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19 Sep

For the last three or so years, electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan and some of his students have been using a roof on the Stanford University campus as a testing ground for an optical surface that could effect major changes to low-energy air conditioning and refrigeration.

The system can cool running water to a temperature lower than that of nearby air -- all without using a shred of electricity.

In a press release, research associate Aaswath Raman said, “This research builds on our previous work with radiative sky cooling but takes it to the next level. It provides for the first time a high-fidelity technology demonstration of how you can use radiative sky cooling to passively cool a fluid and, in doing so, connect it with cooling systems to save electricity."

Radiative sky cooling?

17 Sep

Researchers from the University of Exeter in the U.K. have come up with a clean energy alternative for manufacturing structures that has the potential to turn at least parts of the construction industry on their collective ears.

The heart of the solution is a glass building block -- the kind that is often used in basement windows or, when frosted, in bathroom windows -- that contains a scaled-down solar device. Building facades that use the product, known as Solar Squared, can generate electricity while also allowing light to pass through the blocks. And the blocks are also said to provide increased thermal insulation -- one of the reasons that builders use them in the first place.

15 Sep

More than one-third of U.S. adults aren’t getting enough sleep at night, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and it’s a serious problem. Not only are there physical health problems associated with lack of sleep, but a new study reveals that there may be mental health issues, as well.

A team of researchers that followed a group of 61-year-olds for 12 years revealed that those who spend less time in REM sleep may have a higher risk for eventually developing dementia. Of the 321 adults the team followed, 32 got dementia, with 24 of the cases being Alzheimer’s.

13 Sep

If you spent your high school years failing to be part of the in crowd, you may actually be better off in the long run. According to a new study, those who form strong, long-term friendships in youth are happier than those who were described by others as being popular during their school years.

The study, which was conducted by a team of University of Virginia researchers, surveyed 169 people across multiple races and socioeconomic statuses. Researchers questioned the group of participants about their friendships and mental health at the age of 15, then checked back in each year until they reached the age of 25.

11 Sep

No, the vintage glass-and-metal closets with a fluorescent ceiling light illuminating the word TELEPHONE on all four sides aren't making a comeback in the age of smartphones -- the ancestors of which, those lowly brick- and dumb-phones, rendered phone booths all but obsolete.

Instead, three phone booths recently adorned Duffy Square in the heart of Mid-town Manhattan's Times Square neighborhood -- as an art installation aimed at themes of displacement and belonging as each relates to the immigrant experience.

The project, "Once Upon a Place" by Aman Mojadidi, looks at the immigrant experience by way of oral histories that are presented in the form of phone calls. Incoming ones, announced by the familiar pay phone ring.

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