Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Brain-influencing biomes, electric vehicle advancements, the future of video game graphics and more from around the internet

Stomach “Psychobiome” Capable of Influencing Thoughts

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research company Holobiome surveys human stool for microbiomes capable of influencing a person’s weight, actions, thoughts and overall feeling (bloated, energetic, fatigued, etc) through their gut. Through innovative processes, the team there has been able to collect, in culture, 70% of the known human stomach biomes, rendering the company uniquely fit to formulate future “psychobiotics.” The potential here is well-known: gut health is widely believed to be the key to overall wellness, but Holobiome seeks to push the field further. They aim to treat depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and more ailments that “have neurological as well as intestinal components”—and human trials could begin in as soon as one year. Read more at Science.

Vitra Design Museum’s “Chair Times: A History of Seating” Film by Heinz Bütler

Free to watch for the duration of quarantine, courtesy of the Vitra Design Museum, filmmaker Heinz Bütler’s 90-minute film Chair Times: A History of Seating – From 1800 to Today documents the chronological development of 125 iconic chairs. This timeline and the items within reveal far more than structural tinkering. “We are able to perceive and comprehend an era—its social organization, its materials and technology, its aesthetic tastes—by observing its chairs,” says Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra’s Chairman Emeritus, in a statement. The documentary, produced in 2018 by HOOK Film and Kultur Produktion GmbH, also features an exemplary lineup of experts. Watch it all, in German with English subtitles, at Vitra’s site.

The Spinosaurus Dinosaur Was a Swimmer

While scientists have believed most dinosaurs were land-dwelling, evidence that the Spinosaurus was a swimmer has just been confirmed—thanks to bones found in Morocco in 2018 being reconstructed as the massive creature’s tail. Understood to grow between 20 and 50 feet long, the giant predatory dinosaur somewhat resembled the crocodile and was well-equipped to hunt for prey deep below the water’s surface—courtesy of its top-facing nostrils, flat feet and long snout. “This discovery is the nail in the coffin for the idea that non-avian dinosaurs never invaded the aquatic realm,” Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist at University of Detroit Mercy, tells Live Science. “This dinosaur was actively pursuing prey in the water column, not just standing in shallow waters waiting for fish to swim by… It probably spent most of its life in the water.” Find out more at Live Science.

Epic Games’ New Technologies Promise Best Video Game Graphics Yet

Epic Games (the studio behind Fortnite and other titles) introduced its newest generation of game-developing software, the Unreal Engine 5. Demoed on the forthcoming PlayStation 5, the Engine’s newest technologies—nanite and lumen—allow developers to craft intricate, hyper-realistic gameplay scenes. The innovation bridges the vast divide between visuals of user-explored realms and those without interactivity, which historically have more closely resembled big-budget movies. Previous generations of the Unreal Engine have also been used to create realistic weather forecasts for the Weather Channel and uncanny replications of the human face. Click through to VICE to watch a nine-minute demo.

Tesla’s Cheaper, Longer-Lasting EV Batteries

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has teased the release of new “million mile” electric vehicle batteries for months, ensuring that they’d be longer-lasting and (if the company can ramp up production) cheaper than what’s available right now. Today, we learned they’re close. Set to debut in Telsa’s Model 3 sedan in China in late 2020 or early 2021, a battery made in partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd will boast improved energy density and storage capacity, and a lower overall cost. The company remains hopeful that this battery will the tool that will finally drive the cost of electric vehicles down to prices more comparable to gasoline-powered cars. Read more at Reuters.

IKEA’s Quarantine Fort Instructions

For anyone who’s ever assembled a tent or cave from everyday items in their living room comes a nostalgic new campaign from IKEA, developed by the Russian agency Instinct. A clever, comedic guide to fort-building, the six-part campaign appears in the form of the Swedish furniture giant’s assembly instruction illustrations; it employs a mix of IKEA products and other homewares. It’s useful, too—and should be put into action by anyone at home (whether with adventurous children or not) during quarantine. See all six illustrations at Adweek.

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