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Indian origin engineer says traditional homes are more sustainable


Washington: An Indian-origin engineer said that while the trend might be of the houses like Europe and North America but the traditional homes can be more sustainable.

Industrial building materials are often scarce and expensive and alternative, locally sourced, sustainable materials are often a better choice, said Khanjan Mehta, assistant professor of engineering design at the Pennsylvania State University.

“People want to build a good house, everyone wants to have a good house. But what makes a good house? Is it wood, steel, concrete or bamboo? It all depends on the context,” Mehta said.

“In some places steel and concrete are perfect, while straw bales and bamboo are optimal in other places. We should be evaluating what is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable at the necessary scale in a given location,” he said.

Cutting down forests to plant bamboo as a building material is not the answer, according to Mehta.

Individuals can use locally available but scarce materials to build their individual homes, but that strategy will not build all the houses in a city or village because it cannot be scaled up to meet the demand.

“Can we grow mushrooms and process them into a strong packaging material or fiberboard for construction?” said Mehta.

“We need cross pollination from different areas to come up with acceptable choices to meet these challenges,” Mehta noted.

“People see western stuff as better, more modern and therefore they think it is good,” said Mehta.

“Traditional homes can be just as cool, and maybe more sustainable,” he said.

Mehta shared his thoughts at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC on Friday.(IANS)

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Facebook’s Blockchain Division Has a New Director of Engineering

Blockchain, a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are recorded, is the next big thing

Facebook testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. Pixabay

Facebook has promoted one of its senior engineers Evan Cheng as the Director of Engineering at its recently launched Blockchain division, signalling the importance of the project, the media reported.

Cheng is also listed as an advisor to blockchain startups and projects Zilliqa and ChainLink, the TechCrunch reported.

Earlier in May, Facebook had set up a group within the company to explore blockchain technology and its potential use for the platform, headed by long time Messenger chief David Marcus.

However, the latest executive reshuffle appears to point to the social networking giant getting more serious about developing on top of blockchain technology.

Besides Cheng, the tech giant has also promoted Kevin Weil, former vice president of product at Instagram, as the vice president of product at their Blockchain division, the report said.

Facebook mobile app
Facebook mobile app. Pixabay

“It means it’s not just an exploratory project”, is how one source who tracks the blockchain space speculatively, described Cheng’s move to Facebook’s blockchain team, the report said.

Recruiting Cheng to the blockchain group signals the importance of the project, the source said.

According to his LinkedIn page, Cheng has been employed at Facebook since November 2015 and has been working at their Programming Languages and Runtimes, a position he held for nearly three years.

He also worked at Apple for over 10 years and is credited as one of the inventors of LLVM — a compiler that generates the low-level machine code for Apple devices.

Also Read: Facebook Shuts Down Three of its Apps

Blockchain, a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are recorded, is the next big thing.

Although Facebook has not announced any plans about how they would use blockchain technology on their platform, it is clear they are pursuing this technology with interest. In the light of the data crises faced by Facebook, it is going to be interesting to see how they utilize this technology to improve their services, the CCN reported. (IANS)