A blend of cool projects, great gadgets and awesomellany from Word of Mouth Internet Sherpa Brady Carlson
And now making its way to the screen, from New Hampshire, weighing in with three awesome links... Here's What's Awesome!!!
Shel Silverstein presents The Giving... uh, Bench
Meet PhytoBench, the bench that gardens. Really. This is a bench made of recycled lumber, and if I'm understanding the creator's description right, it actually seeds the nearby ground and grows plants to rebuild the soil below Sounds pretty good... though for some reason the guy sitting in the demo illustration looks as glum as Sad Keanu. [Inhabitat]
In the light (stencils) you will find the road
We all love those long-exposure photos where someone uses a glow-stick or other light source to create something bright and colorful. Well, we've found the next step in the evolution of that field: light stencils! The artist here has created some really elaborate and beautiful setups that will brighten your day as well as the surrounding photos. [Neatorama]
Alanis Morrissette's not gonna like this
Yes, I know you've already got your hands full trying to follow all 690 of the Cheezburger Network's LOLblogs, but Friends of Irony really is worth a visit. It focuses on signs that say something that's clearly not true when you look beyond the sign, like a check cashing policy that lists several important conditions, including “we do not cash checks.” Or this one, where the special drawing is not exactly in line with what's in the cover story:
see more Friends of Irony
Now it's your turn: share your favorite awesome link in the comments.
Welcome back! Let's get straight to Here's What's Awesome - with the heat we've had lately, it might get too warm to find awesome links in a few hours.
No, pitch doesn't refer to baseball
PITCH: AFRICA is a prototype for a soccer field with a water-permeable field and seats It's also got cisterns underneath that can collect over a million gallons of water during rainy season. That's pretty useful in places that are both soccer-crazy and short on usable water. I didn't see anything about how it avoids collecting some of the other items usually left behind at a sports match; maybe African soccer fans don't use as much ketchup as Americans do? [Inhabitat]
This time traffic really is tied up
I've been asking people in the Public Insight Network about the relationship between drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians in New Hampshire, and a number of bike riders have told me that the state needs better infrastructure, such as bike racks, to be truly bike-friendly. Or maybe all the bicyclists just need bendable bikes, which have foldable frames that can tie around a lamppost or other structure for easy securing and locking. The bike has a "rigid" setting, too, lest you worry about your morning commute turning into a circus clown act.
Cut me a piece of your custard... uh, armor
Last but certainly not least is bullet-proof custard. It's not a dessert for gun enthusiasts but a special kind of body armor that's in liquid form until it's struck; then it solidifies. This is good for soldiers because "custard" is much lighter than the heavy Kevlar plates usually used in bulletproof gear, making for a safe but lighter load to carry on patrols. [Neatorama]
Now it's your turn: share your favorite awesome summer link in the comments.
(Photo by Socceraholic via Flickr/Creative Commons)
Summer may be in full swing, but at Here's What's Awesome we don't slow down in the summer. If anything, we speed up, because when the weather's awesome, we're awesome too.
Don't just clean up oil spills, EAT them
We've been keeping an eye on technology related to the big Gulf oil spill, and this latest link is particularly interesting, especially to anyone who played with Transformers as a kid. The Bottsand oil recovery ship does something unusual when it reaches an oil spill: its hull splits almost in half, opening wide like a crocodile mouth, and eats the spill, taking in large amounts of water and cleaning out the oil I don't know if having a ship that sees an oil spill and says "Mmm, lunch" is cool or a little terrifying, but there it is. [Gizmodo]
Tommy, can you see me? Well, then hit the button on your glasses
Of course they'd invent these after I switch to contacts: electronic eyeglasses can adjust themselves on command, changing their strength as needed. They're supposed to be more flexible than bifocals, which are limited to "near" and "far" settings. They're made by a company called PixelOptics; if they'd been made by Apple they would've been called iGlasses. Get it? I-Glasses? Best pun ever, right? [Presurfer]
It's the buzz of the sculpture world
Last week we heard about artistic photos of bees; this week the bees are making the art. Well, mostly - a designer called Tomáš Gabzdil Libertiny made a mold, and the bees filled it in with honey and, then, wax:
Now it's your turn: share your favorite awesome summer link in the comments.
Along with a weekly set of awesome links, the Here's What's Awesome team (er, me) has been providing, free of charge, an extra link to an oil spill-related invention or technology. So here's one for this week: robots! These robots can (and do) glide through water and sense oil and/or symptoms of oil exposure in the ocean. Researchers are doing some of this from ships in the Gulf, too, but these bots are giving a broader picture of what's really happening
And they, and their cellphone sensors, are off!
Remember when we wrote about how a sensor in most laptops could be used to detect earthquakes and seismic activity? Well, those same devices - accelerometers - are in cell phones, too, and researchers in Denmark think they can use them to detect when a racehorse is about to go lame. The accelerometer, their thinking goes, would be able to detect when the horse's gait becomes uneven or asymmetrical. Then trainers and vets could provide treatment earlier than ever before. Good for the horses, good for the booming field of accelerometers-can-do-it-all crowd. [Popular Science]
See the bee's knees
Not everyone likes to get close to a bee, but even those who keep their distance will be impressed by the ultra-close-up bee photos in the new book BEE by Rose-Lynn Fisher. When we say ultra-close-up, we're talking up to 5000 times regular size close up. You can see the stinger without having to worry about the stinger finding you. [NewScientist]
But where's the "that was easy" button?
Office supplies make great art! Baptiste Debombourg used 35,000 staples to put together some staple art murals, and they're quite impressive. No, he's not going to do a series of sculptures with Franklin planners next. [The Awesomer]
Now it's your turn: staple your favorite awesome link of the week in the comments.
Photo courtesy Jeff Kubina via Flickr/Creative Commons
I didn't intend for Here's What's Awesome to become a weekly column on oil spill cleanup ideas, but here's the latest: while hair booms are apparently out, cotton sheets may be in. University of Pittsburgh researchers say cotton sheets, soaked in a certain polymer (they're not saying which one, for now), appear to attract water and repel oil Will this new cleanup idea make it to the Gulf, or will it end up on the sidelines like the hair booms? If the last few editions of this column are any indication, we'll find out next weekend!
Sorry I'm late, I was stuck in what will eventually become traffic
Sick of stop-and-go, slow-and-go on the morning interstate? Join the club - or, better yet, join these IBM researchers who are working on a system that will predict traffic jams before they happen. The system uses road sensor data, GPS data from taxis, historical traffic data, weather data and more, and analyzes it all to see where the roads might slow down. And that's just the beginning - if a jam is likely, the system can send out alerts to in-car map systems and cell phones to steer you away from the slowdown. It's still in the testing phase, but I'm pretty sure every commuter in the universe is rooting for this thing to be a success. [Scientific American]
The Fresh Prince of... Zion?
This is too clever by half: movie posters reworked to show the original casting choices. So the poster for "The Matrix" has Will Smith working the black trenchcoat instead of Keanu Reeves. Tom Hanks is laughing it up as Jerry Maguire instead of Tom Cruise, and... is that seriously O.J. Simpson as the Terminator?
Why Pink Floyd light shows are as safe as they are trippy
Lasers can detect explosives, apparently - physicists at the University of St. Andrews have figured out that a certain kind of laser, pointed at a certain kind of plastic, can illuminate "explosive molecules" that hover around most kinds of explosive devices. Imagine being able to laser-identify landmines in a battlefield - or a bomb at a psychedelic classic rock show, man. [Gizmodo]
Full disclosure: they were originally going to have David Hidalgo of Los Lobos write this column, but he was unavailable. But you can share a link to your David Hidalgo/Here's What's Awesome mashup, or any other awesome link you'd like to share, by posting in the comments.
Photo courtesy Roadside Pictures via Flickr/Creative Commons
Let's get right into this week's Here's What's Awesome - but first, an update on one of our previous recommendations. An organization called Matter of Trust has been collecting hair donations, which can be turned into oil-absorbing hair booms. The officials working on Gulf spill cleanup now say they're not going to use the booms, because they're not as efficient as commercial booms, and because using the hair booms would mean additional training for cleanup crews The pro-hair boom people say that's not the case, and that even if BP isn't going to use the hair booms, local cleanup efforts just might. So don't throw out your dog fur just yet.
Yo, don't curse on Twitter
I was recently in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a resort town with a local ordinance prohibiting swearing. Twitter, of course, does not have anti-cussing rules, but if you'd prefer not to coarsen the already-coarse conversation, perhaps SwearJarr is right for you. The app will check your Twitter account for vulgarian tendencies and then "charge" you for any language violations; the money gets donated to a rotating cast of charities. Will it cut down the bad language on Twitter? Probably not, but maybe it'll make something good come of it. And, frankly, that's a @!#% good idea. [Mashable]
Then becomes now
In December we featured a project called Looking Into the Past, which lined up historical pictures of buildings with their current counterparts. A new project takes this a step further. HistoryPin combines famous historical images with views on Google Street View, so if you want to see where the nurse and the sailor made their famous kiss on V-J Day in Times Square, you can do it. [Neatorama]
And now, a Here's What's Awesome pick that could've been a Here's What's Awesome pick in 1982
Ok, maybe this one outs me as a child of the 80's, but this all-laser "living room" is just a very clever installation. All the furniture here is simulated with cleverly-placed laser lights - you can't sit on any of it, but it's still pretty much cooler than any other living room out there. [MAKE]
Now it's your turn: post a link in the comments. But no cursing, or you'll have to put some coins in our swear jar.
Photo courtesy Sonya Carlson
We at Here's What's Awesome hope you're having a good Memorial Day weekend. Whether you're honoring veterans for their service, getting your plants ready for the garden or enjoying time with loved ones, we've got some awesome links that bring on the unofficial start of summer with a get-up-and-go attitude that just can't be contained. (I don't exactly know what the previous sentence meant, but it sounded good and I'm going with it!)
Keep left, for art's sake
The Rosenthaler Platz project in Berlin is proof that even a traffic pattern can become art! The artists dropped (non-permanent) paint onto the intersection; the cars became the brushes as they drove through. Give the video a little time; at first it doesn't seem like much is happening, but as you continue on, you start to see a cool mix of colors develop.
Where do we go, daddy-o, where do we go now
Another big win for remix culture: someone at a "Music Hack Day" in California realized that sound mixing software could track the rhythm of a song and identify the beats. And if the software could identify the beats, it could also modify them... so that most any rock and roll song could be instantly transformed into a swing song, with just a tiny modification to its beat. Dig this groovy remix of Guns 'n' Roses "Sweet Child O Mine:
Turn left at Captain Picard
Fun toy alert: Doodle Track lets you draw your own racetrack on any old piece of paper; your Doodle Track car will then follow (I hesitate to say "race" at this speed) the lines you've drawn. Simple idea, but a fun one - of course, lining the track with action figures is a nice touch, too:
Now it's your turn: post a link in the comments. And enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend!
Your weapon is frosting, and you are a warrior
These people made a cannon that shoots cupcakes. And then they made a slow-motion video of the delicious carnage. Need I say more?
I, um, need to go to the bakery now...
In which I answer yet another question for the Word of Mouth team
As you probably noticed, the Word of Mouth team is going to go as local as possible during this week's series, and so they asked for your favorite places to buy local food. I probably should have told them about LocalDirt, a website that lets you track down just those very places wherever you are, and even lets you buy directly from some of the suppliers. But instead, I posted the link here in this column. That was kind of passive-aggressive of me, wasn't it? [via Inhabitat]
In the style of Macaroni Midler
Food can look great as well as taste great - bento box artists are proof of that. Lunch just tastes better when it's shaped like Homer Simpson's head - I'm sure science will prove this someday. [Mental Floss]
Now it's your turn: post a link in the comments. Edible links are especially welcome.
Submitted for your approval: a weekly column of links. Only these links aren't ordinary. They're awesome. And the awesomeness they spread... may change the very building blocks of the world in which we live. They reside on a blog known as... Here's What's Awesome.
It was like a flash of green light.. and that was it
Green light is no friend to drummers for the band Spinal Tap, but it may be a very good friend to soldiers wounded in battle. The Air Force is testing something called photochemical tissue bonding, that might be an easier way of treating wounds than stitches and surgery. You apply a special pink dye on the skin wound, and then shine it with some green light. The dye absorbs the light and creates "nanosutures," which hold the skin together without further irritation or scarring. There's also hope that this process can be used to repair injured blood vessels or nerves. And if it works, super-hero fans will undoubtedly call the techs who perform this bonding Green Lanterns. [Popular Science]
A new job for Olivia Artsy?
Finally cat owners can rejoice that their feline companions shed fur all over the darn place! There's a nonprofit in San Francisco that's collecting dog and cat fur and turning the fur into oil-absorbing mats, which are being sent to the Gulf coast to help with oil cleanup. Though I'm pretty sure my cat sheds enough fur to clean up most of the spill himself. [Inhabitat]
There is no remix art project I know like a world of pure imagination
This is just plain fun. A guy named Rob Matthews has recreated a kid's drawings as photographs. I particularly liked the dog wearing eyeglasses standing on a towel, but they're all pretty great. This is a trend I hope to see a lot more often. [TechEBlog]
Now it's your turn: post a link in the comments. I will shine some green light on it, and it will quickly become awesome!
Photo by tristanf via Flickr/Creative Commons
I really was going to write an amusing introduction to this week's Here's What's Awesome - I was going to spend the whole weekend thinking through the smartest, wittiest lines my brain could muster up and then commit them to this column, so you could chuckle as you sat down to read through this week's set of awesome links.
But then I found an online video game called Super Mario Crossover, where characters from other classic Nintendo games, like Link from "The Legend of Zelda," Samus from "Metroid" or Mega Man, run through the original "Super Mario Bros." game. The premise was so clever that I couldn't help but give it a try. But the fact that I was so bad at it kept me playing long after my initial excitement had faded. This was a game I could handle fairly well as a kid, and now I could barely squash a single Koopa. Having been nearly vanquished, I played the game as Mario, the original character - and still I failed. And I realized my destiny was not about beating decades-old video games, it was about getting you the best awesome links I could find. So that's what I'm gonna do. And no evil King Bowser can take that away from us.
I, for one, welcome our new musical overlords
Buddy Holly had his Crickets, Liverpool had its Beatles, and a fellow named Adam Franchino has musical ants! When the ants walk past the sensors he installed on their farm, it triggers sound patterns. Granted, this is more Metal Machine Music than Please Please Me, but it's fun to hear the ants do their thing.
It's gotta be the shoes!
Yes, as basic as it sounds, but brilliant all the same, Louisiana Tech University has developed shoes that power tiny batteries as you walk. You're not going to heat your house with these moccasins, of course, but with some further development the shoes could power a cell phone or a GPS, which might come in handy on a hike or a camping trip. I'd like to see these used at a track meet - put them on Usain Bolt and he can probably power all of Mexico City for a year! [Inhabitat]
Hopefully the Death Star isn't the next project
A researcher in Japan has thought up a way to deal with all the junk floating around in space: tractor beams! It's not quite like in "Star Wars," these beams use lasers to steer debris in certain directions more than pulling them into a hangar bay. And given all the stuff that's in Earth orbit, it's unlikely Obi-Wan Kenobi's going to deactivate these tractor beams if they're put to use. [NewScientist]
Now it's your turn: post an awesome link in the comments, and the Force will be with you. Always.
Banner illustration courtesy hartboy via Flickr/Creative Commons