Interesting Finds: Issue #10

Global Trade, Electric Eels, 13 kilobyte games and Light Sabers

Welcome to Interesting Finds Issue #10. Each week, I curate the most curious content I find, and add a spotlight on portions I find most interesting.

This week, I cover how one man’s ingenuity changed global trade, electric tweets, coding games in 13kb and 4000 degree plasma lightsabers.

The Box That Changed The World

Just came across the story of Malcolm Purcell McLean on Twitter. In a 13 part tweetstorm, @SahilBloom tells the story of how ingenuity a hundred years ago revolutionized global trade by inventing “containerization” for shipping.

Hello Miguel

I’ve just learned there’s an electric eel named Miguel Wattson at an aquarium in Tennessee who powers Christmas tree lights with his electrical bursts!

Electric eels emit low-voltage bursts of electricity when they are searching for food, so the aquarium cleverly rigged up a special system to harness that. Even more interesting, Miguel has his own Twitter account which the aquarium team wired up to tweet each time one of his electrical blips happen!

Interestingly, Miguel also tags users in tweets but I haven’t figured out how he is selecting them (if you know, holler!).

5 interesting facts about electric eels:

  1. Although they are called eels, they are more closely related to the catfish than to the common eels (source)

  2. All of their vital organs are packed into front 20% of their bodies, with the rest of the body housing cells used for generating electrical juice (source)

  3. Their skin protects them from their own attacks, but if their skin is injured, they will shock themselves (source)

  4. They can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh over 40 pounds (source)

  5. The oldest eel was named “Ale” and lived to 155 years. He died in August 2014. (source)

Lightsabers

The guys over at Hacksmith created the best attempt at a Star Wars lightsaber that I’ve seen. This one is features a 4000 degree plasma blade which is retractable (go physics!). I apologize in advance for how many ads are featured throughout the video 🤦‍♂️.

The actual grand unveil of the final lightsaber in use is reserved for their Patreon subscribers right now, and will be released to the mass public (us) next week on their channel.

Games in 13KB

Reaffirming that I’ve never be a good enough software engineer, Js13kGames is an annual competition to create the best HTML5 game in one month using just 13 kilobytes. The official description:

Js13kGames is a JavaScript coding competition for HTML5 Game Developers. The fun part of the compo is the file size limit set to 13 kilobytes. The competition started at 13:00 CEST, 13th August and ended at 13:00 CEST, 13th September 2020. Theme for this year was 404.

Over the years, the games have been incredible and the 2020 winners are no different. The first place, Ninja vs. EvilCorp, is a crazy feat of engineering. Here’s an animated GIF of the game play… remember, this is all done in 13KB!

While Track Not Found garnered 4th place, I loved this game more than the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. The need to change perspectives as an essential part of game play reminded me of Monument Valley.

Other Interesting Finds 🔎

  • 😷 Someone designed a contraption to launch face masks onto people, then tried it at a beach in southern California.

  • 🚬 The Pez dispenser was originally designed to be an anti-smoking device.

  • 🥑 30-50% of adults that have a latex allergy also have an allergy to avocados, bananas, chestnuts, kiwis, peaches, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers. It’s called the Latex-fruit syndrome.

  • 🎥 Actor Bruce Willis caused Disney to lose $17.5 million when they were forced to abandon a movie project after he fired the director and most of the crew. As part of a settlement they reached, he was committed to making 3 movies for them, with a portion of his salary to pay back the $17.5M. Those movies were: Armageddon, The Sixth Sense and The Kid which ended up grossing a combined $1.35 billion. Good deal.

  • 🔨 Flashback to some great scenes in Avengers Age of Ultron: the crew tries to lift Thor’s hammer. Later in the movie, Vision casually picks it up.