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strong, durable, cheap - the cardboard bike


3:29 mins

This is a bike that seems to ride well, and be durable and comfortable. And yet it is made entirely out of cardboard. Not a gram of metal or aluminum or in part, or in the handle or in the chain. The bike is made from some corrugated cardboard and recyclable materials.

With wagon or wheelbarrow wheels and painted white, this bike certainly is not aerodynamic. Yet it is very light (no more than 9 kg against 15 kg on average for city bikes). Also, when put on sale, its price should not exceed 20 €. The cardboard bike’s lifetime is estimated at two years, and it is fully recyclable. Hard to beat in terms of carbon footprint.

Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni has alway had a love of cycling. He took three years and made six working prototypes prior to completing the final model. The hardest thing was developing a treatment for the cardboard so that it keeps its rigidity after spending six months immersed in water. Gafni has filed a patent and guards his secret recipe, even if you see the video he uses a lot of glue.

Presented to the press several weeks ago, the machine has already attracted a lot of enthusiasm. Commercialisation is expected soon in Israel. "I do not intend to compete with China," said Izhar Gafni. There’s no incentive for him to get into the low-cost bicycle - the global market is not interested. He would rather that his bike is made for local markets in small factories employing disabled and elderly destitute people.

The cost of raw materials is estimated at 5 euro, Gafni hopes to give the cardboard bikes to the poorest in large cities in developing countries. He plans to produce three different models as well as a wheelchair, and is looking forward to making cardboard cars, or even aeroplanes.

Cardboard is probably much stronger than we imagine. A helmet using this material will soon be marketed. Its honeycomb structure [Google translation] has been copied extensively from the bone structure of woodpeckers.



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water from air?

A possible method of bringing water to the desert, or other arid areas.

Water-condensing wind turbine. Image: elole water
Water-condensing wind turbine. Image: elole water

“Marc Parent, [...] decided to combine a green energy source with the necessary components for condensing water directly from the air. [...] after 10 years of R&D [...] the WMS1000 wind turbine, [is] capable of condensing and storing up to 1,000 liters of water every day.

“The 34 meter tall turbine requires 15mph winds for its 13 meter diameter rotor to turn and generate sufficient energy. It then produces 30kW of power for the system to function. Air is drawn in through vents in the nose of the turbine and a generator heats it producing steam. That steam is then fed through a cooling compressor to form moisture that gets condensed into water. The resulting liquid is piped into a storage tank at the base of the turbine after being purified.”

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“... powered by a wind turbine. That component makes it able to produce large quantities of clean water in areas that don't have ready access to it without requiring grid power, which makes it especially promising for remote communities and disaster areas.” [Quoted from treehugger.com]

related material
pressure on water resources
wind power



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cure-all for cancers?

“CD47, a “don't eat me” signal for phagocytic cells, is expressed on the surface of all human solid tumor cells.”

“Administration of anti-CD47 antibodies inhibited tumor growth in orthotopic immunodeficient mouse xenotransplantation models established with patient tumor cells and increased the survival of the mice over time. Anti-CD47 antibody therapy initiated on larger tumors inhibited tumor growth and prevented or treated metastasis, but initiation of the therapy on smaller tumors was potentially curative. The safety and efficacy of targeting CD47 was further tested and validated in immune competent hosts using an orthotopic mouse breast cancer model. These results suggest all human solid tumor cells require CD47 expression to suppress phagocytic innate immune surveillance and elimination. These data, taken together with similar findings with other human neoplasms, show that CD47 is a commonly expressed molecule on all cancers, ....”

Full paper [.pdf]

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“In mice given human bladder cancer tumors, for example, 10 of 10 untreated mice had cancer that spread to their lymph nodes. Only one of 10 mice treated with anti-CD47 had a lymph node with signs of cancer. Moreover, the implanted tumor often got smaller after treatment — colon cancers transplanted into the mice shrank to less than one-third of their original size, on average. And in five mice with breast cancer tumors, anti-CD47 eliminated all signs of the cancer cells, and the animals remained cancer-free 4 months after the treatment stopped.” [Quoted from sciencemag.org]

related material
on immunology



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lift the house to avoid the earthquake!


2:07 mins

“As fantastical as a home levitation system may seem, Air Danshin claims that the technology is not only effective, but also 1/3 cheaper than many other earthquake-proofing systems out there – and it requires little maintenance.”

Protecting a house from an earthquake. Image: Air Danshin
Protecting a house from an earthquake. Image: Air Danshin

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tectonics: tectonic plates – floating on the surface of a cauldron
tsunamis: tsunamis travel fast but not at infinite speed



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lab version of airborne bird flu claimed - population problems solved

“It is not hard to see why the government is seeking to keep details of the virus out of print. The H5N1 bird-flu virus rarely infects humans. But when it does cross the species barrier, the mortality rate can be as high as 60%.”

related material
on flu pandemics
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from our interesting world

  • termites eat houses

    “Termites (often referred to as white ants) have been the silent killer of countless houses throughout the world. One of the scariest things about a termite infestation is that it can sometimes take up to five years before the termite damage is even noticeable. Oftentimes, the first signs of termite damage that people notice are holes in wood and/or sagging floors. Once that point is reached, dollar signs start piling up pretty quickly. Hopefully, you were diligent about performing termite inspections or were maybe just lucky enough to realize what was going on before that sort of serious damage had been inflicted. But whatever the extent of your termite problem, this article can help you. For more information on getting rid of termites, read on.”

  • making good cheese is not easy

    “The cheese maker finds in the ripening of his cheese the most difficult part of his manufacture. It is indeed a process over which he has very little control. Even when all conditions seem to be correct, when cheese is made in the most careful manner, it not infrequently occurs that the ripening takes place in a manner that is entirely abnormal, and the resulting cheese becomes worthless. The cheese maker has been at an en-tire loss to understand these irregularities, not has he possessed any means of removing them Sometimes the cheese will become extraordinarily porous, filled with large holes which cause the cheese to swell out of proper shape and become worthless. At other times various spots of red or blue appear in the manufactured cheese; while again unpleasant tastes and flavours develop which render the product of no value. Sometimes a considerable portion of the product of the cheese factory undergoes such irregular ripening, and the product for a long time will thus be worthless. If some means could be discovered of removing these irregularities it would be a great boon to the cheese manufacturer ; and very many attempts have been made in one way or another to furnish the cheese maker with some details in the manufacture which will enable him in a measure to control the ripening.”

  • team support on major cycle road races

    Starts OK, but tends to run down hill.

    “Garmin-Cervélo, with Europe as its theatre, commands eleven Skoda station wagons, two eighteen-wheeler mobile mechanic shops, two tour buses, dozens of soigneurs (assistants) and mechanics, and hundreds of premium Cervélo cycling machines. According to Fernández, their team budget is around eight million euros a year; Team Radioshack peaks out at around fifteen million. (“It is, like, one football player,” he says with a shrug.) ...”

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