Creators: Julian Laverdiere and Paul Myoda
Community: Cities afflicted by light pollution
Project: Synthetic star
The designers of the magnificent Tribute in Light memorial for the World Trade Center turned their attention to urban night blindness: the blankness of the city skies. Urban Lodestar is a light-emitting five-pointed star designed to float serenely above a city center and pulse gently at the same rate as a resting heart to calm the city folk below. Lodestar hovers with the aid of helium-filled polymer balloons; propellant tanks and directional boosters attached to a GPS-equipped positioning system keep it from going AWOL. During the day, photovoltaic film panels harness energy from the Sun and store it in batteries; at night, electroluminescent strips in the shape of a star glow with that stored energy. Graphite composite struts provide stability, and a battery-powered xenon strobe creates the pulsing effect. Intermittent green flashes differentiate the Urban Lodestar from natural celestial bodies.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.