Oddities

Robots Are In A Race To Mine The Ocean Floor, Is That Good

WHEN THE 300-FOOT Maersk Launcher docked in San Diego early Monday morning, it unloaded a cargo of hardened black blobs scooped from the bottom of the sea. The blobs are not rocks, but naturally-occurring metallic nodules that could one day yield metal deposits of cobalt, manganese, and nickel—not to mention scarce rare earth minerals. As worldwide demand rises for electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines, along with next generation technologies and weapon systems, demand for these metals has taken off. And the seabed is a prime target for those mining operations. Of course, it’s no small feat to bring these potato-sized nodules from the bottom of the Read More

A Brief History of Time Travel: A Relatively New Device

Jamie Gleick’s new book explores our (surprisingly new) obsession with era-hopping. Of all time travel’s paradoxes, here’s the strangest of them all: hop on a TARDIS back to 1894 and the concept didn’t even exist. “Time travel is a new idea,” explains New York-based author James Gleick, 62. “It’s a very modern myth.” Gleick’s entertaining Time Travel: A History, out in hardback in February, quantum leaps from HG Wells’s The Time Machine – the original – via Proust and alt-history right up to your Twitter timeline. Until we get the DeLorean working for real, fellow travellers, consider it the next best thing. 9th century BCE The Mahabharata Read More

NYC PENTHOUSES WERE BUILT FOR SERVANTS; SOMETHING CHANGED

Before the 1920s, New York City rooftops were nothing more than damp hovels. Pipes snaked between grim water towers. Chimneys spewed sheets of dark soot. Broken glass rustled with every gust of wind. But the servants put up with it because it was home. In fact, they occupied the city’s first penthouses, poorly insulated clapboard structures constructed off-book and high out of sight. Then—wait for it—wealthy young bohemians took note, and moved in.   In the early 20th century, Manhattan was running out of space. Four-story mansions had long outspent their practicality, and architects were pioneering apartment living. But as more people were able to crowd onto Read More

Off the Grid Living: A Homemade Island in Vancouver

Floating off the coast of Vancouver Island, a 45-minute boat ride to the nearest town, is a sustainable island fortress complete with a dance floor, art gallery and garden. For artists Catherine King and Wayne Adams, this is home: a labor of love 24 years in the making. This story is a part of our Human Condition series. Come along and let us connect you to some of the most peculiar, stirring, extraordinary, and distinctive people in the world. Great Big Story is a video network dedicated to the untold, overlooked & flat-out amazing. Humans are capable of incredible things & we’re here to tell their stories. Read More