Sustaining Future

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fastest Folding Bike

How long it takes to fold a bike? I say about 2 secs.

Watch this!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Global Dimming - Global warming model may be too optisimtic

Global dimming is reducing the amount of direct sunlight falling on the Earth's surface. This is supported by three independent evidences; long term direct sunlight measurement and pan evaporation data; and a short term measurements (during the three days after 9/11 when all air planes were banned in USA) daily temperature differences increased by over 1 degree C.

The cause of global dimming is the particles from the air pollution - which makes the cloud reflects more sunlight back to the space. It seems that global dimming is protecting us from the damaging effect of global warming. However, we all knows that air pollution has significant implication on health and climate change. If we just clean up the air without reducing green house gas at the same time, the current temperature of global warming models would be wrong by several degress - accelerating the effect of global warming and we may reach the point of no return much earlier than models have been predicting.

Here is the transcript of a BBC Horizon program (from 2005) and if you are lucky you may be able to download a copy of the program from the Pirate Bay using search term such as 'global dimming'.

Instead we have to take urgent action to tackle the root cause of both global warming and Global Dimming - the burning of coal, oil and gas. We may have to make very difficult choices, about how we live and how we generate our electricity. We have been talking about such things for 20 years. But so far very little has been done in practical terms. The discovery of Global Dimming makes it clear that we are rapidly running out of time.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bamboo scaffolding

The short version: because [bamboo] grows so quickly, the root system isn't damaged by harvesting and it's so plentiful -- "For a lumber harvester, the yield can be 25 times what you'd get from regular ol' trees" -- growing it is really green,

This reminds me the scaffolding in HongKong. Here are some pictures I found in flickr:
[by Neurotic Monkey]
[by Planet Janet]
[by annamatic3000]
[by falln_angel]
[by guzhengman]

and from

[All photo copyright belongs to their owners. i am linking them without owner's permission. If anyone is not happy that I linked their work, please let me know and I am more than happy to remove!]

You would have noticed that these structures are used to scaffold skyscrapers as well as odd jobs in renovation. One of two construction workers (or they are highly skilled bamboo scaffolding experts) can erect a lot in a single day. It is even faster to dissemble!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Missing Link of Paperless Home

[from Pushing Paper Out the Door]

Will this vision of paperless home or office ever get realised?

We all know that computers do not reduce paper use. In fact, they increase the amount of paper used. The printing has just shifted from large printing shops to our desktop inkjet printers.

The reason is simple. Reading on a computer screen is not a rewarding experience. Computers are great from finding reading material, but not great for reading. They just cannot compete with paper - until a properly designed e-ink based ebook reader appears.

I have been looking for an affordable, useful e-ink based reader. So far the choices are very limited. Here is a comprehensive E-book Reader Matrix. A quick look will notice that most (except iRex iLiad ER-0100) has a smallish 90mm x 120mm reading area. In Australia, most documents are in A4 (210mm x 298mm) size. Fitting reading material which is originally at A4 size on such a small reading screen is not comfortable reading!

To really get to a paperless future, we need A4 reading size, portable, always on e-ink based reader with no DRM hazzles. Since e-ink display is basically flexible, consumes no energy except during page change (no page refresh is required to maintain the display), it has the quality to meet the above requirement. I just hope that some investor will have the vision of seeing a future where there are several e-ink display devices on each desk - at least one of these device is A4 for document reading, not just novels reading.


Friday, February 08, 2008

GM rice, choice between 2 evils?

From TreeHugger;
Chinese government to allow Chinese farmers to get carbon credits when they use their [GM] rice [which reportedly requires less nitrogen fertilizer]. The reasoning is, less nitrogen fertilizer equals less nitrous oxide emissions (a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide). Under the Kyoto Treaty, the credits gained from that reduction can then be sold on the global market, bringing extra money to farmers. "Swapping global rice supply to the GM version, the company says, would save the equivalent of 50m tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and generate £750m in carbon credits for farmers.

Some readers of TreeHugger commented:
seems like switching one evil for another. Which of the two evils worse though?

Chinese farmers have been using natural fertilizers for centuries before the modern fertizers were introduced. A lot of research (see permaculture and other more progressive form of agriculture) points out a simple method of letting mother nature to generate the necessary nutrients. Let micro-organisms active in our earth again! Another great promise would be a large co-production of fish and rice, similar to aquaponics. Build some fish farm near the rice fields and use the water from the fish farm for the rice! Protein and carbo at the same time, why not?