Posts Tagged ‘beijing’

Photo: Studio Roosegaarde/flickr
Dutch designer and architect Daan Roosegaarde’s 23 ft. high ‘Smog Free Tower’ removes pollution from the atmosphere.

I wrote recently about a googly-eyed contraption in Baltimore’s harbor that is removing litter — and about the controversy over the relative importance of cleaning up trash vs. stopping it at its source. (See “Mr. Trash Wheel,” here.)

Here is another take. Does creating a sculpture that removes smog from the air we breathe take too much focus away from eliminating smog in the first place? I continue to think that all efforts are important, both for what they accomplish and for the ability to reach more audiences.

Blouin News reports, “Dutch designer and architect Daan Roosegaarde has created a 23 ft. high ‘Smog Free Tower,’ which is the world’s first outdoor air purifier with the ability to suck up smog, filter out pollutant elements and release clean air.

“The tower, resembling a miniature chrome-latticed skyscraper, has been tested in Rotterdam and will soon be installed at public parks in Beijing, a city that suffers from catastrophic levels of smoggy air, writes The New York Times.

“The tower, which can clean up to 30,000 cubic meters of air in an hour, may not bring radical change to a highly polluted city like Beijing but its installation is a symbolic gesture, reminding the society of its responsibility to fight air pollution. The designer will be placing 25 such towers in Beijing’s public parks and plans to introduce the technology in India and Mexico as well, notes RealClear Life.” More here.

I am just realizing I already wrote about another aspect of this project: the smog waste will be turned into diamonds! Read this.

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My husband is from Philadelphia and remembers hearing popular lines from a motivational speech in that city, about finding “acres of diamonds” in your own backyard.

“Today, Russell Conwell is best remembered as the founder and first president of Temple University,” says Vimeo. “But in his lifetime, Conwell had a very different claim to fame — that of popular orator.” (A Vimeo video “explores the history of Conwell’s most famous speech, ‘Acres of Diamonds,’ an inspirational message he delivered, by his own estimate, 6,100 times.”)

“Acres of Diamonds” was the first thing I thought of when Kai posted on Facebook about an initiative to turn China’s out-of-control air pollution into diamonds.

Rachel Hallett at the World Economic Forum wrote, “Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has come up with an innovative plan to tackle Beijing’s air pollution problem – and in doing so, turn a health hazard into a thing of beauty.

“After a pilot in Rotterdam, the Smog Free Project is coming to China. The project consists of two parts. First, a 7m tall tower sucks up polluted air, and cleans it at a nano-level. Second, the carbon from smog particles is turned into diamonds. Yes, diamonds. …

“Roosegaarde explained … ‘We’ve created environments that none of us want,’ he said. ‘Where children have to stay inside, and where the air around us is a health hazard.’

“The towers suck up polluted air, and clean it, releasing it back into parks and playgrounds. And according to Roosegaarde, these areas are 70-75% cleaner than the rest of the city. …

“The other aspect of the project will see the captured smog transformed into diamonds. 32% of Beijing’s smog is carbon, which under 30 minutes of pressure can be turned into diamonds.”

Can such wonders be? Read more here.

Photo: AP
Smog in Beijing will be turned into diamonds.

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In China, the artist responsible for some of the Beijing Olympics’ most amazing effects, Ai Weiwei, has been released on bail, at least for now. The authorities say they still are investigating him for tax evasion, but it is tempting to think it is really for being a free spirit. Here’s the NY Times article: “Chinese legal authorities released the dissident artist Ai Weiwei on Wednesday after a three-month detention, apparently ending a prosecution that had become a focal point of criticism of China’s eroding human rights record.”

Meanwhile in California, where a young Whitey Bulger once did a stint in Alcatraz, the missing Boston gangster has been found after 16 years on the lam.  Within a couple days of the FBI focusing on his girlfriend, he was identified.

Suzanne’s dad can now stop pretending to be Whitey’s double. Here’s the Whitey doppleganger with Pat.

I don’t think the Boston Globe, which claims all matters Whitey as its own, realizes to what extent the hunt was slowed down by look-alikes. The Globe reports here.

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I first read about Oliver Radtke and his website dedicated to preserving Chinglish in around 2006. Radtke was alarmed that some of the more charming English translations of signs were disappearing in China prior to the Beijing Olympics. He elicited the help of international visitors to China, requesting them to e-mail their pictures to him for posting. As I went to Shanghai in early 2007, I was able to join the fun. Radtke used a photograph I took of an escalator sign in his first Chinglish book.

My sign said “Keep your legs.” Other samples included signs in parks, like “Show mercy to the slender grass.” Menus, of course, were great hunting grounds, and Radtke posted numerous examples, including “man and wife lung slice” and “advantageous noodle.”

Radtke doesn’t have a corner on the market,, though. Many people have been having fun with Chinglish over the years. Read more at Wikipedia.

Of course, I would sound much more ridiculous trying to speak or write Chinese — or any other language, for that matter. I admire anyone who launches into such foreign terrain. But I do think there is something fascinating and instructive about how speakers of other native tongues use one’s language. I always appreciate the more awkward translations for how they show a different culture’s thinking.

For video examples, see youtube.

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