Building the World

September 23, 2016
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Welcome

How can the world welcome 65 million people in new settings? Image: wikimedia commons.

The United Nations reports that 65.3 million people are refugees, asylum seekers or displaced: 1 in 113 of all the people on the planet. In the year 2015, every minute saw 24 people forced to flee; half under 18 years old. Conditions for millions are perilous. The first-ever United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants this week produced a Declaration, building upon the 1951 Refugee Convention that defines ‘refugee’ and the rights of the displaced. Education and employment are urgently needed. Can macro-scale infrastructure projects offer an opportunity? After World War II, Australia invited displaced skilled people to join the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Project; over 100,000 moved to a new land. Housing for families included schools where children learned together, adding diversity to the curriculum. How can the world welcome 65 million new arrivals today? Will Alex set an example of welcome?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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September 17, 2016
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Auto-Mobile

What will soon be missing, in Uber cars? The Driver. Image of an Uber car (and driver) in Bogota, Colombia: wikimedia.

When driving your car, how many times do you look at the distance between your vehicle and others on the road? How about 1.4 million times — per second? That’s what Uber’s driverless cars do, and that’s why many believe autonomous vehicles will ultimately be safer. Uber made history this week, becoming the first commercial service to offer driverless cars. The chosen location? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fourteen cars are at the ready, each with two professional drivers, just in case, to serve 2,000 Uber customers who have signed up for the beta test drive. When the United States Federal Highway System was built, the goals were the same: seamless and safer roads and fewer accidents. The autonomous vehicle market is estimated to reach $42 billion by 2025.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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September 9, 2016
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Mars: Pizza and Bananas

Scientists on “Mars” missed bananas and pizza. Image: wikimedia commons.

What would you miss most if you lived on Mars? Perhaps pizza and bananas. Six people feasted on both when they emerged from a year sequestered in Hawaii. Simulating a Mars environment gave new meaning to the term astrodome; the Buckminster Fuller shape cocooned six people: four Americans (architect, journalist, pilot, soil scientist), a French astrobiologist and a German physicist. Missions to the Moon have been round trip; sojourns on the International Space Station generally last six months. Now that further evidence of liquid water on Mars has been confirmed, will humans achieve what Elon Musk calls planetary redundancy? Might experiments to prepare for Mars habitation include specialized pizza ovens?

For more:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37211051

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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September 3, 2016
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The 38% Solution

Will 38 soon become 88? Image: wikimedia.

China and the United States have both ratified the Paris climate agreement. In Hangzhou, on the eve of the G20, China greeted arriving American President Obama with the announcement. Together, the two nations account for 38% of the world’s carbon emissions. The Paris agreement’s goal is to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). Will Christiana Figueres, chief architect of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and her words delivered on 6 April 2016 to the University of Massachusetts Boston at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, inspire the world to build a better future?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

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August 25, 2016
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Happy 100th, National Parks

 

Jason Lusk, photographer. "Crater Lake National Park, Wizard Island."

“Crater Lake National Park, Wizard Island.” Jason W. Lusk, Photographer, with permission and appreciation.

Happy 100th birthday to the United States National Park Service. Celebrations included illuminating the New York City skyline, inviting the public to gather at Brooklyn Bridge Park to change the color of One World Trade Center’s Spire as an iconic birthday candle. The 1916 Organic Act authorized the preservation of green space; the Second Century Commission recommended future approaches. One of the earliest green spaces created for public enjoyment might be the walking path of the New River of England, 1613; still in use, the route is recommended by the Ramblers Association. Boston’s Central Artery Project created a greenway through the heart of the city. Costa Rica, world leader in environmental protection, set precedent with Law 7788 on Biodiversity. Perhaps Benton MacKaye launched the Appalachian Trail, authorized after the architect’s essay in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects described the salutary effects of nature as “one of the admitted needs of modern times.”

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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August 19, 2016
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‘Teaching Cities to Fish’

“Looking east from Brooklyn Bridge at park on a hazy day before sunset,” by Jim Henderson, 6 July 2010. Image: courtesy of wikimedia commons. Will City Farm Fish transform urban centers?

“We teach cities to fish,” states the team of City Farm Fish, with a mission to transform cities through an innovative approach combining urban agriculture and aquaponics. The first project may be reached via the Brooklyn Bridge. Team members Zachary Gould, J. Alex Dalessio, Heather Pfizer, Quentin Stanton, and Adam Horwitch have launched the EBT Greenhouse, in cooperation with Energy Biosphere Food from Germany, in a building with photovoltaic louvres. Blue Nile Tilapia along with Boston Bibb Lettuce, Collards, and herbs Shiso and Thyme, raised in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, will supply locals with the freshest of fare, produced in a balanced system: fish waste fertilizes the plants, while the plants help to purify the water. If, as the founders anticipate, 70% of the world’s population (predicted to reach 9 billion by 2044 according to the U.S. Census) will live in cities, City Farm Fish’s model may prove beneficial to urban centers around the world.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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August 8, 2016
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Olympic Feat

Olympic Gold medalist Michael Phelps, Beijing 2008. Image: wikimedia commons.

Olympic Games are paved with gold (and silver, bronze, and brilliance.) In Rio, Olympic Gold was won by Michael Phelps, crowning the swimmer as the most decorated Olympian, adding to eight golds awarded in Beijing 2008, four golds and two silvers in London 2012. During the London Olympics, a parallel Olympic feat, or perhaps one should say ‘feet,’ marked a milestone in energy and environment. The West Ham Tube station near the London Olympic stadium was paved with 12 electricity pavers, activated by a million footsteps. Renewable, wireless electricity, thus generated, powered 12 LED floodlights at the subway station during the Olympic and Paralympics Games. Laurence Kemball-Cook conceived the idea as a university student, at the age of 25, and soon founded PaveGen. Generative floors power only the immediate area, only when stepped upon, but that’s enough to illuminate an LED street lamp. Or imagine a mall or hospital lobby where an average of 250,000 steps occur; that’s enough to power 10,000 mobile phones. PaveGen technology grows stronger; over 100 locations worldwide, including dance clubs, shine. Will Fitbit readouts soon include energy generated? Kemball-Cook observes that “the average person takes 150 million steps in their lifetime, just imagine the potential.” Future goals: paving areas in Mumbai, where people currently lack access to electricity. More visions: universities, schools, sporting venues, hospitals, shopping malls, grocery stores, greenways and sportsways — places where many steps are taken — could add floors to their energy system. When Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics, a milestone in transport and energy was achieved: Shinkansen. Tokyo will again host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics; Beijing, 2022. PyeongChang is next, in 2018. The Olympic path has always been paved with gold; now, also paved with light?

Lawrence Kemball-Cook, TEDtalk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_vPbhYqg2k

“Green sidewalk makes electricity — one footstep at a time.” George Webster, CNN, 13 October 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/13/tech/innovation/pavegen-kinetic-pavements/

http://www.pavegen.com

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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August 5, 2016
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Thank you and Good Night, Jade Rabbit

Chang’e, moon goddess, reaching for her pet Jade Rabbit. Image: wikimedia commons

“The Moon has prepared a long dream for me,” messaged the mythic messenger. Chang’e space mission landed Jade Rabbit on the lunar surface in December 2013. Nick-named ‘Yutu,’ mascot of the moon goddess of Chinese legend, Jade Rabbit’s Weibo account shared thousands of messages and cartoons during 31 months’ exploration of the lunarscape. The view was good: “I’m the rabbit that has seen the most stars,” tweeted the rover with a personal following of 600, 000 fans. Jade Rabbit Yutu is not lonely up there; 60 American and Russian space rovers are parked. And somewhere are two golf balls (Alan Shepard, American Apollo astronaut, teed the lunar green). And China will be back, Yutu, returning in 2017.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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July 27, 2016
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Here Comes the Sun

Solar Impulse 2 successfully completed the first global solar flight on 26 July 2016. Will Peter Glaser’s vision of space solar power soon provide energy to earth? Image: nasa.gov.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed: successfully completing a flight circling the globe, without using a drop of fuel. Not a non-stop route, the trip required 17 legs, beginning where it ended: Abu Dhabi. Not far from the airfield, one might find another model for a solar, and energy-efficient, future: Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. Developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the guidance of Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh as President and a team of experts including Dr. David H. Marks, the campus uses 70% less electricity, 70% less potable water, and runs on solar and other forms of clean energy. Abu Dhabi welcomed Solar Impulse 2 partners Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard who took turns piloting the plane during historic  40,000 km (26,744 mile) achievement: the aircraft holds only one person, and that pilot sleeps only 20 minutes at a time. July might be remembered for another historic record; in 1969, the first humans piloted Nasa’s Apollo mission to the moon. Peter Glaser was project manager for the Apollo 11 Lunar Ranging Retroreflector Array. Will Glaser’s design, and current initiatives of Lucien Deschamps, for space solar power deliver the energy of the sun to the earth?

Thanks to Fred Moavenzadeh, David Marks, and Sheila Turney on Masdar; Jean Louis Bobin and Lucien Deschamps on new forms of energy.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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July 20, 2016
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Moon: Property Rights

Lunar property rights? Image: wikimedia commons.

July 20, 1969: “A giant leap for mankind” as the first human set foot upon the moon in Nasa’s Apollo mission. Two years before, the Outer Space Treaty was signed with the provision that celestial bodies not be owned by any nation; at the time, only governments had enough resources for space exploration. Today, enterprises like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Planetary Resources, Inc. are commercializing the heavens. The Google Lunar X Prize stimulated interest in space resources. European Space Agency and Luna-Resurs plan to drill the lunar south pole where “water and other volatiles” might be discovered. China and Japan are readying moon forays. Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Tony Milligan of King’s College London, and Alanna Krolikowski of Georg-August University Göttingen published, in Space Policy, a warning regarding the moon’s ‘Peaks of Eternal Light’ where a photovoltaic solar power installation could be positioned. In 2015, the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act clarified rights. Professor Matthew Weinzierl and Angela Acocella have written a Harvard Business School case, “Blue Origin, NASA, and New Space.” Could COMSAT provide a model for international cooperation? Before enterprises claim rights, how should the Outer Space Treaty be updated?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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