Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Body positive Barbie, the chattiest state in America and the surprising truth about Earth's birth in this week's look at the web

1. Earth is Actually Two Planets Fused Together

A new study conducted by UCLA researchers has uncovered an astonishing twist to the formation of Earth: it’s actually two planets fused together. Existing research had shown that a rogue planet, called Theia, had sideswiped Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, leading to the formation of the Moon. Now, scientists believe that two planets actually collided head on, leading Theia to merge with Earth to become our current home planet. Head to the Huffington Post to learn more about the discovery.

2. Barbie’s New Body Shapes

For the first time in her 57-year history, Barbie will be given three new body shapes—petite, tall and curvy. Mattel, Barbie’s parent company, has updated the famous doll’s image to more realistically reflect the world of the doll’s young owners. “Yes, some people will say we are late to the game,” admits Evelyn Marzocco, the head of the Barbie brand. “But changes at a huge corporation take time.” Read more about Barbie’s new looks at TIME.

3. The Innovations Making Africa a Leader in Off-Grid Solar

In Africa, roughly 600 million people live without electricity. This glaring lack in gridded power has attracted the attention of various outside companies, many of which to look to the continent to test cutting-edge technical innovations. Now, some African countries have flexible, renewable electricity infrastructures that are unseen anywhere else in the world, making Africa the leading continent in off-grid solar power. Read more on Quartz.

4. The Healing Bond Between Parrots and PTSD Patients

At Serenity Park in Ojai, California, PTSD patients find comfort in the company of parrots, cockatoos and other abandoned birds. Like the patients themselves, the birds have survived trauma previously, and now look to their human companions for healing. The new bonds have given way to surprising discoveries in avian intelligence. “When examined through the lens of complex PTSD,” explains Dr Gay Bradshaw, “the symptoms of many caged parrots are almost indistinguishable from those of human POWs.” Learn more at the New York Times.

5. The Chattiest States in the US

Market analytics firm Marchex analyzed over two million phone calls made between 2013 and 2015 to determine the fastest, slowest and most verbose states in the US. Turns out, the results aren’t too far off of what you might already expect. New Yorkers pulled way ahead of other states in terms of word density while states in the south showcased their southern drawl with slower talking speeds. Surprisingly, speedy talkers—who you might think tend to talk on and on and on—actually held shorter conversations. Read more about the study at Science of Us.

6. A Search Engine For Your Memories

If you’ve ever forgotten someone’s name or had trouble recalling a certain thought, you know how frustrating it is to finally give up on trying to remember it. James Kozloski, an inventor at IBM who focuses on computational and applied neuroscience, is working to create a cognitive assistant that can help solve this problem. He recently filed a patent for a program that can basically finish your sentence when the right words escape you—a search engine for your memories of sorts. Head to The Atlantic to learn more about the technology.

7. Experience Shakespeare’s Globe Theater Through Virtual Reality

The legendary plays put on by Shakespeare at the Globe Theater are no longer the stuff of history books. Students at the Florida International University in Miami have created an entire virtual world replicating the space, performances and atmosphere just as it was in 1598 London. A collaboration between architecture, computer science and theater students, the project (called I-CAVE) hopes to introduce a new way of learning about engaging with the world around us—in the present era or not. Visit Popular Science to see how you can experience I-CAVE.

8. A Stunning Mercedes Benz 190SL Barn-Find

On a walk through his neighborhood, Michael Potiker spotted a dusty car sitting in a rundown garage. The car, covered in rat droppings and dog fur, turned out to be a Mercedes Benz 190SL that hadn’t been driven for nearly a decade. With some luck, Potiker purchased the car from its owner and restored it to its full glory. Head to Petrolicious to read more about the serendipitous discovery and what it took to revamp the beautiful auto.

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