Link About It: This Week’s Picks

An inspiring African fashion exhibition, sustainable energy from sand and more from around the web

The First Black Woman to Visit Every Country, Jessica Nabongo

When Jessica Nabongo reached Seychelles in October of 2019, she became the first Black woman to visit every country, an achievement (tracked and verified by NomadMania) that fewer than 300 people have ever earned. Now, she’s providing insight into her journey in The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World. Published by National Geographic, the 400-page book compiles Nabongo’s personal photographs and vignettes from 100 of the countries she visited along with what she learned along the way, like finding an innate good in people and the similarities that connect us all. “People are people—we’re all different, but we’re all similar in that we’re all just people,” says the author. “I hope that reading this book normalizes everything. That we stop thinking of the exotic and we start thinking of the world as one giant neighborhood.” Learn more at AFAR.

Image courtesy of Jessica Nabongo/National Geographic Books

V&A’s New Exhibition Celebrates African Fashion

Open until 16 April 2023 at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, Africa Fashion is a substantial presentation of the continent’s dynamic style scene, featuring 250 objects and garments presented with the stories behind them. The exhibit spans countries and temporalities, including the work of mid-20th century designer Chris Seydou, who was among the first to put bògòlanfini (aka bogolan or mud cloth from Mali) on the catwalk. Of the contemporary designers involved, Lukhanyo Mdingi and Stephanie Bentum’s presentation sheds light on mohair’s history in southern Africa since 1838. “Africa Fashion is more than an exhibition. It’s an important part of our ongoing commitment to focus on African excellence when it comes to creativity. And of course, the brilliance of the contemporary African fashion scene, as it stands today, is a story that has to be told,” curator Dr Christine Checinska tells Dazed, where you can learn more about the eye-opening exhibit.

Image courtesy of Stephen Tayo/V&A

Richard Mille’s RM UP-01 Ferrari Sets the Record for World’s Thinnest Watch Ever

In the ultra-thin mechanical wristwatch category, every fraction of a millimeter matters—and Richard Mille’s new RM UP-01 Ferrari timepiece is .05mm thinner than the previous record-holder (by Bulgari). The Richard Mille team approached the design of this watch in a different way than other contenders, developing a movement in collaboration with Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi that’s entirely separate from its the Grade 5 titanium case (whereas others use the case as a movement component). The pioneering luxury brand also incorporated functionality that a Ferrari owner would desire, for example, (in addition to hours, minutes and seconds) it can withstand accelerations of over 5,000 Gs. Read more about the technical innovations behind the watch, which will be limited to 150 pieces (and retail for $1,888,000), at Hodinkee.

Image courtesy of Richard Mille

The World’s First Sand Battery Debuts in Finland

As fossil-fuel-derived energy systems facilitate the degradation of the planet, researchers have been innovating alternative and sustainable solutions—including the world’s first sand battery from Finnish startup Polar Night Energy. Currently operating in Finland’s Kankaanpää district, the battery relies on a large steel tank full of regular, dry sand with a heat exchanger buried in the middle. When the sand is heated, the tank can store eight megawatt-hours of energy at a nominal power output of 100 kW. Then, whenever it’s required, “the energy is extracted again as heat in the same way.” The whole process costs less than €10 per kilowatt-hour and can store energy for months. According to global initiative Mission Innovation, working all of Polar Night Energy’s sand batteries at full capacity could “reduce annual greenhouse emissions by somewhere between 57 and 283 megatons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030.” Learn more about this at New Atlas.

Image courtesy of Depositphotos

Volkswagen Starts Construction on a Massive Cell Factory

In Salzgitter, Germany, Volkswagen has just broken ground on a new cell factory where approximately 500,000 batteries will be produced per year for their electric vehicles, beginning in 2025. This is the first factory in a line-up of four more that the carmaker has planned for their “global battery offensive” which will produce facilities in a similar manner to the one in Germany (and in addition to their current facility in Sweden). Unlike typical EV battery cells which take the shape of cylinders or pouches, Volkswagen via their new subsidiary PowerCo will create “prismatic unified cells” which utilize the flexibilities of cell chemistries to enable them to power up to 80% of the automaker’s various models. Amidst supply chain issues and concerns over electric vehicle battery shortages, the news is a large step forward for Volkswagen as well as the era of electrification as a whole. Read more about it at Popular Science.

Image courtesy of Volkswagen AG

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 Stephen Tayo/V&A