Category Archives: News

Thermoelectric Heating Comes In From the Cold

Before architect César Martín Gómez could send his latest thermoelectric experiment to Antarctica in 2018, he had to make sure that soldiers from the Spanish Army could get it right on the first try. In the laboratory, he could always run the experiment—a scale model of a solid-state thermoelectric heater—a second time if it needed troubleshooting.

But at Spain’s Gabriel de Castilla base in the South Shetland Islands, soldiers would be too busy running other civilian experiments to troubleshoot Martín’s for him if it failed. And in a place like Antarctica, the goal of his experiment—providing efficient heat from direct current electricity—was both important and difficult. The experience “forced us to make a jump in quality,” recalls Martín, who is a professor at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

Continue reading Thermoelectric Heating Comes In From the Cold

How Nigerian Hacktivists Are Taking on Big Oil 

A group of hacker-activists in Nigeria, in the wake of setbacks in the conventional court system, have taken their appeal to a higher authority—the court of public opinion. And to bolster their case that oil refinery pollution is harming the densely populated Niger Delta region, these hacktivists are engaging in their own campaign of DIY data collection and sharing. 

Last March, Shell won a victory in one of its many court battles over the environmental impacts of its oil drilling in the Niger Delta. A U.K. judge ruled that the plaintiffs from the West African nation couldn’t prove that a 2011 oil spill in Nigeria’s offshore Bonga oil field had been the direct source of harm. The judge didn’t reject the existence of the harms, or even that they were caused by oil spills. Instead, the problem was attributing the harm to that specific spill.

Now, the Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), a civil society organization in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, is building a low-cost air pollution monitoring network that could help better identify polluters. “Data has been the key,” in other, successful lawsuits, says Okoro Onyekachi, a filmmaker and the executive coordinator of MAJI. And now, he says, in MAJI’s own lawsuit for pollution reparations, as much data as possible will be needed. Starting in 2022, the group began installing the first of 15 air-quality sensors in and around Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s fifth largest city. The sensors are a mix of cellular-enabled and noncellular devices that monitor particulate matter alongside temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. 

Continue reading How Nigerian Hacktivists Are Taking on Big Oil 

Feminism moves too fast for football

Spanish women greeted the overdue resignation of Luis Rubiales as head of the Spanish FA with a weary nod of approval. Even women attending a feminist monologue in one of the most progressive neighbourhoods in central Madrid, Lavapiés, were tired of talking about him grabbing and kissing Jennifer Hermoso after last month’s World Cup win. “It’s too bad we’re talking about this instead of the World Cup victory,” says Cristina, 33, a civil servant. She had just been to see a performance of No solo duelen los golpes at the Teatro del Barrio.

The show, whose title means “It’s not just the hitting that hurts,” is a one-hander by the actor Pamela Palenciano about a controlling relationship and the sexist structures across society. One of Cristina’s companions at the show that night, Irene, a 35-year-old architect, told me that the kiss, which Hermoso says was not consensual, was inappropriate, and that “ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been news”. The difference, Irene said, was that Spain’s women have progressed. “The big change hasn’t been in men,” she said.

Continue reading Feminism moves too fast for football