Savings habits have been focused on once more as the UK enters the second half of 2021 and coronavirus restrictions are pulled back. New research from Moneyfacts.co.uk warned that while some consumers built up disposable income during the lockdown, there are still those out there with no savings stashed away for emergencies whatsoever.
Rachel Springall, a Finance Expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, commented on these difficulties.
Ms Springall said: “Building a savings pot for the future is a vital way to avoid short-term credit and instil a positive habit.
“In a low interest environment, it would not be too surprising to find savers apathetic to open an account or chase down a better savings rate, but it’s important that they shake off this attitude and instead seriously consider how they will afford to cover unexpected purchases or a sudden increase in their monthly expenses, such as the cost of the festive season.
“Consumers may have amassed extra disposable income through the UK lockdown but whether this savings behaviour will last over the months ahead is unknown and on the other hand there could be savers who have very little tucked away.
“Indeed, recent research from Yorkshire Building Society revealed that more than a quarter of consumers had less than £500 saved and one in ten had no savings at all.
“If someone were to put away just £25 a week for the next 20 weeks, they would amass £500 and still have enough time to do their Christmas shopping.
“Those on a low income could open a Help to Save account, which is an initiative from the Government designed to encourage working people on Tax Credits to save.
“The scheme pays 50p per £1 saved up to a maximum bonus of £1,200 over four years. HMRC statistics indicated that more accounts have been opened and deposits rose, which is positive to see, but as part of the same research, thousands of accounts were opened but no deposits were made.
“The financially unstable would be wise to work out their overall household expenditure and where they can cut back and save. There are simple ways to start budgeting, for example by using a free mobile app like Money Dashboard.
For those able or willing to leave their savings untouched, the following accounts were also shared:
Top notice accounts
Secure Trust Bank 120 Day Notice Account: Gross rate at £1,000 – 0.75 percent
Shawbrook Bank 120 Day Notice Personal Account Issue 48: Gross rate at £1,000 – 0.72 percent
Hampshire Trust Bank 95 Day Notice (Issue 8): Gross rate at £1,000 – 0.71 percent
Top regular savings accounts for new customers
NatWest Digital Regular Saver: Gross rate at £1,000 – three percent variable
West Brom BS Adult’s Fixed Rate Regular Saver (Issue 4) – 12 Month Term: Gross rate at £1,000 – two percent fixed
On 2 July 2021, in Jamestown, Accra, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Delegation of the European Union to Ghana, the Sports for Education and Economic Development (SEED) Project (www.SEEDProject.org) and DUNK Grassroots, together with some 200 youth, inaugurated the newly renovated basketball court at the GaMashie Development Agency.
The renovation and inauguration are part of a project titled “Playground” that was created to empower young people to create viable alternatives to irregular migration. It leverages the educational power of basketball to equip the youth with life skills and self-resilience.
“Using basketball as a vehicle to foster life skills, is a fantastic approach that will be beneficial for the youth of Jamestown and neighbouring communities. Our youth has a lot of potential, and they need safe spaces to grow and thrive. This is an opportunity to allow them to create their own alternatives to irregular migration,” said the Mayor of Accra, Honourable Mohammed Adjei Sowah.
The Playground project is a partnership made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
“Playground has the youth and community at its heart. We work with our partners to inform about safe migration options as well as the dangers of irregular migration,” said Abibatou Wane-Fall, Chief of Mission IOM Ghana. She added: “Together, we bring the vision of an open and inclusive space to life – a space for girls and boys, young women and young men, from all walks of lives and backgrounds, migrants, returnees, neighbours, and locals. Everyone is invited to play and learn and grow together.”
The Playground project partners work together to empower young people to make well-informed migration choices, to decide on their own futures and to build their dreams. Together with local partners, it builds a culture of self-development and pride on and beyond the court.
“Ensuring youth have access to safe places to play is fundamental, as it’s the place where all the life skills programmes, games and community outreach occur – it all begins on the court,” explained Mactar NDiaye, Director of Operations, SEED Project. “This is why we at SEED are incredibly honored to have worked on the ground with the community of Jamestown to refurbish this basketball court, which also helps better secure their actual needs and ownership.”
This inauguration event concludes a series of youth engagement initiatives designed to empower young people. Implemented under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative since 2017 in 12 countries in the region, these activities mostly happen in public spaces using sports and art. IOM has supported over 1800 Ghanaian migrants to voluntarily and safely return home. Over 700 returnees have completed their reintegration to date, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. Overall, over 300 awareness-raising sessions have taken place in communities and schools across the country, while radio and TV broadcasts have reached approximately 1,100,000 Ghanaians nationwide. Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Sports for Education and Economic Development (SEED) Project. For more information: Visit: https://yenna.org/playground
Juliane Reissig Public Information at IOM Ghana [email protected] +233 (0)302 742 930
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McALLEN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Thursday that the state would build a border wall with Mexico, providing few specifics about construction that would extend one of former President Donald J. Trump’s favored projects.
It is unclear if the state has the authority to build a wall in an attempt to deter immigrants, a majority of whom have been fleeing poverty and violence from Central America.
Speaking at a meeting with state law enforcement officials in Del Rio, a small border city that has seen a large influx of immigrants since President Biden took office in January, Mr. Abbott said he expected to announce more details about the wall next week.
Mr. Abbott explained that he would start by setting up barriers to identify people trying to cross the border and by deploying additional law enforcement agents to assist the Border Patrol. He has blamed the increase in migrant crossings on Mr. Biden’s unwinding of Mr. Trump’s restrictive border rules.
“It is out of control and a change is needed,” he said. “Some of these border barriers will be built immediately.”
Then the governor revealed, to thundering applause, that Texas would also build a border wall.
“While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” Mr. Abbott said, adding, “Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve.”
In March, Mr. Abbott put into action what he called Operation Lone Star, which allows the deployment of hundreds of agents and resources along the southwestern border to combat the smuggling of human beings, drugs and guns, said Victor Escalon, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety. But deciding to build a border wall may be a first for a state executive.
Mr. Abbott’s announcement was quickly criticized by immigration advocates, who said it would most likely face legal challenges.
“There is no substantive plan,” said Edna Yang, co-executive director of American Gateways, an immigration legal aid and advocacy group in Texas. “It’s not going to make any border community or county safer.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas tweeted, “To be clear, this is an attempt to distract from his governing failures while targeting vulnerable immigrants.”
Mr. Trump made the border wall a signature campaign promise and often pressed his homeland security officials to speed the construction of the project, waiving federal contracting and environmental laws in the process.
During his campaign, Mr. Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but he instead redirected billions from Defense Department funds that were initially meant for anti-narcotics or construction programs. His administration eventually built more than 450 miles of new wall, primarily in areas where dilapidated barriers once stood. Most of the construction was in Arizona, where migrants already struggle through rough terrain to cross the border, rather than in South Texas, an area prone to illegal crossings.
Private landowners in South Texas emerged as an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s construction, with many resisting the administration’s efforts to seize their land through eminent domain. And then Mr. Biden suspended construction of the wall on his first day in office, part of a series of actions to roll back Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.
The Biden administration and Mr. Abbott have clashed over how to handle the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border in recent months. The administration was unable to redirect federal funds designated for disaster aid to assist in border processing when Mr. Abbott refused to provide his consent.
At the time, Mr. Abbott said that the federal government, not Texas, was responsible for asserting control over the border.
When the migrant children filled detention facilities run by the Border Patrol, the Biden administration responded by opening temporary facilities in a Dallas convention center, a San Antonio sports arena and other vacant sites around the country. While Vice President Kamala Harris was in Guatemala this week, she discouraged potential migrants from traveling to the border, telling them, “Do not come.”
The Biden administration still uses a pandemic emergency rule, known as Title 42, that empowers border agents to rapidly turn away most single adults and many families crossing the border into the hands of Mexican authorities. Mr. Biden has exempted unaccompanied minors from the policy, which prevents most other migrants from having a chance to apply for asylum.
Some families, however, have been able to cross into Texas because of a change in Mexican law that barred the detention of small immigrant children, and a lack of shelter capacity south of the border. Instead of detaining those families, U.S. authorities release many into Texas communities.
Author: Edgar Sandoval and Zolan Kanno-Youngs
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News
DEL RIO, Texas (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’ll share plans next week for the state to build a wall along the Mexico border, but he offered no other specifics about how the project would proceed.
This particular announcement drew a standing ovation and cheers Thursday evening from the crowd gathered at Abbott’s border security summit in Del Rio. He also discussed several other initiatives he said would “secure the border and restore order.”
Abbott held up a stack of papers and told the crowd Texas lawmakers allocated $ 1 billion in the latest budget to fund border security efforts. He also announced the formation of a new governor’s task force on border and homeland security, which he said will meet every two weeks to come up with “every solution to make your border safer.”
That task force, Abbott explained, would include members of his office, the attorney general’s office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the state commissions on law enforcement and jail standards.
Abbott invited local landowners like John Paul Schuster to the summit as well. He said he encounters migrants on his ranch in Kinney County, 25 miles from the border, almost daily in recent weeks.
“The other day at the house was a gentleman, he was by himself. He was dirty. He had been traveling through the brush,” Schuster explained. “As he approaches the house, there he is got a long sleeve hoodie on jeans and a backpack. Okay, good guy or bad guy? What’s in that backpack?”
“You only got just five or six seconds to make that decision. Good guy. Bad guy. Yeah. Are they gonna stop and talk to me? Are they gonna keep coming at me?” Schuster said, adding he and his wife carry a gun almost all of the time, even at home at the dinner table.
“I don’t want to have to kill somebody, and I don’t want to,” Schuster said, tearing up.
Ahead of the governor’s summit, he said the government needed to come up with a better plan to help.
“I don’t ask a lot of the government, I work hard, we work hard, pay our taxes, that’s justifiable. But we need help,” Schuster said.
Following the summit, Schuster said he was hopeful Abbott’s new proposals would help.
The summit also included county sheriffs, police chiefs, county judges and mayors to talk about how the state is trying to secure the U.S./Mexico border, a press release from Abbott’s office said. It also focused on “collaborative strategies between state government, local city and county officials, law enforcement, and landowners to secure our border communities and ensure a safer future for all Texans.”
Along with Abbott, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Military Department Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris and Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw spoke at the Del Rio Civic Center.
The summit came after Abbott made comments to FOX News’ Sean Hannity that he wants to arrest “everybody coming across the border.” Two law enforcement members that confirmed the summit last week to our news partners at Border Report are hoping the summit “sheds light” on Abbott’s comments.
Abbott said Thursday he’ll sign another disaster declaration next week to create this plan.
“What this will do, it will focus on making arrests,” Abbott said. “The Department of Public Safety will work with local officials to arrest anyone who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing against them. We will be arresting a lot more people in the future, so more jail space will be required.”
Migrant advocates criticize Abbott’s approach, pointing to other Republican state leaders who have tried ramping up enforcement during surges in the past.
“This isn’t a new tactic, necessarily. And Texas governors in the past have also tried to sending National Guard troops or Department of Public Safety officers to the border. We’ve seen little, if any effect of that. Most of the changes in migration flows at the U.S.-Mexico border come either from changes in U.S. federal policy or changes in the degree to which Mexican immigration authorities are enforcing immigration laws in the interior of that country,” Jessica Bolter with the Migration Policy Institute explained.
While Abbott largely pointed the finger at the Biden administration for the current crisis, Bolter explained that’s not the only factor weighing on migrants flocking to our border.
“Their plans to migrate depend much more on the conditions that they’re experiencing in their home, in their home countries, and then what they’re hearing about, whether that’s from smugglers or from others in their social networks, about who’s being able to cross the border at the moment,” Bolter said.
Kate Huddleston, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement Abbott’s plan is “unlawful” and threatens to harm families at the border, creating trauma for young kids.
“Abbott is also undermining the right to seek asylum by jailing those fleeing danger and punishing them for seeking refuge in the U.S. Additionally, Abbott’s proposed border wall will harm border communities and the environment,” Huddleston’s statement reads. “In this plan, Abbott is yet again scapegoating immigrants in an effort to distract from his own failures in governing and managing actual crises in Texas — like the historic winter storm that led to the deaths of more than 150 Texans — with cruel results.”
Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin
Welcome to Cointelegraph Market’s Altcoin Roundup, an in-depth newsletter that focuses on investing from the perspective of fundamental analysis and seeks to identify emerging blockchain projects and tokens that fill niche demands within the growing cryptocurrency market.
The concept of multi-sector investing has long been advocated in traditional finance as the conventional approach to building a balanced portfolio. Typical allocations include representation of stocks, government and corporate bonds, commodities and real estate.
Now that the cryptocurrency market has grown to a multitrillion-dollar ecosystem with numerous emerging assets, clear sectors are beginning to emerge. Savvy crypto investors looking to apply portfolio diversification practices to their holdings should begin to pay attention.
The previous Altcoin Roundup discussed some of the top layer-one solutions and coins like Polkadot/DOT, Cosmos/ATOM and Solana/SOL that have been gaining prominence over the past year, but these projects could also fall under the large-cap investment umbrella alongside high-profile assets like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and Cardano’s ADA.
Once an investor has an adequate representation of blue-chip projects, other emerging sectors like decentralized finance (DeFi), oracles and stablecoins can be considered.
DeFi: Uniswap, Aave and PancakeSwap
Decentralized finance emerged during the summer of DeFi in 2020, and the sector helped kick off the current bull market by bringing a new level of excitement to the crypto ecosystem, which was in need of the next big innovation.
One of the best metrics used to demonstrate the rising success of DeFi as a whole is the total value locked (TVL) ranking, which collectively reached an all-time high at $ 157.63 billion on May 14, according to data from Defi Llama, and stands at $ 116.62 billion at the time of writing.
The release of Uniswap’s decentralized exchange (DEX) interface — which enabled new projects to immediately launch and made tokens available to the general public — helped ignite a wave of growth and innovation across the market that continues to expand to this day.
In less than a year, Uniswap evolved into the top DEX serving the crypto community, seeing an all-time record of $ 5.74 billion in 24-hour trading volume during the market sell-off on May 19 and $ 5.37 billion in total volume locked on the platform.
The vast array of liquidity pools is the primary allure for investors looking to diversify their crypto portfolio. Through these pools, stakers have the ability to earn a yield by providing liquidity for the exchange in return for a portion of the trading fees. A number of pools offer staking returns ranging from 25% to 2,000%, and traders are able to select pools based on a variety of factors, including their appetite for risk.
While Uniswap has led the way for DEXs, there are other options like Aave’s lending platform that has emerged as the highest-ranking DeFi protocol by total value locked, with more than $ 14.1 billion in TVL at the time of writing.
Aave’s recent decision to offer layer-two (L2) access on Polygon has brought renewable energy to the AAVE ecosystem, as traders and liquidity gladly migrated to the lower-fee environment offered on Polygon. This resulted in a significant boost in TVL for both AAVE and Polygon’s native token, MATIC, which is now the second-ranked protocol by TVL, with $ 11.08 billion locked on the protocol.
Every balanced portfolio also has a small 1% to 5% allocation reserved for higher-risk assets, and the crypto market has no shortage of high-risk, high-growth assets.
For tokenholders who are open to a little more risk in return for higher yields, the Binance Smart Chain-based PancakeSwap boasts a TVL of $ 7.67 billion, and offers annual percentage rates (APR) of up to 482.54%, according to the project’s website, with all rewards paid out in the protocol’s native CAKE token.
Stablecoins are the new “savings accounts”
Though a token that stays pegged to a fixed value may not sound like the most attractive opportunity for investors, stablecoins have evolved to play a crucial role in the functioning of the wider cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Stablecoins often serve as the backbone of trading pairs on centralized and decentralized exchanges, as well as offering traders a simple way to lock in gains.
The two most prominent stablecoins are Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), which have circulating supplies of $ 60.9 billion and $ 21.6 billion tokens, respectively. Tether is currently the most traded crypto token, boasting 24-hour trading volumes that range from $ 100 billion to $ 290 billion.
Other popular stablecoins include Binance USD (BUSD), the stablecoin created for use within the Binance Smart Chain ecosystem, as well as the algorithmically controlled stablecoin DAI, which is minted via pledging collateral on the Maker protocol.
For those looking to earn a little extra yield while in the safety of stablecoins, there are multiple options available such as depositing tokens into a lending protocol like AAVE to earn up to 5% on deposits or the decentralized stablecoin exchange Curve, which offers yields of up to 50% for some stablecoins pools offered.
Other popular options include supplying liquidity for the various decentralized exchanges like PancakeSwap, which offers 8.64% for its DAI-BUSD liquidity pool, or QuickSwap, which offers a reward plus fee of the annual percent yield of 15.01% for its USDT-USDC pool and 26.75% for its DAI-USDC pool.
In a world that is becoming increasingly dominated by digital data, no cryptocurrency portfolio would be complete without access to an oracle provider. These entities are the industry’s heavyweights that facilitate the secure exchange of data and information within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as well as wider financial markets.
Currently, Chainlink is one of the most dominant oracle projects and a key player that comprises a thriving open-source community of data providers, node operators, smart contract developers, researchers and security auditors.
We’re half way through May and $ LINK already boasts 35 integrations!
I see an integrations all time high being smashed with ease this month.
With #Chainlink you just win, in every possible aspect.
While the Chainlink network doesn’t currently offer a direct way to earn a yield through a simplified staking or governance mechanism, it is easy for tokenholders to put their stash to work in DEX liquidity pools and DeFi protocols like Aave.
For investors who are not ready to trust decentralized exchanges and DeFi platforms, centralized yield-bearing companies like Nexo, Celsius and BlockFi are also available for crypto investors looking to earn a return on their holdings.
Centralized exchanges like Coinbase and Binance also offer direct staking capabilities. For example, investors could stake BAND for up to 11.7% APR on major exchanges.
As a result of the May sell-off, which saw more than $ 1.2 trillion in value wiped out of the cryptocurrency market, many of the top projects are now well below their all-time high values and trading at what some investors would describe as “bargain bin” prices.
While market participants remain unsure as to which way prices are headed in the short term, it would be wise to investigate these opportunities sooner rather than later, as the notoriously volatile crypto market can make significant moves at the drop of a hat.
Want more information about diversification into the above mentioned projects?
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
President Biden on Tuesday will announce several initiatives to reduce racial disparities, including a pledge to boost federal contracts to minority-owned businesses by 50 percent and a rollback of two Trump-era actions that have hamstrung fair housing laws.
Mr. Biden, who was scheduled to appear in Tulsa, Okla., to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Black citizens at the hands of a white mob, has aimed many of his recent policy moves at bolstering the Black middle class.
His choice of a city whose vibrant business district was decimated by racial violence was seen as a fitting backdrop to emphasize his commitment to erasing the wealth gap between races, a key campaign promise, White House officials said.
The administration will seek to increase the percentage of contracts to small businesses in underserved communities, a commitment that could mean an additional $ 100 billion for businesses designated as “disadvantaged” by the federal government.
The average Black family has one-tenth of the assets that a comparable white family possesses, and the administration is seeking to fortify the main source of wealth for Black households: homeownership.
Housing Secretary Marcia L. Fudge will oversee the creation of a task force that will propose solutions to racial discrimination in the appraisal of housing in Black neighborhoods, part of a separate-but-unequal system of segregated homeownership that has grown out of discriminatory housing laws and racist lending policies.
On Friday, Ms. Fudge announced a $ 100 million initiative intended to spur Black homeownership in areas historically off-limits to minorities because of biased zoning laws or discrimination by banks. The program will boost down payments for recipients of Federal Housing Administration loans, giving borrowers equity comparable to that of their more affluent neighbors.
In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will issue two Fair Housing Act rules that reverse efforts by the Trump administration to weaken protections.
Under the proposed White House budget released last week, the department’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity division’s staff will increase about 20 percent. Ms. Fudge has already said she also intends to enforce an Obama-era program intended to desegregate the suburbs.
“Because disparities in wealth compound like an interest rate, the disinvestment in Black families in Tulsa and across the country throughout our history is still felt sharply today,” a statement posted on the White House website said. “The median Black American family has thirteen cents for every one dollar in wealth held by White families.”
Reach, a blockchain development platform for decentralized applications, has raised $ 12 million from investors to further its goals of simplifying the DApp creation process, the company announced on May 26.
Reach launched in 2019, and has thus far achieved compatibility with the Ethereum and Algorand blockchains, with plans to expand the compatibility of its code compiler to adapt to any network.
Reach founder and CEO Chris Swenor said the fundraise took the project closer to becoming the main platform for interoperable DApp development.
“This investment accelerates our path to becoming the primary method the world builds decentralized applications that will form the basis of global interaction. We are thrilled by the momentum we have seen so far and the unprecedented support by investors and pioneering networks who share our vision for bringing blockchain mainstream,” said Swenor.
Ethereum is already home to the largest percentage of blockchain developers, with twice as many as the foremost cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC), according to some reports. Algorand launched in 2019 with the goal of scaling blockchain performance — a goal it has since made progress toward with a reported 1,000 transactions per second and sub-cent fees.
Algorand CEO Steve Kokinos talked up the importance of having simple programming languages that are accessible to all developers — something that must be achieved if Algorand’s visions are to be realized.
“We believe it is critical to empower all developers with simple languages that put safety and correctness at the forefront. This is aligned with our vision for the future of finance where smart contract infrastructure will support billions of dollars of value and exchange around the world,” Kokinos said.
The device you’re using to read this article almost certainly operates by placing its zeroes and ones in bits of semiconductor, namely silicon—which constantly needs electricity to function.
In a world that’s pushing for net-zero carbon emissions, that sort of energy use won’t do. Luckily, researchers are working on fundamentally changing how computers work—which could lead to powerful, lower-energy devices. One way of doing that is to build a computer with magnets.
Researchers at the University of Michigan, collaborating with chip-maker Intel, have created a new iron alloy that could be a major feature of magnet-based computers of tomorrow. Their work was published recently in Nature Communications.
Their alloy acts as a magnetostrictor. That means it relies on the fact that when you plunge a magnetic material, such as iron, within a magnetic field, that material subtly shape-shifts. By adding other metals (an alloy is a mixture of metallic elements) and fine-tuning their proportions, you can make alloys that are more magnetostrictive, or more flexible when their magnetic fields change.
Today, magnetostrictors help us build high-quality sensors, since we can detect the changes of a good magnetostrictor’s shape in the presence of magnetic fields, even rather weak ones. By using electrical current to create magnetic fields, you can force a magnetostrictor to shape-shift. In this way, you can convert the electrical energy of the current, relatively easily, into the mechanical energy of the magnetostrictor changing shape.
That’s a powerful ability. In the future, magnetostrictors might enable us to use tiny, changeable magnetic fields to form the zeroes and ones that make up the invisible bedrock of all our computing devices.
In recent years, however, magnetostrictors have fallen by the wayside of materials science. “People have kind of shoved the magnetostrictor under the rug,” says John Heron, a materials scientist at the University of Michigan and one of the authors of the paper.
But there’s reason to pay attention to them. Today’s best magnetostrictors rely on rare-earth metals such as terbium and dysprosium. Rare earths tend to be (predictably) rare and expensive. Mining and extracting them is a difficult process that often generates toxic waste. And, with the bulk of production controlled by China, the global rare-earth trade is vulnerable to fickle geopolitics and US-China trade spats.
That’s partly why Heron and his colleagues sought to make a better magnetostrictor by mixing iron with a far cheaper and more accessible element: gallium, a soft, silvery metal that only occurs in nature as trace elements within aluminium and zinc ores. Pure gallium has such a low melting point that it would turn to liquid in your hands.
The University of Michigan researchers are hardly the first to use gallium to make magnetostrictive materials, but their predecessors had run into a pesky limit.
“When you go above 20 percent gallium, the material is no longer stable,” says Heron. “The material changes symmetry, it changes crystal structure, and its properties change dramatically.” For one, the material becomes much less shape-shiftingly magnetostrictive.
To get around that limit, Heron and his colleagues had to stop the atoms from shifting their structure. So they crafted their alloy at a relatively chilly 320 degrees Farenheit (160 degrees Celsius)—thus limiting its atoms’ energy. This locked the atoms in place and prevented them from moving about, even as the researchers infused more gallium into the alloy.
Through this method, the researchers were able to make an iron alloy with as much as 30 percent gallium, creating a new material that’s twice as magnetostrictive as its rare-earth counterparts.
This new, more effective magnetostrictor could help scientists build not only a cheaper computer, but also one that doesn’t rely on rare-earth minerals whose mining generates excessive carbon.
In the grand scheme of things, your traditional home computer doesn’t use an excessive amount of energy. The mega-computer data centers that power the internet, though, are another story. While the exact amount of their electricity use and carbon emissions is contentious, there’s no denying the centers consume a lot of energy.
To reduce those energy demands, researchers like Heron want to build devices that totally change how computers work.. Magnetostrictors could be one way of doing that. Instead of using semiconductors that require constant electricity, tomorrow’s computers might use magnetostrictors to work in bits of magnetic field. For basic operations, such devices would only need electricity to change a zero to a one, or vice versa—instead of needing power continuously.
In addition to saving energy, such a computer would have several advantages over its existing counterparts. If it turned off unexpectedly, you wouldn’t lose what you were doing, because the bits of magnetic field would remain in place. Engineers also think it’s easier to scale up the specs of these hypothetical computers, allowing performance levels that today’s semiconductors likely can’t manage. The technology is still in its infancy, though, so It’s not clear when, or even if, we might see magnetostrictor-based devices in our homes. “How many years away do I envision it becoming an iPhone technology?” says Heron. “Well, if I’m lucky, 20 or 30. Maybe never.”
“But demonstrating the fundamental bit … is something that we’re doing now,” he says.
Summer’s right around the corner, but the heat is already on. From unrelenting sunshine to sizzling grills, feeling hot (and cooling down) are part of the daily grind now. PopSci is here to help you ease into the most scorching season with the latest science, gear, and smart DIY ideas. Welcome to Hot Month.
For more than a thousand years, windcatchers have existed in and around the Persian Gulf. These architectural towers are perfect examples of natural ventilation and passive cooling—ideas that have become increasingly relevant in sustainable design. As architects and environmentalists alike seek to move away from conventional energy-intensive heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, windcatchers are a prime example of the marriage between architectural design and the environment as a solution to our new climate realities.
If recent memories of sweltering summers aren’t enough motivation, data from the Environmental Protection Agency has shown that most states in the contiguous US can only expect the digits to climb on their thermostats. Eight of the top 10 warmest years on record in the US have occured since 1998, with 2012 and 2015 taking the spots for first and second. And there are ways to combat the problem that don’t involve cranking the A/C.
Keeping cool over the summer is all about controlling how all the elements in the house interact with solar energy.
“Passive solar design… is all the things that you can do when you’re designing a building to basically naturally condition it and make it a better place to live,” says David Wright, an architect who has been in the sustainable design movement for nearly five decades. The principles of passive solar design are core to building houses that can both keep us comfy and prevent power bills from skyrocketing.
Keep location in mind
Not all climates are created equal. Building in Boston versus in Austin will have its own unique set of restraints and challenges. As we face environmental threats of all kinds from wildfires in the west to hurricanes in the east, our homes must be built with the impending climate crisis in mind.
In an ideal scenario, your home will be oriented in such a way that it can conveniently take advantage of the naturally occurring wind patterns. By figuring out which way the summer breeze blows, you can better plan where entrances and windows will be placed to naturally cool your house.
Take advantage of shade
Before we even get inside the house, it’s beneficial to try and protect the exterior from direct sunlight. If you live in a place surrounded by trees, they provide excellent natural coverage. Deciduous trees in particular, trees that shed their leaves seasonally, are effective at blocking the sun out during those ice-cream-and-lemonade months, then letting in the winter sun when you want those warming rays.
If the topography allows it, you can even build your house so that, in the most tender of terms, it is earth-sheltered. These homes can either be entirely underground or have structures like walls or roofs built against soil. This is a particularly energy and cost-effective (at least in the long term) way of combating extreme climates. In the absence of a convenient hillside, you can install protective coverings like canvas, awnings or overhangs to prevent the sun from hitting the roof and walls of your house directly. Getting the depth of the overhang is crucial: Too deep and you lose your winter sun, too shallow and you’ve got too much summer heat. The proper measurements will depend on your location. You can hazard those calculations yourself using many availabletools and guides online or skip the searching and ask an architect for the specifics of your house.
Place windows strategically
Windows are perhaps your most important tool when it comes to ventilating and cooling your home. Specifically, cross-ventilation relies on the concept that by creating windows of similar sizes opposite each other: air is sucked into the house, cools your body by helping the heat evaporate off it, and then exits through the opposite windows. This creates a nice natural breeze. The key to creating good cross-ventilation is figuring out where the wind is coming from.
“You want to make sure you open windows on the west and the south where you can pick up those winds and then you need to get the wind back out,” says Vivan Loftness, a professor of architecture and former head of the school of architecture at Carnegie Mellon. “The more windows you can open, the more flow you’re going to get through the house. But if you want to speed up the wind, there’s a general rule of thumb that says you should have fewer open on the windward side and more open on the leeward side.”
Loftness is referring to the Venturi effect, a principle used in fluid dynamics which means that the speed of wind will increase if it is squeezed through a narrow opening, like wind tunnels in between skyscrapers. As the wind is drawn into the house through a smaller opening, it speeds up inside of the house, making the breeze feel stronger.
The location of the windows are also very important. Providing shade for windows that are south and north facing is much easier than those that are eastward or westward. That’s because as the sun sets across our skies from east to west, it shines through windows at much lower angles during the afternoons.
“Unless you have the most spectacular view, it’s inexcusable to put people into a condition where they’re getting huge amounts of solar heat late in the afternoon when it’s extremely hot already,” says Loftness.
Create columns of moving air
By using some fundamental principles of chemistry and physics, you can also help redirect the airflow in your house. Using what designers call the stack effect, you can draw hot air towards the top of your house and move it away from pooling nearer the ground where people live, eat and sleep.. Hot air rises because it is less dense than cooler air and so, creating a ventilation tower through high ceilings and a narrower opening, funnels the hot air into the tower. This motion pulls cooler air into the lower living spaces since it is more dense and will remain closer to the ground. You can create this tower by either placing windows higher up, like clerestory windows (positioned near the ceiling) or skylights, or simply by creating spaces like atriums that have higher ceilings than the rest of the room. The greater the height difference between the peak height and the ground, the greater the effect. If you already have an attic, you can also create an attic hatch. In order to make sure that you’re not just recycling stale air, crack open a window to introduce some fresh air. (Don’t forget window screens for those pesky bugs.)
Choose roofing materials wisely
Insulate your roof. And while you’re at it, paint it too. Insulating your roof and the attic prevents all the heat that builds up as sunlight hits the roof from entering your house. It is an added layer of protection against the summer sun. Building your roof out of reflective materials is another way of making sure that less heat is absorbed through the roof. Like white linen on the beach, this has historically meant using materials that are lighter in color. But white roofs are not necessarily first on the list of most homeowners’ aesthetic desires.
“Now the roofing industry has been developing dark colored roofing shingles that happen to be highly reflective,” says Loftness. “In other words, color and reflectivity used to be just like the windows. There used to be one choice: if you wanted to be highly reflective, you had to put a white roof on. But today they’ve figured out a way to make coatings that aren’t white, but that actually are highly reflective.”
Build thicker walls
There’s a reason images of Mediterranean villas and Arabian desert abodes flood our minds when we think of hot sweltering summers. Those houses have traditionally always been built to withstand high degrees of warming. You’ll also notice a significant lack of wooden structures and attics. That’s because heavy, thick materials like concrete have a lot more thermal mass, which allows them to store excess heat during the day, which is then removed later at night by cool air. Through this process, materials like concrete, stone and brick are better at passively cooling homes because they essentially have a lot more capacity to store the heat that would otherwise get transferred to the air inside the house.
Design for the future
We’re not just designing for a few unusually hot summers—the climate change thermometer is only ticking upwards. The houses we build now will need to withstand a lot more heat in the decades to come. Designing them to stay cooler in extreme temperatures is just one of the steps we can take to alleviate our demands on polluting energy systems. As our designs become more clever and environmentally conscious, we can rely on artificial cooling and federal energy systems less and less.
As Loftness explains, when we begin to design sustainability, we begin to design resilient homes. Resiliency is going to become increasingly important as storms and fires threaten how reliable our power is going to be. We might find ourselves in situations without air conditioning soon enough, and rather than going cold turkey then, we could design houses that don’t rely on artificial cooling now.
“Imagine the power goes down in your house for a week and your home has been designed with a central air conditioning system and it hasn’t doesn’t have very good shading, if any,” she explains. “In many cases, many of the windows don’t even open. You can open the front door and maybe there’s a window or two that has been sealed shut for the last 10 years. You would be very hard pressed to stay in that home in the afternoon, or even at all. And so, resiliency is an important word for us to understand because the power is going to go out on us for lots of reasons.”