These gloriously impractical VR goggles are the next Google Glass

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Virtual reality as we know it today didn’t exist in the 19th century, but what if it did? What if, alongside the monocles, pocket watches, and snuffboxes of proper gentlemen of the time, there existed, somehow, a fancy pants VR headset. 

You may officially turn your imagination off, because we found those VR goggles, and they are gloriously impractical yet compelling in their own hipster-using-a-vacuum-tube-phonograph way. 

The 2VR Virtual Reality Headset is a foldable pair of spectacles designed to work with most 4- to 6-inch smartphones to allow you to view VR content on the go.  Read more…

More about Design, Virtual Reality, Vr, and TechRead the rest

Mapping Where the Lights Are Brighter, And Where They’re Going Dark

A lot can happen in four years. To get a sense of just how much, look no further than a set of maps from NASA showing the Earth’s lights at night.

Comparing two satellite images—one from 2012, the other from 2016— it’s apparent that some areas have lit up, indicating urban development and electrification. In other places, the lights have dimmed or been extinguished altogether, which could be a sign of war, economic downturn, or a concerted effort to reduce light pollution.

The NASA maps are dubbed Black Marble, reflecting a globe that’s, for the most part, covered in dark blue, with bursts of light where humans have settled into lively cities. Toggling from one map to the other, Esri product engineer John Nelson said he … Read the rest

A Rare Glimpse of Three Snow Leopards Snuggling

There are only around 4,000 snow leopards left in the world, most of which live in China, where they maintain a reputation for being notoriously difficult to spot, much less study. But recently some scientists with the conservation group Panthera caught not one, not two, but three of the big cats lounging around in front of a camera trap. They snuggled and napped, among other chill activities.

The trap was located near a monastery in Qinghai province, in central China. It was set up after one researcher came upon some howling dogs, who had apparently interrupted another snow leopard’s breakfast, Liu Mingyu wrote on Panthera’s website.

The camera trap was then set up in what turned out to be a very fortuitous position, and within … Read the rest

The Muddy Legality of Shooting a Drone Out of the Sky

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High school basketball coach Brad Jones was flying his drone on Easter Sunday when suddenly he heard a gunshot, according to Ars Technica. Moments later, Jones’ drone began falling out of the sky.

Jones often flew his drone above the land surrounding his home, but this was the first time it had been shot at. When Jones recovered the drone, he found that one of the rotors had a bullet hole in it.

It’s unclear who shot down the drone, although Jones suspected a neighbor. But that neighbor denied shooting the drone to authorities, and, as Ars Technica notes, the laws surrounding personal … Read the rest

A Filthy River Lands in the Spotlight in Venezuelan Protests

This story was originally published in Spanish on our sister site, CityLab Latino.

Last week, a photo from Caracas, Venezuela, showed a group of protesters crossing the polluted waters of the Guaire River to escape tear gas launched by National Guard units. They showed no signs of revulsion, just fear.

The image was later used by President Nicolás Maduro’s ruling PSUV party to make fun of the protesters: “To God what is God’s. To Caesar what is Caesar’s. And to the Guaire what is the Guaire’s,” the party declared, suggesting that their opponents belonged in the excrement-filled river.

The official media and Maduro himself used the Twitter hashtag #AlGuaireLoQueEsDelGuaire—“To the Guaire What Belongs in the Guaire”—in discussing his opponents, whom the government has for years … Read the rest

The Forgotten American Missionaries of Pyongyang

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It may be difficult to imagine from the perspective of the 21st century, but the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang once had at its center a community of Americans—Christian missionaries who lived there from 1895 to 1942.

This long-lost mission, almost unknown even to Korea experts on both sides of the Pacific, was part of a pre-Second World War American Christian presence in Korea that achieved its greatest success in Pyongyang. The current capital was then the home of the largest Christian community in Korea and the center of the Presbyterian Church in Asia.

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Major cities throughout Korea had Protestant missions from the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches during the first four decades of the 20th Century. Christians received official permission from the king of … Read the rest

Who’s Calling the Shots On Autonomous Vehicles?

In the middle of the 20th century, brilliant marketing by the auto industry helped convince the federal government to build the interstate highway on the public dime, lancing cities and stringing them like jewels on an asphalt strand.

Eighty years later, the next automotive revolution is turning from an “if” to a “when,” with huge implications for urban life. Top auto manufacturers promise fully autonomous vehicles by 2021. Self-driving Ubers already rove the streets of Pittsburgh, Tempe, and San Francisco, and a wave of robo-test rides is coming to Phoenix, courtesy of Waymo.

Auto industry and tech leaders promise that autonomous vehicles, or AVs, will expand mobility, slash accidents, ease congestion, and rejigger Americans’ default preference towards personal car ownership—even as tRead the rest

Why the Roots of Color Printing Are in Limestone

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A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

In 1993, The New York Times printed its first page in color, far later than most of the rest of the newspaper industry, and one of the only other big holdouts at that point was a competitor: The Wall Street Journal.

But on September 12, 2001, when every front page in the country ran a large photo of the most important news story of the 21st century—except one.

“We didn’t run a photo, where I think every other paper in the world, including the international edition of the Journal, ran a photo,” recalled Jessica Yu, the senior visual editor of the Wall Read the rest

Watch the Fastest Perfect Game Ever Bowled

If you want to bowl the fastest perfect game ever, it helps to bowl 50 games a week. And it really helps to work at a bowling alley. Ben Kertola was well prepared to bowl 12 strikes in a row in 86.9 seconds on April 5. Once league bowlers left for the night, Kertola got to work, rapid-fire bowling a perfect game over ten empty lanes, running back to use the first and second lanes for his final two strikes. This won’t be his last attempt at a bowling stunt. “Next time I may set up all spares on the lanes and see how fast I can make those,” Kertola told Syracuse.com.

Kertola’s speedy perfect game may not be certified by the U.S. Bowling Congress … Read the rest

The Movie Date That Solidified J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dislike of Walt Disney

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It’s no secret that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were legendary frenemies. But while they may have sparred over fantasy and religion, they shared one little-known viewpoint: a disdain for the works of Walt Disney.

Literary friendships are often thought of in the driest abstract, with learned people of letters sitting in stuffy rooms debating only the most important intellectual issues. But like anyone, sometimes a couple of authors just go to the movies. And on at least one occasion, the architect of Middle-earth and the father of Narnia went and saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs together.

According to an account in the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Tolkien didn’t go see Snow White until some time after its 1938 U.K. release, when … Read the rest