Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Formatting Gaia + Technological Symbiosis

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Patrick Millard | Formatting Gaia + Technological Symbiosis from vasa on Vimeo.

Nature and nurture work together to shape the brain

Monday, November 21st, 2011

At the Neuroscience 2011 conference, scientists at The Rockefeller University, The Scripps Research Institute, and the University of Pennsylvania presented new research  demonstrating the impact that life experiences can have on genes and behavior. The studies examine how such environmental information can be transmitted from one generation to the next — a phenomenon known as epigenetics. This new knowledge could ultimately improve understanding of brain plasticity, the cognitive benefits of motherhood, and how a parent‘s exposure to drugs, alcohol, and stress can alter brain development and behavior in their offspring.

The new findings show that:

  • Brain cell activation changes a protein involved in turning genes on and off, suggesting the protein may play a role in brain plasticity.
  • Prenatal exposure to amphetamines and alcohol produces abnormal numbers of chromosomes in fetal mouse brains. The findings suggest these abnormal counts may contribute to the developmental defects seen in children exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero.
  • Cocaine-induced changes in the brain may be inheritable. Sons of male rats exposed to cocaine are resistant to the rewarding effects of the drug.
  • Motherhood protects female mice against some of the negative effects of stress.
  • Mice conceived through breeding — but not those conceived through reproductive technologies — show anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors similar to their fathers. The findings call into question how these behaviors are transmitted across generations.

Source | Kurzweil AI

Liquid Robotics’ Wave Gliders begin historic swim across Pacific

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Four Wave Gliders — self propelled robots, each about the size of a dolphin — left San Francisco on Nov. 17 for a 60,000 kilometer journey, IEEE Spectrum Automation reports.

Built by Liquid Robotics, the robots will use waves to power their propulsion systems and the Sun to power the sensors, as a capability demonstration. They will be measuring things like water salinity, temperature, clarity, and oxygen content; collecting weather data, and gathering information on wave features and currents.

The data from the fleet of robots is being streamed via the Iridium satellite network and made freely available on Google Earth’s Ocean Showcase.

Source | Kurzweil AI

Moon Packed with Precious Titanium, NASA Probe Finds

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

This lunar mosaic shows the boundary between Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquillitatis. The relative blue color of the Tranquillitatis mare is due to higher abundances of the titanium-bearing mineral ilmenite.

A new map of the moon has uncovered a trove of areas rich in precious titanium ore, with some lunar rocks harboring 10 times as much of the stuff as rocks here on Earth do.

The map, which combined observations in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths, revealed the valuable titanium deposits. These findings could shed light on some of the mysteries of the lunar interior, and could also lay the groundwork for future mining on the moon, researchers said.

“Looking up at the moon, its surface appears painted with shades of grey — at least to the human eye,” Mark Robinson, of Arizona State University, said in a statement. “The maria appear reddish in some places and blue in others. Although subtle, these color variations tell us important things about the chemistry and evolution of the lunar surface. They indicate the titanium and iron abundance, as well as the maturity of a lunar soil.

The results of the study were presented Friday (Oct. 7) at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in Nantes, France.

Mapping the lunar surface

The map of the moon’s surface was constructed using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been circling the moon since June 2009. The probe’s wide angle camera snapped pictures of the surface in seven different wavelengths at different resolutions.

Since specific minerals strongly reflect or absorb different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, LRO’s instruments were able to give scientists a clearer picture of the chemical composition of the moon’s surface.

Robinson and his colleagues stitched together a mosaic using roughly 4,000 images that had been collected by the spacecraft over one month.

The researchers scanned the lunar surface and compared the brightness in the range of wavelengths from ultraviolet to visible light, picking out areas that are abundant in titanium. The scientists then cross-referenced their findings with lunar samples that were brought back to Earth from NASA’s Apollo flights and the Russian Luna missions.

These titanium-rich areas on the moon puzzled the researchers. The highest abundance of titanium in similar rocks on Earth hovers around 1 percent or less, the scientists explained. The new map shows that these troves of titanium on the moon range from about 1 percent to a little more than 10 percent.

“We still don’t really understand why we find much higher abundances of titanium on the moon compared to similar types of rocks on Earth,” Robinson said. “What the lunar titanium-richness does tell us is something about the conditions inside the moon shortly after it formed, knowledge that geochemists value for understanding the evolution of the moon.”

Valuable titanium ore

Titanium on the moon is primarily found in the mineral ilmenite, a compound that contains iron, titanium and oxygen. If humans one day mine on the moon, they could break down ilmenite to separate these elements.

Furthermore, Apollo data indicated that titanium-rich minerals are more efficient at retaining solar wind particles, such as helium and hydrogen. These gases would likely be vital resources in the construction of lunar colonies and for exploration of the moon, the researchers said. [Lunar Legacy: 45 Apollo Moon Mission Photos]

“Astronauts will want to visit places with both high scientific value and a high potential for resources that can be used to support exploration activities,” Robinson said. “Areas with high titanium provide both — a pathway to understanding the interior of the moon and potential mining resources.”

This composite image of the lunar surface highlights regions with varying mare compositions and enigmatic small volcanic structures known as “domes.”

The lunar map also shows how space weather changes the surface of the moon. Charged particles from solar wind and micrometeorite impacts can change the moon’s surface materials, pulverizing rock into a fine powder and altering the chemical composition of the lunar surface.

“One of the exciting discoveries we’ve made is that the effects of weathering show up much more quickly in ultraviolet than in visible or infrared wavelengths,” study co-author Brett Denevi, of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., said in a statement. “In the [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera] ultraviolet mosaics, even craters that we thought were very young appear relatively mature. Only small, very recently formed craters show up as fresh regolith exposed on the surface.”

Source | SPACE

Hybrid solar system makes rooftop hydrogen

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Duke University engineer Nico Hotz has proposed a hybrid solar system in which sunlight heats a combination of water and methanol in a maze of tubes on a rooftop to produce hydrogen.

The device is a series of copper tubes coated with a thin layer of aluminum and aluminum oxide and partly filled with catalytic nanoparticles. A combination of water and methanol flows through the tubes, which are sealed in a vacuum.

Once the evaporated liquid achieves higher temperatures, tiny amounts of a catalyst are added, which produces hydrogen. This combination of high temperature and added catalysts produces hydrogen very efficiently, Hotz said. The resulting hydrogen can then be immediately directed to a fuel cell to provide electricity to a building during the day, or compressed and stored in a tank to provide power later.

After two catalytic reactions, the system produced hydrogen much more efficiently than current technology without significant impurities, Hotz said. The resulting hydrogen can be stored and used on demand in fuel cells.

“This set-up allows up to 95 percent of the sunlight to be absorbed with very little being lost as heat to the surroundings,” he said. “This is crucial because it permits us to achieve temperatures of well over 200 degrees Celsius within the tubes. By comparison, a standard solar collector can only heat water between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius.”

Holtz performed a cost analysis, comparing a standard photovoltaic cell, a photocatalytic system, and the hybrid solar-methanol system.  He found that the hybrid system is the least expensive solution, with a total installation cost of $7,900 if designed to fulfill the requirements in summer.

Source | Kurzweil AI

2011 State of the Future

Monday, August 1st, 2011

The Millennium Project’s 2011 State of the Future Report, due out August 1, finds that while people are getting richer, healthier, better educated, and living longer, and the world is more peaceful and better connected, half of the world is potentially unstable.

“Food prices are rising, water tables are falling, corruption and organized crime is increasing, environmental viability for life support is diminishing, debt and economic insecurity are increasing, climate change continues, and the gap between the rich and poor is widening dangerously,” the report says. “People voting in elections, corruption, people killed or injured in terrorist attacks, and refugees and displaced persons are also identified as key problems.

“The world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.”

The 2011 State of the Future is an overview of our global situation, problems, solutions, and prospects for the future. “15 Global Challenges” including energy, food, science and technology, ethics, development, water, organized crime, health, decision-making, gender relations, demographics, war and peace, and others are analyzed, studied, and recommendations are made.

Where we are winning. An international Delphi panel selected more than 100 indicators of progress or regress for the 15 Global Challenges. Indicators were then chosen that had at least 20 years of reliable historical data and later, where possible, were matched with variables used in the International Futures model. The resulting 28 variables were integrated into the State of the Future Index with a 10-year projection.

This report discusses a broad range of future-oriented policy initiatives, such as shifting from fresh water-based agriculture to saltwater-based agriculture; making environmental security the focus of US-China strategic trust, a global strategy to counter organized crime, and collective intelligence as one of the next big topics of interest.

Where we are losing

It also alerts readers to major changes that seem inevitable. For example, the coming biological revolution may change civilization more profoundly than did the industrial or information revolutions. The world has not come to grips with the implications of writing genetic code to create new lifeforms. Thirteen years ago, the concept of being dependent on Google searches was unknown to the world; today we consider it quite normal. Thirteen years from today, the concept of being dependent on synthetic life forms for medicine, food, water, and energy could also be quite normal.

The 2011 State of the Future comes in two parts: a print 106-page distillation of research with tables, graphs, and charts, and an 8,500-page CD. comes in two parts: a print 106-page distillation of research with tables, graphs, and charts, and an 8,500-page CD. Price: $49.95 US dollars plus shipping.

The Millennium Project was established in 1996 as the first globalized think tank. It conducts independent futures research via its 40 Nodes around the world that connect global and local perspectives.

Source | Kurzweil AI

How to make solar power available 24/7

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Researchers at MIT have designed a concentrated solar thermal system that could store heat in vats of molten salt, supplying constant power.

CSPonD (for Concentrated Solar Power on Demand) combines heating and storage in a single tank that is mounted on the ground instead of a tower. The heavily insulated tank admits concentrated sunlight through a narrow opening at its top, and features a movable horizontal plate to separate the heated salt on top from the colder salt below. (Salts are generally used in such systems because of their high capacity for absorbing heat and their wide range of useful operating temperatures.)

As the salt heats over the course of a sunny day, this barrier gradually moves lower in the tank, accommodating the increasing volume of hot salt. Water circulating around the tank gets heated by the salt, turning to steam to drive a turbine whenever power is needed.

The new system could be more durable than existing tower-based concentrated solar power (CSP) systems, which require expensive pumps and plumbing to transport molten salt and transfer heat, the researchers said. Existing CSP heat-absorbing receivers cool down at night or on cloudy days.

“It’s the swings in temperature that cause [metal] fatigue and failure,” says professor Alexander Slocum. He explains that using the traditional way to address temperature swings, “You have to way oversize” the system’s components. “That adds cost and reduces efficiency.”

Small-scale laboratory setup was used to test the ability of a container of molten salt to absorb and store heat from concentrated sunlight, simulated using powerful spotlights.

The team has carried out small-scale tests of CSPonD’s performance, but its members say larger tests will be needed to refine the engineering design for a full-scale powerplant. They hope to produce a 20- to 100-kilowatt demonstration system to test the performance of their tank, which in operation would reach temperatures in excess of 500 degrees Celsius.

Source | Kurzweil AI

GE pushes ahead with 500GB holographic disc storage

Monday, August 1st, 2011

GE plans to license its 500GB holographic optical storage disc technology in the next few months.

GE's Micro-holographic storage technology

Unlike Blu-ray discs and DVDs, which store information on up to four layers at the surface of the disc, holographic optical discs use the entire substrate to store holograms.

GE said the micro-holographic disc will embed data directly onto virtual layers within plastic, stacking 20 blue-laser readable layers (25GB each) to realize 500GB capacity.

GE said it is working toward holographic discs that can store 1TB of data.

Source | Kurzweil AI

New NASA data challenges global warming alarmism

Friday, July 29th, 2011

NASA satellite data show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, according to a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.

Volcanic particles in upper atmosphere slow down global warming, says NASA

Data from NASA’s Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to “believe.”

The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

In research published in the journal Remote Sensing, Spencer and UAHuntsville’s Dr. Danny Braswell compared what a half dozen climate models say the atmosphere should do to satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than previously thought, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle. The models forecast that the climate should continue to absorb solar energy until a warming event peaks.

Energy lost, not gained: satellite data

Instead, the satellite data shows the climate system starting to shed energy more than three months before the typical warming event reaches its peak.

“At the peak, satellites show energy being lost while climate models show energy still being gained,” Spencer said.

Applied to long-term climate change, the research might indicate that the climate is less sensitive to warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere than climate modelers have theorized. A major underpinning of global warming theory is that the slight warming caused by enhanced greenhouse gases should change cloud cover in ways that cause additional warming, which would be a positive feedback cycle.

Instead, the natural ebb and flow of clouds, solar radiation, heat rising from the oceans and a myriad of other factors added to the different time lags in which they impact the atmosphere might make it impossible to isolate or accurately identify which piece of Earth’s changing climate is feedback from manmade greenhouse gases.

“There are simply too many variables to reliably gauge the right number for that,” Spencer said. “The main finding from this research is that there is no solution to the problem of measuring atmospheric feedback, due mostly to our inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in our observations.”

For this experiment, the UAHuntsville team used surface temperature data gathered by the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Great Britain. The radiant energy data was collected by the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.

The six climate models were chosen from those used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The UAHuntsville team used the three models programmed using the greatest sensitivity to radiative forcing and the three that programmed in the least sensitivity.

Source | Kurzweil AI

The Biological Canvas

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Curatorial Statement

The Biological Canvas parades a group of hand selected artists who articulate their concepts with body as the primary vessel.  Each artist uses body uniquely, experimenting with body as the medium: body as canvas, body as brush, and body as subject matter.  Despite the approach, it is clear that we are seeing new explorations with the body as canvas beginning to emerge as commonplace in the 21st century.

There are reasons for this refocusing of the lens or eye toward body.  Living today is an experience quite different from that of a century, generation, decade, or (with new versions emerging daily) even a year ago.  The body truly is changing, both biologically and technologically, at an abrupt rate.  Traditional understanding of what body, or even what human, can be defined as are beginning to come under speculation.  Transhuman, Posthuman, Cyborg, Robot, Singularity, Embodiment, Avatar, Brain Machine Interface, Nanotechnology …these are terms we run across in media today.  They are the face of the future – the dictators of how we will come to understand our environment, biosphere, and selves.  The artists in this exhibition are responding to this paradigm shift with interests in a newfound control over bodies, a moment of self-discovery or realization that the body has extended out from its biological beginnings, or perhaps that the traditional body has become obsolete.

We see in the work of Orlan and Stelarc that the body becomes the malleable canvas.  Here we see some of the earliest executions of art by way of designer evolution, where the artist can use new tools to redesign the body to make a statement of controlled evolution.  In these works the direct changes to the body open up to sculpting the body to be better suited for today’s world and move beyond an outmoded body.  Stelarc, with his Ear on Arm project specifically attacks shortcomings in the human body by presenting the augmented sense that his third ear brings.  Acting as a cybernetic ear, he can move beyond subjective hearing and share that aural experience to listeners around the world.  Commenting on the practicality of the traditional body living in a networked world, Stelarc begins to take into his own hands the design of networked senses.  Orlan uses her surgical art to conceptualize the practice Stelarc is using – saying that body has become a form that can be reconfigured, structured, and applied to suit the desires of the mind within that body.  Carnal Art, as Orland terms it, allows for the body to become a modifiable ready-made instead of a static object born out of the Earth.  Through the use of new technologies human beings are now able to reform selections of their body as they deem necessary and appropriate for their own ventures.

Not far from the surgical work of Orlan and Stelarc we come to Natasha Vita-More’s Electro 2011, Human Enhancement of Life Expansion, a project that acts as a guide for advancing the biological self into a more fit machine.  Integrating emerging technologies to build a more complete human, transhuman, and eventual posthuman body, Vita-More strives for a human-computer interface that will include neurophysiologic and cognitive enhancement that build on longevity and performance.  Included in the enhancement plan we see such technologies as atmospheric sensors, solar protective nanoskin, metabrain error correction, and replaceable genes.  Vita-More’s Primo Posthuman is the idealized application of what artists like Stelarc and Orlan are beginning to explore with their own reconstructive surgical enhancements.

The use of body in the artwork of Nandita Kumar’s Birth of Brain Fly and Suk Kyoung Choi + Mark Nazemi’s Corner Monster reflect on how embodiment and techno-saturation are having psychological effects on the human mind.  In each of their works we travel into the imagined world of the mind, where the notice of self, identity, and sense of place begin to struggle to hold on to fixed points of order.  Kumar talks about her neuroscape continually morphing as it is placed in new conditions and environments that are ever changing.  Beginning with an awareness of ones own constant programming that leads to a new understanding of self through love, the film goes on a journey through the depths of self, ego, and physical limitations.  Kumar’s animations provide an eerie journey through the mind as viewed from the vantage of an artist’s creative eye, all the while postulating an internal neuroscape evolving in accordance with an external electroscape. Corner Monster examines the relationship between self and others in an embodied world.  The installation includes an array of visual stimulation in a dark environment.  As viewers engage with the world before them they are hooked up simultaneously (two at a time) to biofeedback sensors, which measure an array of biodata to be used in the interactive production of the environment before their eyes.  This project surveys the psychological self as it is engrossed by surrounding media, leading to both occasional systems of organized feedback as well as scattered responses that are convolutions of an over stimulated mind.

Marco Donnarumma also integrates a biofeedback system in his work to allow participants to shape musical compositions with their limbs.  By moving a particular body part sounds will be triggered and volume increased depending on the pace of that movement.  Here we see the body acting as brush; literally painting the soundscape through its own creative motion.  As the performer experiments with each portion of their body there is a slow realization that the sounds have become analogous for the neuro and biological yearning of the body, each one seeking a particular upgrade that targets a specific need for that segment of the body.  For instance, a move of the left arm constantly provides a rich vibrato, reminding me of the sound of Vita-More’s solar protective nanoskin.

Our final three artists all use body in their artwork as components of the fabricated results, acting like paint in a traditional artistic sense.  Marie-Pier Malouin weaves strands of hair together to reference genetic predisposal that all living things come out of this world with.  Here, Malouin uses the media to reference suicidal tendencies – looking once again toward the fragility of the human mind, body and spirit as it exists in a traditional biological state.  The hair, a dead mass of growth, which we groom, straighten, smooth, and arrange, resembles the same obsession with which we analyze, evaluate, dissect and anatomize the nature of suicide.  Stan Strembicki also engages with the fragility of the human body in his Body, Soul and Science. In his photographic imagery Strembicki turns a keen eye on the medical industry and its developments over time.  As with all technology, Strembicki concludes the medical industry is one we can see as temporally corrective, gaining dramatic strides as new nascent developments emerge.  Perhaps we can take Tracy Longley-Cook’s skinscapes, which she compares to earth changing landforms of geology, ecology and climatology as an analogy for our changing understanding of skin, body and self.  Can we begin to mold and sculpt the body much like we have done with the land we inhabit?

There is a tie between the conceptual and material strands of these last few works that we cannot overlook: memento mori.  The shortcomings and frailties of our natural bodies – those components that artists like Vita-More, Stelarc, and Orlan are beginning to interpret as being resolved through the mastery of human enhancement and advancement.  In a world churning new technologies and creative ideas it is hard to look toward the future and dismiss the possibilities.  Perhaps the worries of fragility and biological shortcomings will be both posed and answered by the scientific and artistic community, something that is panning out to be very likely, if not certain.  As you browse the work of The Biological Canvas I would like to invite your own imagination to engage.  Look at you life, your culture, your world and draw parallels with the artwork – open your own imaginations to what our future may bring, or, perhaps more properly stated, what we will bring to our future.

Patrick Millard

Source | VASA Project

The Zeitgeist Project | Humanity needs real change

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Inside FAST, Soon to be the World’s Biggest and Baddest Radio Telescope

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory will soon be the world’s largest radio telescope no more. After years of planning, China has broken ground on the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), a massive bowl-shaped radio signal collector that will be the world’s most sensitive when it opens for business in 2016.

FAST’s framework was China’s engineering contribution to the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the international initiative to build a radio telescope with a full square kilometer of telescope surface area. That project has moved ahead and is now considering sites in South Africa and Australia where arrays of smaller distributed telescopes will be integrated into massive radio collecting instrument. But Chinese engineers knew that a massive, singular reflector like FAST was feasible and in 2006 gave the project the green light, choosing a natural depression in Guizhou province in southern China as FAST’s home.

new paper now details the progress in FAST’s design since then, and it shows that while FAST is rooted in Arecibo’s successful design, several engineering tweaks and the addition of a now-characteristic Chinese flourish–make it bigger and more powerful–mean that FAST will be able to see three times further in to space than Arecibo, scanning larger sections of the sky and processing all that data more quickly.

How? Arecibo has a fixed spherical curvature, so radio waves are focused into a line above the dish where more mirrors focus them to a single point that can be processed by instruments. Because of the way this works, Arecibo can only really use 221 meters (725 feet) of its 305-meter (1,000-foot) dish at any give time.

But a similar setup for FAST’s 500 meter (1,640 feet) array would result in the overhanging mirrors weighing some 11,000 tons. So instead the dish itself will focus the radio signals, using a subset of the dish’s 4,400 triangular aluminum panels to form a roughly 1,000-foot parabolic mirror–nearly the size of the entire Arecibo dish–within the larger bowl. This dish-within-a-dish can be formed anywhere across the larger bowl, allowing FAST to examine more of the sky.

Further, the receiver hanging above the dish will be capable of collecting and studying signals from 19 sky regions simultaneously, compared to Arecibo’s seven. That makes for one speedy, strong radio telescope, faster and stronger than any existing instrument on the planet. As such, it should yield the sharpest radio observations of pulsars, supernovas, and other astronomical phenomena.

Perhaps more interestingly, it will also join SETI in the search for extraterrestrial life. FAST should be able to detect extraplanetary transmissions at distances of greater than 1,000 light years.

Source | PopSci

Top 50 YouTube Videos on Environmental Health

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Depending on who you listen to, we are in the middle of a world crisis involving environmental health. Everything is at stake from temperatures to natural disasters to man-made disasters. No matter where you stand, the future of the planet and mankind is at stake. However, everyone from university professors to bloggers has something to say on the topic, and they rarely agree.

To help better your understanding, we have listed the below top 50 YouTube videos on environmental health. They are all free for the viewing, commenting, and sharing. Whether it’s to learn a little more on environmental health or more about opposing viewpoints, everyone has something to say.

Top YouTube Videos on Environmental Health by a Group

Because there are many groups dedicated to environmental health and the like, check out these entries from them.

  1. Greenpeace Through the Lens
    Perhaps no organization is more known than Greenpeace when thinking of environmental health. In this short video, a professional photographer recalls his experiences with the organization, including some of its many historic images. You can also see loads more from Greenpeace on YouTube.
  2. World Water Day
    Learn more about what the water crisis is and who is in most need. Charity Water uses both old and new methods to describe the dilemma. This video was made in particular reference to the day of awareness in 2011.
  3. A New Sound: Green for All
    How can all this environmental health help the economy? The organization Green for All shares how a new green economy can be of benefit to everyone. Clean energy jobs, such as manufacturing, are shared as the solutions.
  4. Because We’re All Connected
    Some years back, the environmental health organization known as the World Wildlife Fund won their moniker from a giant wrestling industry. In this animated video, they show how everyone and everything is connected, thus showing the need for groups like them. A good choice for kids as well as adults.
  5. Climate Change – Wildlife & Wildlands
    Visit here for one of the many environmental health videos from the Environmental Protection Agency. This particular video has to do with climate change and its effect on the environment. Reported on by kids for kids.
  6. The Bay vs. The Bag
    You don’t have to live in San Francisco to appreciate this video. It shows the battle between the Bay Area and plastic bags. With nearly four million bags used in the city every year, recycling is a big part of the solution.
  7. Inside the Tornado
    One of the least understood aspects of environmental health, the tornado is one of the most unpredictable and deadly occurring natural disasters. With over 1,000 tornados a year in the U.S. alone, learn more about them in this video from National Geographic.
  8. Working Toward a Healthier Planet for Healthier People
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention get in on the environmental health fight. Their goal in this fight is to help others see how environmental conditions are related to chronic disease. They also have a link to their Health Tracking Network with more.
  9. Breathe in, Breathe Out
    In another video from Greenpeace, the quality of the air is taken on. Amazing images from around the globe are shared. It is part of “The Campaign for a World We Can Breathe In.”
  10. Environmental Health Department Informs of Hazards
    This particular channel is based in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In a report, they discuss environmental health hazards locally. A good stop to see how other countries see environmental health.

Top YouTube Videos on Environmental Health by an Individual

Individuals also weigh in on environmental health and related topics.

  1. The Power of Recycling
    The EPA ran a contest for videos on “Our Planet, Our Stuff.” Check out the winner here. It is a simple video using only stuffed animals and voice over.
  2. Environmental Health – The Role of Epidemiology
    Dr. Colin Soskolne is a professor at the University of Alberta. In this video for YouTube, he explains in an interview the role of epidemiology in environmental health. The science is focused on the role and spread of diseases.
  3. The Big Questions: Environmental Health
    When Michigan State University asked what the biggest danger to environmental health was, the answer was habitat destruction. Jack Liu is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Here, he discusses the causes and solutions to this problem on environmental health.
  4. Environmental Health
    The experts at eHow have an entry for just about everything, including environmental health. Ray Olson shares a few tips on how and why growing locally and other practices can help environmental health. Buying locally is also encouraged.
  5. The World Sucks: Help it Suck Less
    These self-described nerds show how YouTube can actually be a force for good. The Vlogbrothers show how you can participate in the Video Volunteers project. A few jabs at the practice of YouTube are also shared.
  6. Hummer vs. Prius
    This video is a sort of throwback to the whole PC vs. Mac commercials. Check out the “conversation” between the Hummer and Prius here. It is provided by Usepagroups.
  7. Environmental Health Trust
    Dr. Devra Lee Davis is part of the Environmental Health Trust. Their goal is to educate individuals about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks. In this video, common dangers such as asbestos and cellphone use are discussed.
  8. Environment Health and Democracy
    Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. discusses the impact that changes in the environment can have on health. He spoke as part of the Seventh Annual Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Lecture in Health Policy at UC Berkeley. Coming in at just under an hour, you can see the entire lecture here.
  9. The Incident
    Get a sort of free mini horror movie in this YouTube video. It is from the Environmental Health and Safety Department at Arizona State University. It shows what can happen when lab procedures go wrong.
  10. Environmental Safety Health Officer Jobs
    Did you know that a passion for environmental health can lead to a career? In this short video, the career of environmental safety health officer jobs is discussed. The best way to seek the job is also shared.

Top YouTube Videos on Environmental Health for Peace

Because humans can be their own worst enemies when it comes to many things, check out these YouTube videos.

  1. Peace Through Compassion
    Perhaps no living figure in history today has been a more vocal advocate of peace than His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. In this talk from UC Berkeley, he lays out the plan for peace in his own words.
  2. An Interview with Mother Teresa
    In a rare interview, Mother Teresa takes the time to stop and answer questions sent in from American high school students. The interview was conducted in 1996 by Building with Books founder Jim Ziolkowski. Although subtitled, she gave answers in English and speaks often of love and compassion.
  3. Into Darfur: A Young American’s Journey
    At 18 years old, Nick Anderson went into Darfur. In this video for YouTube, he recounts his experiences first hand on what it is like to travel there, the process, and the experience. See why he thinks job training and education are key to helping the people of Darfur.
  4. On Our Watch
    Click here for a documentary about genocide in Darfur. Narrated by Sam Waterston, it was made by Refugees International. You can hear the words of actual refugees and see much more here.
  5. Peace Corps in Namibia
    There are few organizations better known for their cause than Peace Corps. Chandra Almony takes a few minutes to chat about her experiences volunteering in this poor African village. There are also loads of other true volunteer stories here.
  6. Stand up for World Peace
    This simple, yet effective animation is inching closer to one million hits. It encourages kids and teens to stand up for world peace. There are also many other similar videos by Maddogza.
  7. Stop the Clash of Civilizations
    At just over two minutes, this video examines many of the stereotypes involving the clash of civilizations. It was made by Avaaz, which means voice or song in Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and other languages. They have called for real Middle East Peace Talks.
  8. Cuppycake Sam Speaks on World Peace
    This adorable little boy found both good and bad attention on YouTube. He now returns in this video to call for world peace. He also speaks about his chronic kidney disease and how not to judge others.
  9. The Promise of World Peace
    This documentary explores the beliefs and origins of the Baha’i Faith, which has become the second most widespread religion on the planet. Weaving together interviews, historical documents, and footage from around the globe, this documentary takes us inside the Baha’i way of life and the daily struggle to promote peace and unity in a conflicted world. Check out a free clip here.
  10. World Peace
    If you enjoy Penn and Tiller, adult language, and are tired of all the hippie talk, stop here. The magicians turned political commentators discuss their vision for world peace. Both parts of the show are available here, as well as their recommendation for true world peace policy.

Top YouTube Videos on Environmental Health for Animals

See how environmental health effects our animal friends in these YouTube videos.

  1. Save the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium
    In response to proposed budget cuts to the zoos, gardens, and aquariums, this video was made in protest. It features the “letting go” of furry employees. There are also many other videos to view from the zoo.
  2. Babies of the Arctic Need Love
    In a sort of dating style video, the National Sierra Club shares some of the Arctic’s cutest inhabitants. They are dedicated to keeping local wildlife safe from industrial and other threats.
  3. Nissan LEAF Polar Bear
    For most people, a bear in the driveway would be cause for huge panic. However, in this entry from Nissan, a polar bear makes its way to thank a human being in person. If still panicky, special effects are used.
  4. Black Tears
    See footage of the animals who were hurt through the BP oil spill. Images over the song “Mad World” are featured along with a commentary on the whole incident.
  5. Gulf Oil Spill’s Impact on Fisheries, Sea Life
    Eminent marine biologist Daniel Pauly talks with OnEarth magazine about the expected impacts of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico. He also discusses the damage it will cause to ocean life and the hope that this disaster could provide an opportunity for rebirth. See it all on YouTube or follow the link to read the interview.
  6. Apes in Danger
    Learn about orangutans that are being endangered overseas. The BBC follows those who rescue the animals in danger. Contains images some viewers may find disturbing.
  7. Endangered Species
    So which of the animals are in danger of extinction? Check out this video for a short guide. Also includes relevant links and amazing images.
  8. Saving Endangered Species
    Check out this report on the 15th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Over 23,000 animals were discussed, along with policies for saving endangered animals. Provided by Al Jazeera, check out which animals won out.
  9. Science and Animal Activism
    Marc Bekoff is a Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. Here, he shares insights from a lifetime of studying animals. A ten minute lecture for the Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down is shared here.
  10. The Kids ABC’s at the Zoo
    Okay, the video has little to do with environmental health. However, the popular choice can help kids of a younger age learn their ABC’s and animals. The cute song has earned over seven million hits.

Top Other YouTube Videos on Environmental Health

These videos fall into a special category of their own in environmental health.

  1. Our Priorities for Saving the World
    If you had $50 billion, would you solve AIDS or global warming first? This and other questions are answered in this talk for TED by Bjorn Lomborg. Global priorities are evaluated and discussed in a top ten list kind of way.
  2. Al Gore on Clean Coal
    The former Vice President is one of the most recognizable speakers on environmental health. In this clip, he discusses the premise of clean coal. You can also find many other clips from the same interview.
  3. The Story of Stuff
    Created in part by the Tides Foundation, this controversial video takes on the topic of environmental health. Capitalism, socialism, and other solutions are all discussed. There are also similar videos for bottled water and electronics.
  4. Story of Stuff, The Critique
    Want to hear the counter argument to the above? Then check out the counter video on YouTube here. It is provided by How the World Works and offers objections on points made in the above.
  5. The American Denial of Global Warning
    As the debate over global warming continues, this video gained some popularity. Join scientist and renowned historian Naomi Oreskes as she describes her investigation into the reasons for mistrust of scientific consensus and probes the history of confusion about science. Part of UC television, it includes many polls.
  6. John Stossel on Going Green
    This 20/20 reporter won his own show on the Fox Business Channel. Here, he speaks on the popular practice of going green. In six parts for YouTube, he wonders if the whole practice is all it is cracked up to be.
  7. Biofuel From Algae
    Learn more about this alternative fuel from Living Green Channel. They share how algae is the fastest growing plant life, and as an organism it converts sunlight into oil. Scientists theorize that algal biofuel can produce a whopping 30 times more energy per acre than any other biofuel option.
  8. Solar Panels
    In this piece for How It’s Made, the topic of solar panels is discussed. See how they are made in this video. There are also many other videos on solar energy here.
  9. How Wind Turbines Work
    Get a cell shaded animation on how wind turbines make electricity. The propeller, shaft, generator, and more are all shared. A good choice for both kids and adults.
  10. Home Made Wind Turbine
    You can learn about wind energy on YouTube or you can learn how to make your own here. Over one million viewers have stopped by to see for themselves. Magnets, coiled copper wire, and a few other items are needed to make one.

And if the above top 50 YouTube videos on environmental health aren’t enough, there are literally millions of other videos, articles, blog entries, and new stories on the topic featured everyday. They can feature everything from global reporting to what you can do in your own home to improve environmental health.

Source | Mphdegree

The Venus Project

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

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Augmented reality has potential to reshape our lives

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

That virtual yellow first-down line superimposed on an actual football field is one of the more visible examples of a technology that is still not well known. But augmented reality is quickly emerging from obscurity and could soon dramatically reshape how we shop, learn, play and discover what is around us.

In simple terms, augmented reality is a visual layer of information — tied to your location — that appears on top of whatever reality you’re seeing. Augmented reality (AR) apps have been increasingly popping up on smartphones and camera-equipped tablets such as the iPad 2. Versions of AR also work in conjunction with webcams, special eyewear and game consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 via Kinect or the Nintendo 3DS handheld that went on sale recently.

“Extraordinary possibilities are right around the corner,” says Microsoft computer scientist Jaron Lanier. “We’re closing in on it.”


•Pointing your phone at a famous landmark and almost instantly receiving relevant historic or current information about your surroundings.

•Fixing a paper jam in a copy machine by pointing a device at the copier and, directed by the virtual arrows that appear, pressing in sequence the right buttons and levers.

•Visualizing what you’ll look like in a wedding dress without trying it on.

Today, luminaries of the field are gathering at the ARE 2011 (Augmented Reality Event) conference kicking off in Santa Clara, Calif., to discuss AR’s future in e-commerce, mobile, real-time search and story telling, among other areas.

In one form or another, AR technology dates back at least 30 years, says Ramesh Raskar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, where some of the pioneering work was done. Now, a confluence of ever-improving technologies — cellphone cameras, more powerful processors, graphics chips, touch-screens, compasses, GPS and location-based technologies — are helping drive AR forward. GeoVector, Layar, Metaio, Quest Visual, Shotzoom Software, Viewdle, Total Immersion and even Google Goggles are weighing in with AR-based smartphone browsers or apps.

A recent report from Juniper Research in the United Kingdom found that an increasing number of leading brands, retailers and mobile vendors are investing in mobile augmented reality applications and services. Global revenue is expected to approach $1.5 billion by 2015, up from less than $2 million in 2010. And Juniper found that the installed base of AR-capable smartphones had increased from 8 million in 2009 to more than 100 million in 2010.

Steven Feiner, a professor of computer science at Columbia University, and one of the gurus of the field, says augmented reality can exploit all the senses, including touch and hearing. For example, imagine a virtual character following you around and whispering relevant information in your ear.

Augmented reality already has real-world applications:

Games: For some consumers, their first encounter with AR is likely to be at play. The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks recently teamed with Qualcomm and Big PlayAR on a promotion that turns a ticket into an interactive basketball game when viewed through an Android-phone. The game is the first commercial application to take advantage of a mobile augmented reality platform launched recently for Android developers by Qualcomm.

Nintendo 3DS offers an archery game that also takes advantage of AR. Aim the handheld’s camera at an innocuous-looking AR card placed on a coffee table, and watch fire-breathing three-dimensional dragons appear to rise from the surface.

Gaming publisher Ogmento’s Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary is a location-based multiplayer iPhone game that lets you project ghosts and other supernatural effects onto a real world scene.

Shopping: The Swivel Virtual Dressing Room under development from FaceCake Marketing and scheduled for retail stores and perhaps your own bedroom closet, promises to let you try on virtual duds and accessories in real time. Swivel was demonstrated recently at the Demo high-tech conference. Among the scenarios CEO Linda Smith talks about: taking consumers virtually from a store floor in Atlanta to the streets of Paris to envision what they’d look like wearing the latest spring dress in front of the Eiffel Tower. A shopper might watch rain bounce off a virtual umbrella.

EBay Classifieds takes the shopping experience in a different direction. It worked through Metaio’s mobile Junaio augmented reality browser to deliver an Android and iPhone experience that lets you point a smartphone at houses along your block and see pop-ups of any items your neighbors have put up for sale.

EBay also has an AR app that lets you try on virtual sunglasses before choosing which, if any, to buy.

EBay Mobile Vice President Steve Yankovich says the goal was to make the utility of the app 80% to 90% (of the experience), and the wow or gee-whiz factor, 10% to 20%. If it were the other way around, he asks, “What is the point?”

Frank Cooper, chief consumer engagement officer for PepsiCo Americas Beverages, concurs: “The most powerful form of AR may not be the flashy examples,” but rather “the ones that serve basic needs of people: information, entertainment, social connections.”

Still, Pepsi has shown off flash. In one early-stage example, the company worked with Rihanna on an augmented reality promotion in which you could hold a webcam in front of a code on a bag of Doritos and project an image of the singer performing a new track. Might there be similar efforts? “That’s one area we’re exploring aggressively,” Cooper says.

Still a learning curve

Still, for all of AR’s promise, its future success is by no means a slam dunk. Some of the early AR apps on smartphones are clumsy to use and unnatural. Eyewear for consumer use hasn’t been perfected. “The optics and display trickery to get the thing right — that’s not easy,” says Microsoft’s Lanier.

“For better or worse, a lot of what has been perceived as mobile AR is gimmicky,” says Jay Wright, director of business development at Qualcomm. “The challenge with AR is to find uses that solve a real problem and enable something fundamentally new, useful or uniquely entertaining.”

Bruno Uzzan, CEO of Total Immersion, the company whose technology is behind the eBay Fashion sunglasses app, says AR stops being a gimmick “when my client says I’m making more sales with AR than without it.” One such client is Hallmark Cards, which produces AR cards that come alive with animations when you hold them up to a webcam.

AR adoption won’t come easily. “In the first case, the hurdle is education — not just for consumers but for brands, developers and services providers,” says Windsor Holden, a U.K.-based analyst for Juniper Research. “There is still a pretty widespread lack of awareness as to what AR is.”

Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson also says mobile AR is not yet delivering on its promise. But “in the years to come, this will be disruptive technology that changes the way consumers interact with their environment.”

Varied developments

The disruptions are likely to evolve in many different ways. At the MIT Media Lab, Ramesh is working on 3-D motion-tracking Second Skin technology, in which tiny sensors and a microcontroller are bound to the body through a lightweight wearable suit and used to augment and teach motor skills. Say you’re learning to dance or to juggle. The system can track your movement and provide tactile feedback that corrects your position as you go.

“Think of Second Skin as your real-time assistant,” Ramesh says. “I call it an experience overlay. I’m not playing a TV game where I’m learning how to juggle. I’m doing real juggling.”

Ramesh says the technology could cost as little as $1,000 and be in the market within a year. It could have broad reach into health and education; for example, teaching someone to perform surgery.

At Columbia, one of Feiner’s areas of focus is maintenance and repair. “I’d like to be within the task itself. If you had AR with proper (virtual) documentation, you could look at a machine, and it would show you first do this, then do that, with a little bit of extra highlighting to walk you through.”

Gazing further out, Microsoft’s Lanier says he’d like to see the road he’s driving on augmented with signs of where there’ve been accidents and traffic jams. He’d love to be able to walk into a neighborhood and see what it was like back in time —San Francisco during the Gold Rush, say.

Lanier also expects, within 15 years or so, a new futuristic outdoor national sport to materialize with virtual game elements that don’t necessarily resemble any of our current pastimes.

And he predicts way out in the future that you’ll be able to experience a physical product you might want to buy, AR versions of a chair, for example. When you find one you like, you’ll make a payment, a machine will chug, materials will somehow be piped in, and the new chair will be in your house.

For now, it seems like a pipe dream, fodder for a Jetsonian age. But consumer product strategists are already paying attention to AR.

As Cooper of PepsiCo warns his peers: “Ignore AR at your own peril.”

Source | USA Today