Plus: 40 Years on Earth from Space, the Flying Firework Vehicle and Non-Sticky Chewing Gum.
Building Obi-Wan’s Lightsaber
Like the Back to the Future hoverboard or the Star Trek phaser, some movie props capture the public’s imagination, and none have done so more than the iconic Jedi weapon of choice from the Star Wars films: the lightsaber. Every Star Wars fan wants one, but despite the proliferation of toys and models, an authentic lightsaber still seems far off.
Luckily, we’ve just gotten another step closer to the real thing. Visual effects artist Brad Lewis, who has worked on video games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, spent the last two-and-a-half years building his very own lightsaber — in fact, it’s as close a replica as possible to the very same weapon Obi-Wan Kenobi wielded in Episode IV — with a few tweaks, Geek.com points out.
Lewis used a combination of 84 LED lights and controls to light up the lightsaber at various brightness levels and change the volume. Yes, volume. Lewis’s version is able to recreate clash sound effects based on proximity sensors, or play other sounds, like Darth Vader’s mechanical breathing and the “Imperial March” theme. Truly, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.
Check out the video below and take a look at Lewis’s website if you don’t want to be productive for the next couple of hours.
Non-Stick Eco-Friendly Gum
We’ve all seen the sticky aftermath of chewing gum on sidewalks, clothes and that brand new pair of shoes, but now Rev7, a non-stick degradable gum, provides a solution to the mess and goes easier on the environment.
Created by technology development firm Revolymer, Rev7 is unique. Unlike standard gum, it is designed to absorb water, which makes it tough for it to stick to surfaces. Thanks to a moisture-retaining synthetic polymer in the gum, discarded pieces curl and lift off surfaces, and eventually degrade into a fine powder, a process that takes around six months.
According to Revolymer, 100 million pounds of gum is put into the U.S. environment every year, which requires intensive clean-up methods involving jet washing and chemical treatments. But this gum could put an end to such efforts.
The degradable properties do not change the long-lasting flavor of the gum, which is already sold by 450 retailers across the country. Confectionary News reports that Rev7 will launch a nicotine gum — positioning the brand as a gum pioneer, of sorts — focused on health, environment and taste buds.
40 Years on Earth in 4 Minutes
Nowadays, we can go online and look up satellite images of nearly any place on Earth, but the opportunity to view orbital images has a long and storied history. On July 23, 1972, the United States launched Landsat, the first Earth-observing satellite, and the Landsat program has been surveying our planet ever since.
“Landsat is not one satellite, but a succession of seven orbiters over the last four decades that all flew under the banner. Landsat 7 is still up there working, though it has been in orbit since 2003 and is aging,” Popular Mechanics explains. “The next Landsat is supposed to blast into orbit next February. Orbital Sciences is building the satellite, which will be called Landsat 8 once it reaches orbit, in Arizona right now.”
To commemorate Landsat’s 40th anniversary this week, the Google Earth Engine, an online environment monitoring platform that stores several petabytes of satellite data, has released a video showing time lapsed images that trace major changes on the Earth’s surface over the past four decades.
“There’s something both fascinating and sobering about watching environmental change happening before your eyes in a far swifter time than it did in real life,” CNET notes. “It reminds one of how a sole development, a sole happening, a sole decision can influence huge effects that seem to be unstoppable.”
The Flying Wheel Firework
Although the Fourth of July may be over, Americans still have a passion for fireworks. For example, the hardworking team at the Pennsylvania Organization of Recreational Chaos (P.O.R.C.) have spent years perfecting the girandola, a multi-stage firework display that’s actually a flying vehicle.
The girandolas vary in size, with the largest being 14 feet in diameter and equipped with 174 drivers, 2-inch comet fireworks and parachutes. Fireworks propel the device into the air, creating a flaming spiral, until reaching the final stage and exploding into a ball of light.
Here’s a video showcasing the incredible display up close:
Have a great weekend, folks.