Friday, February 26, 2010

Converting Body Movements Into Electricity

From the New York Times...

"It may not seem like it, but even the laziest of couch potatoes is a human dynamo. The act of breathing — of moving the ribs to draw air into the lungs and expel it — can generate about a watt of power. And if the potato actually gets up off the couch and walks briskly across the room, each heel strike can produce even more power, about 70 watts’ worth.

That energy could be put to work, charging a cellphone, say, or a medical sensor inside the body. The problem is how to harvest it."

Read more here

Computers Turn Flat Photos Into 3-D Buildings

From the New York Times...

"Rome wasn’t built in a day, but in cyberspace it might be.

Computer science researchers at the University of Washington and Cornell University are deploying a system that will blend teamwork and collaboration with powerful graphics algorithms to create three-dimensional renderings of buildings, neighborhoods and potentially even entire cities."

Read more here

Turning Math into Cash

From Technology Review published by MIT...

"IBM has found a new source of revenue: using its mathematicians' formulas in business services."

"Five years ago, Brenda Dietrich started to investigate how IBM's 40,000 salespeople could learn to rely a little more on math than on their gut instincts. In particular, Dietrich, who heads the company's 200-person worldwide team of math researchers, was asked to see if math could help managers do a better job of setting sales quotas. She assigned three mathematicians at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, to work on new techniques for predicting how much business the company could get from a given customer."

Read more here

An Undiscovered Link Between Sensory Perception and Shannon's Theory of Information

From Technology Review published by MIT...

"The mathematics that describe both sensory perception and the transmission of information turn out to have remarkable similarities."

"The idea that sensory perception is a form of communication and so obeys the same rules, is not entirely surprising. What's astonishing (if true) is that the connection has never been noticed before."

Read more here

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Clearinghouse

From the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute...

Visit this site for General Information about the Haiti Earthquake, Reconnaissance Efforts, Reports from the Field, Response and Recovery Efforts, Maps, Geoscience Information, and Structural Information.

Read more here

USGS Updates Assessment of Earthquake Hazard and Safety in Haiti and the Caribbean

From the USGS...

"The magnitude-7 earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, has generated a sharp increase in concerns about the potential for future earthquakes in Haiti and the surrounding region. These concerns extend to understanding the causes of the earthquake hazard and learning what can be done to ensure seismic safety in the future. The purpose of this statement is to convey our best judgment on these subjects."

Read more here

U.S. Refines Quake Alerts

From The Wall Street Journal...

"Scientists' understanding of earthquakes has improved significantly in recent years. Using an array of sensitive instruments to measure tiny shifts in the Earth's tectonic plates and known fault lines, seismologists have become more adept at forecasting the size and location of quakes, and thus whether they are likely to occur in populated areas. Predicting their timing is much harder, and is often given in terms of decades. But this expertise helps speed relief and humanitarian agencies to the worst-hit areas.

That's where the NEIC comes in. Some 1,000 seismic stations around the world relay earthquake signals in real time to NEIC."

Read more here

Disaster Awaits Cities in Earthquake Zones

From The New York Times...

"Istanbul is one of a host of quake-threatened cities in the developing world where populations have swelled far faster than the capacity to house them safely, setting them up for disaster of a scope that could, in some cases, surpass the devastation in Haiti from last month’s earthquake."

Read more here

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Frightening New Law of Hurricane Formation

From Technology Review published by MIT...

"A new mathematical model of hurricane formation finally solves one of the outstanding puzzles of climate change but also predicts dramatic increases in the number of storms as the world warms."

Read more here

Monday, February 22, 2010

coop himmelb(l)au: town town erdberg


"For their project town town erdberg, austrian firm coop himmelb(l)au will receive
the sustainability award for the 2010 MIPIM architectural review future project awards.

The intention of developing the office high-rise town town erdberg was to generate
a building which correlates to the principle 'aesthetics of sustainability'. Through an
energy active facade and an integrated wind turbine the building is producing more
energy than it is actually consuming."

Read more here

Wind With Miller

Take a crash course in wind energy with Miller. This site includes Practical Activities, a Turbine Simulator, and a Teacher's Guide. Great for kids!

See more here

Monday, February 15, 2010

Earth calling: Turn off the lights!

From hp Labs...

"HP Labs is developing a network of tiny, cheap, tough and exquisitely sensitive detectors that will make life more convenient and safer today while laying the groundwork for worldwide awareness tomorrow."

Read more here

HP Invents a "Central Nervous System for Earth" and Joins the Smarter Planet Sweepstakes

From Fast Company...

"HP Labs researcher Peter Hartwell holds a prototype vibration and movement sensor, a super-sensitive inertial accelerometer. The first to be deployed as part of HP Labs' Central Nervous System for Earth (CeNSE), it is about 1,000 times more sensitive than today's mass-produced devices."

Read more here

Rajendra Pachauri and the IPCC: A time for introspection

From The Economist...

"Increasing scrutiny of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and, in particular, its chairman, should lead to reforms"

Read more here

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Climate-change legislation buried under record snowfall in capital


"Record snowfall has buried Washington — and along with it, buried the chances of passing global warming legislation this year. Cars are stranded in banks of snow along the streets of the federal capital, and in the corridors of Congress, climate legislation also has been put on ice."

Read more here

A trip through the Mandelbrot set

Although it doesn't have much to do with wind on the surface, this video is a bit of a tribute to the randomness/order of mathematics. Here's a brief description:

"The final magnification is e.214. Want some perspective? A magnification of e.12 would increase the size of a particle to the same as the earths orbit! e.21 would make a particle look the same size as the milky way and e.42 would be equal to the universe. This zoom smashes all of them all away. If you were "actually" travelling into the fractal your speed would be faster than the speed of light."

The video is 10 minutes long, if your eyes can take it. The more interesting bit of the journey happens at the end! Although it may seem like we live in a world of chaos, sometimes a bit of order underlies much of what we see.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thirty Knots, With the Wind at Your Wings

From the New York Times...

"USA-17, the challenger for the America’s Cup, and Alinghi 5, the defender, may be stripped-down, lean racing machines, built purely for speed. But both are fully loaded. Loaded, that is, with compressive and tensile stresses in an exquisitely choreographed dance of struts, spars and cables. Made almost entirely of carbon fiber, the enormous multihulls — USA-17 has three hulls, Alinghi 5 two — are about as delicate as a house of cards. If a big enough element were to break, the whole thing could fall apart."

Read more here

World's Tallest Tower Lookout Suddenly Shuttered

From ABC News...

"The Burj Khalifa's owner said Monday the observation deck of the world's tallest tower has been unexpectedly shut down, potentially disappointing thousands of tourists and marring the spire's image just a month after it opened."

Read more here

Monday, February 8, 2010

Finding a Parking Space Could Soon Get Easier

From Technology Review published by MIT...

"Anyone who's driven in a crowded downtown knows that parking can mean almost endless circling in the hunt for a space close to your destination. Now engineers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have combined simple ultrasonic sensors, GPS receivers, and cellular data networks to create a low-cost, highly effective way to find the nearest available parking space."

Read more here

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Faster Yacht, Trading Sails For a Wing

From Popular Science...

"This year, the rules have all but disappeared for competitors in the world’s oldest international trophy competition, the America’s Cup sailing race. Motorized sails are fine, the single-hull rule is out, and in the case of the BMW Oracle Racing team’s boat, even sails are optional. Instead, the largest wing ever constructed could catch enough wind to make the yacht the fastest yet."

Read more here

"Melting" Drywall Keeps Rooms Cool

From Technology Review published by MIT...

"Developers think these phase-change materials could reduce the need for air-conditioning. Building materials that absorb heat during the day and release it at night, eliminating the need for air-conditioning in some climates, will soon be on the market in the United States."

Read more here

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Building Codes in Haiti: Soft Bigotry of Lives Worth Less?


"I have nightmares about the faces in photographs this week. Pleading eyes trapped in rubble. Eyes shut forever. A limb sticking out from a ton of concrete. I can't imagine what it must be like on the ground in Port-au-Prince as anguished cries for help have, by the fifth day, largely fallen silent and been replaced by the stench of death. I couldn't be part of a decision whether to continue picking through collapsed concrete to reach living people, or bring out bulldozers to haul away rubble regardless of what -- or who -- is still part of it. (Photo credit: LA Times)

And as I view the photographs, I want to scream: where is the rebar?"

Read more here

Problems with Haiti building standards outlined

From CNN World...

"A study by the Organization of American States concluded last month that many of the buildings in Haiti were so shoddily constructed that they were unlikely to survive any disaster, let alone an earthquake like the one that devastated Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, the man who supervised the report said Wednesday."

Read more here

China's Bridge of Size

From The Independent World News...

"It's 30 miles long, will cost £6.6bn to build, can handle earthquakes of magnitude 8.0, and withstand the impact of a 300,000-tonne vessel!"

Read more here