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Volume 406

Megacities, super-bins and robot fish; this week’s coolsh*t will transport you into the future. We’ve also got some very tiny photos and some very big cheats. Plus, you’ll be relieved to hear, the return of the coolsh*t podcast.

Start of the Line.

Well, it’s actually happening. If you’re not familiar with ‘The Line’, then you obviously haven’t been paying attention. It’s part of ‘Neom’, Saudi Arabia’s proposed megacity of the future. To refresh your memory: The Line will be 105 miles long, 500 metres tall, 200 metres wide, will run on 100% renewable energy and have no cars or streets. Oh, and it’ll also have giant mirrored walls that run parallel along its entire length – because why the hell not. Ok, now we’re all caught up. When such an ostensibly ludicrous plan was announced around a month ago, many cynics naturally thought it was little more than a Utopian/Dystopian goof. But, as I said, it’s actually happening. Maybe. It hasn’t been confirmed, but newly released drone footage has revealed something in the Saudi desert that looks an awful lot like the foundations of a futuristic 105-mile-long megacity. Gulp. All architects and engineers of any repute have deemed the plan to be utterly impossible to pull off, but the Saudi government have taken that into consideration and decided to do it anyway. Ballsy. Fair play. This can only end well.

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Rein it in...

If you don’t think this is cool, there’s good reason for that: it almost certainly isn’t. Unless of course you find consumerism gone mad to be cool, in which case fill your boots. Or, rather, fill your $5,000 Jordan horseshoes. In the latest development in the gradual degradation of society, Marcus Floyd of ‘HorseKicks’ has recently released a line of custom reimagined sneakers for equine beasts. That sounds a bit mental, but the truly appalling cherry on this sundae of insanity is the fact that prices start at $1,200. You could get a Nissan Micra with under 100,000 miles on the clock for that. I blame the first person who thought it would be funny to dress up their dog. The shoes also don’t look terribly stable – pun not intended, shut up. But if it can be proven that horses love wearing these and are in no way being abused, then perhaps we oughtn’t be so dismayed if some lunatic with more money than sense wants to drip out their pony. That’s what I would say if I were being diplomatic. Instead, I’ll leave you with the top comment on this article: “Alright, its time. Let blood rain down from the heavens. Let children cry out from their mother’s wombs. Let God himself appear before us, welcome the apocalypse. I hear the trumpets playing… Jordans for horses.” Yep, it’s a neigh from me.

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Good Cod.

It’s become difficult to go a week without being bombarded by information about the deleterious effects of consuming microplastics – especially if you spend any amount time with me. As a crackpot and a bore, the claim that we supposedly consume a credit card’s worth of plastic each day is conversational gambit gold-dust. It was also recently found that breast milk now contains microplastics regardless of the mother’s diet, because they have become so ubiquitous in our everyday environment as to be nigh-on unavoidable. Terrific! But fret not; student Eleanor Mackintosh has designed a robot fish she named ‘Gillbert’ (‘Finn’ must have been taken) that vacuums microplastics from waterways which can then be used for sampling and recycling. This is great news. Although if it’s successful, it does mean I’ll have to find something new to talk about at the pub. Back to banging on about the origins of NASA it is then, I suppose.

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Ant Attack.

Photography has evolved to a point where there are now many distinct styles and schools. Some people exclusively take photos of eye-catching bins, for example. And thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the practice has now expanded its artistry into the microscopic realm. Nikon Small World recently announced the top 20 of its 2022 Photomicrography Competition, selecting from approximately 1,300 entries submitted from 72 countries. This was the 47th anniversary of the competition, which was started in order to allow people to appreciate the beauty of a world that exists around us but is invisible to the naked eye. That’s all hunky-dory, but this year’s competition got an awful lot of attention due to one particular submission of an ant’s face. I don’t know about you, but I’d never really considered what an ant’s face looks like. And frankly I’m glad about that – because I imagine if one were to witness such a sight in their more formative years of neuroplasticity, it could have some dangerous effects on their psyche. So in a sense I’m sorry for bringing this to your attention, but you had a right to know that we’re sharing the planet with 20 quadrillion tiny satanic wildebeests.

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Civility Engineering.

An old PE teacher once said to me, “cheaters never prosper.” Granted, he did also say, “snitches get stitches” and is now in prison, but don’t let that distract from the wisdom contained in that former axiom. There’s a teacher in the Philippines preaching along similarly virtuous lines, and she cares so much about the integrity of examinations that she recently forced her students to don anti-cheating hats. In print, that sounds rather Draconian, but Mary Joy Mandane-Ortiz, professor of mechanical engineering at Bicol University College decided to make her madness more tolerable to society by challenging her students to ‘engineer’ their own hats, the more ludicrous the better. And the results are pretty impressive. Although I don’t feel great about the fact that these children with egg-boxes on their heads are the ones responsible for building bridges.

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Faster than a speeding lorry, more powerful than a sclerotic 40-year-old bloke. It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s super-bin. And if you found that cringeworthy to read, just imagine how I felt having to write it. The wheelie bin may soon be a thing of the past, as ‘super-bins’ are set to be rolled out across Britain following a successful trial in Liverpool, which was selected as the place to begin this experiment because they apparently have such a pernicious fly-tipping problem – and not just due to televisions falling out the back of speeding Transit vans. The super bins can store up to a week’s worth of rubbish from 20 homes – while a typical wheelie bin can only store two black bin bags weighing up to 55kg. Welcome to the future, people. Isn’t it beautiful? These super-bins will go perfectly with our new Saudi megacity.

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