17 Mar

For those wondering when solar energy will come in the form of roof coverings rather than added-on panels, that time might be now.

Tesla, the company of all-electric cars, recently announced that it will begin installing its solar roof product (announced last October) later this year.

In an investor letter, the company said, "Compared to regular roofs, we expect our solar roof to last longer, look better, and cost less than a traditional tile roof plus the cost of electricity. To support solar roof production, we announced a solar cell manufacturing partnership with Panasonic. Production is scheduled to begin in Buffalo, N.Y. this year."

According to a Business Insider report, Tesla intends to offer a quartet of different kinds of shingles designed to work well with a variety of housing aesthetics -- a move made to prod homeowners to chuck their bulky solar panels for a more traditional-looking roof finish.

15 Mar

The machines are part of the company's innovations in the areas of the IoT ecosystem and artificial intelligence. LG's product line also includes a robot for home use that serves as a home gateway and smart notification hub.

The aptly named Hub Robot connects to other smart appliances within the home using Alexa voice technology from Amazon to make changes to a clothes dryer cycle or simply turn on the air conditioning. Its interactive display can show the contents of a nearby refrigerator as well as step-by-step recipes, including audio instructions. The Hub Robot can also supply weather and traffic updates, play music, and set alarms. And when interacting with humans, the robot can employ body language, such as nodding its mechanical head.

13 Mar

It only took a few weeks after word came of China's first vertical forest for Stefano Boeri to expand upon his announcement by revealing plans to construct China's first Forest City.

Yes, China's air pollution has gotten so bad that one of the better prospects of cleaning up the atmosphere is to fill it with carbon dioxide-consuming plants and trees.

Boeri's announcement marks a giant leap in scale from his Bosco Verticale skyscraper, models of which already comprise vertical forests in Switzerland and Italy. The first Chinese iteration of Boeri's plan will break ground in the city of Nanjing later this year.

11 Mar

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections kill more than 11,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Bacteria that resist antibiotics cause great concern for the scientific community, leading them to continually study it.

In an effort to learn more about MRSA, NASA is sending resistant bacteria into space. By studying the way gravity affects these bugs, the medical community may be able to figure out how the mutation process works, which is the first step toward controlling that process.

09 Mar

Is it worth the time, trouble, and expense to drink only bottled or filtered water? Haven't municipal filtration systems advanced to the point where treated water is considered safe?

Can you say Flint, Michigan?

In one image on its web site, Popular Science describes some of the items that might be in your tap water -- which varies considerably in quality from one location to another. Among the possibilities:

  • Chlorine: Low levels of this common water disinfectant don't seem to pose much risk. However, says PopSci, "some disinfectants produce byproducts that have been linked to miscarriages."
  • Arsenic: Naturally occurring in rocks and soil, this poison should be adequately filtered by water treatment facilities. Well owners, though, should periodically test their sources for evidence of it.

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