In the world of creativity, if you're not starting a fire, then what's the point? So, we've created a portal to celebrate the most revolutionary and thought-provoking ideas we're seeing in the world today. Some are ideas we've recognized from others and we're tipping our hats to, and others are ones we thought of (go figure). Either way you cut it, you won't find a dull moment here, and hopefully we've inspired you to start your own fire.
Have you ever wondered how string instruments make sound? Very simply, you pluck, strum, strike, bow, or otherwise agitate the string so that it vibrates at a certain pitch. You can see it happen faster than sight in real time, but in order to see the vibrations, you need a very specialized piece of equipment known as a high shutter speed video recorder. As shown in the above video, you can see the individual undulations in real time as the bassist plucks the strings. It’s fascinating to see the minuscule machinations that create the music that we hear every day.
What Sparks Our Fire: Using technology to see things in ways we never thought we could.
Does this change the way you see stringed instruments?
These are an international few, ten mega-corporations whose multi-industry holdings create a situation not unlike the coal and iron trusts of Industrial Revolution America: basically, a few large entities own huge chunks of industry, and whoever can outbuy or undercut the competitors. The fact of the matter is that this is a product of a free market economy, where the larger corporations have the ability to diversify the industries they involve themselves in while increasing revenue and industry influence.
While parallels might be drawn to the monopolies of the early twentieth century, the new supercorporations don’t sell under their own names. Rather, they own, own shares of, or partner with hundreds of thousands of brands, which leads to mass appeal based on what Reddit refers to as “The Illusion of Choice”. This is a deceptive use of terminology because the fact is that while these brands and companies are all associated, they are not companies within companies, like Russian nesting dolls, as the chart leads one to believe. The reality of the situation is much more complicated than a simple infographic can demonstrate.
What it is effective at showing, however, is that there are several very large, very influential corporations behind the multitude of brands that many people use daily. Whether or not this is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen. However, it’s important to know.
What Sparks Our Fire: Knowing the behind-the-scenes workings of corporate America.
Does this affect the way that you view your favorite brands?
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest… social networks are as ubiquitous as they are different. Yet they all state that their purpose is to connect people across common interests or purposes, and to increase our ability to share our lives with others. Whether they are successful is still a matter of debate, as loneliness is one of the top complaints of modern human beings.
This video, from Shimi Cohen, discusses how our social networks make us less connected to the people around us because we collate and creatively edit the things that we show to people on our profiles. Maybe we can solve the problems of our own loneliness, but it won’t ever be due to more followers or likes.
What Sparks Our Fire: While we love social media, it’s important to contemplate the value of both virtual and physical relationships.
Does this video hit home for you and your social media use in the modern world?
In the world of biking, safety is always important, but not always practical. Most serious injuries sustained by bikers stem from not wearing a helmet. But who actually wants to wear a bulky half-bowling ball on their heads? No matter how you style it, bike helmets are annoying and cumbersome, and take a lot of the freedom out of biking. However, in Sweden, two women have developed an unorthodox solution: an invisible helmet.
There are few phrases more viscerally terrifying than “Radioactive Nuclear Waste.” It captures the imagination and brings to mind visions of Chernobyl, mushroom clouds, and half-lives lasting hundreds of thousands of years. Nuclear power is one of the most effective options for power in a post-oil world, but there is a huge drawback in terms of the amount of waste the process creates. The United States in particular creates about 2,000 metric tons of the stuff per year, and the best solution right now is to put it as far into the earth as we can, which is a complicated and dangerous process. However, there is a simple and awesome way to ease the process: turn it into glass.
The process involves taking whatever contaminated material you have, filters, protective, scrap, or what have you, and combine it with blast furnace slag. Then the material is put through vitrification, which is very simply the process by which substance is turned into glass, and the radioactive material is suspended within. This process reduces the amount of waste by 90%, making the disposal of the waste both simpler and safer.
The process hasn’t been attempted on plutonium-contaminated waste as of yet, rather they have been using an analogue called cerium, which is safer to perfect the vitrification process with. But if the process remains successful, it will usher in a new era of waste disposal that will help make nuclear power safer and better for the future.
What Sparks Our Fire: Innovation to make the future safer and lessen the footprint of our power production.
Does this new technique make you feel better about nuclear power?