DryMate – Tumble Dryer with New Energy-Efficient Vacuum Technology



DryMate is a clothes dryer that uses a new vacuum technology to dry clothes at lower temperature. As a result lesser energy is consumed, and heat-related damage to the clothes is avoided. The dryer scores another brownie point for being easily accessible from a standing position. To aid its stand further, a 9 degree tilt and a wide-mouth drum has been incorporated to the design. The rounded exterior gives a refreshing new form to the redundant cuboids that we see at homes. (Pics)


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New Solar Cells Can Produce Electricity From Light and Heat Simultaneously

light and heat

A small PETE device made with cesium-coated gallium nitride glows while being tested inside an ultra-high vacuum chamber.

Though the sun offers us a couple options for exploiting its energy — light and heat — we’ve always had to choose to use one at a time, because solar-energy technology hasn’t been able to capture both typs of radiation simultaneously. Stanford researchers say that’s about to change, however. Their new breakthrough could put solar power on par with oil, price-wise. (Video)


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Sunspot Activity Eerily Quiet for Past Two Years

4 Sunspots 561

Sunspots come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only to fade away after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.
But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged in nearly 100 years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. “This is solar behavior we haven’t seen in living memory,” says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The sun is under scrutiny as never before, thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun’s magnetic activity is diminishing and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together, the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is: What?
Groups of sunspots forewarn of gigantic solar storms that can unleash a billion times more energy than an atomic bomb. Fears that these giant eruptions could create havoc on Earth and disputes over the sun’s role in climate change are adding urgency to these studies. When NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory almost 15 years ago, “understanding the solar cycle was not one of its scientific objectives,” says Bernhard Fleck, the mission’s project scientist. “Now it is one of the key questions.”
Sunspots are windows into the sun’s magnetic soul. They form where giant loops of magnetism, generated deep inside the sun, well up and burst through the surface, leading to a localized drop in temperature that we see as a dark patch. Any changes in sunspot numbers reflect changes inside the sun. “During this transition, the sun is giving us a real glimpse into its interior,” says Hathaway.
When sunspot numbers drop at the end of each 11-year cycle, solar storms die down and all becomes much calmer. This “solar minimum” doesn’t last long. Within a year, the spots and storms begin to build toward a new crescendo, the next solar maximum.
What’s special about this latest dip is that the sun is having trouble starting the next solar cycle. The sun began to calm down in late 2007, so no one expected many sunspots in 2008. But computer models predicted that when the spots did return, they would do so in force. Hathaway was reported as thinking the next solar cycle would be a doozy: more sunspots, more solar storms and more energy blasted into space. Others predicted that it would be the most active solar cycle on record.
The trouble was, no one told the sun.
The first sign that the prediction was wrong came when 2008 turned out to be even calmer than expected. That year, the sun was spot-free 73 percent of the time, an extreme dip even for a solar minimum. Only the minimum of 1913 was more pronounced, with 85 percent of that year clear.
As 2009 arrived, solar physicists looked for some action. They didn’t get it. The sun continued to languish until mid-December, when the largest group of sunspots to emerge in several years appeared. Even with the solar cycle finally underway again, the number of sunspots has so far been well below expectations. Something appears to have changed inside the sun, something the models did not predict. But what?
The flood of observations from space- and ground-based telescopes suggests that the answer lies in the behavior of two vast conveyor belts of gas that endlessly cycle material and magnetism through the sun’s interior and out across its surface. On average it takes 40 years for the conveyor belts to complete a circuit.
When Hathaway’s NASA team looked over the observations to find out where their models had gone wrong, they noticed that the conveyor-belt flows of gas across the sun’s surface have been speeding up since 2004.
But the circulation deep within the sun tells a different story. Rachel Howe and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson have used observations of surface disturbances, caused by the solar equivalent of seismic waves, to infer what conditions are like within the sun. Analyzing data from 2009, they found that while the surface flows had sped up, the internal ones had slowed to a crawl. These contradictory findings have thrown the best computer models of the sun into disarray. “It is certainly challenging our theories,” says Hathaway.
These changes are raising questions not just about the sun itself but also about the extent to which the sun’s activity affects our climate. There are those who believe that the solar variability is the major cause of climate change, an idea that would let humans and their greenhouse gases off the hook. Others are equally convinced that the sun plays only a minuscule role in climate change.
The extended collapse in solar activity these past two years offers the possibility of an experiment to resolve this dispute, allowing scientists to examine what happens when you switch off one potential cause of climate change and leave the other alone. With so few sunspots, the amount of solar radiation bombarding our planet has significantly changed. “As a natural experiment, this is the very best thing to happen,” says Joanna Haigh, a climatologist at Imperial College London. “Now we have to see how the Earth responds.”
Frigid Europe
Michael Lockwood, a professor of space environment physics at the University of Reading in England, may already have identified one response: the unusually frigid European winter of 2009-10. He has studied records back to 1650 and found that severe European winters are much more likely during periods of low solar activity. This fits an idea of solar activity’s giving rise to small changes in the global climate overall but large regional effects.
Another example is the so-called Maunder minimum, the period from 1645 to 1715 during which sunspots virtually disappeared and solar activity plummeted. If a similar spell of solar inactivity were to begin now and continue until 2100, it would mitigate any temperature rise caused by global warming by no more than 0.3 degrees Celsius, according to calculations by Georg Feulner and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
However, something amplified the impact of the Maunder minimum on northern Europe, ushering in a period known as the Little Ice Age, when colder-than-average winters became more prevalent and the average temperature in Europe appeared to drop by between 1 and 2 degrees Celsius.
A corresponding increase in temperatures on Earth appears to be associated with peaks in solar output. In 2008, Judith Lean of the Naval Research Laboratory’s space science division published a study showing that high solar activity has a disproportionate warming influence on northern Europe.
What the sun will do next is beyond our ability to predict. Most astronomers think that the solar cycle will proceed but at significantly depressed levels of activity, similar to those last seen in the 19th century. However, there is also evidence that the sun is inexorably losing its ability to produce sunspots. By 2015, they could be gone altogether, plunging us into a new Maunder minimum — and perhaps a new Little Ice Age.
Of course, solar activity is just one natural source of climate variability. Another is volcanic eruptions, spewing gas and dust into the atmosphere.
Nevertheless, it remains crucial to understand the precise changeability of the sun and the way it influences the various regional patterns of weather on Earth. Climate scientists will then be able to correct for these effects, not just in interpreting modern measurements but also when attempting to reconstruct the climate stretching back centuries. It is only by doing so that we can reach an unassailable consensus about the sun’s true level of influence on the Earth and its climate.
Via Stuart Clark – New Scientist

Sunspots come and go, but recently they have mostly gone

For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only to fade away after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.

But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged in nearly 100 years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. “This is solar behavior we haven’t seen in living memory,” says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Continue reading… “Sunspot Activity Eerily Quiet for Past Two Years”


‘Melting’ Drywall Could Reduce The Need For Air Conditioning


Acrylic microcapsules are filled with a paraffin wax that can absorb heat from buildings.

Building materials that absorb heat during the day and release it at night, eliminating the need for air-conditioning in some climates, will soon be on the market in the United States. The North Carolina company National Gypsum is testing drywall sheets–the plaster panels that make up the walls in most new buildings–containing capsules that absorb heat to passively cool a building. The capsules, made by chemical giant BASF, can be incorporated into a range of construction materials and are already found in some products in Europe.


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Behold! The Cell Phone With The Built In Cigarette Lighter.

Machismo cig lightre phone

Straight out of China comes “The Machismo!” – billed as “the world’s hottest cigarette lighter mobile phone.” Does that mean there’s more than one? Like, are there other, lesser, not-as-hot cell phones with built-in cigarette lighters? Nothing would surprise me after seeing this.

According to the product description on Chinavasion.com…

Continue reading… “Behold! The Cell Phone With The Built In Cigarette Lighter.”


Scientists Develop Vest To Keep Firefighters Cool


Scientists have developed a vest which they claim can help fire-fighters stay cool during an emergency, by reducing heat stress and fluid loss.  A team at James Cook University has designed the Cool Me Vest that can help fire fighters keep their cool, reduces heat stress significantly and cuts down recovery times even in extreme heat conditions.

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House on the Water by Formodesign


House on the Water

Our friends from formodesign sent us House on the Water, a self-sufficient house for nomadic life offshore. Designed as a rental house for people who want to be independent it’s available only through water. It is located by Navagio beach, NW coast of the Greek Zante island. (Pics)


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Unique Tree Shaped Air Conditioner

Unique Tree Shaped Air Conditioner

Breath – a tree shaped air conditioner 

Breath, an air conditioner by Ryuichi Tabu, is one unique kind of air conditioner that uses ground heat and the Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) system for its functioning. Designed in the shape of a tree, this peerless air conditioner circulates air within a wider range with a double structure that controls airflow in its branches.

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Scientists Baffled Over ‘Ice Circles’ On Remote Frozen Siberian Lake

Scientists Baffled Over ‘Ice Cirles’ On Remote Frozen Siberian Lake 

The ice circle measures 2.5miles across and was spotted on Lake Baikal

This strange almost perfect ‘ice circle’ has appeared on a frozen lake in Siberia. 

While scientists have ruled out UFO involvement, they are puzzled as to how the mysterious, 2.5mile-wide geological phenomenon has formed in Lake Baikal.

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