DiCaprio Backs Solar Firm Offering Low-Cost Clean Energy to Rural Communities
Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has joined Kingo—a Guatemala-based business that provides low-cost solar energy kits for off-grid communities—as an investor and member of its board of advisors.
"Solar power is key to a future without fossil fuels, and Kingo's technology will help enable broad use of clean energy across the developing world," DiCaprio said in a statement. "I am proud to invest in Kingo as they seek to eradicate energy poverty, and I look forward to serving as an advisor to the company."
Kingo offers a range of pay-as-you-go kits consisting of light bulbs, photovoltaic panels and a battery that can store electricity generated during the day.
Its prices are competitive compared with the cost of buying candles every day, and also eliminate the need for polluting alternatives such as kerosene and diesel. Users do not have to pay installation fees or maintenance costs.
Since its founding in 2013, Kingo has serviced more than 60,000 households around the world and has installed around 7,000 new systems each month, the company touts. Its mission is to help provide clean, affordable energy for the 1.2 billion people worldwide who do not have access to the power grid.
"Seventeen percent of the world's population still lacks access to power. Access to electricity represents one of the biggest restrictions for progress, as it is the base for all productive activity," Kingo founder and CEO Juan Fermín Rodriguez, who grew up in Guatemala, said in an interview last year.
"We aim not only to eradicate the lack of access to electricity, but also to play a spearheading role in the transition from the world's energy consumption in becoming 100 percent renewable."
To date, Kingo has raised $25 million in several equity and debt rounds led by prominent investors and institutions, including the largest utility in Europe (ENGIE Rassembleurs d'Energies), one of the largest utilities in Latin America (FCP), PeopleFund, the Dutch Development Bank, the French Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. DiCaprio's investment amount was not disclosed.
"We are honored to have
Leonardo DiCaprio, someone who is seriously committed to addressing climate and environment-related causes, invest in Kingo and join our board of advisors," said Rodriguez in a statement.
"Leo will help advise Kingo as we work to achieve growth through expanded R&D capabilities and new market entry strategies. We remain committed to developing innovative solutions to the 1.2 billion people who currently live in the dark."
Seychelles Creates Groundbreaking Marine Reserve With Help From Leonardo DiCaprio https://t.co/EdXlLrzu1X… https://t.co/mUAkj11OSl— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1519324409.0
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Exxon Mobil will lay off an estimated 14,000 workers, about 15% of its global workforce, including 1,900 workers in the U.S., the company announced Thursday.
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