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The Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp, Environmentally Friendly Engineering

Lately we have been uber-enviro-nerds with the talk of wind turbines, deep lake cooling and environmentally friendly roller coasters. I just felt the need to put up another nifty energy saving device that was invented by a Bloke from the UK named Peter Hughes. He has created a ramp that absorbs kinetic energy from breaking or slowing down while driving your car over regular roadways. The idea is simple, use the cars wasted kinetic energy to power the streetlights and stoplights. There are a series of plates installed under the road which the cars will drive over, more than likely around stop lights or other areas where the traffic will be slowed. The weight of the car slightly shifts the plates, causing kinetic energy to be created. The energy is stored and then used to power whatever. It is better described on the official site, so I will just do you a favor and quote it here.
The ramp is unobtrusive, silent in operation, causes no discomfort to the vehicles occupants and is entirely safe in operation. The Ramp is designed to require the minimum of maintenance and may be used for generating electricity to power street lighting, traffic lights, road signs, with the surplus being fed into the national grid. It also has the capability to store electricity within a storage battery facility.
I also found a video that you can watch that shows this in action. [youtube]uA0aiKFMSac[/youtube] I have high hopes for this technology; it is a very smart design and easily implemented for almost any roadway. The amount of energy spent operating the lights for roadways may not be much in comparison to other utilities we expect in our daily lives but this simple innovation will hopefully lead the way in other inventions to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and ultimately reduce the amount of pollution because of this. I think this technology is only currently being implemented in the UK but hopefully American cities will become aware of this power creating device and take advantage of it's obvious benefits. Also, since America is the largest contributor to pollution world wide, it couldn't hurt to try to change the image for the better by fully embracing any new technology that could possibly make a worthwhile difference.

Deep Lake Water Cooling: Saving the Earth, one Skyscraper at a Time

In the past we've talked about some things that you can do to make your house more energy efficient. Some things are easy, like putting in Compact Florescent light bulbs, while others are on their way in the near future, like your own personal wind turbine. There's only so much you can do at home, though, and many of us live in large, air-conditioned office buildings. How could a glass-covered skyscraper possibly use less power for cooling in the summer? If you live in Toronto, it's easy - just tie into the Deep Lake Water Cooling System. Deep lake water cooling system in Toronto The system, by Enwave, draws water from Lake Ontario, deep below the surface where it's always a chilly 4 degrees Celsius. The water runs through huge heat exchangers before making its way into the city's normal water supply. A separate cooling loop transports water chilled by the incoming lake water to various buildings in the financial district where it is used in the air conditioning system. Here's a diagram of the system at work. The city is seeing substantial benefits since it tied into the cooling system:
Metro Hall went online with Enwave's Deep Lake Water Cooling system in June 2006. With the addition of this building, energy consumption will be reduced by 1.7 million kilowatt-hours per year and reduce CO2 emissions by 1,915 tonnes annually - equivalent to taking 383 cars off the road.
According to Enwave, the system uses 90% less energy than a traditional air conditioning system and is price-competitive. This is one of those cases where you don't even have to pay a premium to reduce CO2 production. Here's a picture of the gigantic heat exchangers: Deep water cooling heat exchanger Other large Great Lakes cities like Chicago, Cleveland, and Buffalo could take advantage of a system like this as well. Add in a few off-shore wind farms and the Rust Belt could take a real lead in green technology that makes use of the local geography. So what do you say, Cleveland?

Possibly the Only Environmentally Friendly Roller Coaster

cynori11.jpgSo, as you may or may not know, here at unsought we are really kind of environerds, some more than others. Either way, while stumbling on the internet I came across a page about an environmentally friendly roller coaster. Needless to say, my love for the environment, for the zany, for all things Japanese and for roller coasters overtook me and I read the entire article. Since it was in Japanese, the English translation is a little lacking but you get the general idea if you go to read the site. If not, you can just read my interpretation of it, and I will even put up some of the pictures of this "green amusement ride". Not to dissuade you from ever wanting to actually ride this roller coaster, the general gist of the article is "fear". To be honest, they use the word "fear" 18 times in the article. Though they felt the fear, they do recommend the ride after all is said and done. cycride1.jpgBasically the premise of this roller coaster is that you are pedaling instead of having it run off of gasoline or electricity. As you may or may not know, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to power a single roller coaster all day, thus wearing down our natural resources worse than leaving all the lights on in the house as your mother often yelled at you for doing. So, here you are doing the environment a favor, and you are doing a favor for your health as well. Think of it as killing two birds with one stone, but don't actually kill any birds, thank you. I realize that that may seem like a lot of work and not really worth it when you want to ride an amusement ride, but how cool is this? I mean, look at those seat belts. Those are not going to hold you in if you were to fall out. I am serious. The thrills are a mile a minute, or at least as fast as you and your partner can pedal. And the roller coaster even has a little basket, just like that bike your cousin handed you down when you were a kid, the one with the basket and bell and the little tassels on the handlebars. As the Japanese would say, it's very nastukashi or sentimental. curve02.jpgThis ride is apparently located in a Japanese amusement park on the island of Seto, but I am not sure of the name. From what I can gather, though, it might called Eagle Feather Mountain Highland. The coaster is much more of a monorail type than an actual roller coaster but the fear comes from the possibilities of falling out of the car to your death; some of the turns on the course are more than forty feet from the ground. The actual enviro-coaster is the one with the arrows pointing to it, there is another energy powered roller coaster in this park as well. Look how high up some of the track is from the ground. I can see how these people feared for their lives, but that's part of the thrill of riding a roller coaster. cycenkei1.jpgThe Japanese writing on the picture says chiyupikosataa, the second part of that if you sound it out is coaster. From what I gathered from the site, the mascot of this amusement park is a mouse called Chiyupi, so this probably a coaster named after it. I don't really think this will catch on with American audiences, but I know that if I go back to Japan, hopefully in October, that I will make it a point to try and find this park just to ride this ride. If I do, I will definitely write another article on this coaster with a first hand account of if it was really worth all the effort and fear. Until then, please enjoy the fantastic amusements that are located in your general vicinity.

7th Seal of the Apocalypse, Cell Phones

One of the latest theories for the mass disappearance of bees recently has to do with cell phones. It is theorized that the radiation given off by cell phones interferes with bees' navigation system making them unable to return to their hive. There is some research to support this as German researchers have found that bees' behaviour changes near power lines. German research has also shown that fucking a chicken is possible, so I don't know how credible it is. So it looks like teenage girls desire to talk non-stop on cell phones will be the dmeise of us all. It seems like there is only one solution, talk to people in person. I know what your saying, that's crazy I can't talk to some one face to face. I don't even remember how that works. It might be hard at first, but I think with practice people will remember how to do it. Don't stand too far away because then you won't be able to hear each other. Also don't stand too close because then you'll be kissing. Lots of people are also making a big deal out of what Albert Einstein said about bees and people not being able to survive with out them. I say whatever. Another brilliant guiy Isaac Asimov said that in the future we'll all be eating food made from bacteria and fungi. So I'm not worried. Who likes bees anyways. They sting and the always ruin your picnic. I say good riddens. Hit the road bees we don't need you anymore. I for one will enjoy my bee free summer.

Why should you care that all the bees are dying?

Recently it has come to my attention that all of the nations bees are seriously threatened. Iaren't bees cute? know, it's hard to believe that it would be a big deal, and in fact, no one has really made a big stink about it yet. But it's important. Why, you might ask? Well, even if you didn't ask, you should probably read on since this topic definitely affects everyone, even if you don't like honey or bees. Most people know that bees are responsible for honey and bee stings but what you may not know is that they are a much more important member of the agricultural community. Bees, especially honey bees, are responsible for the pollination of flowers (you might be saying duh, here but follow me on this one, please), and said pollination causes plants to actually bear fruits as the method of their reproduction. And said fruits are important for not only human nutrition, but also for that of most of the animals we raise as pets and most of the animals that we eat. This topic came to my attention from my grandfather, an almost retired farmer. He brought it up to my mother in this manner. Grandpa: "Hey, The Fidge (that's me, btw) is a biologist, right?" Mom: "you know she is" G: "Well, can she tell me why the lady down the road's bees are almost all dead?" M: "Really? They are almost all dead? Why?" G: " Well, if we knew, we wouldn't be asking The Fidge, would we? Of her 20 hives, only two of them are still alive. All of the other hives are dead. And the other guy down the road, he had 125 hives and now only maybe twenty of them are still alive. They asked me if I knew what was happening, and I said I would ask the Fidge." So, this has become a job for me. Although I am just using the internet to research it, I do plan on calling a visit on these beekeepers to talk to them about their practices, but in the meantime I will fill you in on what the vast spaces of the interweb have to say about this little bee apocalypse. First of all, officials are calling this epidemic Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD for short. (I just would like to point out that everything needs an acronym.) This used to be called Fall Dwindle Disease (FDD) but it was changed b/c it was noticed that this is not due to seasonality, nor can it be ruled to just being a disease. Actually, most experts are baffled to what exactly CCD is. Basically, they can't narrow it down to what is really killing all the bees. For example, according to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences news release on the topic: "Preliminary work has identified several likely factors that could be causing or contributing to CCD," says Dennis van Engelsdorp, acting state apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. "Among them are mites and associated diseases, some unknown pathogenic disease and pesticide contamination or poisoning." That helps narrow it down, doesn't it? So, basically we can't really rule out anything at this point. We don't know what is killing the bees, and we can't decide what it could be, either. Most of the information I am using in my research comes from the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium Web site. In the hives that were researched by MAAREC there was evidence of vampire mites, a small parasite that lives off the "blood" of adult bees, viral infection, stress due to constant relocation of hives for crop pollination, intestinal amoebas, fungal infection, stunted learning and development due to industry chemicals (pesticides, fungicides, herbicides), and on and on. You get the point. We have not been able to narrow CCD down to any particular thing, which makes it incredibly difficult to treat the problem. The drastic amount of bees found dead over such a short period of time is what is so scary about the whole thing. A small bee apocalypse, the few surviving bees are all very young adults from what most beekeepers can see. I mean, as I pointed out, the two local cases above have lost an incredible amount of bees from their original numbers, and this is the case all around the country. The rate at which these bees are dying is alarming, especially since we cannot narrow the cause of their mortality down to anything specific. According to Jean-Louis Santini of AFP, "Bee numbers on parts of the east coast and in Texas have fallen by more than 70 percent, while California has seen colonies drop by 30 to 60 percent. It is normal for hives to see populations fall by some 20 percent during the winter, but the sharp loss of bees is causing concern, especially as domestic US bee colonies have been steadily decreasing since 1980." Well, either way, I have not really helped to narrow it down, but I hope you have learned something. Maybe this summer when food is really expensive you will know why, since most of the food we eat comes from the pollination efforts of bees, with only a few crops such as corn and wheat being wind pollinated. And just so you know, this is not something just limited to specific areas. This is affecting not only the US, but parts of Europe as well. This is a big deal, and no one seems to know anything about it. I figured I would end this article with a quote from Albert Einstein. "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man," This may seem a little extremist, but it does bring the point home.