First-Ever Photo of a Supermassive Black Hole
Truly a quantum leap, astronomers have “seen the unseeable” and captured an image of a supermassive black hole—a “smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity,” Dennis Overbye writes for the New York Times. A planet-sized network of eight radio telescopes—called the Event Horizon Telescope—peered through interstellar dust and gas to reveal the black hole, located in a galaxy called Messier 87, which exists some 55 million light-years away from Earth. This supermassive black hole is believed to be seven billion times bigger than our sun. While incredibly difficult to wrap one’s head around the size and significance of this, astronomer Shep Doelman (who helmed the effort) puts it simply: “We’ve exposed a part of our universe we’ve never seen before.” Read and see more at the New York Times.
Dark Blue Considered World’s Most Calming Color
According to a new study done by paper manufacturer G.F. Smith, dark blue is the color most associated with relaxation. The company surveyed over 26,000 people from 100 different countries on colors and their associations—whether it be colors that convey work or hues that represent sexiness most. The full study, which offers up “a color-coded emotional map of sorts” can be perused in their published report, The World’s Favourite Color Project. See more at It’s Nice That.
Verner Panton’s Bond Villain Seating in Reproduction
Several of Danish furniture and interior designer Verner Panton’s creations have been used to decorate Bond villains’ hideouts—from decadent shell chandeliers to minimal lamps and beyond. Perhaps the most recognizable, the Pantonova seating system, is back in production. Bond antagonist Karl Stromberg perched atop the iconic, curve-framed seat in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and it was just unveiled once more at this year’s Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. The reproductions will be available in natural chrome or lacquered, while “accompanying cushions are available in leather, velvet or Kvadrat fabric, in a choice of eight colors.” See more at Dezeen.
Newly Discovered Species of Ancient Human
Recently discovered in a cave in the Philippines, a previously unknown species of ancient human contradicts popular evolution theory. It seems that homo sapiens weren’t the only surviving species of humans a few thousand years ago—these tinier, tree-climbing species (aka homo luzonensis) dates back 50-67,000 years ago. A lot is still a mystery about these people though: how did they end up on Luzon, an island off the coast of the Philippines? Did the west-venturing homo sapiens have a role in their extinction? Read more at The Guardian.
McKinsey Design at Salone del Mobile 2019
Over five years, McKinsey Design—a division of the qualitative and quantitative business advisory firm—tracked design-related data points at 300 companies as a way to highlight the business value of design. During 2019’s Milan Design Week, Ivy Ross (VP of Hardware Design at Google) joined Jakob Lange (a partner at BIG and the head of BIG Ideas) as well as McKinsey Design partner Ben Sheppard and others, to address the role of data in design. Ross, who spoke about neuroaesthetics one day prior, attested to the value of feeling and intuition in design. Lange, however, admitted that he foresees algorithms as lead architects in time. The McKinsey data does not remove human touch, and can be interpreted to involve even more eyes and hands. You can read the McKinsey Design article or participate in a comparative survey at their site.
Katsushika Hokusai’s Iconic Artwork Bound for Japanese Currency
An instantly recognizable artwork—Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa—is set to appear on Japan’s 1,000-yen banknote. Just one of several new designs announced—others including images of industrialist, Eiichi Shibusawa; educational reformist, Tsuda Umeko; and more—the Hokusai note will depict Nobel Prize-nominated bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato on the other side. The new designs will be circulating by 2024. See more at CNN.
Self-Driving Protection From Asteroids
Autonomous technology has come for the final frontier. The European Space Agency’s new self-driving spacecraft could potentially protect our planet from catastrophic impacts with asteroids. The project, dubbed Hera, is in the process of getting outfitted with autonomous tech that, when installed, will enable the craft to use sensors to read nearby debris and objects to determine what (if anything) is an inbound target. The spacecraft can then send data back to Earth where the decision can be made to explode the target using kinetic impact. Read more at Digital Trends.
London Charges Citizens For Driving Older, Polluting Cars
Thanks to a new initiative called the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, London drivers who operate gas-fueled car from before 2006 will now have to pay a substantial fee every time they enter the aforementioned zone (set at just under $32) which comprises of congestion- and pollution-deterrent charges. The zone encompasses almost all of Central London, a section of the city where cars are least necessary, but is set to expand to include neighboring regions—which will make it the world’s most-populated area with strict vehicle regulations. Once complete, the plan will also enforce regulations for commercial vehicles with steeper fees, as they produce more pollution than personal vehicles—buses and trucks made before 2015 will be hit with a $131 fee. Read more about what some are calling a “soft ban” at CityLab.