Link About It: This Week’s Picks

The meaning of Serena Williams, affordable prosthetics and more in this week's look around the web

1.10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Before the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina hit 10 years ago, New Orleans was a dramatically different city. There are now 100,000 fewer black residents living there and property prices are increasing, but new businesses are also popping up. While each area is recovering and changing in different ways, there is no doubt that the city was changed forever—not just because of the storm, but also because of the emergency efforts afterwards. For more information, NPR’s audio story series reflects on the true depths of change.

2. Covent Garden’s Huge Balloon-Filled Cloud

French artist Charles Pétillon is synonymous with his use of white balloons, adding them to cars, golf courses and two-story houses for a humorous take on the mundane. Now, he’s installed his largest balloon-filled exhibition to date at London’s historic Covent Garden, joining an impressive roster of past artists including Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Banksy. Titled “Heartbeat,” the public artwork features a massive 54-meter-long cloud that’s made from 100,000 of his signature white balloons, and pulsates with light, mimicking a beating heart. It will be on display for one month beginning 27 August.

3. Tennis, Black Excellence and Serena Williams

In her beautifully thoughtful article about Serena Williams for the New York Times, poet and playwright Claudia Rankine profiles the already legendary tennis player and all that she represents. Explaining how Williams is oftentimes reduced to her physicality, beauty, race, behavior or manners, Rankine shows readers how much expectation and pressure is put on Williams, and how she simply refuses to be anything but herself. It’s an article that’s at times personal and political but always entirely engaging.

4. Force Touch Technology for Any Device

When Apple announced its newest Macbook, arguably the most talked about feature was the Force Touch trackpad, which can alter its function depending on how hard you push. This same technology may soon be available to the world outside of Apple thanks to a young company called Sensel Morph. The start-up has developed a tablet-sized pad that pairs Force Touch with any PC or Mac device, changing the way people interact with technology. Optional overlays can also transform the pad into a drum set, synthesizer, paint brush canvas and more. Sensel is currently offering the pad for a pre-order price of $249 on Kickstarter.

5. Purifying Water with a Book’s Pages

A new book, developed by a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia, can bring contaminated water to 99.9% purity using its pages. The “drinkable book,” spearheaded by chemist Teri Dankovich, contains pages peppered with silver and copper nano-particles that neutralize bacteria upon contact. Each book can supply four years of clean drinking water for a single person and comes with a specially designed filter case that can be assembled to treat dirty water. If you’d like to send a drinkable book to a community in need, visit

6. Open Bionics’ Affordable Robotic Prosthetic

UK-based Open Bionics has been awarded the 2015 James Dyson Award for creating an affordable robotic prosthetic arm. While many prosthetics can cost as much as $50,000 and take months to custom fit, Open Bionics can tailor and deliver a fully-functioning prosthetic to a customer within days—and at a cost of just $3,000. This breakthrough opens up the much-needed technology to a massive pool of people, especially young children who tend to quickly outgrow their prosthetics. Founder Joel Gibbard hopes to start selling the prosthetic sometime next year.

7. The “Eight Glasses of Water Per Day” Rule is a Myth

The “eight glasses of water per day” rule has plagued the minds of health-conscious individuals ever since the Food and Nutrition Board recommended the standard back in 1945—and apparently, it’s not true. While people do need about 2.5 liters of liquid per day, much of that comes in the form of food, fruits, soft drinks and even coffee, eliminating the need for an additional eight glasses. On top of that, there’s actually no scientific proof that extra water leads to softer, wrinkle-free skin, or that yellow urine means dehydration. So if you aren’t presently thirsty, you’re probably sufficiently hydrated.

8. Emotions That Fuel Creativity

Creative moments are often hit or miss; they’ll happen when you least expect them or disappear when you need them most. But according to Harvard Business Review, there are ways to set yourself up to take full advantage of your creative capacity. By living life passionately and experiencing an array of deep emotions, you’ll be able to come up with more ideas for your next project. And when you need to really drill down and get that project off the ground, focusing on highly motivational intensity and desire (like thinking about a delicious dessert) will help you get there.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on social media and published weekly every Saturday morning.