Mar 31, 2013

What If The Sun Disappeared?

This is actually a pretty great thought experiment. At first it might seem kind of pointless to talk about what would happen if the sun vanished, but it doesn't actually result in the immediate destruction of everything. Which is weird. Vsauce walks through a pretty nuanced description of how earth's natural systems would slowly fail, but over weeks and even years, not seconds. The cold would get us in the end, but extremophiles that live in deep sea volcanoes and thermal vents could survive for billions of years.

Mar 30, 2013

Scrambling Eggs Inside Its Shells to Make Scrambled Hard Boiled Eggs Looks So Fun

Here's a fun little cooking trick for you to try: scramble eggs inside its shell so that you can make scrambled hard boiled eggs. Meaning the entire egg will be perfectly golden all around. Delicious!

A Sculpture Made of 10,000 Balloons Redefines Balloon Art

Jason Hackensworth is a balloon artist, but not the kind that wears oversized shoes and has been the villain in a 1990 horror movie. He's known for his balloon sculptures of biological forms and creatures, like this anemone-like sculpture, currently on display in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

The installation is called Pisces. Made from 10,000-balloons, it's Hackensworth's interpretation of the Greek legend of Aphrodite and her son Eros escaping the monster Typhon by becoming a pair of intertwined fish. The image of the duo was later immortalized in the sky as the constellation Pisces. It took Hackensworth and his team nearly a week to blow up the balloons then weave them all together into this towering creation. Imagine how many balloons popped in the process. Anyway, it came together to create this amazing sculpture, which is on display through April 14. It's much more impressive than your average balloon animal. More here.

Mar 29, 2013

A Batman Coffee Table Bruce Wayne Wish He Had

Because we all dreamed about being Bruce Wayne once upon a time (or to this day), here's something you can get that he could never: a batman logo coffee table. Made by Charles Lushear of the Bohemian Workshop, the coffee table is carved from wood with hairpin legs and is a must for any comic book geek still living with his parents or someone who has a really understanding girlfriend (or boyfriend).

The bad news? You can't actually buy the Bat signal coffee table. DC Comics found out about Lushear's beautiful wood work and only allows him to display it on his website. Still, it's comforting knowing that at least one man can pretend to be Bruce Wayne. More here.

Mar 28, 2013

With an Arched Bookshelf You’re Never At Risk of an Avalanche

Designer Ivan Zhang has the perfect solution for anyone who's tired of angling the last book on a shelf so the rest of them don't perpetually fall over. Instead of some space-wasting bookend, he's simply added graceful arching shelves to this piece which tasks gravity with keeping them all standing.

The arched shelves also provide structural support, constantly pushing outwards which keeps the folding frame from collapsing when it's set up. And while function is definitely leading the way with this design, form is not far behind since the curved shelves don't look too bad either. More here.

Mar 27, 2013

Google Translate Will Now Work Without the Internet on Your Android Phone

Google Translate for Android will now offer downloadable offline language packs. So now when you're staring at a weird sign in a country where you don't speak the language, your phone will actually be able to help you.

This solves one of the hugely obvious problems with the translation app. When you're traveling abroad, you usually don't have access to the Internet. That also happens to be when translations are most useful.

The new language packs will be available in fifty (!) languages. They aren't as comprehensive as the real thing, but you don't need to translate fine literature. You just need to find the bathroom. More here.

A Wooden Chair That’s As Comfy As a Cushion

Whether at school, at the DMV, or at an over-crowded family get-together; we've all done time sitting on a cheap, uncomfortable wooden chair. But it doesn't have to be that way. With just a little flexible polymer added to the mix a wooden chair doesn't need a cushion to be comfy.

J.C. Karich's Rombo Chair is proof of that. The backrest and seat are composed of ash plywood segments connected in a diamond pattern using flexible polymer in between. The results are a chair that's still made of cheap components, but one that flexes under your weight providing an enjoyable spot to sit for a spell. More here.

The Sne Stand Cradles Your iPad In Its Graceful Curve

Each stand is hand-made from Baltic Birch plywood, and in the landscape orientation it holds your iPad at a comfortable 40 degree angle without hindering access to any of its buttons. There are no product shots of it being used in a portrait orientation, but presumably it's not impossible—just not ideal. Only 2,000 of the snes are being produced, which helps explain the $90 price tag for what is essentially a warped piece of wood. More here.

Mar 26, 2013

The Next iOS Needs to Look Like This

App Switcher Concept: Multitasking Redesign for iOS from Jesse Head on Vimeo.

Mar 25, 2013

Graphene Sponges: The New Lightest Material on the Planet

At this point, it'd be more of a surprise if graphene wasn't an integral part of a mind-bending, record-setting new technology. But, of course, it is. Again. Enter the lightest material in the world: graphene aerogel.

Aerogel is nothing new. All made primarily of air, different flavors of aerogel have been one-upping each other for the title of lightest for years now. The previous record holder was aerographite with a density of 0.18 mg/cm3, and now researchers at China's Zhejiang University have made some aerographene, which takes the crown with a density of 0.16 mg/cm3.

Building chunks of the almost-but-not-quite weightless material involves some high-tech freeze drying that can yield graphene sponges of arbitrary size. Professor Gao Chao, the research team's leader, says the process can easily be scaled up to an order of meters. And aside from being less dense than helium—an acheivement in and of itself—aerographene is extremely resilient and can mop up 900 times its weight in oil, making it potentially indispensable as a clean-up sponge.

The sponges may not be as immediately useful as say, terabit-down graphene antennas, but if/when there's another awful oil-spill, aerographene will be worth far more than its weight in awesomeness. Tack it on to the ever-growing list of graphene craziness. Some sort of graphene immortality can't be that far off, right? More here.

Hollow Fiber Optic Tunnels Can Blast Data at Practically the Speed of Light

We all want faster downloads, and developments like graphene antennas promise a speedy future. There is an upper limit—the speed of light—but that should be fast enough, right? Well a new kind of hollow fiber optic cable promises to get us 99.7 percent of the way there.

Developed by researchers at the University of Southampton in England, the new breed of cables makes use of good old-fashioned air to get the data really cooking. Technically, all fiber optic cables transmit data at the speed of light, but the transfer material can slow that down. And while the speed of light in air isn't close to max speed in a vacuum, it beats typical glass handily. Air-cables are 1,000 better than what we've got now, and can hit speeds of 10 terabytes per second.

Air-filled cables aren't a new idea, but in this iteration researchers have vastly improved the way light is bounced around corners, enabling not only blistering speed, but also reasonably low data loss of 3.5 dB/km. That still adds up at a distance though, so these crazy fast cables are most likely destined for supercomputer and data center applications, for now at least. But it's still a gigantic leap towards the ultimate end-game of high-speed data transmission. Then it's just a matter of rollout. More here.

Mar 24, 2013

Finally Someone Stepped Up and Designed A Way To Not Lose MagSafe Adapters

The $10 MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter is annoyingly expensive, but it's better than buying new gear. And now for $15 you can adopt an annoyingly expensive, but ingenious way to keep track of the tiny dongle. It's the Apple way.

The MagSafe Adapter Key Ring, created by Jonathan Bobrow, is 3D printed from stainless steel and uses the MagSafe converter's internal magnet to hold everything together. Bobrow claims that the magnet is much stronger than people might think, because usually we create torque from the charger cable to get it off.

There were some blissful years when MagSafes abounded and anyone who had a Macbook could find solace in a stranger at Starbucks if they lost their charger or their way. But in these treacherous, next-gen days only a steady diet of cash and 3D printing can save you. More here.

Mar 23, 2013

It Took Five Years To Make a Beautiful Android Phone

Android has become an enormous success in part by appealing to a lot of people who don't prioritize aesthetics. It's no wonder it's been ugly for half a decade. But finally, it's spawned a truly gorgeous object for everyone: the HTC One.

Google's take on phones was never meant to be pretty—it was just supposed to do all the things the iPhone could. All that mattered was that big touchscreen, and Computer Lite™ things like email and internet. And it did! It was rough, but hey, so was the first iPhone.

But as the software advanced into a fantasy cartoon playground for people who care about custom ROMs and spending hours tinkering with settings, the hardware stalled. Every new Android phone was like every other Android phone—and not in an Ah, slight refinement! way. Just a lazy way. Just a, Hey, let's make this part red now way. All smartphones are basically just glass rectangles, but the Android lineage has never cared to be anything more—never put any attention into powdering its pedestrian little face. More here.

Mar 22, 2013

You Should Wear a Red Shirt on Your Online Dating Profile

If you want to improve your chance of getting a date on any online dating site, you should wear a red shirt. Slate took a look at various studies comparing the same person wearing different colored clothes and each time, red was the most successful color. Do it. Change your online profile now.

It's like the secretly effective scarlet letter. One study showed a picture of the same woman bordered in different colors and the picture bordered in red was found to be more attractive and sexually appealing. It was the same woman! Another study showed 64 women on online dating sites. Their shirt was rotated between six different colors and red won out again. Slate says:
Twenty-one percent of their emails arrived when they wore red, whereas the other colors-black, white, yellow, green, and blue-attracted 14 to 17 percent of the total.
Moral of the story: wear red. It works for guys too. Read more about why here.

Pepsi’s Plastic Bottle Design Gets a Swirliie

Pepsi has redesigned the shape of its 16-ounce and 20-ounce plastic bottles for the first time in 16 years. Move the arrows on the slider above back and forth to see the a before and after comparison.

The slider isn't meant to be a 1:1 model, of the actual bottle sizes but it gives you an idea of the leaner look Pepsi is going for. The snazzy new shape sure has a refreshing plastic swirl to it, huh? It's more lively than the dated look from 1997.

AdAge reports that the new bottles will begin shipping in April but it could take until the end of the year for the nationwide turnover to be complete. More here.

Mar 21, 2013

A Sleek Clock Radio for Rocking out to Top 40 Hits

Maybe you're old fashioned and you just want to listen to the radio sometimes. Here's Lexon Design's Modern Titanium clock to satisfy your old school desires.

The AM/FM radio is $130 on the Fancy right now. Made out of aluminum (even though it has titanium in the name for some reason), it comes in white and black and has an auto-dimmer switch. It's otherwise simple and basic, but sometimes that's what you're going for. More here.

Mar 20, 2013

One Little Tweak Makes a Vastly Improved Soap Dispenser

There hasn't been much innovation in the soap dispenser world since self-pumping sensor-activated models entered the picture. But those can easily break and/or run out of batteries rendering their hands-free advantages moot. Which is why the simple design improvements of Joseph Joseph's new C-Pump are so brilliant.

The C-shaped dispenser is still manually operated, but it lets you use the back of your hand, which is presumably not the side that needs cleaning, to help minimize the spread of germs. After all, how often do you really clean the pump dispenser that you touched before washing your hands? The answer is probably never. So if for $27 you don't pass along that cold to someone else, the C-Pump design is more than worth its weight in liquid soap. More here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have Left the Solar System

For the very first time, a man-made object has reached the cosmic abyss beyond the farthest reaches of our solar system. As of today, Voyager 1 is the first spacecraft to begin the endless journey into deep space.

Launched way back on September 5th, 1977, Voyager 1 has been blasting along towards the edges of the heliosphere at 10.72 mile per second, faster than any other man-made object to date. On its way out there, it explored Jupiter in '79 and Saturn in '80. We've known Voyager 1 was going to peace out sooner or later, but now a study in published Geophysical Research Letters has made it official.

From the release:
Thirty-five years after its launch, Voyager 1 appears to have travelled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, according to a new study appearing online today.
The heliosphere is a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles, and which is thought to be enclosed, bubble-like, in the surrounding interstellar medium of gas and dust that pervades the Milky Way galaxy.
Voyager 1 isn't headed toward any particular star, but it'll be making a "close" (1.6 lightyear) flyby past Gliese 445 in just 40,000 years. Don't expect to hear about that though; strategic shutdown of its sensors will start in 2020, and by 2030, there won't be any power left. But there will be a little—albeit lifeless—bit of humanity cruising endlessly among the stars. And that's awesome, in the most literal way. More here.

Mar 19, 2013

Science, Not Magic, Guarantees You’ll Never Get Lost Wearing This Pendant

In what could be the most stylish camping accessory ever created, Meister designed this gold and titanium pendant that transforms into a functioning compass. So whether you're deep in the woods, or strutting down a runway, you'll theoretically never get lost with some basic survival skills. That, and just over $3,000 for the pendant. I'll stick with hunting for moss on a tree. More here.

This Desk Assembles With Nothing But Manual Labor

If you end up doing more harm than good when tools are around, you'll love Fraaheid's collection of easy-assembling tables designed by a trio of Amsterdam-based architects. Cut from a single sheet of plywood, the tables use a series of strategic slots and grooves to assemble in less than three minutes without the need for a single hammer, screw driver, or roll of duct tape.

Ranging in price from $165 to $1,156 you'll pay dearly for convenience here. But the use of exposed seams and visible t-shaped joints on all of the tables in the collection at least ensure you'll have a unique piece in your home or office. And all of your fingers intact. More here.