Waterways once buried underground by Victorian industrialists are restored to their natural courses.
Knitting marathoner David Babcock raises multitasking to a whole new level.
Last week, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation that will make the city one of the most trans-friendly places in the country and even in the world.
The law passed the City Council last month and extends a host of rights to trans and gender nonconforming individuals. The most prominent aspect of the law mandates that city-owned buildings have all-gender bathrooms in addition to gendered ones, but there are other changes, too. For example:
There is more to the bill than just a neutral place to relieve oneself. Nutter, city and state lawmakers and gay rights advocates said the legislation makes Philadelphia the first city in the U.S. to offer tax credits to companies that extend the same health care coverage to LGBT employees’ domestic partners and their children as they provide to heterosexual spouses and their children.
Officials said the legislation also makes Philadelphia the first city to offer businesses tax credits as a way to encourage providing transgender-specific health benefits. …
In addition to the business tax incentives, which were backed by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as well as LGBT advocacy groups, and the gender-neutral restrooms, the legislation revises Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination law to include transgender people, extends decision-making rights to life partners on medical and other issues, and changes city forms and websites to offer options for same-sex couples and transgender people.
This is really just incredible. Let’s make this the standard.
Britain’s lost rivers resurrected and freed to go with the flow
Waterways once buried underground by Victorian industrialists are restored to their natural courses.
‘BRAG’ Gala Honors Iman, Raises $1M to Help Increase Diversity in Fashion
Scientists make breakthrough solar technology
In the near future, solar panels will not only be more efficient but also a lot cheaper and affordable for everyone, thanks to research by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists.
Perovskite is known to be a remarkable solar cell material as it can convert up to 15 per cent of sunlight to electricity, close to the efficiency of the current solar cells, but scientists did not know why or how, until now.
In a paper published last Friday (18 Oct) in the world’s most prestigious academic journal, Science, NTU’s interdisciplinary research team was the first in the world to explain this phenomenon.
The team of eight researchers led by Assistant Professor Sum Tze Chien and Dr Nripan Mathews had worked closely with NTU Visiting Professor Michael Grätzel, who currently holds the record for perovskite solar cell efficiency of 15 per cent, and is a co-author of the paper. Prof Grätzel, who is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), has won multiple awards for his invention of dye-sensitised solar cells.
41 South Africa beaches awarded Blue Flags
The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) marked National Marine Week yesterday by celebrating the national launch of this year’s Blue Flag Programme at Ramsgate Beach in KZN, hosted by the Hibiscus Coast Municipality. Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality and regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known eco-label globally.
The 2013 International Blue Flag Jury results announced at the launch event revealed that a total of 41 beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status in South Africa this year, along with five marinas, two whale-watching boats, one commercial boat and one private boat. Five of the 41 beaches have provisional Blue Flag status pending a final assessment by 01 December. Furthermore, seven additional beaches have been given Pilot Blue Flag Site status. Internationally, 3,849 beaches and marinas have been awarded Blue Flag status for the 2013/14 season.
The Blue Flag Programme has been running internationally for 27 years this year and has been implemented in South Africa through WESSA since 2001. The programme is designed to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management. To achieve Blue Flag status, 33 main criteria spanning over four aspects of coastal management have to be met: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and services.
WESSA’s Blue Flag Programme has grown significantly over the past two and a half years, with a 50% growth in the number of Blue Flag Sites over the past two years. The programme is now, more than ever before, in line with the International Blue Flag trend with an increasing focus on environmental education and the conservation of biodiversity. This is reflected in the fact that Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) are now represented within the International Standards of the Programme, and South Africa has as many as 25 Blue Flag Sites that are in or near MPA’s.
Speaking at the launch event the Minister of Tourism, Martinus van Schalkwyk, gave his full support - and that of the government - for the Blue Flag Programme saying that government believes in the programme and in the partnership that the programme is all about. He spoke about the importance of the interface between government and NGOs as the lifeblood that helps the country move forward, and spoke about the constructive relationship he has always enjoyed with WESSA. The minister made reference to a big debate throughout the world regarding values and the environment and said he believed that Blue Flag’s success has been the understanding that in order to protect what is worth protecting we need to realise the economic potential of environmental protection. He commended the Programme for having substance, a proper framework and much detail, saying that Blue Flag status is not achieved easily. He concluded by congratulating and thanking everyone involved with the programme, adding that it will help convince tourists to come to the local areas where Blue Flag sites are, bringing money, job opportunities and infrastructure to the respective local municipalities.
The Blue Flag Programme’s recent surge in growth in South Africa is partly due to the arrival of Blue Flag Marinas, but also due to major commitment from local government which has resulted in new municipalities joining the Programme, and existing municipalities increasing their number of Blue Flag sites.
While WESSA is pleased with this year’s International Jury Results the organisation believes the Programme needs to grow even further to include more coastal municipalities and marinas country-wide. The organisation sees much potential for growth through the Pilot Programme, which acts as an incubation period for potential sites where the site is interested in and committed to the programme but not yet ready to become a Full Status Site. WESSA also encourages the support of the relevant provincial authorities to perpetuate the success of the programme.
Says Ted Knott, WESSA’s National Coastal Programme Manager: “If we can succeed in having all of our coastal municipalities involved in the Blue Flag Programme and simultaneously ensure that the International Standards of the programme are maintained, then we can rest assured that our coast is being effectively managed; and marine and coastal biodiversity is being conserved.”
NBC To Reboot Detective Series “Murder, She Wrote” With Octavia Spencer Starring
(Photo: Providence Day School)
A team of 9th grade girls is developing a system of interconnected desks that turns the nervous foot-tapping energy of school kids into electricity to power study lights, laptops and fans. The young students aim to bring the desks to school children in Africa.
Laser communications technology could help NASA communicate with farflung spacecraft in the future, including the sending and receiving of data.
Around 60 animals and plants that are thought to be new to science have been discovered in the mountainous rainforests of south eastern Suriname.
Lost Leonardo da Vinci painting found in Swiss bank vault
The painting depicts Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance noblewoman. A pencil sketch of Isabella d’Este, closely resembling the finished painting, was drawn by da Vinci in 1499 and is currently hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The 500-year mystery over the painting’s existence was solved last week after it was found in a private collection of 400 works. The Italian family who kept the hoard of artworks asked not to be identified, according to the Telegraph.
Tests on the oil portrait suggest it is indeed a da Vinci painting. Carbon dating showed there is a 95 per cent chance it was produced between 1460 and 1650, but further analysis is needed to ensure that certain parts of the painting were not completed by one of the artist’s pupils.
Carlo Pedretti, a da Vinci expert from the University of California, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that he was convinced of its authenticity.
"There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo," he said. "I can immediately recognise da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face."
There had been debate over whether da Vinci had developed his sketch of Isabella d’Este into a painting. He had begun work on “The Battle of Anghiari” shortly after the sketch so it was believed he had lost interest in it and given it up. [x]
B.C. firm finds way to mass produce telescopes that see billions of light years
If the inventors of a so-called game-changing telescope have their way, there will be a lot more discoveries about our solar system, galaxy and the universe.
The British Columbia firm Dynamic Structures has developed a new generation of telescopes that makes them financially feasible to build.
Company CEO Guy Nelson said Friday that many universities dream of having an observatory, but traditional telescopes require heavy mirrors supported by large observatories.
But using robots and the company’s new optical technology, Dynamic said it can mass produce light-weight mirrors with the ability to see millions, and even billions of light years away.
Dynamic Structures founder David Halliday said they’ve developed the 30 Metre Telescope that is able to take atmosphere away with a flexible lens, focusing on nothing but what the viewer wants to see.
"And behind that flexible lens you’ve got a series of actuators — which are little pistons that can move very, very rapidly, these pistons can change the shape of the surface," he explained.
In order for the telescope to get a reference point, a laser is sent into the sodium layer, creating a star of reference, he said.
"So you measure that, it gives you a wave and then through a giant mathematical model you reverse that, and make it even. Now you’ve got a straight line and that information, you poke that back into the servers that control the flexible mirror and if you control it properly, you take the atmosphere away," he said.
The company has always made telescopes, but over the last 20 years has used that technology for amusement rides.
Nelson said it started when Halliday and an engineer with the U.S. government collaborated on a project. That engineer later became the head of “imagineering” at The Walt Disney Company.
He said Dynamic was called in when the engineer thought the firm could solve a problem on one of its rides at Epcot Centre.
Halliday said they’re simply transferring their manufacturing ability, sharing it with academia and converting it into real solutions.
"Many times what happens is it stops at the academic level and you’d not be able to cultivate that into a practical, applied solution. That’s what we’re doing," he said.
The firm, which employees about 130 people in Port Coquitlam, B.C., has a backlog of about $100 million worth of amusement park rides to be exported to the U.S. and China. [x]
A tiger quoll has been sighted in the Grampians National Park in western Victoria for the first time in more than 140 years.
The elusive marsupial was caught on film by a remote camera set up to monitor wallabies in a very remote area deep inside the park on September 25.
The last record of a sighting of a live tiger quoll in the region was in 1872.
There have been a few unconfirmed sightings, but it was largely presumed to be extinct in the Grampians.
Parks Victoria ranger Ryan Duffy says scientists had to verify the photo.
"When I first saw it I was incredibly excited," he said.
"We’ve always thought that this animal could occur within the park, but we’ve never had any evidence to prove that."
Another Parks Victoria official, Ben Holmes, says he could not believe his eyes.
"There is no mistaking the spotted body colour, which can only be a quoll," he said.
The tiger quoll, which is also known as the spotted-tail quoll, is a carnivorous marsupial, which can grow up to one metre in length and is listed as an endangered species in Victoria.
Parks Victoria will now “refine” the use of the cameras to hopefully build a better picture of how widespread the population is across the national park, following several unconfirmed sightings over the past few years.
Parks Victoria chief executive Dr Bill Jackson says it is an extremely exciting rediscovery and highlights the critical role parks play in conserving unique biodiversity. [x]
Emma-Rose Gibson can see clearly no more than three centimetres in front of her, but a new device is allowing the nine-year-old Ottawa girl to watch TV.
The legally blind Grade 4 student, who is diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, is one of the first users of the eSight eyewear, a pair of computerized glasses officially launched Tuesday in Toronto.
The device — made by Ottawa-based eSight Corporation — reconfigures images captured by its high-definition camera in a way to optimize a user’s vision. The processed images are then fed into two LED screens in front of the user’s eyes.
Gibson, who has been using the device since May, said it allows her to participate fully in class and grants her a degree of mobility she didn’t have before.
“When I first heard of it, I was like, ’Wow, this can actually change my life.”’
(Photo: Ethan Lou / The Canadian Press)