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What is the Circular Economy?

What if, when we make something new, we also consider how it can be unmade when it’s no longer of use? Can the materials be separated and repurposed? Can some or all of it biodegrade? How do we keep it from polluting our oceans or contributing to landfills? Can we plan for a product’s entire lifecycle as a part of its design? “There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we make stuff.” This is a concept called The Circular Economy.

…a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Regenerate natural systems

This Re-Thinking Progress explainer animation is from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK-based organization that’s working to educate and empower schools, companies, and governments in their transitions toward a Circular Economy.

circular economy
Related reading: The Circular Design Guide.

Related watching: Videos about zero waste and sustainability, including how this Japanese town is working to produce no trash, how to fit 4 years of trash into a mason jar, and Inside Montreal’s Zero Waste Urban Greenhouses.

Plus: Inside the Compost Cycle: Turning waste to nutrient-rich soil, The Surprising Places We Waste Energy, and The Landfill – Different kinds of trash as harvestable resources.

Bonus: How design can change our experiences & environments.

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The World Below: Stunning footage from the International Space Station

Spend six awe-inspiring minutes in orbit above planet Earth. This stunning edit by photographer and videographer Bruce W. Berry Jr. uses 4K video and time-lapse footage captured by astronauts on the International Space Station: The World Below. The accompanying music is titled Journey to the Line, composed and performed by Hans Zimmer. Berry notes:

The slower video represents true speed of the ISS or was shot in 4K at 24fps. These clips are all marked with an *. Unfortunately I do not know all of the locations of the shots as many files did not have a name on them and just the mission numbers.

Locations of Footage in the order they appear:

1. Kounotori 4, unmanned cargo spacecraft *
2. Unknown*
3. Quebec City, Canada
4-7. Unknown*
8. Ucayali River, Peru*
9. Unknown*
10. Quebec City and St. Lawrence River, Canada*
11-12. Unknown*
13. Western United States*
14. Unknown*
15. Ataturk Dam Lake, on the Euphrates River, Turkey *
16. Nile River, lower Egypt*
17. Dubai, United Arab Emirates*
18. Bahamas*
19. The Nile Delta, Egypt*
20. Texas Gulf Coast*
21. Unknown*
22. Unknown
23. Aurora Borealis over North America
24. Aurora Borealis over Canada and USA
25. Iberian Peninsula to Red Sea
26. Southern Hemisphere Aurora and Sunrise
27. The Nile River Delta to Mecca, Middle East
28. Mexico to Maine, USA
29. Balearic Sea to Lake Turkana
30. Atlantic Ocean to Kazakhstan
31. Aurora Borealis over the Atlantic Ocean
32. The Earth and sunrise in 4K

Watch this Royal Institution video next: What Does Earth Look Like From Space? An Astronaut’s Perspective.

Plus: More videos from orbit, more about the International Space Station, and more stunning videos like the longest continuous time-lapse from space, a 4K LRO moon visualization set to Clair de Lune, and Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

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The Spanish City of Swords: Toledo

Toledo, an ancient walled city in central Spain, has been the center of sword making for thousands of years. The city’s weaponry history dates back to the Roman Empire, when emperors took a liking to the blades crafted in Toledo due to their strength and quality. Today, there are a small number of craftsmen carrying on their family’s ancient traditions. Come along as we meet the artisans that create these magnificent blades, and the practitioners that still fight with them.

From Great Big Story, this is Toledo: The Spanish City of Swords. The video is one in a series that explores the cities that are keeping old legacies alive.

Follow this video with combat demonstrations in fifteenth-century suits of armor and The Swordmaker: A last Japanese swordsmith forges a sword.

Plus: The untold history of ironworking in central & west Africa.

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The Multiplying Rabbits Riddle

After years of experiments, you’ve finally created the pets of the future – nano-rabbits! They’re tiny, they’re fuzzy … and they multiply faster than the eye can see. But a rival lab has sabotaged you, threatening the survival of your new friends.

Those pesky Nano Cats! Can you figure out if your nano-rabbits will fit into the bottom cell of your triangular habitat? How many trailing zeros should there be at the end of the count of rabbits? And do you need to pull the emergency shutdown lever?

From TED-Ed and Alex Gendler: The Multiplying Rabbits Riddle. Pause at the rules screen to figure the math out on your own:

Watch this video next: The mathematical secrets of Pascal’s triangle.

Plus, watch more triangle videos, including the Matchstick Triangle Puzzle, the Pythagorean theorem water demo, and Notes on a Triangle.

Bonus: How to multiply numbers by drawing lines and Mathematica – A World of Numbers… and Beyond.

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The RollKa stunt machine

YouTuber Master Milo turns an old Ford Ka into a rolling, spinning, amusement park ride-like “diwheel” he calls “the RollKa.” Master Milo took an otherwise lackluster economy car, chopped it in half, and mated it to two large, parallel wheels. The wheels on the Ford Ka spin and make traction within the tracks of the larger fabricated ring wheels to move the ungainly body around.

The Insider recut the Netherlands-based car hacking mechanic’s drivable RollKa stunt machine video into the action-packed visual summary above.

rollka by master milo
Watch this next: The Dynasphere, a monowheel electric vehicle invented in 1932, and this 1960s Motorized Bath on Wheels.

via The Awesomer.

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Making lava bombs with ‘homemade’ magma

Hot lava + cold water = the potential for lava bombs, flying molten rock balls. For scientists who study the dynamics of this violent combination, it’s much safer to set up controlled experiments than to study it in Hawaii or Iceland where Kilauea and Eyjafjallajökull have their own uncontrollable agendas.

Solution: Make homemade magma and use high-speed cameras to record the results. This is the explosive work of volcanologist Ingo Sonder and his team, who hope that better understanding of the phenomenon can help keep volcano-adjacent populations safer.

First, Dr. Sonder and his colleagues got black chunks of ancient solidified lava, called basalt, from a quarry in Texas. They poured about 120 pounds of basalt into a crucible inside a furnace. Over four hours, with a few occasional stirs, the furnace heated the rocks to about 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, until the basalt became a bubbling molten mix.

Donning silver thermal suits to protect against the intense heat and radiation, the researchers then poured 10 gallons of glowing goop into a series of insulated steel boxes… The walls of the steel containers had injectors designed to spray pressurized water into the piping hot lava.

lava bombs
See the results in this Science Take video from The New York Times.

Related lava bomb listening from our friends at Tumble, a science podcast for kids: What Would Earth Be Like If Volcanoes Didn’t Exist?

Then, see how USGS scientists monitor Kilauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions on site and how volcano-bots might help study volcanoes.

Plus: A GoPro survives being engulfed by lava and How Dangerous Are The Northwest’s Volcanoes?

via @TumbleCast.

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Saturn’s rings are disappearing

Saturn’s rings are disappearing quickly, though ‘quickly’ is a relative term. With help from decades-old data from Voyager 1 & 2, NASA scientists have determined that Saturn will lose its iconic rings in less than a few hundred million years. The influence of the planet’s gravity and magnetic field results in a kind of ‘rain’ made from dust and ice particles.

“We estimate that this ‘ring rain’ drains an amount of water products that could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool from Saturn’s rings in half an hour,” said James O’Donoghue of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “From this alone, the entire ring system will be gone in 300 million years, but add to this the Cassini-spacecraft measured ring-material detected falling into Saturn’s equator, and the rings have less than 100 million years to live. This is relatively short, compared to Saturn’s age of over 4 billion years.” O’Donoghue is lead author of a study on Saturn’s ring rain appearing in Icarus December 17

Ring particles are caught in a balancing act between the pull of Saturn’s gravity, which wants to draw them back into the planet, and their orbital velocity, which wants to fling them outward into space. Tiny particles can get electrically charged by ultraviolet light from the Sun or by plasma clouds emanating from micrometeoroid bombardment of the rings. When this happens, the particles can feel the pull of Saturn’s magnetic field, which curves inward toward the planet at Saturn’s rings. In some parts of the rings, once charged, the balance of forces on these tiny particles changes dramatically, and Saturn’s gravity pulls them in along the magnetic field lines into the upper atmosphere.

Above, an artist’s rendering depicts how Saturn inner rings may look in the next 100 million years. Read more about the science at

Then watch these Saturn-themed videos, including Around Saturn: The Cassini program’s incredible images animated, Storm Chasing on Saturn, and Postcards from Saturn: The incredible images that Cassini sent home.

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Pop! Hungry caterpillars vs. touch-me-not seed pods

Touch-me-not Balsam pods explode without warning when they’re ready to disperse their seeds. The seed pods also happen to be the Netted Carpet Moth larva’s favorite food. So what happens when this hungry caterpillar eats from a pod that’s ready to pop? This BBC clip from The Lake District: A Wild Year, narrated by Bernard Cribbins, captures their challenge.

Some additional background from

Research has shown that this moth relies totally on touch-me-not balsam. This small delicate plant with yellow flowers is the only native species of balsam in the UK, but many invasive balsams are aggressively wiping this plant out. This means that the population of the netted carpet moth plummeted to near extinction in the 1980s and 1990s and has only recently begun to recover. The perfectly camouflaged larvae of this moth feed exclusively on the plant.

Numbers of this moth are returning thanks to a partnership of many organisations. Here in the south Lakes the National Trust ranger team has been working hard to play their part in the return of this species to many areas. By introducing cows to the favoured areas of the moth, research has shown that more aggressive plants such as Himalayan balsam are kept at bay, allowing the touch-me-not to flourish. Our rangers have also been “pulling up” invasive species such as yellow balsam to make space for touch-me-not to return.

Watch more exploding plants disperse their seeds with high pressure bursts.

Then watch more videos about seed dispersal, including this humidity-powered seed drills that itself into the ground.

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How to make a self-starting siphon

To move liquid from one container to another, you may need a siphon, a bent tube with one end that’s lower than the first. Suction is one way to get the liquid moving through it, but if you don’t have a pump and you don’t want to suck on the end of the tube—something to avoid with liquids you don’t want to breathe or drink—how can you get the liquid moving?

In this clip from Australia’s The Curiosity Show, which ran from 1972 to 1990, science educator Dr. Rob Morrison demonstrates how a self-starting siphon can move the liquid with relative ease. And after you’ve seen the physics, you can make your own self-starting siphon with some bendy straws.

Avoid plastic straws with these compostable, plant-based bendy straws.

Then watch more from The Curiosity Show: Matchstick Triangle Puzzle and how does a music box work?

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The Living Fossil Fish – Animated Life

In 1938, South African museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer came across a strange blue fin poking out of a pile of fish. With its fleshy, lobed fins and its tough armored scales, the coelacanth did not look like any other fish that exists today. The coelacanth belongs to a lineage that has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years—earning it the description of a “living fossil.”

Charles Darwin coined the term in On the Origin of Species in 1859. And it fits the coelacanth, pronounced see-luh-kanth, a now-rare bottom-dwelling fish that, prior to Courtenay-Latimer’s discovery, was thought to have gone extinct over 65 million years ago.

From Sweet Fern Productions, a 2016 collaboration between documentary filmmaker Sharon Shattuck and science journalist Flora Lichtman, this is Animated Life: The Living Fossil Fish for HHMI: Biointeractive. The paper puppetry short shares a pivotal moment in science, made possible by Courtenay-Latimer’s vigilance in documenting this remarkable fish.

Read more about the coelacanth at Smithsonian Ocean and Wired.

Follow this with Shelf Life: Six Ways To Prepare a Coelacanth. Then watch more Animated Life short films.

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An electric guitar made from 1200 colored pencils

How do you transform 1200 colored pencils into an electric guitar? Epoxy resin, lots of milling, cutting, drilling, and sanding, some wood filler, spray enamel, protective face masks, diligence, and patience. YouTuber Burls Art shares each step of his experimental craft project in this video, including how the finished product sounds.

color pencil guitar
color pencil guitar
Related making videos: Turning a brick of melted crayons on the lathe, the art of Japanese marquetry, how pencils are made at the Derwent Pencil Factory, and A Sketchy History Of Pencil Lead.

via Reddit.

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Biobots and the animals that inspire their designs

Review some of the cutting-edge designs inspired by the physiology of animals: Biobots. This Wired video shares how roboticists use nature’s solutions to create snakebots, jumping bush baby bots, bots with gecko feet, batbots, robotic fish, a taxidermied bird that helps to monitor sage-grouse, and more. File under biomimicry.

biobots bat
biobots bush baby
Learn more about how we use biomimicry to solve problems with design: How a kingfisher, an owl, & a penguin helped redesign Japan’s Shinkansen and Think Like a Tree – Problem solving with nature’s best ideas.

Plus, Festo’s robot animals, the animatronic animals of Spy in the Wild, and Boston Dynamics’ sand flea.

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Pink River Dolphins of the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon River Dolphin, also called the boutu, boto, or bufeo, is the largest of the freshwater dolphins, and like all freshwater dolphins it is endangered because of hunting, human pressures, and degradation of habitat. Its most amazing characteristic is its color, which ranges — depending on its age — from soft, rosy pink to a vivid, almost shocking pink. The Portuguese name for this species in Brazil is “boutu vermelho” — red dolphin.

They also have sonar and whiskers that help them navigate their murky waters to find fish to eat. Learn more about the Pink River Dolphins Of The Amazon Rainforest on Wikipedia and in the clip above from the BBC’s Earth’s Great Rivers.

Watch these next: Communicating with dolphins using echolocation and how smart are dolphins?

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Island, an animated short

Whirring bugs, squeaking birds, hiccuping volcanoes, leaf creatures, tube creatures, crumbling cubes, fluffy poofs, amorphous mist. These creature noises all come together in a melodic cacophony of music in this animated short that mixes stop-motion with 2D animation: Island by Max Mörtl and Robert Löbel. Sound by David Kamp.

 Island by Max Mörtl and Robert Löbel
 Island by Max Mörtl and Robert Löbel
 Island by Max Mörtl and Robert Löbel
Next, watch Final_Final, Silly Robots, Aug(De)Mented Reality 4, The Secret World of Stuff, and Art Clokey’s Gumbasia (1955).

via Booooooom.

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Can you solve the troll’s paradox riddle?

You and your brother have discovered another realm and set off exploring the new wonderful world. Along the way, you see a troll catching creatures in an enormous net. The troll agrees to release the creatures if you can come up with a statement that is both true and false. Can you come up with the correct sentence and force the troll to release them?

A true statement will release the creatures. A false statement will free your brother. And in the troll’s paradox riddle, a TED-Ed by Dan Finkel, directed by Artrake Studio, the troll does not like paradoxes, potentially truthful statements that contradict themselves. Famous examples: “This sentence is a lie” and “Today is opposite day”.

So what true and false statement about this particular predicament can you say that will force the troll to free everyone? Pause at this rules screen to figure it out the troll’s paradox riddle without help:

troll paradox ted ed rules
Find the bonus riddle solution at Brilliant, TED-Ed’s sponsor.

Then learn more about paradoxes with this excellent episode of Brains On! science podcast for kids:!006726942f8bcb6b5dabde7511ba0ec3f6b37025

Follow that with more TED-Ed riddle videos.

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The Big City, a microscopic tour of Vancouver

From high above planet Earth, humans can seem microscopically small. Busy highways and crowded cities, seen from far away, can quickly remind us of bustling ant hills filled with a colony of millions. Conversely, if you spend a few minutes observing microorganisms up close, they might start to resemble the unique personalities found in a busy metropolis.

In The Big City, Canadian filmmaker Evan Luchkow pairs the sounds of downtown Vancouver with the freshwater microorganisms which live there. Protozoa, algae, tardigrades, rotifers, and other tiny creatures are juxtaposed with the birdsong, breezes, trotting horses, horns, sirens, conversations, crying babies, the whirring subway, and other sounds from their neighborhoods. From Aeon, the combination helps to reveal, in Luchkow’s words, “the blurry boundary between human society and the natural world.”

What sounds and microorganisms might be found in your neighborhood?

Watch this next: Hunting for microbes in Central Park’s murkiest waters. Plus, watch Wim van Egmond’s award-winning microscopic videos, an up-close look at tardigrades and their poop, and this excellent DIY video: How do you find water bears (tardigrades) in the wild?

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