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Roundup: Turbine Towers, Hello Health and Galaxy Glimpses

Wind Turbines in Power Towers
Julien Choppin and Nicola Delon, both architects, and Raphaël Ménard, an engineer, captured this year's Metropolis Next Generation Design Prize by answering the challenge, "Fix our energy addiction." Their innovative Wind-It design places wind turbines inside existing high-voltage energy pylons, conserves space and renders would-be-NIMBYs without an argument. The French trio are the first entrants from outside the United States to take the prestigious contest's top prize. From Metropolis:

Image source: Metropolis
Wind-it answers one of the greatest challenges to the development of wind power: where to site wind turbines. Choppin, Delon and Menard's design uses existing infrastructure - the towers and pylons that dot the more than 157,000 miles of high voltage power lines in the U.S. - to locate their turbines, which can be stacked within already sited structures. Moreover, Wind-it solves the problem of linking energy generation and electricity transmission in the same way - by co-locating them.

This fit is so obvious, only a trio of geniuses could have thought of it. (JL)

Hello Health
For many people in the U.S., seeing a doctor is prohibitively expensive, immensely inconvenient or just plain intimidating. In a world where you can send real-time community alerts via SMS and find a ride using Twitter, the expectation that you'll take hours from your day to sit in a waiting room in order to access much more urgently-needed assistance seems a bit backward.

hellohealth.jpgEnter Hello Health, a tech-savvy answer to family medicine led by Brooklyn-based physician Jay Parkinson. Hello Health doesn't take insurance, but the rates are reasonable: a $35 monthly subscription allows patients to schedule appointments that can take place in person or online (priced $100-$200 depending on the complexity of the problem), and exchange unlimited email with their doctor for simple questions and concerns. It's a truly innovative approach to accessibility in the medical profession, changing the relationship between doctors and patients from one of sterile distance to a personal, approachable interaction where people feel encouraged to be proactive about their own health. Parkinson is currently looking at expanding the practice by making his method and customized software platform available to other physicians who agree to operate their own "nodes" of Hello Health elsewhere in New York and around the country. (JL)

wind_energizer.jpgNext-Gen Wind and Solar
Smart engineers are churning out better and better models for alternative energy generation. Earlier this month, we saw the Wind Energizer, a donut-shaped structure designed by Leviathan Energy (pictured left). The passive object, made of steel and plastic, changes the wind flow around the turbine, and in field tests has increased turbine output by about 30 percent. If they continue performing well in tests, these devices could be used to upgrade existing turbines around the world.

On the solar front, a team from the University of Lleida has requested an international patent for their concentration solar power module (pictured left, below). 090505202912.jpgThe system employs a stationary lens and a linear absorber plate to achieve "solar concentration of 10 suns," meaning that the module can generate equal power in a tenth of the space needed by a standard photovoltaic system. The modules can be installed directly into the sides and roofs of buildings, making them easier to integrate visually into the built environment. (JL)

Jobs for Change
If public service describes the dream job you're searching for, then Jobs for Change may soon be one of your favorite go-to sites to search for job openings in the nonprofit, government or social enterprise sectors. In response to Obama’s call for public service, built this site in partnership with nonprofits like Network For Good, Encore Careers and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. Jobs for Change is set to offer career services and a platform for those posting and seeking jobs in public service. Although they're just starting out, with a little time, this site could become a tremendous resource to up-and-coming and job-offering worldchangers everywhere. (SK)

Sustainable Starship: Contest Winner
A few weeks ago, Jon Lebkowsky posed this challenge to our readers: describe a credible system for overall environmental sustainability and stability within the Starship Enterprise. We have a winner! Tom Craver's response was in-depth and thoughtful, unpacking the problems with the original "Enterprise" and discussing a new model for a nuclear fission-powered "Gship" that pyrolizes waste, grows engineered "fruits and roots" plants (without leaves or stems), and uses waste heat to "produce edible sugars, starches, fats, proteins, etc." for passenger consumption. An excerpt:

The first thing the Gship designers need to consider is temperature regulation. With a nuclear reactor and living people and all their support systems on board, staying warm will not be a problem. Eliminating heat will be the focus – the Gship will be designed with large surfaces to radiate heat away. On Earth, we’re stuck with a spherical atmospheric interface to space, and we get a copious supply of sunlight adding heat. About our only option is to control how much heat is produced or retained near or on the Earth’s surface. Fortunately, the size of the Earth and its atmosphere, and the influence of solar irradiation and naturally existing atmospheric components, dominate Earth’s thermal regulatory system. There are things we can do that will turn the temperature up (or down) a bit, but we have to work hard at it. If one were to think of all fossil fuel use to date as if it had been a deliberate effort to warm the planet by increasing carbon dioxide, we have expended an incredible amount of effort with relatively minor results. That’s the good news. The bad news would be that we might have to work about that hard to remove the added carbon dioxide if we want to turn the temperature back down. So the Gship designers have it a bit easier than “Eship”.

Read Craver's entire entry in the comments below the original post.

Looking into the heart of the galaxy from a Texas field:
William Castleman, a professional scientific photographer and professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Florida, unveils the Milky Way through a fisheye lens. Pretty amazing. (AS)

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Front page photo: William Castleman

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