Inhabitat is always on the lookout for new and interesting innovations, but some of the things that flashed across our screens this week truly defy the rules of physics. Take, for example, the story of 51-year-old Chinese man Sun Jifa, who lost both of his arms in an explosion and built his own bionic hands out of scrap metal. Building functional prosthetic limbs is one thing, but doing it without the aid of fingers? That's downright mind-blowing. We were also pretty excited to hear that a California-based tech company has developed a working hover bike that travels up to 30 mph. It isn't quite ready for a high-speed chase in the forest a la Star Wars, but it still looks pretty cool. And in another amazing development, a team of Harvard researchers has figured out a way to store 70 billion books in a space the size of your thumbnail.
In green architecture news, word has just come out that Facebook has commissioned Bilbao-famed starchitect Frank Gehry to design a green extension to the Facebook Menlo Park campus - complete with a massive, walkable green roof!
In advance of the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe, we brought you a preview of some of the top solar-powered houses in the competition. First, we took a look at the Brazilian Ekó House, a modular home that takes inspiration from the Tupi-Guarani people and that features a composting toilet. We also checked in on Team Rhône-Alpes' gorgeous solar-powered urban habitat with a vertical farm and Germany's ECOLAR house, which features a solar array that produces more energy than the home uses. IBM also set a new record for photovoltaic cell efficiency, and we explored how high-tech buildings influence other forms of design as we brought you nine different garments inspired by architecture.
Does Los Angeles seem less smoggy these days? It ought to, because according to a new report, vehicle pollutants in LA have dropped an astounding 98 percent since the 1960s. In Sacramento, Stanford University's self-driving car hit 120 mph in a test drive, and in Ann Arbor, Mich., a small army of "smart," WiFi-connected cars were deployed to help researchers better understand how to reduce traffic and pollution. Meanwhile, students at the University of Birmingham recently built the UK's first hydrogen-powered locomotive. We're also pretty excited about Pure Fix's Kilo Glow bike, a glow-in-the-dark bike frame that help make cyclists more visible at night. And for those cyclists who want to be safe but can't stand to be seen wearing a helmet, the world's first "invisible" bike helmet is now for sale.
We also explored several pressing environmental issues as record levels of radiation were found in fish near Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant and we delved into the Gates of Hell -- a burning gas crater in Turkmenistan that has been ablaze for 41 years. And do you know what's in your honey jar? Some of the honey that's sold in the US isn't even honey at all. Honey detective Vaughn Bryant analyzes pollen traces left by bees in honey to determine if it's legit and where it came from. Finally, we continued our back-to-school coverage by rounding up the top six kids backpacks of the year and we put together a week-long menu of bento box ideas. And don't forget to enter to win a Voltaic laptop-charging backpack stuffed with $500 worth of back-to-school supplies!