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D209   Category: General     Status: New
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The folks of Sanford, Maine have recently started recycling 150% more trash and sending 50% less trash to the landfill. Their motivating factor was a new law that charged individual households for their trash output rather than using city dollars. The program may have been unfair to those homes that had to pay more for trash pickup than in the past. However the aggregate result was eco-friendly. Do you think this is a fair law? Would you vote for it in your town?

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D208   Category: Design and Maki...     Status: New
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http://bit.ly/bwSvvg
Installing solar power in your home is an expensive process due to high installation costs. Clarian Power has created a product that lowers prices significantly. It simplifies the installation process by using your home’s electrical system to run solar power rather than installing a whole new system. The tool that allows this is called the circuit monitor, a calculator sized device that plugs into any socket in the house. Meanwhile solar panels are connected by a wire to a Power Module (slightly larger device) which is plugged into another socket in the house. The solar power collects itself in the Power Module and feeds through wiring in the house until it finds the circuit monitor. The power being used in the home now comes from an eco-friendly source.

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D207   Category: General     Status: New
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The Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany contains several apartment buildings with a total of 52 apartments that make up this zero-energy community. All power comes from the massive solar panels placed on the roofs of the apartment buildings, with no external sources of any kind. Rainwater recycling systems in the roofs “irrigate the gardens while supplying the toilets with greywater.” It is a warm community, where people know each other by name and people will be seen eating, drinking, and congregating in the many alleyways and bypasses between the parks and buildings.

 

While many similar communities are net-zero when it comes to using natural energy, none are net-positive. Sonnenchiff boasts four times the standard energy input that it actually needs, with the rest stored for that grey season where the sun is hidden. It must feel nice to know that all the power in your home, from the lights, to the appliances, to the plumbing is part of a natural order. Would you like

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D206   Category: General     Status: New
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http://bit.ly/bJ6Kjc
Mobile app developers are using crowdsourcing to improve online mapping sites. The team, from the department of Geomatics at the University of Melbourne, has created an online app that asks users where they are located. Users respond as they would in a text message to a friend (next to the CVS, across from the McDonalds on Main St., etc.). The team then keeps a running tally of which buildings, parks, and city objects are mentioned most and records those points in websites (such as Google Maps). It is likely that the next time you are no where near a street sign; you can still find some relevant scenery that Google Maps will recognize and immediately situate you!

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D205   Category: Energy and the ...     Status: New
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http://bit.ly/96pxsU
Producing its own geothermal energy will allow St. Lucia to move from an island dependent on importing petroleum to an energy provider to itself and its neighboring island of Martinique. The key to its sustainable energy development is the multitude of active volcanoes along the Small Antilles volcanic arc. St. Lucia has partnered with an American energy company, Qualibou Energy, to build a series of geothermal energy plants.

 

The plants will produce energy for resale as well as internal use. An underwater cable will transfer energy from St. Lucia to Martinique.  Of the expected energy output of 120 MW, 80 MW will stay in St. Lucia, while 40MW will be transferred to Martinique.  The island is an example of the economic benefit to come from using available resources.  The underground heat from the volcanoes is an excellent source of geothermal power.

 

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D204   Category: General     Status: New
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There is a current trend in education, which is the switching over from paper books to iPads. Some schools have begun one-to-one computing programs that feature iPads for individual students. While students are more eager to use the new technology than they are to read from a textbook, teachers understand some common problems with the new technology.

There are a lack of online textbooks and ebooks available. Teachers are also unable to monitor what students are looking at while they are staring at their iPads during class.  Lack of control over students’ use of ipads, lack of available textbooks in ebook format, and general lack of funds for one-to-one computing programs are currently hindering the iPads adoption to classroom use. Can these problems be overcome? Will academia benefit from the iPad?

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D203   Category: Social Innovati...     Status: New
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A robot in the UK is being taught to emulate human emotions. Designed as a friend in need to recovering children in hospitals, the robot “responds to kindness.” When the child with whom it is paired plays with it, it is programmed to open its arms so the child can hug it. If the child neglects it, then it drops its head, hunches its shoulders and holds its head in its hands.

The robot, named Nao, has been programmed to act out a wide array of emotions and incorporate various movements to reveal its mood. Nao remembers the types of emotions it experienced and builds up a memory bank of typical patterns of emotion based on the person it is with. Its memory can be cleared when it moves on to its next friend.  Is it possible that the robot’s programming is sophisticated enough to convince a person that the robot understands him or her?

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D202   Category: IT and Communic...     Status: New
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http://www.physorg.com/news200665240.html

Recent technology provides virtual representations of patients recovering from debilitating illnesses. Doctors have long been unable to predict if recovering patients are exercising properly. A patient may be putting excessive pressure on one leg, or their spinal angle may be off. This new technology allows doctors to assess a variety of factors in their patients including the patients’ silhouette, spine track, spine track zoomed in, and spine angle. Exercise will now be ordered with measures in place to prevent improper healing.

The technology is especially useful because it can be used by patients after they have returned home. When doing exercises at home, the machine will read their movements and transmit them to the doctor back at the hospital. If equipped with a microphone, the patient and the doctor could also communicate back and forth with one another. What additional information about the patient could doctors wish to know, in order t

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D201   Category: Energy and the ...     Status: New
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http://bit.ly/cKyk23
An amazing discovery could produce self-powered automobiles. Researchers working with the microbe, Azotobacter vinelandii, discovered that when they the microbe cam into contact with carbon monoxide, it produced chains of carbon. On a microscopic level, the chains of carbon are easily converted to propane.  Scientists believe that they can affect the enzyme within the microbe to produce even longer carbon chains which they could then convert to oil.
With a breakthrough like this, the initial discovery is only the first step. The discovery has been made public, which means that other innovators can conduct their own experiments to see if they can successfully create longer carbon chains than have previously been created. What would you expect the next step in the innovation process to be?

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D200   Category: IT and Communic...     Status: New
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Amazing advances in technology for the deaf, blind, and disabled in the form of apps are becoming accessible through mobile phone technology. ThinkContacts is an app facilitating the making of phone calls for disabled people. The app reads the brainwaves of the user and if the brain waves are above 70% it knows to scroll to the next contact in the list. When the brain waves are higher than 80%, the app knows to call that person.
 
An app currently being developed called V-Braille, will cause vibrating dots comprising the brail alphabet to appear on top of the text shown on the screen of a users’ BlackBerry or iPhone. This could allow blind users to get the same advantages of mobile phone technology that the rest of us get. Another app, MobileOCR, reads phone screens for blind users to understand. The program is open –source, which provides opportunities for developers to build off of. What are some other potential applications for disabled individuals?

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