Friday, April 30, 2010

WebEcoist

WebEcoist


This Plastic World: Recycled Island Made of Old Bottles

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Delana in Art & Design, Nature & Ecosystems. ]

recycled island

Most of us have heard by now of the floating island of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean, sometimes called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. While other oceans have similar islands of plastic garbage, the Pacific island has been widely publicized as a prime example of our overconsumption of plastics and our poor methods of dealing with plastic waste. Dutch architects WHIM Architecture would like to put a more positive spin on the plastic island by making it into the first habitable ocean-bound floating garbage heap ever.


recycled island tourism
Recycled Island is a research project studying the possibilities of the ever-growing islands of trash in the world’s oceans. The project would clean a large amount of the trash out of the water while providing a new area for agriculture, recreation, tourism and urban living. The team wants to make the island into a self-sufficient, non-polluting refuge where the population produces all of its own resources. They propose the island as a home for some of the projected 200 million climate refugees who will find themselves without a home within the next 30 years due to climate change.

recycled island beaches
The island, when finished, would be about the size of Hawaii. Construction would take place on site at the location of the current highest concentration, which is in the North Pacific Gyre between Hawaii and California. Because the materials are already there, long transports could be avoided, greening the project even further. Large ships with the required recycling equipment would simply go to the floating Garbage Patch, then separate, wash, shred and melt down the plastics there. After building materials are formed from the recycled plastic, the building process would begin then and there.

recycled island seaweed cultivation
Living conditions on the proposed island would be urban in nature, following the trend of the rest of the world: nearly half of the planet’s population currently lives in urban areas. But the island would also be a perfect spot for seaweed cultivation; the seaweed could be used for food, fertilizer, bio-fuel, and even to increase the fish population around the island. Composting toilets, green energy sources and other crops would help add to the population’s self-sufficiency.

recycled island agriculture

There have been plenty of ideas lately about farming and populating the oceans, but this appears to be one of the most ambitious ones. Its possibility would depend largely on how effectively an artificial island could be built of plastic, and just how permanent that island would be. Whether it would hold the weight of a population and its crops – not to mention having some sort of safety measures in place for when storms hit – is still a mystery. Nonetheless, it will be fascinating to see this and other seasteading ideas develop as architects and designers continue to look toward the vast oceans as our future habitat.


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Dornob

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WebEcoist

WebEcoist


20 Amazing Futuristic Hydrogen Vehicle Design Concepts

Posted: 29 Apr 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Angie in Art & Design, Energy & Fuel, Technology & Gadgets, Transit & Auto. ]

Hydrogen vehicles are the future and provide one of the ways to stop using fossil fuels. This therefore cuts down on greenhouse gases that produce global warming. These 20 futuristic hydrogen vehicle concept designs are some the coolest concept designs that we’d like to see rolling down the highway soon.

Ronn Motors Scorpion Roadster

(image credits: autoblog)

This is Scorpion, a hydrogen car prototype by Ronn Motor Company. This V6-powered, hydrogen-injected roadster, comes in two flavors “450 or 650 horsepower.” Scorpion is equipped with the company’s proprietary H2GO hydrogen injection system. This slick looking ride weighs about 2,200 pounds, so Ronn Motor estimates fuel mileage at around 40 miles-per-gallon. The company intends to hone the prototype, but look for this supercar being available in the not-too-distant future.

Volkswagen Splinter

(image credits: ecofriend)

The Smart Fortwo is a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered, zero-emission concept car for Volkswagen. The little two-seater car should be able to squeeze into tight parking spaces. However, the large tires with no mud guards might make driving in the rain a total nightmare.

BlitzenBenz

(image credits: tuvie)

BlitzenBenz concept racing car will respond like human bodies react with the human nerve system. Designer George Yoo created the horizontal tubes to visually look and act like a vase where plants grow. The wheels are secured to the organic structure with in-wheel motors that will open like a plant blossoms to receive sunlight or water. The lighting idea was inspired by bioluminescent deep sea creatures. The hydrogen tank is located in the side pocket of the car to give the visual impression of recycling water throughout the entire vehicle.

Pholeum

(image credit: amv-design)

Pholeum transportation unit concept vehicle is based on the living cell tissue structure of a plant that can carry organic nutrients to any part of the plant where required. Big rubber wheels contain quad electric motors empowered with efficient next generation hydrogen fuel cell technology. Designer Alexei Mikhailov intends for Pholeum to have a composition of memory plastic body work that, if dented or scratched, will go back to its original shape under application of heat.

Volkswagen CitiZen

(image credits: nganu)

The Volkswagen Citizen Tarelkin by Designer Denis A. is a concept car designed specifically for cities that wish to get rid of some drawbacks encountered in urban settings such as congestion, pollution and noise. The car is equipped with electric motors devised to operate with a hybrid propulsion system, batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. The small wheels hidden underneath the vehicle’s aerodynamic shape are able to rotate 180 degrees.

Dacia SHIFT

(image credit: Liviu Tudoran)

The Dacia SHIFT concept car is a two seater with a transparent removable roof. Designer Liviu Tudoran created Dacia SHIFT specifically for the needs of young Bucharest residents. The power source can either be a lithium-ion battery or electric piles that run by liquid hydrogen.

Mercedes Benz F-Cell Roadster

(image credit: tuvie)

Mercedes F-CELL is a concept hydrogen-powered buggy roadster. The body is fiberglass and carbon fiber. It is powered by a hydrogen-electric, emission-free, fuel cell system located at the rear. If the big-spoked bicycle type wheels don’t snag attention, then steering with a joystick surely will. The joystick controls drive-by-wire technology. Additionally, the F-CELL Roadster is supposed to contain all the technologies that top of the line Mercedes cars have.

Renault-Vitesse

(image credit: ecofriend)

Renault Vitesse by designer James Logan is a hydrogen fuel cell powered concept car. Since the car is intended for intelligent highways of the late 2020 era, the Vitesse will connect to computers controlling the highway and receive information regarding road hazards. Then the information will pass on to other highway drivers to enable them to take proper evasive action. Vitesse is made from lightweight hybrid plastic. A unique bike mountings at the rear end will eliminate any need of roof racks.

RT20

(image credit: diseno-art)

The adaptable and reconfigurable RT20 concept car was designed by Mathieu Lewis to be at home on both the road and the race track. The RT20 powertrain is a liquid hydrogen fueled twin-turbo V6. This will provide the power and the noise that driving enthusiasts want and need.

BMW HR2 Hybrid Car

(image credit: tech-review-foru)

The BMW HR2 hybrid car performs with an output of 285 hp and with a top speed on 185 mph. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph takes approximately six seconds. According to BMW, “BMW will launch a dual-mode version of the current 7 Series during the production cycle of the present model, thus introducing the first car of its kind able to run on both hydrogen and gasoline.”

Melbourne Taxi 2020

(image credits: tuvie)

Melbourne Taxi 2020 design concept utilizes an electric Taxi vehicle and supported infrastructure with recharging booths placed at vital points around the city. The taxi’s high-tech features are GPS and mapping systems for passengers and driver, a Smart card system, passenger info and entertainment hub. The green features include a hydrogen fuel cell, a solar panel system including recharging hubs and battery generators. Designer Damian Lucaciu also tackled the problem of accessibility. All rear compartment seats tuck away, opening up maximum floor room for wheelchair access.

The Baja 1000 Buggy

(image credit: diseno-art)

Designer Dong Tran designed the Baja 1000 Buggy concept to use solar cells infused into the body shell. This helps charge the all electric drivetrain. The powersource is a hydrogen fuel cell. The tires are completely airless and feature LEDs lights on the tread. The Baja 1000 Buggy was a winner of the 2009 Michelin Challenge Design competition. It won in both the vehicle design and wheel design categories.

Hyundai 2020 Family Car

(image credit: softpedia)

Designer Nicolas Stone has come up with a new family car. The Hyundai 2020 is aimed at a family of four. Inspired by plants, the car generates fuel for itself using nothing more than sunlight and water. Transparent solar cells generate electricity from ambient light. This electricity is used to carry out electrolysis of water and generate hydrogen to fuel the car.

‘Ozone’ Hydrogen Powered Vehicle

(image credit: flygadgethouse)

Futuristic concept vehicle ‘Ozone’ works on hydrogen powered fuel cells. The two seater has giant wheels controlled by separate motors and powered by fuel cells. ‘Ozone’ is steered with a joystick. Huge glass side doors slide open to enter and exit this vehicle. It might be trippy to sit inside the semi transparent glass casing and roll down the highway.

Jaguar C-XC

(image credit: flylyf)

The Jaguar C-XC concept by designer Phillip Dean is powered by hydrogen fuel cells which are mounted in the hood. A single piece of glass stretches from the hood to the rear, acting as hood, windscreen, roof, and rear window. Aerodynamics are improved by means of covered wheels and a touching of glass on the body. The Jaguar C-XC might prove to be a mean, lean, road warrior machine.

Audi A0 QS

(image credits: tuvie)

Audi A0 QS by designer Alexander Tiganova was “designed for athletes and rich people to enhance their active lifestyles.” This small and dynamic sports car is a hybrid, equipped with an electric motor and a hydrogen engine. Rubber fabric on the doors help them to appear transparent. Keeping in mind for whom it was designed, expect the price tag to be out of reach for mere mortals.

ZIV

(image credits: Christopher Latta)

Christopher Latta designed the two-seater ZIV, or Zero Impact Vehicle concept, to offer a greener lifestyle for the busy urban environment by using recycled or reclaimed materials only. It is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that generates water as the final mechanical waste and can be collected in a holding tank for later use. “The motionless rim design makes the vehicle unique where the tire travels around the rim by utilizing maglev train like magnets that controls all propulsion and braking functions.”

Landstorm Concept Vehicle

(image credit: ps-designfolio)

The Landstorm concept vehicle was created for 2058. Designer Peter Spriggs intends Landstorm to be needed “when airborne vehicles will not be effective to reach a particular area because of frequent natural disasters as a result of future global warming.” These pods have been designed for scouting missions, for food and water transportation to a disaster affected area, and for use as medical pods that can treat two patients simultaneously. The excavation pods can work as robust cranes to remove large pieces of wreckage. As a fire rescue pod, the tank can hold 750 gallons of water and can drain water from lakes with outboard pumps. A hydraulic drive-train is attached with several powerful electric motors and powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Vayro

(image credit: A.K. Muthui)

The Vayro is a future track concept to meet the increasing freight requirement of long-distance road haulage for the year 2020. The truck is powered by a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine. Vayro features a power-split transmission that transmits the power electrically through an electric generator. Desginer Kioko Muthui created Vayro to have an overall length of 123 feet that can carry a gross of 182,000 pounds.

Renault E0

(image credits: tuvie)

Liviu Tudoran designed the Renault E0, Emission ZERO, with two different platforms. One contains an electric charging mechanism and the other includes electric combustion piles fueled by liquid hydrogen. Aluminum is the main body component of this four-seater concept car. The battery is charged by a solar panel whenever possible.


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This Bug’s For You: 40 Stomach Churning Insect Laden Edibles

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Elizah in Food & Health, Nature & Ecosystems, Uncategorized. ]

If you’re a fan of glossy sweets such as jelly beans, candy coated chocolates and sprinkles or you gravitate toward edibles that are dyed brilliant red, then you’re already consuming lac beetle secretions and the pulverized, boiled bodies of cochineal beetles. Bet you didn’t realize just how much of a gustatory daredevil you actually are! Augmenting your diet with a few more crispy critters shouldn’t make you flinch, plus they just so happen to be teeming with protein and fiber (thanks to all of those shells and wee little appendages) and are considered to be one of the truest sustainable alterni-foods around. So, no need to reach for the Pepto-Bismol, seasoned insect-eaters of the world, this bug’s for you!

Going Loco For Locusts!

(Images via: Factoidz, Peace Corps, Herald Sun, FAO, Ilxor, Daylife, Kitsukartika)

According to the Book of Exodus, the eighth plague that befell Egypt involved locusts, and lots of ‘em. Notorious for plowing through crops in record time, the Australian city of Mildura is currently in the throes of their very own short-horned grasshopper battle with as many as 500 of the gorging buggers occupying each square meter. Their solution? Chow time! While the plentiful invaders contain more than 50% protein, they also have a higher level of fat in their small little bodies than an average serving of McDonald’s French fries…but sometimes you’ve just gotta take one for the team. Residents are currently indulging in locust-laden recipes as diverse as pizza and chocolate chirp cookies to fritters and savory peanut-stuffed wok fried snacks, but they really should consider adding Mexican avocado-locust tacos to the lineup, too. They’re reportedly lip-smackin’ good.

Arachnid-Palooza, Even In Booza!

(Images via: Sushi 85, Swimming Freestyle, China View, Travel Webshots, Logan Jaffe, Thailand Unique)

Long valued in traditional medicine for their purported ability to aid the throat, lungs and heart, certain Asian cultures (particular within Cambodia) only resorted to noshing on the eight leggers out of desperation during the dictatorship of Pol Pot. Spiders as well as a multitude of other critters were the reason why people were able to save themselves from certain starvation and somewhere along the line, the habit just stuck. With a head and body that taste somewhat like cod crossed with chicken, spiders are supposedly rather appealing and work quite well when incorporated into a wide variety of menu items…that is, until you get to the actual abdomen. If you're going to consume it straight-up, beware of the dark brown goo within – for some, it's a culinary thrill ride, while for others, the usual "gut suspects" as well as eggs and excrement can be a huge buzz kill.

Wasps: Get Your Taste-buzz On!

(Images via: YeinJee's Asian Journal, Get Rid of Pests, My VOA, William’s Space, Herro Flom Japan)

Why would anyone want to nibble on wasps?  In their adolescent state, they taste like scrambled eggs or specifically "egg whites" and once they are fully grown, they're not unlike pine nuts, so  perhaps the real question you should be asking yourself is why not? From stir fried and deep fried wasp pupae (both preparations supposedly able to impart a youthful quality to the skin) to wasp studded rice crackers, known in Japan by the name jibachi sembei, you can fly on a culinary high without getting stung.

Worms, Grubs and Pupae: Leg-Free Eatin’ !

(Images via: Edible, Time, Food2, Sixth Seal, Thinking Fountain, BBC, Design Swan)

One look at this assortment of once writhing, wriggling little creatures and even the most iron-stomached diner could easily toss their cookies. Despite being the subject of many unwelcome nightmares, worms and their brethren are an integral part of Asian and African diets and have even migrated to the plates of bold Aussies who appreciate the mild mozzarella/nutty egg flavor of Witchetty grubs in particular. Good news for those who are more inclined to nibble on silk worm pupae – they're a figure-friendly, high protein, carbohydrate-free delight that, when deep-fried, take on the characteristic of earthy foie gras with a crisp, peanut skin exterior. Aside from being plunged into high temperature, high calorie oil, the insect gourmand can easily justify their late night snack cravings as being heart-healthy and a far more wholesome alternative to potato chips. Savory to sweet versions abound, but which one should you indulge in? How about a little bit of each?

Scorpions: A Crispy Snack That Won’t Bite Back!

(Images via: Thailand Unique, Edible, Bela Black)

How about closing your eyes and tucking into a sumptuous treat that boasts a crisp, wafer like Kit Kat candy bar texture with walnut undertones, all capped off with a generous coating of dark Belgian chocolate? Unlike its mainstream counterpart, there are absolutely no traces of palm oil or funky laboratory chemicals in UK purveyor Edible's oven baked chocolate dipped scorpion, and at roughly $7 USD for a generous 5 gram portion, it isn't the most budget-friendly dessert but it's surely one that you won't soon forget. If sweets aren't your thing, then Thailand Unique has you covered with their collection of scorpion edibles that range from lightly salted and smoky barbeque roasted to curry dusted. They also happen to offer triple distilled Heterometrus Spinifer infused vodka for something with a bit more kick, and for those who prefer their liquor on the "whiskey" side, their Kool-Aid tinted nips will (fortunately) not bite back…unless you knock back several in succession.

Ants: A Surprisingly Tasty Infestation Sensation!

(Images via: Gnaw, Edible, Hoax Slayer, Thailand Unique)

We may be inclined to snuff ants out with the sole of our shoe, but since they’re believed to impart aphrodisiac properties to the eager diner who dares to go there, why blow a potentially good thing? Available in all sorts of mouth-popping sizes, textures and flavorful varieties, the picnic in your mouth is guaranteed to last…and last…and last, but you’d be wise to have a toothpick handy because these little buggers love to stick around. Those who are obsessed with the cleanliness of their choppers  may want to lean toward ant eggs which leave barely any trace of their existence behind. Tossed with herbs and mature red ants, they make an especially delicious main meal…and foodies, take note — they possess irresistibly soft, jelly-like interiors that give way to creamy-nutty undertones.  Once fully developed and plunked into oil, a culinary transformation takes place and ants suddenly taste like earthy, deep-fried bacon. Two great tastes that taste great together!

Dragonflies: Prepare For a Tantalizing Landing!

(Images via: Feffi, USA Today, PBS.org, Open Salon)

Their shimmery, ethereal appearance has made dragonflies a popular subject of countless pieces of art, but they also make for good eatin', at least in the Yunnan Province of China where their deep fried larvae are gobbled up with great gusto. Similarly, residents of Bali, Indonesia enjoy flash frying the bodies of the full-grown winged creatures in coconut oil…but even more interesting than the fact that they eat them is how they actually catch them. Dipping a thin palmwood strip into jackfruit sap, eager hunters extend this irresistible wand up into the air in the middle of a rice paddy, attracting dragonflies that are instinctually drawn to the sweet elixir. Unfortunately, their wings and/or bodies get tethered to the strip, making it rather easy for someone to bring a generous haul home and finish them off in the fryolator. Yowch!

(Top montage images via: Candy Warehouse, Chocablog, Fao, Rukz, GrowaBrain, Picasa Web, Team Sugar, Fun & Mania, Cupcakes Party, Peace Corps)

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Dornob

Well Red: 10 Amazing Red Animals

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 10:36 AM PDT

[ By Steve in 7 Wonders Series, Animals & Habitats, Nature & Ecosystems. ]


Red animals are rarely retiring – their brilliant crimson, scarlet and vermillion hues dare others to notice them and, often as not, remind them to keep their distance. These 10 colorful examples of red animals do indeed attract our attention and, due to their beauty, make it hard for us humans to stay too far away.

Red Bugs

Ladybugs (also called Ladybird beetles) and Lily Beetles are the most common red insects, though Ladybugs are usually spotted to some degree while Lily Beetles are not. Contrary to rumor, red beetles are NOT ground into cochineal dye – this brilliant red dye was discovered by the Aztecs and comes from a dull grayish scale insect that lives on prickly pear cacti.

The Scarlet Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is only 5 mm or 1/5 of an inch long but really stands out thanks to the bright crimson hue of its exoskeleton. Beautiful as they are, Lily Beetles are the bane of gardeners who dread seeing an infestation of them on their lily plants.

Red Spiders

(images via: BugGuide, SouthernBelladonna and Belmont16Footers)

There aren’t all that many red spiders, possibly because they are for the most part ambush predators who need to remain unseen until it’s to late for their prey to escape. Even so, red spiders exist and their devilish hue makes them look, if anything, even more creepy.

(images via: Surebaby and Luns_Spluctrum)

Though only part of it is red, the infamous Black Widow Spider warns us of its potentially fatal bite by showing off the eerie red hourglass marking on its back. It shares this trait with the equally fearsome Redback and Funnel Web spiders of Australia, which is nice… until one gets bitten.

Red Sea Stars

(images via: English Cari, Chaitt and King County)

Scientists would prefer we forget the name “Starfish” and refer to these marine echinoderms as Sea Stars, as they are not fish. They also don’t always have just 5 arms (though that does seem to be the minimum number) and can have as many as 40! As for color, well, pretty much anything goes. Red looks good on Starf, er, Sea Stars as it helps divers distinguish them among the other colorful sea creatures inhabiting the world’s coral reefs.

(image via: Egypt Tour Info)

Sea Stars are odd animals, at least compared to humans. Anatomically, they have neither blood nor brains. They have the ability to regenerate lost arms and can live up to 35 years in the wild.

Red Humboldt Squid

(images via: Sign On San Diego, Internet Pets, Underwater Times and Centrifugaldeforest)

These large cephalopods are known colloquially as “Red Devils”, both for their fire-engine red coloration and their feisty attitude… they’ve been known to attack divers and sometimes try to rip off their masks! This is no small matter as the creatures can grow up to 7 feet long, and typically rip their prey apart using their parrot-like beak and suckers on their arms lined with needle-sharp teeth.

(image via: Michael Caruso)

If you though Sea Stars were strange, get a load of the Humboldt Squid: 3 hearts, blue blood based on copper instead of iron, and a unique method of communication using bioluminescent photophores in their skin.

Red Fish


(images via: Sheim.com, ScienceBlogs and MissBimbo)

One fish, two fish, red fish… Angler Fish! The hellish deep-sea denizen above is one of several benthic species that are tinged red. Shallow-water fish also display bright red color that really stands out, even in sunlight filtered through pale blue-green seawater. It’s recently been noted that a variety of fish emit red fluorescent light, ostensibly to ease recognition from other members of their species.

(image via: UW PhotographyGuide)

The Frogfish has been called the ocean’s ugliest fish, but this small vermillion juvenile doesn’t look all that bad. They’re also famed for their strange method of navigating the seafloor, an activity akin to walking. Here’s a video of a hairy frogfish and his pal out for a stroll, expertly filmed on location in Indonesia by Daan van Wijk:

Walking Frogfish, via Daan van Wijk

Red-spotted Newts

(images via: LiveScience)

The Red-spotted Newt is commonly found in wet forested areas of eastern North America, though only one life stage of the amphibian is actually red: the terrestrial “red eft”. Both the gilled larval stage and the air-breathing (though water-dwelling) adult stages of this curious creature are mainly a dull greenish brown in color.

(image via: Marietta.edu)

Red-spotted Newts are small animals growing up to just 5 inches in length, but they are surprisingly long-lived: up to 15 years! A fun fact about these salamander-like amphibians is that their skin secretes a noxious substance when they are attacked or otherwise threatened.

Red Poison Dart Frogs

(images via: SC Guide, Mike Bastin and Artur_A)

A host of very small tropical tree frogs, known collectively as “poison dart frogs”, are brilliant red in color, in whole or in part. Like their brightly colored cousins of other hues, red poison dart frogs are small but they pack a powerful punch to those who would try and mess with them. Early human inhabitants of the rainforest learned this lesson the hard way but were then able to benefit by applying the poison to the tips of their arrows, spears and blowgun darts.

(image via: Trescott)

The Red Frog Beach project in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, seems to have adopted the spotted red poison dart frog above as its mascot, of sorts. The project, at present undr construction, is to be a world class eco-tourism destination featuring resort-style amenities and a marina, all on the Caribbean island of Bastimentos. Let’s hope the native red frogs, who were there first, won’t suffer any negative impact from the resort and its future guests.

Red Snakes

(images via: RDodson, DotPhoto and Wild Adventures)

There are a number of snakes that are red to some degree, though only a few are red enough to have the color incorporated into their name. Some examples include the Red Coachwhip, Red Racer and English Red snakes, as seen clockwise from above top.

(images via: Al Wab and Ben Yang)

Red snakes like the Corn Snake are common in the continental United States and make popular pets. One color variation breeders have managed to propagate is the Blood Red type, in which the naturally red areas of the snake are exaggerated in relation to the other colors. Below the Blood Red Corn Snake at above top is a Red Bamboo Snake.

Scarlet Ibis

(images via: The Gaber, Ricardo Vandijk and Jardins)

The strikingly colored Scarlet Ibis inhabits the islands and southern shores of the Caribbean Sea, and inland regions of tropical South America. Except for their downwardly curved beaks and the black tips of their wings, these relatively large, tree-nesting birds are typically bright red from head to toe.

(image via: Guenter Leitenbauer)

Surprisingly, the Scarlet Ibis is not born red and if deprived of its favored food – red crabs – it will remain gray and white as it matures. In its natural habitat, the birds metabolize the red pigment from the crabs they eat and incorporate the pigment into their feathers.

Red Sheep

(images via: BBC and Dark Roasted Blend)

“Ahh-OOH, red sheep of Scotland…” Drivers along the M8 highway near Edinburgh, West Lothian, have enough to worry about without the added distraction of seeing a flock of crimson sheep grazing the hills alongside the roadway. Let’s just hope they don’t start counting them while driving by – there are 54, to save everyone the trouble.

(image via: Too Hot Pics)

Why spray-paint sheep red? “They are causing quite a stir with passers-by,” according to farmer Andrew Jack, who further explained “It is a bit of fun and it does brighten things up.” Aye, so it do!

(image via: Ecorazzi)

Said Craig Chalmers of nearby Pyramids Business Park in response to questions raised about the safety of tinting sheep, “The dyes are obviously animal friendly and we are now considering replacing them with pink sheep when these ones have their coats sheared.” Dunno about you, but we think this is a really baa-d move.


(image via: Inutopia)

Seeing red yet? If so, you could be this guy – a one-man crimson tide last seen at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The so-called Red Man isn’t just one of a kind… he’s one in vermillion.


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Virtual Exploration: 14 Amazing Google Earth Finds

Posted: 26 Apr 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Steph in Animals & Habitats, Geography & Travel, Science & Research, Technology & Gadgets. ]

Illicit pot plantations, floating cars, bloody lakes and possible clues to the location of Atlantis – all of these things and more have been spotted on Google Earth, that mesmerizing satellite imagery software that allows you to explore every corner of the globe without ever leaving your seat. Some people may find Google's ubiquitous cameras invasive, but there's no doubt that it plays an important role not just in voyeurism and entertainment but in science, as well – and it has even led a man to what may be billions in buried treasure.

Bloody Lake in Iraq

(image via: google maps)

Is it the site of some stomach-turning atrocity? A dumping site for slaughterhouse blood, as suggested by a BoingBoing commenter? Nay, the extremely vivid red hue of this lake outside Sadr City in Iraq is most likely due to something much less exciting – like chemical pollution or a wastewater treatment process.

Ancient Fish Trap in Wales

(image via: the daily mail)

Swimming or boating in the waters of Teifi Estuary in Wales, you'd never guess that the rocks beneath the surface were anything other than a natural reef. But archaeologists using Google Earth to study geological features instantly recognized it as something else entirely – a vast man-made fish trap built some 1,000 years ago. Back then, fish would have been trapped in the V-shape during low tide, but the stones have since sunken into the sand.

Pot Plantation in Switzerland

(image via: gearthblog)

When marijuana farmers planted their illicit crop in an open field in Switzerland as if it were corn or broccoli, they apparently weren't counting on a Google Earth satellite spying on their land. Aerial images of the site caught the attention of police in 2007, but earlier photos seem to indicate that the farmers got away with it for at least a decade.

Heart-Shaped Island in Croatia

(image via: google sightseeing)

What exotic locale could be better for a romantic vacation than a heart-shaped island off the coast of Croatia, complete with a border of sandy beaches? It's now known as "Lover's Island", but even its owner didn't realize how perfectly heart-shaped it really is until he was inundated with requests by sentimental folks who saw it online.

Airplane Graveyard in Arizona

(image via: google maps)

What happens to old airplanes when they're no longer safe to fly? Apparently, they get dumped into a vast aircraft graveyard in the middle of Arizona. These planes sit until their useful parts are fully exploited, and desert conditions keep them from corroding in the meantime.

Flying Car in Australia

(image via: the register)

Glance at this Google Earth image, and you'll likely do a double-take – yes, that white car parked all by its lonesome in the grass certainly does appear to be floating at least ten feet in the air. It's still not clear exactly what was happening here, as the flat black shape lacks the reflections that a dark-colored vehicle might have sported and is perfectly situated to be the white car's shadow.

Conflict Zone Scale Model in China

(image via: google maps)

It looks ordinary enough to those unfamiliar with China's landscape, but this little plot of earth is actually a roughly 1:500 scale model of a disputed border region between China and India. Located near what seems to be a military complex, the model likely serves as an important visualization tool for officials planning action.

Gravity-Defying Parking Job in The Netherlands

(image via: google maps)

Many odd sights found in Google Earth have been proven mere computer anomalies, but there's no denying that this car is actually parked on the side of a building. However, there's also a perfectly reasonable (but still amazing) explanation: it's a piece of public art by Theo van Laar.

Buried Treasure in Texas

(image via: google maps)

Could a Google Earth geek really have located billions of dollars in buried treasure, all through aerial imagery? Musician Nathan Smith believes that he did, investigating an unusual shape and deciding that it must be the wreck of a Spanish barquentine from 1822 that sunk in the area of Aransas Pass. Legally, the treasure is Smith's if it's located in a waterway and he gets to it first. Unfortunately for him, that formerly underwater area is now dry land and belongs to a family that isn't keen on a bulldozer invasion.

Hidden Fighter Jet in France

(image via: google maps)

Why, oh why would a fighter jet be tucked away in what appears to be a residential parking lot? It seems like an odd place to rest. Perhaps it's a model of some sort, given that it's located next to the Paris Institute of Technology.

Tantalizing Underwater Structure in Turkey

(image via: google maps)

When eagle-eyed Google Earth explorers spotted a strange pattern in the water off the coast of Turkey, they couldn't help but see a tantalizing glimpse at what could be the remnants of a long-forgotten civilization – Atlantis, perhaps? But alas, Google quickly rained on their parade, saying "What users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process. Bathymetric (or sea floor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea floor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data.”

Underwater Explosion in Mexico

(image via: google sightseeing)

Did Google Earth's cameras just happen to catch an underwater earthquake at the very moment it occurred? A gas eruption, perhaps, or a meteorite at the moment of impact? Not quite. The harsh, frigid water of reality was thrown upon speculators when a commenter at Google Sightseeing pointed out what appears to be a jet ski in the center of the ripples.

Undiscovered Species Unmasked in Mozambique

(image via: google maps)

It has never been easy to get to the mountainous region of Mozambique in Africa, thanks to difficult terrain and civil war – so it has remained mostly untouched and undiscovered. But the virtual sightseeing capabilities of Google Earth piqued the curiosity of a group of British scientists who were amazed to find an unexpected patch of green. They decided to set out on foot, and discovered hundreds of new species in just three weeks.

Ancient Human Ancestor in South Africa

(image via: google maps)

Another scientist found that using Google Earth to keep track of various known caves and fossil deposits in South Africa paid off in a big way: namely, helping him identify an ancient human ancestor. Professor Lee Berger from Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg found a correlation between the site locations and then, using Google Earth's aerial imagery, identified 50 previously unidentified caves and fossil sites – one of which contained the bones of a new hominid.


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Feats of Strength: 6 Amazing/Surprising Animal Superpowers

Posted: 25 Apr 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Chris in Animals & Habitats, Nature & Ecosystems. ]

(Images via: Reef Seekers, Mirror, Less Loss, Beke, Rocking Facts, What’s That Bug)

From daredevil damselfish and borneo ninja slugs to super-seeing bees and incredibly strong dung beetles, animals that seem rather ordinary on the surface will occasionally surprise us humans with incredible feats or unusual behavior reminiscent of fictional superpowers.

Hardly Damsels in Distress: Damselfish Daredevils

(Images via: Ralph Fuller, Sea Baja, Nova, Flickr, Dive Rosa)

While recently studying personality traits of damselfish, researchers were surprised when this species of fish suddenly became more aggressive and bold in the water. Turns out that increases in water temperature cause these fish to be more active than usual, particularly when another fish was made visible outside the water during a controlled study. On average, the damselfish were four times more aggressive and bold than normal when water temperatures increased. Since damselfish are cold-blooded to begin with, warmer temperatures provide them with more energy to pursue food and take more chances, which could also be their end doing if not keeping lookout for larger predators. Such are the risks of being damselfish daredevils.

Borneo Hills Ninja Slugs

(Images via: Flickr, Flickr, Flickr, Dawn)

Recently in the mountains of the Malaysian port of Borneo, researchers discovered a slug with a tail three times the length of its head and a unique ability to initiate the reproduction process. Shooting calcium carbonate and hormone-filled darts at potential mates, the new species was dubbed the Borneo ninja slug, even though its martial arts skills are up for debate.

Beyond the Sting: Super-Seeing and Sniffing Bees

(Images via: Eye Design Book, Ugly Overload, ASM International)

How it’s currently good to be a bumblebee. With spring having arrived, these fellas will be out and about in droves soon enough, ready to invade summer picnics and even sting when necessary. With the ability to see the world five times faster than humans, it’s no wonder that bees are so quick to pick up on freshly served food during summer grill outs and to navigate many different situations in the wild, including shady, unclear bushes. And it appears that some super-seeing bees are only getting stronger. To combat a recent decline in honeybees killed by a parasite called varroa mites, scientists have bred super-sniffing bees that will better allow them to locate and root out these pests when present in their hives. Guess this superpower is worth having if it will ensure future populations of honeybees and bottles of honey. In related news, super-smelling wasps have recently been trained to mimic sniffing dogs capable of uncovering illegal drugs and toxic chemicals while desert ants also have been shown to use olfactory cues like maps when navigating back to their nests.

Greater Mouse-Eared Bat Signal: The Sunset

(Images via: Democratic Underground, Wild Things Bap, J Waller, Bats)

Like desert ants, the greater mouse-eared bat always seems to know where it’s at in relation to its roosting site. Despite being creatures of the night, these bats utilize the position of the sun at sunset to determine direction. These bats then calibrate their magnetic fields with the sun, ultimately using this gigantic orb as a compass to orient themselves, according to recent research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Even when placed in unfamiliar settings, these bats were able to find their way home rather quickly based on this uncanny and envious tracking system.

Stop-and-Go Elephants: Equipped with Four-Wheel Drive

(Images via: The BS Report, Hansen Maud, Best Week Ever, Flickr, Telegraph)

Not only do elephants look like SUVs, they work like them. According to fascinating new research, elephants are believed to be the only four-legged animals in the wild to have four-wheel drive, which refers to power being applied independently to each limb, ultimately allowing them to brake and accelerate with each leg. All other four-legged animals are believed to have rear-wheel drive, where the hind legs are used to accelerate and the front legs are used to brake. According to researchers, four-wheel drive makes elephants less efficient and much slower runners. However, elephants do have more power over their movements as a result of their self-contained 4-wheel drive.

Dung Beetles: Super Strong and Apparently Steroid Free

(Images via: The Age, Science Score, Terrenoire, Flickr)

The dung beetle (Onthophagus taurus) was recently declared the world’s strongest insect after demonstrating the ability to pull 1,141 times its body weight. In comparable terms, that would be equivalent to a human being lifting almost 180,000 pounds. Not all dung beetles are this strong; for those that are not, they compensate in different ways. According to recent research in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, dung beetles that are not blessed with the strength to fight other males for female mates are known for having much bigger testicles than their stronger counterparts. With this advantage, these less strong dung beetles are able to produce much more sperm, thus giving them their own special appeal to females.


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