Friday, December 15, 2017

Pick up your "beach read" at the beach

Some people are just all about the pages, not the electrons. In Varna, Bulgaria, a team of architects built an open-air library on the beach.

The Rapana Library looks a little like a seashell and shelves more than a thousand books. It also has a small stage.

The designers went through 20 models and the final contains 240 pieces of wood.

Varna is not the only city to come up with some spiffy public spaces. In Indonesia, a little library has been built out of 2,000 ice cream buckets. That's some sweet space!

I have a question on the Varna "seashell" library--what about moisture, rain even, wind? Books, as I recall, are made of paper.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tip of the hat--to life

The Ford Motor Company has invented the SafeCap, which will alert drivers to their drowsiness.

The cap is aimed at truck drivers, but could be used by anyone.

They mapped the typical head, neck and shoulder movements of drivers and equipped the cap with a gyroscope and accelerimeter to detect atypical movements indicating sleepiness.

When these are detected, a sound is emitted--followed by light and vibration.

By heading off accidents due to the driver nodding off, the company hopes to reduce deaths and  injuries.

Look for this in 2018.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bone screws made of--bone!

Since the 19th century, surgeons have been using metal screws and plates to hold broken bones until they could fuse and heal.

However, titanium or steel screws can cause problems--such as infections--and sometimes need to be removed, meaning a second operation.

Now, engineers at the Graz University of Technology have teamed up with a startup called Surgebright to make these screws of human bone.

Called Shark Screws, these are made from donated bone--typed to match the recipient to prevent rejection.

A year after surgery, they don't even show up on x-ray--they are part of the patient's bone.

Surgebright was created in 2016 with the German Institute of Tissue and Cell Replacement.

Other surgical innovations to watch for? Tissue scaffolds and a smart needle to be used in brain surgery.

Can you think of others?

For more info, go to http:/,

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This building builds itself

What if you need a decent-sized building someplace in 10 minutes? Call Ten Fold Engineering, a UK-based company (

Each structure is 689 square feet of space. It can be transported to any site (no foundation needed) by truck.

All you need to set it up is a battery-powered, hand-held drill.

The building, you see, unfurls itself using a low-tech, counter-balanced folding assembly.

The units can be stack on each other or on sloped or uneven ground.

Use them for clinics, beach houses, offices, shops, anything.

Time to move on? They furl back together.

The company even combined some to make a 40-bedroom hotel for a festival.

What do these cost? The company's website promises more info on cost this month.

Oh--and you can see some cool depictions of the buildings unfolding.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Capturing your steps as energy

People walk around public spaces--a lot. A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have develop an inexpensive way to convert footsteps to electricity.

Their brainstorm involves using wood pulp and nanofibers in the flooring.

This does not involve the sun having to be out and could work well in high-traffic places  like stadiums or a mall, according to On Wisconsin magazine.

Associate professor Xudong Wang is planning to build a prototype in a high-profile spot on campus...and from there, who knows.

Actually, this is not a new idea...It's being developed elsewhere as well--including England.
Google  Laurence Kemball-Cook, for example. That's him in the picture.

People walk--why let that go to waste? 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Meet Mr. Trash Wheel

That's it--Mr Trash Wheel
I used to love to go to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and poke around, back when I lived in DC.

Anyhow, I read on AwesomeOcean,org, that Baltimore now has a water wheel that sits at the mouth of the Jones Fall River and removes massive amounts of garbage from the water.

Since 2014, Mr Trash Wheel (the name could have used work) has removed over a million pounds of debris from the Inner Harbor.

That comes to 8.9 million cigarette butts, half a million potato chip bags, bottles, and you name it.  and probably things you would not want to name.

It can scoop up 50,000 pounds of trash a day---which is then sent to an incinerator to power Maryland homes.

If the river current does not deliver up enough stuff, it also has solar panels to power it.

A second one is now in the planning stages and money is being raised.

Could work in a lot of situations, right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CloudFisher grabs water from fog

Some areas of the world are short on water, but long on fog.

For them, a partnership between Morocco's Dar Si Hmad, a nonprofit, and Germany's The Water Foundation and Aqualonis, called CloudFisher, distills water from fog.

Located in the Atlas Mountains, CloudFisher's huge nets gather up the fog and funnel water into storage tanks, where it is pumped to homes.

The big nets can withstand winds of up t0 120 mph.

Women and children, who foemer spent many horus a day gathering water, now have time for other things.

Cultures are also preserved because tribes and populations do not have to move elsewhere to find water.

The project has been so successful, it has spawned a school and an observatory.

Similar projects gather tiny amounts of rain for cooking, and that water is also used to cool homes.

Cool, huh?