San Francisco code now requires solar panels on new buildings less than 10 stories high

Click to enlargeSunPower

❝ Never mind that San Francisco is known for waves of fog rolling in from the bay. This week, it became the first major city in the United States to mandate solar panels on new buildings with fewer than 10 floors.

The Better Roofs Ordinance, unanimously approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, builds off of existing California law that requires 15 percent of new rooftops to be “solar ready.” Now, those solar-ready roofs will have to include functioning solar panels.

…A definite boost to clean power…given the city’s goal of running 100 percent on renewables by 2025…

❝ The ordinance could have an immediate impact on more than 200 building projects currently in the works. This will “avoid over 26,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year” according to the Department of the Environment, reports the San Francisco Examiner, enough to power roughly 2,500 homes annually.

It does help to be in a state with national leadership in almost every aspect of improving the environment. Certainly, part of that is a reflection of government working to cure problems of their own creation. Like way too many cars and too little public transit. A special part of California’s history.

Kudos to San Francisco.

Higgs boson was just a start – other mysteries await

Mark Thiessen/National Geographic Society

When it comes to shutting down the most powerful atom smasher ever built, it’s not simply a question of pressing the off switch.

In the French-Swiss countryside on the far side of Geneva, staff at the Cern particle physics laboratory are taking steps to wind down the Large Hadron Collider. After the latest run of experiments ends next month, the huge superconducting magnets that line the LHC’s 27km-long tunnel must be warmed up, slowly and gently, from -271 Celsius to room temperature. Only then can engineers descend into the tunnel to begin their work.

The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson – or a convincing subatomic impostor – faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year…

The particle accelerator, which reveals new physics at work by crashing together the innards of atoms at close to the speed of light, fills a circular, subterranean tunnel a staggering eight kilometres in diameter. Physicists will not sit around idle while the collider is down. There is far more to know about the new Higgs-like particle, and clues to its identity are probably hidden in the piles of raw data the scientists have already gathered, but have had too little time to analyse.

But the LHC was always more than a Higgs hunting machine. There are other mysteries of the universe that it may shed light on. What is the dark matter that clumps invisibly around galaxies? Why are we made of matter, and not antimatter? And why is gravity such a weak force in nature? “We’re only a tiny way into the LHC programme,” says Pippa Wells, a physicist who works on the LHC’s 7,000-tonne Atlas detector. “There’s a long way to go yet…”

The search for dark matter on Earth has failed to reveal what it is made of, but the LHC may be able to make the substance. If the particles that constitute it are light enough, they could be thrown out from the collisions inside the LHC. While they would zip through the collider’s detectors unseen, they would carry energy and momentum with them. Scientists could then infer their creation by totting up the energy and momentum of all the particles produced in a collision, and looking for signs of the missing energy and momentum.

One theory, called supersymmetry, proposes that the universe is made from twice as many varieties of particles as we now understand. The lightest of these particles is a candidate for dark matter…

Another big mystery the Large Hadron Collider may help crack is why we are made of matter instead of antimatter. The big bang should have flung equal amounts of matter and antimatter into the early universe, but today almost all we see is made of matter. What happened at the dawn of time to give matter the upper hand?

The question is central to the work of scientists on the LHCb detector. Collisions inside LHCb produce vast numbers of particles called beauty quarks, and their antimatter counterparts, both of which were common in the aftermath of the big bang. Through studying their behaviour, scientists hope to understand why nature seems to prefer matter over antimatter…

Extra dimensions may separate us from realms of space we are completely oblivious to. “There could be a whole universe full of galaxies and stars and civilisations and newspapers that we didn’t know about,” says Parker. “That would be a big deal.”

Read the whole article. Set your imagination free into science that moves faster than the speed of light.

Be careful how you treat the guy who drives the bulldozer!

An apparent disgruntled worker has been blamed for driving a bulldozer into a Houston auction house and causing $1.5 million in damage.

Officials with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers are not sure why 52-year-old Lynn Benson of Houston was upset. The lot inspector operates the bulldozer as part of his regular duties.

Nobody was hurt Monday night after the auction business closed for the day and Benson allegedly went on his destructive spree. The building was heavily damaged, including a broken water main and destroyed office equipment.

Benson was being jailed Wednesday on a charge of criminal mischief

Operations vice president Frank Wilson says company officials want to help Benson, who was arrested at the scene.

I’d want to help him, too. He might get pissed-off, again!

How to get in trouble when the generals order you to show off!

Click on photo for very loud video

Two Brazilian air force pilots could be collared by the long arm of the law after making a low-altitude supersonic fly pass which shattered every window of Brazil’s Supreme Court.

If they know what’s good for them, it might be a good idea to keep flying and put as much distance between them and the angry lawyers inside the blown-out building

Swooping low over the structure housing the Supremo Tribunal Federal in Brasilia, the two French-made Mirage 2000 jets generated a massive shockwave – destroying the building’s glass facade.


Thanks, Ursarodinia

Machine guns stolen from training site for Los Angeles SWAT unit

A cache of Los Angeles Police Department submachine guns and handguns was stolen last week from a secured building used by the department’s SWAT unit, raising fears that the weapons, which police had altered to fire only blanks, could be converted back to lethal use, police officials confirmed…

Members of the SWAT unit, which specializes in hostage rescues and other high-risk situations, were scheduled to train at the facility Thursday, Downing said. A police officer arriving at the building around 9 a.m. Thursday discovered the weapons were missing, according to Downing. The officer also found electrical equipment stacked near a back door, indicating the burglars may still have been working and fled when the officer arrived.

Downing said the building, although not a guarded LAPD facility, was considered secure. To get to the weapons, the thieves cut through bolt locks on an outside door and two internal doors and forced their way through a metal roll gate, he said.

I guess ‘secure’ is all relative now,” he said. “It’s embarrassing…. It’s a lesson learned…”

The building, which once housed textile companies, was donated to the department. Inside, the department put up walls and made other changes in order to create realistic scenarios for training exercises. They did not install an alarm system or surveillance cameras…

The obvious concern is that whoever stole the weapons will convert them from firing blanks to using live ammunition. Downing acknowledged that was “definitely a possibility” but said that to do so would require an understanding of the inner workings of the weapons.

Gun experts and online tutorials suggest, however, that the process is relatively simple and requires only a few parts. The company that manufactures the conversion kits used by the LAPD has an instructional video on its website that walks a viewer through the steps of returning an MP-5 to its original form in about five minutes.

Har. There’s a certain level of being “important” which conveys to some a conviction that they are untouchable. Who would dare to challenge their superior status not only in the community at large; but, among police officers.

So, you get careless.

Having trouble making your mortgage payment? Try this.

We’re looking for houses to paint. In fact, paint is an understatement. We’re looking for homes to turn into billboards. In exchange, we’ll pay your mortgage every month for as long as your house remains painted

Here are a few things we’re looking for. You must own your home. It cannot be rented or leased. We’ll paint the entire outside of the house, minus the roof, the windows and any awnings. Painting will take approximately 3 – 5 days. Your house must remain painted for at least three months and may be extended up to a year. If, for any reason, you decide to cancel after three months or if we cancel the agreement with you, we’ll repaint your house back to the original colors.

If you’re prepared for the bright colors and stares from neighbors just complete the submission form below. We review every submission. If your home meets our criteria, an Adzookie team member will contact you.

I thought about this for a couple of minutes. Our house wouldn’t work for these folks. It doesn’t face the right way – not enough exposure. But, at the front of our compound we have a three-car garage. Three reasonably flat steel doors facing the road. Might work out, eh?

… My wife would kill me.

Mystery tunnel discovered beneath Mumbai post office

An ancient “tunnel-like” structure has been unearthed in the garden of the General Post Office in the Indian city of Mumbai.

The authorities say it is clear that the previously undiscovered structure is not a sewage or storm-water drain. It was only revealed when a local newspaper reporter asked to see it.

The heritage committee is yet to inspect it, or decide what exactly the structure is. Experts say such tunnels were often part of fortified basements…

Chief Postmaster General Faiz-ur-Rehman told the BBC that the discovery of the structure came as a surprise. “I have been here for more than 20 years,” he said, “but was never aware of its existence…

Some reports say there is a possibility of it being an escape route connected to another tunnel. Three ways out, with covers, have been found so far in the garden…

Mr Rehman said that the original drawings for the building were not available in India. Officials say they could be in the UK – the former colonial power.

“Maybe if we could access the original plan we may be able to find out if there are more – and what purpose these structures served.”

Surely, no one expected the Brits to let their “subjects” know much about what they were doing or planning back in the day.

OTOH, some beancounter probably squirreled away a copy of the plans.

Pakistani printers busy cranking out fake Afghan voting cards

Peshawar: Printers in this city near the Afghan border say they have produced thousands of fake voter registration cards at the request of Afghan politicians for use in that country’s parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The cards, some shown to The Associated Press, add to evidence that fraud could undermine the elections and further destabilize the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai…

Regulation of voting has been improved, but an influx of fake cards raises the possibility of a person with multiple voter cards voting many times and could still cause problems in an insecure country where monitoring of polling stations will likely be spotty.

Three printers in a dimly lit section of Peshawar’s Storytellers’ Bazaar told the AP that Afghan election candidates had traveled to the walled heart of the ancient city about an hour from the border and provided them with samples of Afghan voter registration cards.

The printers said they had produced thousands of cards, along with plastic sheaths to laminate them, for roughly 23 cents apiece.

The fakes shown to the AP resembled genuine Afghan cards, but it was not clear if they would withstand close scrutiny.

Two of the printers spoke on condition of anonymity because the activity is illegal. Tariq Khan, a 32-year-old printer, told the AP that times were tough for printers in Peshawar, and he had accepted the registration card requests because it was more profitable than ordinary work.

”Several candidates from various parts of Afghanistan have purchased these cards,” he said. ”Now it is their headache how they use them.”

How long have we been in charge of nation-building over there?

I use the phrase “in charge” rhetorically. Of course.

Pic of the Day

A three-storey building in China could possibly be the world’s thinnest. At one end it measures only 0.4 metres wide, while it is three metres wide at the other.

The building in Haikou, Hainan Island was built three years ago. The government appropriated most of the land the property is built on from its owner, leaving him with only 20 square metres. The owner then built the skinny building on his remaining land as a way of protesting.

Local residents are now worried that the thin building may be blown over as Hainan Island is famous for its frequent typhoons.

Har! I hope he has it insured.