5 Intriguing Things: Thursday, 11/28

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Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station, finished station (René Robert/International Polar Foundation)

1. Contemporary architecture in Antarctica

"Belgium's Princess Elisabeth is the first zero-emission station in Antarctica. Perched on a nunatak, the aerodynamic stainless steel structure integrates renewable wind and solar energy, water treatment facilities, passive building technologies and a smart grid for maximising energy efficiency. It has no interior heating system."

 

2. Twitter bots vs. Reddit bots. 

"As on Twitter, courting the bot-making community has resulted in a surfeit of novelty. One user created a bot that plays tic-tac-toe in the comments of Reddit threads; another scans the comments for replies with the proper syllable count, then reformats them as a haiku."

 

3. How the metal of spoons affect the taste of food

"When the spoons were tasted with food, there were some surprising revelations. Baked black cod with zinc was as unpleasant as a fingernail scraped down a blackboard, and grapefruit with copper was lip-puckeringly nasty. But both metals struck a lovely, wild chord with a mango relish, their loud, metallic tastes somehow harmonised by its sweet-sour flavour. ('With sour foods, like mango and tamarind, you really are tasting the metal,' says Laughlin, 'because the acid strips off a little of the surface.') Tin turned out to be a popular match for pistachio curry. And Laughlin sang the praises of gold as a spoon for sweet things: 'Gold has a smooth, almost creamy quality, and a quality of absence – because it doesn’t taste metallic.'"

 

4. Huge emoji, from their designer, Willem Van Lancker.

"While at Apple, I created several hundred characters contributing to a native color emoji font. Originally designed for the iPhone in Japan, they are now used worldwide."

 

5. "A Phenomenological Investigation Into How Twitter Has Changed the Nature of Sport Media Relations"

"We always joke too that your iPhone or your Blackberry should have a breathalyzer with it."

 

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your genetically enhanced bird, then...

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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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