Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eco-Friendly Castles

Eco-friendly homes could answer your future housing needs
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
If you were going to build a new home for your family with money not being a factor, would it be an extreme home?  Maybe you would have a pool, a home theater, a gym, a gourmet kitchen, a four-car garage, and so many square feet that you would have to hire a staff. 
            Men and women’s homes are supposed to be their castles according to many people.  Poet Robert Frost defined home as a place that “…when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
Modern concepts of homes range from paper boxes to palatial palaces.  Latest economic developments have caused people to look at smaller, more efficient homes and to think of true needs versus wants.  People have considered home design from various perspectives for thousands of years.
Take sod roof houses, for example.   The legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon were carpeted with greenery and even the Vikings favored sod roofs.
 Currently the green roof market is growing and the benefits of insulation, filtering of pollution, reduction of storm water run-off, and the cooling effect on the home are becoming more desirable.  Green wall house have the same benefits, plus they add beauty to their surroundings.
Cob houses are a made of a mixture of earth and straw and are similar to adobe homes, but have the benefit of being easier to shape, thus providing architectural interest.   Those structures of similar construction built in the nineteenth century in England are still there.
Using few raw materials, homes made of shipping crates can be combined to make larger houses or left as a small, independent dwellings.  There is a container city that was built in London in 2001 that has drawn much interest.
Wood pallet houses have become a quick answer for disaster relief around the world.  In post-war Kosovo ten by twenty foot shelters were built for $500 using 80 pallets. The first earthship houses made of reclaimed tires, old bottles, and tin cans were built in the 1970s.  For nineteen years, friends and neighbors of Tito Ingenieri living in Argentina saved bottles so that he could build a house. 
An alternative concrete called hemcrete made of hemp, concrete, water, and lime is proving to be more durable than regular concrete.   It also insulates better and is more resistant to fire, mold, and insects.  It is predicted that the material will last seven to eight hundred years. 
Modular homes are readily available and builders see less waste because the house is pre-fitted.  Also, less energy is used in the construction because the parts fit together.  These homes can be small or designs can be combined for larger homes. 
You can make your lifestyle more eco-friendly with a little know-how and a few changes.  Come to Port Discover’s Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 26 at Mariner’s Wharf from 10 to 2 p.m. and learn how you can help the planet.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Is it just science fiction or a look into the future

Is it just science fiction or a look into the future
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
Science fiction captured my interest early in life with television programs like “Star Trek” and “Twilight Zone” along with the works of Jules Vern’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World in Eighty Days.”
I was fascinated with seeing the science and invention predicted by early fiction writers come true in real life.
Current television programming is filled with the science fiction genre with shows like “Under the Dome,” “Intelligence,” “Person of Interest,” “The Walking Dead,” “Intelligence,” “Resurrection” and many more. The more you know about science, the more you can understand and enjoy these programs.
When I was teaching, I liked to entice my students to read by finding unusual stories. One that stands out in my memory was about a new area of science called cryonics. The main character awoke in the future having had himself frozen in hopes that he could be brought back to life when a cure for the disease that killed him had been found.
In anticipation of his awakening, he had deposited $10,000 in a bank account. Thinking that the interest he would have gained would make him a wealthy man when he returned to life, he was proud of his farsightedness. He immediately drew his money out of the bank and then caught a taxi to the nearest realtor’s office to buy a house. When he got out of the cab, the driver said, “That will be $2,000.” Shocked, he realized inflation had made him a poor man in his new world.
Cryogenics is the study of what occurs when materials are frozen at extremely low temperatures. Cryonics is the technique by which human bodies can be stored and later revived. People who believe in the validity of the process are experiencing the modern version of the search for the fountain of youth.
There are people who have paid for their future ticket to Mars and there are those who have paid from $28,000 to $200,000 to have themselves preserved for a life in the future. More than 200 bodies have been stored, and 1,000 have already paid for their preservation after death.
Before one undergoes the procedure, he must be pronounced legally dead which means that the heart must have stopped beating. These scientists believe that there is a difference between legally dead and totally dead in that some cellular brain function remains.
At the time of death, a cryonics team stabilizes the body with oxygen and blood while it is transported to a cryonic facility. There the body is put through a process called vitrification, deep cooling without freezing. Sixty percent of the water in the body is replaced with protective chemicals as the temperature is lowered to -202 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ted Williams, the famous baseball player, is among those who are awaiting revival. Urban legend places Walt Disney among the frozen, but that is not true. Cryobiologists have predicted the first revival attempts might happen around 2040.
After the winter we’ve had… no thanks!


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