Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Pagan turnips to jack-o'lanterns, contemporary art at the ancient pyramids, lab-grown brains and more from around the internet

Scientists are Growing Mini Brains to Learn How to Treat Fatal Diseases

According to the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Cambridge are growing miniature human brain models to study neurological disorders, like the motor-neuron diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. By sampling a culture of skin cells, reverting them to stem cells and then reprogramming them into specific organs or tissues, researchers can grow organoids that emulate the diseases that they’re studying. In a breakthrough case, scientists have been able to keep a mini brain alive for 240 days, affirming the efficacy of the drug GSK2606414 in treating these types of diseases. This research not only opens pathways to find cures for terminal afflictions, but it will also shrink the amount of time it typically takes to find this treatment—from decades to just a few years. Learn more about the possibilities in making organoids and this life-saving research at The Daily Beast.

Image by Elizabeth Brockway, courtesy of The Daily Beast/Getty

The First-Ever Contemporary Art Show at the Pyramids of Egypt

Open now through 7 November, Forever is Now is the first contemporary art show on display at the pyramids of Egypt. Three years in the making (due to negotiations with UNESCO, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism and various embassies), the exhibition, curated by Simon Watson and organized by Art D’Égypte, showcases 10 site-specific installations that enhance the viewing experience of the ancient pyramids. For instance, Gisela Colón’s “Eternity Now”—a sculptural mound resembling a rising sun—took over 150 people to make and sits at the foot of the Sphinx. The piece, the artist says, is “about unifying the human race and how we are all globalized now.” Combining antiquity and modern art at the pyramids was an immense undertaking, but the project shows once more how “Ancient Egypt and this civilization influenced the whole world,” Art D’Égypte’s founder Nadine Abdel Ghaffar says. The exhibit (which includes work by Shuster + Moseley, JR, João Trevisan and others) casts some of these influential contributions in a different, contemporary light. View more of the art and learn about the work that went into installing it at Artnet News.

Image of Gisela Colón’s “Eternity Now” (2021) by MO4NETWORK, courtesy of Gisela Colón/Forever Is Now

Ancient Celtic Turnip Carvings Paved the Way for Jack-O’-Lanterns

Samhain (which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic) is the ancient pagan festival that ushered in the beginning of winter and the Celtic new year. It also evolved into All Hallow’s Eve, and then Halloween. Centuries ago, it was believed that the veil between life and death was at its thinnest during the transition from October to November, allowing visits from spirits. To ward off unwelcome ghosts, ghouls and monsters, people in Ireland and other Celtic areas carved lanterns out of produce including radishes, beets and (the most popular option) turnips. Eventually, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Celts began carving faces and designs that would allow more light to shine through. These turnip lanterns mostly stayed in the past, while the tradition of making jack-o’-lanterns continued. Learn more about this evolution at Smithsonian Magazine.

Image courtesy of National Museum of Ireland/Smithsonian

3D Artist Allan Williams Redesigns Honda’s Motocompo Scooter

Made in the ’80s, the cult Honda Motocompo is the smallest scooter the Japanese carmaker has ever built. In fact, the scooter’s compact frame—which the seat, handlebars and foot-pegs can fold into—is so small, the whole thing could fit inside the trunk of a car. When reimagining this “trunk bike,” artist Allan Williams kept the same clean, retro design of the classic but increased the overall size. The Motocompo XL was constructed using Cinema 4D and Rizom, with the artist making two versions: red and yellow. Both colors embody the key features that garnered the original its iconic status, yet Williams renders it anew with some modern twists. Find out more at designboom.

Image courtesy of Allan Williams

The World’s First Unisex Condom, Wondaleaf

John Tang Ing Chinh, a Malaysian gynecologist at Twin Catalyst, has created the world’s first unisex condom: Wondaleaf. Made from medical-grade polyurethane (often used for dressing wounds), Wondaleaf functions like a regular condom but features a reversible adhesive side, allowing the condom to accommodate different partners. This flexible and stretchy material also means it covers more of the pubic area than regular condoms, offering better protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Plus, Wondaleaf is ultra-thin and latex-free. “Once you put it on, you often don’t realize that it’s there,” Tang says. Already, the waterproof condom has gone through several rounds of testing and is slated to be released commercially in December as a set of two per box, priced around $4. Learn more about it at Reuters.

Image of John Tang Ing Ching, courtesy of Twin Catalyst/Handout/Reuters

Artist Gary Baseman’s “Nightmares of Halloween Past” Art + Archival Photography Book

In his forthcoming hardcover book Nightmares of Halloween Past, LA-based interdisciplinary artist Gary Baseman pairs more than 300 archival photographs that he’s collected over the last two decades with 20 original Halloween-inspired paintings (some, never seen before). A time capsule of spooky traditions and vintage costumes, Baseman’s book is an ode the holiday, its vernacular and something more. Baseman contributes text, accompanied by essays from Phyllis Galembo (an artist and Guggenheim fellow) and Catherine Zuromskis (an associate professor of photography and visual culture at Rochester Institute of Technology). It’s playful, eerily profound and for an audience both young and old. Read more about the project at Indiegogo, where it is currently funding.

Image courtesy of Gary Baseman

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image by MO4NETWORK, courtesy of Lorenzo Quinn/Forever Is Now