A zero-energy house, a fuel-sipping plane, and a solar-powered ski lift
Matevž Lenarčič, the pilot of this Pipistrel Virus SW 914, aims to fly it into the record books as the lightest-ever plane to circumnavigate the globe—and the one to make the trip on the least amount of fuel. The Slovenian biologist, who began the voyage on 8 January, also plans to take pictures and measurements of climate-changing aerosols in areas of the sky for which climatologists currently have no data.
Photo: Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters
When you’re out for a day of skiing, do you consider the amount of energy used by the lifts? Well, someone has given it some thought. Well before these slopes in Tenna, Switzerland, were covered with white powder, engineers installed 82 solar panels to create the world’s first ski lift powered entirely by the sun’s rays.
Photo: Arno Batzarin/EPA/Landov
Passwords are easy to forget or for thieves to figure out. So why not make accessing your computer or mobile device dependent on something you don’t have to think about but that would be hard for an unauthorized user to replicate? This image shows Polytechnic Institute of New York University professor Nasir Memon literally signing in on his iPhone.
Photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times/Redux
This cool-looking image isn’t of a city-size iceberg but a magnification of semiconductor crystals arranged in a way that more than doubles the material’s electrical conductivity. Stanford University researchers figured out a way to “strain the lattice”—that is, to pack the semiconductor’s molecules closer together in a way that keeps them from returning to their natural state.
Photo:Image: Gaurav Giri/Stanford University
A visitor at the Siggraph Asia conference and exhibition in December is immersed in the Time of Doubles art installation created by Korean 3-D sculptor Haru Ji and art-science researcher Graham Wakefield. The interactive work of art at the Hong Kong show allows viewers to see themselves projected into an ecosystem where their computer-generated representations help spawn and feed a vast array of life-forms.
Photo: Tyrone Siu/Reuters
It’s been well documented that dozens of bridges around the world are in an alarming state of disrepair. But how are municipalities to know when a span is about to crumble? Matthias Kollosche, a doctoral candidate at the University of Potsdam, in Germany, demonstrates a flexible “electronic skin” sensor system that takes continuous measurements of how a bridge or dam is responding to the loads it bears.
Photo: Bernd Settnik/EPA/Landov
During the Christmas holiday, you probably bought a bunch of batteries and threw away piles of packaging. If Sony researchers have their way, instead of going in the trash, cardboard will be ground up and used as fuel in ecofriendly power devices like this one. The device was one of several green-power sources Sony demonstrated at the Eco-Products exhibition in Tokyo in December.
Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, in Germany, have created a luminous ceiling comprising an array of tiles that each have 288 light-emitting diodes. A diffuser film covers the panels, keeping viewers from seeing the individual points of light. The resulting adjustable display convincingly mimics a blue sky with the occasional cloud passing by.
This sleek, silver bullet train made by CSR, China’s state-owned train builder, is pictured at its launching ceremony in Qingdao, China, in December. Though China says the experimental train is capable of reaching speeds in excess of 500 kilometers per hour, the railway ministry has not announced when the six-car train will be put into regular passenger service.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
So long, electric bills. The Effizienzhaus Plus in Berlin points to a future where green-power devices meet a household’s energy needs with juice to spare. The house, which will get its first occupants in March, has solar panels on its roof and facades, plus a geothermal system that will keep the lights on and charge an electric car.