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Archive for the ‘environmental’ category

Jun 4, 2019

Promise in the Gloom? How Bleak Future Scenarios for Employment Might Save the Environment

Posted by in categories: environmental, robotics/AI

How might future changes in the structure of business and the nature of work impact the environment?

While governments around the world are wrestling with the potential for massive on-rushing technological disruption of work and the jobs market, few are extending the telescope to explore what the knock-on impacts might be for the planet. Here we explore some dimensions of the issue.

Although replacing humans with robots has a dystopian flavor, what, if any positives are there from successive waves of artificial intelligence (AI) and other exponentially developing technologies displacing jobs ranging from banker to construction worker? Clearly, the number of people working and the implications for commuting, conduct of their role and their resulting income-related domestic lifestyle all have a direct bearing on their consumption of resources and emissions footprint. However, while everyone wants to know the impact of smart automation, the reality is that we are all clueless as to the outcome over the next twenty years, as this fourth industrial revolution has only just started.

There is a dramatic variation in views on the extent to which automation technologies such as AI, robotics and 3D / 4D printing will replace humans or enable wholly new roles. For example, A 2016 McKinsey automation study reported that, with current technologies, about a third of most job activities are technologically automatable, affecting 49% of the world economy, an estimated 1.1 billion employees and $12.7 trillion in wages. China, India, Japan, and USA account for more than half of these totals. The report concluded it would be more than two decades before automation reaches 50% of current activities.

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Apr 11, 2019

This moss-covered wall is as air-purifying as 275 urban trees

Posted by in categories: environmental, health, space, sustainability, transportation

From smog-sucking bikes to electric taxis and paint made of car exhaust, designers and architects are stepping up to address air pollution—the world’s single largest health risk. But a new air filter making the rounds in Oslo, Paris, Brussels, and Hong Kong shows that nature may be our best ally in this battle.

Essentially a moss-covered wall, each CityTree removes CO2, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter from the air while also producing oxygen. A single tree is able to absorb 250 grams of particulate matter a day and remove 240 metric tons of CO2 each year—a level roughly on par with the air purification impact of 275 urban trees. Thirteen feet tall, with a metal frame, the CityTrees are easily installed in a public space, and they even have built-in seating at their base.

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Apr 10, 2019

Surviving Mars: Green Planet expansion allows you to terraform Mars

Posted by in categories: engineering, environmental, space

Terraforming is coming to Surviving Mars in a spectacular way. Not only can you make the atmosphere breathable for humans, but it also allows you to engage in new mechanics previously absent from the experience.

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Mar 28, 2019

The Human, Smart and Sustainable Future of Cities

Posted by in categories: architecture, big data, environmental, transportation

The city of the future is a symbol of progress. The sci-fi vision of the future city with sleek skyscrapers and flying cars, however, has given way to a more plausible, human, practical, and green vision of tomorrow’s smart city. Whilst smart city visions differ, at their heart is the notion that in the coming decades, the planet’s most heavily concentrated populations will occupy city environments where a digital blanket of sensors, devices and cloud connected data is being weaved together to build and enhance the city living experience for all. In this context, smart architecture must encompass all the key elements of what enable city ecosystems to function effectively. This encompasses everything from the design of infrastructure, workspaces, leisure, retail, and domestic homes to traffic control, environmental protection, and the management of energy, sanitation, healthcare, security, and a building’s eco-footprint.

The world’s premier cities and architects are competing to design and build highly interconnected smart environments where people, government and business operate in symbiosis with spectacular exponentially improving technologies such as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, hyperconnectivity, artificial intelligence (AI), robots, drones, autonomous green vehicles, 3D/4D printing, smart materials, and renewable energy. The architectural promise of future smart cities is to harmonize the benefits of these key disruptive technologies for society and provide a high quality of life by design. Some have already implemented smart city architecture and, as the concepts, experiences and success stories spread, the pursuit of smart will become a key driver in the evolving future of cities as communities and economic centres. Here we explore some of the critical trends, visions, ideas, and disruptions shaping the rise of smart cities and smart architecture.

Smart Cities – Purpose, Engagement and Vision

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Feb 25, 2019

Elon Musk: Mars Base Will Have “Outdoorsy, Fun Atmosphere”

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, engineering, environmental, food, space

In an interview newly published by Popular Mechanics, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared his thoughts on colonizing Mars — from how the first settlers will grow food to the friendly vibe he envisions at the first base on the Red Planet.

“For having an outdoorsy, fun atmosphere, you’d probably want to have some faceted glass dome, with a park, so you can walk around without a suit,” Musk told the magazine. “Eventually if you terraform the planet, then you can walk around without a suit. But for say, the next 100-plus years, you’ll have to have a giant pressurized glass dome.”

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Feb 3, 2019

The Search for New Physics & CERN’s FCC Future Circular Collider

Posted by in categories: astronomy, engineering, environmental, ethics, existential risks, particle physics, physics, quantum physics, science

It is a few years since I posted here on Lifeboat Foundation blogs, but with the news breaking recently of CERN’s plans to build the FCC [1], a new high energy collider to dwarf the groundbreaking engineering triumph that is the LHC, I feel obliged to write a few words.

The goal of the FCC is to greatly push the energy and intensity frontiers of particle colliders, with the aim of reaching collision energies of 100 TeV, in the search for new physics [2]. Below linked is a technical note I wrote & distributed last year on 100 TeV collisions (at the time referencing the proposed China supercollider [3][4]), highlighting the weakness of the White Dwarf safety argument at these energy levels, and a call for a more detailed study of the Neutron star safety argument, if to be relied on as a solitary astrophysical assurance. The argument applies equally to the FCC of course:

The Next Great Supercollider — Beyond the LHC : https://environmental-safety.webs.com/TechnicalNote-EnvSA03.pdf

The LSAG, and others including myself, have already written on the topic of astrophysical assurances at length before. The impact of CR on Neutron stars is the most compelling of those assurances with respect to new higher energy colliders (other analogies such as White Dwarf capture based assurances don’t hold up quite as well at higher energy levels). CERN will undoubtedly publish a new paper on such astrophysical assurances as part of the FCC development process, though would one anticipate it sooner rather than later, to lay to rest concerns of outsider-debate incubating to a larger audience?

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Dec 31, 2018

Blue Rays: New Horizons’ High-Res Farewell to Pluto

Posted by in categories: environmental, space travel

This is the highest-resolution color departure shot of Pluto’s receding crescent from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, taken when the spacecraft was 120,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) away from Pluto. Shown in approximate true color, the picture was constructed from a mosaic of six black-and-white images from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), with color added from a lower resolution Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) color image, all acquired between 15:20 and 15:45 UT — about 3.5 hours after closest approach to Pluto — on July 14, 2015. The resolution of the LORRI images is about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) per pixel; the sun illuminates the scene from the other side of Pluto and somewhat toward the top of this image.

The image is dominated by spectacular layers of blue haze in Pluto’s atmosphere. Scientists believe the haze is a photochemical smog resulting from the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules in Pluto’s atmosphere, producing a complex mixture of hydrocarbons such as acetylene and ethylene. These hydrocarbons accumulate into small haze particles, a fraction of a micrometer in size, which preferentially scatter blue sunlight — the same process that can make haze appear bluish on Earth.

As they settle down through the atmosphere, the haze particles form numerous intricate, horizontal layers, some extending for hundreds of miles around large portions of the limb of Pluto. The haze layers extend to altitudes of over 120 miles (200 kilometers). Pluto’s circumference is 4,667 miles (7,466 kilometers).

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Nov 18, 2018

Masks, Purifiers and Other Steps to Reduce the Harmful Effects of California’s Smoke

Posted by in category: environmental

Here are some ways to stay healthy amid the smoke and smog from California’s wildfires.

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Oct 23, 2018

Fishing and emergency kit apps developed by Filipino innovators during the NASA Space Apps Challenge in the Philippines

Posted by in categories: astronomy, computing, cosmology, environmental

MANILA, Philippines — A mobile and SMS application developed by IT professionals Revbrain G. Martin, Marie Jeddah Legaspi, and Julius Czar Torreda to help fishermen receive real-time weather, sunrise and sunset, wind speed, and cloud coverage to plan their fishing activity, and an emergency checklist kit app was developed by students Jeorge Loui P. Delfin, Bluen Ginez, Samuel Jose, Rainier Garcia Narboneta, and Eugenio Emmanuel A. Araullo for disaster preparedness won the NASA Space Apps Challenge on October 19–21 at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, in partnership with the Embassy of the United States of America and PLDT.

Other projects and solutions developed are games using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, augmented reality mobile app to tell a story of the changes in the Arctic and Antarctic ice, artificial intelligence app helping scientists confirm the habitability of exoplanets, and story-based game using NASA Earth imagery.

They joined together with teams of coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, technologists, thinkers, designers, entrepreneurs, and everyone around the globe working together in a 48-hour sprint to develop solutions to some of the most pressing challenges on Earth and in space, using NASA resources and data.

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Sep 18, 2018

Japan eager to be on board vertical-takeoff ‘flying cars’

Posted by in categories: drones, environmental, government, mobile phones

Electric drones booked through smartphones pick people up from office rooftops, shortening travel time by hours, reducing the need for parking and clearing smog from the air.

This vision of the future is driving the Japanese government’s “flying car” project. Major carrier All Nippon Airways, electronics company NEC Corp. and more than a dozen other companies and academic experts hope to have a road map for the plan ready by the year’s end.

“This is such a totally new sector Japan has a good chance for not falling behind,” said Fumiaki Ebihara, the government official in charge of the project.

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