Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category:

Fish Apparently Invented Sex 385 Million Years Ago In Scotland

An international team of scientists have confirmed that the origins of copulation arise from fish named Microbrachius Dickiis; believed to be the first-known animal to trade-in conventional methods of reproduction though spawning and instead mating through sex.

An audience gathers as Microbrachius Dickiis enjoy sideways copulation. Artist impression: Brian Choo/Flinders University

An audience gathers as Microbrachius Dickiis enjoy sideways copulation. Artist impression: Brian Choo/Flinders University

The research – published in the International Weekly Journal of Science (IWJS) – concluded that the randy school of Antiarch Placoderms were the founders of modern sexual intercourse.

These primitive fish; small in stature (about 8cm long); lived amid some ancient lakes about 385 million years ago in – what is now known as – Scotland.

Despite their suspiciously-suggestive title and anti-christian morals, these fish indeed mark a pinnacle juncture in history. Professor John Long, from Flinders University in Australia and lead author of the study explains how their research defines the “very point in evolution where the origin of internal fertilisation in all animals began.”

Origin: Illustration by artist Daniel Lee

Origin: Illustration by artist Daniel Lee

Professor Long had made this discovery after delving into a huge box of ancient fish fossils; noticing that one of the M. dicki specimens had an odd L-shaped appendage; and upon further inspection this would be revealed as the male fish’s genitals; or penis. The female fish compose a small bony structure at their rear which locked the male organ into place.

Inline with his research, Professor Long also adds some colourful quotes and analogies to explain his findings to the immature-masses; first of all highlighting that ”They couldn’t have done it in a ‘missionary position’,” confirming “The very first act of copulation was done sideways, square-dance style.”

Expressing a remedial sense of sentiment, Long also explains how the fish romantically lock into position using their small arm-like fins, so that the male can dock his hook dick into the females genital plates, which the professor also says is “very rough like cheese graters,” acting like ”Velcro, locking the male organ into position to transfer sperm.”

Copulation using this method did not stay around for long however; fish reverted back to spawning - presumably after an awkward sexual encounter. It took another few million years for copulation to make a resurgence, reappearing in ancestors of sharks and rays. So now you know.

Always On The Road: A Film On Portugal’s Surf Paradise

In the collective unconscious, surf is more practiced in the US and Australia. Yet surfing has disciples all across the world. In Europe, the best spots are without contest in Portugal.

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This observation makes German blogger Oliver Nermerich want to do something about it. Directed with Red Bull filmmaker Karsten Boysen Always on the road, is a film about the increasingly popular surf destination of the Algarve.

Nermerich told us: “When you think about surfing, everyone thinks about Hawaii, California or Australia. But well, Europe got world class waves as well. ” To prove this statement, Oliver added the Rip Curl ASP event is happening right now in Peniche, Portugal.

However, there is something special about the Algarve. Nermerich said: “The purpose of the movie was to show the lifestyle of a region which is special. The Algarve is considered the end of Europe!”

An always romantic thought, already well covered by National poet Fernando Pessoa. If Pessoa was all about watching Europe end in the river Tagus in Lisbon, Nermerich and Boysen have done something even more poetic by filming surfers at the edge of the old Continent. Oliver said: “ from there you go to Sagres which is the southwestern point of Europe. you only see the Atlantic ocean and then from there the US.”

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The directors were also accompanied by pro surfers like Marlon Lipke, Alex Botelho and surf photographer Joao Bracourt. In the movie, you can see them talking about how this spot is so unique.
Among the main reasons, you find: “Mother nature has equipped this region with two different coasts, the west and the south coast, which provide surfers with multiple wave opportunities.

Whether you are looking for big, small, long or short waves – the Algarve and its 22-listed surf beaches offer waves for any level – excluding all the secret spots. Throughout the whole year this area has summerlike temperatures, even during spring and autumn the temperature rarely drops below 20 °C. ”

For Oliver Nermerich, surfing in Europe can be as great as in the US. It even presents some advantages the other continents do not have: “As a European you don’t have to travel around the continent. From Germany, three hours and you are in Portugal. 1,5 hours you are in France, or north of Spain! We have waves too.”

Your Brain On MDMA: Party Drug Explained to Children

Your brain on MDMA is a marvelous thing. It makes you love everybody, feel everything like a tiny orgasm and see purple rain. “Woah, I love the rain so much.” You might enjoy the effect of this empathogenic drug first synthesised by German chemise Anton Köllisch in 1898.

However, we guess that most of you have absolutely no idea about how the science behind the drug works. If you are taking drugs, which by the way is totally illegal and really bad for your health, at least you can learn something. Pay MDMA some respect.

Thanks to YouTube channel AsapScience, you’ll finally be able to know the reasons for your night time happiness. And also why you feel so shit the next day. However, if your mother is asking you what MDMA is after reading about it in The Sunday Times, forget you’ve watched this. It would be slightly suspicious.

#FutureHype: ‘Drone Racing’ Could Be The Next Step In Gaming And Gambling

We are living in the “information age”, whatever that means. Between the birth of humanity and the year 2003 five exabytes of information were recorded by humans. Now, in 2014, we humans record more than five exabytes of new information every two days.

What we think we know today may not be at all certain tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: we’re living in the future. So that you can be ready for whatever the future holds, each week we’ll search high and low online to bring you the best futuristic content from the worlds of science, art & design, architecture, computing and robotics.

Welcome, to #Futurehype. This week, Drone Racing.

Stars Wars-Style Drone Racing By 2025?

There has been no shortage of interest in unmanned aerial vehicles over the past few years, though perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Traditional media is focused on the weaponisation of drones for use in combat theaters like Iraq and Syria or on the “drones for delivery” that are being touted as the next step for retail companies like Ebay and Amazon. Very few people however, are talking about the dramatic implications that drones could have on entertainment.

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Drone technology is impressive enough on its own without the added allure of virtual reality or remote display viewing but the drone racing practiced in the video above goes a long way to showing us what the future of this fledgling motorsport might look like.

The group of men wearing goggle-mounted monitors race the radio-controlled machines at up to 70mph near their homes in the French Alps.

This amateurish attempt is just the start, imagine stadiums filled with thousands of drone enthusiasts and quad-copters covered in the latest Coca Cola advertising. You’ll begin to get a picture of where this tech might be going in the future.

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Of course a new sport means new gambling habits. Ladbrokes, Britain’s most popular gambling franchise already delegates half of its races to virtual robot horses. Why not drones? Imagine the interactivity of betting on a drone race, or even participating under that kind of pressure.

While horse racing is fraught with the loud complaining of animal rights activists, drones don’t have any rights. You can’t repair a horse after a race but you can fix a drone. Horses are not rechargeable and don’t reach top speeds of up to 100mph, enough said.

The race was organized by Airgonay, a quadcopter racing fanatic association.

Meet The Hackers Targeting Skyscrapper Billboards In Hong Kong

Vitaliy Raskalov and Vadim Makhorov are two Russian adrenaline junkies who recently scaled the 659 feet to the tip of the China Online Center in downtown Hong Kong.

The two have garnered attention online before for their skyscraper scaling antics. This time however, they did something a little different. Instead of simply climbing a tower and taking aerial photographs the team decided to hack into an electronic billboard on top of the tower and broadcast a message of “WHAT’S UP HONG KONG?” for all to see.

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Together, the duo go by the name of On The Roofs. Every month they upload several videos or photos to their site showing them scaling the sides of various buildings around the world. So far they have climbed the highest structures in Israel, Dubai, Egypt, China, Berlin, Singapore and their hometown of Moscow. There are, of course, still plenty of tall things left to conquer.

The video is predictably titled ‘What’s Up Hong Kong?‘ It’s success and the success of similar On The Roof projects has lead the boys to get sponsored by big name skate and fashion brands like Vans: Off The Wall and The North Face.

The footage in the video below shows the pair climbing to the summit, pulling out a laptop and hacking the billboard’s computer system before climbing back down and changing clothes. They then sneak out undetected and run away through the streets.

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What’s Up Hong Kong?: On The Roofs

While trying to understand the bizarre motivations and extraordinary ability of these acrobatic men of mystery we called the ominous looking Russian phone number on their website and lo and behold, one of them actually answered – the following are some excepts from our brief chat with Vitaliy Raskalov:

K | Hey Vitaliy, how long have you been doing this for?

VR | About five years ago, when I started we were only climbing abandoned buildings in our local area. Now we’ll climb pretty much anything. Vadim started a year or so before me I think. It evolved naturally from urban exploration to actually saying “Hey! We could climb this building or that building!”

K | An obvious but essential question: Do you ever get scared?

VR | Haha, no. I used to. But that was back when I was starting out. I actually get more scared that I will drop something now than that I will fall. I’m scared of cops, I’m scared of getting caught but I can honestly say I’m not scared of falling. I’ve never fallen. How often do people just randomly fall over? It’s all in your head. The only difference is that I’m 500 feet up in the air.

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K | Was this a protest about what’s currently happening in Hong Kong?

VR | Not a protest, no. A peaceful message. We’re not hurting anyone just by asking ‘What’s up?’ but it raises some deeper questions like, “What is actually happening in Hong Kong?” We do this all over the world and we don’t usually use computers or mess with signs but this time it just seemed right.

K | What’s the tallest building you’ve ever climbed?

VR | The Shanghai Tower, it’s more than 650ft tall.

K | Damn. What’s your inspiration for climbing and what do you hope to achieve?

VR | We never set out to achieve anything we are just doing this for fun. Inspiration? I would have to say other people inspire me the most. That’s how we got into this in the first place – by seeing videos of other climbers and thinking “OK, I could do that” or even “I could climb higher and faster than that”. I would encourage anyone do it. It opens your mind and gives you a fresh perspective when you see things from a new angle.

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Read More >>> Yellow Ribbon & Umbrellas: Meet The Hong Kong Students Resisting China

In Pictures: The California Town Overrun By Mysterious Clowns

For a week, Wasco, a city in California has gradually become invaded by clowns. An Instagram account has been recording their terrifying appearances.

Wasco, California is a quiet town of 25,000 inhabitants in the San Joaquin Valley. In recent days, its composure was challenged by men stalking the streets at night dressed as clowns. These sightings begun to take place in the city center from October 7.

This is the photo which started it all, via an Instagram account titled “Wasco Clown”. Here we see a clown, scary, with five balls in his left hand and a hammer in the right hand, placed next to the welcome sign to the city. One question was on the mysterious clown first Instagram post: “Where should I go tonight? Bakersfield, Delano [two towns near Wasco], Wasco? “.

Wearing a red nose, white wig, colorful outfit: everything is done to scare. 14 more pictures of clowns feature on the account planted in parking lots, on park benches, in the windows of cars or playing under lampposts. The haunting images were enough to terrorize the residents, according to The Independent. The pictures remind us of the new season of American Horror Story and the film It – He returned (1990).

As the British newspaper said:

 

So far, there have been no incidents – no law prohibits the act of dressing up as a clown.

 

Local media in America have seized upon this strange gathering. On the WRTV network, a presenter announced that “strange clowns were seen in the streets of Wasco [...]. Nobody knows who they are or what they want.”

A Photo Project That Has Attracted Imitators

The images in this Instagram account seem to come from a couple feeding a photographic project for over a year, reports the website of local television station Kern Golden Empire Television. The horrific but fun initiative has given ideas to city dwellers in areas around Wasco, like Bakersfield. Authorities have since received reports of 16 clowns walking the streets on Friday, October 10.

A rumor that a clown was armed with an axe in front of a school was quickly denied by local media. The only “incident” to be notified: a clown (who was hiding behind a 14 year old) was arrested because he was chasing teenagers, one of whom was quite “shocked” after the “meeting”. For the police, this is no laughing matter. Local police officer Sergeant Joseph Grubbs has said officially that “all this must stop.”

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Will Tony Abbott Fight Vladimir Putin At November’s G20 Summit?

In what could be considered the new plot-line from Rocky VI: Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has effectively vowed to ‘strike’ Russian president Vladimir Putin this November at the G20 conference in Brisbane, Queensland.

Putin received an obligatory invitation to the G20 summit earlier this month, after it was agreed by a global consensus; although, the Russian president – much like the naughty kid at school – hasn’t been cordially invited; instead being offered a seat only as a matter of fairness.

In response, Abbott ‘effectively’ pledged to attack the macho president; casting aspersions that Putin was responsible for the downing of MH17.

I am going to shirtfront Mr Putin – you bet I am – I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered, they were murdered by Russian backed rebels. – Abbott said.

The Australian Football League (AFL) states that the term ‘shirtfront‘ refers to an aggressive charge and subsequent collision between two players; one player is hit ‘front-on’ by another and oftentimes hits the ground with substantial force. Apparently if a football is involved in this debacle then it would only be considered as incidental and certainly not necessary.

Abbott has been quite hasty with his advances on the president, while opposition leader Bill Shorten approaches the situation with a reduced animosity; stating his discomfort with the ordeal, but begrudgingly admits that the decision to welcome Putin to this years summit wasn’t the will of Australia.

It’s an international conference, not a conference run by Australia, so if Putin has the arrogance to turn up to visit a nation whose nationals died in this plane crash, he can. – Shorten said.

It is alleged that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 had been shot down over eastern Ukraine in July by Russian-backed rebels; killing all 298 passengers and crew, which included 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Meanwhile, Putin fails to respond to these mild-mannered threats; so it’s hard to say whether these events will inspire an all-out brawl this November. But with a history of nonchalance, I doubt Mr. Putin is worried.

Vladimir Putin plays with his dogs Yume, an Akito-Inu, and Buffy, a Bulgarian Shepherd in Moscow region. Photo credit: AP Photo/RIA Novosti

Vladimir Putin plays with his dogs Yume, an Akito-Inu, and Buffy, a Bulgarian Shepherd in Moscow region. Photo credit: AP Photo/RIA Novosti

#FutureHype: KEECKER Is To Your Home What The iPod Was To Your Pocket

We are living in the “information age”, whatever that means. Between the birth of humanity and the year 2003 five exabytes of information were recorded by humans. Now, in 2014, we humans record more than five exabytes of new information every two days.

What we think we know today may not be at all certain tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: we’re living in the future. So that you can be ready for whatever the future holds, each week we’ll search high and low online to bring you the best futuristic content from the worlds of science, art & design, architecture, computing and robotics.

Welcome, to #Futurehype. This week, the world’s first HomePod.

KEECKER

Meet KEECKER, The Robot Who Wants To Move In With You

Ten years ago, nobody, not even Steve Jobs, could have predicted the exponential rise of Apple’s notorious iPod design. From niche top shelf product to household name, today it is impossible to imagine a world without iPods, iPads and Mac computers. But what is the future of personal entertainment technology?

KEECKER is a smartphone-controllable robot that moves around your home, projecting video onto the walls. Mentionable in particular, is the fact that it runs Android with Google Play access, allowing you to stream built-in apps like Netflix or YouTube directly into your home.

KEECKER Team

We talked to Pierre Lebeau, the founder and CEO of KEECKER who is right now working with a ten man team of engineers and designers to realise a dream he set out to achieve more than 2 years ago:

K | Hey Pierre, this must be an exciting time for you guys at KEECKER, How do you feel your time at Google helped prepare you for this project?

PL | First I was a Product Manager at Google for 7 years. Truthfully, Google taught me so much, I could not have done this without my previous experience. Google taught me to work on solving big problems and thinking big, KEECKER is trying to solve home computing for the world, it’s very exciting… The second thing Google taught me is to focus on users. to the User Experience (UX) is key for us at KEECKER. We have an amazing UX designer and I’m working closely with him to design and create super intuitive and simple interactions.

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Interesting… If “necessity is the mother of invention”, what was needed in the world that you felt you had to invent KEECKER?

I totally agree with that sentence, I created KEECKER because it was a necessity to me. After years of frustration, I imagined this device one day to give me a computer with a big screen, a great sound anywhere at wanted at home and without cables or having to connect a laptop to a TV or projector, to speakers, finding the remote controls and the charger etc.

Do you think the KEECKER could do for your home what the iPod did for your pocket?

Exactly what the iPhone did to us, humans, KEECKER will do for the home. It’ll magnify it, augment it, make it more fun, interactive and beautiful.

I see. It sounds like a really fun challenge and a lot of work! How did you build your team for the project? What roles do the people on the team have? 

It’s super exciting, we’re the only ones to be working on technology for the group/family: everybody else is obsessed with the “self” and super personal technology, we believe people like to share in real life, not just on Facebook…. But on your question, we have mainly software and electronics engineers on the team. Our focus is actually creating an amazing software to make KEECKER work, to create great user experiences and interactions. Since this type of device has never existed we started off with a blank page, that was exciting because we have no limitation or expectations: we are the ones who will set the standard.

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Despite looking like a Daft Punk helmet, the design is really sweet, very minimalist – How did you think up the aesthetics of the robot? What can users expect from the software in terms of navigation and user-friendliness?

Design was a top priority. Again, there was no standard, so I imagined a product that would NOT look like a technology product, because it had to be in the home, it had to be beautiful, had to fit into a modern home and look more like a decoration item or art piece. I wanted to break away from black rectangles, and have something organic, natural. The egg was the base, you can’t be more natural than that, and we iterated to come to this. Also a moving object has to be round, it’s easier to move.

But it’s not just in software but also in perception: the device will have no cable: you won’t be able to plug anything into it, all will be done with wireless for more simplicity. It’ll recharge itself, so you won’t ever have to touch it or think about it. And it’ll move super smoothly (the opposite to a Roomba) in the house. We’re also working on different interactions based on where users are, if they can see KEECKER, are in a different room or even away from home

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This possibilities for this technology are literally endless! How do you see KEECKER evolving in the future? What is the next step for the project?

There are a lot of possibilities indeed. Voice controls: there will be some, but very simple and basic ones. (I worked on Voice stuff at Google, I know how hard it is to make it work, and right now, even Google or Apple can get it to work perfectly).

Can you see a potential future where your KEECKER talks back to you like SIRI? Can you see KEECKER controlling everything in your home from curtains to coffee?

As KEECKER runs on Android, most connected objects could connect with KEECKER if they want: so yes, it could control your coffee etc, if the coffee machine allows KEECKER to do it. And as for our future: we have a lot of software to continue and create for user interactions. Each new type of device has had its unique interaction revolution (Mouse for the PC, touch screen for smartphones), we need to nail ours for a device like KEECKER, this is how it’ll become more mainstream

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You can find out more about all things KEECKER here, Kickstarter coming soon, stay tuned for an update.

Read More >>> #FutureHype: What London’s Tube System Will Look Like In Five Years

Dora The Style Explorer: Charting Fashion Around The Globe

French fashion journalist Dora Moutot is about to embark on a journey of epic fashion proportions. Her documentary series, ‘Dora The Style Explorer’ seeks to uncover both contemporary and traditional fashions from countries and cultures that rarely grace the pages of Vogue and Glamour.

Fed up of the repetitive locations always described as fashion capitals, like New York, Paris, Milan and London, Dora will be travelling to far flung locations to see how locals dress, and what their trends are and whether these influence what ends up on the catwalks and on the high-street.

With each part of the documentary series focussing on a different trend, Dora’s backpacking adventure has been described as a mixture between National Geographic and a fashion short, combining informative and knowledgeable insight into new areas of fashion as well as playing on the fun, slightly silly idea of ‘Dora, the style explorer’.

As the trailer explains, some great designers already draw on aesthetics from certain cultures or indigenous communities, however this influence can sometimes remain uncredited or just end up as a broad stereotype such as ‘tribal’.

Dora’s series is part of a larger project called ”The OTHER – Home of Subcultures & Style Documentary”. The OTHER, which is a media archive which documents lifestyle, subcultures, style and tribes of people across the globe is a wonderful blend of photography and multimedia projects keen to celebrate non-mainstream, Western culture.

The pilot episode of ‘Dora, the Style Explorer’ will take place in Vietnam. You can watch the trailer for the series below.

Dora, the Style Explorer:

University Students Are Being Urged To Urinate In The Shower

Students at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich are being urged to urinate in the shower as part of an initiative to conserve water.

An average flush costs around 2p. Campaigners say each per person, could save £7.30 per year by joining the struggle.

An average flush costs around 2p. Campaigners say each per person, could save £7.30 per year by joining the struggle.

Chris Dobson and Debs Torr are the pioneers – and subsequent figureheads – of the ‘Go with the Flow’ campaign; a relatively-controversial new drive aimed at encouraging students to take the first piss of the day in their morning shower; as opposed to the toilet.

But, before the banal criticism ensues, it may be worth noting that the two have quite a substantial log of scientific knowledge and impressive figures backing their sustainable theory up:

Water savings could result in the annual retention of 720m litres of water if everyone in the UK joined the fight. It’s also estimated that £42.5m per year could be saved if the population of East Anglia backed the campaign; and £125k a year if all 15,000 UEA students accepted the challenge. As Dobson quite accurately states, they’ve done the math and “this project stands to have a phenomenal impact.”

Personally, I’m all for the campaign; living in London means your faced with one of either two choices when nature calls and you’re away from home: pay 50p to a feckless toilet attendant in order to release yourself; or alternatively: piss your pants.

Unfortunately, it seems governing bodies granting access to pee freely is much more of a pipe-dream. So, with another free avenue for bladder control, I think this may move forward as a revolutionary standpoint.

We now – eagerly and uncomfortably – wait for their advice on where to evacuate our bowels.