A Tiny, Efficient, Affordable, and Inexpensive House

It’s often argued that providing homes to people will alleviate poverty, the problem is that homes are insanely expensive. Many attempts at making cheap house have happened but most meet with little success because of a litany of reasons. The material cost of a building aren’t the burden – instead it’s everything else. A new house that costs only $20,000 (USD) is looking to change all of that.

Years of architecture students, and their advisors, have spent more than a hundred thousand hours tweaking each detail of the house to optimize both the function and the price. But the bigger challenge is fitting a house that’s completely different than normal into the existing system of zoning, and codes, how contractors do their jobs, and even mortgages.

“The houses are designed to appear to be sort of normative, but they’re really high-performance little machines in every way,” says Smith. “They’re built more like airplanes than houses, which allows us to have them far exceed structural requirements. … We’re using material much more efficiently. But the problem is your local code official doesn’t understand that. They look at the documents, and the house is immediately denied a permit simply because the code officials didn’t understand it.”

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Pub Proximity Produces Pleasure

How close you live to a pub impacts your happiness, the closer you are the happier you’ll be! Oxford University and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) released the study proving this fun bit of knowledge last week. CAMRA is all about keeping British pub culture alive and strong bro people keep drinking beer, which is good for you too.

The study was conducted in pubs in Oxfordshire, and it also found pubs were very important in providing a place where people could meet and make friends.
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, said: “Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing.
“Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face. The digital world is simply no substitute.
“Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary.”

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France Installing 100km of Solar Roads

France has announced that they are going to try a mass installation of solar-panelled roads to provide electricity. It’s an attempt to see if they technology can be scalable and durable enough to survive under so much wear and tear. These solar roads aren’t made by the company that turned to crowdfunding a few years ago. Hopefully this test run of solar roadways will prove that it’s feasible.

The French government has just announced that it will pave 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of road with durable, photovoltaic panels, which will provide solar energy to 5 million people across the republic, according to Global Construction Review.

This will be the very first time solar panels will be installed on public roads to this extent, and it will aim to supply renewable energy to eight percent of France’s total population.

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Using Ketamine to Treat Severe Depression

Depression affects a lot of people and research into dealing with depression has taken on a lot of forms over the years. Recently there has been growing use of “party drugs” to treat those with depression. People with severe depression don’t react to treatments the same as others, which has led researchers to look for more diverse options.

Ketamine, used in veterinary clinics and in hospitals, has been used to treat depression and the results are rather impressive – 75% of people treated with ketamine showed positive results!

Since 2006, dozens of studies have reported that it can also reverse the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants often don’t touch. The momentum behind the drug has now reached the American Psychiatric Association, which, according to members of a ketamine task force, seems headed toward a tacit endorsement of the drug for treatment-resistant depression.

Experts are calling it the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century. They point to studies showing ketamine not only produces a rapid and robust antidepressant effect; it also puts a quick end to suicidal thinking.

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The Unstoppable Renewable Revolution

For years naysayers have been arguing that renewable energy isn’t a good idea because the electrical input fluctuates too much on the grid. Now we have more evidence that those naysayers have nothing to back up their argument.

Over at Climate Progress they have a good post on key factors that make the renewable revolution unstoppable. One reason is the ability of technology to make up for perceived (and in some cases, real) shortcomings of renewable energy production.

A key point, though, is that new technology is increasingly making it less and less likely for there to be an unexpectedly cloudy or windless day. As a 2014 article on “Smart Wind and Solar Power” in Technology Review put it, “Big data and artificial intelligence are producing ultra-accurate forecasts that will make it feasible to integrate much more renewable energy into the grid.”

It’s already happening: “Wind power forecasts of unprecedented accuracy are making it possible for Colorado to use far more renewable energy, at lower cost, than utilities ever thought possible.” The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder makes these forecasts “using artificial-intelligence-based software … along with data from weather satellites, weather stations, and other wind farms in the state.” And that helped Xcel Energy, a major power producer in the state, set a remarkable record in 2013 — “during one hour, 60 percent of its electricity for Colorado was coming from the wind.”

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