Link About It: This Week’s Picks

James Turrell's light prints, a $1 microscope, contamination-detecting chopsticks and more in our weekly look at the web


1. A Mysterious WTC Photographer

In his research for the National Geographic Channel documentary “9/10: The Final Hours,” filmmaker Erik Nelson was missing one vital piece. While he had more than enough exterior footage of the two towers, he had very little of what the buildings looked like inside. Thanks to an internet miracle, one of his film researchers discovered a wealth of images on the Estonian photo site Fotki. Commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 this week, The New Yorker retells how Nelson tried to track down the mysterious man that took the beautiful photographs of the empty interiors at night. The puzzle was finally solved, but unfortunately, the two will never be able to meet in person.

2. James Turrell in Print

Renowned light artist James Turrell is known for his expansive installations that encapsulate the viewer in a meditative, spiritual cocoon of visual warmth. It comes as something of an (exciting) surprise that his upcoming work will be on paper. “Prints and Process” translates Turrell’s critically acclaimed Guggenheim show into posters with the help of master printer and craftsman Yasu Shibata. The exhibition is on view now at Pace Prints in NYC through 18 October 2014.

3. Poison-Sensitive Chopsticks

Anyone who has ever suffered from food poisoning can attest to the value of smart chopsticks—a new development from a Chinese tech firm Baidu. Sensors in the chopsticks pick up certain chemical combinations in food, and trigger an indicator LED. Blue means safe, red means beware. As a final perk, the chopsticks also connect to smartphones for a full breakdown on why an alert was issued. No price has been announced yet, but there’s no denying, these sound pretty handy.

4. A Graphic Design Bible, Reissued

Before Helvetica, there was Standard Medium—and Standard Medium was leading subway riders the right way, according to the 1970 NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual by Unimark’s Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. The historical document is essentially a “Rosetta Stone” for graphic designers, and is now seeing a second life after a rare copy of the manual was found in the basement of Pentagram’s NYC office. In a special agreement with the MTA, scans of this copy will be transformed into a high-quality hardcover available only through Kickstarter.


5. Beans to Farts Explained

Many may wonder about the link between legumes and gas. Thanks to Men’s Health, Rami Niemi and this wonderful video the knowledge is now easily digestible. There are a lot of scientific facts across the one minute explanation, but the animation is also entirely endearing. It’s long-been one of life’s little mysteries, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, we now know the biology of tooting.

6. City Stream

Chinese painter Lu Xinjian creates mind-bending abstract images of city streets in
“City Stream,” a series of urban impressionism paintings that are somewhat reminiscent of Magic Eye puzzles. Using basic
shapes and colors, the jumble of geometric abstraction comes to life
after a closer look, depicting cityscapes extruded from ariel views of
streets and architecture throughout Shanghai. The images are at once
2D and 3D, offering a truly unique way to view the world.

7. $1 Fold-Up Microscope

Using a special printer and a drop of optical-quality glue,
Stanford University bioengineer Manu Prakash has invented a way to
turn a piece of paper into a microscope. The printer prints a precise
diagram instructing how to fold the paper, and the glue acts as a lens. With
a little effort, a microscope is created—and all for under a dollar.
With applications from schools to in-the-field tech repairs and
primitive medical research, the development is nothing short of

8. Freezing Out Death

Over the course of six hours, Patrick Savage experienced seven cardiac arrests with his heart fully stopping for a total of 90 minutes—yet he survived. Doctors used an experimental and possibly revolutionary technique once thought reserved for science fiction: therapeutic hypothermia. Covering Savage’s body in cold packs and pumping chilled saline through his body to draw out any remaining heat slowed his metabolism and halted the brain damage that would normally occur. The technique is continually being refined and physicians have even begun to rethink the state of death as a result. In lab tests, pigs remained “pulseless”—not technically dead—for up to three hours before revival.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.