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Floating Cities

There are two types of floating cities: cities that float in water (see ocean colonization) and cities that float in the sky (such as Cloud City). Both are still theoretical; the latter is really theoretical.

Geoffrey Landis provides an interesting point though about building floating cities on Venus, whose surface is generally considered to be akin Hell:

However, viewed in a different way, the problem with Venus is merely that the ground level is too far below the one atmosphere level. At cloud-top level, Venus is the paradise planet.

(quote from Wikipedia)

Green Space Cools Cities

According to a recent study, adding parks in urban spaces can cool the city by as much as 4°C.

Vegetation cools local temperatures when the water it has absorbed is evaporated from its leaves – much like the cooling effect of perspiration. The researchers say that the increased greenery would not have to involve building new parks. For instance, green roofing – roll-out strips of soil planted with succulents, commonly used in Germany – would have a similar effect.

The Shifting Demography of America

The WSJ recently had an article entitled The Realignment of America, by Michael Barone, which attempts to give a finer-grained picture of the demographic shifts in America than the simple ‘the Snow Belt to the Sun Belt’. Barone defines four categories of cities and their associated patterns of change, and then provides a bit of political commentary. These categories are Coastal Megalopolises, Interior Boomtowns, Rust Belt, and Static Cities. Provides a quick summary of some interesting trends in the US.

China Plans a Pre-Fab Green Metropolis

Wired Magazine has an article entitled Pop-Up Cities, about the plan for a large new city near Shanghai, called Dongtan:

Dongtan’s master plan — hundreds of pages of maps, schematics, and data — has almost nothing to say about architectural style. Instead, it outlines the world’s first green city, every block engineered in response to China’s environmental crisis. It’s like the source code for an urban operating system.

There is lots of info and details here about large-scale urban design within the context of being extremely environmentally friendly. A very exciting idea, and an interesting article.

City Birds Switch to Singing at Night

According to new research, it appears that British robins have switched to singing at night when in urban environments, in order to be heard:

“There are two ways of looking at these results,” says Fuller, who admits he does not know if the birds that sing at night are vocal in the daytime too. “On one hand, you could conclude that these birds are highly adaptable to the urban environment. On the other, it could be that they are suffering from the poor-quality habitat and having trouble attracting a mate.”

On the Nature of Commuting

The New Yorker has an article by Nick Paumgarten entitled There and Back Again all about commuting and why some people are willing to endure unreasonably long travel times. It focuses mainly on New York City and Atlanta, evidently a commuting Hell. As a bonus, the article also includes a brief etymology of the term ‘commute’:

The term “commute” derives from its original meaning of “to change to another less severe.” In the eighteen-forties, the men who rode the railways each day from newly established suburbs to work in the cities did so at a reduced rate. The railroad, in other words, commuted their fares, in exchange for reliable ridership (as it still does, if you consider the monthly pass). In time, the commuted became commuters.

Spider-Man Week in NYC and Marvel Tourism

Spider-Man is a creature of New York City. Few other cities have the ideal environment of tall buildings in such high density which is perfect for web-swinging. Almost anywhere else and Spidey would spend most of his time just jumping from place to place.

That being said, in honor of the upcoming opening of Spider-Man 3, New York City, is having a weeklong Spider-Man celebration. Events will be everywhere throughout the city, from zoos to libraries to museums.

One blogger, planning for this week, found a copy of a map of the Marvel Universe version of New York City, and tried to find these places in the real world. Here are his photos of Marvel tourist locations