The Ocean Cleanup Deploys a 2000-Foot Net to Catch the Pacific Ocean's Trash


The Pacific Ocean has a pollution problem. It's especially apparent at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 1-million-square-mile stretch of water between California and Hawaii churning with up to 2.65 million tons of plastic waste. Now, after five years in development, an initiative aimed at reducing the floating trash heap is finally ready to launch.

As Forbes reports, the main tool that The Ocean Cleanup project is using to combat pollution is a 2000-foot floating net. The unit, dubbed System 001, will serve multiple functions. The floater sits on the water's surface, collecting any trash that bobs its way, while the 10-foot skirt that extends into the water blocks any waste from flowing beneath it. To catch as much garbage as possible, the net will need to be emptied every four to six weeks. As it collects debris, System 001 will also be able to collect data on climate and wave patterns.

System 001 is the beta version of The Ocean Cleanup's ultimate vision for the initiative. After monitoring the system's performance, the group plans to improve on the design and launch a fleet of 60 additional floaters in early 2020. With the project, The Ocean Cleanup hopes to shrink the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50 percent in five years, and by 90 percent by 2040.

Similar sea skimmers have been developed in the past, like the Waste Shark, which works like a Roomba for the ocean, and the Seabin, which more closely resembles a floating trashcan. System 001 differs in that it's designed to clean up ocean waste on a much larger scale. The Ocean Cleanup will launch the rig on Saturday, September 8.

[h/t Forbes]

How to Build an Igloo, According to a Canadian Film From 1949

Centuries before you started building snow forts in your backyard, the Inuit had mastered using snow as construction material. This 1949 video, produced by the National Film Board of Canada (and with narration that uses some outdated terminology), illustrates how exactly people native to the Arctic can erect warm, temporary homes using nothing but a knife and the snow beneath their feet. The artifact was spotted by The Kid Should See This.

The igloo (or iglu in Inuktitut) in this footage takes around 90 minutes to erect, but a similar structure can be built by a skilled person in as little as 40 minutes. To put together the shelter, the two men carve up firm, packed snow into blocks that are about 2 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and 4 inches thick.

After the first row of blocks is placed in a circle on the ground, the builder slices a section of the blocks to create a slope. Each row that's placed on this foundation will spiral upward, creating a shape in which the blocks support their own weight. By the time the keystone block is fitted into the top, the igloo is strong enough to support the weight of a man.

The final steps are carving a doorway out of the bottom of the structure and plugging up the cracks with additional snow from outside. Even on a frigid Arctic night, the temperature of a well-insulated igloo can reach 40 degrees above the temperature outside. And the warmer the igloo gets over time, the stronger it becomes: The heat from the Sun and the bodies of the inhabitants melt the outer layers of the blocks, and that water eventually freezes to ice, giving the home more insulation and structural integrity.

If you aren't ready to build an igloo, here are some less intimidating snow projects to tackle this winter.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

Charge Your Gadgets Anywhere With This Pocket-Sized Folding Solar Panel

Solar Cru, YouTube
Solar Cru, YouTube

Portable power banks are great for charging your phone when you’re out and about all day, but even they need to be charged via an electrical outlet. There's only so much a power bank can do when you’re out hiking the Appalachian Trail or roughing it in the woods during a camping trip.

Enter the SolarCru—a lightweight, foldable solar panel now available on Kickstarter. It charges your phone and other electronic devices just by soaking up the sunshine. Strap it to your backpack or drape it over your tent to let the solar panel’s external battery charge during the day. Then, right before you go to bed, you can plug your electronic device into the panel's USB port to let it charge overnight.

It's capable of charging a tablet, GPS, speaker, headphones, camera, or other small wattage devices. “A built-in intelligent chip identifies each device plugged in and automatically adjusts the energy output to provide the right amount of power,” according to the SolarCru Kickstarter page.

A single panel is good “for small charging tasks,” according to the product page, but you can connect up to three panels together to nearly triple the electrical output. It takes roughly three hours and 45 minutes to charge a phone using a single panel, for instance, or about one hour if you’re using three panels at once. The amount of daylight time it takes to harvest enough energy for charging will depend on weather conditions, but it will still work on cloudy days, albeit more slowly.

The foldable panel weighs less than a pound and rolls up into a compact case that it can easily be tucked away in your backpack or jacket pocket. It’s also made from a scratch- and water-resistant material, so if you get rained out while camping, it won't destroy your only source of power.

You can pre-order a single SolarCru panel on Kickstarter for $34 (less than some power banks), or a pack of five for $145. Orders are scheduled to be delivered in March.