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Submission + - A Technological Ring of Gyges vs the Environment (

An dochasac writes: "Many people believe technology can get us out of the environmental mess we're in but here is a strong argument that technology got us into this mess by giving each of us a 'Ring of Gyges', hiding our ecological footprint from our neighbors and even from ourselves. Can information technology destroy this technological ring of Gyges and help consumers see the impact of our choices?"

Submission + - Robotic umbrella forest to keep Hajj pilgrims cool (

An dochasac writes: "The annual Hajj pilgrimage is expected to bring over three million Muslims to Al-Masjid al-Nabaw mosque in Medina this year. The dry Saudi Arabian climate with temperatures exceeding 100F makes this a punishing and potentially dangerous event for pilgrims gathered in the shadeless marble plaza. German designers, SL-Rasch, in collaboration with Sefar Architecture, conceived a landscape of high-tech sunscreens that span the 150,000 square meter forecourts, a total area larger than the mosque’s footprint. The 250 convertible umbrellas, each 20 meters tall, are sized to fill the courts’ proportions, converting the open plazas into fully covered outdoor rooms.

These umbrellas open and close on demand to provide shade during daylight, trap heat at night and collect precious rainwater. They are also beautiful, fitting in well with the traditional architecture of Mohammad's second mosque."


Submission + - ESL lights, (

An dochasac writes: "Everyone knows incandescent lights are inefficient little space heaters which happen to convert 5% of their incoming energy to light. Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) are more efficient but they contain toxic brain-eating mercury and emit a greenish light. LEDs are also efficient and last longer but if their blueish 'white' light doesn't mess up your melatonin balance, their high price is likely to give you the blues and wreck your bank account balance.

A company called Vu1 has come up with something called Electron Stimulated Luminance (ESL) lights which claim to solve the mercury and price problem in a light which has the warm color balance of incandescents and is compatible with dimmer switches. It's based on CRT technology. Here are some more ESL details along with an explanation of why it's still a bad idea to say these are "trash can safe.""

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux