Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From Grey to Green by Kathryn Brennar (guest post)

Building a green infrastructure is no longer a new idea. Going “green” is actually becoming quite popular. However, the ways that people go about doing it can be new and unique. City developers are beginning to incorporate some creative strategies of their own. Specifically, there has been a recent spike in the level of interest that communities have had in developing their parks and outdoor recreation areas, as well as housing and building complexes. While incorporating and maintaining them has always been an important priority, especially within densely populated cities, the latest trends show that community developmental plans are now incorporating “green” design. They are realizing that there is an opportunity to provide people with a necessary recreation area while creating a positive impact on the global environmental crisis.

Currently there are a number of projects taking place in major metropolitan areas in an effort to reverse the negative effects that humans have had on the environment. One project that is currently gaining publicity is the green rooftop. Green rooftops utilize commonly unused space atop buildings and convert them into green zones, where gardens or turf are planted. These roofs help reduce the heating and cooling costs it takes to power a building, and also create a habitat for birds and insects. Additionally, green rooftops reduce the amount of contaminated runoff water that can collect in local sewer systems and waterways. Even major companies and organizations have taken notice and are beginning to implement similar environmental strategies. The Ford motor company installed a 450,000 square foot green rooftop on their new Dearborn Truck Plant. Recently studies have been preformed comparing green rooftops to conventional asphalt or concrete roofs and results show that temperatures on the green rooftops can be as much as 32 degrees lower than conventional black roofs. This proves that green rooftops could help reduce the “urban heat island effect,” which occurs when black top buildings absorb solar energy and radiate that energy in the form of heat.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best Aliens in Science Fiction

"Name your Choice of Best Alien in Science Fiction," was the question John DeNardo over at SF Signal posed me and several other SF authors such as Tobias S. Buckell, Louise Marley, Dean Wesley Smith, Jay Lake, to name a few.

"Aliens are a classic trope dating back to the earliest days of science fiction," John said.

In a previous post of mine entitled "Dream and Perceptions: the stuff of Science Fiction"I discussed what I felt science fiction did well: it makes commentary on humanity through our interaction with" the other ".

Have you ever done that? Looked craned backward or while driving through a familiar scene to gain a different perspective? And just felt different for a moment? Like you'd entered a different dimension and briefly glimpsed "the other "?

What is it like to meet "the other?