Archive for February 17th, 2012

February 17, 2012

Solar Roadway

A solar roadway is a road surface, that generates electricity by solar photovoltaics. One current proposal is for panels including solar panels and LED signage, that can be driven on. Parking lots, driveways, and eventually highways are all targets for the panels. If the entire United States Interstate Highway system were surfaced with Solar Roadways panels, it would produce more than three times the amount of electricity currently used nationwide. The United States Department of Transportation awarded Solar Roadways Incorporated a $100,000 research contract in 2009. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract enabled Solar Roadways to prototype Solar Road Panels. After successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contract, it was awarded it a follow-up $750,000 Phase II contract to take it to the next step: a solar parking lot. Constructed out of multiple 12′ x 12′ panels, this smart parking lot will also warm itself in cold weather to melt away snow and ice. A layer of embedded LEDs will be used to create traffic warnings or crosswalks, and excess electricity could be used to charge electric vehicles or routed into the power grid. The electrical components will be embedded between layers of extremely durable, textured glass. The main advantage of the Solar Roadway concept is that it utilizes a renewable source of energy to produce electricity. It has the potential to reduce our dependence on conventional sources of energy such as coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels. Also, the life span of the solar panels is around 30-40 years, much greater than normal asphalt roads, which only last 7-12 years.

Another advantage of the Solar Roadway is that it does not require the development of unused and potentially environmentally sensitive lands. This is currently a very controversial issue with large photovoltaic installations in the Southwestern US and other places. But since the roads are already there, this is not an issue. Also, unlike large photovoltaic installations, new transmission corridors -across environmentally sensitive land- would not be required to bring power to consumers in urban areas. Transmission lines could simply be run along already established roadways. With induction plating embedded inside these roads, all electric cars can be recharged while in motion on top of these roads. This would reduce the costs and the time-inconvenience to wait at a charging station. In spite of these advantages, initially, the start up and maintenance costs of building such roadways and parking lots may be extremely high. (However, advances in this technology will cause the costs to fall.) Another issue to deal with is the efficiency of solar panels. The average efficiency is currently 20%. Another disadvantage is that it can not be constructed in the poorest developing nations due to the high initial start-up costs. Road surfaces also accumulate rubber, salt, etc., which block sunlight. Salt might be easy to wash off, but not rubber. it would also be quite costly. Each panel costs about $7,000 to build, and the plan calls for billions of them to cover the roadways.

February 17, 2012

Via Art

Via Art as an art style was created in the late 90’s by British artist VitaliV while attempting to imprint an unusual, digital circuit-like pattern upon jewelry. In appreciation of the simplicity and logic of digital circuits, the artist decided to use the pattern as the structural basis for a new style. The following decade led to the creation of over 1000 designs including jewelry, furniture sketches, fashion collections, and hundreds of porcelain wares. The essence of the Via Art style are simple geometrical patterns—circles and lines connected at 45° angles.

February 17, 2012


Aurasma is an augmented reality platform created by Autonomy Corporation. Primarily designed for 3G and 4G mobile devices it uses the device’s video camera to recognise pre-trained images and overlay an image or video so that the video tracks as the camera is moved.

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February 17, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is an upcoming 2012 film directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola and starring Bruce Willis alongside Bill Murray and an ensemble cast. Filming took place in Rhode Island in the spring and summer of 2011. Set in the 1960s, a pair of young lovers (Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman) flee their New England island town, prompting a local search party led by the Sheriff (Bruce Willis) and the girl’s parents (Bill Murray, Frances McDormand) to fan out to find them.

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February 17, 2012

Wes Anderson

wes anderson

bill murray

Wes Anderson (b. 1969) is an American director and screenwriter. Anderson has been called an auteur, as he is involved in every aspect of his films’ production. His films employ similar aesthetics, using a deliberate, methodical cinematography, with mostly primary colors. His soundtracks feature folk and early rock music, in particular classic British rock. Anderson’s films combine dry humor with poignant portrayals of flawed characters – often a mix of the wealthy and the working class. He is also known for working with many of the same actors and crew on varying projects, particularly Owen Wilson (who co-wrote three of Anderson’s feature films), Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. Other frequent collaborators include writer Noah Baumbach, who co-wrote ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ and ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ with Anderson co-producing his film ‘The Squid and the Whale.’

Anderson went to India to film his 2007 film ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ partly as a tribute to the legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, whose ‘films have also inspired all my other movies in different ways’ (the film is dedicated to him). Jason Schwartzman reunited with Anderson for it, acting as well as co-writing the script with Anderson and Roman Coppola. In 2006, following the disappointing commercial and critical reception of ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,’ Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Donald Fagen released a tongue-in-cheek ‘letter of intervention’ of Anderson’s artistic ‘malaise.’ Proclaiming themselves to be fans of ‘World Cinema’ and Anderson in particular, they offered Anderson their soundtrack services for his ‘The Darjeeling Limited,’ including lyrics for a title track.

February 17, 2012

Ganzfeld Effect

The Ganzfeld effect (German: ‘complete field’) is a phenomenon of visual perception caused by staring at an undifferentiated and uniform field of color. The effect is described as the loss of vision as the brain cuts off the unchanging signal from the eyes. The result is ‘seeing black’ – apparent blindness. In the 1930s, research by psychologist Wolfgang Metzger established that when subjects gazed into a featureless field of vision they consistently hallucinated and their electroencephalograms changed. The Ganzfeld effect is the result of the brain amplifying neural noise in order to look for the missing visual signals. The noise is interpreted in the higher visual cortex, and gives rise to hallucinations. This is similar to dream production because of the brain’s state of sensory deprivation during sleep.

The Ganzfeld effect has been reported since ancient times. The adepts of Pythagoras retreated to pitch black caves to receive wisdom through their visions, known as the prisoner’s cinema. Miners trapped by accidents in mines frequently reported hallucinations, visions and seeing ghosts when they were in the pitch dark for days. Arctic explorers seeing nothing but featureless landscape of white snow for a long time also reported hallucinations and an altered state of mind.


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