Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Environmental

With little electronic backpacks installed on their backs, giant flower beetles are being remotely controlled while in free flight. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) gained insight into how the insects fly and identified the use of these beetles in areas such as search-and-rescue.

The thought of these little bugs sporting backpacks makes me chuckle, but if they will be of service with search-and-rescue, I’m all for it!

blog beetleThe beetles were first placed in a closed room equipped with eight 3D motion-capture cameras. Using radio signals transmitted to the backpack once every millisecond, the researchers selectively stimulated different muscles. By doing so, they were able to get the insects to take off, turn left or right, or hover in place.

Similar research is being conducted at North Carolina State University, except instead of beetles, they are testing with cockroaches.  It seems fitting that some of the peskiest bugs are put to work for us.

It might be fun to be the one to train these beetles (or cockroaches) in a very high tech way and have them follow your commands – releasing the inner animal trainer in you.

Bookmark and Share

Although most of us are, at all times, peripherally aware of the food shortages around the world, there are those who are constantly addressing the needs of the hungry.  Charities, governments, and individuals make concerted efforts to alleviate the challenge of feeding the globe’s inhabitants.  Here are a few links to stimulate your thoughts on what you may be able to contribute through your own work…

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system. —Bill Mollison

 

From The GuardianPermaculture in Malawi: using food forests to prevent floods and hunger

 

From The African Moringa and Permaculture project: Food Forests, an idea pioneered by permaculture, draw upon the examples provided by natural native forests and carefully incorporate non-aggressive exotic varieties.

Permaculture

 

Bookmark and Share

The housing industry is employing 3D printing resulting in drastically reduced cost and time using predominantly recycled materials.  The Chinese Company, Winsun, constructs a house by 3D printing the house components and then transporting them to the construction site for fabrication into a home.  The total cost of houses in this manner is approximately $5,000 making them substantially less expensive and more attainable for those in need.

blog 3d printed wallWith this improved production method, 10 houses can be constructed in 24 hours.

YouTube Preview Image

This method contrasts with that of scientists in California, USA.  They propose massive 3D printers for construction and call it Contour Crafting.  The Contour Crafting device has the potential to construct one house in its entirety in less than 24 hours. In addition to dramatically decreasing the cost of construction and the safety risks that come with traditional construction methods, Contour Crafting could help eliminate poor housing conditions in third world countries by providing home construction at a fraction of the price as well as health and environmental risks. It also could provide a cheap, eco-friendly and efficient solution to cramped urban areas and developing countries in need of building more living space for rising numbers of inhabitants.

In either case, this would dramatically change the housing market and enable so many more people to afford their own dwelling.

Do you have the engineering skills to contribute to this industry?

 

 

 

Bookmark and Share

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has “launched” a public challenge with the aim of innovating technologies vital for the establishment of a colony on Mars. The agency is focused on a mission to the Red Planet, and has already taken the first vital steps. However, while simply reaching Mars with a cargo of healthy astronauts would be a monumental triumph, maintaining a permanent presence on so inhospitable a planet could prove to be a much greater technological challenge.

Maintaining a colony on the Red Planet will prove to be a leviathan challenge, compounded by the knowledge that should a catastrophe occur, the nearest aid sits roughly 140 million miles (225.3 million km) away. At best estimates, the shortest periods between resupply missions from Earth would be around 500 days. It is inevitable that much of the technology at the outpost will be reliant on resources from the homeworld, making any delays in the launch of a supply run a potentially life-endangering event.

The three most promising candidates will be granted a $5,000 USD minimum award.

So here’s the challenge to you:  submit an idea for one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities necessary to achieve a continuous human presence on the Red Planet.

Click on the red planet to submit your idea(s):

blog mars

 

Bookmark and Share

If everyone knows that plastic is bad for the environment, why is it still so widely used?  Ecovative grows its packaging on the fibers of agricultural plants. The macromolecules that compose those fibers, and the mineral nutrients that are bound to them, can be recycled in your own garden and used to grow vegetables!

Not only is Ecovative changing packaging, but they are offering us the ability to craft our own products using their production method at home!  They offer a DIY kit where you can GIY (grow it yourself) which enables you to create your own custom-designed materials and products and help the planet in the process.

Take a look into the process:

YouTube Preview Image

Do you have an application for GIY?

 

 

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to this category Subscribe to Environmental

 
ChatClick here to chat!+