Link About It: This Week’s Picks

The history of the leap-second, DIY skateparks, wasabi-making caterpillars and more in this week's look at the web

1. The History of The Leap Second

If Tuesday felt like it went by slower than usual, that’s because it did. A leap second was added to Tuesday’s time in order to keep the Earth’s rotation in sync with the atomic clock. As NASA explains it, scientists once analyzed radio waves sent from far off quasars to determine that our planet’s rotation is gradually slowing down due to gravitational forces from the Sun and moon—adding two milliseconds to each day. In order to recalibrate our clocks, a leap second is added every couple of years, usually at the end of June or December.

2. “In Loving Memory” Explores the World’s Deadliest Race

Each year, the world’s most daring motorcycle racers descend upon the UK for the Isle of Man TT—infamously known for being the world’s deadliest race. Over the course of its 96-event history, the track has claimed 200+ lives, as racers speed through a countryside road at a face-melting 200mph with zero room for error. As a tribute to those lost, those who’ve survived and those looking to take on the treacherous competition, filmmaker Luke Huxham has produced a poignant 20-minute short titled “In Loving Memory” exploring why so many racers return to the Isle of Man TT in the face of overwhelming ruin. Watch the full film on Vimeo.

3. Casio’s Surprising History of Smartwatches

When the Apple watch was released just two months ago, thousands lined up to obtain its futuristic functionalities, including music-playing and heart-rate-tracking. But what many don’t know is that lots of the buzzed-about features have been available for decades—most notably in the design-forward watches of Casio. As a nod to its rich and innovative design history, the Japanese electronics company is currently displaying its most forward-thinking models, including a watch from 1994 that could detect when your cellphone was about to ring and vibrate your wrist as a notification. See more of Casio’s wild designs on The Verge.

4. The Ethical Dilemma Behind Preserving World Art

As ancient artifacts become increasingly susceptible to destruction—especially in war-torn regions of the Middle East—Western museums have grown anxious to scoop up these prized pieces of history to protect them in their universal collections. But doing so has proven to be an ethical dilemma, as many museums—including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute in Chicago—have absent-mindedly or unknowingly acquired artifacts through illegal art trade operations. Now, many Western museums are trying to find ways to preserve world art cultures without becoming tangled in illicit trading or exploitative tactics.

5. Grace Jones Announces Her Upcoming Memoir

In 1981, Grace Jones released a song titled “Art Groupie” in which she sings, “I’ll never write my memoirs.” Now—nearly 35 years later—the model, actress, singer and pioneering artist is changing her mind, explaining, “If I don’t, somebody else will.” Jones recently announced the upcoming autobiographical book with a preview of its cover and title, which recalls that same phrase she sang so long ago. Released on 29 September, it promises to be a fascinating read.

6. DIY Skate Parks Around the World

For his new book “DIY,” skater-turned-photographer Richard Gilligan traveled across the world—from Poland to the USA—to capture DIY skateparks and the skateboarders that built them. The series of photos depicts urban landscapes—often dreary and deserted—that skaters have illegally adapted into skate parks using anything from bricks to concrete and steel. “I love the idea that concrete is a permanent structure and also that it takes a lot of determination, work and commitment by the builders to create these structures often not knowing if they will stand the test of time from either vandalism or local authorities,” he tells Dazed.

7. Pigalle Recruits At-Risk Teens as Models

At first glance, the models featured in Pigalle’s latest S/S ’16 presentation might seem typical for a Paris Fashion Week presentation. But, in fact, the group of teens are players from Piagalle founder Stephane Ashpool’s youth basketball team—comprised of at-risk 14- to 18-year-olds. Since starting Pigalle, Ashpool has spent considerable effort revitalizing the gang- and drug-riddled neighborhood from which the brand derives its name, and has organized the team as a way to mentor local kids. Visit The Fader to watch a short video on the athletes-turned-models.

8. Why Caterpillars Are Responsible for Wasabi

Some of our favorite nose-burning condiments—including wasabi and horseradish—are apparently the product of an eons-long battle between caterpillars and plants. In the latest publication of “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” scientists reveal that a chemical war began 90 million years ago between cabbage caterpillars and plants from the order Brassicales, eventually pushing plants to create intense mustard oil flavors to defend themselves. Fast-forward to today, and those same defensive chemicals are now the key to adding a kick to sushi or prime rib.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on Twitter, and rounded up every Saturday morning.