For California's high-speed rail line, eleven years late is better than never. The highly contested $100-billion project is finally underway, with 20 sites along the train's planned proof-of-concept route between Bakersfield and Madera having broken ground. The 119-mile stretch is slated to be complete by 2022. The final length of the high-speed rail will be 300 miles.
Weather Graphics Have Become Frighteningly Advanced
As Hurricane Florence barreled closer to North Carolina, warnings about the potential dangers came from the usual sources: meteorologists and doppler radar maps. In order to really illustrate the danger this storm could bring to the region, the Weather Channel created a terrifying new animation that shows watchers what a three, six, or nine foot storm surge would actually look like. The animation was produced using the Unreal Engine, the same system that makes countless video games look and feel lifelike.
From Fringe Idea to Mainstream Imperative: The Future of Design Depends on Biomimicry
Over the Earth's 3.8 billion-year history, plants and animals have come up with ingenious design solutions to keep them alive and thriving. Today, the idea of looking to nature to improve the functionality and sustainability of humanity’s creations is gaining steam in the architecture, design, and engineering industries. It's called biomimicry and it's here to stay.
Robo-bees may sound like our worst nightmare, but they could be a dream come true for the endangered insects and their human saviors. A group of European scientists developed robotic bees to learn how other social animals communicate and maybe one day use that knowledge to influence their survival rates. The experiment was also conducted on zebra fish, opening up an avenue to save aquatic animals, too.
Mexico Aims to Take the Lead in Latin American Solar Development
In the Mexican state of Coahuila, Italian energy firm Enel will install 2.3 million solar panels over nearly 3,000 acres, providing enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes by the end of 2018. By 2024, Mexico aims to generate up to 35% of its energy from renewables, a sizable portion of which will come directly from solar panels. Only a few years ago, Mexico's energy industry was driven by a crude-oil-based state monopoly, but the emerging realities of climate change provoked the government into exploring greener alternatives.
Ford's Manufacturing Employees Get a Boost From Wearable Exoskeletons
Ford is slowly rolling out wearable exoskeletons for its manufacturing employees to reduce injuries on the job. A collaboration between Ford and , the vests help support workers' arms while performing overhead tasks that may pose potential danger. It's the latest development in Ford's ergonomics research, which seeks innovative ways to improve assembly and production.
Ocean plastic is a serious problem and humans are scrambling to turn the tide in the battle for oceanic cleanliness. The ban on plastic straws is one way to stop some of the trash, but that's only a small piece of the puzzle. Waste Shark, an aquatic drone, may be a more successful solution, designed to pick up as much as 770 pounds of trash over a 16-hour work day.
The Best New HIV Defense May Exist in a Grain of Rice
An international team of scientists may have created the first wonder GMO. They developed a new strain of rice that could help prevent HIV. The creation could mean a cheap miracle for developing countries with high HIV rates.
Spider-Like Robot Will Keep Your Succulents Alive
Keeping succulents alive isn’t too demanding, but some of us just aren’t blessed with a green thumb. Thankfully, the robot ranks have expanded with HEXA, a mobile flowerpot that monitors its occupant’s solar needs and moves on its own into and out of
“We don’t design two dimensionally; we always design three dimensionally,” says San Francisco-based architect and Fletcher Studio principal David Fletcher. Fletcher came to that opinion after seeing the dramatic possibilities of creating architecture through video game engines rather than traditional drafting software. Since developing the island setting in the 2016 game “The Witness," he has never looked back—and he’s not the only designer using video games to draft.
More Efficient Air Conditioning Via the Sky
Air conditioning and refrigeration consume 17% of global electricity and are responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions—numbers that will multiply tenfold by 2050—but one California-based company may have found a way to keep things cool while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. SkyCool Systems has developed a passive, zero-water-loss cooling system that harnesses a previously overlooked natural resource: the sky. By coating roof-mounted panels with an advanced material the team developed that radiates a small percent of infrared light back into outer space through the sky, the team was able to cool the panels to approximately five degrees Celsius below ambient air temperature.
Scientists Can Make Kale Glow in the Dark
A team of MIT researchers recently discovered that applying firefly enzymes to kale with gentle pressure causes the plant to glow in the dark. The plant only gives off one-thousandth of the light humans need to read by and the glow only lasts three-and-a-half hours, but there’s vast potential, says MIT professor and lead study author Michael Strano. With further development, glow-in-the-dark trees and plants could take pressure off energy infrastructure by providing free, earth-friendly lighting at night.
“We developed a working theory that if machine learning algorithms can classify a complex set of thousands of handwritten symbols—such as handwritten Chinese characters—with a high degree of accuracy, then we should be able to classify the 150 components within our system and teach a machine to recognize them," said Benjamin Wilkins, Airbnb’s design technology lead. The initial tests were very successful, with the AI capable of reading the blocky sketches of different components of Airbnb’s app and translating them directly into nearly-perfect mock up. The team is continuing to refine this tech, and currently exploring other avenues of integrating this technology into app development.
Construction of Jeff Bezos’s 10,000-Year Clock Begins
The countdown to completion of the 10,000-year clock, a project backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and spearheaded by tech entrepreneur Danny Hillis, has officially begun. The clock, which makes a contemplative statement on the long-term future of humanity and Planet Earth, measures 500 feet tall and is fully mechanical, relying on thermal cycles for power. Bezos invested $42 million to construct the clock, and it will live in a hollowed-out mountain in the Sierra Diablo range in Texas.