Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Glass monsters, plastic-eating enzymes, the story behind one of Prince's best songs and more

1. The Story Behind One of Prince’s Most Famous Songs

Almost exactly two years after Prince’s tragic accidental overdose and death, the original story and recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U” has been released by the musician’s foundation. Paul “St Paul” Peterson (who was a singer in Prince’s band, the Family) and Susan Rogers (Prince’s sound engineer) tell the tale about the beautiful song’s birth, some 34 years ago. From not putting his name on it, to the track potentially being about Prince’s housekeeper, to how he chose artists to cover his songs, there’s a wealth of information in this story about one beautiful song. Read more at The Guardian.

2. Airbus Plans to Offer Beds in the Cargo Hold

For those who don’t have the luxury of flying business class, sitting with all your limbs contorted in an airplane seat is obviously one of the least appealing aspects of travel. However, Airbus is said to be building bunk beds into their cargo holds—available for those in “cattle” class to rent out for naps. While it might seem like a wild concept, many large planes already have beds downstairs for crew members to rest. Plus, “Airbus also showed plans for a lounge, a conference room, a medical suite, and a kids play zone, all to be slotted into the cargo hold.” Perhaps the future of air travel isn’t so bad. Read more at Wired.

3. NASA’s “Tess” is Searching for Alien Worlds

NASA’s Tess (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is going in search of some 200,000 of the brightest stars, in an attempt to find alien worlds. The satellite will hitch a ride with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and then spend two years floating around space, not just to observe but ultimately to find exoplanets (potentially habitable planets). Tess will be “flung into a highly elliptical orbit around Earth that has never been attempted before” and each orbit will take 14 days to complete, as she scours for alien planets and then sends data back to earth.

4. Women Artists Lost to Museum Archives

With the artist Marisol Escobar as his first example, Washington Post writer Sebastian Smee argues that retrospectives in national and prolific establishments remind the zeitgeist of great artists—and women have been under-serviced. Marisol, who went solely by her first name when exhibiting, was a Warhol contemporary and highly sought-out in the ’60s. Her shows were swamped and she accumulated much acclaim. No major institution has offered her attention. And she is not alone. There are, of course, other reasons why fame disappears, but when cast through movements like #5womenartists, where social media users were challenged to name five, it’s easy to understand the benefit of a retrospective’s resources. To learn more, and more about artists like Sheila Hicks, Joan Jonas and Mary Heilmann, head over to the Washington Post.

5. Lasvit’s Little Glass Monsters Win the Milano Design Award

This year’s best in show—or Milano Design Award winner—at Salone del Mobile happens to be Czech glass manufacturer Lasvit, who collaborated with 16 cutting-edge designers to develop little monsters and more. It was presented at Milan’s Teatro Gerolamo, a neoclassical puppet theater and came complete with humorous performances. The project took two years to develop and was envisioned by creative design strategist Stephan Hamel and Lasvit founder Leon Jakimič, who was captivated by the fact that everyone perceives of monsters differently. A diverse, engaging and fantastical series, Lasvit produced a feast for the ideas. Read more at Wallpaper*.

6. Kiosks Serving Free Short Stories

With 150 kiosk machines worldwide, including one at Francis Ford Coppola’s Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco, French community publisher Short Edition serves short stories for free. There are about 30 in the US, including some on university campuses and transportation hubs, and each delivers a fiction story, drawn from over 100,000 approved original submissions. Users can select a story for young readers and everybody else and then hit one of three buttons to choose a one-, three- or five-minute long story. After venues purchase the machine, it costs $190 per month for content and software updates. Read more about the program at the New York Times.

7. This “Inadvertently Engineered” Enzyme Could Help the Environment

“Inadvertently engineered” by scientists at the University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy, a new enzyme has been discovered (well, created in actuality) that might help the recycling process—therefore benefitting the environment. This enzyme essentially eats and digests plastics and, while it could revolutionize recycling, Parley for the Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch says, “We cannot put our hopes on a miracle and we can not expect solutions for harmful substances to be without side affects… At this point in time what we really can count on is if we stop making plastic, if we start taking plastic back from nature, and if we are developing new materials that can replace plastic in the long run, that we can bet on this strategy.” Read more at Dezeen.

8. Improvisation in Cuban Animation

Insufficient internet access and lack of equipment have not prevented some animators from continuing their filmic work after graduating art school in Cuba. From pirated software to technical improvisation, animated films have slowly appeared throughout the nation. It wasn’t until 2014 that a (state-sponsored) feature-length animated film, “Meñique,” would appear. And yet now, companies like El Muke and ÑOOo Productions have work seen as far as the Havana Film Festival in New York. Read more about both producing houses and the work of others like them at the New York Times.

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