Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Giving the Term "Airhead" New Meaning

This is a super cool post I got via Treehugger. Basically, all of us at one point or another have decided that we couldn't bike somewhere because we didn't want our hair looking ridiculous when we got there (my hair does this funky thing where it gets flat in all the areas EXCEPT where the air vents don't press it to my head, resulting in my looking like a much less cool Rufio). No longer. Thanks to Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, there now exists an alternative: the Hövding, a sort of air bag for your head.

The Hövding is worn around your neck like a collar (reference the woman in the picture above) and it deploys, just like a car air bag, when internal accelerometers detect abnormal movements. Observe:

Then again, maybe you're better off getting helmet head then riding around with a giant explosive collar around your neck...

Image provided by Hövding

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You want me to fill that up with WHAT?

The long sought "philosophers stone" of the biofuel movement is a biofuel developed from waste products. While traditional biofuels require us to sacrifice productive land that could be growing food, waste biofuels are exactly what they sound like: biofuels made from waste like garbage, wood chips, or industry byproducts. The problem with waste biofuel is no one has ever been able to make one that is both scalable and doesn't take more energy to make then it can give back later. Until now.

Scientists are now one step closer to achieving both those goals, and it might surprise you to learn that the fuel that might soon be powering your car is the same thing that currently powers your late night dance dance revolution sessions: whiskey.

That's right. Scottish scientists have recently discovered a way to turn two byproducts of the scotch whiskey distillation process into butanol, a fuel that gives off almost 30% more power than traditional biofuels. The best part? Butanol can be used in cars with regular combustion engines with no modifications what-so-ever, meaning it could realistically become a part of our gas mixture as soon as production can be ramped up. The researches from Edinburgh University who developed the process have already applied for a patent and hope to start supplying the country with fuel in the next few years.

To be fair, the stuff you'll be putting in your gas tank won't resemble that nice single malt you have stashed under your bed. Heck, it won't even resemble Dewers. Still, if this technology ends up being scalable, it could give a whole new meaning the the phrase "one for the road."

Image provided by chipgriffin

Monday, August 9, 2010

China Breeds Nuclear Car Eating Monster Bus

If we go by what we see in the movies, it is usually the Japanese, not the Chinese, who breed giant green atomic monsters hell bent on taking over an entire country. But this isn't a movie, and the behemoth we're looking at today isn't a radioactive mutant dinosaur. It also isn't nuclear (I just thought that sounded cool), but China has undoubtedly created a monster -- a giant, car-swallowing people-carrying "green" monster.

Check out this video of the new Chinese straddling bus, set to be unveiled in Bejing's Mentougou district next August:

OK, the video is pretty lame, and the voice over could definitely have used a little spice from those guys over at Most Extreme Action Challenge. And lets face it, I would crap my pants the first time I was biking or driving down the street and that freaking thing passed over my head. Still, it is a pretty cool idea, and if anyone can make it work, it's the Chinese.

I wonder how it would stand up against Mothra...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Worlds First Bendable Bike

As someone who has had plenty of bike pieces stolen over the years (including a carbon fiber fork just this weekend from my LOCKED garage) I like the idea of this bike. It is pretty sweet -- basically the entire frame is made from these short pieces that are connected through some type of ratchet mechanism within the frame itself. When you are riding the bike, the mechanism is in locked mode, and the frame is sturdy just like a metal frame. When you are ready to park it though, you just push a button and the ratchet mechanism unlocks, turning your bike into some kind of mutant gumby transport. You can then literally fold the entire thing around a pole as shown in the picture above and lock it to itself using a small, pocket sized u-lock.

I'm betting the gears only come fixed...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Is Obama Ready to Put His Weight Behind an Alternative Energy Bill?

For months, bloggers and news organizations have weighed in (and in and in) on whether or not Obama's clout is required to move the climate bill out of limbo, and whether he and his aids are willing to put some of the presidents remaining political capital on the line for it. Early this morning, Obama seemed ready to answer that question. In a statement issued online to the millions who backed his presidential bid, the president asked his network to lend their names to a campaign to change the way America produces and consumes its energy. Later, in a speech he gave while visiting oil soaked Mississippi, Obama reiterated his support for an alternative energy bill: "Our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk."

This is all encouraging news, but it still doesn't tell us if Obama is willing to put his money where his mouth is. He's passed a healthcare bill, he's averted the greatest monetary crisis since the great depression, and he's about to preside over a historic (if incomplete) financial reform bill. Will he have anything left for the environment? Looks like we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coolest Green Apartment Ever

This whole video (and the concept behind it) is sweet, but just WAIT for the last couple seconds...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green Greed is Good

Today being Earth Day, I had the pleasure (and/or annoyance) of having pretty much every e-mail in my inbox reference Earth Day in the subject line. Most of them were boring and standard ("Happy Earth Day," "Earth Day Resolutions," "Call Your Senator/Representative This Earth Day," or "It's Earth Day: Give Us Money!"), but one of them really stood out, and it was from one of my favorite daily newsletter senders: Urban Dictionary. Their tagline: "Green Greed."

Urban Dictionary defines Green Greed as "companies and people who don't care about the environment at all, except when it will make them money."

So that got me thinking: is green greed really that big of a problem? Sure, I won't pretend I'm not irked to see GM hopping on the green bandwagon (and making crazy money on it) after they spent 20 years convincing people to buy giant, unnecessary gas guzzling SUV's and after literally killing the electric car. But that fact of the matter is that with the help of GM, people will have more access to green transportation over the next few years then they would have if GM hadn't gotten on the bandwagon. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters right?

As I've said before, I do enjoy some things that aren't good for the environment, and it seems to me that the best way to make sure those things get greener, and the best way to make sure those greener versions get into the hands of ordinary 'Mericans, is to applaud green greed. That doesn't mean we need to forgive GM their sins, that we shouldn't take them to task for the problems they still have, or even that we need to be their #1 cheerleader. But as far as I am concerned, why companies go green is not nearly as important as that they do go green.

You know what -- I think that is my Earth Day resolution. To paraphrase the immortal Gordon Gekko: green greed is good -- just don't forget who you're dealing with.