Disabled duck to get new foot with help of 3-D printer

NASHVILLE — Buttercup the disabled duck will gain an opportunity next week not common to most waterfowl.

He is expected to get his new webbed foot prosthetic, courtesy of NovaCopy and its 3-D printing engineer, Joel Graves.

Engineers at the Nashville-based copier reseller didn’t think helping a duck live a normal life would be a project they would encounter during the rise of 3-D printing. But they agreed to donate their time, expertise and technology to help Buttercup when a suburban Memphis waterfowl sanctuary approached them.

AZC Unveils Plans for a Giant Inflatable Trampoline Bridge in Paris

There are plenty of beautiful bridges that carry cars and pedestrians across the Seine River in Paris, so awesome design firm AZC has another idea in store. Why not create a bridge dedicated to fun? Their inflatable crosswalk features enormous trampolines in the center of each of the three rings for people to bounce and flip their way over the water. With their eyes set on a strip near the Bir-Hakeim bridge, AZCwants their blow-up bridge to be a place where anyone can engage with their surroundings, and experience Paris like never before.

Read more: AZC Unveils Plans for a Giant Inflatable Trampoline Bridge in Paris | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

New LED lightbulbs burn ten times brighter

Bright idea: Soraa's MR16 LED matches the output of a 50-watt halogen.

Bright idea: Soraa's MR16 LED matches the output of a 50-watt halogen.

LED lightbulbs promise a highly efficient, nontoxic, long-lasting alternative to today’s incandescent and halogen lightbulbs. Lighting entire rooms using LEDs has, however, proved both technically challenging and expensive.

Soraa, a startup based in Fremont, California, has developed a new type of LED that it says generates 10 times more light from the same quantity of active material used in other LEDs. The company’s first product is a 12-watt bulb that uses 75 percent less energy than a similarly illuminating 50-watt halogen bulb. Company officials would not disclose the cost of the bulb, but say it will pay for itself in less than one year through energy savings.

LEDs contain a semiconducting material that lights up when current passes through it, and are commonly used for low-light applications such as illuminating computer screens.

via LEDs that Burn 10 Times Brighter – Technology Review.

Arizona Scitech Festival helps you find your future in your own backyard

Participate in the Arizona Scitech Festival

Participate in the Arizona Scitech Festival

What do baseballs, robots; telescopes and chocolate have in common? They are part of a short roster of what Arizona’s first annual science and technology festival will bring people of all ages for family fun using science, technology and innovation. The nearly six-week-long ARIZONA SCITECH festival, taking place from late January through March 14, 2012,  will showcase over 300 colorful events, demonstrations, tours, games, activities and workshops across the state featuring the career opportunities of the future and the latest technologies right here within our state’s borders.

Whether it’s the Mad Science of Baseball at Scottsdale’s Spring Training Festival, gazing at far-off stars through some of the world’s most powerful telescopes at Mesa Community College’ Astronomy Night, touring some of Arizona’s premiere technology companies at the Chandler Tech Crawl, meeting Galileo at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, seeing science come to life in Downtown Tucson or witnessing first-hand the illuminated works of art brought together by mixing art and science during Phoenix’ First-Friday Art and Science Fusions, there is something for everyone. Science is everywhere!

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World’s largest source of business sustainability data launches

Data publishing site Ecodesk has profiled the sustainability strategy of 4,000 of the world’s largest companies and their cost savings making it the largest free, public database of business carbon, energy, waste and water scores in the world. These 4,000 case studies have already realised millions in savings from reporting and analysing their data through Ecodesk. These include DHL and Microsoft among many others.

‘We want to encourage transparency and accuracy in carbon, energy, water and waste reporting.’ —Robert Clarke, CEO of Ecodesk.

The site, which officially launches today and is funded by UK Sterling 1.5m private equity and government grants, has made carbon data scores available for free and comparable for the first time. There are over 17,000 profiles in total. → continue reading

Indigenous Alaskans struggle to cope with climate change

(USGS) Personal interviews with Alaska Natives in the Yukon River Basin provide unique insights on climate change and its impacts, helping develop adaptation strategies for these local communities.

The Village of St. Mary’s, Alaska

The village of St. Mary’s, Alaska where USGS scientists conducted interviews with hunters and elders to document their observations of climate change. The village lies in the Yukon River Basin on the banks of the Andreafsky River, a tributary of the Yukon River.

Photo Credit: School District of St. Mary’s, Alaska. (High resolution image)

The USGS coordinated interviews with Yup’ik hunters and elders in the villages of St. Mary’s and Pitka’s Point, Alaska, to document their observations of climate change. They expressed concerns ranging from safety, such as unpredictable weather patterns and dangerous ice conditions, to changes in plants and animals as well as decreased availability of firewood.

“Many climate change studies are conducted on a large scale, and there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding how climate change will impact specific regions,” said USGS social scientist Nicole Herman-Mercer. “This study helps address that uncertainty and really understand climate change as a socioeconomic issue by talking directly to those with traditional and personal environmental knowledge.”

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Climate sceptic Willie Soon received $1m from oil companies, papers show

By John Vidal (Guardian UK) One of the world’s most prominent scientific figures to be sceptical about climate change has admitted to being paid more than $1m in the past decade by major US oil and coal companies.

Dr Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, is known for his view that global warming and the melting of the arctic sea ice is caused by solar variation rather than human-caused CO2 emissions, and that polar bears are not primarily threatened by climate change.

But according to a Greenpeace US investigation, he has been heavily funded by coal and oil industry interests since 2001, receiving money from ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Insitute and Koch Industries along with Southern, one of the world’s largest coal-burning utility companies. Since 2002, it is alleged, every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.

In addition, freedom of information documents suggest that Soon corresponded in 2003 with other prominent climate sceptics to try to weaken a major assessment of global warming being conducted by the UN’s leading climate science body, the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Soon, who had previously disclosed corporate funding he received in the 1990s, was today reportely unapologetic, telling Reuters that he agreed that he had received money from all of the groups and companies named in the report but denied that any group would have influenced his studies.

via Climate sceptic Willie Soon received $1m from oil companies, papers show | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

‘Biosphere 2,’ human terrarium, comes back to life

Biosphere 2, Oracle, Ariz., comes back to life

Biosphere 2, Oracle, Ariz., comes back to life

By Allen G. Breed (AP ) Jane Poynter and seven compatriots agreed to spend two years sealed inside a 3-acre terrarium in the Sonoran Desert. Their mission back in the 1990s: To see whether humans might someday be able to create self-sustaining colonies in outer space.

Two decades later, the only creatures inhabiting Biosphere 2 are cockroaches, nematodes, snails, crazy ants and assorted fish. Scientists are still using the 7.2-million-square-foot facility, only now the focus is figuring out how we’ll survive on our own warming planet.

Next month, workers will begin a new chapter for “B2″ – building the first of three enclosed soil slopes in what was once the “intensive agricultural biome,” the space where Poynter and the other original “biospherians” grew the rice, sorghum, peanuts, bananas, papayas, sweet potatoes and lablab beans that supplied 90 percent of their nutritional needs.

The new “Land Evolution Observatory” – a 10-year, $5 million project – will help scientists learn how vegetation, topography and other factors affect rainwater’s journey through a watershed and into our drinking supplies.

via ‘Biosphere 2,’ Human Terrarium, Enters New Phase Of Research 20 Years Later VIDEO.

US Military Has Aggressive Biofuel Goals

From conceptualizing zero-emission transport solutions to exploring solar power in key military centers, the U.S. military’s need to always be ahead of the curve is pushing the bubble for green energy development. And one area that has gone under the radar is the U.S. military’s ambitious goal to meet fifty percent of its fuel usage through biofuels by 2016.

via Tiny Green Bubble • US Military Has Aggressive Biofuel Goals.

El Mirage plan would create urban arts hub

The city of El Mirage has a very “un-Phoenix” vision for its future — cut more from the cloth of Santa Fe, N.M., and Portland than the Valley’s sprawling suburbia.

El Mirage voters in November will consider a long-term plan to transform the West Valley city into a transit-oriented, environmentally friendly arts hub. Officials also want to cut the city’s carbon footprint by half over the next several decades and create parcels for organic and urban gardens.

The El Mirage City Council approved the plan earlier this month.

“It’s an ambitious plan,” said Scott Chesney, the city’s economic development director.

El Mirage already is doing some things outlined in the plan, such as trying to attract artists and creative businesses via zoning changes that allow for live-work studios, and hooking them up with federal stimulus help such as weatherization grants and energy-efficiency tax breaks.

But the plan hinges on the recovery of the real estate and lending markets and building transit-oriented, urban development around a possible commuter rail station near Grand Avenue and Thunderbird Road. There is a proposal to create a commuter rail line along the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks to link the city to downtown Phoenix.

“El Mirage wants to build a jobs core around a train station,” Chesney said.

The Maricopa Association of Governments is moving forward with plans for a 30- to 50-mile Grand Avenue commuter line that could run to Wickenburg. But MAG planner Marc Pearsall said such a line hinges on finding funding and likely is a decade away. MAG’s Regional Council approved the idea of a Grand Avenue rail line in May.

“Since there is no existing funding for commuter rail in our existing Regional Transportation Plan, a new funding source would need to be identified and sent to the voters. In today’s economic and political climate, that may be very difficult for the near future,” Pearsall said.

A May MAG report on the Grand line estimates costs of $434 million to $701 million, depending on the length of the line.

About 200 acres of land near Grand and Thunderbird could be redeveloped around the train station, including a 140-acre lot of the north side of Grand used by BNSF.

Chesney stressed the plan is long-term when it comes to transit-oriented developments and finding ways to reduce El Mirage’s carbon footprint.

via El Mirage plan would create urban arts hub – Phoenix Business Journal.