Eco tips, Environmental Issues, News

Giant 500 km wide ocean whirlpools affect climate

climate whirlpool

Giant whirlpools or mesoscale eddies, as described in scientific literature, can grow between 100 km and 500 km in diameter, forming around islands where ocean currents become disrupted. These whirlpools carry immense amounts of water and heat, but up until now they’ve been largely ignored in climate models. A novel research, however, found that energy dispersed by the giant eddies shouldn’t be neglected, after measuring for the first time the extent of their effects. The researchers from the University of Hawaii used satellite data collected between 1992 to 2010 to identify large eddies, then correlated their location with data pertaining to things like temperature, shape or volume retrieved from floating sensors….

Eco tips, Materials

Silly Putty ingredient helps improve batteries

Silicon polymer and battery used for the research. Photo: University of California

When you think about Silly Putty toys, the last thing that comes to mind is high-tech. A group of researchers, however, used a novel trick to incorporate  an ingredient in Silly Putty to improve lithium-ion battery life between charges by three times the industry standard. For what’s it worth, Silly Putty is actually one of the most fascinating man-made materials. One of the most important resources needed for World War II war production was rubber. It was essential for tires (which kept the trucks moving) and boots (which kept the soldiers moving). Out of this need, scientists were charged with developing a synthetic version of rubber. In 1943, engineer James Wright…

Climate, Eco tips, News, World Problems

West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is irreversible; to cause 10 feet sea level rise

Various measurements have captured the West Antarctic ice sheet changing very rapidly in the region where it flows into the Amundsen Sea. Credit Landsat

The  West Antarctic Ice Sheet , a massive system of glaciers, is collapsing as a result of glacier melting (global warming). The process is most likely irreversible and cause a global sea lever rise of at least 10 feet, a pair of independent studies conclude. A warmer planet gives way to rising oceans Previously, the two-mile-thick (3.2 kilometers) glacier system was thought to last for at least a couple thousand years in the future, but new research reports faster melting times and more rapid displacement of ice into the ocean. Namely, NASA researchers found after shifting through 40 years worth of observational data that  six big glaciers in the Amundsen Sea…

Eco tips, Science

You shouldn’t forget about recycling bathroom items

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When home recycling is concerned, the kitchen reigns supreme. Here is where most of the waste gets disposed and where all the recycling bins can be found, but there’s another important center filled with recyclable items in your home: the bathroom. Research shows that even among families that are consistent recyclers, only 20% of Americans recycle bathroom items. It’s not certain why most people overlook bathroom items, like containers and packaging and other materials that can usually be recycled, but what’s important to note is that these items comprise a healthy chunk of your entire recyclable waste. What bathroom items can you recycle 1. Shampoo, bodywash and mouthwash bottles. These…

Eco tips, Green Living, Materials, News

3D printer used to build 10 homes in one day in China

China_printed_house

Say what you will, but the Chinese are clearly the fastest builders in the world, though sometimes quick haste makes to waste. A while ago, I wrote about how a Chinese company wants to build the tallest skyscraper in the world in just 90 days. Really crazy stuff, but now another Chinese company, with many years of experience working with 3D printers, plan to revolutionize the way fast constructions are being made. To demonstrate their concept, the Suzhou-based construction materials firm Winsun built 10 homes, albeit modest looking, in only a day using a massive, specially design 3D printer. Instead of a smooth polymer like in the case of conventional…

Eco tips, Environmental Issues, News, Technology

Condensing towers could make water from thin air in the driest places on Earth

water_tower_ethiopia

The Namib desert is one of the vastest and driest deserts in the world. There is little water to be found here, so the few critters calling the desert home had to learn to adapt in order to survive. One particular beetle species stands out through the ingenuity with which it manages to quench its thirst – it doesn’t need to find water, it gathers it. Because temperature variations are very high in the Namib (the day time is scorching how, while nights can be freezing), the beetle condenses water on its back until drops roll down into the insect’s mouth. Remarkably simple and effective. What can remote communities with little access…

Eco tips, News, Technology

Toyota confirms confirms fuel cell launch for 2015; zero local emissions and 500-mile range

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Toyota has officially announced that it will launch a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car in 2015, but said sales volumes would be limited. The company announced they will use a high-density fuel stack which will have the potential to cover 500 miles on a single fuel tank. The technology will take a while to be implemented and accepted by the public, says European president, Didier Leroy. “To help that happen we will bring a reasonable number of cars to Europe. The volume will be limited, but they will be visible on the streets,” he said. However, while this sounds like a really awesome idea, I have some doubts. Converting fuels to hydrogen for fuel cells…

Eco tips, Environment

This sealed bottle garden hasn’t been opened since 1972 – still doing just fine

david-latimer-sealed-bottle-garden

It’s 1960, a nice Sunday, Easter day. David Latimer decides to do something special to mark this day, and he starts a bottle garden in his ten gallon carboy. He poured in some compost, a quarter pint of water and then, carefully added some spiderwort seedling (Tradescantia) using a piece of water. He then placed the bottle garden by a sun-filled window in his home leaving photosynthesis to do its thing. 12 years after that, he opened his garden and gave it another drink of water – and it’s been closed ever since – since 1972! So how does this work exactly, how come the plants are still fine? Is there…

Eco tips, News

Middle school student shows the US government could save $400 million by switching fonts

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How important are details, when it comes to saving money? Any accountant will tell you: really important. A middle school student in Pittsburg thought the same thing – he discovered that the government could save $400 million dollars just by change the typeface it uses. Inspired by a school project on saving ink, he calculated that his school could reduce ink use by a quarter simply by changing their typeface from Times New Roman to Garamond. If his school could reduce ink use by 25% by dropping TNR, then so could every other school, right? The figure might vary a little, but that seems like a safe assumption. Apply that…

Biology, Eco tips, Environmental Issues, Green Living, News

Solar powered toilet locks greenhouse gases and increases crop yields

The solar char toilet developed at University of Boulder Colorado.

One of the 16 teams involved in a collaborative project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to help some of the 2.5 billion people around the world lacking safe and sustainable sanitation recently unveiled their innovative design: a solar-powered toilet that treats solid waste by effectively carbonizing it. The concentrated solar power delivers high energy in the waste chamber, sterilizing it and transforming it into biochar – a highly porous charcoal used to both increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide. Karl Linden, professor of environmental engineering at University of Colorado Boulder, and colleagues developed a next-generation toilet destined for poor and unaccessible areas where waste…