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How Wine Corks Preserve Forests (and Birds)

YouTube // engineerguy
YouTube // engineerguy

The corks in wine bottles come from vast cork forests, carefully managed over decades in order to harvest the bark of cork oaks. It's an excellent example of a renewable resource, in which the trees provide an economic incentive to keep them healthy. But in addition to the cork itself, these managed forests provide habitat for birds—without the cork industry, we might lose a bunch of bird species. Here's a video from Bill Hammack, The Engineer Guy, explaining how the cork harvest works:

Note that in addition to plastic stoppers, screw-tops are a major trend in the wine bottling industry. We covered this topic 10 years ago, and some of the dire predictions from then about threats to cork forests have thankfully not come to pass. Part of that may be due to the rise of cork as a flooring material, and its use in shoes—it's not just about wine corks.

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Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Fisherman Catches Rare 'Cotton Candy' Lobster, Donates It to Aquarium
Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Huntsman Marine Science Centre

Lucky, a cotton candy-colored lobster, has been turning heads ever since he was caught off the coast of Canada's Grand Manan Island last month. As The Dodo reports, the rare blue-pink crustacean has since been donated to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in New Brunswick, where he continues to dazzle visitors.

#guardian2011 #evolutionfisheries #rainbowlobster #rarestoftherare

A post shared by Robinson Russell (@robinsonfrankrussell) on

"If all of this attention is making Lucky blush, exactly what color would he turn?" the Marine Centre wrote in a Facebook post about Lucky's newfound fame.

Robinson Russell, the fisherman who caught the crustacean and donated it to the aquarium, said, "I have been fishing for over 20 years and it’s the first one I’ve ever seen of that color."

Researchers with the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine told The Dodo that a lobster of Lucky's pigmentation is roughly one in 100 million, making it just as rare as an albino lobster. By another estimate, lobsters like Lucky turn up once every four to five years.

Researchers says the coloring is caused by a genetic mutation that affects pigments in the lobster's shell. Most lobsters tend to be gray or brown—turning red only when boiled—but yellow, bright orange, and blue lobsters have all been spotted in the past.

Check out National Geographic's video below to see Lucky on the move. 

[h/t The Dodo]

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Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

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