- From last month’s focus on solar energy, we pivot in October to technological advancements that are meant to improve our lives.First, a series of ideas for many of our beasts of burden, i.e. our cars! For those of you electric cars owners, how about this cool idea to charge your fuel cell through your tires as you drive? The lighter you make a car, the better its fuel mileage hence the attractiveness of carbon fiber parts – this idea uses bamboo to make lightweight parts that are also renewable. And for those of you with kids who drive now, here is some research on an app to prevent folks from texting and driving.
Finding alternate sources for many of the products we use daily will continue to be an important trend as resource stocks are depleted. In this vein, here are three ideas for new sources of items we use (nearly) everyday: Levi Strauss has added recycled plastic to one of its recent denim lines; this idea extracts minerals from seawater; and then this one extracts minerals and other materials from wastewater.
And finally, here are some novel ideas to find new sources of energy for our power-hungry society. Perhaps plants will be the next renewable power resource as well as very efficient carbon sinks. How about a fuel cell that generates power by breaking down biomass? And small electronics could be powered by water droplets jumping off their surfaces; or even by a farm of tiny wind turbines!
- If you are anything like me, you spent many a late-night hour sitting up past your curfew to play video games like Super Mario Brothers when you were a kid. With this in mind, here is a throwback map for you of the world, done in Super Mario style. As an added bonus, you can turn the images into your desktop wallpaper!
- In honor of Halloween, this month’s Google search plays off our emotions, “GIS and fear.” You are not going to find many results with this search but one of the intriguing ones was this research on fear maps by Jim Nash of the University of Nebraska, Omaha. By surveying students about their feelings on safe and unsafe parts of the campus, Nash used GIS to create a map (a fear map so to speak) showing these areas. Check out his results as they are rather fascinating, for example, males and females identified nearly the same safe and unsafe locations.
- We stay in the Midwest this month with a look at the online GIS resources of Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis. As you might imagine, the online resources of this twin city are under the joint rubric of the Saint Paul – Minneapolis metropolitan area. Referred to as MetroGIS, the online resources of these twin cities are definitely geared to more advanced users. You are able to download shapefiles from an online map interface and then from a more traditional list of datasets. These datasets can also be accessed by streaming services and KMLs here. The one downfall of the MetroGIS site is that novice users will be at a loss as the online map interface leaves much to be desired, for instance the ability to query the metadata of specific map features.
Brock Adam McCarty