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Giant Solar Floating Farm Could Produce 8,000 Tons of Vegetables Annually

Food
Giant Solar Floating Farm Could Produce 8,000 Tons of Vegetables Annually

The world is less than 40 years away from a serious problem: producing enough food for 9 billion mouths. But with climate change cutting more than a quarter of crop yields by 2050, innovators must devise strategies to confront dwindling global food supplies.

Enter Forward Thinking Architecture.

The multistory design incorporates vertical farming, hydroponics, aquaculture and renewable energy to produce year-round food. Photo Credit: Forward Thinking Architecture

The Barcelona-based design company's Smart Floating Farms (SFF) concept is a sustainable, solar-powered vertical farm that floats on pontoons, making it possible to grow food off a coast, in the open sea or just about any large body of water. The designers estimate that SFF can produce an estimated 8,152 tonnes of vegetables and 1,703 tonnes of fish annually.

The farm is comprised of three levels and features innovative agricultural technologies that are already in use around the globe. It can be modified or stacked in different ways to suit the needs of respective locations.

The top level incorporates rainwater collectors for irrigation needs, photovoltaic panels for electricity and skylight openings to provide natural light for plants. It's also possible to integrate other renewable power technologies such as micro wind turbines or wave energy converter systems.

These solar-powered floating farms could cut the reliance on imported food and reduce number of miles that food has to travel to get to our plates.Forward Thinking Architecture

The second level features a greenhouse and hydroponic systems (which allows crops to grow year round in any weather and without soil).

"Because it does not require natural precipitation or fertile land in order to be effective, it presents people who are living in arid regions and others with a means to grow food for themselves and for profit," the designers said.

The second level features hydroponics, which is a method of growing crops without soil. Forward Thinking Architecture

Lastly, the ground level is designated for offshore aquaculture. According to the designers, this cage fishing method takes place in the open sea and eliminates the exposure to wind and waves.

This level also includes a hatchery where fish eggs are incubated and hatched, a nursery for growing fish, a slaughterhouse and a storage room to hold the fish before they are ready for the market.

Workers on the bottom level catch fish and other seafood in an enclosed farm. Forward Thinking Architecture

“Facing the current challenges of cities growing, land consumption and climate change, I believe projects like the Smart Floating Farms can help change some of the existing paradigms which have led us to the present situation and open new possibilities which can improve the quality of human life and the environment," said SFF project director Javier F. Ponce on the company's website.

The designers said the farm is ideal for many large cities or densely populated areas with access to water, such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Tokyo, Singapore, Mumbai, Jakarta, Cairo, Hong Kong, Shangai, Sao Paulo, Osaka, Bangkok, Shenzen, Istanbul, Montreal, Seoul, Karachi, Sydney and more.

With more people moving away from farms and into cities, advancements in urban agriculture is more important than ever.

The company says the project design is flexible enough to adapt to local food production needs and can be located close to many mega-cities or dense populated areas with water access.Forward Thinking Architecture

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

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.

Hoy agreed.

"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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