Date archives "December 2018"

Hydropower From Water Pipes

Portland can turn on the tap and find both water and an energy source in the same place.

Once the installation is fully operational, it’s expected to generate $2,000,000 worth of renewable energy capacity over twenty years, based on “an average of 1,100 megawatt hours of energy per year, enough electricity to power up to 150 homes.” The money generated will be used for system maintenance, recouping the cost of construction, and  split among the project’s investors.

 

New Year Rendezvous With Ultima Thule

NASA's New Horizons Ready for Historic Flyby of Ultima Thule in the Kuiper Belt

If all goes well, New Horizons will zip by Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day at 12:33 a.m. EST (0533 GMT) at a whopping 39,000 mph (62,764 km/h). At its closest point, New Horizons will be 2,200 miles (3,540 km) from Ultima Thule. That’s about the distance between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., with Ultima Thule appearing about as large to New Horizons as the full moon does to observers on Earth, Stern said. 

The stakes are high. It takes 6 hours and 8 minutes for a signal to reach Earth from New Horizons. A roundtrip for a signal is just over half a day: 12 hours and 15 minutes. So New Horizons will have to work on its own during the actual rendezvous, just as it did at Pluto.

 

Poster courtesy SpaceArtTravelBureau.com

Far Out Dwarf Planet

The tiny planet is called 2018 VG18  and it’s about 3.5 as far away as Pluto, some 18 billion kilometers (11.2 billion miles) away. That’s more than 100 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun — and about the same distance (the boundary of the solar system) where NASA probe Voyager 2 reached interstellar space.

 

Artists With Day Jobs

In Chicago, members of a punk rock band called The Bollweevils have been balancing their conventional day jobs — as a physician, a principal, an electrician and a college administrator — with their unconventional hobby for more than two decades. Reporter Jay Shefsky from Chicago PBS Station WTTW has their story.

 

TREEmail

Melbourne gave 70,000 trees email addresses so people could report on their condition. But instead people are writing love letters, existential queries and sometimes just bad puns. Read the weird, funny and philosophical emails that people are sending to Melbourne’s trees.

 

102 Year Old Skydiver Jumps For Charity

Oldest skydiver World Record Skydive - Irene O'Shea - SA Skydiving
“It was very clear up there and the weather was good, but it was very cold up there.”
“Irene became the oldest skydiver in the world at 102 years, 194 days,” SA Skydiving, the company that coordinated her jump, wrote on YouTube, “raising awareness and money for MND South Australia to help find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.”

Deep Carbon Observatory finds massive subterranean biosphere

Despite extreme heat, no light, minuscule nutrition and intense pressure, scientists estimate this subterranean biosphere is teeming with between 15bn and 23bn tonnes of micro-organisms, hundreds of times the combined weight of every human on the planet.

Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory say the diversity of underworld species bears comparison to the Amazon or the Galápagos Islands, but unlike those places the environment is still largely pristine because people have yet to probe most of the subsurface.

 

The Prison-To-Farm Pipeline

How Atlanta Is Turning Ex-Cons Into Urban Farmers
In Atlanta, an ambitious activist hopes teaching young people farming skills will break the cycle of incarceration. …
The “vision brings together two important facets of the modern urban revival—the locavore food movement that has become a fixture of gentrifying cities across the country, and an awakening recognition that gentrification was leaving behind, or even displacing, a significant portion of the population. Simultaneously, Gangstas to Growers also teaches young people the importance of building wealth in historically disinvested communities in Atlanta. Despite Atlanta’s reputation as a Black Mecca, the city’s low-income children have less of a shot to move up the income ladder compared with other major American cities.”

 

These “Karatsu-Yaki” Teacups and Saucers are Edible Rice Cakes

One evening, Tsurumaru, 46, was imbibing and admiring his Karatsu-yaki sake set when he noticed that an unglazed section at the base of the ceramics had the appearance of senbei dough.

He decided there and then to try his hand at making senbei that looked the same as Karatsu-yaki as he had never heard of them being inspired by traditional pottery.

 

Tourists going crackers over pottery studio?s edible ?teacups??The Asahi Shimbun

Souvenir hunters looking for something different now have an item they can really sink their teeth into: rice crackers designed as delicate porcelain teacups.

At first glance, one wouldn’t expect the “Karatsu-yaki tohen senbei” to be edible, given that they look like prized Karatsu-yaki tableware.

Perhaps just as odd is that they are sold at Nakazato Tarouemon Tobo, a famed Karatsu-yaki pottery studio founded here more than four centuries ago.

The studio commissioned confectionery maker and wholesaler Tsurumaru to learn the molding and painting techniques for Karatsu-yaki pottery to create the special rice crackers.

The senbei are displayed near the entrance to the studio, each priced at 300 yen ($2.60), along with dainty “mamezara” small plates. The crackers are based on four representative patterns of Karatsu-yaki, including plant-themed “e-Karatsu” and “Chosen-Karatsu” (Korean Karatsu), which features rice-straw ash and iron-based glazes in perfect harmony.

Header image: Koichi Anzai

In the future, there are ‘Better Worlds’

 

Better Worlds is partly inspired by Stephenson’s fiction anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future as well as Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, a 2015 “visionary fiction” anthology that is written by a diverse array of social activists and edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown. Their premise was simple: whenever we imagine a more equitable, sustainable, or humane world, we are producing speculative fiction, and this creates a “vital space” that is essential to forward progress.

The stories of Better Worlds are not intended to be conflict-free utopias or Pollyanna-ish paeans about how tech will solve everything; many are set in societies where people face challenges, sometimes life-threatening ones. But all of them imagine worlds where technology has made life better and not worse, and characters find a throughline of hope. We hope these stories will offer you the same: inspiration, optimism, or, at the very least, a brief reprieve that makes you feel a little bit better about what awaits us in the future — if we find the will to make it so. 

More: https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/5/18055980/better-worlds-science-fiction-short-stories-video