Link About It: This Week’s Picks

A 3D-printed neighborhood, at-home insemination tools, alternative education and more innovation from around the globe

Hawaii Moves to Ban Single-Use Takeout Containers

Part of a comprehensive plan to drastically reduce single-use plastic reliance within the state, Hawaii passed a ban on plastic takeout containers—plates, bowls, cups, utensils, straws, foam containers, and more. The plan (formally named Bill 40) will roll out over two years, allowing restaurants and other purveyors the opportunity to convert to more sustainable options. Two exceptions will remain even after two years: raw fish and meat will still be packaged in single-use plastics to prevent food-borne illness from spreading or contaminating other goods. Read more at Mic.

At-Home Artificial Insemination Tool

Typically, artificial insemination is a sterile, clinical process, but Polish designer Kamila Rudnicka is changing that with an at-home tool that doubles as a sex toy. This pink-hued dildo, called Way, allows those hoping to conceive to make insemination part of their sexual experience. It’s also a practical and playful way for the non-conceiving partner to be involved. The device can be used two ways: either fully assembled (when the “veins” are embedded in the device’s shaft) or with the squeezable bladder attached to a person’s palm and fingers (for manual use). Read more at Dezeen.

Arete Project is Alaska’s Newest Alternative Higher-Education Option

Inspired by Deep Springs College, a collaborative higher education school where students self-govern and study in classrooms and outdoors, Laura Marcus’ Arete Project proves more inclusive. Until 2018, Deep Springs only accepted men, but Arete Project—located on a remote island in Alaska’s wilderness—accepts everybody, and as NPR’s Anya Kamenetz describes, is “at the crossroads of liberal arts, place-based education and experiential learning.” It’s free for all those accepted, and is funded by donors and family members, and maintains its independence in order to remain a place where lessons are personal, emotional and, oftentimes, applicable far beyond their strip of bay shore. Read more at NPR.

Tabasco’s New 3D-Printed Neighborhood

Helmed by housing non-profit New Story (in partnership with Icon and Échale), the city of Tabasco’s 3D-printed neighborhood has received its first two homes. Using a 33-foot Icon Vulcan II printer, New Story built the pair of 500-square-foot, single-story cement houses in significantly less time and for less money than traditional homes. The walls went up in 24 hours and then human workers added the windows, roofs, and furniture. Once finished, this neighborhood will have 50 homes—each with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The other 48 families, who will live there at a rate of $20 a month, will begin moving into their new homes in 2020. Read more at designboom.

Explore Google’s Summary of 2019

Annually, Google surveys its own data to offer insight (through graphs and detailed rankings) on the lifespan of news cycles and cultural interests, and, perhaps solely for our entertainment, they present a handful of the funniest searches we’ve all made. From a list of the US population’s most searched babies (number one was Baby Yoda from Disney+’s The Mandalorian) to the most sought after recipes (Shepherd’s Pie) and song lyrics (Old Town Road), the results prove occasionally unexpected, but oftentimes reinforce the significance of the particular moments and people that formed 2019. Google also takes this opportunity to share their own interpretation, this year informed by an encouraging revelation in the data: “Throughout history, when times are challenging, the world goes looking for heroes. And this year, searches for heroes—both superheroes and everyday heroes—soared around the world,” Google explains in their visual wrap up of the year, which spotlights fictional Marvel characters, firefighters, parents, athletes, philanthropists, activists, and more. Watch the full video on YouTube and peruse the data on Google’s site.

Pursuing Life on a Planet That’s 1,000 Years Away

Earth will not be hospitable to humans forever, and if we wish to prolong our existence we need to consider the idea of relocating. Mars, while conveniently close, likely cannot host life without extensive adaptation. Proxima b (which orbits the star Proxima Centauri) proves more possible, as its surface temperatures could accommodate water and thus life. But the journey in a ship big enough to carry passengers (and supplies) would take over 1,000 years. Generations would be born in-flight and be raised solely to control the vessel. Food would be produced without sunlight or soil, and—in many’s eyes—humans would exist in conditions that aren’t conducive with mental health. Wild as it may seem, there is a large network of scientists, astronauts and more researching options for this kind of “multi-generation space travel.” Read more at OneZero.

The World’s First Fully-Electric Commercial Flight

Though it was a seaplane and not a jet, Harbour Air and magniX’s fully-electric flight was a first-ever for the industry, signaling potential for adoption on larger planes. That change surely would be welcomed by travelers, who’d see no notable difference in their flight experience but the output of emissions would be drastically reduced. This is especially pressing as emissions from commercial flights are set to be the largest polluter of our ozone, if no significant changes are made. Read more at BBC.

Google Launches Assistant Interpreter Mode

Available today on iOS and Android, Interpreter Mode translates conversations in real time through a process similar to Google’s preexisting Translate page. According to the company, the feature can be prompted by saying phrases like, “Hey Google, help me speak Thai” or “Hey Google, be my German translator.” Simply recite a phrase and an automated process will translate it and play it back in the selected language—radically improving the ease and speed of cross-language conversing. Read more at The Verge.

43,900-Year-Old Cave Art Depicts Ancient Hunting Scene

Predating the next oldest depiction of a human/animal hunting scene by 4,000 years, this 43,900-year-old scene painted on cave walls on Sulawesi (an island in central Indonesia) is now believed to be the oldest—and includes one of the most complex discoveries yet. It reshapes our long-held conceptions about the practice of hunting by depicting therianthropes, predominantly human figures with a distinguishing animal feature. In this scene, eight therianthropes approach wild pigs and dwarf buffaloes. But researchers are uncertain if this is part of a grander chase and ambush scheme or a shamanic ritual led by “animal helpers,” prominent figures in such practices. Also a significant discovery for the timeline of modern art, this discovery proves that figurative painting originated outside of Europe, contradicting the long-held belief amongst academics. Read more 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.