Glass-Walled Central Park for the Future of NYC

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In Brief

Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu won the first place in the eVolo’s Annual Skyscraper Competition, with a proposal to have Central Park excavated and use the cliffs as housing.

Solutions to the problems related to urban architecture have been many and varied. But a problem that persists is the dull and dreary landscape of the urban jungle. In particular, those living in Manhattan are surrounded by many skyscrapers. The only sizable patch of green is Central Park; however, only a fraction are able to enjoy it on a daily basis, and the skyscrapers are still visible from virtually anywhere within.

This is why Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu have created a risky proposal: to excavate Central Park.

Specifically, they proposed to dig down to the bedrock beneath Central Park and erect a reflective “horizontal skyscraper” around its perimeter, providing 11 sq/km (7 sq/mi) of peripheral housing with views out over the park.

With its highly reflective glass cover on all sides, the landscape inside the new park can reach beyond physical boundaries, creating an illusion of infinity (true, the reflective nature of the structure may raise concerns related to sunburns, but coatings on the surface should, theoretically, address these issues).

Most importantly, the design provides an important feature: Housing. The wall provides additional space so more people could live nearer to the new Central Park. Thus, more people could use it to escape from the daily rigors of life.

The project would also democratize access to the park by providing more people (who live in the complex) with greater proximity while retaining access points along the periphery for rest of the public

While excavating the Central Park seems like a joke, subterranean and underground housing alternatives are being developed, in NYC and in other parts of the world. As cities become more crowded, alternative housing will become more important.

Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu

See the Light

A new discovery links the spin and momentum of light waves, and could mean a major advance in the development of new photonic and spintronic devices.

Scientists from Purdue University have discovered a property of light waves called “spin-momentum locking,” which means that a rotating electric field accompanying light moves in a certain direction according to the photons’ momentum.  In other words, light waves spinning counterclockwise move only “forward,” those spinning clockwise move only “backward.”

It’s a significant discovery, because it means that light—formerly used in technology merely for communication purposes—can now be harnessed for memory and logic operations in computers, for instance, by using photonic spin.

Photonic technology could also be coupled with “spintronics,” in which the spin as well as charge of electrons is utilized. To understand photonics, and how it can be used, check out the video below from Prof. David Lancaster from IPAS at the University of Adelaide.

Unfolding the Research

“The question,” explains Zubin Jacob, one of the authors of the new study appearing in the journal Optica, “is how to interface photonics and spintronics.  We would have to use some of these spin properties of light to interface with spintronics so that we might use both photons and electrons in devices.”

“Researchers had noticed intriguing effects related to directional propagation of light coupled to its polarization,” Jacob continues. “What we have shown is that this is a unique effect related to the spin and momentum of light analogous in many ways to the case of spin-momentum locking which occurs for electrons. We showed there is a very simple rule that governs this spin and momentum locking. And it’s a universal property for all optical materials and nanostructures, which makes it potentially very useful for photonic devices. This universality is unique to light and does not occur for electrons.”

Further research remains to be done, but it’s a promising development for a brand new technology.

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