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The Board Game Remix Kit

You've been playing Monopoly or Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit all your life, and they may seem boring by now. Instead of buying a new game that you may or may not like, how about combining the games you have into something new? Intriguing idea, but actually coming up with the rules for a board game mashup is a lot of work. Lucky for us, it's already been done. Check out the Board Game Remix Kit.

There are 26 different suggestions for ways to play, plus another four in the Valentine's Day Expansion. The simplest ideas are just tweaks to the original games, to make them differently fun: a more intensely strategic Scrabble, a faster Trivial Pursuit.

Then there are the new games: use lead piping to defend yourself from zombies in the Cluedo mansion; listen to the answer from a Trivial Pursuit card, and compete to come up with the most plausible question.

Finally there are mash-ups, combining pieces from more than one game: auction off individual Scrabble tiles with your Monopoly money; solve a murder mystery with Scrabble tile anagrams.

The Board Game Remix Kit has been released free online. You can download the kit here. -via Metafilter


The Dark History of Matches

The ability to easily produce fire was a wildly successful development for mankind. But for a large part of the 19th century, working in a match factory could lead to illness, bone loss, and even death. Occupational safety has come a long way since then. Eventually a less toxic form of match was developed, and in this video, you'll also find why "safety matches" are called that.


This Is The Google Glass That Helps Kids With Autism

Nick Haber, Catalin Voss, and Dennis Wall have upgraded Google Glass for children with autism. The final product, called Superpower Glass, provides behavioral therapy to children with autism in their homes. The six-year project has three main elements: face detection, emotion recognition, and in-app review. These main elements help autistic children learn as they interact with their environment, as the three proponents wrote on IEEE Spectrum:  

Our system provides behavioral therapy to the children in their homes, where social skills are first learned. It uses the glasses’ outward-facing camera to record the children’s interactions with family members; then our software detects the faces in those videos and interprets their expressions of emotion. Through an app, caregivers can review auto-curated videos of social interactions.
Over the years we’ve refined our prototype and run clinical trials to prove its beneficial effects: We’ve found that its use increases kids’ eye contact and social engagement and also improves their recognition of emotions. Our team at Stanford University has worked with coauthor Dennis Wall’s spinoff company, Cognoa, to earn a “breakthrough therapy” designation for Superpower Glass, which puts the technology on a fast track toward approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We aim to get health insurance plans to cover the costs of the technology as an augmented-reality therapy.
The kids are motivated to seek out social interactions, they learn that faces are interesting, and they realize they can gather valuable information from the expressions on those faces. But the glasses are not meant to be a permanent prosthesis. The kids do 20-minute sessions a few times a week in their own homes, and the entire intervention currently lasts for six weeks. Children are expected to quickly learn how to detect the emotions of their social partners and then, after they’ve gained social confidence, stop using the glasses.
Our system is intended to ameliorate a serious problem: limited access to intensive behavioral therapy.

image via IEEE Spectrum


What Makes A Gender Neutral City?

Urban planning decisions, like most nationwide or citywide decisions, have almost always been made and directed by men in power. There are features and details in the current planning of various cities that cater specifically to men. An equal urban plan needs data from everyone to be able to create an efficient and effective city system for everybody. Income, gender, race, or sexuality shouldn’t matter in a properly and equally planned city, as treehugger details: 

But when cities were planned, most of us were left out of the meeting room. By "us," I mean anyone who wasn't a privileged man with access to education and power. In a profile for dezeen, British writer Caroline Criado Perez describes how cities have never been designed for 50 percent of the population: "Things like zoning are really very biased against women."
So biased, in fact, that she wrote an entire book about it, called "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men." This kind of gendered data gap has led to city planning and public spaces that just don't function for everyone equally.
"The vast majority of information that we have collected globally, and continue to collect — everything from economic data to urban planning data to medical data — has been collected on men, male bodies, and typical male lifestyle patterns," Perez states.
It is an imbalance we still struggle with today. Writing for MobyCon, a private consultant group that worked with the Dutch government to develop a modern, groundbreaking approach to mobility for all, Melissa Bruntlett says:
Our personal lived experiences influence how we see the world, and how, as planners and designer, we find solutions to mobility challenges. The fact is that despite gains in many countries to balance gender roles in daily life, men and women experience the world differently. Our differences in height, body types and even values have an impact. By aiming to have more gender parity of voices in the room, you have a much greater chance of hearing more balanced approaches and ideas.

image via treehugger


New Carnivorous Feathered Dinosaur Remains Found In New Mexico

The Dineobellator was a coyote-size carnivorous feathered dinosaur. The remains of the said carnivore were found in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin. The newly-discovered dinosaur remains suggested that its unusual tail and claws helped it to hunt and kill during its time. Paleontologist Steven Jasinki said that Deinobellator is a new species from the Late Cretaceous (70-68 million years ago) period, as the Smithsonian magazine detailed: 

Steven Jasinski, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Pennsylvania and lead author of the study in Scientific Reports, says Dineobellator is a new species from the Late Cretaceous (70-68 million years ago) that belongs to dromaeosaurid, a group of clawed predators closely related to birds. These rare fossils have features that suggest raptors were still trying out new ways to compete even during the dinosaurs’ last stand—the era just before the extinction event that wiped them out 66 million years ago. “This group was still evolving, testing out new evolutionary pathways, right at the very end before we lost them,” Jasinski notes.
The name Dineobellator pays homage to the dino’s tenacity and that of the local Native American people. Diné means ‘the Navajo people,’ while bellator is the Latin word for warrior.
“Due to their small size and delicate bones, skeletons of raptors like Dineobellator are extremely rare in North America, particularly in the last 5 million years of the Age of Dinosaurs,” says David Evans, a paleontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Even though it is fragmentary, the skeleton of Dineobellator is one of the best specimens known from North America for its time, which makes it scientifically important and exciting.”

image via Smithsonian magazine


The History Of 1990’s Slap Bracelet

Slap Wraps, or Slap Bracelets, were 9-inch pieces of stainless steel covered in decorative fabric. The item can envelope someone’s wrist in one quick motion. In addition, the motion of slapping the bracelet to your wrist was entertaining, especially for children. However, some schools banned the use of the part toy and part accessory because of the item being and a distraction and some knock-offs of the bracelet can cause harm to students. Mental Floss details the history of the 1990s phenomenon:  

Slap Wraps were the invention of Stuart Anders, a Fort Prairie, Wisconsin, native who graduated from college with a degree in education in 1983. Teaching jobs were hard to come by at the time, so Anders took on substitute positions and coached sports.
Anders pulled out a self-rolling tape measure, which curled up with the flick of his wrist, and began fidgeting with it. He thought it would make a cool bracelet, provided someone covered the steel in fabric.
He called the company who made the tape measure, but they were no longer manufacturing it. Anders didn’t know what else to do. While he thought the idea of a snap bracelet could be successful, he didn’t have the money or other resources to commit to producing them himself. But he kept the prototype on his steering wheel.
Bart found a receptive audience in Eugene Murtha, who had just opened Main Street Toy Company in Simsbury, Connecticut, in 1988. Murtha, a former vice president of Coleco during that company’s Cabbage Patch Kid craze, immediately saw the potential in Anders's invention. He agreed to distribute Slap Wraps, paying Bart and Anders royalties.

image via Mental Floss


Hawaii’s Volcano Eruption From Space

The eruption of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii grew to such a huge scale that even astronauts from space could see it. Astronauts A.J. Feutsel and Ricky Arnold shared their photos of the volcano from outer space. From the International Space Station, the two astronauts were able to take photos of the massive eruption of the volcano. 

(via PetaPixel

image via PetaPixel


The Worst Easter Candies

The WORST Easter Candy by CandyStore.comSource: CandyStore.com

People buy as much candy for Easter as they do for Halloween, and like Halloween, there are traditional candies you only find this time of year. She are pretty good, while some of the others ...well, you wonder why they are still around. Tradition, I guess. CandyStore.com conducts a poll every year to determine the best and worst Easter candies. Let's take a look at #1 for this year, Cadbury Creme Eggs. 

The chocolate shell is a problem. The thing is hard enough to eat without making a mess, but god forbid the egg has gotten a tiny bit warm and the outer shell has softened. Then you’re in for a sloppy mess with this awkwardly shaped candy whose liquid filling does nothing to support its shape. It falls apart into goo.

Speaking of the shell, its ingredients have recently gone through some changes. Cadbury Creme Eggs’ shell used to be made of Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate. But Cadbury was bought by Kraft in 2010, and that was an ominous event. Five years later, they announced the change to a “standard chocolate mix.”

Read about the other Easter candies that made the worst list, and check out the best list, too! -via Mental Floss


Digital Recreations of Europe's Castle Ruins

Europe has bounty of history, of kingdoms and nations large and small, with castles built for the ruling class as a symbol of their wealth as well as fortification against enemies. Many of those older castles are now in ruins, but a team of designers, architects, and digital artists have collaborated to show us how they once looked. Above is a recreation of Poenari Castle in Romania.  

Legendary Poenari Castle is so adorned with inspiring details that it feels like it came from a storybook. Indeed, it once belonged to Vlad the Impaler, the Voivode (Duke) of Wallachia, who inspired Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. Climbing the 1,480 concrete stairs to the clifftop castle’s eagle nest position creates an uneasy sense of isolation. And it is easy to get giddy at such a height, especially in the knowledge that the ruins are partly due to a landslide that dragged the towers down to the river 400 metres below.

But Poenari needn’t be where visitors meet their doom. Vlad himself escaped attack through a secret passageway and into the Carpathian Mountains. The fortress itself was originally built directly into the rock and fortified with earth or lime, and Vlad rebuilt it with extra towers for defence. As a final fearsome detail, the castle is currently closed because of local bears – but it will re-open soon, possibly with a crémaillère tram to lift visitors up from the valley.

See six other ruins restored to their former glory with the magic of digital art. -Thanks, Luke!

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