of sending humans to Mars in the coming decades, but the fact remains that nobody's really sure how we'll survive the journey or set up camp on the red planet.

The Orion spacecraft that will drive astronauts to Mars has a diameter that's about the length of a pickup truck. That's not a lot of space when you consider the astronauts' journey to Mars will take at least 6 months.

In order to not go totally bonkers, Mars-bound astronauts will need a larger place to live, complete with private quarters and exercise equipment. NASA envisions the Orion capsule could link up to a habitation module in space, but right now they have no idea what that module could look like. And who knows what the astronauts will live in once they get to Mars.

Now SpaceNews says that a report attached to the recent omnibus spending bill has allocated funds for NASA to figure it out. The bill orders NASA to spend at least $55 million to develop a habitation module for deep space exploration, and to have a prototype ready by 2018.

That would be great timing, since NASA wants to test out its new space habitat around the moon in the 2020s before sending it to Mars in the 2030s.


Deep Space Habitat

The not so creatively named Deep Space Habitat is one of many concepts that NASA is looking into.

However, whether NASA could have something ready by 2018 seems debatable. At this point, the agency pretty much has a blank slate as to what the habitat would look like and how it would function. Shielding astronauts from space radiation while also maintaining a light weight will be one of the major challenges.

Thus far Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitat stands out as a frontrunner--a test version of the habitat will soon be deployed on the International Space Station. SpaceNews reports that NASA has also awarded funds to Boeing, Lockheed, Martin, Orbital ATK, and other companies to look into potential habitat designs.

It looks like NASA will have to step up its game, and fast. The report requires NASA to come back with a status update about how it has distributed funds within 180 days of the bill becoming law, which happened on December 18.

[Via SpaceNews]

13 Jan 23:02

Clara Porset’s Tropical Modernism

This is the latest installment of our Designing Women series. Previously, we profiled the Swedish-Californian designer Greta Magnusson Grossman.

Clara Porset with a model of a table for production. Photo by Elizabeth Timberman; image from Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Esther McCoy Papers

If you happen to be in Austin this week, be sure to check out the final days of Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940–1978 at the University of Texas’s Blanton Museum of Art. With a selection of 130 design objects, the exhibition celebrates a pioneering chapter in Latin American modernism while also highlighting some lesser-known designers from south of the border—including Clara Porset, a Cuban-born furniture and interior designer who called Mexico home.

Born to a wealthy Cuban family in 1895, Porset traveled widely in her youth, studying architecture and design in New York and Paris before visiting Germany to meet Walter Gropius and Hannes Meyer of the Bauhaus. Their focus on combining art, technology and craftsmanship in a larger dialogue with society resonated deeply with Porset, who returned home to Havana in 1932 to begin working as a professional designer. A few years later, she joined former Bauhaus instructors Josef and Anni Albers at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she spent a summer steeped in the Alberses’ modernist design teachings. The trio would become lifelong friends, and Porset’s designs would always evince a strong Bauhaus influence.

Porset is best remembered for her butaque-inspired chair designs from the 1940s and ’50s, which were reinterpretations of a traditional Mexican chair (the butaque’s curule shaped base was most likely introduced by Spanish colonialists). Porset experimented with different materials, shapes and sizes, giving her chairs a tropical-modernist flair.

When the political situation in Cuba began to unravel, Porset left for Mexico, which would become her adopted home in 1940. There she found inspiration in traditional folk arts and crafts whose rustic qualities she translated into sleek furniture designs. This is best seen in her butaque chairs, handsome, low-slung loungers that could be long-lost tropical cousins of Alvar Aalto’s Armchair 406 and Hans Wegner’s CH25 Lounge Chair. Over the years, Porset would experiment with different proportions and ergonomics to make the chairs more functional, as well as various elastic materials and also natural fabrics like palm, jute and ixtle (a native Mexican plant fiber) for the chairs’ seat and back. One of the few female designers working in Mexico at the time, Porset made furniture for the residences of Mexico’s elite and received commercial commissions to furnish hotels and public housing projects; she is also remembered for her furniture design collaborations with the trailblazing Mexican architect Luis Barragan at his own residence and numerous others’. During this era Porset had a number of successful furniture collections put into production by the Mexican manufacturers IRGSA and DOMUS.

Porset’s chaise lounge CP-403 for IRGSA, made of laminated plywood with woven rattan. Above and below image from Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Esther McCoy Papers
Porset’s mahogany chair CP-423 for IRGSA, made with woven rattan and bamboo

Beyond Mexico, Porset’s designs were featured in the Artek-Pascoe showroom in New York in 1946, and in the early 1950s they were championed by Esther McCoy in the pages of Arts & Architecture and The Los Angeles Times Home Magazine. Porset also collaborated with her husband, the muralist Xavier Guerrero, on a design proposal for MoMA’s Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition in 1940. Although Porset was the only female designer from Latin America to participate, Guerrero received sole credit for their competition entry, an oversight that MoMA later remedied. The couple also entered MoMA’s 1950 competition for low-cost furniture design, with a tubular steel chair strung with a plastic seat and back.

Entry panel by Porset and Guerrero for MoMA’s Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition, circa 1940—this was the first time that MoMA’s competition brief included Latin American designers. Image courtesy the Museum of Modern Art
Entry panel by Porset and Guerrero for MoMA’s low-cost furniture design competition, circa 1950. Image courtesy the Museum of Modern Art

After the Cuban Revolution, in 1959, Porset was invited to return to Cuba to found a school of industrial design intended to help establish a new class of utilitarian designers on the now Communist island. Although her plan was never fully realized, she was also commissioned by Che Guevara (then Minister of Industries) to design furniture for a number of local schools and institutions. A few years later, Porset returned to Mexico, where she helped launch a program in industrial design at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, teaching there until her death in 1981. Porset’s will established a scholarship fund (now a design award) to encourage a new generation of young female designers in Mexico.

Porset in the workshop circa 1950s with furniture maker Alfonso Rojas, who is adjusting a plywood mould to create a chair back. Photo by Elizabeth Timberman. Above and below images from Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Esther McCoy Papers
In 1952, Porset organized an exhibition of design objects from Mexico called El Arte en la Vida Diaria at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, displaying the country’s strong tradition of craftsmanship in dialogue with modern industrial design. Above is Porset’s chair alongside various handicraft textiles.
Porset designed this set of patio chairs for the Mexican architect Mario Pani. Photo by Lola Alvarez Bravo
A pair of mahogany lounge chairs CP-418 for IRGSA made with woven rattan
Another lounge chair design in mahogany with woven rattan by Porset for IRGSA
A page from the IRGSA catalog featuring Porset’s design for a mahogany table with traditional rattan bindings

13 Jan 21:15

An Ingenious, Sustainable Way to Quickly Build Tunnels That Will Last Forever

One of the first things we learned about in History of Architecture 101 was Romanesque architecture, and thus Roman arches. Moving beyond the Greeks and their boring lintels, the Romans figured out that you could create massive, self-supporting archways that locked into place once the keystone in the top was inserted.

Taking advantage of the compressive strength of stone, this system of archbuilding yielded magnificent structures. And unlike those moody Goths who later devised their own lousy take on the arch, the Roman arch was a nice, rational semicircle.

So effective is the technique that it even works with old computer monitors; all you need is an intern labor force that understands they are required to come in on Saturday to realize your architectural whims.

Ready to make a difference in the world

The thing about Roman arches is that the arch doesn't lock into place until the keystone is added. That means that until you get to that last piece, the entire structure must temporarily be held in place by scaffolding (or interns).

Seven interns working in concert can develop tremendous compressive strength

However, a Vancouver-based company called Lock-Block has devised a clever, mobile scaffold that happens to come in the shape of a truck. The company's mainstay is producing interlocking rectangular concrete blocks, akin to enormous Lego pieces. Their Arch-Lock system applies this concept to wedge-shaped pieces. Once their special Zipper Truck is driven to the site, the Arch-Lock blocks can be stacked using the truck itself as the scaffold. Have a look at this:

Pretty crazy, no? And it appears, judging by the way the driver occasionally scoots the truck forwards and backwards, that the array of beams is actually tapered towards the rear; this irregularity would allow the driver to jiggle the pieces into place, until the protrusions properly nest into the cavities and gravity takes over.

The benefits of the Zipper Truck system are manifold. For one thing, the structure goes up relatively quickly; the company claims their system "reduces construction time by as much as 90% [versus] a comparable conventional reinforced post and beam concrete structure. And with no embedded steel to limit the service life, the structure will last indefinitely."

The design is also seismic-resistant. And despite the fact that the structure will last--if Roman creations are any indication--for thousands of years, should you decide to relocate the structure, the process is completely reversible. In contrast to other concrete structures that must be taken down with dynamite and a wrecking ball, the Arch-Lock blocks can simply be plucked out of place and reused elsewhere. That's a wonderfully sustainable benefit to using gravity for joinery, and a lesson you can easily teach your interns over a weekend.

Are happy to cancel their brunch reservations in order to participate in team-building exercises
13 Jan 16:03

All The Money In The World, In A Single Chart

by Adele Peters

A million dollars isn't cool. 1.2 quadrillion dollars is cool. (In other words, you might want to get into derivatives.)

For most of us, $5 billion might already seem like a fairly huge—and abstract—amount of money. But that number, which happens to be roughly the value of all the Bitcoins in the world today, is a tiny fraction of other markets.

Read Full Story

13 Jan 15:56

In Japan's Zero-Waste Town, Recycling Requires Zen-Like Patience

by Ben Schiller

Think your recycling is confusing? Try sorting into 34 categories of waste.

If you thought sorting out your recycling every week was a bit tedious, spare a thought for the residents of Kamikatsu, a village in Japan. They have to spend a lot more time cleaning cartons, flattening boxes, and finding the right place to dump their bottles and cans. Kamikatsu, which aims to go "zero waste," has 34 separate categories of recycling items, including aluminum cans, spray cans, cardboard, magazines, flyers, steel cans, and more.

Read Full Story

12 Jan 23:36

Big Idea For 2016: Lightbulbs Can Make Us Healthy

by Rebecca Boyle

Sam Ward

There’s perhaps no more powerful force in nature than light. It influences everything from our cells to our mood and metabolism. Blue wavelengths cue the brain to produce cortisol to make us alert, while red wavelengths allow the production of melatonin to help us sleep—a cycle that once followed the sun and moon. The invention of the lightbulb (and smartphones) changed that. Engineers are now using lightbulbs to change it back.

“The science has led us to understand that the light we’ve been using for the past 100 years has caused damage to us,” says Fred Maxik, founder of bulb-maker Lighting Science Group. When our circadian rhythms went rogue, it increased our risk of developing obesity, depression, and even cancer. That doesn’t have to be the case, Maxik says: “We have the ability to create lights that have purposes other than just illuminating our world.”

"The light we’ve been using for the past 100 years has caused damage to us."

Such bulbs have started to reach sockets. Last year, the Renton School District in Washington became the first to install tunable LEDs. They can be adjusted from red wavelengths, to calm students after recess, to blue, to improve test-day concentration. The Seattle Mariners installed LEDs at Safeco Field that can make nighttime games seem more like day; the New York Yankees will follow suit in 2016.

This year, NASA also plans to change the bulbs on the International Space Station, where the sun sets every 90 minutes, and constant light makes astronauts chronic insomniacs. The new bulbs will subtly shift from blue wavelengths during the workday to red when the crew needs to rest. LEDs like Lighting Science’s new Genesis Light, which hits shelves in January, will do the same thing for homes.

“We have been in this era of efficiency,” says Michael Siminovitch, a University of California at Davis professor of lighting design. “Now what can we do with technology that actually does something for us?”

This article was originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of Popular Science, as part of our Big Ideas Of 2016 feature.

12 Jan 22:53

Crowdfunding a crowdinvesting platform for climate solutions

by Derek Markham
Can the power of crowdinvesting help kickstart a revolution in climate solutions?
12 Jan 22:20

Automatic garbage bin promises to clean the oceans

by Jon Fingas
Take a close look at the water in your local marina and you'll probably shudder at the amount of waste floating around. You'd practically need a dedicated clean-up crew to make it safe, wouldn't you? However, a pair of Australian surfers think they h...
12 Jan 21:26

This treatment erases spider phobia in 2 minutes

by Melissa Breyer
A new study reports the successful and ‘instant’ reduction of terror in arachnophobic participants.
12 Jan 21:25

A modest proposal: Ban cars.

by Lloyd Alter

only for rich people so they don't ban our ban

Alissa Walker has a Swiftian solution to the problems of our world.
12 Jan 21:18

The top 10 gadget stories of the year

by Megan Treacy
Hydroponics systems, electricity-free appliances and more caught your attention in 2015.
12 Jan 21:10

This bike poncho could be the perfect rainy day accessory for cyclists

by Derek Markham
And naturally enough, it's called a boncho.
11 Jan 21:15

historicaltimes: The world’s first nuclear ramjet engine,...


The world’s first nuclear ramjet engine, “Tory-IIA,” is being readied for testing in 1961 as part of Project Pluto. The rise of intercontinental ballistic missile technology reduced the need for such a complex thrust mechanism and the project was eventually canceled.

via reddit

Keep reading

21 Dec 21:20

Tour of a million stars

by Nathan Yau


The Online Star Register takes you through a delightful view of a million stars. You can browse and gaze the sky, but be sure to "take a tour" via the button on the top. It starts on the ground at Earth, beams you out far out and then back again.

Tags: stars, space

10 Dec 22:53

This Guy Was Really Annoyed By All The Garbage In His Town. So This Is What He Did…

by dmitry


Tommy Klein, from the Netherlands, loves to ride his bike. One time, he became disappointed by the state of the river bank in his town. No one seemed to have any intention of clearing up the huge amount of garbage that had piled up there. So he decided to deal with the problem on his own. Every morning he would get up thirty minutes early in order to go fill up one bag of waste. Tommy put up a few photos on Facebook and in turn, 180 people came to his aid.

This is his story.

“Every day I go for a ride on my bike. I like this place — if you don’t count the garbage. The whole of the embankment is covered in waste from people who’ve had picnics there.”


“One time I became so tired of looking at it, I decided to deal with the problem myself.”


“It took me 30 minutes to fill up one bag of waste.”


“But one bag didn’t solve the problem. So I promised myself that I would fill up a bag every day.”


“In a week I’d gathered 20 bags, and one part of the river bank was completely transformed.”


“I told my friends about it on Facebook, and they told theirs. Soon I’d found 180 people from my town who wanted to help me clean up the river bank.”


This is what I’d told them: “All it takes is 30 minutes, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel afterwards. Because it’s very important.”


“Here’s the last bag of garbage.”


“I wanted to convey to everyone the simple idea that gathering up even just one bag of garbage a day can help.”


“After the area had been completely cleaned up, this bird made a nest for itself there.”


We’ve all seen the dirt on our streets, in our parks and forests, and around our river banks. It all starts with you — don’t drop litter or wait for someone else to pick it up. Instead, follow this guy’s example. He did great!
h/t: brightside

10 Dec 21:51

What Are Those Bright Spots On Ceres Made Of?

by Sarah Fecht

False color image of Occator crater, home of the brightest spot on Ceres


Ceres: the other dwarf planet. Although Pluto gets most of the love these days, our first encounter with a former planet came in March when the Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres. The largest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres was thought to be a planet when scientists first discovered it, but it was demoted a few decades later. It's no planet, but it might be a Death Star.

Ceres' Bright Spots


Just kidding. But seriously, most of Ceres' surface is about as bright as fresh asphalt, so what's up with these shiny spots? Dawn has spotted 130 of them so far, and scientists have been unsure about what they're made of. Guesses included volcanic activity, salt, and water ice.

Now, in a paper published today in Nature, the Dawn team has narrowed the list down a bit.

Slight color variations from Dawn's camera data indicate that the brightest spots, located in Occator crater, contain a salt called magnesium sulfate. Other substances, including water ice, might be there as well.

The Herschel space telescope detected a haze around the bright spots, indicating that some kind of frozen substance there may be turning to gas when sunlight hits it, and water ice is a good guess.

If water vapor is indeed outgassing from Occator's bright spots, it suggests the spots are actually some of the youngest features on the dwarf planet--otherwise the water in the bright areas would have all gasified by now.

"The high reflectance of the bright material in Occator crater… is a strong indication that those deposits are young and indicate active geologic processes at Ceres," geologist Carol Raymond from the Dawn team told Popular Science in an email. "This is a fascinating possibility and the team is eagerly mapping the geology and morphology of the surface and analyzing the spectral data to characterize these processes."

The paper also suggests that the surface of Ceres is underlaid by a layer of salty water-ice--and that when space rocks smash into Ceres, they expose the ice and salt below. If the hypothesis is correct, it would help to explain why the entire dwarf planet is speckled in bright spots.

10 Dec 21:49

If There Are Aliens In That Megastructure, They Aren't Pointing Lasers At Us

by Sarah Fecht

Artist illustration of a crumbling Dyson sphere

Crumbling like a hypothesis

Danielle Futselaar/SETI International

A mystery is circling around the star KIC 846285. Hundreds of light-years away, the star's light dims by as much as 22 percent, and in erratic patterns. It can't be a planet, so astronomers' best guess is that a messy family of comets is blocking the light.

However, some scientists think it's worth at least considering the possibility that technology built by aliens--a swarm of solar collectors, perhaps--could be orbiting and periodically eclipsing the star.

The scientists behind the alien hypothesis knew it was a long shot when they proposed it, and since then, telescopes have failed to find any alien signatures in the radio or infrared emissions coming from the star.

Now, a study published on the arXiv reports that researchers also haven't detected any laser pulses coming from KIC 846285. For six nights, researchers from a new group called SETI International used the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama to look for the laser signals.

"If any hypothetical extraterrestrials had beamed intentional laser pulses in the visible spectrum toward Earth," the group's press release says, "the Boquete observatory could have detected them so long as they exceeded the observatory’s minimum detectable limit."

That minimum limit was set pretty high. The telescope looked for nanosecond pulses, and could detect signals at 4,000,000,000,000 kilowatts or higher. For context, those lasers would need to be thousands of times more powerful than anything we have on Earth. But, if you're an alien civilization building megastructures around stars, maybe that's not such a big challenge.

“The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart.”

SETI International notes that their lower threshold is high, but adds that if those laser signals are aimed anywhere in the general vicinity of Earth, they wouldn't have to be quite so high.

“The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart,” said Douglas Vakoch, president of SETI International and an author of the paper, said in a statement.

Nevertheless, KIC 8462852 is likely to remain in the spotlight for a while yet.

The problem with the alien hypothesis is that the scientific method isn't always great at proving a thing doesn't exist. There's always the possibility of that we're not asking the question properly, or looking for the right signals, or that our tools aren't good enough to detect whatever it is we're looking for.

Next year, the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia will turn its very large ear toward the mysterious star, and probably many other telescopes will perform their own studies in the meantime.

10 Dec 21:42

Icebergs Make Waves In Clouds Above The Southern Ocean

by Mary Beth Griggs

NASA Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response


Ever since the sinking of the Titanic, icebergs have had a bad reputation. But they can do a lot more than just sink ocean liners. Some icebergs that are large enough can actually change the skies above them.

NASA recently released these photos of icebergs off the coast of the South Georgia Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

The ripple effect in the clouds above the larger icebergs is caused by air being pushed up over the massive blocks of ice, creating patterns in the clouds.

Close up of wave clouds

NASA Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response

Close up of wave clouds

The ripples are caused as air moves over the huge icebergs. The icebergs are so large that air flowing over them rides up. The rising air current disturbs the clouds above, creating the ripple effect. The same effect is usually seen over islands, like in this image taken over Amsterdam Island in 2005.

Amsterdam Island

Jeff Schmaltz/NASA/MODIS

Amsterdam Island

In a completely separate phenomenon, smaller icebergs seen nearby in the first image still leave wakes in the clouds visible from space as they shove through low-lying fog on the ocean.

The larger icebergs probably broke off Antarctica's ice shelves, and likely tower well over 30 feet above the water line. As the world warms, scientists expect to see more large icebergs like these getting set adrift.

02 Dec 20:15

See what every star system Kepler's found looks like compared to ours

by Andrew Tarantola
Since its launch in 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has discovered more than 1700 planets in some 685 star systems. This slick animation from YouTuber Ethan Kruse shows every one of them with their orbits synchronized and drawn to scale. The planets them...
01 Dec 14:22

Vintage Electric's latest e-bike gives you more retro power

by Jon Fingas
Vintage Electric drew a lot of attention when it unveiled its retro e-bikes a couple of years ago: it managed to fuse the classic look of early 20th century board track racers with a decidedly modern electric motor. Well, it's back for another year....
19 Nov 17:57

A Dutch Designer Has Created An Underground Fridge That Does Not Use Electricity

by dmitry


Dutch designer Floris Schoonderbeek, has created the Ground Fridge, an underground cool storage solution, for Dutch brand Weltevree.


Modern houses are often built without a basement while a lot of people nowadays feel the need for one: they’re focused on healthy food and, for example, grow their own food or buy in bulk at the local organic farmer.


The Ground Fridge is a basement as a product. An innovative version of the traditional root cellar, for the new cosmopolitan with its own vegetable garden and a modern self-sufficient existence.


The Ground Fridge makes use of the insulating effect of the ground and the cooling effect of the groundwater.


The temperature in the fridge remains stable throughout the year between 10 and 12° C: the ideal temperature for the storage of, for example, fruit, vegetables, wine and cheese.


The spherical Ground Fridge is buried and covered with the excavated earth. This layer of soil is about one meter thick and insulating so the temperature inside the fridge barely varies. There’s no permit required to place the Ground Fridge, and no soil to be disposed.


The Ground Fridge is equipped with wooden shelves for storage.


Via Contemporist