Dutch architectural studio i29 has recently completed a striking eco-friendly floating home, as part of the Schoonschip floating village in Amsterdam. The unique floating community was conceived by spatial design studio Space&Matter and boasts a collective of 46 sustainably designed homes that share resources such as solar power, water, waste and electric car sharing.
The site is located in the old industrial suburb of Buiksloterham, in North Amsterdam, and was created as a showcase village to illustrate the benefits of sustainable community living, while adopting circular building principals. Each floating home is joined together via a smart jetty and shares access to a single grid connection.
“The location has a strong industrial past but today it is one of the most rapid changing city parts of Amsterdam transforming into a more multi-functional living area,” says i29 architects. “The new floating neighborhood is intended to be an urban ecosystem embedded within the fabric of the city: making full use of ambient energy and water for use and re-use, cycling nutrients and minimizing waste, plus creating space for natural biodiversity.”
The i29 floating home caught our attention from the collection of eco-homes at Schoonschip due to its striking diagonal roof design and use of space. The home boasts a black stained timber exterior with a pitched roof, open interior living zones and an abundance of natural light. The architectural studio adopted an angular design for the pitched roof to allow for optimization of the interior floor plan, while also capturing natural light across all three levels of the home.
The basement floor of the home features two single bedrooms, a shared bathroom, laundry and open lounge area which can also double as a study. The lounge area enjoys water views and natural light from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows located on the mezzanine level, which also features an outdoor timber terrace. The bedrooms are fitted with a glass wall and door, to also take advantage of this natural light and avoid the sense of being closed in.
A single zig-zag staircase connects all three levels, which gives rise to cathedral-high ceilings, offering an additional sense of space and openness. This architectural feature and the large corner glass atrium allows daylight to filter through the entire home.
The second floor features the master bedroom, private bathroom and additional lounge area, while the third level has an open floor plan with large modern kitchen, dining area and access to a large outdoor terrace. The home enjoys water views from almost every angle and the open terrace captures additional western views towards the harbor.
In addition, the home is highly energy efficient, eco-friendly, and built with a small footprint. The structure features excellent insulation, rooftop solar panels, wastewater from toilets and showers is treated separately and a water pump connected to the canal is used to heat the home. Surplus energy is stored in a battery. The homeowners enjoy the additional economic benefits from the shared single connection to the national energy grid, through which all Schoonschip residents jointly trade their harvested solar energy.
“Sustainability goes even to a higher level with the implementation in the smart grid of the floating village,” says i29. “Energy can be even more valuable when you share it.”
NIH study confirms SARS-CoV-2 reinfections are relatively rare
A new study examining data from more than three million people suggests reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is still quite rare. The research affirms a positive antibody test following an initial infection can be associated with a significantly lower risk of a second infection in the future, however, it is still unclear how long this protection may last.
After the initial big wave of the pandemic passed in the first half of 2020, scientists started closely monitoring infection data to understand how likely people were to catch the virus a second time. Adding some noise to the data was the fact that our gold-standard test for SARS-CoV-2 (called a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test) is incredibly sensitive to viral fragments. COVID-19 patients can test positive on PCR tests months after recovering due to persistent shedding of viral RNA.
In August last year scientists from the University of Hong Kong reported the first clinically confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection. Because this particular case offered genomic data from both infections, the researchers could positively confirm the second infection was a different strain of the virus and not prolonged viral shedding.
Now, over a year into the pandemic, there are still unanswered questions regarding the duration of immunity following an initial infection. Many researchers have tried to find an answer by measuring levels of immune antibodies in patients following an initial infection.
Several of these antibody studies have concluded levels can drop rapidly in the months following an initial infection. But this specific metric cannot directly equate to a reinfection risk. Our immune system has many tactics to fight against infection and some researchers suggest longer-term immunity may not be effectively measured by simply tracking antibody levels.
This new study, led by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, looked at anonymized real-world data encompassing millions of subjects. Data from more than three million SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests were analyzed. Around 12 percent of those antibody tests were found to be positive.
The researchers then looked at how many of those millions of subjects presented with a positive PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 in the months following an initial antibody test. Examining the data the researchers saw PCR positivity rates declining in those subjects who initially tested positive in the antibody test.
This suggests a period of viral shedding following an initial infection can lead to persistent positive PCR tests. But, positive PCR tests for SARS-CoV-2 do certainly decline after several months, affirming reinfection is uncommon.
“The data from this study suggest that people who have a positive result from a commercial antibody test appear to have substantial immunity to SARS-CoV-2, which means they may be at lower risk for future infection,” says Lynne Penberthy, lead on the new research. “Additional research is needed to understand how long this protection lasts, who may have limited protection, and how patient characteristics, such as comorbid conditions, may impact protection. We are nevertheless encouraged by this early finding.”
The results mirror a recent UK study tracking more than 20,000 health care workers in the United Kingdom. That research, still in pre-print and not yet published, suggests individuals with a prior history of SARS-CoV-2 infection are 83 percent less likely to be infected a second time. The median protective period covered by the UK study was five months.
Douglas Lowy, an author on the new study from the National Cancer Institute, is cautious to note his findings can only really suggest a natural SARS-CoV-2 infection may be linked to partial immunity against reinfection. He says recovered COVID-19 patients should still get vaccinated as it is unclear how long any natural immunity may last. Plus, the new research does not take into account potential reinfection rates from newer variants of the virus.
“The results from the study are basically a 10-fold reduction,” Lowy said in an interview with CNN, “but I would have caveats around that. In other words, it could be an overestimate of the reduction. It could be an underestimate of the reduction.”
The new study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Land Rover drops a V8 into fastest, most powerful Defender ever
The Land Rover Defender V8 is back. We suppose if you count the myriad garages willing to stuff a GM small-block into a 25-plus-year-old Defender, it wasn’t really missing in the first place. But the latest Defender V8 comes straight from the factory in both 90 and 110 body styles, wielding a 5.0-liter supercharged V8. Buyers looking to maximize on- and off-road power will enjoy over 100 extra horses over the turbocharged six-cylinder mild hybrid, making the all-new Defender V8 the fastest, most powerful Defender to come out of Coventry.
Land Rover already has a history of eight-cylinder Stage 1 and Defender models, so it was only a matter of time before it dropped the option on the New Defender. The 5.0-liter supercharged unit in question puts out 518 hp and 461 lb-ft (625 Nm) of torque, pushing the 2022 Defender 90 from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 4.9 seconds. Top speed comes at 149 mph (240 km/h).
The Defender V8 will be offered in both 90 and 110 body styles. Adjusted eight-speed automatic transmission settings, a tuned suspension with bespoke spring and damper rates, and a new electronic active rear differential will help Defender V8 drivers optimize power delivery, handling and control. A new Defender V8-specific Dynamic setting in the Terrain Response system enhances the ride on looser off-road surfaces, and large-diameter anti-roll bars cut body roll during cornering.
“The 5.0-liter V8 supercharged engine further enhances the unique character of the Defender. It sounds fantastic and delivers incredible performance,” says Iain Gray, Jaguar Land Rover senior manager for powertrain engineering.“Our engineering focus has been to optimize powertrain calibration for Defender to deliver both responsive on-road performance and fine control off-road, all without compromising the Defender vehicle’s all-terrain capability and wading ability.”
A variety of equipment and visual enhancements separate the Defender V8 from its lesser-engined brethren, including a distinctive quad-tip exhaust, 22-in alloy wheels, exterior badges and Xenon blue front brake calipers. The interior includes Ebony Windsor leather seat trim, an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, satin black and satin chrome accents, and V8-badged illuminated tread plates.
Topping the new V8 hierarchy, and the Defender range itself, the V8 Carpathian Edition brings its own visual highlights, starting with an exclusive Carpathian Grey metallic paint job with contrast black roof, hood and tailgate. The exterior comes with a protective satin film that lends a semi-matte finish and protects against scratches … whether they come in the mall parking lot or deep in the jungle. The Carpathian Edition also gets specially colored front and rear skid plates, unique badging and satin black tow eyes.
Beyond the big V8 addition, Land Rover delivers a few other updates to the 2022 Defender line, including a larger available 11.4-in screen for the Pivi Pro infotainment system, standard wireless device charging, a new XS Edition trim, and several newly available exterior aesthetics packs. It plans to release US 2022 Defender pricing information at a later date.
Source: Land Rover
Barley growing conditions found to affect whisky characteristics
We’re all familiar with the cliché of the wine aficionado who is able to tell where a wine’s grapes were grown, based on its flavor. Well, new research indicates that a similar thing can be done with whisky, according to where its barley was grown.
The recent study was commissioned by Ireland’s Waterford Distillery, and was led by Oregon State University’s Dr. Dustin Herb. It involved planting and harvesting two common commercial varieties of barley (Laureate and Olympus), both of them in two environmentally distinct regions of Ireland, over the course of two years – 2017 and 2018.
One of those regions, County Kildare, is located inland. The other, County Wexford, is on the coast. Among the other differences between the two counties are their soil types, along with the temperature ranges and rainfall levels during the barley-growing season.
Both years, all of the barley grain was harvested, stored, malted and distilled in a standard fashion. The result was an assortment of whisky-precursor beverages known as “new make spirits” – in order to be officially classified as whisky, a new make spirit has to be matured in a wooden cask for no less than three years.
These spirits were then analyzed utilizing gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, plus they were assessed by a six-person trained sensory panel. In both cases, it was found that the aromatic profiles of the different batches varied significantly based on the barley “terroir,” which is a term for the environmental conditions in which it was grown.
More specifically, the spirits that came from County Kildare tended to have “sweet, cereal/grainy, feinty/earthy, oily finish, soapy, sour, stale and mouldy” characteristics, whereas those from County Wexford were more reminiscent of dried fruit and solvent.
“What this does is actually make the farmer and the producer come to the forefront of the product,” says Herb. “It gets to the point where we might have more choices and it might provide an opportunity for a smaller brewer or a smaller distiller or a smaller baker to capitalize on their terroir, like we see in the wine industry with a Napa Valley wine, or Willamette Valley wine or a French Bordeaux.”
Differences were also noted between spirits that came from the same type of barley, that was grown in the same place, but in different years. Plans now call for a larger five-year study, which will look more closely into the effect of vintage on a whisky’s flavor and aroma.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Foods.
Source: Oregon State University
Echo-sounding used to count farmed fish – without all the hassle
It’s very important for fish farmers to keep track of the number of fish in their pens, but doing so typically involves going in and actually netting out some of the fish. According to new research, echo-sounding tech could soon serve as an easier and more accurate alternative.
Not only is periodically capturing some of the farmed fish difficult and time-consuming, it’s also stressful to the animals, plus it doesn’t always provide an accurate estimate of fish populations. That’s where the echo-sounding approach comes in.
The sonar-like technology – which involves sending acoustic pulses down into the water, then detecting their echoes off of submerged objects – is already widely used in commercial fish finders. Such devices are typically just used to show the location and approximate size of shoals, however. Assessing actual numbers of fish can be difficult, as the animals at the top of the shoal tend to shield those underneath from the acoustic pulses, so they’re not clearly detected.
As part of the EU-funded PerformFISH project, scientists from Norway’s SINTEF institute and Greece’s Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) set about addressing that problem.
Doing so involved starting with two pens – each one containing a known number of salmon – that had an echo-sounder located between them. The researchers then proceeded to take readings while varying the distance between the two pens, along with the distance between each pen and the echo-sounder.
By comparing the device’s various readings with the known number of fish in the pens, it was possible to identify a consistent relationship between the information provided by those readings and the actual fish numbers. The echo-sounder could then be calibrated to provide what proved to be reliable estimates of fish density within enclosures.
“We are making exciting progress and I am looking forward to developing this further,” says SINTEF’s Dr. Walter Caharija. “We are building a foundation from which we are learning how to utilize an echo-sounder to better estimate biomass in a production net pen.”
Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime has expressed an interest in commercializing the technology.
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