Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Research on the shapes of letters, funds for New York artists, a building constructed from waste and more in our look around the internet

New Program Provides Guaranteed Income For NYC Artists in Need

Open for applications until 25 March, Creatives Rebuild New York is a new initiative that will provide guaranteed income to NYC artists in need through two programs: one offering $1,000 a month for 18 months with no strings attached, and the other providing a two-year job with a community organization or municipality, paying $65,00 per year. 2,400 recipients will be chosen for the former program while 300 will be picked for the latter. To qualify, applicants need only be based in New York State, be an artist—which the program broadly defines as “someone who regularly engages in artistic or cultural practice”—and show proof of financial need. The application process will also include accommodations for non-English speakers or those with disabilities to be accessible to everyone, especially to those from overlooked communities. Learn more about this necessary program and how it considers the labor and importance of art at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of Nina Westervelt/The New York Times

Exoplanet Orbiting The Nearest Star To Our Solar System Discovered

An exoplanet (an Earth-like body that orbits a star that isn’t our Sun) has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri—the nearest star to our solar system. Found using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) which is located in Chile, the exoplanet—called Proxima d—could be significant, as it orbits Proxima Centauri’s habitable zone, where “it’s not too warm nor too cold for liquid water to exist at the surface of a planet.” When searching for life on other planets, water is crucial. Additionally, Proxima d’s proximity to Earth means it could feasibly be the destination of a future mission. Lead researcher João Faria says, “The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbor seems to be packed with interesting new worlds, within reach of further study and future exploration.” Read more at INVERSE.

Image courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada

New Research Rethinks the Design of Letters

For centuries, scholars believed that there was no inherent visual correlation between certain signifiers (letters and words) and the signified (what they conveyed). For example, this belief—helmed by Swiss linguist and philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure—suggests that there is no reason why the word tree corresponds to an actual tree, because there’s nothing particularly tree-like about the word tree. New research, however, is making scholars believe this long-held opinion could be false. The Color Game—an app developed by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History to study the evolution of language—features a number of symbols that players use to communicate with one another. The 4,000+ participants, spanning over 70 languages and 100 countries, were able to develop shared understanding as some symbols adopted meaning. A language began to form. Now, researchers are rethinking the design behind letters, believing that iconicity, the idea that words and letters relate to what they refer to, might be possible. Learn more about it at Vice.

Image courtesy of Catherine Falls/Getty Images

Yvette Mayorga’s Cake Decorations Critique Surveillance and Consumerism

Yvette Mayorga’s most recent work, “Surveillance Locket,” is a cake version of the Polly Pocket mansion that the artist dreamed of owning in her youth. Made with multiple layers of pink acrylic paint, pushed through piping bags, the faux confection melds the domestic interiors of the artist’s childhood with imaginary spaces. At first glance, the cake appears joyful and luxurious with its gold banisters and chandeliers, but a closer look reveals toy soldiers hiding throughout. These figures represent the military presence at the US and Mexico border, where Mayorga spent time between family visits growing up. Combing the gluttony of cake, children’s toys, soldiers and colonialist histories, Mayorga makes a critique about overconsumption and surveillance. Learn more about the work—which will be permanently installed at O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 5—at It’s Nice That.

Image of Yvette Mayorga: Surveillance Locket, courtesy of the artist

Air Protein Makes Steaks By Recycling Carbon Dioxide

Agriculture makes up a quarter of our annual greenhouse gas emissions with meat production being responsible for the most in the industry. As the climate crisis worsens, populations rise and resources dwindle, researchers have been urgently searching for alternative, more sustainable proteins. Enter Air Protein, a California-based startup on a mission to transform carbon dioxide into meat. Founded in 2019 by former physicist Lisa Dyson and material scientist John Reed, Air Protein—like yogurt—relies on fermenting live microbes (hydrogenotrophic), which are then mixed with carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, minerals and water to create a protein-rich flour that has a similar amino acid profile as meat. With a carbon-negative production that uses 1.5 million times less land than beef and reduces water usage by 15,000 times, Air Protein is revolutionizing the future of meat consumption. Learn more about it at Wired.

Image courtesy of Sean Gladwell/Getty Images

A New Building in Manhattan is Made of 577,367 Pounds of Waste

At the corner of NYC’s 47th Street and 11th Avenue now sits The West, a new building made up of 219 residences and 577,367 pounds of recycled waste. From StoneCycling, the building’s bricks comprise 60% of byproducts from the construction industry—the first time this material has been used in the US. Not only are these bricks more sustainable than traditional ones, but they’re also design-forward. Each brick (hand-brushed with glass particles for subtle shine) is unique, varying in smoothness and hues—from pistachio to nougat and truffle. This incongruent nature speaks to the history of the neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen. “This area has such a bumpy and rough history. It’s industrial, so we felt we wanted to create a connection to both a little bit of the past and the future,” says Erikjan Vermeulen, a partner of Concrete, the design company behind the building. Read more about The West at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Alexander Stein

Virgil Abloh’s Air Force 1s Raise $24.5 Million For Charity

Two hundred pairs of Nike Air Force 1s designed by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2022 collection recently sold for a combined $23.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction. The proceeds go to Abloh’s Post-Modern Scholarship fund, which fosters equity and inclusion in the fashion industry by supporting the next generation of Black designers. The sale is the most valuable charitable sale at Sotheby’s in almost a decade, setting a new record auction total for fashion as well as a new participation record for the total number of bids received on opening day and number of bidders for online sales overall. “Today’s record-breaking auction, which saw unparalleled global participation, is a testament to Virgil Abloh’s legacy as one of the most visionary artists and designers of his generation whose widespread influence and impact is still palpable,” said Sotheby’s Chief Executive Officer Charles F Stewart. Read more about it at Bloomberg.

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Simple DNA Test Can Detect Common Neurological Conditions

A relatively simple DNA test—which involves whole genome sequencing—can diagnose common neurological disorders, providing people with clarity and ending uncertainty, a new study says. As Linda Geddes writes for The Guardian, “Historically, obtaining a definitive diagnosis for conditions including Huntingdon’s disease and some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been difficult, because, although the cause of the symptoms is genetic, knowing which test to carry out has resulted in delays of many years.” This type of whole genome sequencing has been used for various other reasons, but never before for “‘repeat expansion disorders” (which are relatively common, affecting one in 3,000 people) because those conditions can be “difficult to quantify.” Thankfully, the study—led by Queen Mary University of London, Illumina (a biotechnology company), University College London and Genomics England with NHS England—means that one simple test, rather than numerous, may provide answers for people struggling with a “diagnostic odyssey.” Read more at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of nobeastsofierce Science/Alamy

Scientists Reveal Our Vision Functions On a 15-Second Delay

New research done by scientists at the University of Aberdeen and the University of California, Berkeley reveals that human vision is up to 15 seconds behind real time, and we function on a “previously unknown visual illusion.” Essentially this delay could be the reason our vision doesn’t make us dizzy or nauseated. “Instead of analyzing every single visual snapshot, we perceive in a given moment an average of what we saw in the past 15 seconds,” the researchers write in The Conversation. “So, by pulling together objects to appear more similar to each other, our brain tricks us into perceiving a stable environment. Living ‘in the past’ can explain why we do not notice subtle changes that occur over time.” Read more about this fascinating find at Popular Mechanics.

Image courtesy of CSA Images

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 courtesy of geralt/Pixabay