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Glowee
Glowee

French Start-Up Releases Bacteria-Powered Lights

Glowee
Glowee

In a world of increasingly scarce resources, viable power alternatives are at a premium. A Paris-based company called Glowee has seized this opportunity, creating a line of lights powered exclusively by bioluminescent bacteria.

“Our goal is to change the way we produce and use light,” Glowee founder Sandra Rey told New Scientist. “We want to offer a global solution that will reduce the 19 per cent of electricity consumption used to produce light.”

Glowee is not the first bioluminescent lamp producer on the market; Dino Pet is a dinosaur-shaped glass lamp filled with glowing dinoflagellates. But Dino Pet is a fun work of art, whereas Glowee inventors envision their product replacing traditional light bulbs in storefronts, parks, subways, and other public spaces.

Glowee’s “magic light,” as it’s called on the company website, is produced by the bacterium Aliivibrio fischeri. In the natural world, A. fischeri is best known for its relationship with the adorable, glowing bobtail squid.

Glowee scientists cultivate the bacteria in the lab in a nutrient-rich gel. The gel is then deposited in glass cases much like traditional lightbulbs, except these bulbs can be any shape at all.

Beautiful though it may be, the bacterium is not especially long-lived, which presents an obvious hurdle for the lamp maker. By manipulating the gel, Glowee team members have been able to increase the duration of the glow from a few seconds to three days. It’s a huge improvement, but Glowee’s got a long way to go to stack up against long-lasting electric bulbs.

They’re now experimenting with genetic engineering to breed hardier bacteria with a brighter glow. They’re also building in a molecular on/off switch, which could enable the bacteria to conserve energy during the day and glow only at night.

So is it practical to rely on live organisms to produce commercial levels of light? That remains to be seen. But it’s definitely cool.

All images courtesy of Glowee.

[h/t New Scientist]

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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The North Face
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Design
The North Face's New Geodesic Dome Tent Will Protect You in 60 mph Wind
The North Face
The North Face

You can find camping tents designed for easy set-up, large crowds, and sustainability, but when it comes to strength, there’s only so much abuse a foldable structure can take. Now, The North Face is pushing the limits of tent durability with a reimagined design. According to inhabitat, the Geodome 4 relies on its distinctive geodesic shape to survive wind gusts approaching hurricane strength.

Instead of the classic arching tent structure, the Geodome balloons outward like a globe. It owes its unique design to the five main poles and one equator pole that hold it in place. Packed up, the gear weighs just over 24 pounds, making it a practical option for car campers and four-season adventurers. When it’s erected, campers have floor space measuring roughly 7 feet by 7.5 feet, enough to sleep four people, and 6 feet and 9 inches of space from ground to ceiling if they want to stand. Hooks attached to the top create a system for gear storage.

While it works in mild conditions, the tent should really appeal to campers who like to trek through harsher weather. Geodesic domes are formed from interlocking triangles. A triangle’s fixed angles make it one of the strongest shapes in engineering, and when used in domes, triangles lend this strength to the overall structure. In the case of the tent, this means that the dome will maintain its form in winds reaching speeds of 60 mph. Meanwhile, the double-layered, water-resistant exterior keeps campers dry as they wait out the storm.

The Geodome 4 is set to sell for $1635 when it goes on sale in Japan this March. In the meantime, outdoorsy types in the U.S. will just have to wait until the innovative product expands to international markets.

[h/t inhabitat]

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