This summer has been one of the harshest in recent memory in the US, with record heat waves and more than half of the country experiencing the worst drought conditions in more than 50 years. And in an even more troubling development, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan broke away from Greenland this week. The need to develop clean alternatives to fossil fuels and water-saving technologies is more urgent than ever, but we're making progress in several key areas. In California, scientists fired 192 lasers onto a single point, producing an amazing 500 trillion watts of energy and bringing them one step closer to starting a nuclear fusion reaction that would produce an unlimited supply of clean energy. In another promising development, a teenager in Egypt figured out a way to turn the country's plastic waste into $78 million worth of fuel.
We always appreciate new designs that provide a fresh solution to a pressing problem -- like the 1 Liter of Light project, a clever initiative that creates makeshift solar lamps for Filipino households from one-liter water bottles. In Singapore, the government is seeking to limit its dependence on imported water with the construction of the elegant Marina Barrage dam, which stores 10,000 hectares of rainwater. In one of the more unusual design concepts that flashed on our screens this week, SOA Architects offered a solution to the problem of shipping bananas all the way from Latin America: build a vertical banana plantation in Paris. And in an equally strange development, German designer Anke Domaske launched the clothing company Qmilch, which creates clothing from spoiled milk.
In green transportation news, the world's first Nissan Leaf stretch limo hit the streets in Tennessee this week and Rimac Automobili announced that its 188-horsepower Concept One electric supercar will debut this week. We are of course thrilled that California approved the first bit of funding for high-speed rail (and Amtrak just proposed a high-speed rail line for the East Coast), but wouldn't it be cooler if the states splurged and developed Elon Musk's "Hyperloop" train, which could travel from San Francisco to LA in just 30 minutes? And Virgin announced that it will begin offering space tourism flights next year, which could have some serious environmental impacts.
In one of the week's most impressive architectural developments, designer Tom Dixon transformed a London water tower into a house (and it's available for rent). In a reversal of what Dixon accomplished, a pair of French artists filled a telephone booth with water and transformed it into an aquarium. Finally, if you're looking for a fun DIY project for the weekend, check out our tutorial on how to make your own lava lamp!