Energy-efficient transportation soared to new heights this week as MIT unveiled designs for a supersonic biplane that promises to be the successor to the Concorde. Meanwhile Boeing, Airbus and Embraer partnered to develop a new breed of affordable biofuels, and Volkswagen used space foil to make cars safer. In hot car news, Porsche announced plans to release a plug-in hybrid Panamera in 2014, and we brought you sneak peeks of several sexy electric vehicles that will be unveiled at the New York Auto Show in just over a week: Fisker's Nina plug-in hybrid and Infiniti's new Nissan leaf-based EV.
On the subject of energy efficiency, it was a big week for clean tech as Inhabitat reported that the world's most powerful wind turbine was just installed off the Belgian coast, and the National Ignition Facility flipped the switch on the world's first two-megajoule ultraviolet laser in an attempt to unlock nuclear fusion. Meanwhile, scientists discovered a link between trees and electricity by studying the way they affecty the concentration of positive and negative ions in the air, and OriginOil announced plans for an urban algae farm near Paris that will heat buildings while treating wastewater. The solar industry heard good news this week as a report showed that solar installations in the US more than doubled in 2011, and President Obama toured the states touting his "all of the above" approach to energy.
This week Inhabitat also showcased several amazing public infrastructure projects - including a series of gigantic fruit-shaped bus shelters in Japan, gmp Architekten's gorgeous new Hangzhou South Railway Station, the fresh new designs for section 3 of NYC's High Line elevated park, and a soaring 30-storey-tall wood skyscraper in Vancouver.
In robot news, a Virginia Tech team created a self-charging robo-Jellyfish that harvests hydrogen fuel from water, and we shared 6 incredible inventions made possible by nanotechnology. F.A.T. Labs released a Free Universal Construction Kit that can connect LEGOs to 8 other types of building blocks, and Amazon purchased a robot company to improve working conditions in its warehouses. As most of you probably know, This American Life issued a retraction of its Apple factory exposé - and while Mike Daisey may lost his credibility, we believe strongly that distrust in the integrity of his "reporting", should not be a reason for consumers to turn a blind eye to working conditions at Foxconn and other electronics ODMs. This week Nokia filed a patent for magnetic tattoos that could vibrate when someone calls, and we learned that free smartphone applications could consume 75% more energy than paid versions. Speaking of mobile phones, new research linked cellphone radiation during pregnancy to behavioral disorders in offspring so we looked at ways pregnant mothers can protect their babies from potential cellphone radiation exposure. Last but not least, we brought you an interesting high-tech clothing concept from Stella McCartney - a sports bra with a built-in heart sensor.