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How To Fly

According to aeronautical pioneer (and Wright Brothers' arch-nemesis) Glenn Hammond Curtiss



Do Get Into Bicycle Repair
It's easy to forget, but biking was a high-tech, geeky hobby around the turn of the 20th century. Chains, gears, and rotors formed the backbone of brand new field of motor engine development and adaptations in lighter, more aerodynamic bike construction gave a boost to would-be flyboys. In fact, you might say that bike repair was to airplane invention what hacking would one day be to the creation of the home computer. In that train of thought, the Bill Gates of biking was definitely New Yorker Glenn Hammond Curtiss. A champion cyclist and self-taught mechanic, Curtiss spent the first few years of the 20th century designing the world's best racing bikes and light, powerful motorcycle engines. Then he went into the airplane business and ended up the most praised and simultaneously reviled figure in the history of flight. He also ended up filthy rich.
Don't Be Afraid to Be the Bad Guy
Curtiss moustache-twirling reputation began in 1906 with a fateful (some might say, mercenary) visit to the Wright Brothers' Dayton, Ohio workshop. Technically, Curtiss was just in Dayton for the state fair where he was helping a friend demonstrate some dirigibles. But after the Wrights helped corral a particularly feisty airship, the three bonded over their mutual interest in flying machines and headed back to the Wright's place for a guided tour. Although they'd flown at Kitty Hawk three years previous, the Wrights were still knee-deep in the patent process and wouldn't show off their plane. However, they did discuss the flier's mechanics in enough detail that when Curtiss suddenly became an airplane entrepreneur a year later, the Wrights sued him.

Do Justify Bad Behavior with Good Technology
A lot of historical accounts begin and end with Curtiss' bad boy side. But, here at mental_floss, we are objective and, thus, willing to point out that, whether or not he stole his original ideas from the Wrights, Curtiss was hands-down the better innovator. Case in point: First flight. The Wrights' 1903 jaunt at Kitty Hawk was a success, as we all know. But just barely. Only a couple feet off the ground, the Wrights managed cover only a few hundred feet in distance and couldn't stay airborne longer than a minute before crash-landing. In comparison, Curtiss made the first public flight in U.S. history in 1908, behind the controls of his "June Bug" plane. He flew for over a mile and won the Scientific American Trophy. The next year, he went up against the Wrights at the first international aviation exposition in France. They brought three different planes and were expected to dominate the event. But Curtiss' one plane ended up besting them in every category. He went on to start the first airplane manufacturing company, design the first hydroplane, and make the first plane capable of taking off and landing on a ship.

Don't Let Old Feuds Stand in the Way of Future Profits
Shortly after his public success with the June Bug, Curtiss got a letter from the Wrights "reminding" him that if he were going to commercially manufacture airplanes, he'd need to pay them a cut. Curtiss apparently filed the letter in the waste bin, thus touching off nine years of increasingly hostile litigation. Curtiss' legal battles with the Wright Company even outlasted the Wrights themselves; after Wilbur's early death, Orville Wright sold his share of their company in 1915. The Curtiss/Wright conflict wasn't resolved until 1917, when the U.S. government simplified their World War I manufacturing by pooling all aircraft patents into one, thus nullifying the Wright Company's claims for restitution. With this forced peace, Curtiss and the Wright Company joined forces. Today, Curtiss-Wright still designs engines and components for aircraft and spacecraft.

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10 Things We Know About The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2
Hulu
Hulu

Though Hulu has been producing original content for more than five years now, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for the streaming network with the debut of The Handmaid’s Tale on April 26, 2017. The dystopian drama, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, imagines a future in which a theocratic regime known as Gilead has taken over the United States and enslaved fertile women so that the group’s most powerful couples can procreate.

If it all sounds rather bleak, that’s because it is—but it’s also one of the most impressive new series to arrive in years (as evidenced by the slew of awards it has won, including eight Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards). Fortunately, fans left wanting more don’t have that much longer to wait, as season two will premiere on Hulu in April. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season.

1. IT WILL PREMIERE WITH TWO EPISODES.

When The Handmaid’s Tale returns on April 25, 2018, Hulu will release the first two of its 13 new episodes on premiere night, then drop another new episode every Wednesday.

2. MARGARET ATWOOD WILL CONTINUE TO HELP SHAPE THE NARRATIVE.

Fans of Atwood’s novel who didn’t like that season one went beyond the original source material are in for some more disappointment in season two, as the narrative will again go beyond the scope of what Atwood covered. But creator/showrunner Bruce Miller doesn’t necessarily agree with the criticism they received in season one.

“People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really," Miller told Newsweek. "The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. We're not going beyond the novel. We're just covering territory [Atwood] covered quickly, a bit more slowly.”

Even more importantly, Miller's got Atwood on his side. The author serves as a consulting producer on the show, and the title isn’t an honorary one. For Miller, Atwood’s input is essential to shaping the show, particularly as it veers off into new territories. And they were already thinking about season two while shooting season one. “Margaret and I had started to talk about the shape of season two halfway through the first [season],” he told Entertainment Weekly.

In fact, Miller said that when he first began working on the show, he sketched out a full 10 seasons worth of storylines. “That’s what you have to do when you’re taking on a project like this,” he said.

3. MOTHERHOOD WILL BE A CENTRAL THEME.

As with season one, motherhood is a key theme in the series. And June/Offred’s pregnancy will be one of the main plotlines. “So much of [Season 2] is about motherhood,” Elisabeth Moss said during the Television Critics Association press tour. “Bruce and I always talked about the impending birth of this child that’s growing inside her as a bit of a ticking time bomb, and the complications of that are really wonderful to explore. It’s a wonderful thing to have a baby, but she’s having it potentially in this world that she may not want to bring it into. And then, you know, if she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her and she can’t be its mother. So, obviously, it’s very complicated and makes for good drama. But, it’s a very big part of this season, and it gets bigger and bigger as the show goes on.”

4. THE RESISTANCE IS COMING.

Just because June is pregnant, don’t expect her to sit on the sidelines as the resistance to Gilead continues. “There is more than one way to resist," Moss said. “There is resistance within [June], and that is a big part of this season.”

5. WE’LL GET TO SEE THE COLONIES.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

Miller, understandably, isn’t eager to share too many details about the new season. “I’m not being cagey!” he swore to Entertainment Weekly. “I just want the viewers to experience it for themselves!” What he did confirm is that the new season will bring us to the colonies—reportedly in episode two—and show what life is like for those who have been sent there.

It will also delve further into what life is like for the refugees who managed to escape Gilead, like Luke and Moira.

6. MARISA TOMEI WILL APPEAR IN AN EPISODE.

Though she won’t be a regular cast member, Miller recently announced that Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will make a guest appearance in the new season’s second episode. Yes, the one that will show us the Colonies. In fact, that’s where we’ll meet her; Tomei is playing the wife of a Commander.

7. WE’LL LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF GILEAD.

As a group shrouded in secrecy, we still don’t know much about how and where Gilead began. That will change a bit in season two. When discussing some of the questions viewers will have answered, executive producer Warren Littlefield promised that, "How did Gilead come about? How did this happen?” would be two of them. “We get to follow the historical creation of this world,” he said.

8. THERE WILL BE AT LEAST ONE HANDMAID FUNERAL.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

While Miller wouldn’t talk about who the handmaids are mourning in a teaser shot from season two that shows a handmaid’s funeral, he was excited to talk about creating the look for the scene. “Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling,” Miller told Entertainment Weekly. “These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy.”

9. ELISABETH MOSS SAYS THE TONE WILL BE DARKER.

Like season one, Miller says that The Handmaid’s Tale's second season will again balance its darker, dystopian themes with glimpses of hopefulness. “I think the first season had very difficult things, and very hopeful things, and I think this season is exactly the same way,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “There come some surprising moments of real hope and victory, and strength, that come from surprising places.”

Moss, however, has a different opinion. “It's a dark season,” she told reporters at TCA. “I would say arguably it's darker than Season 1—if that's possible.”

10. IT WILL ALSO BE BLOODIER.

A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu

When pressed about how the teaser images for the new season seemed to feature a lot of blood, Miller conceded: “Oh gosh, yeah. There may be a little more blood this season.”

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NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
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Researchers in Singapore Deploy Robot Swans to Test Water Quality
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

There's something peculiar about the new swans floating around reservoirs in Singapore. They drift across the water like normal birds, but upon closer inspection, onlookers will find they're not birds at all: They're cleverly disguised robots designed to test the quality of the city's water.

As Dezeen reports, the high-tech waterfowl, dubbed NUSwan (New Smart Water Assessment Network), are the work of researchers at the National University of Singapore [PDF]. The team invented the devices as a way to tackle the challenges of maintaining an urban water source. "Water bodies are exposed to varying sources of pollutants from urban run-offs and industries," they write in a statement. "Several methods and protocols in monitoring pollutants are already in place. However, the boundaries of extensive assessment for the water bodies are limited by labor intensive and resource exhaustive methods."

By building water assessment technology into a plastic swan, they're able to analyze the quality of the reservoirs cheaply and discreetly. Sensors on the robots' undersides measure factors like dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll levels. The swans wirelessly transmit whatever data they collect to the command center on land, and based on what they send, human pilots can remotely tweak the robots' performance in real time. The hope is that the simple, adaptable technology will allow researchers to take smarter samples and better understand the impact of the reservoir's micro-ecosystem on water quality.

Man placing robotic swan in water.
NUS Environmental Research Institute, Subnero

This isn't the first time humans have used robots disguised as animals as tools for studying nature. Check out this clip from the BBC series Spy in the Wild for an idea of just how realistic these robots can get.

[h/t Dezeen]

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