Posted in design and architecture, engineering, Illumination, Solar and Alternative Energy

Edinburgh’s New Prismatic Solar Pavilion Acts As A Giant Sun Dial | Inhabitat

One misconception of solar power is that it can only be used in bright, constantly sunny places. But that’s not entirely true; even places like Seattle or cloudy, drizzly Edinburgh, there are lots of opportunities for solar power. And what better way to celebrate the sun than through art?

As a dazzling addition to the Edinburgh Arts Festival, artist Karen Forbes designed and built this glittering glass pavilion to celebrate the sun, light and optics. Situated at the base of the Melville Monument in St. Andrew Square Gardens, the Solar Pavilion is composed of nine segments forming a semi-circle in the center of the park. On display for the month of August, the pavilion works in conjunction with the obelisk tower as an informal sun-dial to mark the passage of time. The prismatic temporary pavilion will serve as the focal point of the festival and a space for artists talks and gatherings for the rest of the month.

more pictures via Edinburgh’s New Prismatic Solar Pavilion Acts As A Giant Sun Dial | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

Posted in design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, museum, Solar and Alternative Energy

A Metallic Solar Powered Cloud Museum for Xiamen China | Inhabitat

China has been producing some cool architecture the last couple of years, from the Beijing stadiums to this:

“Floating” above the city of Xiamen, China like a cloud, this lofty museum takes art and culture to new heights. The brainchild of MAD Architects, the structure’s organic, molten metal shape is mirrored, reflecting the beauty of the surrounding environment right onto its walls. The museum will make good use of the city’s sunny climate by placing solar panels on its roof, and because it rests upon 5 relatively slender “legs,” residents of the city still have space to enjoy the natural landscape of the park-like site.

more photos via A Metallic Solar Powered Cloud Museum for Xiamen China | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

Posted in music, Solar and Alternative Energy

Solar-powered SXSW

As discussed at MIT Technology Review

[SXSW] conference organizers have collaborated with Austin-based Sol Design Lab to make the firm’s SolarPumps available at locations around downtown Austin.

The SolarPump is a free, solar-powered charging station for electric bikes, scooters, cell phones, and laptops–basically anything that uses a standard electric cord to charge. Beth Ferguson created the pump in February 2009 as her project for her MFA at the University of Texas at Austin. Ferguson combined the reclaimed body of a 1950’s gas station pump with solar panels to get people thinking about solar energy.

“We’ve used kind of a fun combination of 1950’s gas pumps with solar panels for people to really start questioning and seeing the humor and really start thinking about a new form of transportation and energy for the city,” she told Austin’s KVUE News.

The SolarPump combines 1950s vintage gas pumps with solar panels to create an electronics-charging station. © Sol Design Lab

This is an awesome idea and a great way to promote awareness of solar power, from its ease to its efficieny. I hope Sol Design Labs and its concept takes off, and I hope to see more of these solar kiosks pop up around sunny parts of the U.S. like California and Arizona.

Posted in aerospace, astronomy, electronic imaging and displays

Amazing solar eclipse picture

From Wired Science: But none of this year’s solar eclipse seen in Africa provided the kind of exquisite detail that a team of astronomers watching from the Marshall Islands captured during last summer’s total solar eclipse. By combining 31 images of the eclipse shot with a Canon EOS 5D, the composite shows the incredible structure of the sun’s corona stretching out from occluded central disc. The moon’s surface details are also clearly visible.

The next total solar eclipse will occur on July 11, 2010, and will be visible only from the South Pacific. So, read our how-to guide on solar eclipse tourism and start saving those frequent flyer miles.

More photos and details.

Posted in design and architecture, Solar and Alternative Energy

Solar Handbag

Courtesy of MakeZine, which came to them via ReadyMade (the Internet is a giant circle):

You can convert any bag into a solar charger for your gadgets.
(Please note, this design is a bit underpowered compared to the usual Voltaic bags which have three 1.3 Watt panels so charge times will be proportionately slower).

All you need is the following:

Step 1: Parts and Tools
1-3 1.3 Watt Panels ($30-$90)
1 Circuit Box Set ($3)
1 JetPack Battery Set ($75)
1 used/salvaged handbag, preferably with a flat front
Sharp knife
Super glue
Needles & thread

Visit their site for pictures and details

Posted in chemistry, communication and networking, literature

The millenium-long story

Even though the story is only 9 words long, you won’t be able to read it in this lifetime. From WIRED:

San Francisco conceptual artist and journalist Jonathon Keats is trying to rejuvenate literature in the age of hyperspeed media by writing a story that will take a millennium to tell.

The catch? The story, printed on the cover of the recently released Infinity issue of Opium Magazine, is only nine words long.

“I’m interested in exploring deep time,” the thought experimentalist and Wired contributor explained in an e-mail to during a visit to Europe, where he is probably concocting a scheme to wormhole Paris or something.

“Like most people, I live my life in a rush, consuming media on the run,” said Keats, who has copyrighted his mind, tried to pass a Law of Identity and attempted to genetically engineer God.

“That may be fine for reading the average blog,” he said, “but something essential is lost when ingesting words is all about speed. My thousand-year story is an antidote. Given the printing process I’ve used, you can’t take in more than one word per century. That’s even slower than reading Proust.”


The printing process in question is a simple but, as usual with Keats, pretty clever idea. The cover is printed in a double layer of standard black ink, with an incrementally screened overlay masking the nine words. Exposed over time to ultraviolet light, the words will be appear at different rates, supposedly one per century.

“The precise quantity of ink covering each word is different, so that the words will appear one at a time,” Keats said. “Provided that your copy of Opium is kept out in the open, and regularly exposed to sunlight over 1,000 years to be read progressively by the next dozen or so generations. Or very, very slowly if you happen to be Ray Kurzweil.”

The odds are very good that Keats’ brainy game will outlive print itself, at least as far as magazines are concerned. But will the pages of Opium last long enough for his story to be told?

“The high-quality acid-free paper on which Opium is printed will certainly last that long,” Keats answered. “Whether humankind will, of course, remains an open question.”

I found it interesting, in fact I’m relieved, he chose to use printed media. Short of carving it into stone or rawhide, there’s not much else made these days that could even possibly attempt to survive 1,000 years (thank you Dead Sea Scrolls). Now if the ink doesn’t deteriorate…