UAE To Build Mars-Like Metropolis For Space Study

The future is closer than ever before, and it’s brighter than we expected. Experts are optimistic about the expansion of the AI universe and it seems technology may not be killing us after all. With the wave of new technologies comes grand efforts by nations to advance society. In particular, the UAE is planning to build a Mars-like metropolis to prepare humankind for its potential march into space.

A team will live inside the experimental city for a year, which will recreate the conditions of the Red Planet. Scientists will work in laboratories dedicated to investigating self-sufficiency in energy, food and water for life on Mars.

Looks like preparations for an impending apocalypse are finally coming to fruition. Or perhaps we’re just being cautious. The dome-shaped buildings will simulate Mars’ environment down to the degree. Developers will also erect a museum and educational spaces.

“We believe in the potential of space exploration, and in collaborating with global partners and leaders in order to harness the findings of this research and movement that seeks to meet people’s needs and improve quality of life on earth,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid of Dubai.

The UAE hopes to build an initial settlement on Mars within the coming century. Will you be among the first to experience life on another planet?

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Island of Trash May Be Recognized As A Country

Massachusetts has become the first state to transform its abundance of trash into an energy hub. Other groups are working in smaller scales to refurbish waste into furniture, among other things. However, most seem to be ignoring the elephant in the room or, rather, the floating pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean. The Trash Isles, roughly the size of France, if not removed, may soon be recognized as an independent country.

Advocates of the Trash Isles receiving statehood argue that the island has (ever-growing) borders, and would form a government if needed… They’ve enlisted designer Mario Kerkstra to create a flag, a passport, currency (which would be called “Debris”), and stamps.

So, technically, the floating island of waste qualifies as a legitimate nation. But why go through the trouble? And why, specifically, is former U.S. president Al Gore rallying behind it?

“Ultimately, we want to shrink this nation… Let’s come up with biodegradable materials, let’s add a price on carbon, as well as laws and regulations to stop this wasteful practice of just throwing everything away and doing everything we can to create a circular economy.” [says Gore]

As with most bold gestures regarding the environment, it’s all about awareness. After all, who wouldn’t be moved by a country built upon trash?


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Eco-Box Provides Clean Water And Renewable Energy

Realizing the effects of climate change has encouraged new methods of producing clean energy. Kenya is turning human waste into cooking fuel. Michelin is manufacturing an airless, biodegradable tire. Now, an Italian startup is distributing an eco-box that provides water and power to remote areas across the world.

The box itself is a simple container, measuring six by six by six feet. With solar panels on top and water treatment inside, it can help remote communities with both off-grid energy and easily accessible filtered water.

Off Grid Box’s container can provide an entire family of four with filtered water for just 12 cents. A single unit can distribute battery packs to nearly 300 families. Each pack can run three LED lights for up to 4 hours and fully charge two mobile phones.

The new business model is getting a thorough test in Rwanda, where the startup plans to install units in 18 villages. The government has commissioned 14 contractors to work on rural electrification, and Off Grid Box is partnered with three of them so far. By 2020, it hopes to be serving 420,000 end-customers.

The company has yet to find its rhythm in terms of sales, but Off Grid Box’s future looks bright. Conceivably, it’s time for big buyers to care less about trivial machines and start thinking about the technology poorer communities need.

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Modified Metal Can Purify Water In Minutes

Modern day-technologies have come as far as being able to detect water pollution in large scales. Filtering lakes and rivers, on the other hand, is a different story. Researchers at the Edith Cowan University in Australia have recently come up with a potential solution. By modifying the atomic structure of iron, they created a metal that can purify water in minutes.

Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering was able to change the atomic structure of iron to form what is known as metallic glass.

A thin strip of the iron-based metallic glass… can remove impurities such as dyes or heavy metals from even highly polluted water in just minutes.

The material is not only cheaper to produce — it doesn’t create iron sludge, which iron powder does. The metallic glass is also reusable up to 20 times, whereas most wastewater treatments are disposed of immediately. Apparently, the product is already in demand.

“We have already had significant interest from companies in both China and Australia who are keen to work with us to develop this technology, including Ausino Drilling Services, whose clients include Rio Tinto and the Aluminum Corporation of China.”

Researchers are targeting use towards the mining and textile industries, both of which produce large amounts of water. Now that’s rock and roll — or should I say heavy metal?

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Floating Islands To Sustain Rising Sea Levels

According to recent studies, by 2100, parts of Asia may be too hot to live in. With climate change a harsh truth, we’re doing everything we can to reverse it. We’re planting a record-breaking number of trees and even manufacturing food from energy. But others are preparing for the reality that a potential apocalypse is soon to come. In fact, a team at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands has built prototypes for floating islands to sustain rising sea levels.

“As sea levels rise, raising dikes and reclaiming land are perhaps no longer an effective solution. An innovative alternative that fits with the Dutch maritime tradition is floating ports and cities.”

The flexible island can generate and store sustainable energy, cultivate food, and support houses. So far, it has been tested to withstand varying types of weather and succeeded.

The next set of technical challenges the Marin team faces includes working out how islands will be able to withstand winds and currents, how they can best be interconnected and anchored, and the effect of wave motion on those living on it.

Seeing that 70% of the planet’s surface area is water, floating islands make a lot of sense. With the impending rise of Earth’s heat index, perhaps it’s time to get over our sea sickness and jump aboard.

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Swimming Robot Can Detect Water Pollution

There is no denying the value of robots. They have not only helped us perform difficult tasks like surgery — they have also assisted in data gathering and analysis. This swimming robot developed in Switzerland can detect water pollution and wirelessly send out information in real time.

The robotic eel is outfitted with sensors that make it able to test the water for changes in conductivity and temperature as well as signs of toxins. The robot is made of several modules, each containing a small electric motor and different sensors. The modular design allows researchers to add or take from its length and change the robot’s make up as needed for each task.

Not only are these robotic “eels” more efficient than manual measurement stations — they don’t disturb a lake’s inhabitants. They are also advanced enough to calculate biological changes. Bacteria in these sensors easily recognize toxins.

For instance, the bacteria will luminesce when exposed to even very low concentrations of mercury. Luminometers measure the light given off by the bacteria and that information is transmitted to a central hub for analysis.

As taken from its namesake, the robot can slither towards the polluting source in any body of water. While they are human creations, it seems about time to give robots some credit!

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Wearable Hydration System Is Great For Runners

When it comes to tracking one’s health, there is a gadget for every fitness buff in the field. There is a technology for monitoring nearly anything, whether as part of one’s clothing or used directly on the skin. What we sometimes forget are the humbler devices that contribute directly to our fitness routines. This slick wearable hydration system called Wetsleeve may not be high-tech, but it’s a great tool for runners.

The deceptively simple concept — a forearm-length wrap that comes in three sizes and encloses a fluid-holding compartment —has several innovative design features.

The reservoir, which holds 12 fluid ounces, fits within the zippered upper portion of the sleeve and is detachable for refills. The silicone mouthpiece of the reservoir sits just above the wrist, making drinking easy.

Even better, the water stays cold for at least 30 minutes — the perfect amount of time for a jog. Additionally, Wetsleeve has compartments to store small items such as house keys. Creator Dave Herring also believes Wetsleeve will have a positive environmental impact, because the device is refillable.

“Every day, I see so many empty plastic water bottles — especially on the beach. Anything we can do to reduce that is a good thing.”

Cheers to that, Dave!

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Grow 5 Acres Of Produce In Just 40 Feet

The world of farming has seen a fair share of drawbacks. Pests, droughts, and floods have all, at some point, plagued a land-full of crops. Of course, farming isn’t necessarily easy–but it can be. Local Roots’ container farms can grow up to 5 acres of produce using only 5 to 20 gallons of water daily. And they’re only 40 feet long.

Local Roots’… TerraFarms grow produce twice as fast as a traditional farm, all while using 97 percent less water and zero pesticides or herbicides. They can grow as much food as could be grown on three to five acres. They’re able to do this thanks to LED lights tuned to specific wavelengths and intensities, and sensor systems monitoring water, nutrient, and atmospheric conditions.

Not only that–you can set up and harvest crops in just a nifty 4 weeks! TerraFarms are like Legos in that they are stackable and space-efficient. They can also exist pretty much anywhere, whether in a parking lot or warehouse.

Local Roots’ technology could one day allow astronauts to consume fresh produce in space. Their growing systems could offer a food source on long-term, deep space missions.

That’s pretty spectacular. Or should I say intergalactic?

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Water Fabric Is Now In Fashion

A number of big brands have found ways to turn trash into fashion. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have gone back to basics. In an attempt to mimic spider silk, they produced hydrogel, an eco-friendly water fiber with the potential to revolutionize fabrics.

Hydrogel consists of about 2% cellulose and silica… suspended in water with some molecules that are shaped like tiny bracelets, called Cucurbiturils. These chemicals… hold the cellulose and silica together, allowing long, extremely thin fibers to be pulled from the gel.

The water evaporates shortly after the fibers are drawn out of the hydrogel, leaving behind a silken strand that is stronger than [most materials]. The strings also work like bungee cords, in some cases having a property of energy absorption called “damping capacity” that exceeds natural silks.

In friendlier terms, hydrogel produces fabrics that are pretty darn strong. The process uses non-hazardous solvents and demands minimal energy. Unique properties from its molecules also detect toxins and treat waste waters.

For anyone into sustainable fashion, this could shake up the textile industry. That’s what I call super science!

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