Water Skiing Turns 100 Years Old

You probably never thought about how old the sport of water skiing is, but it couldn't have been much of a sport before personal motor boats were a thing. The man who invented water skiing was Ralph Samuelson, an avid snow skier, who wondered if it would be possible to ski on water. He was only 18, but this is exactly the kind of thing 18-year-old men do. He tried using snow skis and various homemade boards on Lake Pepin, and finally had to design and build his own water skis. He then had to work out the best procedure for getting on top of the water by trial and error.  

After many attempts, Samuelson was able to stand up on water skis in July 2, 1922, behind a boat his brother was piloting. The site of that accomplishment on Lake Pepin, and the town of Lake City, Minnesota, are also the locations of this weekend's 100th anniversary commemoration of the birth of water skiing. Sadly, Ralph Samuelson didn't patent water skis, and someone else did a few years later. But his place in water sports history is safe. Read about how water skiing came about 100 years ago at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Scinauticando.com)

Watch These Cats Solve a Puzzle

Roy and Moss are Norwegian forest cats living in Switzerland. The puzzle they are confronted with is designed for dogs, but can be fun for cats, too, if they don't claw the treats out from the top or stick their face down in it like Roy does. I would imagine most cats would knock the whole thing over in a few minutes, and then fight with each other over the treats. But Moss, on the left, stumbles upon the solution once, then seems to remember it for a second attempt. The third level is baffling, though, as that handle is on Roy's side, and the cat is too polite to invade his brother's space. But he finally figures it out. You can almost see the gears going around in the cats' heads. Well, at least Moss's head. Roy is happy to let his brother do the heavy thinking. See more of Roy and Moss at Instagram.  

Chasing the Chocolate Dragon

Amaury Guichon is not just a master pastry chef and professor of the pastry arts, but also a top-tier artist. That’s on full display with his latest creation. This chocolate dragon is so strong that he can mount it on the wall without any apparent internal supports aside from the chocolate itself. Watch this video of its creation and be wowed by his delicate sculpting of the eyes and scales, as well as the painting of the skin.

About one third of the way into the video, you may think that he’s sculpting something else. But that’s only because you have a dirty mind.

-via David Thompson

A Hip Hop Take on a Traditional Filipino Dance Called Tinikling

The dancers weave in and out of heavy bamboo poles that are rhythmically clapped together. They have to jump quickly and at just the right times, lest their ankles get hit.

This is tinikling, a traditional dance from the Philippines. It's named after a chicken-sized, long-legged bird of the same name. This bird is known for jumping up and down in rice paddies, deftly avoiding bamboo traps set for them.

Philstar News reports that this performance from last April shows members of the Filipino Student Association at the Georgia Tech University performing a modern, hip hop inspired version of the traditional dance.


This Love Story Saved A NYC Chocolate Shop

Power of love, indeed! 

Mark Libertini, Kellner Libertini, and their love story managed to save a 90-year-old chocolate shop in Queens. The two met at a tapas restaurant that he used to own, where they bonded over the idea of food being therapy. 

When they started dating, they moved to Queens, where Mark found Aigner Chocolates was closing down. Deciding that this must be a sign to take the business and make it his own, the couple signed a property contract and re-opened the shop in time for Halloween 2015. 

Ever since then, the shop has been donating to various causes and continuing to spread their love for each other through their passion for chocolate! "Our vision is to share our love for the art of making chocolate to make the world a better place," Kellner said, "and we created that vision statement seven years ago, not knowing what the last two years were going to bring."

Image credit: Lisa / Pexels

Are We Actually Fictional Characters?

Welcome to this week’s existential crisis moment: are we merely characters of our own creation? What if we are just merely living in a sci-fi-esque simulation as a random fictional character, subject to the whims of the writer of this story? 

Nick Chater believes this to be true. According to him, our moment-by-moment stream of consciousness is technically us writing our autobiography. He also cites modern scientific fields such as neuroscience, psychology, and AI as pushing toward this narrative. “The conclusion that the stories we tell ourselves about our motives, beliefs, and values are not merely unreliable in their specifics but are fictitious through and through. They are improvisations, created in retrospect by the astonishing story-spinner that is the human mind,” he explained further. 

Image credit: cottonbro

The Next Skyrim Port Is Coming, Apparently

Yep, another one. There are reports circulating that Bethesda’s highest-selling game is heading to the Nintendo Switch… again. 

But doesn’t the console already have this game? Well, not the Anniversary Edition! A digital game rating committee listed this edition as a title coming to the Switch real soon. 

For reference, the Skyrim Anniversary Edition includes the base game, all the DLC and mods, and other new bits of gameplay. Well, it seems that we can expect an announcement soon. 

Image credit: Bethesda 

Grand Canyon Tourists Are Suddenly Getting Sick

Oh, dear. 

The Grand Canyon National Park is currently experiencing an outbreak. It has affected over 118 people who visited the location. The sickness is a gastrointestinal illness that closely resembles norovirus, a disease that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, body aches, and mild fever.

To prevent the illness from spreading further, the park has been issuing alerts since May. “We haven’t seen something like this kind of outbreak in about 10 years,” Jan Balsom, chief of communications, partnerships, and external affairs at the Office of the Superintendent at Grand Canyon National Park, said.

Image credit: Josh Sorenson

Elden Ring On The Gameboy

If you don’t have a good PC or a PS5 to play FromSoftware’s latest Souls game, Elden Ring, worry no longer– you can now play a section of the game for free on any kind of computer. 

The only downside (if you call it that), is that the widely-playable version is a Game Boy remake of Elden Ring. Made by Shin and posted on itch.io, the game is turned into a top-down adventure, kind of like playing an old Zelda title. 

Check out the game here!

Image screenshot via Shin /itch.io 

The World's Oldest Pharmacy Still in Operation

The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, or in English, the Perfume and Pharmaceutical Officine of Santa Maria Novella in Florance, Italy, is the oldest pharmacy still in business. It was established by the monks of the city who were growing and experimenting with medicinal herbs in the 13th century. One grateful and wealthy patient built them a chapel which became their laboratory for making medicines. In 1612, it opened to the public to sell concoctions like Seven Thieves Vinegar to ward off plague, ladybug liqueur, and the world's first alcohol-base perfumes.

The apothecary is still open to the public, but it's also a museum because it has changed little since the 16th century. You can still buy  Seven Thieves Vinegar under the name Aceto Aromatico. The pharmacy has other locations, too, and even a website to sell their products. Read a short history of the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy at Messy Nessy Chic.

Larry, Episode One

We knew that Auralnauts was planning a series about Larry, a previously obscure Star Wars character who looks a lot like Ewan McGregor. It appears they made their fundraising goal, because episode one is here! The first three minutes are a less-than explanatory montage setting up the story. Then Larry explains his party background to Luke Skywalker. They managed to take clips from many different Star Wars films plus Obi-Wan Kenobi and make it a lot of fun. The first episode mainly deals with Larry trying to borrow some cash. Auralnauts say there will be six episodes in all, just like Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries. -via reddit

Does the World Need Poop Banks?

We have regular banks for storing our money. We have blood banks and milk banks to distribute life saving bodily fluids. We have sperm banks. The latest idea for storage that might be of benefit to one's health is a poop bank. It has become more common to treat digestive problems caused by the bacteria Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) by cleaning out a patient's digestive biome with antibiotics, and then performing a fecal transplant to establish a new colony of digestive bacteria. But there's the possibility that another person's bacterial colony might not be best for our bodies. A new science paper from researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital posit that it may be time to establish the option of storing one's own poop when they are young and healthy for possible autologous transplant is and when they ever need it. They call it a stool bank. In fact, there's already one in the US.

Yeah, there are quite a few unknowns. What conditions should a, er, stool deposit be kept under for years? Would the essential bacteria survive freezing, drying, or long term storage at all? How much energy would such a project require? And would it be only available to the wealthy, like umbilical cord blood, eggs, or frozen heads? Read more about the concept of a stool bank at Gizmodo. 

(Image credit: Flickr user mary hodder)

Obscure Regional Pizza Varieties

In Altoona, Pennsylvania, they serve pizza in squares with each portion holding a slice of salami and a square of American cheese. St. Louis pizza is made on unleavened bread and topped with Provel cheese instead of mozzarella. Colorado's giant pizzas are sweetened with honey. We hear a lot about New York style and Chicago style pizzas, but many places have their own pizza traditions, which you might think are weird or which you might want to plan a road trip around. Each style has a story behind it, even if that story is lost to time. Check out six different pizza styles that go against the grain of the chains, and where to get them, at Atlas Obscura.

When Will the Last Human be Born?

We don't know which is the "last" of anything until quite a bit of time passes afterward. The last human born will be someone we will never know about, because that means the human race will die out. Kurzgesagt doesn't have all the answers, but presents some important ideas in a thought experiment. There are a lot of variables in even speculating about a species dying out, especially the one species doing the speculating. We are currently doing our best to destroy our earth, but we are also exploring the idea of living on other worlds. We may slowly (or quickly) evolve into something that is a bit different, but more likely to survive.

While it may be depressing to think about the end of humanity, the best case scenarios are unimaginably far into the future. Kurzgesagt is actually quite optimistic about our future, if we can make it through the next couple hundred years. The subject is only ten and a half minutes long, the rest is promotional.

The 50 Greatest Superhero Movies

Wow, there are a lot of superhero movies if you can rank a list of the 50 best! Besides the two dozen or so Marvel Cinematic Universe films of the last 15 years or so, there are plenty of Batman, Superman, and other DC comics films. And then there are superhero movies you didn't think of right off, like Robocop and The Incredibles. Yes, animation is represented in this list, too, and some films from outside the US. And more of them are based on comic books than you may even know. You might agree, or more likely, disagree with the rankings, but after you calm down you'll have fun reading about some movies you haven't seen in a ranked list from Rolling Stone. While I can't argue about the ranking myself, I'm happy to say that I have actually seen four of the top ten. -via Digg

(Photo illustration by Matt Cooley)

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