Showing posts with label infrastructure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label infrastructure. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Further evidence that we inhabit a cosmic fractal

Ego City: Cities organized like human brains

"Natural selection has passively guided the evolution of mammalian brains throughout time, just as politicians and entrepreneurs have indirectly shaped the organization of cities large and small," said Mark Changizi, a neurobiology expert and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer, who led the study. "It seems both of these invisible hands have arrived at a similar conclusion: brains and cities, as they grow larger, have to be similarly densely interconnected to function optimally."

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Ballardian moment

Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession anchored just east of Singapore

Then I have it - his 750ft-long merchant vessel is standing absurdly high in the water. The low waves don't even bother the lowest mark on its Plimsoll line. It's the same with all the ships parked here, and there are a lot of them. Close to 500. An armada of freighters with no cargo, no crew, and without a destination between them.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

High as a kite

High-flying kites could power New York

"For cities that are affected by polar jet streams such as Tokyo, Seoul, and New York, the high-altitude resource is phenomenal," Archer continued. "New York, which has the highest average high-altitude wind power density of any U.S. city, has an average wind power density of up to 16 kilowatts per square meter."

Several technologies have been proposed to harvest these high altitude winds, including tethered, kite-like turbines that would be floated to the altitude of the jet streams at an altitude of 20,000-50,000 feet and transmit up to 40 megawatts of electricity to the ground via the tether.

But don't expect the high altitude wind harvesting to begin right away. Th researchers say that a lot needs to fall into place before the technology is feasible for large-scale electricity generation.


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Are cities alive?

The city considered as a very large organism (Paul Raven)

There's a certain innate logic to the analogy that I feel anyone who's lived a long time in one city - or maybe many - would instantly glom onto. Of course the city is alive, of course it is a system, an organism - how could it be anything else?

Once that assumption is agreed, though, the challenge is to work out what that actually means in human terms - which is more of a book-sized challenge than one suitable for a blog post, I suspect. But I'm leaping ahead here, assuming that everyone feels the same way; maybe it sounds daft to you.

I'm drawn to the idea that we're effectively blind to many of the living processes at work in the world. As biological creatures, we expect life to conform to the laws of carbon-based chemistry; consequently, the vast undulations of cities go unnoticed (or at least unremarked).

Given that cities can be viewed as organisms, is it conceivable that some might qualify as intelligent organisms?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My pad or yours?

10 fantastic green cities of the future

Scouring the Web, we found the 10 best examples of green future cities from design visionaries, each one encompassing innovative and sustainable construction techniques, green energy technology, and creativity from your wildest dreams.

Plus one more you might have missed.

Irrationally, part of me still prefers the black, rainy streets of "Blade Runner."

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe

Hurricane Katrina's societal and economic impact has been measured at $81 billion to $125 billion. According to the NAS report, the impact of what it terms a "severe geomagnetic storm scenario" could be as high as $2 trillion. And that's just the first year after the storm. The NAS puts the recovery time at four to 10 years. It is questionable whether the US would ever bounce back.

"I don't think the NAS report is scaremongering," says Mike Hapgood, who chairs the European Space Agency's space weather team. Green agrees. "Scientists are conservative by nature and this group is really thoughtful," he says. "This is a fair and balanced report."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Singularity-mongers, take note.

Still waiting for your metaphorical flying car? Author and disciplined futurist Charles Stross wants a few words with you:

Assuming we avoid a systemic collapse, there'll probably be a moon base, by and by. Whether it's American, Chinese, Indian, or Indonesian is anybody's guess, and probably doesn't matter as far as the 99.999% of the human species who will never get off the planet are concerned. There'll probably be a Mars expedition too. But barring fundamental biomedical breakthroughs, or physics/engineering breakthroughs that play hell with the laws of physics as currently understood, canned monkeys aren't going to Jupiter any time soon, never mind colonizing the universe.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wind turbines and the robots who love them

Robots to Tend Wind Farms

To climb, the robot pulls itself up a rope, and a specially designed carrier system guides the robot along the surface of the rotor blades. The robot is equipped with several advanced sensor systems, including an infrared radiator, a high-res thermal camera, and an ultrasonic system, all of which detect hairline cracks and flaws in the blades. These features enable RIWEA to detect damage that might be hidden to the human eye.

The robotic system is adaptable to a variety of wind turbines, including those on land and off-shore.

But is it capable of defending against UFO attacks?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Farmers in the sky

Spiraling Skyscraper Farms for a Future Manhattan

As the world's population continues to skyrocket and cities strain under the increased demand for resources, skyscraper farms offer an inspired approach towards creating sustainable vertical density. One of three finalists in this year's Evolo Skyscraper Competition Eric Vergne's Dystopian Farm project envisions a future New York City interspersed with elegantly spiraling biomorphic structures that will harness cutting-edge technology to provide the city with its own self-sustaining food source.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Urban slums are the world's fastest-growing human habitat."

Take a long look . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Terminal dissolution" indeed

The Beauty Of Urban Decay

Across the tracks, away from the dazzle of downtown, lies a darker imagination, this one looking to grunge-ridden, dilapidated architecture for inspiration. There is a beauty that pervades this kind of urban decay and captured wonderfully through a photographer's well-trained eye. These industrial city scenes are wonderfully dark and offer a glimpse of the weathered face beneath the city facade.

(Via Grinding.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Is a 'Katrina-Like' Space Storm Brewing?

U.S. scientists worry we aren't ready for a solar space storm that could knock out our electricity, our cell phones, even our water supply.

The chances of that happening are small, but it is a possibility as we move into an active period of solar storms.

How do they know? Well, it's happened before. Back in 1859, a solar eruption resulted in telegraph wires burning up.

Dare to imagine a world without Twitter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Urban Farming: architectural conceptualism abounds.

(Thanks: Grinding.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blue sky thinking: The 'skyscraper' farms that could be feeding millions by 2050

Not put off, Despommier, has pushed for city planners in America to take his project seriously.

'Vertical farming practised on a large scale in urban centres has great potential to supply enough food in a sustainable fashion to comfortably feed all of humankind for the foreseeable future,' he said.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gigantic City-Structures of Paolo Soleri

Soleri created the concept of an "arcology," a combo of architecture and ecology. The idea is pretty uncomplicated, though what Soleri did with his concept is wonderfully elaborate: cities have traditionally been urban slime mold, grinding away at the planet as they’ve crawled across the landscape. So why not create cities with as many people as possible in a small as possible footprint? And not only that but why not also make these super cities magnificently, tremendously, elegantly . . . beautiful?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The following is the kind of proposal that reminds me how cool it can be to live in the 21st century.

Autonomous NanoTechnology Swarm (NASA)

The Autonomic NanoTechnology Swarm (ANTS) is a generic mission architecture consisting of miniaturized, autonomous, self-similar, reconfigurable, addressable components forming structures. The components/structures have wide spatial distribution and multi-level organization. This 'swarm' behavior is inspired by the success of social insect colonies where within their specialties, individuals outperform generalists and with sufficiently efficient social interaction and coordination, groups of specialists outperform groups of generalists.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Kite Power Could Generate Energy for 100,000 Homes

If we told you that a free-flying kite could provide enough energy to power your house, you might consider us crazy. How about all the homes on your block, or even an entire city? Scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands recently tested just such a technology, tethering a 10 square meter kite to a generator to produce 10 kilowatts of power (enough energy for 10 homes). They are currently planning to scale the experiment with a 50 kilowatt kite and a 100 megawatt array called the Laddermill that could potentially power 100,000 homes!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Outquisition

It sounds implausibly weird, but then much of the world we're moving into is likely to sound that way at first. Our ideas of what's normal, or even what's possible, will not outlast the next decade, and it'll be the people who think in (what are by today's standards) abnormal, impossible ways who may just do the most good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Don't think Japanese interchanges are fascinating? You might change your mind after looking at this Flickr set.

Imagine what denizens of a carless future might make of these structures. Would they see enigmatic engineering marvels or unsightly reminders of a past best left forgotten?

Monday, June 23, 2008

One I missed . . .

LILYPAD: Floating City for Climate Change Refugees

There are very few urban design solutions that address housing the inevitable tide of displaced people that could arise as oceans swell under global warming. Certainly none are as spectacular as this one. The Lilypad, by Vincent Callebaut, is a concept for a completely self-sufficient floating city intended to provide shelter for future climate change refugees.