Cool Stories Earth Humans Are Awesome

Find Out How LEGO Has Managed To Run On 100% Renewable Energy

Not only has LEGO earned a place in the Guinness World Book of Records but achieved their goal running renewable energy a good 3 years before their initial plan.

LEGO was launched on August 10, 9132 in Billund Denmark and is the leading manufacturer of a children’s toy famously known as LEGO Building Bricks!  They completed their wind farm off the coast of Ireland which uses 258 megawatts of energy.  They constructed an enormous life-sized wind turbine made out of LEGOs to honor the occasion.

LEGO CEO, Bali Padda, said they worked very hard to leave a positive impact on the planet and they are very excited about the inauguration of the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm. This is not the first time LEGO has been involved in renewable energy.

They own approximately one-third of the German-based Borkum Riggrund I offshore wind farm and 25% of the newly-minted Burbo Bank.

The CEO said they plan to continue investing in renewable energy to help form a better future for the builders of tomorrow.  Back to the Guinness World Record, they achieved their place by historically building the largest LEGO brick turbine.

It was constructed out of more than 146,000 LEGO bricks and it took their team over 600 hours to complete, transport, and reassemble the masterpiece at the  Liverpool ONE shopping center in England.

After reassembly, the structure was measured by officials using a measuring tape and a hydraulic crane.  If you want to see this massive, magnificent LEGO wind turbine, it’s been moved to the LEGOLAND Winsor Resort in England.

It’s About The Children:

LEGO said they have gone to great lengths to promote renewable energy because it’s about the next generation being taught about the value of sustainable power.  They know their role models are children and plan to continue taking action for reducing the environmental impact as a company.

They continue looking for ways to inspire children from all over the world by engaging them in environmental and social issues.

In 2018, LEGO released its first sustainable set of plant-based bricks made from sugar cane.  A few months later, they introduced their LEGO Creator Expert toy which is a miniature version that functions as a wind turbine for children.

This amazing company with its incredible vision is well on its way to provide 100% environmentally-friendly packaging and merchandise by 2030!

Way To Go LEGO!

Not only has LEGO earned a place in the Guinness World Book of Records but achieved their goal running renewable energy a good 3 years before their...

Cool Stories Earth

Spectacular Images of the Raikoke Volcano Erupting From ISS by NASA

Sitting aboard the International Space Station (ISS) a NASA astronaut was able to capture some stunning images of the Raikoke Volcano as it erupts.

The 2,300ft crater can be clearly seen sending clouds of ash high into the atmosphere.  Located in the Kuril archipelago in the north-west Pacific the volcano had been dormant for almost 100 years before it violently erupted on June 22, sending a huge cloud of ash as far as 8 miles high.  In the images you can see the cloud rising as a column, stopping when it reaches the denser air.

Volcanologists at Michigan tech issued a statement for NASA commenting that the eruption was similar to that of another volcano in the Kurils a decade ago.  The images show a ring of white cloud at the base of the ash column indicating either that air is being drawn in, or perhaps that there is condensation caused by the magma entering the sea.

Raikoke island is quite small, so it is likely that magma flow reached the sea and the fluffy cloud at the base could be the resulting steam.

The huge ash plume has been seen drifting eastward and there are warnings in place for aircraft near the Bering Sea.  Volcanic ash often contains pieces of rock or glass which can be hazardous to aircraft.

Breaching the Stratosphere

Data obtained via satellite shows that the eruption has sent gas into the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.  Large amounts of sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere have been detected which NASA says indicates that this is a new injection of the gas.

The stratosphere starts at around 4.3-12 miles above the earth and it is vital to monitor ash plumes that hit this height because they have the ability to remain in the higher levels of the atmosphere for longer.

Other images of the volcano have also been released, alongside those captured by the ISS the NASA’s Terra satellite also captured the incident, as did the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Suomi satellite.

Sitting aboard the International Space Station (ISS) a NASA astronaut was able to capture some stunning images of the Raikoke Volcano as it...

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Cool Stories

A House That Looks Like a Floating Island

Located in Greece above the Santorini Hills sits this incredible home.  Inside, it is a modern residence but from a distance it looks like a slice of land is levitating above the ground.

There is a living garden on the roof and because the lower levels are designed in the earth-like striations the house gives an almost mirage-like appearance in the landscape.

This house, created by Kapsimalis Architects sits in a vineyard overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and Fira, the capital of the island.  It completes its integration with the local landscape with a design reminiscent of the local caves.

Mirrored Earth

The look is created using tow levels: one mirrored, and one earthen.  The living area sits in the mirrored lower floor, along with the kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom.  The area has an almost subterranean feel because of the earthen level sitting above.

On this level you find an office and an attic and, of course, a terrace from which you can overlook the spectacular view.  The views are not limited to the upper level though, the architects cleverly used one-way mirroring to give stunning lower level views similarly impressive views across the local scenery.

The architects were heavily influenced by the diversity of the landscape and used that to inspire the design of the home.  They wanted the home to become integral to the scenery using specific materials combined with a mirrored level to fully assimilate the property into the natural environment.

The mixture of traditional aesthetics and modern, futuristic design has created a unique and outstanding dwelling.

The architects have created a number of other similar homes including hotels within hills, concrete homes and adaptations of Greek ruins.  All of their structures use the region’s natural shapes, textures and traditional architecture as a backdrop for their unique designs.

Located in Greece above the Santorini Hills sits this incredible home.  Inside, it is a modern residence but from a distance it looks like a slice of land is levitating above the ground.

There is a living garden on the roof and because the lower levels are...

Cool Stories Entertainment Entertainment News

Batman is 80!

Art Exhibition Showcases the Caped Crusader’s 80th year as Comic Book Icon

Long before the movies, video games, cartoons a music videos the Caped Crusader made his mark as a comic book hero.  Batman, alongside Superman, was the star of DC comics.  Looking back on our hero you can see a rich history and if that’s something you’d love to immerse yourself in then get yourself along to one of three new exhibitions of Batman Art.

The New York-based Society of Illustrators is opening three exhibitions devoted to the savior of Gotham City. Each of the exhibitions will showcase literally hundreds of Batman images across several themes.  The opening reception takes place on June 21st.

Illustrating Batman

The main exhibit, entitled “Illustrating Batman: Eighty Years of Comics and Pop Culture,”  will showcase the comic book hero as seen in the work of Jim Lee, Bob Kane, Frank Miller and Neal Adams featured alongside commercials, toys and essays.

Designer Chip Kidd has provided a personal collection entitled “Batman Collected: Chip Kidd’s Batman Obsession” You can, however, also see some pieces from Bruce Timm and Alex Ross in the mix.

If you are a fan of anime you really need to go and check out the exhibition of Bat-Manga by Jiro Kuwata.  For a 1960s manga feel buy a ticket to “Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan”

If this has whetted your appetite for more Batman get yourself over to the Society of Illustrators in New York and grab a ticket.

Art Exhibition Showcases the Caped Crusader’s 80th year as Comic Book Icon

Long before the movies, video games, cartoons a music videos the Caped Crusader made his mark as a comic book hero.  Batman, alongside Superman, was the star of DC comics. ...

Cool Stories Vacation

Airbnb Enters the Adventure Travel Market

Airbnb remains the leader in home-sharing holidays and is now adding to its range of offerings by venturing into the adventure-travel arena – a market that is currently worth around $683billion.

The holiday and travel platform is now offering customers access to experiences as well as accommodation through the new “Airbnd Adventures”.  Customers can take the change to build some amazing memories.  Some of the offerings include time in Arizona to hunt for UFOs or heading off to Oman or the Galapagos Islands.

Airbnb Adventures is a spin-off from the popular Airbnb Experiences.  Where the Experiences would only last between for a few hours up to a full day, Adventures brings an immersive experience which lasts for days and up to a week.  Along with the adventure, of course, comes food and lodging.

Try the Road Less Traveled

At present, there are around 200 Airbnb Adventures on offer.  Some are exclusive to Airbnb but others are run through local operators advertising exclusively on the Airbnb Adventures platform.  By signing up the traveler can enjoy a fully immersive experience along the road less traveled where they are free to experience, explore and create lifelong memories.

There is no problem with quality either; Airbnb has been advised by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) in order to maintain the high quality and safety standards people expect.

For the more adventurous there is an opportunity for a Warrior boot camp in Kenya, hiking in Petra or a fully accessible trip to Easter Island.  There is also a special Jules Verne inspired”Around the World in 80 Days” trip.

A small and intimate group will travel the world taking in the Nile and the Northern Lights, exploring Nairobi where they will meet the elephant singers and taking part in a Samurai pilgrimage near Osaka.  These and other one-off opportunities are available to commemorate the launch of Airbnb Adventure and are available for the sum of $5,000 per person.

For those who want a more sedate pace Airbnb Adventures offer something a little more laid back – how does a weekend on an Anabaptist Farm in Indiana sound?  The owners are happy to share the experience of collecting eggs, making jam and tending their garden as they renovate their 100-year old farm.  A perfectly relaxing adventure.

Airbnb remains the leader in home-sharing holidays and is now adding to its range of offerings by venturing into the adventure-travel arena – a market that is currently worth around $683billion.

The holiday and travel platform is now offering customers...

Animals Cool Stories

Study: Dolphins Form Friendships Based on Shared Interests

Just like humans, male dolphins have been shown to form long-lasting bonds and These ties are formed with those who have similar interests or traits.

It is well known that dolphins live in social groupings, known as pods, and carry out quite complex social interactions. However, this study is another indication of the level of intelligence they possess.

The international group of scientists from Australia, Switzerland and the UK studied dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia.  The particular pod of bottlenose dolphins has been observed before and it was discovered that the female pod members had developed a unique method of foraging using marine sponges in order to find food.

This behavior, known as sponging,  has not been seen outside this group and has been passed down from mother to calf.

Male Bonding

The scientists wanted to return to Shark Bay to look specifically at the behavior of the males in the group and studied 124 male bottlenose dolphins in their study which lasted from 2007 to 2015.

They found that some males used the sponging technique while others did not but those that did tend to associate with other sponging males.  They also spent more time foraging than the other males and less time sleeping.

It seems that, like the female dolphins, the males have formed social bonds based on the shared activity of sponging.

Another finding of the study is that the social alliances play a key role in the males’ mating success and that the bonds formed indicate, not only that the males can form social bonds based on similar traits, but also that these bonds can last for decades.

Just like humans, male dolphins have been shown to form long-lasting bonds and These ties are formed with those who have similar interests or traits.

It is well known that dolphins live in social groupings, known as pods, and carry out quite complex social...

Cool Stories

An Incredible Jeweled-Dinosaur Discovery In Australia!

Excavators made an incredible find in the outback of Australia of Opal-encrusted Dinosaurs which seems to be a completely new species.

Phil Bell from the University of New England, Australia said they discovered approximately 60 bones from an adult dinosaur which included part of a brain case along with other bones from approximately 3 different animals.

The fossils were initially discovered in an opal mine in New South Wales in the 80s, donated to a museum then dismissed for approximately 30 years. This species has been named “ Fostoria dhimbangunmal”. It seems these dinosaurs date back from the mid-Jurassic period to the late Cretaceous which is approximately 175 million years ago. The Iguanodontian is a clade of herbivorous dinosaurs who were two-legged.

The discovery was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

What are Opalized Fossils?

Opalized fossils are similar to other fossils accept they are preserved in silica, not rock. Opal forms in cavities of rocks and if a living part, such as a bone, is buried in the sand or clay before turning to stone, the opal can create a fossil replica of the buried object.

Partial skeletons of extinct reptiles have been formed and discovered in other areas of Australia but finding a complete opalized dinosaur skeleton is the rarest in the entire world. Scientists have found single bones or a tooth but to recover dozens of bones from one skeleton is extraordinary.

Originally, it was believed that the fossils came from just one dinosaur but upon further examination, they discovered they had 4 shoulder blades from different sized animals. The team finally identified 4 Fostoria skeletons from juveniles to adults. This clearly revealed these animals came from a herd. The team said this is the first time such a discovery has ever been made in Australia.

Excavators made an incredible find in the outback of Australia of Opal-encrusted Dinosaurs which seems to be a completely new species.

Phil Bell from the University of New England, Australia said they discovered approximately 60 bones from an adult dinosaur...

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Lifestyle

A Pop-Up Cabin That’s Actually Real? Check It Out!

Do you ever hear about people who have ‘pop-up homes’? You no doubt raise your eyebrows with slight uncertainty. And you aren’t the only one. The idea of a pop-up home is usually reserved for things like video games, where you can place a building with a tap of the finger. But in real-life? Usually, building a strong and sturdy home would take a fair bit more planning and good work!

That being said, we live in a wonderful and exciting world. A pop-up cabin is a term that you might draw derision at, but when you see it actually in place it all becomes a lot easier to understand. If you were able to have a “home” delivered that essentially gets put together in a day, would you do it?

Yes, that includes the plumbing, electrics, air conditioning, etc. – everything is there that you would expect to see. Well, thanks to Italian mastermind Renato Vidal, this is completely possible.

This is an interesting way to get the idea of a flat-pack home. It will come together in just six hours, apparently, and they come built ready to handle even the strongest of earthquakes. So, if you want to build your own home but don’t have the time or means, then a home like this might just be what you are looking for!

Everything comes ready to be enjoyed. It’s like buying some flat-pack furniture from a store: it all arrives ready to go and to be enjoyed. It’s a ridiculous experience, really. All you need to do is populate it with the furniture that you want, and you will be left with more or less a fully home that is built entirely to the way that you would have wanted!

Getting a flat-pack home

Want to know more about this? Then check out M.A.Di, the company behind it. They build up the cabins without any foundations and then they place it for you on some level ground. However, it’s recommended that you get a concrete foundation put in place for the home to sit on prior to it being delivered.

If this something you would be genuinely interested in, we’d recommend speaking to the team behind it before you make a purchase.

It is, though, one of the smartest ideas we have ever seen when it comes to building a home. They can even be packed up and moved. Now, when you choose to move to a new town or neighborhood, you could literally pack your home onto the back of a truck and drive away!

It’s a little like the episode of The Simpsons when Springfield essentially has to move on. It is, though, crucially, a high-quality, respectable build quality that isn’t some gimmick. These are solid, structurally impressive homes that you could easily live in if you were looking to move home.

If you are serious about buying a new property you can take with you, be sure to look at M.A.Di cabins.

Do you ever hear about people who have ‘pop-up homes’? You no doubt raise your eyebrows with slight uncertainty. And you aren’t the only one. The idea of a pop-up home is usually reserved for things like video games, where you can place a building with...

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome

Put Your Name on Mars 2020 Rover!

NASA is giving people of every age and nationality the opportunity to have their names etched into its upcoming Mars 2020 rover which is set to launch on its expedition to the red planet next year.

All you have to do to be one of the lucky names heading to Mars is fill out the online form on NASA’s website before September 30. Once every name is submitted, NASA will have the scientists at the Microdevices Laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California use a beam of electrons to etch every one of them into a silicon chip.

The lines of text will be smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair, allowing over one million names to be carved into one single chip the size of a penny.

Most likely, NASA will end up having to use more than one chip, considering the 2.4 million people who submitted their names to be written on Mars’s InSight lander last November. This chip (or chips) will be fitted onto the rover underneath a glass cover.

Get a boarding pass to Mars

Those who submit their names will also receive “frequent flyer” points along with a souvenir “boarding pass to Mars” as part of NASA’s public engagement campaign to highlight missions related to the space agency’s exploration plans for the moon and Mars.

Every time you participate in a flight, you will be awarded miles, and as they accumulate, you can use these miles to download mission patches. For instance, those who had their names etched on the InSight lander earned about 300 million frequent flyer miles as that is the distance it traveled to get to Mars.

“This opportunity provides an incredible way for every person, in every nation around the world, to be part of this experience and to see their own names written among the stars,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, told Newsweek.

This newest mission is meant to gather data on Mars’s climate and geology, search for signs of past microbial life and collect samples to bring back to earth. The 2,300-pound rover is scheduled to launch as soon as June in 2020 with the projected landing date being around February 2021.

“It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet and even the origins of life itself,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, in a statement. “As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration.”

NASA’s long-term mission is to return humans to the moon in 2024 and to have them on the red planet in the 2030s. This 2020 mission is just one step towards the feats they are hoping to accomplish in the future.

NASA is giving people of every age and nationality the opportunity to have their names etched into its upcoming Mars 2020 rover which is set to launch on its expedition to the red planet next year.

All you have to do to be one of the lucky names heading to...

Cool Stories Nature & Tech

Massive Avalanche In Aspen Captured On Camera

Originally founded as a mining camp during the Silver Boom in Colorado in the mid-1800s, Aspen is now the most elite winter resort and the most popular tourist attraction in the United States.

The four ski areas around the town of Aspen get an average of 176 inches of snow per year. It used to be visited by musicians and writers but nowadays they are joined by corporate executives.

Named after the abundance of aspen trees in the surrounding woods, it is situated in an area in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains and the Elk Mountains, along the Roaring Fork River at an elevation just below 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level on the Western Slope, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Continental Divide.

In order to control the amount of snowfall on the ski terrains, as well as to reduce the risk of naturally-occurring avalanches, the authorities use strategically placed fuel-air explosives that generate an air blast strong enough to initiate a slide in a controlled environment.

It is usually done in the early hours of the morning if possible, to avoid stray skiers that neglect the warnings. These controlled blasts have been able to save many ski seasons and keep the safety on the slopes to a maximum.

Footage of Human Triggered Avalanche

This footage was shot by a tourist in Aspen during one of those detonations, showing the amazing way the powder falls and settles, minimizing the risk of a naturally occurring avalanche.

In the middle of February 2018 the Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an avalanche warning for the Aspen-area backcountry.”Human-triggered avalanches are very likely at all elevations,” the warning said, with “natural avalanches that could run to the valley floors are likely.

Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.”The reason behind this occurrence is this winter’s snowfall, where one-third of the cumulative snowfall fell in just two weeks.

Avalanche control activities such as this one minimize the risks avalanches pose to the life, activities, and properties of humankind. These activities begin with a risk assessment by surveying for potential avalanche terrain.

The geographic features, such as vegetation patterns, drainages, and seasonal snow distribution that are indicative of avalanches, need to be identified.

From there, the hazard is assessed by identifying human geographic features such as roads, ski hills, and buildings that are potentially under threat. These programs address the avalanche risks by drawing up prevention and alleviation plans, which are executed during the winter season.

The prevention and alleviation plans combine extensive snowpack observation with three major groups of interventions: active, passive, and social. Those are sometimes more narrowly defined as “explosive”, “structural”, and “awareness”, according to the most common technique used in each.

These avalanche control techniques either intervene directly in the evolution of the snowpack, or minimize the effect of an avalanche once it has occurred. Should the need of human involvement occur, avalanche control organizations develop and train thorough response and recovery plans.

Have you ever seen an avalanche? What was it like?

Originally founded as a mining camp during the Silver Boom in Colorado in the mid-1800s, Aspen is now the most elite winter resort and the most popular tourist attraction in the United States.

The four ski areas around the town of Aspen get an average of 176...

Cool Stories Galleries interesting

Man Discovers Something Incredible In His Back Yard

The thought of moving homes is usually pretty exciting. Even if it’s a little stressful, a fresh start is always good. Well, for John Sims, his fresh start was a little more than he bargained for, but an incredible journey nonetheless.

John had no idea what was coming for him when he bought his new home in a midtown neighborhood of Tucson, Arizona. Whether you believe it to be a coincidence or a miracle, we’ve got all the details you need to know.

The thought of moving homes is usually pretty exciting. Even if it’s a little stressful, a fresh start is always good. Well, for John Sims, his fresh start was a little more than he bargained for, but an incredible journey nonetheless.

John had no idea...

Cool Stories interesting

What Are ZIP Codes? And Why Do We Use Them?

Whenever you go to buy or order something online, from fast food to something from Amazon, you’ll have to give a ZIP code. For years, many people have just done this without ever even thinking about it.

It’s as common a part of our address as, say, our house number or our state. We put it in with everything we order – but what actually is your ZIP code? Many people might provide it hundreds of times per year when they buy something, but they don’t actually know what it is or why they gave that information in the first place!

A ZIP code, then, is a very important part of finding out where we live. Everyone has their own ZIP code for the area that they live in, and these five-figured numerical collections are vital. We have to give our ZIP code to get our mail, to get items dropped off, and through some various other factors that might be very important to make sure we get what we actually paid for.

So, why do we use ZIP codes?

The ZIP code has been in use for a long, long time. It came into being in 1963, and until then the US Postal Service only used postal zones for large areas of cities. You would always have to include the ZIP code after your address but put it before the state. It was used to help keep mail more efficient and to try and minimize the risk of items being sent to the wrong part of the USA.

The ZIP code became very useful for numerous reasons, but it was to help make postal services more effective across the whole USA. The first number of the ZIP code was designated to be used for a group of states – 0 on the East Coast, 9 on the West Coast – and the second and third numbers would be the sectional center facility that the mail would be sent to for processing.

Then, the final two numbers were included to help make sure that it would go to the correct post office or post zone. As such, the famous five-figure ZIP code was born. It was a useful system that was designed to help make life easier for a busy postal service, and to this day it still plays a leading role in making that possible.

However, the system has changed a bit over the years. Did you know that the final four figures of your ZIP code might stand for something more? Now, these are to point out more specific particular areas. The sixths and seventh numbers are a delivery sector, which could be streets, a building, or an area of minor geographical size.

The last two numbers of the ZIP code are for delivery segments, like the side of the street the building is on, or the floor that the package is aimed at in a particular office. So, now that you can grasp why this system was put in place, do you think you’ll find it easier to use and remember your ZIP code?

Whenever you go to buy or order something online, from fast food to something from Amazon, you’ll have to give a ZIP code. For years, many people have just done this without ever even thinking about it.

It’s as common a part of our address as, say, our...

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Tech News

249 MPH? Japanese Unveil World’s Fastest Bullet Train

Train speeds are improving all the time. Did you know, for example, that Japan has just unveiled a bullet train that can move as fast as 249mph?

The Japanese have a unique habit when it comes to innovation, and tend to be pretty good at taking inventions higher than ever before. Well, with the new ALFA-X, you will be able to see a train that can hit speeds you would barely be able to believe.

When you get on a train, the aim is to get you somewhere without wasting any time. It’s the obvious and main reason to get a train; to help you get to somewhere faster than you would if you had just gone on-foot or alone.

For many people, trains are getting faster and faster than we can imagine. Often, if you were to find out the pace that a train was moving at, you would likely be surprised at just how fast it is.

The power of this train is already making experts blush; though it won’t be actually in service until, it’s estimated, 2030. So, someone has 11 or so years to board a train that can go close to 250mph!

This new treat will be used at around 224mph on average, which would mean that it would travel on average 10kph faster than the Chinese equivalent, the Fuxing Hao. This has the same top speed capacity, but it’s likely that the ALFA-X will win on consistency.

Historical Speed

At around 72ft in the nose area alone, the ALFA-X is an imposing piece of modern locomotive history. It’s going to help change the entire industry, it is hoped, bringing to light an even higher than expected standard for the future.

The futuristic, modern design will obviously make it stand out, while the imperious design style – with 10 cars in total – ensures it will be efficient as well as stylish.

The train will be part of the new Shinkansen high-speed railway lines which are appearing all across Japan. Testing will begin between Aomori and Sendai, during the evening, and will be a 3-year testing plan. This will provide ample time to perfect the overall style of the train, and make sure that it is capable of meeting expectations performance-wise.

Interestingly, the Shinkansen N700S only was agreed to be put into operation in 2020, which can hit speeds of around 186mph. This, though, will simply blow it away, adding a new level of power and pace onto the railway tracks of Japan. While it may not be as fast as trains using magnetic levitation, this will ensure that this particular kind of bullet train can still keep up with the very best.

The bullet train has become a major part of Japanese travel culture, and for that reason many would be sad to see it go. Make no mistake, though, this new kind of train shows that – even with the growth of the maglev trains – there is still much love for bullet trains in Japan and beyond.

Train speeds are improving all the time. Did you know, for example, that Japan has just unveiled a bullet train that can move as fast as 249mph?
The Japanese have a unique habit when it comes to innovation, and tend to be pretty good at taking inventions...

Cool Stories Lifestyle

Unfold Your Getaway: Canoe for City Dwellers Packs Down to a Suitcase

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment buildings.

Imagine trying to lug a massive canoe up your narrow staircase or trying to fit it in your overhead storage space – not possible!

But Ghent-based designer Otto Van De Steene found the solution one day while he was fiddling around with an origami canoe. It made him think: could this be replicated in a real-life canoe? Steene has proved that it can with the ‘ONAK,’ a portable canoe that folds down to the size of a suitcase.

Steene had seen numerous other models that just didn’t measure up at outdoor recreation stores. “You have the canoes that have really good performance on the water – they’re fast, but they’re quite heavy and take an hour to assemble. Nothing to do in an evening after work.”

Trial and Error

One that was recently released was the Oru folding kayak which had the potential to be successful, but the plastic construction didn’t lend itself to durability. Steene tried making his out of a custom-made polypropylene for his own design, as it’s lighter and stiffer, improving the boat’s performance.

With its honeycomb-core composite material, it’s ten times as strong as standard polypropylene, making it highly durable and fully recyclable.“By making hundreds of paper models and fifteen real prototypes, we also refined the design of our patent pending hull.

This was a huge challenge due to the limitations of origami. We opted for a narrow and fast canoe design that keeps its momentum very well, while still being delightfully easy and stable to maneuver for beginners.

”The process of assembling or packing up the portable canoe takes about ten minutes. The size is a bit bigger than the Oru – 47”x15.7”x10” as a roller case, expanding to 183” long by 33.5” wide –, but the fact that it’s on wheels makes it more conducive to transporting from place to place.

It can also carry about 440 pounds with enough room for two adults, a child, and gear.

The Okak has met its goal after just a couple days left on its Kickstarter campaign, but if you back the project in time, you can still get a pretty good price. Once it hits the market, it will sell for about $1450 with two paddles.

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment...