Around The Web | What We’re Reading

Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam and wondered how great it would be to just zip past everyone with a jetpack? Well, Boeing is trying to realise that dream, as it introduces its 2-year quest to create the world’s first functioning personal flying device.  As we zoom into the future, one man will wake up after being jolted with an electric shock after 15 years in a vegetative state. We also take a look at how global warming is causing watermelon snow to pop up across the globe, yes apparently the last snow on Earth could be red. We also bid adieu to the man who never settled down, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has passed away aged 91.

Here are some of our favourite news bites to round up the week:

“Early sources of controversy included an essay about Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man who died in police custody, and, later, an article about former US president Ronald Reagan’s lack of response to the AIDS epidemic.” Once the problem child of media empire Condé Nast, Teen Vogue has reinvented itself to become a serious cultural commentator, driving more traffic than any other Condé Nast publication. Find out the story behind the success.

“Spanish visionary Guillermo del Toro’s latest film again exemplifies just how adept he is at merging the disciplines of the grotesque and the beautiful. A mute female cleaner forms a strange attachment with a mysterious amphibious creature in a secret US lab… Think King Kong meets Amélie.With a stellar line-up of 242 films over 12 days, here are the must-see gems to watch out for at the BFI London Film Festival coming up in October.

“The goal of the project is to study the well-being of the participants as they engage in the Swedish lifestyle of close ‘proximity to nature’. The participants stay in custom-built cabins made of glass, located on Henriksholm island, which is 60% forest and 40% grazing for highland cattle.” Discover the 72 Hour Cabin, a new initiative from the Swedish tourist board aimed at examining the effects of the quiet life on busy minds. Where can we sign up?

“The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning; and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping – sexy.” Hugh Hefner, the American icon who introduced the world to Playboy in 1953, has died at age 91. Here is an inside look into the extravagant life of an eternal playboy.

“Pretty soon, I realised it wasn’t just me: Tons of the women in my professional circle were buzzing about it on Twitter… So what did all of us have in common? Our search histories were littered with topics like web development, finance, and sci-fi. In other words, we searched like men. Or at least, that’s what Google thought.” The dark side of algorithms and online proxies, as espoused by data scientist Cathy O’Neil, are becoming more and more evident, as this writer describes how Google thought she was a man. What are the consequences?

“Jetpacks aren’t a completely fanciful idea, with daredevils demonstrating amazing aeronautical feats in the US and across the world. But the idea that jetpacks have commercial applications or that personal flying devices will solve our transportation and infrastructure challenges is completely ludicrous.” Boeing introduces its new two-year, $2 million global competition called the Go Fly Prize, allowing aspiring engineers to create a fully functional personal flying device. No, this isn’t Back to the Future.

“Clinicians for way too long have considered patients of unresponsive wakefulness as just waiting to die. And that is not true. There is some capacity for plasticity, and this is one other study showing that there can be changes. I’m convinced that vagus nerve stimulation is a potential new treatment.” This week a man in France has regained some consciousness after being in a vegetative state for the past 15 years, due to an electric shock administered via a nerve in his neck. Is this the long-awaited answer to the question of locked-in syndrome?

“Watermelon snow is a perfectly natural phenomenon, but in an age of disappearing glaciers it is also problematic. Last year, scientists discovered that the algae had reduced the amount of sunlight reflected by some glaciers in Scandinavia by thirteen per cent.” Apparently, the last snow on Earth could be red. This Slush Puppy effect is due to a mysterious single-celled green algae, almost like seaweed, that grows under the snow in alpine regions around the world, and turns red once it reaches sunlight. Take a look.