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Friday, May 6, 2016

Ice Speedway Racing Over a Frozen Lake in Russia | Daniil Ivanov (In 4K!)


Published on May 2, 2016
With the help of a local shaman, double World Ice Speedway
Champion Daniil Ivanov braved the melting ice of Russia’s Baikal to
become the first man to perform spectacular ice tricks on the surface of
the world’s deepest, oldest, and most mysterious lake. 
“I’ve always wanted to
hit the big ice, where there are no barriers and sandbags. Here you can
go wherever you want. No one has ridden here before me, and it feels
special to be a pioneer,”
said Ivanov, whose journey was funded by Red Bull.

the ice covering the 1,640-meter deep lake is solid through the frigid
Siberian winter, Ivanov arrived in March just as the ice was starting to
break up and was unsafe even to walk, let alone perform daring tricks
on the rider’s custom-made bike. Meanwhile, the weather became
temperamental, changing several times a day from thaw-inducing sunshine
to storms and heavy snowfall and back.

ward off misfortune, Ivanov resorted to a local custom. According to
animist tradition, anyone stepping onto the lake must ask the local
shaman to invoke its spirit and ask for its cooperation – and Ivanov
needed Baikal’s help more than most.

© Red Bull
 Local shaman Valentin Hagdaev stepped onto the ice at the same time
as Ivanov and the two performed contrasting, yet harmonious rituals to
assure the rider’s safety.

The spectacle provided his film crew
with the inspiration for the theme of the shoot, with the film
documenting Ivanov’s adventure eventually being named Circle of Shaman.

© Red Bull
Ivanov said that the five-day shoot presented a bigger challenge than anything on an ice-track.

things I’ve done here, I’ve never performed before. I would put on my
racing suit before breakfast and I’d only take it off when it was dark.
So that meant 12 hours a day in full harness. And I’ve never covered
such long distances on my ice bike without a stop. In five days, I used
70 liters of methanol, which is enough for an entire season of
said Ivanov.

© Red Bull
CLICK for more icy speedway racing:
Speedway World Champion Daniil Ivanov travels to Baikal lake to meet
local shamans and test himself and his bike with the wild, untamed ice
of the world's deepest lake.


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National Parks

Investigations show broad harassment history in Park Service 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Coach Talk

Future Solar Panels Will Generate Energy From Raindrops

  April 9, 2016

A new solar cell prototype developed by a team of scientists in Qingdao, China may change the way we use solar panels in the not so distant future. 

Solar panel technology has changed the way many people bring energy into their homes, but this type of technology has always posed one concern: panels cannot output optimal power without ideal weather conditions. When you have rainy days or a lot of cloud cover, there is only so much energy that panels can store for later use. While engineers and material scientists have been able to make their efficiency far better over the years, with solar panels that store decent amounts of energy to be used when sun is not readily available, there has never quite been a development like the one discovered this year.

Chinese scientists are now able to create electricity with the assistance of raindrops. This is thanks to a thin layer of graphene they use to coat their solar cells during testing. Graphene is known for its conductivity, among many other benefits. All it takes is a mere one-atom thick graphene layer for an excessive amount of electrons to move as they wish across the surface. In situations where water is present, graphene binds its electrons with positively charged ions. Some of you may know this process to be called as the Lewis acid-base interaction.

These new solar cells can be stimulated by incident light on sunny days and raindrops when it’s raining, yielding an optimal energy conversion efficiency of 6.53 % under 1.5 atmosphere thickness irradiation and current over µA, along with a voltage of hundreds of mV by simulated raindrops.

The salt contained in rain separates into ions (ammonium, calcium and sodium), making graphene and natural water a great combination for creating energy. The water actually clings to the graphene, forming a dual layer (AKA pseudocapacitor) with the graphene electrons. The energy difference between these layers is so strong that it generates electricity.

These new all-weather solar cells are discussed in depth in the Angewandte Chemie journal.


Monday, May 2, 2016


Matthew Sorum, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., Mont. 

New website identifies species by your photo

What's that bird? New website identifies species by your photo

Your computer just became an ornithologist.

In a breakthrough for bird watchers and the avian-curious everywhere, the Visipedia research project and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have collaborated on a nifty website that has a keen skill: it can identify hundreds of bird species by photo alone.

Called Merlin Bird Photo ID, the identifier is capable of recognizing 400 of the mostly commonly encountered birds in the United States and Canada.

"It gets the bird right in the top three results about 90 percent of the time, and it's designed to keep improving the more people use it," said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "That's truly amazing, considering that the computer vision community started working on the challenge of bird identification only a few years ago."

The process is simple. A user uploads an image of a bird and enters in when and where the photo was taken; then the user draws a box around the bird and clicks on its bill, eye, and tail.

Within seconds, presto. Merlin looks at the pixels and does some powerful artificial intelligence magic with millions of data points, then presents the most likely species, including photos and song.

"Computers can process images much more efficiently than humans – they can organize, index, and match vast constellations of visual information such as the colors of the feathers and shapes of the bill," said Serge Belongie, a professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech. "The state-of-the-art in computer vision is rapidly approaching that of human perception, and with a little help from the user, we can close the remaining gap and deliver a surprisingly accurate solution."

Merlin's powers are the result of a lot of human work, as it has learned to recognize each species from tens of thousands of images identified and labeled by birders. It also relies on an excess of 70 million sightings recorded by bird enthusiasts in the database, which it then narrows down using the location and time of year when the photo was taken. (So thank you, eBirders.)

Although for now it can not be used with mobile devices – they are working on it. And once it is smartphone-ready, the team will add it to the Merlin Bird ID app.

And then, you can have an ornithologist in your pocket as well.
Tags: Birds