Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Paint made from bacteria, ping pong at the New York Philharmonic, art fairs, rockets and more

1. “Black Panther” Pays Homage to Several African Cultures

Marvel’s “Black Panther” costume designers Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler pay homage to several African cultures through their work in the film. It was a process aided by extensive research. The film’s primary (and fictional) location, Wakanda is a kingdom of different tribes and Carter drew inspiration from contemporary designers, from the “wool collection of South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s Maxhosa range, to the tailoring of Ghanaian-British designer Ozwald Boateng and the silhouettes and prints of US-based Nigerian couturier Duro Olowu.” Head to Quartz to see a list of very real tribes and cultures that inspired the incredible costuming.

2. The Return of Nuclear-Powered Rockets

The atomic energy sector has seen little advancement since its introduction, especially in the United States. That may change, however, as NASA has partnered with BWXT Nuclear Energy Inc to pick up where atomic rockets left off in the ’70s. The agency seeks a reactor and special fuel from the energy company. to be used in a nuclear-thermal propulsion engine that could cut the time to Mars in half. Beyond that, NASA does see atomic technology as an option for powering colonies on the red planet. For this, they’re working with the Department of Energy on “a space-ready nuclear fission reactor, known as Kilopower,” according to Bloomberg, where you can read more.

3. 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Opens in Marrakech

Named after the 54 countries that make up the African continent, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (sometimes stylized as 1-54) launched in London back in 2013, the first art fair dedicated to the work of African artists. It then opened its door in New York in 2015. Now, a third iteration opens its doors this weekend in North Africa—setting down in the art-embracing historic hotel La Mamounia, an icon of Marrakech, Morocco. Galleries from around the world, many from Africa, participate in this necessary, well curated celebration of African art. Further, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden will open its doors, coinciding with the fair.

4. Apple Watch Sales Beat Combined Swiss Watch Sales

Throughout all of 2017, every Swiss watch brand combined outsold the Apple Watch—24 million units to 18 million. But the final quarter of the year marked a first-ever shift, wherein Apple took the lead with eight million sold versus about six-and-a-half. This was helped by the release of Apple’s third model and accelerated interests in the tech and lifestyle powerhouse’s other offerings. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t just Apple versus Rolex and other luxury brands. The Swiss numbers include mass market companies like Swatch, who sell pieces at the same price-point (and less) than the Apple Watch.

5. Researchers Pen Severe Report About AI’s Threat to Humanity

Assembling in Oxford, 26 researchers from 14 organizations have drafted a 100-page report on the dangers artificial intelligence poses the future of humanity. As VICE notes, AI is already all around us, operating background processes in everything from medicine to finance. The two-day conference declared that superhuman artificial intelligence can be turned on humanity and those working in the field must take the potential misuse into consideration now during their work. Of their concerns, digital and physical security made the list, as well as “deepfakes,” where famous actors faces are seamlessly applied to porn stars in action—damaging, of course, to particular humans.

6. Iridescent Paint Made from Bacteria

In nature, color occurs in two ways, as Artsy explains: “through pigmentation, where color appears the same from every angle, or structural color, where color changes according to interactions with light.” However, a new study exploring which genes are responsible for coloration has led to the discovery that flavobacterium (a bacteria found in soil and water) can be tinkered with to alter its color. Chemist Silvia Vignolini says the colors are “really metallic, similar to the color you see in peacock feathers.” Further, she predicts that adding a fixative to color can create paint. Read more at Artsy.

7. Ping Pong at the New York Philharmonic

Pairing sound from a US National Table Tennis champion face-off with a full symphony, the New York Times has made a captivating and supremely dramatic 90-second video. Taking place at the New York Philharmonic, the ping pong battle involves items other than paddles, including a drum and chalice. The two Olympic-level athletes participated in this staged concerto, set up on a raised stage, with two soloists—violinist Elizabeth Zeltser and percussionist David Cossin—also lending their skills.

8. The Flying Car from Airbus, Makes its First Flight

For 53 seconds an autonomous air taxi rose up and hovered at roughly 16 feet above ground. It was a milestone moment in the race to develop and release an un-piloted flying car. The video was filmed in late January and documents Airbus’ Vahana vehicle flying without human input. The footage then switches to video renderings of other potential systems of travel—all imaginative but certainly less real than the Vahana, which could become part of a taxi service fleet in the near future. Watch the video at Wired.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.