Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Abandoned Golf Courses in Japan Are Being Turned into Solar Power Fields

The company Kyocera has plans to transform Japan’s forgotten golf courses into sites of alternative energy. These open green spaces were in high demand in the 1980s, but have declined over the years, as participation in the sport is down 40% from the 1990s. Since then, courses have been abandoned and overgrown, but it turns out they’re ideal locales for solar power—the lack of trees mean that they receive a lot of sunlight.
Kyocera’s inaugural project is currently under construction, and it’s set to be a 23-megawatt solar plant on a golf course in Kyoto prefecture. The slated completion is 2017, and once done, it will produce enough energy for about 8,100 households.
The ingenious concept is also being developed in other locations. Kyocera is planning a 92-megawatt solar plant on an abandoned course in Kagoshima prefecture. This massive establishment will generate power for over 30,000 households. It’s a fantastic way to repurpose space that would otherwise sit vacant, with the potential to offer good, clean energy to a large population.
Above: Rendering of the solar power plant
Current state of the golf course

Mysterious, Abandoned Indonesian Church Shaped like a Giant Chicken

Deep in the dense forests of Central Java, towering above the surrounding trees, lies an abandoned, crumbling church in the shape of a giant chicken with its beak open mid-squawk. Called Gereja Ayam ("Chicken Church") by locals, this bizarre building attracts hundreds of travelers and photographers to the hills of Magelang, Indonesia each year.
The story behind Gereja Ayam is almost as strange as the structure itself. In the late '80s, a man named Daniel Alamsjah claims he received a divine message from God telling him to build a prayer house in the shape of a dove. The 67-year-old chose a hill not far from Magelang, his wife's hometown, as the site of his ambitious project. Together with 30 locals, Alamsjah started construction on the impressive building in the '90s.
Despite his Christian faith, Alamsjah says that the prayer house was meant to welcome worshippers of all religions. Many Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists congregated under its rooftop, while the lower floors were used as rehabilitation facilities for drug addicts, children with disabilities, disturbed youths, and the mentally ill.
The church closed its doors in 2000 because construction costs were too high, but it continues to be an object of fascination to many visitors in the area.
Above photo source: uzone.id
Photo source: wisbenbae
Photo source: rwrobe
Photo source: Teman Setaman
Photo source: Teman Setaman
Photo source: Galeri Cerita
Photo source: Teman Setaman
Photo source: Galeri Cerita
Photo source: Galeri Cerita
Photo source: wisbenbae
Photo source: Galeri Cerita
Photo source: Galeri Cerita

Adorable "Leaf Sheep" Sea Slugs Look like Cartoon Lambs

If you thought last week's sea bunnies were cute, here's one more underwater treasure that will make you say "aww!" Costasiella kuroshimae (also referred to as "leaf sheep" and "Shaun the sheep") is a species of sacoglossan sea slug whose beady eyes and flat face make it look like an adorable cartoon sheep. Add some droopy feelers and a phosphorescent, leaf-like body, and this little darling may just be the loveliest slug in the ocean!
Costasiella kuroshimae, which can grow up to 5 millimeters in length, can be found near Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They graze on green algae, and use the chloroplasts from their food to manufacture their own energy in a process called kleptoplasty. One of the only non-plant organisms in the world that can perform photosynthesis, leaf sheep can survive up to a few months on the energy produced from kleptoplasty.
Above photo source: Lynn Wu
Photo source: Randi Ang
Photo source: Randi Ang
Photo source: Johnny Chiu
Photo source: Ludovic
Photo source: Lynn Wu
Photo source: Vania Kam
Photo source: Jim Lynn
Photo source: Randi Ang
Photo source: Jim Lynn

Thriving Garden in Sealed Bottle Hasn't Been Watered in Over 40 Years

When David Latimer planted a seed in a glass bottle on Easter Sunday of 1960 out of pure curiosity, he had no idea that it would flourish into a mass of greenery that would thrive untouched for several decades. Now, over half a century later, the sealed bottle garden is still growing as vigorously as ever, filling the bottle entirely with lush plant life, despite the fact that the last time Latimer watered it was in 1972.
After initially pouring some compost into the globular bottle, Latimer used a wire to carefully lower in a spiderworts seeding, and then added a pint of water to the mix. The bottle was sealed and placed in a sunny corner, and the magic of photosynthesis took over from there. Besides a single watering in 1972, the bottle garden has been completely cut off from fresh water and air, but still managed to form its own self-sufficient ecosystem. Through photosynthesis, plants acquire the energy needed to grow by absorbing sunlight. Oxygen and moisture in the air are also created in the process; the moisture builds up inside the bottle and "rains" back down on the plants. Leaves that fall to the bottom of the bottle rot and produce the carbon dioxide needed for photosynthesis and nutrition.
It's astonishing that, with just a little bit of sunlight, the plants can flourish even in this unique environment, successfully creating a micro version of the Earth in a bottle. Latimer, who is now 80 years old, hopes to pass on this ongoing experiment to his grown children when he is gone.

Towering “Skysphere” is a Hi-Tech Home with Gorgeous 360-Degree Views

New Zealand-based graphic designer and engineer Jono Williams has built a towering, solar-powered structure that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding rural landscape. Known as The Skysphere, it stands at 33 feet tall and contains 270 square feet of circular living space, constructed around a giant column that includes steps leading you into the unique apartment.
Williams originally planned to build a treehouse, but after months of designing, abandoned the idea for this ambitious design. He liked the concept of an unconventional building that could exist anywhere, such as a forest, hilltop, or even in water. This project was completely DIY, and he took classes to teach himself everything—from welding to wind simulation testing—so that he'd know what to do as he went along.
The most eye-catching feature of The Skysphere is its 6.5-foot-tall window that bathes the room in natural light. Although anyone can see inside the space, Williams made sure that you can lower the curtains for privacy. The decor also has custom furniture with multicolor LED lights, as well as a built-in beer dispenser, which are both operated by voice commands. To add to his long list of futuristic technology, Williams also add a visitor-recognition system. If you have your fingerprints recorded, you're automatically greeted by name when you come in the door.

Young Boy Uses His Make-A-Wish Grant to Selflessly Feed His Community

Lucas Hobbs decided to perform an amazingly selfless deed when it came time for him to utilize his Make-A-Wish grant. Rather than using this opportunity for his own benefit, the 12-year-old created the CheflucasFood program to bring food to his community. “When I was sick, people brought me food from our church, and it was really nice of them,” Lucas told CBS Minnesota. “It kinda got me thinking about my Make-A-Wish, so I asked my parents if I could use my wish to help others.”
When the young boy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he was hospitalized for chemotherapy treatments and was unable to maintain his appetite. During this time, Lucas watched the movie Chef – about a father-son duo who operated a food truck – and decided that he wanted to start his own food truck to provide food to his sympathetic community. That's when Make-A-Wish partnered with the Minnesota Food Truck Association to make Lucas's charitable wish come true.
So far, Lucas has planned to give free food to five different local groups: a homeless shelter, senior center, the Minneapolis Police Department, a church, and a children's hospital. To add to this uplifting news, Lucas has also finished chemotherapy and is regaining both his strength and his appetite.
To support this incredible young boy as he moves forward with his goodwill, you can follow him on Facebook.

Stunning Photos Capture the Dreamy Beauty of Rolling Lavender Fields

Is there anything lovelier than the sight and scent of a lavender field in full bloom? All around the world, from France to England to India, gently rolling pastures of lavender are treasured by both tourists and farmers for the flowering plant's alluring beauty, sweet fragrance, and refreshing uses in essential oil production, culinary pursuits, and the medical field. Grown in thick, aromatic rows of purple stretches across acres of land, lavender is harvested year-round all over the globe. Here's a look at some of the most spectacular lavender-filled meadows in the world.
Above photo source: Loïc Lagarde
Photo source: Loïc Lagarde
Photo source: marcovdz
Photo source: DeviantTeddine
Photo source: Patricia Stevens
Photo source: Patricia Thomas
Photo source: Tomáš Vocelka
Photo source: Gary Neave
Photo source: Keeboon Tan
Photo source: Antony Spencer
Photo source: blaisevi 41
Photo source: Yesel_R
Photo source: Angiolo Manetti
Photo source: Damien Borel
Photo source: Stéphane Toumayan