1. A 390-Year-Old Bonsai Tree that Survived an Atomic Bomb
Washington DC’s National Arboretum will honor its oldest artifact this week: a 390-year-old bonsai tree from Japan. But perhaps more impressive than its age is the tree’s history—which was fortuitously revealed in 2001. The miniature white pine is actually a survivor of the 9,700-pound atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima and was quietly donated to the museum in 1976 by bonsai master Masaru Yamaki. “I find it amazing that [he] could give a priceless bonsai basically to his enemy and not say a word about it,” said Felix Laughlin, the president of the National Bonsai Foundation.
2. We Vault Captures the Elegance of Equestrian Vaulting
To some, horseback riding is enough of a challenge; for others, it’s just one part of their performance. These gymnasts are specifically equestrian vaulters, an ancient sport that filmmaker Sharif Hamza explores in his latest short film, “We Vault.” Donning custom body suits, the vaulters first practice their acrobatics on stationary equipment, later taking their graceful moves to the tops of their equestrian companions. Using slow motion, thoughtful narration and a haze of warm sunlight, Hamza brilliantly captures the elegance of the age-old sport and its passionate young participants.
3. A Typeface of Slimy, Squirming Letters
A new digital typeface by Ari Weinkle is a creepy, squirming collection of alien-like letters—even its name “Feelers” makes your skin crawl. Weinkle created the font after becoming intrigued with the light and texture features in his 3D-modeling software, first drawing up the typeface in 2D, and later rendering them in 3D and adding motion. The result is lifelike wiggling letters that, from afar, look like brushstrokes from a rainbow paint brush but, up close, could be something grown in an illegal lab.
4. The Artists that Defined the 1960s
The latest installment of Artsy’s decade-defining series focuses on the 1960s, the period of time in which the likes of Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, John Cage and others came to dominate the art world, meanwhile cementing New York as its epicenter. While Warhol’s bright Pop Art works caught international attention—introducing the scene to those not familiar with fine art—movements like Minimalism, Fluxus and Arte Povera flourished, introducing new dynamics in creativity.
5. Lexus’ Hoverboard Test Ride
A month ago, Lexus unveiled a working hoverboard and many people—still bitter from a past hoverboard prank—were skeptical. The Verge’s Sam Sheffer recently traveled to Cubelles, Spain—where Lexus built a hoverboard-specific skate park—to test it out, and the results are in. While it does actually float above the ground in the way you’d expect, the board needs to ride over a magnetic track in order to function, and the slightest weight shift will send the bottom straight into the cement, throwing its rider forward. Ultimately, it’s just the latest take on the futuristic board until an actual, ride-able one exists.
6. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s New iPad App
For those who wish to visit but can’t make the trip, New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has just released a dedicated iPad app to explore its vast collection. Through the app, users from all over the world can view public exhibitions as well as in-house archives—and it’s not just a bunch of photos. The app contains audio commentary, video interviews, essays and even information on the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building itself. Users with disabilities are also able to digitally tour the museum, as it’s been designed with sign language and closed captioning.
7. Kathleen Hanna Voices an Awkward Alien
As the lead singer of Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna’s voice was remarkably important to countless young women. Now, Hanna has lent her skillful vocals to the big screen, becoming the voice behind an awkward alien in the short film “Myrna the Monster.” Directed by Ian Samuels, the film follows an earnest young extraterrestrial as she navigates the social jungle of Los Angeles after being uprooted from her home planet, the Moon. Mryna’s quest to find love, friends and direction in life is highly relatable-even for humans. Watch the full film on Oyster Mag.
8. The Incredible Effects of a Digital Detox
Kate Unsworth, creator of the connected jewelry line Kovert Designs, recently held a five-day digital detox to examine how time away from smartphones affects the human body and psyche. 35 CEOs and influencers gathered in the Moroccan desert to mix and mingle completely unplugged. After just a few days, participants’ posture straightened, their memory and sleep improved and some were even moved to make major changes in their careers and relationships. “It seems grandiose to say this, but many of our guests said that this was a life-changing experience,” Unsworth reveals.
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