Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Coffee as Viagra, car crushing, Tokyo in high-def and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Gary Card’s Abandoned Amusement Park

Renowned set designer Gary Card has created larger-than-life, fantastical works for everyone from Lady Gaga and the New York Times’ T Magazine, to the London concept store LN-CC. In his first solo exhibition, “Abandoned Amusement Park Attraction,” Card pushes the cuddly against the sinister at the Eternal Youth Gallery in East London, which is housing colorless, distorted cartoon forms he made from over 300 rolls of masking tape. If you can’t check out the show—which runs until 21 August—in person, this informal interview with Ten magazine will give you a peek into the imagination of the industrious 32-year-old designer.

2. Magnetically Grown Fashion

Combining high-fashion and geology, product designer Jolan Van Der Wiel and pioneering fashion designer Iris van Herpen, have “grown” a line of dresses using magnets. To create the garments, the Dutch designers added a mixture of iron fillings and resin to fabric, and then used magnets to pull the particles into a strange texture of spikes and filaments. It took three weeks to grow each dress into its sculptural form.

3. Coffee: The Original Viagra

We’re all familiar with the day-to-day value of coffee intake. Back in 1652, however, a coffee craze swept England because it was also considered a sexual stimulant. While the “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” referred to the substance as a “heathenish liquor,” reducing men’s virility, the “Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee” made note of the opposite. Men found that it made “the erection more vigorous, the ejaculation more full, add[ing] a spiritual ascendency to the sperm.” Seemingly, the real issue at hand was the fact that coffee shops were a men-only social scene.

4. Life, on Mars

This week marks the one-year anniversary of NASA’s successful mission to Mars. Curiosity, the rover roaming the red planet, gained definitive success for the space program with its discovery of clay, which suggests Mars may have been hospitable to life at one point. The rover’s biggest opportunity is yet to come. Traveling at 100 yards per day, Curiosity is approaching Mount Sharp, an 18,000 foot mountain that could provide insights into the biological history of the planet. A new interactive feature from the New York Times compiles the rover’s photos from each Martian day, known as a sol.


5. Bathtub Touchscreen

Developers at Tokyo’s Koike Laboratory have managed to transform the surface of water in a bathtub into an “immersive” touchscreen. Utilizing a Kinect camera mounted above the tub, a projector, some waterproof speakers and a PC, these developers turned the water into an Aquatop. With Aquatop, you can play games against your rubber ducky with haptic feedback provided by the underwater speakers. Watch their video to get a taste of the experience.

6. Car Crushing

Joe Richardson, founder of the new website, The Car Crush, believes that there is an automobile out there for everyone. You may not think you lust after cars, but Richardson convinced it’s only because you haven’t met your perfect match. Richardson aims to bring a potential dream car your way. The Car Crush covers new and classic cars, and engages with the personalities inhabiting the world of automotive design. Like any good matchmaker, the former Mercedes-Benz publicist hopes to stir a (four-wheeled) frenzy in you.

7. Rethinking Weed

Neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta wrote an editorial reversing his previous anti-marijuana stance and publicly acknowledging that he now perceives marijuana to have potential medical benefits. Dr Gupta discusses current problems such as the scientific marijuana research (marijuana is needed for trials yet the plant is illegal) and the science community’s focus on only its negative effects. While this could be seen as a publicity stunt to promote Dr Gupta’s new documentary “Weed,” premiering this Sunday on CNN, one look at the article’s 19,400 (and counting) comments shows that this is a medical and political issue that many consider to be of huge significance.

8. Toilet Technology

Japanese company Lixil wanted their new luxury Satis toilet to be a high-tech, “interactive” experience by having an Android app remotely control all functions of the toilet, from automatic flushing to deodorizing to even playing music on the toilet’s speakers (for those who are prone to stage-fright). The company noticed one security flaw, however—every toilet was hardwired with the same Bluetooth PIN code (0000), meaning anyone who downloaded the free app could control any Satis toilet. While your mischievous younger brother could prank the bidet to set off during an inopportune time, we aren’t deterred—try showing us another toilet that has a heated seat, soft lighting, plasmacluster technology to balance ion levels and a diary that tracks your digestive health.


9. Demystifying Art on Amazon

This week, Amazon launched a high-end art marketplace that grants access to over 40,000 pieces of fine art, culled from over 150 dealers and galleries. This is no Etsy—the price point spans a more manageable $200 to an exorbitant $2.5 million. In true Amazon fashion, users can search by subject, color, size and price, and each work is shown alongside information about the artist, provenance and exhibition history. Would you buy an Old Master sight-unseen? For some collectors, the answer already seems to be yes.

10. Solid Rain

Mexican chemical engineer Sergio Jesus Vaelasco has created instant water. Using a highly absorbent polymer scientifically known as potassium polyacrylate, the tiny crystals absorb about 500 times their size and begin to look like much large, water-filled salt crystals. Originally intended to make diapers more absorbent, Vaelasco’s blend for Solid Rain has shown dramatic benefits when planted among crop fields and dry climate gardens. Watch the video to learn about the science behind Solid Rain and all of its benefits.

11. The Anti-Social App

Smartphone technology has allowed people to connect and share their lives in unprecedented levels. While this is often considered a positive feature of modern life, sometimes you just want to keep a low profile. The recently launched Hell is Other People app is crafty way to avoid people you know. Using social network check-ins, the app creates safe zones a reasonable distance away from hot spots. While this version of social networking may seem a bit odd, sometimes solitude is exactly what we need.

12. Tokyo in High Definition

Photographer Jeffrey Martin is known for extremely high-definition panoramic shots of famous places and cities. His most recent 180-gigapixel shot of Tokyo does not disappoint. Zoom in from up to 25 kilometers away to reveal stunningly clear details, from the leaves on a tree to the expressions of unsuspecting office workers. Martin used seven cameras to capture tens of thousands of images, all the while using a gigapixel robot to maintain consistency for image stitching. While the technical quality of the work is admirable enough, the ability to digitally immerse oneself in the heart of Tokyo is quite magical.