Is your home passive?

9 07 2009

With increasing energy consumption and its cost, it has become important to do some radical changes in our lifestyle. Passive home is one such concept that has come up in European countries like Sweden, Germany, Austria.

Some interesting ideas behind a passive home are:

1. To keep the house tightly insulated. Hence, using wood over concrete as main building material, which is a better insulator. Also, using very thick insulation like 40 cm thick walls and 30 cm thick floors, 50 cm thick roofs.

2. To trap and reuse the heat generated by house inhabitants and appliances. Heat exchange system in a  passive home keeps it properly ventilated and warms the incoming air with trapped heat.

Results: 90% less energy costs as a compared normal houses.

Swedish Government is constructing buildings based on this concept and trying to commercialize it, so that the cost of construction can be made competitive. Also, scientists have come up with viable plans to convert an existing home to passive home.

Since internally generated heat is an important element in keeping passive homes warm, they say it is important that the inhabitants are active in a passive home 🙂

Do watch this CNN video to get some idea about passive home technology.

Sources:

1. Image: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/fs45.html

2. Link to Video: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2009/07/09/gg.boulden.sweden.passive.houses.cnn

3. http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/designing_remodeling/index.cfm/mytopic=10250

PS:  I don’t like WordPress for not letting me embed external scripts in a post. I really want to move out from WordPress to Blogger. Any suggestions that would enable painless and seamless migration?





To go or not to go

2 07 2009

With tragic death of Michael Jackson, fans who bought tickets to his upcoming concerts are facing a dilemma. Whether to ask for refund or to keep the ticket as a valuable souvenir. This is an intersting problem. If too many people ask for refund, the ticket would actually become rare, incereasing its ‘collector value’. Whereas, if everybody keeps the ticket as a souvenir, it would be a worthless piece of paper.  This article talks more about this puzzling problem. The problem is roughly similar to El Farol Bar problem.

Keeping the Math aside, I think an ardent MJ fan would go to the concert and keep the ticket as a souvenir.

Sources:

1. http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/2009/07/will-your-michael-jackson-tickets-be-worth-more-than-a-refund.html

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_game





Cool Tool – Photosounder

6 01 2009

Check out this tool : photosounder. It converts image into sound & vice versa.   Immediate question that would come to your mind is why would you wanna do that?

Well, there are many things you can actually do with this.

1. Converting image to sound could be an unconventional form of encryption.

2. You can draw music on screen. Of course, complicated the music gets, difficult (or impossible?) it will become to actually draw it. But nonetheless, you can create simple beats this way. check out various sounds made using this tool on http://photosounder.com/ (There is a small jukebox player on the right side.)

I found it interesting because I haven’t seen anything like this before, so there is that WOW factor.

Lemme know if you think of any cool application of this tool..





Addition to SunSPOT Emulator – Solarium

8 10 2008

I am very impressed by solarium – SunSPOT emulator tool available with SunSPOT SDK V4.0.
Using this tool you can run almost all your programs on virtual SPOTs. It is real boon if you don’t have sufficient number of sensor nodes.

However it currently lacks all radio monitoring, configuration functionalities. It would be wonderful, if we can emulate various environment conditions & add distance dimension to Solarium. This way, we could monitor & configure networks of virtual SPOTs, conduct radio based experiments on Solarium.

To further that, different sensing environments like day or night time, dry or humid weather, hot or cold weather etc.

What I am saying is, add to this emulator a simulator that would make virtual SPOT quite ‘real’.





Hot, Flat, and Crowded

13 09 2008

Few days ago, I attended Thomas Friedman’s promotion lecture for his new book – Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–And How It Can Renew America.

Personally, I am not a great fan of his books. I have read his previous book – The World is Flat in which he describes the phenomenon of globalization in his bit of a sensationalizing style. But I liked few points he made during this lecture.

He starts his presentation with –

“German engineering, Swiss innovation, American nothing.”

He says that US has has lost its edge in post cold-war era, because of the absence of a worthy competitor like USSR . He also speaks about the emergence of middle-class to affluence, everywhere in the world. Lot of countries have come up with their own niches – German technology, Chinese manufacturing, Indian service sector etc. This has led to affluent centers – small Americas (that is his term) all around the world like Doha of Qutar, Dalian of China. This in turn has led to enormous energy consumption all over the world. Now all these small Americas will lead to scarcer energy resources. More energy consumption has given rise to pollution, global warming. This coupled with exponential population growth is going to make Earth a terrible place to live. In short, the world is becoming hot – due to global warming, flat- due to globalization, and crowded – due to population growth.

He predicts the future superpower will be the one that has supremacy over ‘Energy Technology’ i.e. cost-effective ideas, resources, and infrastructure to generate pollution-free power sources at very large scale. I liked the point where he says that although the World has moved into 21st century, we still hopelessly rely on 19th century energy resources – thermal & hydro power, fossil fuels. Needless to say, he emphasized the dire need of nuclear power reactors in 21st century.

An innovative concept (not his) that came during his lecture was of Carbon Trading. Each manufacturing firm is given limits & license for x amount of carbon emissions. Less pollutant the firm is, more carbon credit it has. This credit can be sold to other companies thus prompting companies to be less pollutant by luring them with credit-carrot.

He also makes us the modern Noahs. We are the first generation that has to seriously care about Earth’s diminishing biodiversity – rapid extinction of animal & plant species.

He openly criticizes Al Gore for not seriously publicizing his environmental activism until now. It sure makes you wonder what this man has done for environment apart from writing a book in year 2008.

Anyways, I feel that not only America but entire world needs to care about issues like these. Its no more about one country’s supremacy over others, it is about saving the Earth – our only home in the entire universe.

Sources:

1. http://tinyurl.com/noah-ark

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_is_Flat

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot,_Flat,_and_Crowded

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissions_trading

5. http://www.goma.demon.co.uk/eco/carbon-trading.jpg

6. http://tinyurl.com/friedman-book-cover





Store for ideas!

11 09 2008

Ever thought something out-of-the-box and wondered whether that is possible or not?

Well, I am sure that happens with everybody. I guess thinking out-of-the-box is something peculiar to mankind.

Here’s a thought: Why don’t we have sensors in parking lots that could tell us the location of a free parking spot, if available. Imagine how much time & fuel (this one is very important now a days) we could save if we didn’t have to make endless rounds of parking lot just to find out that it was full.

Future Parking Lots

On googling a bit, I found some serious research going on in this field at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Also, I found a very interesting site that allows its users to publish such ideas & to vote on present ideas. Here is the link.

Actually, I was not expecting to find any site like this, so it was a pleasant surprise for me too.

Sources:

1. http://tinyurl.com/research-proposal

2. http://kimskorner.zed1.net/blog/wp-content/parking-for-the-future.jpg

3. http://www.whynot.net/