Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Bubble submarines, solar farms, electric Kombi vans, and more innovation from around the world

Heliogen’s Solar Farm Could Drastically Reduce Global Emissions

Backed by Bill Gates, clean energy company Heliogen has developed a concentrated solar energy source that could eliminate carbon-emitting industrial processes—essentially “transforming sunlight to create and replace fuels.” The advancement would allow heavy machinery to forego fossil fuels and employ those created from the process (like hydrogen or syngas), ultimately reducing global carbon emissions by 10%. The technology at the center of Heliogen’s innovative idea involves advanced computer vision software, a field of mirrors, and temperatures of up to 2732 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celsius). Find out more at designboom.

Reclamation of Black-Owned Farmland

According to census data, there were 925,000 black farmers in 1920. By 2017, that number dropped below 50,000. Discrimination within the industry, institutionalized racism upheld by USDA agency workers, purposefully incorrect documentation of ownership transfers, the industrialization of the agriculture industry, and many more reasons lead to the decline. Plenty of banks, certification organizations, and distribution networks also actively discriminated against black farmers. The US government admitted wrongdoing in a 1999 class action suit—the largest of its kind in US history. Now, a new generation of black business-owners are returning to farms. One in particular, Soul Fire Farm, is driving up interest by hosting training sessions on organic and sustainable farming. For evidence of the trade’s rising popularity, look no further than the aforementioned program’s waitlist: three years. Read more at Vice.

Netflix Saves NYC’s Last Single-Screen Movie Theater

Shuttered earlier this year, NYC’s iconic Paris Theater recently reopened for a limited run of filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s latest feature, Marriage Story. The last single-screen movie theater in the city, the Paris originally opened in 1948 (after a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Marlene Dietrich), making it one of the oldest art house destinations in the US. Over the years, it has focused on foreign films (first French) and independent cinema. Netflix has stepped in to save the venue, announcing that a lease agreement has been reached. The streaming service intends to use it for theatrical releases of its films, as well as special events. Read more at Vulture.

Plastic Bubble Subs Grant Humans Access to the Deep Sea

As we continue exploring space, there’s a large subset of researchers and investors that are working their way into the depths of our oceans—of which we have discovered 5%. Most of those scientists are using technology that originated in the ’80s: bubble crafts. But clever, contemporary upgrades are making these spherical vessels more efficient than ever. These days, the vessels cost between $2 million to $5 million, can plunge 7,500 feet underwater, and can carry up to seven passengers. Their 12-inch-thick walls are usually translucent all over so researchers, photographers, and biologists can peer out into the dark depths. As interest in this sort of excursion grows, ambitious investors are working to develop glass iterations that could venture even further, with some aiming for 36,960 feet. Read more at The New York Times.

VW’s Charming 1972 Type 2 Gets Electrified

Commissioned by Volkswagen, Californian-based EV West has given the classic 1972 Type 2 Microbus (aka the Kombi, Transporter or simply Microbus) an electric upgrade. Specializing in energy system conversions, EV West replaced the internal-combustion engine with an electric powertrain and 35.8 kWh battery from a “donor” 2017 E-Golf. This upgrade results in a 25-mile range and more horsepower than the original, but maintains the classic vehicle’s undeniable charm. Find out more at designboom.

Scientists Imagined Undersea Cities in the ’60s

“No one can doubt that history will repeat itself and man will be forced once again into the sea for a living,” read British marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy’s New Scientist article from March 1960. Hardy was not alone in believing this. Concurrently, underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau asserted that oceans held potential for larger utopian living. In an excerpt from Anthony Adler’s forthcoming book, Neptune’s Laboratory: Fantasy, Fear, and Science at Sea, Popular Science delves into the retro-futuristic language, developments and political environment around this period of time. Read more (and see imagery) at PopSci.

The Arrivals’ Cell Signal-Blocking Parka

NYC-based brand The Arrivals has designed a new parka with the intention of wearers reconnecting to nature. Inside, the puffer jacket (called the Aer) features a Faraday pocket made from a blend of polyester, copper and nickel. This combination blocks radio-frequency identification (RFID), Near Field Communication (NFC), electromagnetic fields (EMR and EMF) and radiation signals—all the methods of delivery to mobile phones for push notifications, GPS tracking, text messages, and more. “We live in a time where we are more connected to our devices than to the environments we inhabit,” Jeff Johnson (co-founder of The Arrivals) tells Dezeen. “We began conceptualizing solutions that would enable users to reconnect with the outdoors by disconnecting from everything else.” Read more there.

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