Mar 16

The tiny island nation of the Maldives is under serious threat from rising sea levels caused by climate change. No part of the 1200 islands which make up the Maldives is more than six feet above sea level, so as sea-levels rise (as they will if rampant climate change is not stopped), the entire nation will be under water. Because of this, the Maldives government is pulling out all the stops in the fight against climate change. Not only has the entire country gone carbon neutral, educated all of their children in environmental science and furiously built retaining walls around every island, but the government is buying up land in nearby nations as a place to retreat to when the Maldives disappears. Now it appears that the intrepid Maldivians have come up with a new strategy to fight the rising tide: creating mini floating islands!

The Maldives government and Dutch Docklands/Dutch Watervalley just signed an agreement today to develop several floating facilities for the islands, including a convention center and golf courses. Designed by architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.NL, the people who brought you the Citadel floating apartment complex and these amazing floating homes, the renderings for the amphibious mini-cities appear depict star-shaped, tiered islands with indoor spaces hidden under lush green-roof terraces, complete with interior pools and beaches.

While exact design details of these new floating islands are still unavailable, we do know that Dutch Docklands knows a thing or two about creating water developments using methods and procedures that reduce impact on underwater life and minimize changes to coastal morphology. We also know that architect Koen Olthuis is a force to be reckoned with, so we can’t wait to see these creative designs come to fruition.

At the signing ceremony, Mahmood Razi, Chairman of the Privatisation Committee said the Maldives plans to seek the assistance of Dutch Docklands to develop floating housing units in the Maldives in the future.

Mar 1

Chris Supranowitz is a researcher at The Insitute of Optics at the University of Rochester. Along with a number of other spectacular studies (such as quantum optics, trapping of atoms, dark states and entanglement), Chris has decided to look at the relatively boring grooves of a vinyl record using the institute’s electron microscope. Well, not boring for me.

From what I read, it’s not just a simple matter of sticking a record under a fancy microscope, as there is a lot of preparation (such as gold-sputtering the surface) and post-processing to be done. Having said that, the results are very cool:

Here is a shot of a number of record grooves (the dark bits are the top of the grooves, i.e. the uncut vinyl):

Here’s the grooves closer up – the little bumps are dust on the record:

And here’s a single groove even closer still, magnified 1000 times:

Chris also did the pits in a CD – here’s what they look like, just for contrast:

Chris decided to take the whole electron microscope image one step further, and created a blue/red 3-dimensional image of the record groove! So, if you have a pair of 3D glasses (sorry, the ones you got from watching Avatar won’t work – you need red on the left, blue on the right), throw them on and take a look at this amazing picture:

Maybe these vinyl grooves are only beautiful to an audio geek like me, but I think that these images are truly spectacular. I wonder what we’d see if it was magnified further still? Thanks to noiseforairports for the tip.