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Artist creates intricate shadowboxes out of laser cut wood pieces

Inspired by the wildlife and nature found in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon-based artist Jason Pancoast of Shadowfox Design handcrafts intricate images out of laser-cut pieces of oak wood. The whimsical shadowboxes are made by layering thin pieces of dark oak wood over the vibrant images, which are painted with acrylic paint.

Nature and wildlife are the major inspirations for the artist, who tries to show how we are all connected to nature through his wood art. One of Pancoast’s most beautiful pieces is titled The Call. The background is made out of multiple layers of blues, greys and whites that, when glued together, create an image of a moon-lit forest landscape with a wolf walking among the trees. The image is framed by multiple layers of dark oak wood, forming a larger wolf. Other pieces include a soothing image of a Birch Forest and and a dynamic forest scene called Unto the Path.

Related: Gabriel Schama creates intricate wooden sculptures with laser-cutting technology

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Pancoast not only creates his shadowboxes out of the carefully cut wooden layers, but he also works with paper art as well. First sketching nature-inspired scenes on matte paper in pencil, he then digitally adjust each sheet. He then creates beautiful scenes by layering the sheets, which are then carefully arranged into oak frames.

+ Shadowfox Design

Via My Modern Met

Images via Shadowfox Design

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Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion electric sedan concept takes aim at Tesla’s Model S

With a driving range of 413 miles, Volkswagen’s latest concept sedan aims to beat the Tesla Model S at its own game. Volkswagen has released teaser photos of its new I.D. Vizzion concept, and it features a fully-autonomous system that lets passengers sit back and let the car do the driving.

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The I.D. Vizzion concept is the latest from the family of I.D. electric cars that VW has released, which started with the I.D. hatchback in late 2016. While the previous I.D. concepts have been previews of VW’s future electric models, the I.D. Vizzion takes it a step further by being the first to feature fully autonomous technology, which VW is going to debut next month at the Geneva Motor Show.

Related: Volkswagen may offer more electric cars than any other brand

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Inside the I.D. Vizzion doesn’t have a steering wheel or pedals. Instead a “digital chauffer” is responsible for piloting the vehicle. The concept car drives, steers and navigates autonomously in traffic, while the passengers are given the freedom to do other tasks. The I.D. Vizzion concept also features a virtual host, which the passengers can interact with via voice or gesture controls. The system also automatically knows the personal preferences of the passengers.

The I.D. Vizzion concept is the largest of all the I.D. concepts and previews a premium electric sedan. The concept is powered by two electric motors that generate a combined 302 horsepower that’s sent to all four wheels. A 111 kWh lithium-ion battery gives the concept a driving range up to 413 miles.

VW has yet to announce when the production version of the I.D. Vizzion concept will arrive, but the first I.D. model, the hatchback, will go on sale in 2020. The electric hatchback will then be followed by the I.D. Crozz electric SUV and then the microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz. By 2025 VW plans to introduce more than 20 electric vehicles.

+Volkswagen

All images © Volkswagen

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All-female high school team invents solar-powered tent for homeless

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Twelve young women from San Fernando High School in California have created a solar-powered tent to serve the growing homeless population in the San Fernando Valley. Daniela Orozco and her classmates noticed the stunning increase in people living in the city, located 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. They wanted to act. “Because we come from low-income families ourselves, we can’t give them money,” Orozco told Mashable. With the help of DIY Girls, the young women invented a solar-powered tent, which folds into a backpack, to serve the people struggling with homelessness in their community.

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Founded in 2012, DIY Girls began its work with 35 girls in an elementary school classroom. In 2016, it served 650 young female students from schools, elementary through high, all over Los Angeles County. Due to high demand made on the small organization, DIY Girls currently has a wait-list for its much-needed services. Only 27 percent of the STEM workforce is female, and only 6 percent of current female scientists are Hispanic or Latina. “When I was getting my [aerospace engineering] master’s degree, I was often the only girl in the class and definitely the only Latina in the class,” DIY Girls executive director Evelyn Gomez told Mashable. “It felt like kind of impostor syndrome.” Familiar with the challenges faced by young women of color, Gomez now serves as a guide for the next generation of female scientists and engineers.

Related: Reversible weatherHYDE tent saves lives in extreme weather

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Despite not having much practical STEM experience, the young women at San Fernando quickly acquired a wide spectrum of skills through their own self-guided learning. If they encountered an issue in a code or circuit, they sought out resources online to solve the problem. “You’re learning new things you’ve never even heard of or even thought of,” Chelly Chavez, who learned the C++ programming language to refine the tent’s functionality, told Mashable. To further develop their work, the young women were awarded a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program. The team hopes that their accomplishments will inspire other young women to seize the scientific spirit. “[There are] only two junior girls in our AP Calculus class, which has way more guys than girls,” Paola Valtierra told Mashable, “But we’re gonna change that.”

A post shared by DIY Girls InvenTeam (@diygirls_inventeam) on May 19, 2017 at 8:58pm PDT

Via Mashable

Images via DIY Girls

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Richard Branson signs deal for India’s first super-speedy hyperloop route

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Travelers spend around three hours journeying from Mumbai to Pune by train today in India. A hyperloop could revolutionize the trip, slashing it down to a mere 25 minutes. And that’s exactly what Richard Branson-backed Virgin Hyperloop One aims to do. They signed an agreement with the state of Maharashtra, as the state announced their intention to construct what could be India’s first hyperloop route between Pune and Mumbai.

Richard Branson, Virgin Hyperloop One, Maharashtra, signing, conference, hyperloop

Virgin Hyperloop One just signed an historic agreement with the Indian state Maharashtra. They plan to construct a hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune, a corridor 130,000 vehicles travel daily right now. They’ll begin with an operational demonstration track. Branson said in a statement, “I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century.”

Related: Virgin Hyperloop One: Richard Branson invests in Musk-inspired high-speed transportation system

26 million people would be connected by the new route, which would link the two cities and Navi Mumbai International Airport. The electric transportation system would cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 150,000 tons a year. And a pre-feasibility study conducted by Virgin Hyperloop One revealed over 30 years the route could offer $55 billion in socio-economic benefits, as people save emissions and time. The hyperloop route would support 150 million passenger trips a year, according to Virgin Hyperloop One, saving more than 90 million hours. Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra chief minister, said the route would create tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction, service, and information technology.

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What comes after a signing? First, a six-month in-depth feasibility study. The study will scrutinize environmental impact, cost, funding models, regulations, and economic and commercial aspects. A procurement stage would follow to nail down a public-private partnership structure, and then construction would begin, with the demonstration track built in the first phase. According to Virgin Hyperloop One, the demonstration track could be built “in two to three years from the signing of the agreement,” and the second phase could see completion of the full route in five to seven years.

+ Virgin Hyperloop One

+ Virgin

Images via Virgin Hyperloop One (1,2)

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Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks

Nova Scotia Power has established a pilot project that utilizes Tesla’s Powerpack 2 home batteries and their utility-grade Powerpack batteries to form an improved energy storage system for local wind power. Based in Elmsdale, the Intelligent Feed Project aims to bridge any gaps found in the electrical grid by installing Powerpacks where wind turbines are generating surplus energy. These batteries would allow power to be stored for later use, perhaps when there is a power outage or a windless day. While the Powerpack’s expansion into Nova Scotia isn’t quite as massive as its application in places like South Australia, this latest move demonstrates its potential to improve energy storage in power grids.

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The Elmsdale battery station will serve 300 homes, 10 of which will have Tesla Powerpack 2 batteries. Partially funded by the Canadian government, the trial program will begin at the end of February and will continue until 2019. The physical infrastructure of Powerpacks will remain even after the trial has ended. If the trial is successful, Nova Scotia Power may decide to offer additional programs to local communities.

Related: Nantucket to be powered by a 48 MWh Tesla Powerpack system

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Simply bringing the Powerpacks into the homes and neighborhoods of Elmsdale seems to be having a positive impact on engagement in clean energy infrastructure. “The Powerwall, that was something I hadn’t heard about,” said homeowner Mark Candow. “I was definitely intrigued.” The ease-of-installation and the interactive app provided by Tesla are certainly selling points for consumers. “The ability to monitor their home usage is really making them think more about how they’re using electricity in their home,” said smart grid engineer Rob Boone, “and I think it’s going to make them more energy efficient.”

Via Engadget

Images via Nova Scotia Power

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Crescent moon-shaped home on Chilean coast inspired by traditional boat-making techniques

Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen has created an incredibly sophisticated cylindrical home that blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Located on the Chilean coast overlooking the sea, the Rode House is a wooden structure shaped in a unique curved form that not only provides stunning views from any angle, but also protects the home from the area’s notoriously strong winds.

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Located on Chiloe island, the building site has dramatic views of the ocean, inspiring the architects to create a nature-inspired home design with a strong connection to the surroundings. Accordingly, the home’s dynamic shape is threefold: aesthetically vernacular, the low-lying structure blends into its environment, nestled into the rising prairie grass. Secondly, the cylindrical structure, which includes several angular forms, is a protective strategy that blocks the strong winds that blow in from the shore. Thirdly, the home’s materials and construction, along with its form, were all inspired by traditional woodworking techniques found in the region, especially prevalent in boats and churches still found in the area.

Related: Chilean Folding House allows owners to control the temperature to adapt to the season

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The architects explain that their inspiration for the home’s curved shape came from the region’s long tradition of carpentry: “Knowing that the island is not only well known for the exuberant myths and legends but for a refined artisanal carpentry knowledge expressed both in churches and boats, accepting that something of that local knowledge would inform our project,” they said, “we preferred to have in mind that delicate artlessness of a totally forgotten wooden padlock.”

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The curved roof, covered in traditional thin wood shingles, was strategically angled to allow optimal natural light into the living space. This slanting volume continues through to the interior where double height ceilings add a sense of airiness to the interior. Inside, the walls are clad in light wooden panels, also adding to the serene cabin-like atmosphere.

+ Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Via Ignant

Photos via Pezo von Ellrichshausen

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Winners of tiny house competition pack comfort and functionality into 269 square feet

Modular building company Ryterna modul recently announced the winners of their Architectural Challenge 2018 competition. Participants were tasked with designing a cozy, functional, modular 269-square-foot tiny house with a living area, sleeping area, kitchen, and bathroom. They received 150 projects from designers in 88 countries and narrowed the field down to three winners and an honorable mention.

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Abdolrahman Kadkhodasalehi of Iran took first place with his Wave House. Wave House curves up on both sides, with the goal of maximizing use of natural resources. The curves of water in nature inspired the design, and naturally, water and its use features prominently in this tiny house. Water from the sinks and shower are sent to a refinery tank to be purified and re-pumped. High windows in the tiny house invite occupants to fully enjoy surrounding natural landscape, and a folding desk inside is just one feature that creates more space.

Related: How one couple adapted a 204-square-foot tiny house for their new baby

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Julia and Stas Kaptur of Russia nabbed second place for their tiny house 24052705. They said they entered the competition because “it is a big dream to create spaces in picturesque, hard-to-reach places, such as a river bank, or deep-deep forest.” Transparent external walls with sliding doors invite dwellers of this tiny home to enjoy nature from any room. 24052705 features modular rooms with a living room in the middle. In the standard design, a bedroom and kitchen/bathroom are on either side. The design can be enlarged to include more rooms.

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William Samin of Indonesia took home third place for his tiny house TM 0301. He comprised his design of modules that can be stacked or mounted horizontally. The tiny house can be adapted to different types of terrain with a vertical configuration or on stilts. Pivot walls or what Samin called glazing doors can be opened to allow fresh air to flood the home. Floor level storage for rollable mattresses or folded furniture maximize space in the design. The tiny house can go off-grid with a rainwater collection system and solar panels.

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Ryterna modul gave an honorable mention to Clarence Zichen Qian of China for ATN. They said in their video that his highly theoretical concept prompted them to reflect and think deeper about human existence. ATN can be a tilted or leaning tiny house that’s pictured perched atop other buildings, “detached from the crowd,” according to the PDF on the design. The purpose of the tiny house is to give an occupant time away from social media, in which they can observe and ponder the meaning of life.

+ Ryterna modul

+ Ryterna modul Architectural Challenge 2018

Images courtesy of Ryterna modul

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Sunlighten saunas use infrared therapy to lower blood pressure and improve health

Sunlighten saunas use far-infrared radiation to lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and support detoxification. The founders of the company, one of whom overcame a decade of illness using infrared therapy, created Sunlighten as a way of bringing this health-improving technology to people who want to achieve their wellness goals, develop healthy lifestyles, and maintain vitality for the long-term.

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Sunlighten mPulse infrared saunas are built using sustainably harvested wood, feature no toxic glues, and add only cents per month to the user’s electricity bill. Energy efficient and safe, the saunas are equipped with Sunlighten Solocarbon far infrared heating panels as the most effective far infrared sauna heaters on the market today.

Related: The Grandview Barrel Sauna is a backyard oasis for the entire family

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Scientific research shows that far infrared is most therapeutic in high concentrations. Solocarbon panels are proven to be 95 percent emissive, meaning that 95 percent of the energy being produced is in the therapeutic range to increase core body temperature for a deep, detoxifying sweat. The company’s patented magnetic locking system eliminates unsightly clips, buckles, and screws, with hidden magnets in the sauna walls making set-up and take-down quick and easy.

+ Sunlighten

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Tesla Roadster in space could collide with Venus or Earth

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Elon Musk isn’t the only person amused by a Tesla in space — scientists at the University of Toronto and Charles University have devoted their attention to figuring out just what might happen to the Roadster officially classified by NASA as a celestial object. Researchers think the space-traveling car could ultimately crash into Venus or Earth — but don’t panic yet.

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University of Toronto Scarborough assistant professor Hanno Rein and his team think the red Tesla Roadster could collide with our planet or Venus, but probably not for millions of years. They ran several simulations with “sophisticated software that can track the motion of objects in space,” according to the University of Toronto.

Related: Elon Musk releases historic video of Starman cruising through space in a Tesla Roadster

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The probability that Musk’s Tesla will collide with Earth during the next one million years is six percent, and 2.5 percent for Venus. The scientists ran simulations for the first three million years of the Tesla’s journey in outer space, although Rein said the most likely outcome is that the car will crash into either Earth or Venus in the next 10 million years. If the car does crash into Earth, any future people probably won’t need to be too concerned because most or all of the Tesla will probably burn up in our planet’s atmosphere.

The vehicle is on “a Mars and Earth crossing orbit, meaning it will travel on an elliptical path that repeatedly carries it beyond Mars and then back to Earth’s orbital distance from the sun,” according to the press release. If you happen to be alive in 2091, the scientists think that year will mark the first close encounter of the Tesla with Earth, when the car will pass within a few hundred thousand kilometers.

Those Earth encounters will likely impact the Tesla’s journey. University of Toronto Scarborough postdoctoral fellow Daniel Tamayo said in a statement, “Each time it passes the Earth, the car will get a gravitational kick. Depending on the details of these encounters, the Tesla can be kicked onto a wider or smaller orbit, so it’s random. Over time the orbit will undergo what’s called a random walk, similar to the fluctuations we see in the stock market, that will allow it to wander the inner solar system.”

The scientists submitted their research for publication to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society; a preprint is available here. Rein and Tamayo were joined by David Vokrouhlicky of Charles University. The university’s press release did not say what might happen to the Roadster’s passenger, Starman.

+ University of Toronto

Images via Elon Musk on Instagram and Ken Jones

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Eco-hotel cabins float on a lake in the south of France

Paris-based Atelier Lavit recently won our hearts with their stunning treehouse guestroom, but the forest retreat isn’t the only dreamy hotel they’ve created. The architecture firm is also behind Cabanes des Grands Cepages, an eco-hotel comprising ten timber suites—some of which are built to float on water. Set in the south of France in an idyllic fishing reserve near Avignon, these ten units on the shore of a la Lionne lake embrace elegance through simplicity with minimal embellishments and carefully placed reveals that provide privacy and views.

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Commissioned by Cabanes Nature et Spa, the Cabanes des Grands Cepages eco-hotel offers unique retreats with some hidden on land behind reeds while others are more visibly placed on the water. The cabins are carefully oriented to preserve guest privacy. Timber cladding—particularly the vertical timber slatted screens that are a nod to the lake reeds—visually unites the various dwellings.

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Related: This gorgeous modern treehouse hides a surprising interior

“The 10 suites evoke primitive buildings on the shore of the lake; floating on the water like rafts or on pilots like palafittes,” wrote the architects. “The architectural work perfectly matches with the lacustrine tubes from which it resumes and rationalizes the elegant vertical thrust.” The project was mostly prefabricated offsite and then reassembled on site over the course of three months to minimize landscape impact.

+ Atelier Lavit

Images via Atelier Lavit, © Francis Pelletier

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