Sandstone Arches Form Under Their Own Stress

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The fantastical arch shapes of sandstone formations have long been thought to be sculpted by wind and rain. But a team of researchers has now found that the shapes are inherent to the rock itself. “Erosion gets [excess] material out, but doesn’t make the shape,” says Jiri Bruthans, a hydrogeologist at Charles University in Prague, who led the research. Rather, erosion is merely a “tool” that works in combination with more fundamental factors embedded in the rock. These factors are stress fields created by the weight of overlying rock. Under low stress, Bruthans says, sandstone erodes easily. But as stress mounts — as parts of a cliff or pillar are eroded away, for example — the sand grains on the surface of the remaining rock lock together and become more resistant to further erosion.” w/ photos + video

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Moon’s Underground Caves Could House Astronauts

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“The moon’s more than 200 holes, or ‘lunar pits,’ were discovered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, reports Motherboard. These pits range in size from about 5 meters in diameter to more than 900 meters, and were likely formed when part of the moon’s surface collapsed over a cave. And the caves themselves may have been formed by ancient lava streams, NASA says. “A habitat placed in a pit — ideally several dozen meters back under an overhang — would provide a very safe location for astronauts: no radiation, no micrometeorites, possibly very little dust, and no wild day-night temperature swings…” w/ photos

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World’s Biggest Picnic Blanket

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This summer’s blanket was already pretty big – a little over 3.5 acres – but the designers say this is only four percent of their goal. By the summer of 2040, the blanket will be complete, covering a space that’s the size of 100 football fields, or 132 acres. For comparison, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is too large to fit on the Washington Mall, is about 26 acres. They’re gonna need one heck of a potato salad to feed all those picnickers come 2040.” w/ photos

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Squeeze Your Partner’s Hand From The Other Side Of The World

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Long distance lovers can speak for hours online using video services like Skype, but holding hands has been impossible, until now… Frebble uses haptic technology, or ‘tactile feedback’ to mimic the sensation of hand-holding through two devices. Once the Frebbles have connected to each other through the internet, when one user squeezes their device, the other user will feel the sensation of their hand being held. They do this thanks to two pressure sensors at the front of each device to register squeezing, two vibration motors on the side to make the sensation feel more real, and one integrated ‘squeeze bar’ to replicate holding hands. A multicolour LED will indicate connection status and when a squeeze is waiting.” w/ photos + video

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Huge Abandoned Island Fortress

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“Construction began on the 45-foot-high, hexagonal Fort Jefferson on Garden Key in the late 1840s when U.S. Army strategists became concerned about the security of shipping lanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and it was still unfinished 30 years later. It was briefly used as a prison for Union deserters in the Civil War, but was besieged in later decades by yellow fever, hurricane damage and the fact that its cannons had become obsolete. It was permanently abandoned in 1907.” w/ photos

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Heel-Less Heels

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The heel-less shoe, a symptom of this trend, became a high-fashion favorite after Victoria Beckham was photographed in thigh-high, gravity-defying, heel-less boots by Antonio Berardi in 2009. And this is the problem. If even Gaga can’t wear them safely, what hope is there for the rest of us? But practicality does not feature in the minds of designers, whose only goal appears to be to make women look foolish. While any sane industry would have allowed this latest ‘advance’ to be quietly consigned to the great wardrobe in the sky, the fashion cognoscenti have let it flourish, alongside other, equally ridiculous designs.” w/ photos

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California Oil Spill Turns Out To Be A Massive Group Of Fishes

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“Anchovies can typically be found in the world’s major oceans and on pizzas, where they are prized for their ability to completely ruin the flavor. But prior to fulfilling their pizza-sabotaging destinies, schools of anchovies typically keep their distance from the shore. Upon investigating, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography “said it is unclear why the unusually large school moved into shallow waters off the coast,” which maybe defeats the purpose of having institutions of oceanography.” w/ photos + video

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Peanut-Shaped Building Designed By Algorithms

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The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, looks like a peanut crossed with a honeycomb. This odd, organic-looking building would’ve never been made if not for the powers of computational design and robotic manufacturing… The project began with a simple question: How can you create a resilient timber structure with as little material as possible? The answer, it turned out, was going to take an integration of multiple digital processes.” w/ photos + video

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Drone Bartender Wants To Mix It Up For You

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The flying appliance has all of the features you’d expect in a 21st Century drone, namely Wi-Fi, navigational capabilities, voice commands and the ability to hover. This could be especially important for that moment when your drink is nearly empty, but not quite. Also, coming from above reduces the chance for bumping into guests and causing unnecessary spillage. The little guy is energy efficient, too. He uses the kinetic energy to recharge his batteries.” w/ photos

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