First we had windmills. Then wind turbines. Now it's time to meet the Windwheel.

Picture this:

You're waking up in your beautiful new apartment, looking out on the canal it's situated upon. You sit at your kitchen counter with a cup of coffee, grab the stack of envelopes waiting to be opened, and peruse the invoices within to be paid. But one is missing.

It's the electricity bill.


You frantically search through your mail — and then you remember. You don't have an electricity bill. Because your new apartment is part of a giant circular "Windwheel" that not only generates enough power for your complex, but enough to power your whole town.

Waking up in this building would be such a trip! Image from Dutch Windwheel.

Does a giant Windwheel you can live in sound like a fantasy? Well, it's actually closer than you think.

It's a plan that's so zany it just might work, and its itty-bitty prototype is expected to be easily scalable to the sizes required for the head trip we just went on to become a reality. And it could be ready to operate and live in within 10 years.

How does this Windwheel thing work?

Here's a glimpse of the concept from the Dutch Windwheel company and the Delft University of Technology. Mary Beth Griggs explains in Popular Science:

"Horizontal beams will stretch across the center of the Windwheel. Thousands of nozzles located along them will spray positively charged water molecules into the air. When wind pushes the droplets against the beams' high-voltage electric field, it will create a negative charge.

The negative charge will form a current as the electricity discharges, much like when the negative charge that builds up in thunderclouds discharges to the ground via lightning strike. The electricity will then be converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) for use in the Windwheel or storage in an industrial battery."

Or here's another way of looking at that.

We know we can harness energy through mechanical conversion via windmills and wind turbines, like so:

GIF via TU Delft.

But these Delft University of Technology geniuses wondered if they could get the energy without the mechanical part. (Short story they can.)

"We wondered whether it is possible to produce energy from wind without the conversion via mechanical energy. It is! By letting the wind move charged particles against the direction of an electric field. How does that work? This is an electric field and a positively charged particle. This can be any object that can hold charge. For example, a ping pong ball. But for the EWICON, we use water droplets. The electric force of the field moves the particle toward the negative electrode. Now when we let the wind push the particle toward the positive electrode, the potential energy of the particle is increased — similar to pushing a rock up a mountain against gravity."

GIF via TU Delft.

They're already using this technology on a much smaller scale and looking to improve its efficiency. Researchers think that with funding and more work on the design, it can be ready to go, in an affordable way, in a decade. And they're betting that making it a design that actually provides housing — yes, actually being able to live in one of the magical Windwheels — is a win-win economically.

Imagine going night-night in this place. Image from Dutch Windwheel.

It's also proposed, as shown in this diagram, that the Windwheel could have solar panels to enhance its energy production capacity.

Image from Dutch Windwheel.

It's not clear if this technology could eventually be retrofitted to benefit existing apartment buildings, and we're a bit too far from the actuality to start putting in a rental application for the first Windwheel apartment just yet, but...

2025 is the projected year that the Windwheel could be up and running.

Photo by Brendan Wood/Flickr.

And for people who are looking forward to seeing their electric bills go down (not to mention switching to cleaner energy), it won't be a moment too soon.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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