David Attenborough Finds Living Fossil Tree Romantic, Not Devastating

first_imgEngland’s famous Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is getting a Wollemi Pine, and David Attenborough, naturalist and evolution popularist, is proud of it.  This “living fossil” was thought extinct for 200 million years, but was found alive and well a few years ago in Australia (see 12/15/2000 entry).    Grinning like a kid at Christmas, Attenborough said, “How marvellous and exciting that we should have discovered this rare survivor from such an ancient past.  It is romantic, I think, that something has survived 200 million years unchanged.”  See the story at the BBC News.  Some day soon you may be able to buy your own Wollemi Pine at the local nursery.Here is a tree that showed no evolution whatsoever for supposedly 200 million years, while continents broke apart and most of the mammals evolved from small rodents to elephants, whales, giraffes and people, and Attenborough isn’t worried that this does some damage to his world view?  Bizarre.  Logically, he should be questioning whether 200 million years was just a figment of Lyellian imagination.  The BBC should be announcing: Wollemi lives; evolution extinct.(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA, Sao Tome eye growth partnerships

first_img30 August 2013 President Jacob Zuma hinted on Thursday at the possibility of South Africa entering economic partnerships with the tiny African island country of Sao Tome and Principe, which is poised to profit from the commercial exploitation of large offshore reserves of oil. Zuma was addressing journalists in Pretoria after holding discussions with Sao Tome and Principe President Manuel Pinto Da Costa, who is on a state visit to South Africa. Zuma was accompanied in the talks by a large contingent of his ministers, including Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. One of Africa’s smallest countries, Sao Tome and Principe consists of two islands of volcanic origin and a number of smaller islets. It is one of the leading cocoa producers in the world. The government has been encouraging economic diversification and is set to exploit the rich reserves of oil which are thought to lie off the country’s coast. Zuma described the relationship between South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe as one borne out of similar struggles for liberation in both countries. Deputy President Kgalama Motlanthe visited the small island in 2011, during which several agreements were signed in the areas of energy, water and cooperation. In April this year, a joint technical team from the Department of Water Affairs and Rand Water visited Sao Tome and Principe to see South Africa could do to provide water treatment support. They identified infrastructure refurbishment, provision of rainwater harvesting tanks and knowledge sharing on waste water management as critical areas of intervention. “We support the kind of investments which seek to contribute to the sustainable development of the region and the continent as a whole,” Zuma said. “We have also agreed to take further our cooperation, particularly on people-to-people exchanges. We are also keen to promote tourism and other areas of economic cooperation.” Da Costa said economic cooperation with South Africa was crucial for his country. He said Sao Tome and Principe was open to any economic cooperation with South Africa and other exclusive economic zones. “I will leave this country knowing that there is solid engagement to strengthen our cooperation. Our meeting here will serve as a foundation of future cooperation and development, which I hope will be of development for the two countries,” Da Costa said. Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

An Old House Gets a New Thermomass Basement

first_imgTo prepare our bid for a comprehensive renovation project in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we visited the old house several times. On one of the walk-throughs, we realized that the foundation was failing in many places. We therefore proposed to raise the house and replace the entire foundation.Raising this house was a challenging process, given the tight space and the existing condition of the house. Brian Butler is a production manager at Savilonis Construction Corporation in Natick, Massachusetts. Concrete foundation walls hide a foam fillingWe used the Thermomass system for the new foundation walls. A Thermomass wall creates a sandwich with two layers of concrete enclosing a filling of rigid foam insulation. (A Thermomass wall is the inverse of an ICF wall.) The insulation in a Thermomass wall creates an excellent thermal break between the earth and the interior.We started by installing a bituthene membrane on top of the concrete footing to create a capillary break between the footing and the wall (see Image #5).Then the concrete contractor drilled steel dowels into the footing to anchor the wall. The next step was to set up the 4-inch-thick (R-20) extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam panels. These panels have fiberglass dowels that help keep the panel perfectly centered in the concrete form (see Image #6).Then the concrete wall forms were erected. Finally, a concrete pump truck showed up to place the concrete. After a couple days, the forms were stripped and ready for dampproofing and backfill (see Image #8). The house was jacked up 3 feetWe first finished all the interior demolition and removed the existing asbestos siding on the building. We then demolished the concrete slab in the basement and dug pits for the cribbing stacks to sit on. We also added new joist hangers and sistered and shored several floor joists to ensure structural stability.Steel beams were slid under the house from front to back (see Image #2, below), and high-powered hydraulic jacks slowly raised the structure about 3 feet off its foundation, providing enough room for demolition crews and equipment to pass under the structure.All of the existing foundation walls were then demolished (see Image #4) to make way for a new insulated poured concrete foundation and a modern drainage system. Better than newOnce the new foundation walls were installed, we set the house down, removed the cribbing stacks, and poured a new insulated basement slab before framing for new interior partitions.This job was a great opportunity to save a little piece of Cambridge’s historical past. The home got a new lease on life, and will provide thermal comfort that is better than a code-built new-construction home.last_img read more

R-Value Advice from Building Science Corporation

first_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in This article is only available to GBA Prime Members To reduce energy use, green builders often install above-code levels of insulation. Thick insulation is expensive, however, so it’s sometimes hard to know how much insulation is optimal.To help guide builders wrestling with R-value questions, I wrote an article in May 2016 (“How Much Insulation Is Too Much?”) reporting on R-value recommendations from three energy experts: David White, Marc Rosenbaum, and Rachel Wagner.A few years earlier, building scientists John Straube and Joseph Lstiburek (along with several other co-authors) addressed the same questions in a paper called “High R-Value Enclosures for High Performance Residential Buildings in All Climate Zones.” Produced by the Building Science Corporation (BSC) and published by the Building America program, the 2010 paper included an oft-reproduced table with R-value recommendations for all climate zones in North America. As might be expected, the colder the climate zone, the higher the recommended R-values (see image below).Although these BSC recommendations were interpreted by some readers as appropriate for net-zero-energy homes, the authors of the paper did not make that claim. Straube and Lstiburek didn’t connect the recommendations in the table to net-zero-energy home design (although they did write that their recommendations were appropriate for those with a “desire to provide new homes that will be ready to be powered by renewable energy sources immediately or in the future”). The dropping price of PV Some net-zero builders who read the 2010 paper nevertheless used the R-value recommendations in the BSC table as a starting point for envelope design. A few experts have recently questioned these R-value recommendations, however, in light of the steeply falling price of photovoltaic (PV) modules. In the seven years since the paper was written, the installed price of a residential PV system in the U.S. has dropped from about… center_img Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.last_img read more