Di seguito gli interventi pubblicati in questa sezione, in ordine cronologico.
The city of tomorrow takes to the skies in an incredible new concept from Beijing-based MAD Architects. Although its spires may look menacing, the aptly named Superstar is a completely self-sustaining city that is capable of producing all of its own power and food while recycling all of its waste. Conceived as a future-forward update to the contemporary Chinatown, the Superstar will travel the globe, supplying its host cities with energy, commerce, and cultural activities.
Looking suspiciously like a Cylon Base Star from Battlestar Galactica, the utopian Superstar is “a fusion of technology and nature, future and humanity”. MAD Architects conceived of the sparkling modern superstructure as an update to the faded facades and cluttered kitsch of Chinatowns around the globe:
“Superstar: A Mobile China Town is MAD’s response to the redundant and increasingly out-of-date nature of the contemporary Chinatown. Rather than a sloppy patchwork of poor construction and nostalgia, the superstar is a fully integrated, coherent, and above all modern upgrade of the 20th century Chinatown model.”
As a completely self-sustaining city, the Superstar will be capable of housing 15,000 people. It will grow its own food, recycle all of its waste, and produce its own power, even feeding some energy back into its host city’s grid.
The Superstar will also be capable of traveling around the globe, sharing Chinese culture with the cities in which it docks. Inside, one can experience fine Chinese cuisine, purchase quality Chinese goods, and participate in cultural events and celebrations. It will also offer health resorts, sports facilities, drinking-water lakes, and even a digital cemetery to remember those who have passed. According to MAD’s website, the first destination of the super star will be on the outskirts of Rome, where it will provide “an unexpected, ever-changing future imbedded in the Eternal Past”.
While it is questionable whether or not the full-scale Superstar will ever go on tour, visitors and residences in and around Venice are invited to visit a model at the 11th Annual Venice Bienalle.
Shanghai, the most populated city in China, is sinking at an average rate of 2-4 cm per year. Although that may not sound like much, the downward shift can cause the collapse of buildings and underground tunnels, endangering lives and costing money. Recently, the National Natural Science Foundation of China has granted funding to a Nottingham University researcher to develop a computer program to identify which buildings and other structures are moving the most and are at greatest risk of collapse.
Andrew Sowter, a mathematician and scientist at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, (UNNC) is developing software that analyzes satellite images of Shanghai over the past several years, which shows how much the land has moved across the coastal city. The program can accurately measure the land’s movement down to the millimeter. Along with researchers at Tongji University in Shanghai, Sowter is also analyzing data from the ground to confirm the satellite data.
While Shanghai is being used as a case study, several other cities in China are also sinking and could benefit from the research. Many of the sinking cities are coastal cities, such as Ningbo, which is currently constructing an underground rail system. Like Shanghai, Ningbo has a rapidly growing population and is built on water-logged land. Rapid urban development has also required groundwater to be pumped into the cities, contributing to the sinking.
In 2003, subsidence was blamed for the collapse of an eight-storey building in Shanghai’s inner-city Bund region, which is known for its iconic commercial real estate.
The pumping of groundwater to cater for a massive, growing population has been a significant contributor to subsidence. The problem has been exacerbated by the country’s decades-long building boom amid rapid urbanisation, said Sowter.
Sowter is working in collaboration with Shanghai’s Tongji University, which is gathering ground information to confirm the results of data gathered from space.
’We are advancing and refining existing computer programs so that we can identify risks with greater confidence of the accuracy of the results. Rather than just measuring the problem, we are also improving the models to map and identify priority areas,’ he said.
Sowter said that the technology he is developing can be applied to other risks associated with land, such as earthquake zones, high-risk flood areas, land deformation from mining, and glacier movements. It can, for example, help authorities prevent landslides by detecting where land is starting to move at the stage when changes are slight.
Source: PhysOrg - TheEngineer
According to AFP an american federal judge ruled on Friday that Twitter must provide information about people in contact with WikiLeaks, as ordered by the Obama Administration.
The Federal Judge in East Virginia, Theresa Carroll Buchanan refused to cancel the administration's order on Friday, which she endorsed in December, to provide information about the Twitter accounts of the Icelandic Parliament member, Birgitta Jonsdottir, of an American computer scientist, Jacob Appelbaum, and Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch employee of WikiLeaks.
She does not consider founded their fear that "the administration develops a chart of contacts that violates the freedom of expression" guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Potrivit AFP, un judecător federal american a decis vineri, că Twitter trebuie să furnizeze informatii despre persoanele aflate în contact cu Wikileaks, dupa cum a fost ordonat de către administratia Obama.
Judecătorul federal din Virginia de Est, Theresa Carroll Buchanan a refuzat vineri să anuleze ordinul administratiei, aprobata în luna decembrie, ca Twitter să furnizeze informaţii despre conturile unui membru al Parlamentului islandez, Birgitta Jonsdottir, ale unui om de stiintă american specialist in informatica, Jacob Appelbaum, si Rop Gonggrijp, un colaborator olandez al Wikileaks.
Ea nu consideră fondata frica lor că "administratia dezvoltă o diagramă de contacte care încalcă libertatea de exprimare", garantata de Primul Amendament la Constitutiei SUA.
Ford Turani for Turismo Associati .it
InterHome, a model for a home developed by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, incorporates modular custom design units and draws on standard home automation systems which have been adapted so that the house ‘learns’ and ‘adapts’ to its users’ lifestyles.
It will be unveiled at the finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup which will be held in Cairo from 3-7 July. The prototype of the home, which has been developed in a doll’s house, integrates embedded devices with the industry standard X10, so that it provides convenience and security to the home owner and also enables them to reduce energy and contribute to reducing greenhouse and carbon emissions.
InterHome incorporates an intuitive touch screen user control panel that also allows the house to be monitored and controlled using web browsers, windows mobile and any SMS-capable mobile phone.
“InterHome improves on its competitors by being modular, adaptable and able to ‘learn’ our routines,” said Johann Siau, Senior Lecturer at the University’s School of Electronic, Communication & Electrical Engineering. “The technology enables the system to learn rapidly when we need the lights on or whether we are at home or at work and how the house needs to be at certain times of the day. If we forget to lock the front door or turn off the lights, it can text us and our response can reprogramme the system.”
Through this approach, InterHome can eradicate wasted energy within UK homes and make a difference to CO2 emission statistics when installed in enough houses. The prototype is now ready to be adopted by industry and the team led by Johann Siau, has been approached by several industry companies and are in discussion with the Building Research Establishment. The other members of the team are Ellis Percival and Carol Chen.
This development in 'home-intelligence' will continue to update our systems in the future. Some day every home in the world could have a centralized computer that monitors and regulates all the data from in and around the house. By inputting the user's personal preferences and patterns, the software will be able to emerge & evolve. By doing this, the software will be able to learn from your needs and habits to reach peak efficiency for every individual. Hereby reducing energy waste, while maximizing comfort and efficiency.
Please behold, another innovative design to join the team of promising Architecture. The Envision Green Hotel designed by Richard Moreta Architecture, with interiors by Miami-based MRA Design for Hospitality Design’s Radical Innovation.
Part wind tower, part urban eco-resort, and all egg, this “lobular” structure is touted as one of the most recognizable landmarks for the city in which it would ultimately be…laid.
The Envision Green Hotel combines wind technology and resort architecture for a one-of-a-kind eco-friendly design. Shaped like a giant egg, it is currently just a concept at the moment. Submitted for Hospitality Design’s Radical Innovation competition, you never know if it’ll become more though.
Designed by Richard Moreta Architecture, the Envision Green Hotel features interiors by Miami-based MRA Design. Powered by a photovoltaic exterior sheathing, the interior is rife with fresh gardens. On the whole, this building is like a living organism.
Operating like a living organism, the Envision literally breathes through its wind and atmospheric conversion systems, which allow natural air into the interior of the building without mechanical intervention. Photovoltaic exterior sheathing provides the building’s energy, while indoor gardens at various levels of the structure act as upward extensions of the earth, creating mini-microclimates that filter the air and act as added insulation. Recycled pools of water around the structure serve as catch basins, water reservoirs, fire barriers, and indispensable decorative aquatic features. Power from the wind turbine heats the boiler and creates steam for the chiller water plant beneath the structure to cool and heat the hotel.
Within the hotel, rooms would be designed on a 4 foot multiple to conform to standard-sized materials and reduce construction waste. A high-efficiency LED system would illuminate the interiors, and non-toxic, non-off-gassing finishes would be employed. Besides the typical water-efficient fixtures, this eco resort would use recovered rainwater for flushing and irrigation. The rooms would also include a mood pad control unit that would allow each guest to control the lighting and choose groovy digital images that would reflect behind glass walls and ceilings.
To help this giant eco-egg blend even more subtly into the surrounding urban context, exterior LED curtain walls would change color throughout the night to indicate the progression of time, making the Envision glow in the night like a giant, moody Fabergé egg.
"Cornell Dots" -- brightly glowing nanoparticles -- may soon be used to light up cancer cells to aid in diagnosing and treating cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first clinical trial in humans of the new technology. It is the first time the FDA has approved using an inorganic material in the same fashion as a drug in humans.
"The FDA approval finally puts a federal approval stamp on all the assumptions we have been working under for years. This is really, really nice," said Ulrich Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, who has devoted eight years of research to developing the nanoparticles. "Cancer is a terrible disease, and my family has a long history of it. I, thus, have a particular personal motivation to work in this area."
The trial with five melanoma patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City will seek to verify that the dots, also known as C dots, are safe and effective in humans, and to provide data to guide future applications. "This is the first product of its kind. We want to make sure it does what we expect it to do," said Michelle Bradbury, M.D., radiologist at MSKCC and assistant professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
C dots are silica spheres less than 8 nanometers in diameter that enclose several dye molecules. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, about the length of three atoms in a row.) The silica shell, essentially glass, is chemically inert and small enough to pass through the body and out in the urine. For clinical applications, the dots are coated with polyethylene glycol so the body will not recognize them as foreign substances.
To make the dots stick to tumor cells, organic molecules that bind to tumor surfaces or even specific locations within tumors can be attached to the shell. When exposed to near-infrared light, the dots fluoresce much brighter than unencapsulated dye to serve as a beacon to identify the target cells. The technology, the researchers say, can show the extent of a tumor's blood vessels, cell death, treatment response and invasive or metastatic spread to lymph nodes and distant organs. The safety and ability to be cleared from the body by the kidneys has been confirmed by studies in mice at MSKCC, reported in the January 2009 issue of the journal Nano Letters (Vol. 9 No. 1).
For the human trials, the dots will be labeled with radioactive iodine, which makes them visible in PET scans to show how many dots are taken up by tumors and where else in the body they go and for how long.
"We do expect it to go to other organs," Bradbury said. "We get numbers, and from that curve derive how much dose each organ gets. And we need to find out how fast it passes through. Are they cleared from the kidney at the same rate as in mice?
One of many advantages of C dots, Bradbury noted, is that they remain in the body long enough for surgery to be completed. "Surgeons love optical," she said. "They don't need the radioactivity, but [our study] confirms what the optical signal is. As you learn that, eventually you no longer need the radioactivity."
On the other hand, she added, the dots also may serve as a carrier to deliver radioactivity or drugs to tumors. "This is step one to jump-start a process we think will do multiple things with one platform," she said.
First-generation Cornell dots were developed in 2005 by Hooisweng Ow, then a graduate student working with Wiesner. Wiesner, Ow and Kenneth Wang '77 have co-founded the company Hybrid Silica Technologies to commercialize the invention. The dots, Wiesner said, also have possible applications in displays, optical computing, sensors and such microarrays as DNA chips.
Source: Nanowerk News
A potentially ‘green’ energy storage device which will help to power electric transport is to be officially launched at The University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus (UNMC) this week.
The Sahz-UNMC Pilot Plant produces ‘supercapacitors’ which are electrochemical storage devices with high power density. They are used to improve the lifetime of the batteries in electric vehicles.
The plant has developed the new supercapacitors under the brand name Enerstora. They are cost-saving and more environmentally-friendly when used in the manufacturing of electric cars, trains and other electric transportation. The supercapacitor also has important applications in other areas like solar energy and mobile devices where extremely fast charging is a valuable feature.
The unit was established by the UNMC Faculty of Engineering with industry partner Sahz Holdings to design and manufacture the devices with the eventual aim of building a high volume manufacturing plant in Malaysia. The fabrication process for this new technology was developed in collaboration with the Chemical Engineering Department at the University Park campus in Nottingham, UK.
The plant is sponsored by the Malaysian government and the country’s former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, will conduct the official opening on Tuesday 11 January 2011. The event will also see the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Sahz and two future partners, 2M Engineering of the Netherlands and Semyung Ever Energy Co.Ltd of South Korea.
Electric vehicles and ‘green’ cars will account for up to a third of total global sales by 2020, according to a recent report from Deloitte's global manufacturing industry group. At present most electric vehicle batteries typically need replacing every three to five years. The motivation for establishing the pilot plant was to develop the supercapacitor which will extend and maximise the life of the batteries to help conserve the natural environment and global energy resources.
A low state of battery charge leads to sulphurication and stratification, both of which shorten the life of the cell. Short battery life is caused by continuous draining and charging which has a detrimental effect on the battery. By using the new supercapacitor-battery hybrid technology for energy storage in electric vehicles the battery life can be lengthened, the battery size reduced and a higher state of charge can be maintained for a longer period of time.
The pilot plant is now manufacturing Electronic Double Layer Capacitors (EDLCs) in a reproducible and economically viable way. Historically it has been difficult to scale up production to economically viable levels without losing quality and performance of the product because the equipment and processes in a large plant are significantly different to a pilot plant. The Sahz-UNMC plant is also aiming to design a system capable of predicting the yield and quality of the product when it is eventually manufactured on a large scale.
At the launch and signing ceremony Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir will be given a guided tour of the lab facilities. Leading the pilot plant at UNMC, Professor Dino Isa said:
“The project is one which is leading the market. We are gambling on the demise of hydrocarbon driven vehicles and the eventual emergence of the pure electric vehicle as the dominant means of transport in the next ten years.
“We are also looking to capitalize on the popularity of mobile devices which, as platforms and technologies converge, will require energy storage systems to deliver pulsed voltage and current that drains and eventually kills normal batteries if unaided by a supercapacitor integrated within the system. We thank the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and Sahz for their trust and insight, I personally thank the University for providing me with an environment conducive to inquisitive research, my students for their patience and hard work and not least Prof George Chen for his input during the initial stages of the project."
Nissan Motors' X-Trail Fuel Cell Vehicle, seen here in 2006. Toyota, Honda and Nissan, along with 10 Japanese energy groups including natural gas refiners and distributors, want to build 100 hydrogen filling stations by 2015 in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.
Along with 10 Japanese energy groups including natural gas refiners and distributors, the companies are aiming to build 100 filling stations by 2015 in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka, the companies said in a statement Thursday.
The automakers are making a renewed push behind Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs), which covert hydrogen into electricity and emit nothing more harmful than water vapour.
The companies say that the creation of a hydrogen supply infrastructure network is crucial as manufacturers work to reduce the production cost of hydrogen-powered vehicles in order to make them commercially viable.
"Japanese automakers are continuing to drastically reduce the cost of manufacturing such systems and are aiming to launch FCVs in the Japanese market -- mainly in the country's four major metropolitan areas -- in 2015," they said.
"With an aim to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by the transportation sector, automakers and hydrogen fuel suppliers will work together to expand the introduction of FCVs and develop the hydrogen supply network throughout Japan."
water drains from the tailpipe of an hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle. Toyota, Honda and Nissan have united with Japanese energy firms in a push to commercialise greener hydrogen fuel cell cars and build a network of fuelling stations.
The companies did not say how much they planned to invest in the project.
While all-electric vehicles such as Nissan's Leaf or hybrids like Toyota's Prius have hogged the limelight recently, fuel cells are seen as a more powerful alternative, but expensive production and a lack of a comprehensive fuelling network has been seen as prohibitive.
Toyota, pioneer of hybrids powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor, has said it plans to launch a fuel-cell car by 2015. It is applying its hybrid technology to the vehicles, swapping the petrol engine for a fuel-cell stack.
Honda in 2008 began delivering about 200 FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered cars on lease to customers in the United States, Japan and later in Europe.
A few unassuming drops of liquid locked in a very precise game of "follow the leader" could one day be found in mobile phone cameras, medical imaging equipment, implantable drug delivery devices, and even implantable eye lenses.
Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed liquid pistons, in which oscillating droplets of ferrofluid precisely displace a surrounding liquid. The pulsating motion of the ferrofluid droplets, which are saturated with metal nanoparticles, can be used to pump small volumes of liquid. The study also demonstrated how droplets can function as liquid lenses that constantly move, bringing objects into and out of focus.
These liquid pistons are highly tunable, scalable, and -- because they lack any solid moving parts -- suffer no wear and tear. The research team, led by Rensselaer Professor Amir H. Hirsa, is confident this new discovery can be exploited to create a host of new devices ranging from micro displacement pumps and liquid switches, to adaptive lenses and advanced drug delivery systems.
"It is possible to make mechanical pumps that are small enough for use in lab-on-a-chip applications, but it's a very complex, expensive proposition," said Hirsa, a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer. "Our electromagnetic liquid pistons present a new strategy for tackling the challenge of microscale liquid pumping. Additionally, we have shown how these pistons are well-suited for chip-level, fast-acting adaptive liquid lenses."
Hirsa's team developed a liquid piston that is comprised of two ferrofluid droplets situated on a substrate about the size of a piece of chewing gum. The substrate has two holes in it, each hosting one of the droplets. The entire device is situated in a chamber filled with water.
Pulses from an electromagnet provoke one of the ferrofluid droplets, the driver, to vibrate back and forth. This vibration, in turn, prompts a combination of magnetic, capillary, and inertial forces that cause the second droplet to vibrate in an inverted pattern. The two droplets create a piston, resonating back and forth with great speed and a spring-like force. Researchers can finely control the strength and speed of these vibrations by exposing the driver ferrofluid to different magnetic fields.
In this way, the droplets become a liquid resonator, capable of moving the surrounding liquid back and forth from one chamber to another. Similarly, the liquid piston can also function as a pump. The shift in volume, as a droplet moves, can displace from the chamber an equal volume of the surrounding liquid. Hirsa said he can envision the liquid piston integrated into an implantable device that very accurately releases tiny, timed doses of drugs into the body of a patient.
As the droplets vibrate, their shape is always changing. By passing light through these droplets, the device is transformed into a miniature camera lens. As the droplets move back and forth, the lens automatically changes its focal length, eliminating the usual chore of manually focusing a camera on a specific object. The images are captured electronically, so software can be used to edit out any unfocused frames, leaving the user with a stream of clear, focused video.
The speed and quality of video captured from these liquid lenses has surpassed 30 hertz, which is about the quality of a typical computer web cam. Liquid lenses could mean lighter camera lenses that require only a fraction of the energy demanded by today's digital cameras. Along with handheld and other electronic devices, and homeland security applications, Hirsa said this technology could even hold the key to replacement eye lenses that can be fine-tuned using only high-powered magnets.
"There's really a lot we can do with these liquid pistons. It's an exciting new technology with great potential, and we're looking forward to moving the project even further along," he said.
You might expect to find our brightest hope for sending astronauts to other planets in Houston, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, inside a high-security multibillion-dollar facility. But it’s actually a few miles down the street, in a large warehouse behind a strip mall. This bland and uninviting building is the private aerospace start-up Ad Astra Rocket Company, and inside, founder Franklin Chang Díaz is building a rocket engine that’s faster and more powerful than anything NASA has ever flown before. Speed, Chang Díaz believes, is the key to getting to Mars alive. In fact, he tells me as we peer into a three-story test chamber, his engine will one day travel not just to the Red Planet, but to Jupiter and beyond.
I look skeptical, and Chang Díaz smiles politely. He’s used to this reaction. He has been developing the concept of a plasma rocket since 1973, when he become a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His idea was this: Rocket fuel is a heavy and inefficient propellant. So instead he imagined building a spaceship engine that uses nuclear reactors to heat plasma to two million degrees. Magnetic fields would eject the hot gas out of the back of the engine. His calculations showed that a spaceship using such an engine could reach 123,000 miles per hour—New York to Los Angeles in about a minute.
Chang Díaz has spent nearly his entire career laboring to convince anyone who would listen that his idea will work, but that career has also taken several turns in the process. One day in 1980, he was pitching the unlimited potential of plasma rockets to yet another MIT professor. The professor listened patiently. “It sounds like borderline science fiction, I know,” Chang Díaz was saying. Then the telephone rang. The professor held up a finger. “Why, yes, he’s right here,” the surprised engineer said into the receiver, then handed it over. “Franklin, it’s for you.” NASA was on the line. The standout student from Costa Rica had been selected to become an astronaut, the first naturalized American ever chosen for NASA’s most elite corps. “I was so excited, I was practically dancing,” Chang Díaz recalls. “I almost accidentally strangled my professor with the telephone cord.”
All astronauts have big dreams, but Franklin Chang Díaz’s dreams are huge. As a college student, as a 25-year astronaut and as an entrepreneur, his single animating intention has always been to build—and fly—a rocketship to Mars. “Of course I wanted to be an astronaut, and of course I want to be able to fly in this,” he says of his plasma-thrust rocket. “I mean, I just can’t imagine not flying in a rocket I would build.” And now he’s close. In four years Chang Díaz will deploy his technology for the first time in space, when his company, aided by up to $100 million in private funding, plans to test a small rocket on the International Space Station. If this rocket, most commonly known by its loose acronym, Vasimr, for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, proves itself worthy, he has an aggressive timetable for constructing increasingly bigger plasma-thrust space vehicles.
Chang Díaz describes his dreams in relatively practical terms. He doesn’t intend to go straight to Mars. First he will develop rockets that perform the more quotidian aspects of space maintenance needed by private companies and by the government: fixing, repositioning, or reboosting wayward satellites; clearing out the ever-growing whirl of “space junk” up there; fetching the stuff that can be salvaged. “Absolutely, fine, I’m not too proud to say it. We’re basically running a trucking business here,” he says. “We’ll be sort of a Triple-A tow truck in space. We’re happy to be a local garbage collector in space. That’s a reliable, sustainable, affordable business, and that’s how you grow.”
Eventually, though, Chang Díaz intends to build more than an extraterrestrial trucking business, and his ambitions happen to coincide with Barack Obama’s call for a privatized space industry that supports exploration well beyond the moon. “We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history,” Obama said in a major NASA-related address earlier this year at Kennedy Space Center. “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth.”
Such a belief may seem overly ambitious, but the goals of aviation have always seemed that way. In October 1903, for instance, astronomer Simon Newcomb, the founding president of the American Astronomical Society, spelled out a series of reasons why the concept of powered flight was dubious. “May not our mechanicians,” he asked, “be ultimately forced to admit that aerial flight is one of the great class of problems with which man can never cope, and give up all attempts to grapple with it?” Less than two months later, the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. And in the 1920s a young man named Frank Whittle was coming up with drawings for a theoretical engine very different from the propeller-driven kind, one that might scoop in air through turbines and fire it through a series of “jet” nozzles. “Very interesting, Whittle, my boy,” said one of his professors of aeronautical engineering at the University of Cambridge. “But it will never work.”
More on this: PopSci