Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Photographing the Milky Way, using lava as a building material, studying alien signals and more from around the web

New Study Sheds Light on 45-Year-Old Alien Signal Mystery

On 15 August 1977 at 10:16PM EST, Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope scanned the Sagittarius constellation and detected a signal that was 20 times stronger than average, background emissions. When astronomer Jerry Ehman reviewed the findings the next morning, he wrote “Wow!” next to it, unknowingly naming the signal and its subsequent mystery. Since its discovery, scientists have not been able to determine where the Wow! signal came from or found another similar to it. A new study, however, hones in on possible origins for this 45-year-old mystery. Using data collected from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, author of the study Alberto Caballero searched for yellow and orange dwarves (aka G- and K-type stars), identifying a star (known as 2MASS 19281982-2640123) that is the most similar to our sun. This star, located 1,800 light-years from Earth, has a solar analog that makes it the most likely region for an alien signal. Read more about this at Inverse.

Image courtesy of the European Space Agency

Harnessing Iceland’s Molten Lava to Create Building Materials

Architects at Reykjavík-based Studio Arnhildur Pálmadóttir are researching ways to harness molten lava from Iceland’s volcanoes to use as a natural building material; an alternative to current materials which are responsible for 11% of annual global CO2 emissions. A recent project called Lavaforming details three different ways to cultivate lava: digging trenches for lava to flow into when a volcano erupts, drilling into magma before volcanoes erupt and 3D-printing bricks with molten lava. While the idea seems audacious and ambitious, studio founder (and namesake) Arnhildur Pálmadóttir notes that much of the equipment required for it already exists in similar forms (like in geothermal energy). Currently, the project is centered on Iceland’s abundant lava fields, but it can be applied to the 1,500 other active volcanoes around the world. Learn more about this radical, sustainable idea at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Arnhildur Pálmadóttir

CRAVE’s New Collection Merges Sex Positivity and Jewelry

From necklaces that double as pleasure objects to the world’s first crowd-funded vibrator, CRAVE creates luxury products that champion erotic pleasure and self-expression. The company continues this ethos with their ICON and ID Cuffs, funding on Kickstarter now. Part bracelet and part handcuff, these pieces are a subtle yet stylish way to embrace pleasure. The ICON, made with genuine leather straps and stainless steel hardware, can be worn stacked together as a statement bracelet or on either wrist as a restraint, transitioning easily between public and private. The ID Cuffs, on the other hand, are silicone strap bracelets connected by a stainless steel chain that focuses on self-empowerment. Either cuff continues CRAVE’s mission to change how desire is expressed and accepted. Learn more, and secure yours, at Kickstarter.

Image courtesy of CRAVE

Microsoft Redesigns the Mouse for People with Disabilities

Around one billion people in the world live with a disability, which is why Microsoft is launching an Adaptive Accessories range that provides a more accessible keyboard and mouse experience for PC or iPhone. The kit (which will be available later this year) has three elements: a square mouse, a button with programmable pressure sensors and a hub that connects everything. Button designs are easily interchangeable and programmable, making them adaptive to each user’s needs. CAD files are even included so anyone can design and 3D print their own add-ons. “No two people are going to be the same. Everyone needs a different solution,” says Gabi Michel, director of accessible accessories at Microsoft. The diversity of options comes from Microsoft’s Inclusive Tech Lab, where the company works directly with people with different disabilities to redesign tools. Read more about this at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

2022 Milky Way Photographer of The Year Winners

Every year, travel publication Capture the Atlas gathers images of the Milky Way taken from around the world. The photos attest to how cameras open up a myriad of worlds invisible to the naked eye and showcase the stunning beauty found in nature, bolstered by photographers’ skills for composition, lighting and creativity. This year’s winning images include a starry night alighting the yardang-shaped eroded hills in China by Jinyi He; a green- and orange-tinged Milky Way behind Native American petroglyphs by Marcin Zajac; an arching galaxy, interspersed with meteor showers in Slovenia from Uroš Fink and more. View the other dazzling, winning shots of the galaxy at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of Evan McKay/Milky Way photographer of the year

Record-Breaking Suspension Footbridge Opens in the Czech Republic

Connecting one mountain to another, 95 meters above the valley floor, the world’s longest suspension footbridge—measuring 721 meters or 2,365 feet—has opened in the Czech Republic. Located in the Dolní Morava resort (about 123 miles east of Prague), the bridge—named Sky Bridge 721—took two years to construct and is now open to visitors seeking thrills and stunning views of the Jeseníky mountains. The attraction will welcome people of all ages but at just over a meter wide, it’s unfortunately not accessible to strollers or wheelchairs. Find out more at CNN.

Image courtesy of Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Spotify Tests New Feature that Incorporates Artists’ NFTs

Spotify has recently started testing a new feature that lets artists incorporate and promote their NFTs on the streaming service. The feature, which is currently running on select Android apps in the US, will allow users to preview artists’ NFTs on their profile page and tap through to view and buy them on an external marketplace. “Spotify is running a test in which it will help a small group of artists promote their existing third-party NFT offerings via their artist profiles,” explains a Spotify spokesperson. Steve Aoki and The Wombats are some of the artists participating in the tryout, the data from which will help determine whether the feature comes to fruition. Learn more about it at Music Ally.

Image courtesy of Music Ally

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 “Galactic Kiwi,” Mount Taranaki, New Zealand by Evan McKay/Milky Way photographer of the year