Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
News that Amazon will add three large biospheres to its downtown Seattle headquarters had the tech world buzzing this week. The domed structures will feature a mix of workspaces and gardens, and they'll be flanked by a public park. Amazon's big announcement wasn't the week's only surprise, though. A multinational consortium announced plans to develop a Dubai-style artificial island with a space hotel and a zero-gravity spa off the coast of Barcelona. And new research finds that "pinkhouses" -- vertical farms that use only pink light -- are much more efficient than those that use the full light spectrum.
Some of this past week's clean tech news seemed like it was taken straight from your favorite science fiction series. NASA is providing financial backing for research into the development of a replicator that could 3D-print pizza in space. A startup based at NASA's Ames Research Center has created the world's first Star Trek-style tricorder, which can gather medical information about a person and then relay it to their smartphone within 10 seconds. Researchers developed a pair of color-changing gloves that alert its wearer to the presence of invisible toxins. Lego builders in New York used more than 5 million Lego bricks to build a life-size Star Wars X-wing starfighter that is 43 feet long. And in Denmark, the world's first Lego school is set to open in August.
The eyes of the design world turned to New York City last week for New York Design Week, and Inhabitat correspondents were on the scene to round up the best green designs from Day 1 and Day 2 of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, as well as the more interesting and challenging design show, Wanted Design. Green lighting stole the shows as designers unveiled all kinds of innovative and interesting LED lamps. We were particularly impressed by Moooi's brilliant Raimond and Heracleum II chandeliers, which dazzled crowds with a fireworks-style burst of LEDs. Designers also unveiled futuristic takes on classic designs -- check out the world's tiniest baroque chandelier by Mineheart and Group-Two's futuristic LED chandelier. Designer Tom Dixon showcased his dazzling geometric Cell Lights, which shine like hanging jewels, and Joe Doucet lit up the show with his Hadron Lamp, which contains 20 meters of electroluminescent wire. And one of our highlights from New York Design Week was Antonin Forneau's interactive water graffiti display, which enabled people to paint with LED light.
In clean energy news, an 18-year-old girl invented a device that can charge your cell phone in just 20 seconds. Norwegian scientists floated an idea to develop large underwater energy storage facilities on the sea floor to store energy produced by offshore wind farms. The world's largest hydropower plant is set to break ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2015. Students at Rice University have developed a pair of PediPower shoes that generate energy from footsteps, and a team of French students created energy-generating bikes made from trash to power a film festival.
In green transportation news, Tesla repaid its entire $465 million federal loan nine years early. "I hope we did you proud," said CEO Elon Musk. Hong Kong launched its first fleet of electric taxis -- 45 bright-red EVs that boast a 180-mile range. Moto Electra and rider Thad Wolff looked to set a new record by driving an electric motorcycle across the country in just three days. Speaking of records, Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world's largest solar-powered boat, just set a new transatlantic speed record when it made the journey in 22 days. For those tracking the Solar Impulse's trip across America, the solar-powered airplane departed on the second leg of its trip, landing in Dallas.