It isn't just the oceans that are filled with trash; a surprising amount of manmade "space junk" is also orbiting the planet. It's estimated there are about 20,000 pieces of large debris floating in low orbit around the Earth. In other space news, NASA just unveiled a new ultra-light expandable habitat designed to expand the capacity of the International Space Station. The module is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year test period. In a separate (admittedly less fashionable) development, NASA has developed a pair of sandals known as "ForceShoes" that will help astronauts maintain bone and muscle health while in outer space. And if you've ever wondered what a real-life version of the starship Enterprise would look like, here's your chance: NASA recently unveiled concept images of a warp-capable spacecraft, and it looks like something worthy of Starfleet.
On the green architecture front, a pair of Russian physicists just launched an Indiegogo campaign to rebuild Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower. The tower will be used to transmit clean energy wirelessly. For this year's London Festival of Architecture, Chilean-German firm GUN Architects built a pavilion made of pyramidal "stalactites" that drip water to create a refreshing rainforest-like oasis in the heart of the city. The world's longest artificial reef is under construction off the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Once completed, it will be longer than the Brooklyn Bridge and it will support an estimated 13,000 species. And in Scotland, architecture students have built a tiny, mirror-clad lookout that blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape.
Tesla has never done anything the traditional way, and by shaking up the auto industry, the company hopes to make cars cleaner and greener. This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla would release its patents, effectively giving away its ideas to competitors. In doing so, he hopes to spark more electric car innovation -- even if it cuts into Tesla's bottom line. Geodesic dome houses are all the rage in the design community, but what about geodesic vehicles? Designers Mauro Fragiotta and Mark Beccaloni recently teamed up to produce plans for the world's first all-electric geodesic car. In other automotive news, Ford announced that it is teaming up with the food giant Heinz to turn ketchup byproducts, like tomato skins, leaves, stems and seeds, into a composite bioplastic for use in Ford's vehicles. And the UK is embracing the future by jumping on the driverless car bandwagon: Ministers in the Department for Transport are writing up new laws to address special needs associated with these vehicles.