- As I do time to time in this look at technological advancements, let’s turn our attention to several harder to classify advancements that are bound to make most/all of our lives easier. First are some advancements that will improve the lives of those living off-the-grid. Scientists at Cranfield University and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology developed a solar powered cooker, water purifier and electric outlet (so to speak) for small electronics. The unit is powered by a series of tilted mirrors that concentrate the sun’s rays to accomplish these three tasks. A Rice University team developed an extremely efficient sterilization unit that converts sunlight directly to steam by exciting specially-designed nanoparticles submerged in water. Scientists at the University of Texas and U of Marburg developed a simple way to desalinate saltwater with less power than traditional techniques by passing saltwater over a charged electrode which forces the salt to move a different direction than the purified water. Argonne National Laboratory scientists generated hydrogen gas efficiently by combining protons (produced by bacteria) with free electrons from platinum nanoparticles submerged in water. And here are two new materials which could reduce greenhouse gases: one is a nanomaterial made of a metal-organic framework which can remove carbon dioxide from the emissions of coal-fired power plants; and the other is an ionic thermocell that can harvest energy from waste heat in tailpipes and other exhaust pipes.
Finally, two fun technologies that might power several of your household gadgets. How about shorts which use body heat to charge your cell phone? Or this flashlight which ditches batteries for the heat in your hand when it lights an LED bulb?
- Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and this is certainly the case with a map published on Upworthy.com. It shows how many hours of minimum wage labor per week it takes to rent a two-bedroom apartment. The map is broken down by state and the number of hours it takes might surprise you. The lowest states are Arkansas and West Virginia where it takes 63 hours per week to rent a two bedroom apartment. And the highest state is New Jersey where is takes an astounding 138 hours per week!
- It’s October and Halloween is upon us, boo!! In memory of the holiday, let’s Google “GIS and cemeteries” to see what comes up. If you look through the results, you might find this PDF by Darianda Dans and Lacey Russell about the role of GIS in the preservation of historic cemeteries. Given the highly spatial nature of a cemetery, GIS is the perfect tool to track gravestone locations and to aid with facility and grounds management. In this PDF, you will find a nice primer on collecting GPS data and importing it into ArcGIS. Trick or Treat!
- From Atlanta we take a long flight across the country and over the Pacific to land in Honolulu, Hawaii for our next tour of city-level GIS resources. The Honolulu GIS website is robust for both the novice and experienced map user. For those who want to view information on parcels, parks, public safety and more, the city offers a variety of web maps here. And for those users who want to download a ton of GIS data as shapefiles and TIFFs, here is a link to those resources. Two top-notch online city GIS resources in a row, nice work Honolulu!
Brock Adam McCarty