THE SOLAR OLYMPICS
Contestants in the
Solar Decathlon are
challenged to design
and build houses
that are powered
exclusively by the
sun. Sponsored by
the U.S. Department
of Energy, the con-
test brings together
20 teams from engi-
neering and architecture schools around the world.
The students spend almost two years designing,
building, analyzing, and testing their solar-powered
houses to ensure that they can provide all the comfort
of modern conveniences. The teams are judged in 10
contests to determine which house best blends afford-
ability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with
optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
“It’s the education of a lifetime,” says Richard King,
director of the Solar Decathlon. “Students want to
find a way to live sustainably. Over the years, they
have been very inspired by this challenge and get
passionate about it.”
Top: Sun screens and a gray
water filtration system reflect
the sun off the solar-powered
Virginia Tech house at the 2009
Since the first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002,
U.S. Department of Energy
Solar Decathlon on the National
Mall in Washington DC.
72 solar houses have been built. The 2011 competi-
tion will be held on September 23 through October 2,
2011, in Washington DC. To learn more about renew-
able energy in action, go to solardecathlon.gov.
Bottom: Team Boston member
Clay Larsen installs a rainwater-
capturing sculpture that will
deliver water to a fish pond.
STEFANO PALTERA/U. S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERG Y SOLAR DECATHLON
READ MY FACE: DRINK THIS
In Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station there are vending machines that
“It’s a hard
use facial recognition cameras to scan customers and link their
faces to a database of demographic facial characteristics. By
identifying a person’s age and gender, the machine then makes a
personalized drink recommendation.
The appeal of facial recognition technology is that while it is very accurate, it’s
not as intrusive as other biometric methods such as DNA testing. Japan is also
embracing digital billboards that use facial recognition technology for tailored
advertising, as well as pilot projects that employ walk-through facial scanning
instead of passwords or fingerprints for access.
8 MAY 2011
to Eternity in
When you die, will your blog live on?
As we live more aspects of our lives
online, there’s a growing concern about
just what happens to all those tweets,
e-mails, photos, and accounts—not to
mention social network pages—that
we’ve created dur-
ing our lifetimes.
subject for people
to get their heads
expert and coauthor, with interaction
designer John Romano, of the Website
thedigitalbeyond.com and the book
Your Digital Afterlife (New Riders Press,
2010). The book is a how-to primer for
securing digital assets for your loved
ones and, perhaps, posterity. Internet
service providers like Facebook, Yahoo!,
and Twitter have widely different
regulations governing access to the
accounts of deceased members.
Carroll and Romano suggest making
an inventory of your online assets and
giving it to someone, along with pass-
words and instructions for what you’d
like done with them. “It takes just 15
minutes, and it will save your loved ones
untold hours of agony, wrestling through
passwords and service agreements. A
list and a conversation can help people
secure the things that are important to
them,” recommends Romano.
Digital estate planning also includes
which blog posts, photos, or online mus-
ings are worth passing on. To learn more,
go to thedigitalbeyond.com.