Monthly Archives: September 2008

3D solar cell

(news photo)
12-year-old Revolutionizes the Solar Cell | Geekdad from

William Yuan, a seventh-grader from Portland, OR, developed a three-dimensional solar cell that absorbs UV as well as visible light. The combination of the two might greatly improve cell efficiency. William’s project earned him a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to the Library of Congress to accept the award, which is usually given out for research at the graduate level.

“Current solar cells are flat and can only absorb visible light,” he said. “I came up with an innovative solar cell that absorbs both visible and UV light. My project focused on finding the optimum solar cell to further increase the light absorption and efficiency and design a nanotube for light-electricity conversion efficiency.”

You know, that’s just what I was thinking when I was 12, but my idea didn’t quite work. Well, it was just a paper towel roll with “Solar Rays” written on the side in Sharpie, and I tried to use it to melt G.I. Joe figures. But still. Well done, William!

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Flexicar Interview: Academic and Industrial interest

Paul’s Video of Flexicar – Interviews.

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Max Lamb

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Wooden USB

cocos-promotions gmbh
talheimer str. 32-d
74223 flein, germany


noble design usb-sticks: a very special present -
by thalbach design manufaktur

“…only a few sticks are manufactured individually in the same way as these high-quality line from thalbach design manufaktur and we named them ‘design usb sticks’. instantly, i fell in love with these wooden usb-sticks…”, said bernd maier, manager of cocos-promotions when presenting this new line of sticks. “…these sticks are manufactured only in germany, and it shows, one can feel it, one can enjoy it. if you want to honour your customer in a special way, you will hit the jackpot with this exclusive design usb-stick. on request, it will be delivered in an exquisite wooden box.”

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Sony WALKMAN A series

Sony WALKMAN A series
Sony WALKMAN A series – Technology – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

Sony WALKMAN A series

Amidst the blanket coverage that surrounds a flurry of new releases from Apple it’s sometimes the case that other very brilliant gadgetry gets left behind. This is certainly the case with Sony’s new WALKMAN models, which were unveiled recently with a fanfare of celebrity and music industry approval in a hip corner of London’s Hackney.

The new WALKMAN NWZ-A has a raft of technical capabilities that leave its Apple rivals out in the cold not least the 33 hours playback, which means enough battery power to take you on the world’s longest flight and get you through customs at both ends.

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Ryan’s mouth?

UK Motor Show part 2
UK Motor Show part 2 – Cars – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

The Kia Kee Coupé concept

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Post-War plastics

Post-War Plastics, Vitsoe
HLD 4 hairdryer designed by Dieter Rams for Braun in 1970680 Bed and 681 Chair Programme designed by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ in 1968

622 Chair Programme designed by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ in 1962
Post-War Plastics, Vitsoe – Interiors – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

HLD 4 hairdryer designed by Dieter Rams for Braun in 1970
Post-War Plastics, Vitsoe

From computers to food wrapping and iPods to cars, plastic has become such an integral part of our daily lives that it’s impossible to imagine life without it. And equally impossible to imagine is that just fifty years ago, plastic was revolutionary; brushed with the aura of a fantastical Jetsons-tinted future.

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Food Safety
Japanese drink’s toxic punch |

Hundreds of tonnes of toxic rice intended for use in glue, fertilisers and animal feed have instead ended up with makers of sake and another alcoholic drink, distilled sho chu.

Large quantities of the rice have also made their way into meals at hospitals, nursing homes and at least one school.

Alcohol makers have recalled more than a million bottles of the nation’s two most popular spirits because they could have been made from imported grain tainted with pesticides and carcinogenic mould.

It follows a litany of scares – the biggest caused by the discovery of pesticides in frozen gyoza from China – that have shattered Japanese faith in food safety standards.

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EV 1969


Priustoric: GM Builds a Plug-In Hybrid … in 1969 | Autopia from

Toyota and General Motors are neck-and-neck in the race to put a plug-in hybrid in your driveway, but they’re recycling an idea GM explored almost 40 years ago and tossed aside like a depleted battery.

The concept car with the cumbersome designation XP-883 was nothing more than an experiment relegated to history, but it worked a lot like the Toyota Prius and Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids the two companies are working on today. It was sufficiently ahead of its time for Popular Science to call it “radical” and ask, “wouldn’t it be great to have a car that changed from electric drive for use around town to gasoline power for highway driving?”

“It makes so much sense,” the magazine wrote in July, 1969, “that we feel they’re missing a bet if they don’t put it in production.”

The XP-883 looked like an Avanti hatchback or the AMC Gremlin’s prettier sister. At 122.2-inches long, 57.3-inches wide and 46.3-inches high, it was a little bigger than a Smart ForTwo and a little smaller than a Honda CRX. It had a fiberglass body for light weight, but just what it weighed has been lost to history.

The heart of the car was a 35 cubic inch (573 cc) two-cylinder engine — small enough to be exempt from the emissions rules of the day — coupled with a DC motor powered by six lead-acid batteries just like the one under your hood. You could tool around in all-electric mode or in gas-electric mode, according to PopSci. In hybrid mode, the electric motor did all the work to about 10 mph, at which point the gasoline engine took over. If you needed to really get up and go, the engine and motor worked in tandem. Still, the car was as slow as it was advanced. Top speed was just 60 mph, and it needed 28 seconds to get there — making it only slightly faster than a Citroen 2CV6.

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Tap Water


Tap’dNY – Purified New York City tap water

Tap’dNY is a New York City bottled water company with a local twist and knack for honesty. We don’t travel the world from Fiji to France seeking water or offer the usual bottled water gimmicks. We work with NYC’s public water system to source the world’s best tasting tap water, purify it through reverse osmosis and bottle it locally, leaving out ludicrous transportation miles.

We offer an honest and local alternative to thirsty New Yorkers, giving them a smarter choice: to drink their own (award winning) water.

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Dear Philippa

I got a rush of energy reading your blog. All sound really awesome. And so I wrote in a long comment – and that awful edublog ate up the comment. So I hate edublogs and wil not go there. I am quite happy with the original wordpress – thank you.

What did I say?

Essentially I saw all that you were saying in your blog – and went yeah! to all the points. And I offer the following points:
1. In our project we just cut down the weight – first part. See for the project.
2. Then to make the new design accessible we went to the state and got them to seed fund 200 rickshaws.
3. Did the project believe in the market forces? Yes. To some extent.
4. Are there a few hundred thousand rickshaws becuse of that project – I think so.

Now re the technical:
1. Weight reduction is good.
2. Rationalising construction is good.
3. Gearing? We went there – and its still available as an after market kit for our design. Not many use it.
4. Prabhu later did roto moulded rear crates. Not very successful.

So in short there is a technical project there.

Re the systemic:
1. I would love to see a social innovation enterprise come up – that does ‘rickshaw share’.
2. The enterprise buys the rickshaws – so no need for microfinance.
3. The enterprise retires rickshaws after they become old – two years? – and decrepit.
4. The ‘wallah’ is the one one who uses the service to make money.
5. Who owns the social innovation enterprise? An agency or like AMUL a cooperative.
6. Will this agency be able to fight rickshaw bans? Or police harassment? Possibly.

Also see …

Shashi Bhushan Sharma, a rickshaw operator in Chandni Chowk, operates a hundred cycle rickshaws from his rickshaw stand. Bhushan explains that the very nature of the rickshaw sector makes it difficult to adhere to MCD rules. “The reason why most rickshaw pullers do not own their vehicles is that they migrate from the villages twice a year. Rickshaw licences are not transferable, and so it makes little sense to own a rickshaw outright.”

Most rickshaw pullers come during interludes in the farming season, have stable arrangements with rickshaw operators and rent the vehicles for Rs.20 a day. In return, the rickshaw operator is responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle, renewal of its licence, repair in case of accidents and safe-keeping. The operators also protect rickshaw pullers from the predatory police force and pay the fines when the rickshaws are impounded or confiscated. Thus, it would be simplistic to view the relationship between the rickshaw pullers and operators as purely exploitative.


And also this grotesque thing! Why bother!


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R U a social entrepreneur?


One way to find out whether you are a social entrepreneur or think you might become one is to assess yourself by responding to the indicator questions below. Try them out!

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End of injections?

Form and function...a wearable applicator by Leah Heiss.

Ring of life – Innovations – Technology –

Heiss believes that when loaded with insulin, the jewellery could replace the need for traditional injections.

“Each piece has a wearable applicator device,” she says. “A necklace which allows you to administer the patches to the skin and a series of rings which hold the patches in place once they have been administered. The clip-on earrings house a patch which presses it to the back of the earlobe.”

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What women want

What Women Want in Vehicle Interior Design | Design News

When choosing a vehicle, women want design options that offer flexibility, allow them to connect to the outside world and offer more storage space. These are some of the key findings from a study conducted by Johnson Controls in the United States and Europe, in response to the recent women-focused trends and market indicators highlighting the increasing buying power of women. The company will utilize the data to inspire and drive industrial design and new product development that meets the evolving needs of women.

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Black Hole Maker

Worst Case: Collider Spawns Planet-Devouring Black Hole

With the Large Hadron Collider firing up for the first time Wednesday, some critics have speculated that the world’s biggest atom smasher could spawn a black hole that would devour Earth.

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Dr. B Padma

Barrio Adentro As Seen from the Perspective of a U.S. Health Professional |

Finally, I would like to share two of my favorite quotes with you. One is by Reverend Martin Luther King who said “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” The other quote is by Rudolf Virchow the public health activist and pathologist who said “Health is Politics and Politics is Health.” Cuba has showed us that a band aid approach will not eliminate disease and health care has to be in concert with a radical political and social transformation of the society. Now, Venezuela, through the Bolivarian process is addressing the injustice and inequality in health care through Mission Barrio Adentro and other social programs and this simply would not be possible if there was no political will.

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Social Missions in Venezuela

Another key sector in need of massive improvements was Venezuela’s health system. Under Article 83 of the 1999 Constitution, the government was made responsible for ensuring universal access to healthcare. A few years later, Venezuela embarked upon an aggressive strategy to provide a medical doctor to every neighborhood in need. This mission began out of necessity, after too few Venezuelan doctors responded to calls by the government to provide medical services to vulnerable populations in the country. Due to the failure of the Venezuelan medical community to respond to domestic health needs, the government turned to Cuba, a nation well-known for its medical missions.

Since Barrio Adentro (Inside the Barrio) began, an estimated 20,000 Cuban doctors have come to Venezuela to deliver free medical care in poor communities, sometimes even living with residents until a community health clinic equipped with a housing unit could be built. Thousands of community-based health committees have also been established to organize door-to-door surveys to determine the needs of each neighborhood and develop a comprehensive plan for improving health. According to the Pan American Health Organization, since 2003, doctors in Venezuela have conducted over 40 million free consultations, and health professionals have held millions of educational activities that focus on improving nutrition and preventing high-risk behaviors.[ix] Barrio Adentro now has 1,600 community consultation centers throughout the country[x] and the average Venezuelan’s access to free healthcare has grown tremendously with an increase in primary care physicians throughout the country from 1,628 in 1998 to 19,571 in 2007.[xi]

The mission estimates that as of May 2007, almost 50,000 lives had been saved.[xii] Venezuelans have also been training to become community doctors; in April 2007, about 2,000 Venezuelans were awarded medical degrees.[xiii]

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David Byrne bike racks

David Byrne bike racks, NYC
'The Hipster', Bedford & North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
'The Wall Street', Wall Street (north side)'The Chelsea', 25th Street in front of PaceWildenstein'The Coffee Cup', Amsterdam Ave b/t 110th and 111th St<br />
(near The Hungarian Pastry Shop)” title=”‘The Coffee Cup’, Amsterdam Ave b/t 110th and 111th St<br />
(near The Hungarian Pastry Shop)” /></p>
<p><a href=David Byrne bike racks, NYC – Art – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

Some things get better with age and some things just get a bit stranger. David Byrne of Talking Heads fame is a case in point. Since the 1990s the Scottish-American musician has been dabbling in the art world. The results are extraordinary and a long way from Talking Heads’ creative output, though no less brilliant.

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1 out of 6 $

Robert Samuelson on the Health-Care Surprise | Newsweek Voices – Robert J. Samuelson |

Whoever wins should put health care at the top of his agenda. But the central problem is not improving coverage. It’s controlling costs. In 1960, health care accounted for $1 of every $20 spent in the U.S. economy; now that’s $1 of every $6, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that it could be $1 of every $4 by 2025. Ponder that: a quarter of the U.S. economy devoted to health care. Would we be better off? Probably not. Countless studies have shown that many diagnostic tests, surgeries and medical devices are either ineffective or unneeded. “More expensive care,” notes CBO director Peter Orszag, “does not always mean better care.”

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Plastic Chair in Wood

Maarten Baas exhibition, Shanghai
Maarten Baas exhibition, Shanghai – Interiors – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

Maarten Baas is something of a bad boy amongst designers, notorious for ripping up the rules to make a point. If he’s not taking a blowtorch to classic design pieces for his ‘Smoke’ series he’s likely crafting furniture from clay for ‘Sculpt’. And his latest project ‘The Shanghai Riddle’ is no less imaginative.

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a new way of consuming cars

Concept car by Ilaria Sacco (scroll down to read more)
Gallery – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

‘I’m thinking about a new way of consuming cars,’ confesses Italian designer Ilaria Sacco. Her concept car allows for a high degree of personalisation by encouraging the customer to mix and match objects from various brands into the car. ‘Like how you would design your living room,’ she says.

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RCA Vehicle Design

Airflow concept by Pierre Sabas (scroll down to read more)

Gallery – – International Design Interiors Fashion Travel

Best design interpretation winner Pierre Sabas has worked with a new architectural form with his Airflow concept. Both the electrically driven engine and suspension are mounted directly in the wheel allowing for a high degree of architectural freedom. The interior structure houses four individual capsules for occupants. Airflow’s exterior is made entirely of glass. ‘I’ve tried to wrap it around like fabric,’ says the French designer. ‘It allows for a new driving sensation and it gives the occupants a new perception of the outside world.’

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Fuel for Ships


Toyota’s Solar Car Carrier | Autopia from

Two Japanese firms are building a solar power system to augment the diesel engines aboard a cargo ship that carries new Toyotas to the United States, a fuel-saving move that makes solar panels on a Prius look like a drop in the bucket.

Slapping photovoltaic cells on a 60,000-ton boat will cut fuel consumption by 6.5 percent, which seems paltry until you realize the average cargo ship burns 120 gallons per mile. The system Nippon Yusen KK is paying Nippon Oil Corp. $1.4 million to develop will save about 46,800 gallons of fuel carrying all those cars 6,000 miles from Japan to Califonia.

To put that in perspective, if you bought a Toyota that arrived on a solar ship with 4,999 other cars, it would have saved nine gallons of fuel before you ever even saw it.

But solar ships do more than save fuel. They also clear the air. Cargo ships burn “bunker fuel,” the truly nasty stuff that literally comes from the bottom of the barrel. It’s kind of like the Milwaukee’s Best of fossil fuels.

A study published in Environmental Science and Technology found emissions from the bunker fuel cargo ships burn may cause 60,000 deaths worldwide. Subsequent research found ship exhaust contributed as much as 44 percent of the sulphate found in fine particulate matter in the atmosphere of coastal California. Anything that cuts the amount of bunker fuel ships burn is nothing to sneeze at.

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Australia’s Drought Worsens

Drought Photo
Australia’s Drought Worsens : TreeHugger

Reuters reported this morning that the worst drought in 117 years, which has been ongoing for the last ten years in the Murray-Darling river area, is not expected to let up anytime soon, scientists warn. This affects not only farmers but the global food market as well as Australia’s economy, as farmers have been hanging on for years and now find out that they should continue to prepare for the worst.

The recent rainfall in July helped boost wheat production and get over the lows of the last two years, but will still leave most fruit in serious trouble. In addition “80% of eucalyptus trees [are] already dead or stressed in a region as large as France and Germany combined.” Water levels are at their lowest since 1900 and scientists see no change anytime soon.

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London Taxi Makeover

The New York Times > Business > Image >

Stephen Hird/Reuters

At left, a new taxi from Daimler is competing with its classic older cousin, at right. The new vehicle is said to have a lesser carbon footprint, and can accommodate an additional passenger.


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