All posts by robotchampion

CNN profile of a couple moving from a 1,500 to 168-square foot home

There are many who dream of owning the smallest home they can find; a strong reaction to those who dream of owning a two-story mini-mansion. Here is a CNN profile of a young couple who did just that – moving their two kids, cat and dog into a 168 square foot home (on 3 acres of land):

“The things we have are beautiful, enriching our tiny space. We got rid of so much and kept the beautiful things,” Hazi Berzins said. “Freeing ourselves from consumer debt and living mortgage-free has cleared the clutter to help us see what is truly important: our relationships, our happiness, each moment.”

And Mayor Michael Bloomberg agrees – or he wants to improve the city’s studios – as he announced a contest to design and build 1.8 million studios in Manhattan. Each unit is to be less than 300-square feet and contain a kitchen and bathroom.

New Yorkers love their studios, young quirky families love their tiny homes, how about you – do you enjoy your small or large space?

 

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Scientists discover the motion of sperm cells using 3-D technology

If nature finds the best way, then move in a spiral pattern to get there the quickest, from the UCLA Newsroom:

The team developed a lensless computational imaging platform that accurately tracked more than 24,000 individual sperm cells in a large volume. This involved observing the individual rotations of each sperm cell, including helical movement patterns, rotation speed, and linear and curved distances traveled.

90% of them move in a right-handed spiral – damn I’m left-handed – and they move fast for microscopic entities, 20-100 micrometers/second.

That’s a big difference in speed…one sperm cell could be 5x faster than his brother.

 

Image demonstrating three-dimensional motion of human sperm cells. (source: UCLA)

R.I.P. Tom Sims – a short video about his life

Tom Sims is a legend in all board sports. He had the largest skateboard company in the world – in the early 80s. Built the first snowboard when he was 12, and created half-pipe and freestyle snowboarding, and the first professional snowboard.

A 25-minute short video covers his early years, from Vice’s Powder & Rails:

 

 

The Periodic Table as Illustrated Cartoons

In Bunpei Yorifuji’s new book, Wonderful Life with the Elements, each element in the periodic table has personality. From the scary poison of Beryllium to the battery power of Lithium. And not to forget Carbon:

It’s wonderful book and worth buying for only $10. More images from the book are available at Brain Pickings.

I also recommend Bunpei’s past work, the humorous Tokyo Metro “etiquette” posters – Do It At Home.

 

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European Solar Decathlon – Solar home creates twice the energy it uses

Our homes were never designed for energy efficiency. So what happens when designers, architects, and engineers approach the problem?

From the European Solar Decathlon:

“The house generates twice as much energy in Hungarian conditions and three times as much in Madrid as the house itself spends,” the Odooproject team states. “This amount is able to serve two other house’s needs, or provide a 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) long travel distance – daily – for an electric car.”

Designs like these bring us closer to taking homes off the electrical grid. And that is something I’ve heard engineers say is the solution, and the where the trend is going.

Photos of the home:

The central idea is the home is 100% energy-efficient. In winter that means the slightest amount of heat from the sun gets trapped in the house, and can provide the majority of winter heating.

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Climate change is now an acceptable conversation topic

From a Calgary Herald report:

“The Holy Grail is figuring out how to get the public engaged on this issue. The problem is that the typical output of climate studies is statistical information that’s impenetrable to most people,” said Karen Akerlof. “If you can help people feel they’ve actually experienced what’s happening, they may be able to better acknowledge the risks.”

Researchers found 27 per cent of people felt they had personally experienced global warming…(this feeling) was so meaningful, it positively predicted concern for local risks related to climate change: think forest fires, drought, changes to animal and plant species, and public health.

This is obvious but still worth reporting because I’m finding people more open to the question, do you think this is global warming?

Mostly I receive warm responses and pleasant discussions. Which is so different from years ago when it would spark political arguments or a heated debate on the merits of being environmental.

I want to urge you to ask the question and discuss it with people. You may find yourself engaged in a charming conversation. And maybe pass along a green tip or receive one in return.

 

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Help the new PBS web series – A Moment of Science – go viral!

I’m excited for the new PBS web series, A Moment of Science. It will feature short video clips on YouTube discussing basic science concepts. I love the idea of skipping television and going straight for the web audience. But I think it all depends on the videos going viral.

They are off to a decent start with 300 Facebook likes, 70 plusses on Google+, and 10 retweets in 24 hours. But I think they need our help. Show your support for science by clicking one – or all – of the links to like, retweet, or share.

Here is the first video, enjoy!

 

 

Research: cheaper food means less nutrients

A few weeks ago, I shared a study that found nutrients in the U.S. food supply are declining. Which could explain why millions of Americans, who prefer to be thin, are overeating to get more nutrients.

Another study found that industrial farming techniques – including the use of petroleum-based fertilizer – reduces nutrient levels in food, while dramatically increasing yields. This means we have abundant cheap food with lowered nutrient levels:

This article summarizes three kinds of evidence pointing toward declines during the last 50 to 100 years in the concentration of some nutrients in vegetables and perhaps also in fruits. It has been noted since the 1940s that yield increases produced by fertilization, irrigation, and other environmental means tend to decrease the concentrations of minerals in plants.

Jarrell and Beverly (1981) reviewed the evidence for this well-known “dilution effect.” Although their review has been cited over 180 times (60 times from 2000 on), few mentions of the dilution effect contain a reference, suggesting that the effect is widely regarded as common knowledge.

Common among scientists perhaps, but the public is unaware. When I share this among friends and readers there is a strong disbelief, with the most common response being - food is cheaper. Yes it is, because it has been hollowed out like a pumpkin and there’s nothing left on the inside.

And that makes it a struggle to get the message out. How do I explain the dilution effect to a public obsessed with everything but this – from diet programs to food labels to coupon cutting that encourages cheaper food?

 

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Forget critic reviews – enjoy the beautifully written narrations of AllMusic, AllMovies, & AllGames

One of the joys a Pandora listener experiences is hearing a song for the first time. That moment when the music genome offers up his ideal genetic match from an artist he’s never heard before. And when he clicks the bio to learn more, the AllMusic database loads up a charming piece of prose:

Undeniably ambitious, melodically exquisite, and flush with enough perfectly rendered fantasy metal clichés to feed an army of bards, druids, monks, paladins, and rangers as they set forth on a great cola-and-pizza/20-sided-die-fueled adventure, Iron Maiden’s seventh studio album is the sh$t.

Even Iron Maiden deserves charming prose. And this beautiful literature is found all across Pandora with even more on the AllMusic website. Where the curious fan can browse through any genre, mood, or theme that delights him. It’s such a rewarding experience that I recommend clearing up a few hours and diving in.

This experience is not limited to music, for there is also AllMovie and AllGame. And both provide endearing compositions:

The story in Chimpanzee centers on Oscar, a young simian born into a large family of 35 others, and eager to learn the ways of life in the jungle. As Oscar’s mother Isha teaches her newborn how to find food and avoid dangerous predators, the leader of their family, Freddy, vigilantly defends their territory from his rival Scar.

 

Atari’s dominance in the game industry was challenged by a company originally founded to sell leather supplies. Promising to “Bring the Arcade Experience Home,” Coleco released its much-anticipated ColecoVision in 1982, making history by firing the first shot in the inaugural console wars.

 

All three sites are a delight for any fan, and worth remembering for any purchase or move rental. I leave you with one more review for Ravi Coltrane’s newest album, to inspire you to go turn on some music:

Despite the metaphysical suggestion in Spirit Fiction’s title, this is Ravi Coltrane’s most cerebral, process-oriented recording to date. There is an abundance of emotion and sensual detail, most of it expressed gently, with the confidence — and authority — of a veteran bandleader.

 

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