Posted 1 month ago

Phoenix Towers - the world’s newest / tallest building includes planets orbiting its base; seriously! The design for the Phoenix Towers to be constructed in Wuhan China was inspired by Asian mythology of the legendary bird rising reborn from its own ashes, includes two towers (one representing a male, the other a female phoenix), and between their mid sections several globes are suspended. And just to top it off, the entire complex is set on an island within a lake.

UK-based Chetwood Architects just unveiled plans for the Phoenix Towers in Wuhan, China, which will be the world’s tallest pair of skyscrapers upon completion. The supertall structures are the centerpiece of the firm’s four master plans slated for construction in China. The Phoenix Towers are outfitted with wind turbines, solar panels, thermal chimneys and rainwater harvesting systems and they will act as an “environmental catalyst” to re-invigorate the city of Wuhan.


Inspired by the symbol of the Chinese Phoenix, which combines male and female principles in perfect balance, the architects designed two interdependent towers. The “male” one (Feng) feeds the “female” (Huang) with renewable energy and together they act as a beacon of sustainability in the area.

Many more images at the original site.

Posted 1 month ago

Pure Energy - hybrid may make you think of a green thumb Prius, but 100+ mpg and 1000+ hp are no longer the polar opposites once thought. Not only has hybrid technology shown up in hypercars like the McLaren P1 (image above) or Porsche 918, but motorsports have made a seismic shift away from pure petrol engines this year. Formula 1 racing for example rewrote the rule book for 2014, equipping cars with energy recovery systems scavenging power from both braking (MGU-K / Kinetic) and turbine waste heat (MGU-H / Heat), resulting in a 160 hp power boost. This has shrunk engine size and fuel consumption (now capped to 100kg per race), even while making cars more powerful than in previous years.

Gone are the 18,000 rpm, 2.4L normally aspirated V8 engines we’ve been used to hearing since 2006. In their place are turbocharged 1.6L V6s. […] The MGU-H is connected to the engine’s turbocharger and generates electricity as the turbo’s shaft spins, allowing it to capture another 2 MJ each lap. The MGU-H can also draw some of that power back from the batteries, using it to help spin the turbo (instead of the rear wheels like the MGU-K) to reduce turbo lag. 

All this new tech results in cars with the neck snapping instant torque of an electric motor, combined with the insane high-rpm power density of a massive turbo strapped to relatively small engines, and all of that at a fraction of the fuel consumption of previous models. Even better, F1’s relentless technology development competition will rapidly push this tech to other applications, from consumer cars to hybrid rocket engines.

Posted 1 month ago

Embracing Otherness - much has been imagined about humanities first experiences with alien lifeforms; however, you don’t have to leave planet Earth to find some rather discouraging examples of how we as a species interact with lifeforms different from us. Sharks are one such example, and in this astonishing video, one very brave individual makes a mesmerizing statement on the possibility of respectful coexistence.

How to Dance with Tiger Sharks is both beautiful art, and hopeful in its message. There is no doubt both humans and sharks are equally capable of harming one another, but just maybe that doesn’t preclude the possibility of both choosing not to do so. The original article has a detailed interview with the creators of the video well worth reading.

Posted 1 month ago

Replaceable Me - an impressive info graphic summarizing current capabilities in upgrades to the human body. Created by Jeong Suh of Bryan Christie Design for New York Magazine, it covers everything from artificial limbs, to major internal organs, and sensory functions like the eyes and nose. All of these are existing technology, with each element calling out the organizations and/or individuals who have demonstrated successful development.

Granted, many of these are still in their early stages. For example, SynCardia’s artificial heart is still a long way from the reliable replacement used by Captain Picard in Star Trek’s The Next Generation; it requires the user to carry an external battery as a power source and is only meant for temporary use (not a full time replacement). Nonetheless, it is astonishing to see how far we have come already in making real what was once purely science fiction.

Posted 1 month ago

Desert Dwelling - this underground park is another ambitious architectural project in Abu Dhabi. Creating a space were partial sunlight and shade mingle to make a green oasis from the desert sun, this kind of partially subterranean construction could be a preview of future cities built on inhospitable worlds.

The urban planners of Abu Dhabi asked London design studio, Heatherwick, to create a park that would provide some relief for its residents from the oppressing heat and as a place to wind down. Spread over 1.3 million square feet, Al Fayah Park will look like a 65 foot high mound of earth from the outside.

The roof of the park is fashioned from the patterns in the desert formed when the hot sun cracks the earth. These series of cracked pieces will then be raised on columns to form a dome under which plants can grow away from the searing desert sun.