In the year 2020, seven of the largest mirrors on Earth — 20 tons each — will come together in a 22-story, rotating building located in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile. They will form the Giant Magellan Telescope, a feat of science, technology, engineering and math that will have ten times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.
In this video from July 2013, Dr. Wendy Freedman, Chairman GMT, and Dr. Pat McCarthy, Director GMT, explain the astounding challenge of creating this precise, powerful, and wondrous machine. Read more at Phys.org.
In the archives: more telescope-related vids.
In 2002, Brazilian engineer Alfredo Moser invented a simple way to bring the sun’s light indoors: fill a clear plastic 2 liter bottle with water and two capfuls of bleach, then make a hole in the roof and secure it with a waterproof sealant.
The result: 40 to 60 watts of free, natural light.
How does it work? The bleach keeps the water from turning green, and the water refracts sunlight. To see this innovative but simple invention in action, watch the the ecoideasnet video above (with captions on). Chilean Miguel Marchand helps to install the bottle lights, or Moser Lamps, in the home of a family that lives in the Andes.
Around 1.6 billion people — 25% of the Earth’s population — live without electricity, but with this simple idea, they can enjoy sustainable light in their home for free. Moser Lamps are becoming popular solutions in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Argentina, Fiji, and other countries, and give an incredibly useful second life to plastic bottles.
If you make a Moser Lamp, please contact us by twitter, facebook, or email to let us know!
h/t BBC News.
Related watching: La casa ecológica de botellas, and more videos about sustainability.
How Biomimicry is Inspiring Human Innovation:
…we human beings, who have been trying to make things for only the blink of an evolutionary eye, have a lot to learn from the long processes of natural selection, whether it’s how to make a wing more aerodynamic or a city more resilient or an electronic display more vibrant… one of the most often-cited examples is Velcro, which the Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral patented in 1955 after studying how burs stuck to his clothes…
And the butterflies?
More than a decade ago, an MIT grad named Mark Miles was dabbling in the field of micro-electromechanical and materials processing. As he paged through a science magazine, he was stopped by an article on how butterflies generate color in their wings. The brilliant iridescent blue of the various Morpho species, for example, comes not from pigment, but from “structural color.” Those wings harbor a nanoscale assemblage of shingled plates, whose shape and distance from one another are arranged in a precise pattern that disrupts reflective light wavelengths to produce the brilliant blue. To create that same blue out of pigment would require much more energy—energy better used for flying, feeding and reproducing.
Miles wondered if this capability could be exploited in some way. Where else might you want incredibly vivid color in a thin package?
From Smithsonian Mag.
When we tell stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed that our problem was impossible. Instead, we skip straight to the breakthrough. We tell the happy ending first.
The danger of this scenario is that the act of feeling frustrated is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer — before we can even know the question — we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost. Because it’s only after we stop searching that an answer may arrive.
Not sure how much the kid understood this video (via Brainpickings), but it entertained him, reminded me, and gave us the opportunity to talk about the value of mistakes, failure and persistence.
Related reading for teachers, parents and interested parties, from Science Evangelist Dr. Ainissa Ramirez's TED Talk:
…recast science education from being about memorizing facts, “a trivial pursuit,” to being about problem-solving and thinking for oneself. We need to move away from focusing on tests to showing kids that it’s ok to learn or to take risks. “Children need to explore and to discover. This is how you innovate; you fail your way to your answer. Scientists fail all the time; we just brand it differently. We call it ‘data.’”