Wait… Toyota’s New Electric Fuel Cell Car Can Power My House, Too??

On Monday in Las Vegas, all of the biggest and baddest new cars took center stage at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But one car in particular has really caught people’s attention.

At the show, Toyota unveiled a new fuel cell car called the FCV-R  that looked…well, sort of like a Prius. However, this car can do something that no other Prius (or any other car, for that matter) could ever even dream to do: power your house.

The interior isn’t too shabby either

Engineer’s are currently working on designing an adapter cable to connect the car to the home’s power grid, but according to Toyota, the vehicle will be able to power your house for about a week when fully fueled. Toyota hopes this special feature will prove invaluable in times of emergency when power goes out.

If you’re wondering, hydrogen fuel cells work by combining hydrogen gas (H2) stored in the car’s “fuel” tank with oxygen gas (O2) from the air. The chemical reaction that combines these two gases to form water (H2O) releases electrical energy, which is then used to power the car (or the house, I guess). Water is the only by-product, which makes this form of energy extremely clean.

Ok this thing has got a seriously luxurious interior

Toyota plans to start selling the car in the United States next year. Here’s Bob Carter, Toyota’s VP of Automotive Operations here in the United States:

“Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.”

Read more from the L.A. Times here.

So There’s This Kid Making Solar “Death Rays” And They’re Pretty Sweet (Video)

Eric Jacqmain is just a creative guy who wanted a death ray. So, he decided to cover a satellite dish with 5,800 tiny mirrors. This is from his video description:

“When properly aligned, it can generate a spot the size of a dime with an intensity of 5000 times normal daylight. This intensity of light is more than enough to melt steel, vaporize aluminum, boil concrete, turn dirt into lava, and obliterate any organic material in an instant.”

The end of the description is both ironically hilarious and moderately worrying at the same time:

“Unfortunately, the R5800 was completely destroyed in a storage shed fire on December 14, 2010, about 8 months after filming this video. It has been replaced by the R23k, which has 23,000 mirrors and a concentration power of 10,000 times daylight.”

Hey, if death rays keep him interested in science then I’m all for it.

The Flyer That Said Jews In the Ukrainian City of Donetsk Had To Register Is A Fake

You may have seen news earlier today that a flyer circulated in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk stated that Jews in the area would have to register with the local authorities.

It prompted an immediate response across the globe. John Kerry, who was just finishing up talks of de-escalation with leaders from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in Geneva, Switzerland, called the leaflets, “intolerable”, “grotesque”, and “beyond unacceptable”.

Here’s a picture of the flyer

Lesley Weiss is the deputy director of the National Conference Supporting Jews (NCSJ), an organization which focuses on promoting the right of Jewish people in eastern Europe.

The organization spoke directly with jewish leadership in the area, who informed them that the flyers were fake: no one had to register and no one would be deported.

Officials from the United States believe that the flyers were the work of the Donetsk People’s Republic, an unrecognized pro-Russian Separatist group that seeks to make Donetsk a part of Russia. Their leadership denies responsibility, however.

Read more from The Daily Dot here and from CBC News here.

The Most Haunted Island In the World Just Went Up for Auction- Take A Tour (Pictures)

On Monday, Italy put the island of Poveglia (along with other public assets) up for auction in an attempt to cut debt and comply with European Union budget guidelines.

The beautiful island lies just 10 miles from Saint Marco Square in the heart of the tourist mecca of Venice, Italy. It seems like it would be an extremely popular destination. So why is everyone so afraid of it?

Well, it’s deserted, for one. And justifiably so- the island has a grisly past. In the 14th century, it was used as a dumping ground for bodies from the Black Death.

Over 1,500 victims of the Black Death were recently dug up by work crews on the island

Many of the locals believe their ghosts still haunt the island and there’s a rumor that 50% of the soil there is made from human ash. There’s also a local saying that goes:

“When an evil man dies, he wakes up in Poveglia.”

It gets worse. In 1922, a hospital “for the elderly” (which many believe was a cover for a mental institution) was built on the island. Rumors of botched lobotomies are widespread amongst the locals. There’s also a widely believed rumor that one of the doctors jumped to his death from a tower window of the hospital.

Would you bid on the island? Take a tour through the pictures below (click an image to enlarge):

All images courtesy of Ransom Riggs via Mental Floss.

 

Will These Gloves Designed By A Famous Musician Revolutionize How We Make Music? (Video)

Imogen Heap is probably best known for her 2005 hit “Hide and Seek”. It’s one of my personal favorites and the song that introduced me to her music.

But her newest creation is just as much related to digital technology as it is music. Seeking to create a more organic and human musical creation experience, she designed a pair of fine-tuned gloves that react to even the most minute changes in her hand and finger positions to alter sounds and pitches on an attached computer.

Imogen Heap talks more about the project and demos the gloves in this video she made for kickstarter.

For more information, check out her website here.

According to Scientists, China’s Air Pollution Is Causing A More Erratic Climate in The United States

A team from Texas, California and Washington recently published research which found that pollution from Asia (the bulk of which is from China), is causing more intense tornados and increased precipitation levels in the United States as well as an increase in the amount of warm air in the mid-Pacific.

This air is part of a weather system known as the Pacific storm track- many storms that end up on the United States’ west coast originate in this weather system. The warmer air being fed into the Pacific storm track due to the air pollution increases the potential for storms originating there to be larger and more violent.

A large storm in the Pacific storm track headed for the US west coast (from 2011)

Here’s Ellie Highwood, climate physicist at the University of Reading:

“Mid-latitude storms develop off Asia and they track across the Pacific, coming in to the west coast of the US … The particles in this model are affecting how strong those storms are, how dense the clouds are, and how much rainfall comes out of those storms.”

The pollution problem in China is widespread. Just last moth, their environmental ministry reported that 71 of the 74 cities monitored by the government failed to meet air quality standards.

The city of Shanghai on a smoggy day (Aly Song/Reuters)

The government does seem to finally be taking the issue seriously, however. Just yesterday, Beijing’s leadership announced that very soon, major revisions would be made to the country’s environmental protection laws, including giving environmental protection authorities power to,

“Shut polluting factories, punish officials and restrict industrial development in some areas.”

After years of rhetoric, it will be the first real change to the environmental protection law since 1989.

Read more from the Guardian here.

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