Official Google Blog: An update from the Project 10^100 team

If you've ever had an idea for Google, it's likely that others have as well. In September Google sent out a call world-wide for ideas that could help as many people around the globe as possible. They received 150,000 submissions.

JellyTelly launched their new site in the week. There's still a few bugs to be ironed out, but the new site has been fleshed out significantly more than the previous beta version.

As before, JellyTelly caters primarily to younger kids. But like Veggie Tales, all ages can get a kick out of it. Odds are that if you like talking vegetables, then a lot of things will entertain you.

But what's even cooler than the new site is... it's free. No sign up, no trial subscriptions, just... free.

JellyTelly is a brand new endeavor from the creative mind of Phil Vischer (see his blog), the co-founder of Big Idea and Veggie Tales.

Have you met Robosaurus? Visit the Robosaurus website, and while you're at it, take a look at their Wikipedia entry.

Robosaurus was the brainchild of Doug Malewicki in 1989 .

Creative thinking is making it's waty into the world of digital gaming. What was once considered the dominion of first-person-shooters, real-time-strategy, racing, or exploration has now opened itself up to a genre of games, the creator.

With the release of titles such as "Spore" and "LittleBigPlanet", industry professionals are proving that gamers can be more than just passive consumers, they can be artists in their own right.

As a gamer, and as an artist of sorts, a union of this nature has excited my imagination for the future of digital gaming.

Reuters recently ran an article delving into this new phenomenon.

Is Steve Jobs dying?

Will Apple die with him?

    Yet there are moments in history, or institutions, that are so shaped by the extraordinary contributions of a single person that it is hard to imagine one without the other. So the indispensable-man debate was fueled anew last week when Steven P. Jobs said he was taking a leave of absence from Apple until July because his health problems were “more complicated” than he first thought.
Read more.

After spending 18 months designing and building his pet project, engineer Giles Cardozo is sending his creation on an unheard voyage.

Flying Car

The group, led by Neil Laughton, will make the 6,000km (3,600-mile) journey by land and air in the Parajet Skycar, effectively a dune buggy with a fan motor and paragliding wing attached.

After taking off from London, the expedition will travel through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara and Mali, and aims to reach Timbuktu on February 20.

The plan is to drive the Skycar where there are roads, and fly over the Straits of Gibraltar, the Atlas mountains in Morocco and the trackless wastes of the Empty Quarter of the Sahara.

Oh, and it runs on bio-fuel. Read more here.

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3D rendering of the entire Freedom Tower surrounded by the rest of New York City1 World Trade Center, or the Freedom Tower, is the centerpiece building of the new World Trade Center complex currently under construction in Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is being developed by Silverstein Properties. The $2 billion project will be located in the northwest corner of the 16-acre (65,000 m²) World Trade Center site, and will be 1,776 ft (541 m) tall. Construction on below-ground utility relocations, footings, and foundations for Freedom Tower began on April 27, 2006.

On December 19, 2006, the first steel columns were installed in the building's foundation. Three other high-rise office buildings plus a residential tower are planned for the site along Greenwich Street, and collectively they will surround the World Trade Center Memorial, which is currently under construction. The area will also be home to a museum, highlighting many of the different aspects of the past and future World Trade Centers.

Drawing of the design that was eventually selected to become the Freedom Tower

Following the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was much debate regarding the future of the World Trade Center site. Proposals began almost immediately, and by December 2002, a design by Daniel Libeskind was selected. This design went through many revisions, largely because of disagreements with developer Larry Silverstein, who held the lease to the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001.

A final design for the tower was formally unveiled on June 28, 2006. To satisfy security issues raised by the New York City Police Department a 187-foot (57 m) concrete base was added in April of that year. The final design included plans to clad the base in glass prisms to address criticism that the base looked like a "concrete bunker."

Illustration of the Freedom Tower shining its light into the sky

The final design tapers the corners of the base outward as they rise. Its designers stated that the tower will be a "monolithic glass structure reflecting the sky and topped by a sculpted antenna." In terms of a completion date, Larry Silverstein stated "By 2012 we should have a completely rebuilt World Trade Center more magnificent, more spectacular than it ever was."

It is projected that steel for the building will be visible above ground in 2008, with a topping out in 2010. The building is projected to be ready for occupancy in the first quarter of 2011.

The Freedom Tower's program includes 2.6 million square feet (241,000 square meters) of office space, as well as an observation deck, world-class restaurants, parking, and broadcast and antennae facilities, all supported by both above and below-ground mechanical infrastructure for the building and its adjacent public spaces. Below-ground tenant parking and storage, shopping and access to the PATH and subway trains and the World Financial Center are also provided.

A picture of the Freedom Tower reflecting the morning sun off of the New York HarborAn 80-foot-high (24 m) public lobby topped by a series of mechanical floors form a 200-foot-high (61 m) building base. 69 tenant floors rise above the base to 1,120 feet (341 m) elevation. Mechanical floors, two floors to be occupied by the Metropolitan Television Alliance, restaurants and observation decks culminate in an observation deck and glass parapet that mark 1,362 feet (415 m) and 1,368 feet (417 m) respectively — the heights of the original Twin Towers. Currently, only the Sears Tower and Taipei 101 have occupied floors higher than Freedom Tower. A shrouded antenna structure supported by cables rises to a final height of 1,776 feet (541 m).

Sketch of the Freedom Tower floor planThe tower rises from a cubic base whose square plan—200 feet by 200 feet—(61 m by 61 m) is almost as wide as the 208 foot (63 m) Twin Towers. The base is clad in more than 2,000 pieces of prismatic glass; each measures 4 feet by 13 feet 4 inches (1.21 m by 4.06 m) with varying depths. It has been designed to draw upon the themes of motion and light; a shimmering glass surface drapes the tower's base and imparts a dynamic fluidity of form whose appearance will reflect its surroundings. Just as the rest of the building, the base will serve as a glowing beacon. Cable-net facades on all four sides of the buildings, measure 60 feet (18 m) high and range in width from 30 feet (9 m) on the east and west sides (for access to the restaurant and observation deck, respectively) to 50 feet (15 m) on the north side and 70 feet (21 m) on the south for primary tenant access, activate the building at street level.

Map of the Freedom Tower in relation to the rest of New York CityAs the tower itself rises from this cubic base, its square edges are chamfered back, transforming the square into eight tall isosceles triangles in elevation, or an elongated square antiprism. At its middle, the tower forms a perfect octagon in plan and then culminates in a glass parapet (elevation 1,362 feet (415 m) and 1,368 feet (417 m)) whose plan is a square, rotated 45 degrees from the base. A mast containing an antenna for television broadcasters—designed by a collaboration between SOM, artist Kenneth Snelson (who invented the tensegrity structure), lighting designers and engineers—and secured by a system of cables, rises from a circular support ring, similar to the Statue of Liberty's torch, to a height of 1,776 feet (541 m).

Photo of the Freedom Tower shining its beacon of light in front of the New York skyline. The Statue of Liberty is in the bottom left-hand corner.The spire will be an intense beam of light that will be lit at night and will likely be visible over a thousand feet (305 m) into the air above the tower. New York City is a suitable place to set such a light pointing towards the sky without complaints of light pollution by astronomers, as the night sky in locations near New York City is already far too bright for serious astronomical observers.

Other new safety features will include 3-foot (90 cm) thick walls for all stairwells, elevator shafts, risers, and sprinkler systems; extremely wide "emergency stairs"; a dedicated set of stairwells exclusively for the use of firefighters; and biological and chemical filters throughout its ventilation system.

Drawing of a street scene at the base of the Freedom TowerThe building will no longer be 25 feet (7.6 m) away from West Street—with the redesign and smaller base (the same width and length now as each of the previous towers), Freedom Tower will average 90 feet (27 m) away from the street.At its closest point, West Street will be 65 feet (20 m) away. The windows on the side of the building facing in this direction will be equipped with specially tempered blast-resistant plastic, which will look nearly the same as the glass used in the other sides of the building.

"Ultra-clear" glass, as opposed to reflective or tinted glass, is proposed for the fenestration generally. This will benefit internal daylight propagation; however, at this stage it is unclear how the corresponding issue of solar heat gain will be addressed. Although the roof area of any tower is comparatively limited, the building will implement a greywater recycling scheme involving rainwater collection. The robust, redundant steel moment frame, consisting of beams and columns connected by a combination of welding and bolting, resists lateral loads through bending of the frame elements. Paired with a concrete-core shear wall, the moment frame lends substantial rigidity and redundancy to the overall building structure while providing column-free interior spans for maximum flexibility.

Photo of the Freedom Tower viewed from the New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the foregroundIf the spire and antenna height (the criteria of two categories of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) are included, Freedom Tower will stand at 1,776 feet (541 m) (marking the year of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence). Freedom Tower was originally planned to be the tallest building in the world, but will no longer obtain this title, as the Burj Dubai has already broken the record for the tallest building at 1,822 feet (555 m), and it is expected to exceed 2,680 ft (818 m) by the time of its completion in 2009.

Picture of the Freedom Tower and several other buildings and their reflections off of the New York HarborThe Chicago Spire, currently under construction in Chicago, is set to be completed in 2010. It could also be taller than the Freedom Tower. At 150 floors, its roof will top out at 2,000 feet (610 m). The height of Freedom Tower will probably not be increased before completion, due to the symbolism of having an exact height of 1,776 feet (541 m).

Even though several buildings throughout the world will be taller than the Freedom Tower, the tower will still most likely obtain the record for tallest office building in the world; no taller all-office buildings are currently proposed, approved, or under construction.

3D rendering of the Freedom Tower dwarfing smaller buildings in New York's downtownAs revealed on June 28, 2006, Freedom Tower will have a top floor denoted as 102, though the total number of floors is 82 (possibly with some uncounted floors). This is because the first office floor of the building atop the tall base will be designated as Floor 20. There are 69 office floors atop the base, ending at Floor 88, above which would be broadcasting space on the 89th and 90th floors. Three stories of mechanical space take up a floor count of 9. Finally, a restaurant will take up Floors 100 and 101, and the observation deck is at Floor 102. Six additional floors of mechanical space exist above to Floor 108.

Photograph of construction finally beginning on the Freedom TowerIn January 2008, two more construction cranes are expected to be placed at the construction site of the Freedom Tower. The steel is expected to be visible at street level by mid-2008, and the base is expected to be completed by September 1008. The opening of the supertall skyscraper is scheduled for the first quarter of 2011.

(Information comes courtesy of the Wikipedia amongst other sources.)

The Mile High Illinois, Illinois Sky-City, or simply The Illinois was a proposed mile-high (1,609 metres/5,280 feet) skyscraper, envisioned by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956. The design, intended to be built in Chicago, would have included 528 stories, with a gross area of 18.46 million square feet (1.71 million square meters; 171 ha). Had it been built, it would have been the tallest building in the world.

This is arguably the most famous of the semi-serious visionary buildings meant to be an alternative to the increasing urban sprawl occurring in most cities. None of these have, before now, been viewed as financially feasible.

Wright believed that it would have been technically possible to construct such a building even at the time it was proposed. At the time, the tallest skyscraper in the world was New York's Empire State Building, at less than a quarter the height suggested for the Illinois. It probably would have been possible to erect a self-supporting steel structure of the required height, but there are a number of problems which occur when a building is that tall.

The material used for towers at the time, steel, is quite flexible. This causes the tower to sway substantially in the wind, causing discomfort for occupants of the higher floors. Though Wright acknowledged this problem in his original proposal, he claimed the tripod design of this tower (similar to that of the CN Tower) combined with its tensilized steel frame and the integral character of its structural components would counteract any oscillation. It is also possible this could have been solved by placing a counterweight somewhere within the tower such as in the Taipei 101.

Also, the late 1990s and early 2000s has seen substantial increases in the load-bearing strength of concrete, making it a possibility to build entirely in this less flexible material.

The space needed to service the elevators (needed to reach the higher levels) would occupy all of the space available on the lower floors, thus defeating the purpose of the building's height. This was complicated by Wright's slender design. This problem has also been addressed in smaller buildings, such as in the Taipei 101, by using double-deck elevators. In the World Trade Center, the building was divided into three sectors, each with its own sky-lobby, where occupants changed between large express elevators and smaller local elevators. However, even with both of these measures implemented, the problem would still exist. Wright's solution was five-story elevators, running on ratchet interfaces located on the outside of the building (presumably on the unseen side in his painting) to conserve building space.

Another concern is fire safety. The need for emergency stairwells would bind much of the available space in the lower floors in a similar fashion. This could be overcome by designing elevators to remain operational during a fire.

Albeit at a smaller scale, the same problem as with the elevators is encountered with water and sewage. A possible solution would be to recycle the water used in the upper floors, although this is easier today than it was in the 1950s.

(Information comes courtesy of the Wikipedia amongst other sources.)

Humanoid Robots at War

Tatlin’s Tower was a grand monumental building envisioned and blueprinted by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, but never built. It was supposed to be erected in Petrograd after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, as the headquarters and monument of the Comintern (the third international). Its proper name was to be The Monument to the Third International.

Tatlin's Constructivist tower was to be built from industrial materials: iron, glass and steel. In materials, shape, and function, it was envisioned as a towering symbol of modernity. It would have dwarfed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The tower's main form was a twin helix which spiraled up to 400 m in height, which visitors would be transported around with the aid of various mechanical devices.

The main framework would contain four large suspended geometric structures. These structures would rotate at different rates of speed. At the base of the structure was a cube which was designed as a venue for lectures, conferences and legislative meetings, and this would complete a rotation in the span of one year. Above the cube would be a smaller pyramid housing executive activities and completing a rotation once a month. Further up would be a cylinder, which was to house an information (propaganda) centre, issuing news bulletins and manifestos via telegraph, radio and loudspeaker, and would complete a rotation once a day. At the top, there would be a hemisphere for radio equipment. There were also plans to install a gigantic open-air screen on the cylinder, and a further projector which would be able to cast messages across the clouds on any overcast day.

The Monument is generally considered to be the defining expression of architectural constructivism, rather than a buildable project. Even if the gigantic amount of required steel had been available in revolutionary Russia, in the context of housing shortages and political turmoil, there are serious doubts about its structural practicality.

There has been an attempt to build the project, however by building it in parts each of which would be located in a different part of the world, rather than it being one single monument.

(Information comes courtesy of the Wikipedia amongst other sources.)