English articles

REDESIGNING RENEWABLE ENERGY

IBIS Power introduces the breakthrough solution that supplies the needed energy for high rises. PowerNEST is more efficient than other existing renewable systems as it makes use of both wind and sun, integrated in a single solution. This way, it generates as much energy as possible on the limited roof space of highrises, delivering an attractive payback time. In addition, PowerNEST can be customized to blend with the architectural design thus increasing the aesthetical value of the building. Link

 

Welcome to heaven

Architect Rob Derks designed Houten to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. A ring road circles the suburb, and residential districts within are only accessible to cars through these roads on the edge of town. Instead, there is an extensive network of paths and cycle lanes connecting these areas. Link

Silicon as a new storage material

Longer life times, larger ranges and faster recharging—developments such as electric mobility or the miniaturisation of electronics require new storage materials for batteries. With its enormous storage capacity, silicon would potentially have decisive advantages over the materials used in commercial available lithium-ion batteries. But due to its mechanical instability, it has so far been almost impossible to use silicon for storage technology. A research team from the Institute for Materials Science at Kiel University, in cooperation with the company RENA Technologies GmbH, is developing anodes made of 100% silicon, as well as a concept for their industrial production. Through targeted structuring of its surface at the micrometer level, the team can fully exploit the storage potential of silicon. This opens up a completely new approach to rechargeable batteries, as well as the energy storage of tomorrow. Link

Super rich shown to have grown out of ancient farming

Scientists have traced the rise of the super-rich deep into our historical past to uncover the ancient source of social inequality. Their conclusion? Thousands of years ago, it was the use of large farm animals – horses and oxen that could pull ploughs – which created the equivalent of our multi-billionaire entrepreneurs today.

The research, published in Nature, is the first attempt to assess how significant wealth gaps arose among our ancestors. These began when farming first established the idea of land ownership – although only mild disparities resulted from the sowing and reaping of crops. Link

Cassini-missie

Dertien jaar heeft de Cassini-sonde rond de reuzenplaneet Saturnus gecirkeld. Na talloze ontdekkingen is het deze week voorgoed afgelopen. Eigenlijk zou de NASA-sonde maar vier jaar blijven werken. Maar de machine gaf niet op en iedere keer werd de missie verlengd. Nu is de raketbrandstof bijna op. Om te voorkomen dat de sonde neerstort op een van mogelijk levensvatbare manen van Saturnus en die besmet met aardse bacteriën en radioactief plutonium, laat NASA hem vrijdag 15 september in de gasreus Saturnus storten. Cassini’s meest zichtbare erfenis staat op de Cassini-site van NASA: vele duizenden adembenemende foto’s. Link

Tiny Country Feeds the World

From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne’s production numbers testify to the power of this “precision farming,” as it’s known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne’s fields reliably produce more than 20. Link

Can reason make room for religion?

Contemporary Western liberals often assume that theological and political worldviews are competing discourses. Religion, when it enters the political arena, is cast as just another ideology vying for power. But treating the theological and the political as warring forces stops us from looking at the more surprising ways that they interact and inform each other.

Friedrich Schleiermacher was a churchman and civil servant in early 19th-century Germany who rejected a neat partition between the spiritual and the political. In his writing and his life, he grappled, not always successfully, with how to reconcile the two. But in doing so, he offers up some worthwhile lessons about how reason and feeling can coexist in the public sphere, and provides us with a rich picture of what makes life meaningful. Link

The herd instinct

How cultivated individuals can become barbarians in a crowd

If you can bear it, go to YouTube and watch a video of a far-Right rally in Europe or the United States. It tends to be a boisterous spectacle verging on outright mayhem – and you, the concerned viewer, might wonder why many of those assembled appear so angry and full of hatred, so receptive to the provocations of a showman-in-chief goading them to expressions of intolerance and violence. What has happened to them, these otherwise friendly, engaging, law-abiding people? Link

Woody Guthrie

However, a folk singer who died in 1967 is also unexpectedly proving to be a thorn in the side of Trump’s candidacy. Over 60 years ago, Woody Guthrie, the totemic Dust Bowl balladeer who penned the timeless paean to equal rights This Land Is Your Land, became the tenant in New York of housing magnate Fred Trump, father of Donald. Guthrie’s unhappy two-year tenancy led him to write a series of bitter missives, which have only just come to light, accusing his landlord of having encoded in his contracts regulations evincing not just a cynical treatment of the working class but a bigotry towards black Americans. The implication is that Trump Jr’s real estate empire is built on exploitative, even racist, foundations, while his scattershot derogatory memes are a matter of genealogy. Link

Return of the City-State

If you’d been born 2,500 years ago in southern Europe, you’d have been convinced that the Roman empire would last forever. It had, after all, been around for 1,000 years. And yet, following a period of economic and military decline, it fell apart. By 467 CE it was gone. To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime.

The subsequent movement of people across Europe – EU member states received 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015 – sparked a political and humanitarian crisis, the ramifications of which are still unfolding. It certainly contributed to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU. But 1.2 million people is a trickle compared to what’s coming. Exact numbers are hard to come by, and notoriously broad, but according to some estimates as many as 200 million people could be climate-change refugees by the middle of the century. If the EU struggles to control its borders when 1.2 million people move, what would happen if 200 million do? The lesson of history – real, long-lens human history – is that people move, and when they do, it’s hard to stop. Link

Nanomachines …

… that drill into cancer cells killing them in just 60 seconds. The tiny spinning molecules are driven by light, and spin so quickly that they can burrow their way through cell linings when activated. In one test conducted at Durham University the nanomachines took between one and three minutes to break through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cell, killing it instantly.  The ‘motor’ is a rotor-like chain of atoms that can be prompted to move in one direction, causing the molecule to rotate at high speed. Link

Lamarck

The unifying theme for much of modern biology is based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, the process of natural selection by which nature selects the fittest, best-adapted organisms to reproduce, multiply and survive. The process is also called adaptation, and traits most likely to help an individual survive are considered adaptive. As organisms change and new variants thrive, species emerge and evolve. In the 1850s, when Darwin described this engine of natural selection, the underlying molecular mechanisms were unknown. But over the past century, advances in genetics and molecular biology have outlined a modern, neo-Darwinian theory of how evolution works: DNA sequences randomly mutate, and organisms with the specific sequences best adapted to the environment multiply and prevail. Those are the species that dominate a niche, until the environment changes and the engine of evolution fires up again. Link

Human evolution is more a muddy delta than a branching tree

Until recently, anthropologists drew the human family tree in the same way that my 10-year-old son solves a maze. He finds it much easier to work from the end to the beginning, because blind alleys lead with depressing sameness away from the start. In just this way, scientists once traced our own lineage from the present into the past, moving backward through a thicket of fossil relatives, each perched upon its own special branch to extinction. Link

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