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Submission + - Why Earth Hour Still Matters (

An dochasac writes: Earth Hour's simple suggestion to turn off your lights for one hour on Saturday March 23rd has grown into an international social movement powerful enough to have become controversial. Writing for Slate Magazine, Bjørn Lomborg argued that it is a waste of time and energy. Thankfully it is still legal to do something that at the very least gives us a better view of a starry night sky, of comet Panstarrs and of our own potential to change the world. Here is why Earth Hour still matters.

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 + - Google Street View Offers A Trip Through The Amazon (

hypnosec writes: Google Inc decided to go back to its 'roots' on Wednesday, and treat its fans to a trip through the scenic Amazonian rainforest as part of 'World Forest Day'. The Mountain View based company delved even further into its geographic database, and delivered incredible street view images of the Amazon's Rio Negro Reserve. "Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, and float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded," invited project lead for Google Street View in the Amazon, Karin Tuxen-Bettman. "Stroll along the paths of Tumbira, the largest community in the Reserve... Enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail and see where Brazil nuts are harvested."

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.""

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We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.