smartercities:

The Sidewalk of the Future Is Not So Concrete | CityLab
Some cities have started to rethink the traditional sidewalk. Local governments and technology companies all over the world are considering new ways of building pedestrian pathways that go beyond the common mix of cement and aggregate we know as concrete. These materials have broadened not only how cities construct sidewalks but also the very notion of what a sidewalk can be. They can now enhance walkability, generate renewable energy, and improve public safety, even as they withstand all those tree roots that have been breaking concrete slabs for decades.

smartercities:

The Sidewalk of the Future Is Not So Concrete | CityLab

Some cities have started to rethink the traditional sidewalk. Local governments and technology companies all over the world are considering new ways of building pedestrian pathways that go beyond the common mix of cement and aggregate we know as concrete. These materials have broadened not only how cities construct sidewalks but also the very notion of what a sidewalk can be. They can now enhance walkability, generate renewable energy, and improve public safety, even as they withstand all those tree roots that have been breaking concrete slabs for decades.

(via emergentfutures)

spaceplasma:

Titan’s Atmosphere

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found

Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. Much as with Venus prior to the Space Age, the dense, opaque atmosphere prevented understanding of Titan’s surface until new information accumulated with the arrival of the Cassini–Huygens mission in 2004, including the discovery of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in Titan’s polar regions.

The atmosphere is largely nitrogen; minor components lead to the formation of methane and ethane clouds and nitrogen-rich organic smog. Titan’s lower gravity means that its atmosphere is far more extended than Earth’s and about 1.19 times as massive. It supports opaque haze layers that block most visible light from the Sun and other sources and renders Titan’s surface features obscure. Atmospheric methane creates a greenhouse effect on Titan’s surface, without which Titan would be far colder. Conversely, haze in Titan’s atmosphere contributes to an anti-greenhouse effect by reflecting sunlight back into space, cancelling a portion of the greenhouse effect warming and making its surface significantly colder than its upper atmosphere.

Titan’s clouds, probably composed of methane, ethane or other simple organics, are scattered and variable, punctuating the overall haze.The findings of the Huygens probe indicate that Titan’s atmosphere periodically rains liquid methane and other organic compounds onto its surface. Clouds typically cover 1% of Titan’s disk, though outburst events have been observed in which the cloud cover rapidly expands to as much as 8%. One hypothesis asserts that the southern clouds are formed when heightened levels of sunlight during the southern summer generate uplift in the atmosphere, resulting in convection. This explanation is complicated by the fact that cloud formation has been observed not only after the southern summer solstice but also during mid-spring.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

projecthabu:

     Here, we have the Saturn V rocket, housed inside the Apollo/Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center near Titusville, Florida, just a few miles from Launch complex 39, where these beasts once roared into the sky.

     When we look at the enormous first stage of the Saturn V rocket, called an S-IC, we think “spaceship”. Truthfully, the Saturn V first stage never actually made it into space. The stage only burned for the first 150 seconds of flight, then dropped away from the rest of the rocket, all while remaining totally inside Earth’s atmosphere. The S-IC stage is merely an aircraft.

     Even more truthfully, the S-IC stage displayed here at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, never flew at all. It is a static test article, fired while firmly attached to the ground, to make sure the rocket would actually hold together in flight. Obviously, these tests were successful, (e.g. she didn’t blow up), and she sits on our Apollo museum today. I wrote more about this particular stage in a previous post, (click here to view.)

     The rest of the rocket, the second and third stages, called the S-II and S-IVB stages, did fly into space. The S-II put the manned payload into orbit, and the S-IVB was responsible for initially propelling that payload from earth orbit to the moon, an act called “trans-lunar injection” (TLI).

     The particular rocket in this display, except for the first stage, is called SA-514. 514 was going to launch the cancelled Apollo 18 and 19 moon missions.

     The command/service module (CSM) in the photos is called CSM-119. This particular capsule is unique to the Apollo program, because it has five seats. All the others had three. 119 could launch with a crew of three, and land with five, because it was designed it for a possible Skylab rescue mission. It was later used it as a backup capsule for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

(via itsfullofstars)

engadget:

Tesla gets the go-ahead for five dealerships in Pennsylvania

Further listening on why each state has to sign off on Tesla selling their cars there: The Tesla Tale.

engadget:

Tesla gets the go-ahead for five dealerships in Pennsylvania

Further listening on why each state has to sign off on Tesla selling their cars there: The Tesla Tale.

Why Is Blood Red? Because, y’know, human blood is always red, even when it’s in your body.

We figured the best way to explain was with a gallon of fake blood, an homage to Carrie, and cameos from stufftoblowyourmind's Julie and Dr. Anton Jessup.

[via]

brookhavenlab:

A water slide taller than Niagara Falls just opened in Kansas City. It stands 168 feet 7 inches tall, includes a 17-story drop, and it’s called Verrückt, which means “insane” in German. Appropriate, since you might have to be missing a few marbles to willingly fling yourself down it. 
It looks terrifying, but, according to Gene Van Buren, one of Brookhaven’s physicists, the angle of the drop, the friction of a raft against the slide, and the force of gravity will keep you from flying off of it. He told LiveScience: “The longer and taller a slide is, the steeper the lower half can be for it to still be safe for riders.” 
Verrückt has a 60-degree angle at its longest drop, and the water beneath a rider’s raft eases the friction against the slide, producing a feeling of weightlessness. But, said Van Buren, “If it becomes too steep too quickly, then a person or object of any sort would no longer remain on the slide, and would likely become airborne.”
The slide designer’s have pushed this record-breaking thrill ride right up to the edge, allowing for a gut-wrenching drop while still keeping riders from taking flight.  
"Free fall can be a rather scary feeling, and people can get a thrill from that,” Van Buren said. “So this is undoubtedly why slide designers push to make the safety margins as small as they can, and get people closer to the verge of becoming airborne, without ever doing so.” 

brookhavenlab:

A water slide taller than Niagara Falls just opened in Kansas City. It stands 168 feet 7 inches tall, includes a 17-story drop, and it’s called Verrückt, which means “insane” in German. Appropriate, since you might have to be missing a few marbles to willingly fling yourself down it. 

It looks terrifying, but, according to Gene Van Buren, one of Brookhaven’s physicists, the angle of the drop, the friction of a raft against the slide, and the force of gravity will keep you from flying off of it. He told LiveScience: “The longer and taller a slide is, the steeper the lower half can be for it to still be safe for riders.” 

Verrückt has a 60-degree angle at its longest drop, and the water beneath a rider’s raft eases the friction against the slide, producing a feeling of weightlessness. But, said Van Buren, “If it becomes too steep too quickly, then a person or object of any sort would no longer remain on the slide, and would likely become airborne.”

The slide designer’s have pushed this record-breaking thrill ride right up to the edge, allowing for a gut-wrenching drop while still keeping riders from taking flight.  

"Free fall can be a rather scary feeling, and people can get a thrill from that,” Van Buren said. “So this is undoubtedly why slide designers push to make the safety margins as small as they can, and get people closer to the verge of becoming airborne, without ever doing so.” 

What’d happen if the 7 octillion atoms in your body simultaneously collapsed? The Information Elevator operator clues us in, with a little help from my ridiculous facial expressions.

futurejournalismproject:

The Robots are Coming, Part 132
First, some background, via Kevin Roose at New York Magazine:

Earlier this week, one of my business-beat colleagues got assigned to recap the quarterly earnings of Alcoa, the giant metals company, for the Associated Press. The reporter’s story began: “Alcoa Inc. (AA) on Tuesday reported a second-quarter profit of $138 million, reversing a year-ago loss, and the results beat analysts’ expectation. The company reported strong results in its engineered-products business, which makes parts for industrial customers, while looking to cut costs in its aluminum-smelting segment.”
It may not have been the most artful start to a story, but it got the point across, with just enough background information for a casual reader to make sense of it. Not bad. The most impressive part, though, was how long the story took to produce: less than a second.

If you’re into robots and algorithms writing the news, the article’s worth the read. It’s optimistic, asserting that in contexts like earnings reports, sports roundups and the like, the automation frees journalists for more mindful work such as analyzing what those earning reports actually mean
With 300 million robot-driven stories produced last year – more than all media outlets in the world combined, according to Roose – and an estimated billion stories in store for 2014, that’s a lot of freed up time to cast our minds elsewhere.
Besides, as Roose explains, “The stories that today’s robots can write are, frankly, the kinds of stories that humans hate writing anyway.”
More interesting, and more troubling, are the ethics behind algorithmically driven articles. Slate’s Nicholas Diakopoulos tried to tackle this question in April when he asked how we can incorporate robots into our news gathering with a level of expected transparency needed in today’s media environment. Part of his solution is understanding what he calls the “tuning criteria,” or the inherent biases, that are used to make editorial decisions when algorithms direct the news.
Here’s something else to chew on. Back to Roose:

Robot-generated stories aren’t all fill-in-the-blank jobs; the more advanced algorithms use things like perspective, tone, and humor to tailor a story to its audience. A robot recapping a basketball game, for example, might be able to produce two versions of a story using the same data: one upbeat story that reads as if a fan of the winning team had written it; and another glum version written from the loser’s perspective.

Apply this concept to a holy grail of startups and legacy organizations alike: customizing and personalizing the news just for you. Will future robots feed us a feel-good, meat and potatoes partisan diet of news based on the same sort behavioral tracking the ad industry uses to deliver advertising. With the time and cost of producing multiple stories from the same data sets approaching zero, it’s not difficult to imagine a news site deciding that they’ll serve different versions of the same story based on perceived political affiliations.
That’s a conundrum. One more worth exploring than whether an algorithm can give us a few paragraphs on who’s nominated for the next awards show.
Want more robots? Visit our Robots Tag.
Image: Twitter post, via @hanelly.

futurejournalismproject:

The Robots are Coming, Part 132

First, some background, via Kevin Roose at New York Magazine:

Earlier this week, one of my business-beat colleagues got assigned to recap the quarterly earnings of Alcoa, the giant metals company, for the Associated Press. The reporter’s story began: “Alcoa Inc. (AA) on Tuesday reported a second-quarter profit of $138 million, reversing a year-ago loss, and the results beat analysts’ expectation. The company reported strong results in its engineered-products business, which makes parts for industrial customers, while looking to cut costs in its aluminum-smelting segment.”

It may not have been the most artful start to a story, but it got the point across, with just enough background information for a casual reader to make sense of it. Not bad. The most impressive part, though, was how long the story took to produce: less than a second.

If you’re into robots and algorithms writing the news, the article’s worth the read. It’s optimistic, asserting that in contexts like earnings reports, sports roundups and the like, the automation frees journalists for more mindful work such as analyzing what those earning reports actually mean

With 300 million robot-driven stories produced last year – more than all media outlets in the world combined, according to Roose – and an estimated billion stories in store for 2014, that’s a lot of freed up time to cast our minds elsewhere.

Besides, as Roose explains, “The stories that today’s robots can write are, frankly, the kinds of stories that humans hate writing anyway.”

More interesting, and more troubling, are the ethics behind algorithmically driven articles. Slate’s Nicholas Diakopoulos tried to tackle this question in April when he asked how we can incorporate robots into our news gathering with a level of expected transparency needed in today’s media environment. Part of his solution is understanding what he calls the “tuning criteria,” or the inherent biases, that are used to make editorial decisions when algorithms direct the news.

Here’s something else to chew on. Back to Roose:

Robot-generated stories aren’t all fill-in-the-blank jobs; the more advanced algorithms use things like perspective, tone, and humor to tailor a story to its audience. A robot recapping a basketball game, for example, might be able to produce two versions of a story using the same data: one upbeat story that reads as if a fan of the winning team had written it; and another glum version written from the loser’s perspective.

Apply this concept to a holy grail of startups and legacy organizations alike: customizing and personalizing the news just for you. Will future robots feed us a feel-good, meat and potatoes partisan diet of news based on the same sort behavioral tracking the ad industry uses to deliver advertising. With the time and cost of producing multiple stories from the same data sets approaching zero, it’s not difficult to imagine a news site deciding that they’ll serve different versions of the same story based on perceived political affiliations.

That’s a conundrum. One more worth exploring than whether an algorithm can give us a few paragraphs on who’s nominated for the next awards show.

Want more robots? Visit our Robots Tag.

Image: Twitter post, via @hanelly.