You can’t go a day in New York without seeing something really weird. Illustrator Bruce McCall takes that one step further with his playful New Yorker covers. He illustrates the wacky realities of life in the Big Apple… and lovingly makes it weirder than it is.

Learn more about urban absurdism and other serious nonsense»

What do leopard spots, striped marine angelfish, and sand dune ripples have in common? Their patterns are self-organizing Turing systems! Discovered by Alan Turing in the 1950s, these repeating natural patterns can be created by the interaction of two things that spread at different speeds, one faster than the other.

It’s still Shark Week! Most sharks are pretty terrifying (perhaps it’s their nasty habit of biting people’s limbs off…) but they need our empathy too. “We’re killing over 100 million sharks every single year,” photographer Brian Skerry says in his talk from the Mission Blue Voyage. “I didn’t want to continue to portray sharks as monsters.” That’s a tough sell with their hammerhead noses and giant teeth, but hey, these sharks turned out to be pretty friendly. 

Watch the full talk here »

This is what sound looks like

You’ve never seen sound visualizations like this before. Evan Grant creates beautiful illustrations of what we hear by capturing the vibrations from sound waves in mediums like sand or water. This process — called cymatics — makes sound look so wonderfully alien.  

Watch the full talk here »

A gut-wrenchingly honest look at living with depression, from writer Andrew Solomon. One of our all-time favorite talks. 

Hear his powerful story »

Empathy is more powerful than hate, and our lives should be dedicated to making it go viral.
- Zak Ebrahim, The Terrorist’s Son

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The Bio Intelligent Quotient (B.I.Q.) Building is the First Fully Algae-Powered Architecture

Operating successfully for over a year, the Bio Intelligent Quotient (B.I.Q.) building in Hamburg, Germany is the first to be fully powered by algae. The building is covered with 0.78-inch thick panels—200 square meters in total—filled with algae from the Elbe River and pumped full of carbon dioxide and nutrients. The panels, which display the bright green algae, are not only aesthetic, but performative. When sunlight hits the “bioreactor” panels, photosynthesis causes the microorganisms to multiply and give off heat. The warmth is then captured for heating water or storing in saline tanks underground, while algae biomass is harvested and dried. It can either be converted to biogas, or used in secondary pharmaceutical and food products. Residents have no heating bills and the building currently reduces overall energy needs by 50%. 

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So cool! Reminds us of this TEDx Talk by French biochemist Pierre Calleja who invented a streetlamp powered by algae — glowing, neon green algae. Watch the whole talk here»