1. Whales Are Eating Our Trash
A recent surge in whale beachings (over 30 cases in Europe so far in 2016) is causing major concern for researchers and marine biologists. Not long ago, a necropsy of a beached whale revealed huge amounts of car parts and plastic waste, including buckets and netting in its stomach. Though the ocean waste may not have been the primary cause for the whales’ deaths (researchers believe they accidentally ventured into shallow waters), it does shed light on the harmful repercussions of human negligence.
2. Decorated Manholes Raise Awareness of Europe’s Homeless
Milan-based street artist and activist Biancoshock is using his latest project, called Borderlife, to raise awareness around Europe’s homeless population. The artist transforms emptied manholes across Italy into tiny, decorated living spaces—complete with clocks, potted plants, and other household appliances. The cramped underground spaces remind passers-by that many of their less fortunate neighbors live without homes and are forced to dwell below ground.
3. Dying From Heartbreak is a Real Possibility
Dying of a broken heart is more than just a dramatic saying, it’s a very real possibility. After analyzing the health data of nearly one million Danish people between the years of 1995 to 2014, a team of researchers—led by Simon Graff of Aarhus University—discovered that a life-threatening irregular heartbeat can develop eight to 14 days after the loss of a life partner, possibly leading to death. And that’s not just in older people either, people under 60 were more than twice as likely to develop problems after suddenly losing their partner.
4. Toyota’s Setsuna Concept Car is a Drivable Heirloom
Ahead of Milan Design Week, Toyota has built a stunning open-top, two-seater car from wood, rebuking the notion that innovative design must come from the latest technology. Called the Setsuna Concept, the drivable wooden vehicle highlights the heirloom qualities of natural materials and how products can be designed to age with grace rather than becoming obsolete. “Wood changes in color and feel in direct response to the love and care shown to it,” states the Japanese car-maker.
5. The Tampon of the Future Can Diagnose Infections
To engineer Ridhi Tariyal and her business partner Stephen Gire, the tampon is much more than just a women’s hygiene product—it’s a treasure trove of information. The duo is currently working to develop a tampon that can one day analyze blood to help women self-diagnose infections like chlamydia or even endometriosis in their own home. Though their research is now in full swing, their initial proposal met much opposition—especially in the male-dominated field of venture capitalism. “When you say that you’re going to build a company around menstrual blood, people think you’re joking,” Gire says.
6. How Technology Transformed this Autistic Boy’s Life
In a video celebrating Autism Acceptance Month, Apple tells the touching story of young boy named Dillan Barmache, who overcomes the difficulties of his communication impediment through the use of an iPad. Using a special app to type out and then verbalize his thoughts, Dillan is able to express to his classmates, teachers, mom and friends the incredibly complex ideas going on inside his head. “At school, I now can have a conversation,” he tells Mashable. “I can share [answers to questions] with my classmates to amaze them that this totally awkward and sometimes strange guy is as smart as they are.”
7. A Time Capsule of Images Depicting Mid-Century Modernism
The University of Southern California has just digitized 1,300 architectural images captured during the heyday of mid-century modernism. The treasure trove of photos offers a never-before-seen look inside the works of famed architects—like Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Frey and more—raw, unfiltered and in their natural setting. As Fast Company points out, it’s almost like scrolling through the Instagram feed of an architectural photographer from 50 years ago.
8. A Rare Blue Diamond Breaks Records in Asia
An extraordinary 10.10-carat blue diamond broke records recently after selling for $31.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. The rare gem—which holds the highest classification for colored diamonds called “fancy vivid”—is now the most expensive diamond to have sold in Asia. But behind the massive jewel’s glamorous sparkle hides a dubious history involving a foiled heist attempt, “stone burning,” and more.