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Posts Tagged ‘led’

Every once in a while reporter Ted Nesi adds a tidbit to his valuable “Saturday Morning Post” that doesn’t seem to fit with the news from Rhode Island and yet fits everywhere. This link from the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), a “national journal of literature and discussion,” is one such example.

Amanda Petrusich writes in part, “Darkness is a complicated thing to quantify, defined as it is by deficiency. … Unihedron’s Sky Quality Meter is the most popular instrument for this kind of measurement, in part because of its portability (about the size of a garage-door opener) and also because it connects to an online global database of user-submitted data.

“According to that database, Cherry Springs State Park — an eighty-two-acre park in a remote swath of rural, north-central Pennsylvania, built by the Civilian Conversation Corps during the Great Depression—presently has the second darkest score listed …

“The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a nonprofit organization that recognizes, supports, and protects dark-sky preserves around the world, designated it a Gold-tier International Dark Sky Park in 2008, only the second in the United States at the time, following Natural Bridges National Monument in San Juan County, Utah.

“Earlier this year, I drove the six hours to Cherry Springs from New York City to meet Chip Harrison, the park’s manager, his wife, Maxine, and a park volunteer named Pam for a 4:30 p.m. dinner of baked fish. Afterward, Chip had promised, we’d go see stars.  …

“On a clear night, from the proper vantage, watching constellations emerge over Cherry Springs is like watching a freshly exposed photograph sink into a bath of developer, slowly becoming known to the eye: a single crumb of light, then another, until the entire tableau is realized. Pam pointed the telescope toward Jupiter, which had risen over the east end of the field. The four Gallilean moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto—were clearly visible through the lens. …

“When I got back to New York, I visited with Matt Stanley, a beloved colleague at the university where I teach. Stanley … has a particular interest in how science has changed from a theistic practice to a naturalistic one. He leads a seminar called ‘Achilles’ Shield: Mapping the Ancient Cosmos,’ and another called ‘Understanding the Universe.’

“ ‘I’ve found that probably 95 percent of my students come from either an urban or suburban environment, which means they can only see a dozen stars at night, and no planets,’ Stanley said. ‘When you say the Milky Way to them, they imagine a spiral galaxy, which is fine, but that’s not what the Milky Way looks like — it’s a big, whitish smear across the sky. I have to do a lot of work to orient them to what human beings actually saw when they looked at the sky. They don’t know that stars rise and set. Their minds explode.’ ” More here.

In Rhode Island, New Shoreham offers a pretty good look at the night sky. There are shooting stars in August. I feel lucky about that and hope that the five nearby offshore wind turbines don’t change anything.

Photo: Gary Honis

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Not everyone can be an inventor, but inventors can be found everywhere.

“Richard Turere, 13, doesn’t like lions. In fact, he hates them. Yet this bright Maasai boy has devised an innovative solution that’s helping the survival of these magnificent beasts — by keeping them away from humans.

“Living on the edge of Nairobi National Park, in Kenya, Turere first became responsible for herding and safeguarding his family’s cattle when he was just nine. But often, his valuable livestock would be raided by the lions roaming the park’s sweet savannah grasses, leaving him to count the losses. …

“So, at the age of 11, Turere decided it was time to find a way of protecting his family’s cows, goats and sheep from falling prey to hungry lions …

” ‘One day, when I was walking around,’ he says, ‘I discovered that the lions were scared of the moving light.’

“Turere realized that lions were afraid of venturing near the farm’s stockade when someone was walking around with a flashlight. He put his young mind to work and a few weeks later he’d come up with an innovative, simple and low-cost system to scare the predators away.

“He fitted a series of flashing LED bulbs onto poles around the livestock enclosure, facing outward. The lights were wired to a box with switches and to an old car battery powered by a solar panel.

“They were designed to flicker on and off intermittently, thus tricking the lions into believing that someone was moving around carrying a flashlight.

“And it worked. Since Turere rigged up his ‘Lion Lights,’ his family has not lost any livestock to the wild beasts, to the great delight of his father and astonishment of his neighbors.

“What’s even more impressive is that Turere devised and installed the whole system by himself, without ever receiving any training in electronics or engineering. …

Paula Kahumbu, executive director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust …  helped him get a scholarship at Brookhouse International School, one of Kenya’s top educational institutions, where he started last April. …

” ‘One thing that’s unique about Richard is that if you give him a problem, he’ll keep working at it until he can fix it. [He] doesn’t give up; he doesn’t find things too difficult; he’s not afraid of being unable to do something and I think this is why he is such a good innovator — because he’s not worried that it might not work, he’s going to try and do it anyway.’ ”

More here. And you can catch Richard’s TED Talk here. (Yes, he got on TED Talk!)

Photo: CNN

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Pigeon performance art in New York is ruffling a few feathers, and no wonder. The pigeons failed to sign performance agreements.

Andy Newman reports at the New York Times, “No one asked 2,000 pigeons if they wanted to have lights strapped to their legs in the name of art. Nor did anyone ask the birds how they felt about being shooed from their homes at dusk and sent flying up to illuminate the Brooklyn sky.

“But whether Duke Riley’s avian-powered performance piece ‘Fly by Night‘ constitutes pigeon abuse is a more complicated question.

“More than 5,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling for the show, which opened May 7 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, to be closed. …

“Their charges: that the birds are terrified by the flapping plastic flag Mr. Riley waves to keep them flying; that it is unnatural to make pigeons fly at night, when they normally rest; and that between their poor night vision and the distractions of the moving lights, they could become disoriented and crash into the East River. …

“Before ‘Fly by Night’ opened, [however], the nonprofit arts group that organized it, Creative Time, asked the director of the Wild Bird Fund, Rita McMahon, to inspect. The fund, based on the Upper West Side, treats more than 2,000 sick and injured pigeons a year.

“ ‘Mixing art and animals is a very risky business,’ said Ms. McMahon, who is a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, ‘but I was very impressed.’ The pigeons were healthy and well fed, their temporary homes beautiful and clean.

“ ‘I didn’t see any traumatized pigeons,’ she added. ‘You see them mating, courting, everything, all over the boat. I think that’s a pretty good sign.’

“ ‘Fly by Night’ runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until June 12, and the protesters say they will be out every night for the rest of the run.”

More here.

Photo: Byron Smith for The New York Times  
Duke Riley’s “Fly by Night” performance piece features more than 2,000 trained pigeons with LEDs attached to their legs.

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Treehugger recently featured some rather magical lamps in the shape of mushrooms.

Kimberley Mok writes, “Whether they glow in the dark or are uncommonly rare, mushrooms are the incredible, unsung heroes of the natural world. They can bio-remediate oil spills, potentially cure diseases, and when used in your garden, can lessen its need for watering. Now, thanks to Japanese artist Yukio Takano, you can even have a LED version of them on your desk, transforming any mundane workspace into one of glowing, fungal wonder.

“Made with glass, salvaged driftwood and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs and unique little light switches, Takano — who creates under the name The Great Mushrooming — seems to get the little details right enough to make these lamps look like the real thing (they come with hidden battery packs, to up the authentic-look factor, apparently). …

“Takano’s mushroom lights are one-of-a-kind, and while he sells at design fairs like Tokyo’s Design Festa, according to blogger tokyobling he doesn’t ship them abroad, due to the fragility of these glassworks. You can always feast your eyes over at Yukio Takano’s site The Great Mushrooming and visit the portfolio.”

More styles at Treehugger, here.

 Photo: Yukio Takano

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One of the many attractions of Fort Point in Boston is the ever changing array of public art. Here you see a brand new piece on Fort Point Channel: John Hanson’s “Outside the Box,” a Plexiglas sculpture with solar LED lighting.

If you were to walk to the left along the channel toward Gillette, you would see water gushing out of the building into the channel and seaweed on the rocks, a reminder of how close South Boston is to the ocean and the elements. When there is a storm at high tide, the channel can overflow the walkway.

The truck in the parking lot on the other side of the walkway speaks for itself, but who can resist naming some of its contents? “This truck may contain zombies, Navy Seals, teleporters, time machines, waffle cannons, kissing booths, holograms, Himalayas …”

Would I be far off if I said I bet the truck has something to do with the nearby headquarters of the fun-loving Life is good company?

south-boston-seaweed

this-truck-may-contain

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I saved up this one until it was cool enough outside to talk about heating systems.

Liz Stinson writes at Wired, “Commercial buildings account for 20 percent of the national energy consumption—a big number on its own, but stunning when you consider that often, those buildings are half empty.

“A new project from MIT’s Senseable City Lab is looking to decrease the amount of wasted energy by creating hyper-localized beams of heat. Called Local Warming, the prototype system uses LED bulbs to beam direct rays of infrared light onto people. This is in direct contrast to HVAC systems, which blanket entire spaces with hot or cool air, regardless of how many people are present.

“MIT’s system is rigged to the ceiling, like highly-efficient track lighting. Using a WiFi-enabled tracking system, the lights can sense when a human is present and will beam infrared heat down like a spotlight. ‘It’s almost like having a your personal sun,’ says Carlo Ratti, a professor in the Senseable City Lab.

“The current prototype is on display at the Venice Architecture Biennale until November. It features a large infrared bulb surrounded by rotating mirrors that can direct the light in a focused beam. It’s bulky—hardly the type of thing you’d like in your home—but Ratti envisions future prototypes will use smaller LEDs for a more compact aesthetic.”

Read more at Wired

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An early stage in the creation of a Hari & Deepti light box

Do you ever click on the links to the right, in my blog roll? My Dad’s Records, for example, has old blues recordings you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

And This Is Colossal is a constant wonder. Today the art and visual-culture site posted illuminated paper light boxes that have to be seen to be believed.

Says Colossal: “Deepti Nair and Harikrishnan Panicker (known collectively as Hari & Deepti) are an artist couple [originally from India] who create paper cut light boxes. Each diorama is made from layers of cut watercolor paper placed inside a shadow box and is lit from behind with flexible LED light strips. The small visual narratives depicted in each work often play off aspects of light including stars, flames, fireflies, and planets. The couple shares about their work …

‘What amazes us about the paper cut light boxes is the dichotomy of the piece in its lit and unlit state, the contrast is so stark that it has this mystical effect on the viewers.’ ”

More.

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I can’t think how many times I have heard someone say that people should harness the energy from workouts on treadmills, biking, or running. Finally, a couple of college students did just that.

Nicholas Nehamas, Latitude News, writes about the students’ innovative idea.

“The company, Uncharted Play, has designed a fully functional soccer ball called the SOCCKET which can power an LED light. One minute of kicking around this portable generator produces around six minutes of light. Children in developing countries without reliable sources of electricity can play their favorite game and then plug in the light to read, do homework, and help illuminate their homes. …

“More than a billion families around the world use kerosene lamps as their primary source of light because electricity is either unavailable or too expensive. But as well as being a serious fire risk, kerosene lamps also endanger the health of those who breathe their fumes. …

“The SOCCKET is one innovative alternative to kerosene. [Jessica Matthews, CEO and co-founder of Uncharted Play], explains that the ball contains a pendulum, or gyroscope-like device, inside it.

“ ‘As the ball rolls, the mechanism also rolls, harnessing kinetic energy and
and then storing it inside a simple battery,’ she says. …

“ ‘We weren’t trying to change the world,’ says Matthews. ‘By no means were we trying to do anything beyond not failing the class.’ ”

More.

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This morning on my walk I noticed a sign about energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode) street lamps. The sign is hard to read here, but it says that the LED lighting was provided by the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park. It also says that “the City of Boston is testing different types of LED lighting systems around the town and wants to know what you think.” Tell the City here.

The main reason I’m interested is that John is in the optics business, and his team is always working on LED, 3-D, and other optical projects beyond my ken. (I blogged about his Eastern European optical engineers here and here. John and Gregg tweet at OFH_John and gfavalora.)

And while we’re on the subject of optics, check out an article about “bizarre optical phenomena, defying the laws of reflection and refraction. …

“Cambridge, Mass. – September 1, 2011 – Exploiting a novel technique called phase discontinuity, researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have induced light rays to behave in a way that defies the centuries-old laws of reflection and refraction.” They bend light. Kind of like a fun house mirror.

You can see what they are talking about here.

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