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Living in a mansion with only 32 m² (344 ft²).

Ever dreamed of living in a 24-room mansion located in the center of major a city like New York or London? Most people have, but most people can also only afford a small studio at best. If you can’t shell out $90 million for a 24-room mansion on East 80th street, but would still like to live in a spacious apartment for an affordable price, Gary Chang can help.

24 rooms

Gary Chang is a Chinese architect that transformed his 32 m² Hong Kong apartment into a super efficient apartment. A system of moving walls can change the layout of the house in 24 different ways. I’d say this is the pinnacle of efficiency for architecture. Except for Japanese capsule hotels, I wonder if architecture can get any more efficient than this. If you live with a spouse, you won’t have much privacy, but that’s true for any studio apartment.

Here’s a link for the lucky few that can afford a mansion in downtown Manhattan,  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367055/New-Yorks-expensive-house-goes-sale-staggering-90million.html

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If it Happened to Holland

What would happen if events similar to those in Japan’s disaster happened to Holland? A while ago, I mentioned the risk of nuclear accidents and natural disasters to the Dutch. In this article I expand on this topic, exploring what would happen if our dykes fail and nuclear reactors from the Dutch or adjacent nations melt down. First, a short history lesson:

Floods

Tsunamis don’t occur in the Netherlands, but water has been the biggest threat since the 13th century. The Dutch are situated near the Northsea and a river delta. The Rhine River, Meuse River and the River Waal provide access to Europe’s in-land cities. Because of this, Rotterdam is one of the central ports in Europe. It is vitally important to the economy of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.

The Dutch expanded its limited territory by poldering. Poldering is the practice of building dikes around a submerged/oceanic area and draining it with windmill-powered pumps, until dry, fertile soil remains. This way, there was no need for hostile land grabs in order to expand the nation’s borders. Instead, we took land from the sea. In the case of floods, water is purposely diverted to the relatively uninhabited countryside to minimize the damage to dense urban areas. It’s an old but smart system that helped us become famous for our Dutch ingenuity. This doesn’t always work though. Sometimes the sea comes back to reclaim what is hers. We have had 3 big incidents in our history so far:

  • Allerheiligenvloed (All Saints Flood) 1570 worst post-medieval flood in europe. Tens of thousands drowned.
  • Kerstvloed 1717 11.500 deaths, 100.000 drowned livestock. 5000 destroyed houses.
  • Sint Ignatiusvloed ("De Watersnood" or "De Ramp van ‘53")1953. 1932 deaths, 60.000 drowned livestock. 100.000 destroyed houses. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcX5wb1k9UM&)

This lead to the construction of the Delta Works, an even smarter system of dams that reduced our coastline by 700 km, and consequently reduced our need for protection from the sea. It is 1 of the 7 wonders of the modern world, completed after 57 years of construction. But the sea isn’t our only threat, our rivers flood every so many years, causing damage to our infrastructure far from the coastline.

Global Warming is a new factor in rising sea water and it is happening rapidly. It is estimated that it could rise more than 6 meters (20 ft) due to climate change. The Delta Works took 57 years to finish so we may not be able to reinforce the country before one of our defense mechanisms fail. The question is, can we geo-engineer ourselves out of this one?

Flood Line Holland

70% of our country is either below or at sea-level. The lowest point lies 7 meters (23 ft) below the sea-level. As you can see, the Randstad will flood (An area that houses 7.1 m inhabitants, or 44% of the entire population) This means Amsterdam, the Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam will be lost. If our dams and dikes fail, the cultural, economical and industrial relevance of the Dutch could be decimated overnight. All that would remain is a strip along the Belgian and German border. This could happen in the next 15-30 years. Needless to say, I won’t take a mortgage.

Risk Impact


Nuclear Accident

Japan wasn´t just hit by a Tsunami, it was hit by a nuclear accident as well. Here is another excerpt from my previous article:

The small size of our country and close proximity to England, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and Denmark means that even if a nuclear disaster occurs in another country, we will probably suffer from its fallout. We are left at the mercy of nature and the regulation of other countries as well as our own, so the events in Japan should worry us.

If an unexpected chain of events would set off a nuclear disaster in Holland, it could endanger the lives of at least 1.4 million people who live in risk areas. That is 8,75% of the entire population. Here is a list of domestic and foreign Nuclear Reactors that would impact Holland in case of a melt down.

Nuclear Risk Holland

Even if we have the most secure Nuclear Reactors in the world, we would still be in danger of suffering the fallout from Belgian and German reactors. This means, we will never be safe until we can exert influence over Belgian and German energy policies.

If it Happened to Holland, more than half the population could potentially be directly effected either by nuclear fallout or floods. This would be the end of our country, since all of the major industrial, cultural and urban areas would be wiped out overnight. It reminds me of the story of Mount Vesuvius. The river delta drives our economy, but it is a powerful force that could decimate us overnight. Let’s hope the war against water is one war we will never lose.

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Affordable Aerial Camera

Whether you want to make beautiful aerial camera shots or if you want to spy on your next door neighbor, the Oktokopter is the tool for the job. Even if you are not a professional camera operator, pay special attention to this awesome gadget.

This 8-bladed remote controlled chopper has a camera-dock that allows you to take to the skies and record it with your favorite HD camera. Because it has 8 blades, you have full control over the machine. Unlike a normal chopper, it can fly in any direction from a complete standstill. That means you’ll be flying all over the X Y and Z axis like a UFO. Although it requires some training to operate, the software keeps it from destabilizing and crashing into the ground.

The applications for this machine are certainly not limited to film-buffs. It has been used in fire, police, search and rescue, military and scouting real estate, but there are many other applications for this gadget such as measuring geologic or meteorologic data. Also known as a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), the Oktokopter can carry  a payload of 1 kg to 2 kg depending on which model you take (2.2 to 4.4 pounds).

If you can think of any other applications, leave a message below!

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Bricolage Arthrobots

Designer Tom Hardwidge recently started creating Steampunk sculptures. He builds them from deactivated bullets, watch parts, sheet copper, brass and aluminum. Small nuts and bolts create tight but posable joints and wire is used for the anntennae.

If you’d like to own an arthrobot, you can buy or commission one on Tom’s website, or you can try to build them yourself. Just be sure you deactivate the bullet before you solder on the bug limbs. If you are more interested in the process of creating arthrobots, visit his blog.

Wasp

Wasp

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Tarantula

Tarantula

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After The Japocalypse

I expect that most people will forget about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan sooner than you may think. The terrible tragedy that the Tōhoku Earthquake left in its wake of destruction has imprinted frightening images of the force of nature and the threat of nuclear accidents. I am especially aware of this, since the Dutch are in a similar high-risk position. We have been fighting a war against the rising sea-level for hundreds of years now. The small size of our country and close proximity to England, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and Denmark means that even if a nuclear disaster occurs in another country, we will probably suffer from its fallout. We are left at the mercy of nature and the regulation of other countries as well as our own, so the events in Japan should worry us.

However, I believe that we will soon forget about the Japocalypse. I suspect that Japan will rebuild so fast, that it will be the Asian equivalent of post-World War II’s reconstruction efforts in Germany: Wirtshaftwunder 2.0.

Even though there is a lot of low-tech industry in Japan, it is still an immensely technologically advanced country. They have the know-how and spirit to rebuild their country efficiently and to high standards. No other country has the kind of disaster management Japan has. The incredible work ethic and vigor of the disciplined workforce of the Asian world will help tremendously. Their culture of servitude could help propel Japan into a new age, a Japanese renaissance.

The construction of the Ark Hotel, a 15-story level 9 Earthquake-proof building, was completed in Changsha, China in only 6 days. In my country, this would take at least a year to complete. The Japanese cannot be compared to the Chinese, but this video is a testimony to Asian planning and work ethic that is deeply embedded in both cultures. It showcases how the Japocalypse could propel Japan into a renaissance: Wirthschaftwunder 2.0.

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Spinning Piledriver

Last Monday, Casey Haynes, our internet hero of 2011, thought this bully a lesson he won’t forget. Cornered in by a bunch of schoolyard gang-members, Casey was attacked by a skinny bully by the name of Ritchard. After receiving several blows Casey stood up for himself and performed one of the most difficult power-moves from Street Fighter II; branding him the Zangief Kid online.

The fight occurred on Chifley College in Sidney last Monday. Casey’s story is one that many people sympathize with. Ritchard was suspended for 22 days and Casey was suspended for 4 days. Apparently, this video was originally recorded by one of Ritchard´s friends, looking to humiliate Casey both on the schoolyard and online. With the mass adoption of the internet and social media, it seems bullies are now pestering their victims after the school bell rings. The video went viral and backfired against Ritchard and his gang of muppets. Apparently, Ritchard´s mom is now trying to protect her son from the avalanche of Casey sympathizers that chastise her son for his act of evil.

On Casey's facebook fanpage, one person commented: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

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The Necrology of the Space Shuttle Discovery

After 27 years of service, the Space Shuttle Discovery made its final historic landing at Kennedy Spacecenter in Florida on the 9th of March 2011. The Discovery was born in the same year as I. In all of its years, it has been much more productive than me. The Final Fight of the Discovery, codenamed STS-133 carried the PMM, ELC-4 and Robonaut 2 to the International Space Station.

Discovery was NASA’s third space shuttle orbiter. The construction of the Discovery, or the OV-103 in space-jargon (Orbiter Vehicle 103), was completed after four years in October 1983 in Palmdale, California. When first flown in the subsequent year, Discovery became the third operational orbiter, and up until its resignation, was the oldest orbiter in service.

It was named after two historic, Earth-bound exploring ships of the past. One was a vessel used by Henry Hudson in the early 1600s to explore the Hudson Bay and search for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 

The other was one of two ships used by the British explorer James Cook in the 1770s. Cook’s voyages in the South Pacific led to the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. Another of his ships was the Endeavour, the namesake of NASA’s newest shuttle.

It will be the first shuttle to retire from NASA’s fleet. The Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Endeavour are the last two operational shuttles left in Nasa’s fleet. When they retire, Nasa will have to borrow a space shuttle from the Russian Soyuz Program. If the cold war, espionage or James Bond movies are any indication of the political relationship between the U.S. and Russia, NASA will soon open a tender for a new Space Shuttle design. I anxiously await the next generation of space flight. 

Final Flight Patch

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Mimicking Nature and the truth about Zombies!

In this video, Michael Pawlyn advocates the Cradle-to-Cradle vision and gives us examples of how we should mimic nature to create more intelligent designs. I added my own example of biomimicry below with a story about Zombies.

Most people know that eating the Japanese dish Fugu, prepared by an untrained chef, is like playing Russian roulette with your mouth. The dangerous neurotoxin inside a wild Blowfish causes respiratory arrest and paralysis with fatal result. Just 2 mg is enough to kill a person.

What most people don’t know is that this neurotoxin, called tetradoxin, is used in voodoo rites in Haiti. Witch Doctors administer a mix of tetradoxin and datura poison to the bloodstream causing suspended animation, or artificial hibernation. The patient enters a death-like state, and is `reborn` after the poison wears off.

In some cases, patients have been declared clinically dead. Occasionally, this results in the patient being buried alive, while their relatives are oblivious of the poisoning. After the poison works out, the state of hibernation ends. The Zombie-Patient rises from his grave and a myth is born.

This poisonous mixture causes your metabolism to go into slow-motion, until you enter a death-like state. The human body is effectively on stand-by and this could enable humans to go on extremely long space journeys in the future, like the discovery of new star systems.

Meanwhile, blowfish rates are declining rapidly. The Japanese are notorious for overfishing, and the Blowfish is no exception (it is one of the countries delicacies). We should not exhaust the ecosystems from which we barely know anything yet. If we mimic nature before we extinguish its diverse flora and fauna, we may truly go where no one has gone before. I always wanted to see Alpha Centauri.

PS: If you want to read more about this, check out:

15/21 Guns

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Creativity versus Realism

Today, I want to share with you a personal friend of mine. I have had the chance to spend a few days with the legendary cartoon animator Gene Deitch and his equally great wife Zdenka last year in Prague.

This man, well in his 80ies, continues to work every day from his apartment or studio in Prague. He still climbs the hills that are in the city. We strolled down the beautiful streets of Prague for hours and he told me about his adventures during his time in Prague when the city was still behind the iron curtain, under the control of the communist regime. After several hours I asked him if he was tired and wanted to go back. His response, characteristic to Gene, was “No, but if you want to go back and rest we can go home.”. Shocked by this man’s stamina, we continued to explore the city, but I digress.

One subject that Gene is very passionate about is how the “arms race” of realism in animation has stifled creativity, and I agree. The video games industry and later Pixar are the primary culprits that have caused animation to move away from hand drawn art over the years. This is no old-fashioned mumbo-jumbo from a man stuck in the digital divide. Make no mistake, Gene may be well in his 80ies, but he owns an iMac, Powerbook, Ipad, iPhone and a ridiculous HD TV that puts mine to shame. He is synced up with Dropbox and Skypes to every corner of the world. This man certainly has no fear for technology!

If you think cartoons or animated movies were better back in the days, watch this video to understand why.

21/21 Guns

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The Underwater Sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor

Have a look at the Underwater Sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor. Not only do these man-made sculptures serve as artificial coral for marine life, they are nearly as beautiful! Try before you die: Scuba dive in an Underwater Sculpture Park.

Go to http://www.underwatersculpture.com/ to get more information about his works.

18 out of 21 Guns.

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