Two years ago, writer Mark Rayner held a contest in which he invited people to create vintage ads from the 1940s-1960s. Except that these ads would be from future environments depicted in science fiction. Rayner has now held a new contest with the same theme. You can view the winners at the link.
"The Watchman" is the moniker of a masked man who patrols the streets of Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood at night:
"I'm what people refer to as a real-life superhero," he says.
By night, on weekends, he patrols Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, looking for injustice and evildoers. By day? That's a mystery.
"While most reactions to what I do are positive, there are a few negative responses," he explains, adding that the disguise protects his family - a wife and two young sons - from any of that. "I'm the one who decided to do this, not them," he says. "They should not have to suffer for it."[...]
So the 6-foot, 200-pound, 30-something crime fighter patrols Riverwest in costume, with a flashlight and pepper spray on hand - and a black Motorola cell phone as his weapon of choice.
Industrial designers Elan Leor and Eran Lederman made this noodle that can be used as a whistle:
This innovative pasta functions as a whistle, capable of generating two different tones from one piece – a tone from each respective end. The design is based on the extrusion technology such as the well-known Penne type, with the introduction of two supplementry operations of squashing and a cut for channeling the airflow.
Cyril Howarth spent £50,000 converting a canal boat into something that looks like a U-boat. He's placed it out on the narrow canal between Leeds and Liverpool (UK), much to the displeasure of local boaters:
But the vessel has so alarmed fellow canal users that British waterways has been called on to investigate whether it breaches any rules.
"You should have seen the faces of the locals when they woke up with a U-boat in their midst," said Mr Howarth, 78.
There's a store in Japan that is now selling shoes with sole imprints inspired by Ukiyo-e woodblock printing. Three other patterns are available. The creators built their design around Merrell-style American shoes.
The architects at Nemo Workshop designed this new espresso bar in New York City called D'espresso. The interior looks like the room has been tilted on its side:
The "books" are actually tiles printed with sepia-toned photos of bookshelves at a local travel bookstore that ring the room, including the floor, walls and ceiling. In addition to painting unusual surfaces with intriguing patterns -- whoa, you're standing on books! -- it gives an Alice in Wonderland-esque sense that the room has been suddenly upended.
Chris Allen, a professional yo-yoist, made an enormous yo-yo out of two dog pools. It's 35 inches across, 18 inches wide, and weighs 5.4 pounds. Allen tested it while standing on the roof of parking garage of the National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico, California. At the link, you can watch a video of Allen building and using the yo-yo.
Robert Lamb spent a day and a half building an elaborate Rube Goldberg device in order to propose to his girlfriend. The video includes his initial, failed test runs. The actual proposal comes at 7:05.
Took me 9.5 years to ask my fiancee to Marry me, now she knows why!
Providence, Rhode Island-based artist Dave Cole specializes in large-scale knitting. Recently, he created an enormous knitted piece covering an old bridge in Melbourne, Australia:
All around there it’s very dust-colored, so I chose the brightest, most fluorescent colors - orange and pink - and with 40 people we knitted one kilometer of two-foot-wide surveyors’ tape along the bridge. I used the Fibonacci sequence as a basis for the design so it looked like it was curving in and out and up and down.
Neiman Marcus is selling a candy-covered gingerbread house that stands over six feet tall:
This unique edible playhouse is handcrafted of 381 lbs. of gourmet gingerbread and 517 lbs. of royal icing by the expert confectioners at Dylan's Candy Bar®. The munchable manor, which stands 6.6 feet high by 5.25 feet wide by 4.1 feet deep, incorporates the best confections from the world's largest candy store in New York City.
YouTube user OneMinuteGalactica remixed scenes from Star Wars with audio from a 1950s-era teen hygiene film about dating. Luke wants to ask Leia out on a date. How should he do it? What should they do together? This film advises young Jedi on how to have a good first date experience.
Linguists working in a remote area of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh discovered a language spoken by 800 people that is totally unlike any language that's ever been cataloged. It's called Koro.
"Their language is quite distinct on every level—the sound, the words, the sentence structure," said Gregory Anderson, director of the nonprofit Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, who directs the project's research. Details of the language will be documented in an upcoming issue of the journal Indian Linguistics.[...]
Languages like Koro "construe reality in very different ways," Dr. Anderson said. "They uniquely code knowledge of the natural world in ways that cannot be translated into a major language."[...]
Moreover, it was masked by the unusual language diversity of the area, where so many languages are spoken that they seem to intermingle effortlessly in streams of thought. Indeed, the local Koro speakers themselves didn't consider theirs a separate language, even though it is as distinct from those spoken by other villagers as English is from Russian, the researchers said.
This language has no written form, so researchers are working quickly to learn its grammar and vocabulary in order to preserve it against extinction.
Researchers have found that it may be advantageous for tennis players to grunt as they swing because the grunt may confuse opposing players about in which direction the ball is moving:
For those clips that included a grunt, respondents had a slower response and were less accurate about the location of the forthcoming shot. The authors, while concluding that future on-court study needs to be conducted, posit one possible explanation, that “the interfering auditory stimulus masks the sound of the ball being struck by the racket or it distracts an opponent’s attention away from the sound of the ball.”
Link | Photo by Flickr user Adam Baker used under Creative Commons license
Comedian and graphic designer Doogie Horner took a whimsical look at Facebook portraits. In a large infographic at Fast Company, he presented his analysis of what your portrait photo says about your personality, motivations, and criminal history.
Austin Houldsworth is an "interactive artist". He wanted to see if it was possible to speed up the fossilization process from a few million years to a few months, and built a machine that he thought might do the job. Pictured above is Houldsworth with the body of a partridge that he subjected to four months of petrification. His ultimate goal is to try it on a person:
Yes, fossilising a human being is still the ultimate aim. Regarding this experiment, the results are promising enough to continue perfecting the machine... but I never saw the machine as the final result - it has helped me to understand the many different aspects which are required for the process to occur. And subsequently I've designed a number of improvements for the machine. I believe I'll be working on this particular project for a very long time.
D.L. & Co., a manufacturer of luxury crafts, makes a candle that cries tears as it burns. It's called "Deirdre", after the Irish pre-Christian folktale "Deirdre of the Sorrows." There are four more photos at the link.
DARPA and Lockheed Martin are developing a sniper rifle that, if successful, will partially aim itself:
It will measure atmospheric conditions, account for the weapon’s maximum effective range and include GPS coordinates. It’s also supposed to communicate with the rifle scope, informing the gun itself of the aim point offset and expected crosswind.
The Longreach Buoyancy Deployment System is a gadget in development that fires a buoyant life preserver at people stranded in the water up to 150 meters away:
Longreach is also equipped with Para-Flares for night-time Illumination. Longreach is designed to be simple to manufacture and easy to handle. Ideally used by emergency services personnel or a ship’s crew, Longreach has the potential to significantly reduce the number of drownings at sea.
Bifocals and trifocals allow people with limited vision to see objects at varying distances, but only by refocusing on the object from a different vantage. A scientist named Zeev Zalevsky responded to this problem by developing a lens that allows the user to focus on any distance out from 33 centimeters:
It involves engraving the surface of a standard lens with a grid of 25 near-circular structures each 2 millimetres across and containing two concentric rings. The engraved rings are just a few hundred micrometres wide and a micrometre deep. "The exact number and size of the sets will change from one lens to another," depending on its size and shape, says Zalevsky.
The rings shift the phase of the light waves passing through the lens, leading to patterns of both constructive and destructive interference. Using a computer model to calculate how changes in the diameter and position of the rings alter the pattern, Zalevsky came up with a design that creates a channel of constructive interference perpendicular to the lens through each of the 25 structures. Within these channels, light from both near and distant objects is in perfect focus.
"It results in an axial channel of focused light, not a single focal spot," Zalevsky says. "If the retina is positioned anywhere along this channel, it will always see objects in focus."
Link via DVICE | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user Muffet used under Creative Commons license
A Möbius strip is a ribbon of material that has only one side. A group of nanotechnology researchers experimenting with manipulating tiny objects was able to reshape a DNA strand into a Möbius strip.
The ability to create complex structures on the tiniest of scales is one of the great challenges of nanotechnology. In particular, chemists are looking for particular topological structures, or structures that keep their basic properties no matter how much you stretch or twist them. A Möbius strip is a good example of such a structure, because no matter what you do it (short of tearing it, of course), it will always have only one side.
Kimbra Hickey is a hand model, and her hands grace the cover of the novel Twilight. She earned $300 for the photo. After seeing so many people attached to the franchise rise in fame and fortune, Hickey would like to get a piece of the action:
"I see people reading it on the subway, and I say, 'Those are my hands! I'm a hand model!' " she explained. "I'm sure they think I'm crazy -- a crazy lady on the subway."
The good-natured Hickey sometimes hangs out near the cash register at the Barnes & Noble near her Greenwich Village apartment to spread the word. Surprised customers sometimes ask her for her autograph or to trace the outline of her hand on the book jacket.
She even carries around a Gala apple in her purse at times so she can recreate the pose for people.[...]
Hickey's agent, Danielle Korwin, said her hands are in demand because they are "veinless" -- not the sort of hands a vampire would like.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo created an interface that allows a rat to move a small car around with just his thoughts:
The rats were trained on the car by towing it around an enclosed area with the motors disengaged. A vision system positioned above tracked the rats by following colored markers on their backs and the vehicle. It fed the positions into a "locomotion estimation model" program that correlated the motion of the animals with readings from the electrodes.
Next the rats were suspended more tightly to the car so their limbs touched the floor only slightly. The researchers then switched the system into "neuro-robotic mode," with the neural signals used to help drive the car. Six out of eight rats used in the study adapted well to the car.
The researchers hope that this project will lead to the development of thought-controlled mobility aids for disabled humans.
Artist Robert Mathy created "Light Sensitive Fingertips" -- a musical instrument that has light sensitive phototransistors in the tips of the fingers. It's played by moving the sensors over light sources of varying intensity:
Light, emitted by the displays of activated mobile phones, functions as the origin of the sounds. As each mobile phone's display generates a different light frequency, each results in an audio signal with a different pitch. In addition, other electronic devices, such as flashing bicycle lights, can be used to generate rhythmic tones.
In the links, you can find a video of Mathy playing this instrument.
Sadly, there are people who have email accounts, but only a limited grasp of basic computer or social skills. Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal has a new set of comics up illustrating the foibles of such folks.