Grin to Win

If you want to meet happy, fun people online all you have to do is smile. Putting a picture of yourself smiling on a social networking site (Facebook, Bebo, etc.) will attract people who are fun!

Happy people cluster together, the research suggests. And the opposite also seems to be true — so if you are miserable, you are more likely to have miserable friends.

The effect holds in both the real and virtual worlds. People who put smiling photos on their profiles for social networking sites such as Facebook tend to link to one another. Frowners do likewise.

But it’s not just direct contact that counts. The link is significant to three degrees of separation — that is, your own emotional state is connected to that of your friends’ friends’ friends.

“Your happiness depends on the happiness of individuals beyond your own social horizon,” says sociologist Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University in Cambridge, who carried out the study. “You can understand happiness by studying individuals, but that only gets you so far. There’s more to be learned by studying the group.”

Spinning Energy from a Tornado

We’ve looked at tornadoes as possible energy sources before, and now Live Science has an article on the Canadian engineer with the swirling energy idea.

Tornadoes and hurricanes form when sun-heated air near the surface rises and displaces cooler air above. As outside air rushes in to replace the rising air, the whole mass begins to rotate.

Michaud got the notion of a man-made tornado — what he calls the Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) — while working as an engineer on gas turbines.

“When I looked further into it, I didn’t run into anything that was impossible,” Michaud told LiveScience.

The AVE structure is a 200-meter-wide arena with 100-meter-high walls. Warm humid air enters at the sides, directed to flow in a circular fashion. As the air whirls around at speeds up to 200 mph, a vacuum forms in the center, which holds the vortex together as it extends several miles into the sky.

The concept is similar to a solar chimney with the swirling walls of the vortex replacing the brick walls of the tower. But the AVE can reach much higher into the sky where the air is colder.

With wind turbines at the inlets to the arena, Michaud calculates that as much as 200 megawatts of electricity (enough for a small city) could be extracted without draining the vortex of its power.

“Look at natural tornadoes that destroy a house or carry off a car and still have plenty of energy left over,” he said.

Bicycles Are Amazing: 17 Reasons Why

Bicycles are perhaps the greatest thing that human civilization as ever created – at least that’s what I think. With the increasing price of gas and better environmental awareness bicycles are gainig popularity in the “developed world”. Eco Wordly has put together a list of 17 reasons why bicycles are the most popular vehicle in the world.

Some highlights from the list:

4. Bicycling builds social groups and better community development.

In Reggio Emilia, Italy, the “BiciBus” brings teachers, students, and parents together for bicycle commuting to and from schools.

“The BiciBus is a ‘two-wheeled bus,’” writes Italy correspondant, Eva Pratesi. “It consists of a group of students who go to and come back from school guided by volunteers by bicycle (parents, grandparents, teachers…). The students go to the route with their bicycles; they wait for the volunteers and the group and go on together toward the school.

BiciBus is preceded and supported by workshops and technical analysis in the classrooms to educate to sustainable mobility, traffic safety and bicycle knowledge. It’s also possible to organize school trips by bicycle an evening meetings with experts directed to the families in order to talk about health, sustainable mobility and safety.”

In Australia, a similar community bicycling program offers a similar program for adults as well. Cyclists can join the “Bike Bus,” a regularly scheduled commute with fixed routes and two commuting speeds: social and express.

San Francisco, California, has a third option. Though not as organized as a community bike bus program, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition can pair cyclists with “bike buddies” to share knowledge and tips or commute together to work.

12. Bicycling could save the average American at least $250,000.

According to Motor Trend and the American Institute for Economic Research, the average American car-owner can expect to pay between $240,704 and $349,968 during his driving lifetime. These figures will increase with the price of fuel and the rising cost of the vehicles themselves.

A bicycle can serve your transportation needs for commuting, shopping, and getting around town. Urbanites who are well acquainted with the frustration of paying parking tickets and towing fines will also find that bicycles are an excellent solution. Of course, you’ll still need that fuel: the occasional sandwich or cup of coffee will do nicely.

14. Bicyclists breath in less air pollution.

Various studies indicate that bicyclists breathe in less air pollution, making cycling an even more healthy activity. Of course, bicycles emit no air pollution themselves, which ensures cleaner air and better lung health for everybody.

Beer That You Can Drink Guilt Free

Beer is delicious, but sadly brewing delicious suds takes a lot of water and thus has a sizable footprint on the local environment. Some breweries are taking note of their environmental impact and are doing something about it. Here’s a list of 5 ‘green’ beers. One of my favourite brews made the cut 🙂

On average, six gallons of water are required to brew one gallon of beer – a ratio that must be drastically reduced in dry areas. Wastewater, carbon emissions and huge energy generators also contribute to the environmental sins of the industry.

But more breweries are taking notice of the eating public’s environmental awakening. While the biggest multinational breweries are beginning to make structural changes that promote sustainability, most of the greenest beers are (unsurprisingly) local and regional ones. Microbreweries are great agents of change because they interact with the communities that surround them. Their smaller size and community feeling make them more amenable to change, so it is easier to petition them and request more sustainable practices. Below are the top five eco-minded, North American mid-sized breweries:

NYC Copies Bogota

This August Manhattan will experience something that Bogota already does on a regular basis – main streets being turned into pedestrian and bike lanes. I like it when municipalities respect forms of transportation that don’t pollute.

“We anticipate that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors will take advantage of streets temporarily opened for recreation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We hope the Summer Streets experiment will become as much a part of the New York experience as strolling the Coney Island boardwalk, participating in the 5-borough bike tour, or listening to the Philharmonic in the park.

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