Biofashion in Colombia 

I found this photograph one day and vowed to find out more about its origins. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information to fill in the gaps, but I believe there is an annual Biofashion show in Cali, Colombia. Designers make exciting creations composed only from plants, natural and recycled materials. Quite stunning!

You may read more here.

Glimpses of Biofashion show 2016 in Cali, Colombia
Reuters

 

imgglimpses-biofashion-show-2016-cali-colombia
Reuters
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A model presents a creation during the Biofashion show, which features designs made from plants, recycled and natural materials, in Cali, Colombia, November 19, 2016. Reuters
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Floating Farms of the Future


This is an excerpt from an article appearing in the August 20, 2016, Science News with the headline, “Quenching society’s thirst: Desalination may soon turn a corner, from rare to routine.” 

Coastal crops

When Khaled Moustafa looks at a beach, he doesn’t just see a place for sunning and surfing. The biologist at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris sees the future of farming.

In the April issue of Trends in Biotechnology, Moustafa proposed that desalination could supply irrigation water to colossal floating farms. Self-sufficient floating farms could bring agriculture to arid coastal regions previously inhospitable to crops. The idea, while radical, isn’t too farfetched, given recent technological advancements, Moustafa says.

Floating farms would lay anchor along coastlines and suck up seawater, he proposes. A solar panel–powered water desalination system would provide freshwater to rows of cucumbers, tomatoes or strawberries stacked like a big city high-rise inside a “blue house” (that is, a floating greenhouse).

Water desalination could allow farming to take to the sea. The idea sparked the imagination of a Spanish architecture firm, which mocked up an elaborate floating farm complex (illustration). The triple-decker structure would include solar panels on top, crops at midlevel and fish farming on the lower level.

SMART FLOATING FARMS

Each floating farm would stretch 300 meters long by 100 meters wide, providing about 3 square kilometers of cultivable surface over only three-tenths of a square kilometer of ocean, Moustafa says. The farms could even be mobile, cruising around the ocean to transport crops and escape bad weather.

Such a portable and self-contained farming solution would be most appealing in dry coastal regions that get plenty of sunshine, such as the Arabian Gulf, North Africa and Australia.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a silly idea,” Voutchkov says. “But it’s an idea that can’t get a practical implementation in the short term. In the long term, I do believe it’s a visionary idea.”

Floating farms may come with a large price tag, Moustafa admits. Still, expanding agriculture should “be more of a priority than building costly football stadiums or indoor ski parks in the desert,” he argues.

Whether or not farming will ever take to the seas, new desalination technologies will transform the way society quenches its thirst. More than 300 million people rely on desalination for at least some of their daily water, and that number will only grow as needs rise and new materials and techniques improve the process.

“Desalination can sometimes get a rap for being energy intensive,” Dave says. “But the immediate benefits of having access to water that would not otherwise be there are so large that desalination is a technology that we will be seeing for a long time into the future.”

 

The Hottest Year on Record … 2016

The scorching temperatures mean 2016 is all but certain to be the hottest year ever recorded, beating the previous hottest year in 2015, which itself beat 2014. This run of three record years is also unprecedented and, without climate change, would be a one in a million chance. Scaife says: “Including this year so far, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have been since 2000 – it’s a shocking statistic.”

Shattered records show climate change is an emergency today, scientists warn

Unprecedented temperature levels mean more heatwaves, flooding, wildfires and hurricanes as experts say global warming is here and affecting us now

Read more about the science and realities of climate change in this article by Damian Carrington of The Guardian.

STEM Scholarships to NAU Still Available!

Do you plan to transfer to Northern Arizona University (NAU) into an approved College of Engineering, Forestry & Natural Sciences major Fall 2016?

Do you have a 3.0 or higher GPA in at least 24 transferable credits?

And $2,500 or more in unmet financial need? (2016 FASFA is required)

Then you may qualify for the Transfer-GEMS (Transfers to Graduates in Engineering, Math and Science) Scholarship!

This scholarship is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1260138.

SCHOLARSHIPS ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE 2016-2017 ACADEMIC YEAR!

For more information, please contact jen.johnson@nau.edu.

Learn more or Apply now!

 

 

MIT engineering protective barrier that mimics skin

Interesting article from the American Ceramic Society regarding MIT’s development of a synthetic second skin that has potential to transform lives with medical and cosmetic applications.

Video: Scientists engineer ‘second skin’ with potential for superior topical UV protection  Published on June 1st, 2016 | By: Stephanie Liverani

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs have developed a new material that can temporarily protect and tighten skin and smooth wrinkles, according to an MIT News article.

Even better? The team plans to develop the material further for use in transdermal drug delivery and treatment of skin conditions, such as eczema and other types of dermatitis, and also adapt it to provide long-lasting ultraviolet protection.

Credit: MIT; YouTube

Read more here:  http://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/video-scientists-engineer-second-skin-with-potential-for-superior-topical-uv-protection

http://news.mit.edu/2016/polymer-temporarily-tightens-skin-drug-delivery-0509

 

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

From The Scientist:  http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45741/title/New-Gecko-Inspired-Adhesive/

By Jef Akst | April 6, 2016

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.

For years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.

Read more of Jef’s article in The Scientist here:

 

Italy rules that stealing food not a crime if desperately hungry

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The right to survival prevails over property,” Italy’s highest court of appeals ruled this week when reviewing the case of a homeless man who had been given a six month jail sentence and a €100 euro fine for stealing cheese and sausages.

The man was caught before leaving the store and returned the goods, so the state prosecutor argued for the sentence to be reduced from “theft” to “attempted theft.”

But when the court of appeals heard the case, they radically upended the decision. This wasn’t worthy of punishment, they argued. In fact, taking food to stave off hunger should not even be considered a crime.

The judges wrote that the food had been taken “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment.”

They also rebuked the entire process that brought this case before them–an attempt to take less than €5 of food went through 3 rounds of court hearings.

Italy, like large parts of the world, is coping with a recession. Each day, 615 people in Italy fall into poverty, according an op-ed in response to the ruling, many of whom struggle to find housing and food. Forgetting about these people is not an option, the piece argued.

Another op-ed argued that the ruling aligned with one of the most fundamental pillars of Western legal thinking–the concept of humanity that says a person’s dignity should be protected and that dignity rises when basic needs like food, water, housing and security are met.

On one level, this ruling attempts to return sense, discretion and an appreciation of context to criminal justice. Why, after all, was it necessary to spend so many resources to punish a man suffering from hunger, especially when this punishment will only deepen his poverty? Why not, instead, provide food for this person?

On another level, this ruling is a radical rethinking of human rights. Sure, it connects to ancient ideas of “humanity,” but these ideas have never fully been practiced on a large scale. The thought of a homeless person walking into a grocery store and just taking food without paying for it is, in a way, a radical affront to the market-based logic that rules most societies. If you want food, you pay for it just like everyone else, right?

Then there’s a more mundane explanation to all of this. Recently, Italy passed a law requiring all sellers of food to donate unsold food to charities rather than throw it away. So this decision may have been made under the aegis of the new legislation.

But even still–in a world of abundance, should the vagaries of circumstance–job loss, illness, traumas–ever leave a person without the ability to get food?

When grocery stores around the world are stuffed with food, is it moral to allow someone to suffer from hunger?

These are challenging questions that strike at the core of many societal arrangements. But they’re questions that are worth asking, and finding some compromise for, in a time when inequality is rising and more people find themselves in economically distressed situations.

Globally, 795 million people do not have enough food to lead normal, healthy lives. Many more people struggle to buy and find food every day.

It’s unlikely that this ruling in Italy will lead to widespread theft from grocery stores and it’s cynical to suggest that a breakdown in the rule of law will follow (as some critics have suggested).

The more likely result will be an evaluation of what really matters in life and how much another person’s humanity should be respected.

In an ideal world, there would be consensus that a person’s dignity is the top priority in any situation and from there other rules based on other, secondary considerations would apply.

Read More @ Global Citizen

Always practise safe text: the German traffic light for smartphone zombies

zombiA ‘mobile phone lane’ on a street in a theme park in Chongqing, China. Photograph: Imaginechina/Rex

The word “smombie” is one of the most recent additions to the German language. Last November, the term – a mashup of “smartphone” and “zombie”, referring to oblivious smartphone users staggering around cities like the undead – was voted Youth Word of the Year in Germany.

The disease is virulent. A recent study of 14,000 pedestrians in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Stockholm found that 17% of people used their smartphone while walking. The heaviest users were 25 to 35-year-olds: almost a quarter of them exhibited smombie-esque behaviour.

Now Augsburg, a municipality outside Munich, has braced itself for this new public peril. After several smombies caused accidents by carelessly crossing tram tracks, city officials decided to install new traffic lights – at ground level.

At Haunstetterstraße station, one of two locations for the experiment, 16 red LEDs, each about the size of a beer mat, are embedded in the pavement next to a tram crossing.

Passengers are divided on their merits. Katja Lechner commutes here daily to university. “OK, you really do see the lights blinking when the tram approaches,” she says. “But that doesn’t stop anybody from crossing, as people rush to catch their trains.” She thinks the €10,000 should have been invested in education.

Arzu Araz, a hairdresser who lives nearby with her seven-year old daughter, disagrees. “The lights are ideal for kids, who notice them immediately,” she says.

Augsburg is not the first city to react. Cologne has equipped three tram crossings with similar lights, prompting the creation of yet another portmanteau: “Bompeln”, an abbreviation of “Boden-Ampeln” (ground traffic lights).

In Munich, where a 15-year-old girl wearing headphones was recently killed by a tram, certain particularly dangerous crossings were fitted with special beacons that send warnings to smartphones enabled with a corresponding app, called Watch Out!

In the US, meanwhile, cities such as Portland, Seattle and Cleveland have experimented with talking buses that alert pedestrians during turns. Rexburg, Idaho has even imposed fines of $50 for texting while walking.

And a theme park in the Chinese city of Chongqing has experimented with a special “phone lane” for pedestrians, itself based on an earlier experiment in Washington, DC.

After a trial period, Augsburg officials will interview tram drivers and passengers before deciding whether to roll the lights out to other stations.

“This is not just about smartphones. The crossing here is so busy and dangerous that we are used to the screeching noise of the tram’s emergency breaks,” says Sebastian Hrabak, owner of the restaurant Schwarze Kiste at Haunstetterstraße station. “But since the lights were installed last week, there hasn’t been a single dangerous incident.”

Have you been a “smombie” yourself ?

Read the full article @ Always practise safe text: the German traffic light for smartphone zombies

DÍA DE LOS NIÑOS CELEBRATION

When Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Where Central Mall
El dÍa de los NiÑos/El dÍa de los Libros (Day of the Child/Day of the Book) is a celebration based on childhood and literacy that began in 1997. Borrowing from the traditional Mexican holiday “El dÍa de los NiÑos,” the American version expanded to include literacy when acclaimed author Pat Mora took up the cause in 1997. A year later, the U.S. Congress officially designated April 30 as “Day of the Child.”

Members from GCC’s MEChA Club will set up games to celebrate this event.

 

Were the Japan and Ecuador earthquakes related?

 

They may have happened within days of one another, but the devastating earthquakes in Japan had nothing to do with the strong temblor that struck Ecuador over the weekend, experts say.

Both Japan and Ecuador are located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which spans the coasts lining the Pacific Ocean. The regions along the Ring of Fire are prone to earthquakes, but it’s extremely rare for an earthquake on one side of the world to trigger earthquakes on the other, said Ross Stein, CEO and co-founder of Temblor.net, a free website and smartphone application that helps people understand locations’ seismic risk.

For one thing, the earthquakes that hit Japan are a completely different type of quake than the one that struck Ecuador, Stein said. On April 14, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake hit southern Japan, and a day later, on April 15, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck the same region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]

Both of these earthquakes were strike-slip earthquakes, Stein said, which occur when two parts of the Earth’s crust slide against each other. The best way to imagine this is to place your hands together, with your fingers pointing away from your body, and slide your left hand forward and your right hand backward.

Both of these strike-slip earthquakes were shallow — about 6 to 8 miles (10 to 12 kilometers) deep — and both were destructive, killing more than 40 people in total, according to news sources. But the second quake was about 20 times stronger than the first, and released about 400,000 times more energy than the amount unleashed by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, Stein and Volkan Sevilgen, the other Temblor.net co-founder, wrote in a blog post.

These two earthquakes in Japan were likely related, Stein said. However, it’s unclear whether the magnitude-6.2 earthquake was a foreshock of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake or the magnitude-7.0 earthquake was an aftershock of the magnitude-6.2 earthquake, Stein said.

“So far, the evidence suggests that both are true,” the experts wrote in the blog post. Though it’s rare for an aftershock to be larger than the main shock, it does happen, Stein told Live Science.

Regardless, the first earthquake made the faults near it more likely to rupture, which likely helped to trigger the second, larger earthquake, Stein said.

Ecuador earthquake

On Saturday (April 16), merely a day after the second Japanese earthquake, a massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocked Muisne, Ecuador, the USGS reported. [Image Gallery: This Millennium’s Destructive Earthquakes]

Unlike the strike-slip earthquakes in Japan, this one was a so-called megathrust quake, which occurs when one tectonic plate jams under another. In this case, the Nazca Plate is moving under the South American continent at a rate of about 2.2 to 2.4 inches (55 to 61 millimeters) a year, Stein and Sevilgen wrote in another blog post.

More than 400 deaths have been reported from the Ecuador quake so far.

This isn’t Muisne’s first large earthquake. Another magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit almost the exact location in 1942, Stein said. In fact, given that the subduction rate is about 2.3 inches (60 mm) a year, and nearly 75 years have elapsed since the last large earthquake, it makes sense that this is a “repeat earthquake,” Stein said.

Read more at the following site… cbsnews.com