Pioneer of Office Design, Florence Knoll Bassett Dies at 101
Anyone familiar with open floor plans, straight lines and simplicity within their office knows the work of Florence Knoll Bassett. The acclaimed architect and designer reimagined corporate workspaces through her system of “total design,” which removed heavier drapes and desks and championed sleek, modern additions. As the design director of Knoll Associates, for more than 20 years, she pioneered minimalist direction. Her vision still inspires today. Read more about Bassett at the Washington Post.
Sweden’s Affinity for Erotic Audio Books
Some 37% of the Swedish population listened to at least one audio book last year. “‘Feel good’ novels and eroticism” are driving the explosive growth in this category, Anna Riklund (the head of content curation at audiobook streaming service Bookbeat) explained to Swedish broadcaster SVT. In turn, several publishers in the country have launched imprints dedicated solely to new erotic content. Because of the privacy the format offers, Swedes accept it as an ideal way to consume exciting, explicit material. Read more at the Local.
Google Chrome’s Quest to Kill the URL
Driven by security concerns, a desire to curb fraudulent sites and phishing attempts, Google Chrome’s usable security lead Emily Stark and her team aim to rework how the browser presents web addresses. Their goal includes the removal of long and complicated URLs—and two projects are currently underway. First, the just-launched TrickURI will help developers confirm URL accuracy. Second, Stark’s team is developing an alert system to complement Safe Browsing. In the long term, however, Stark plans to address how to refine the way Chrome displays URLs—revealing only what’s relevant for decision-making. As Wired reports, this will in no way change the underlying structure of the internet. Head there to learn more.
China’s Spectacular Molten Metal “Fireworks”
A 500-year-old Lunar New Year ritual in Nuanquan, China (a short span, considering the nation has celebrated the holiday for 3,800 years), Da Shuhua involves Chinese blacksmiths tossing molten iron at an icy door to create a riveting shower of sparks. The name translates to “beating down the tree flowers,” which refers to an agricultural practice that stimulates growth in fruit-bearing plants. It was developed as a less expensive way to have a firework displays. Now, however, the pyrotechnics are kept in place because of environment restraints (they’re safer to the air than normal fireworks). Read more about the beautiful but dangerous practice at Smithsonian Magazine.
Germ Communities in Our Gut Talk to Our Brain
There are trillions of microbes inside the human body, and University College Cork professor Dr John Cryan’s studies indicate that these germ communities appear to influence both the brain and its behaviors. Since that groundbreaking and contested 2014 announcement, much more research has continued to support the idea that the human microbiome impacts depression, dementia, autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and even Parkinson’s disease. All of this has led to a closer connection between neuroscience and microbiology—but information on the relationship has really only just begun. Read more about the connection at the New York Times.
NASA Enlisted Artists to Envision the Future
In 1975, NASA began to conceptualize living conditions in space—hiring freelance illustrator Rick Guidice to bring the ideas to life. The resulting works actively shaped the public perception of life off Earth, and do so to this day. Guidice’s illustrations influenced synth-drenched soundscapes, runway shows and popular film—all while being quite literal guides for NASA’s potential population relocation plans (which could house nearly one million people). See more at Artsy.