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10 Reasons Why James Dyson Doesn't Suck

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My girlfriend is moving into my apartment in June, and among the myriad things I'm excited about is the opportunity to buy a new vacuum. My current roommate's vacuum is basically a motorized drinking straw that requires 15 passes over the same piece of string before picking it up and dropping it on the floor again. While we probably can't afford a Dyson, I marvel at the man who just thinks things should work properly.

1. He conquered Japan

Japan's market for hi-tech gadgets is, to say the least, saturated. But the constant innovation means the Japanese are less attached to their brands, which allowed Dyson to break into the market in the early 90s when no one in the UK was interested in his bagless vacuum design. Dyson snagged an International Design Fair prize with his G-Force model, and the Japanese began snatching them up at $2,000 a piece.

2. He's got an awesome house to clean with that fancy vacuum

Sometimes, two houses aren't enough. So in 2003, Dyson bought his third home, Dodington Park, a country estate in Gloucestershire, England. The estate sits on 300 acres of land, which feature an orangery, several gardens, two lakes, a mile-long "carriage drive," and the source of the River Fromme.

The house itself, not to be overshadowed by the land around it, has 35,000 square feet of space, 15 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms and 10 reception rooms (a morning room, an ante room, a library and a music room just to name a few). And that's just the main house; there are also staff quarters, two lodges, a Dower house, a farmhouse and four cottages (which bring the bedroom total to 51). If Dyson wants to admire the view of the property from any of the buildings, he can choose from 150 windows. If he just wants to sit back and relax, he's got 24 fireplaces to settle down next to.

3. A battle with disease turned him into a philanthropist

Dyson contracted viral meningitis when he was 45, but didn't realize it until his wife insisted his doctor test for it. After learning how hard the symptoms are to diagnose, Dyson set out to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms. In 2000, he raised £1.5 million for the Meningitis Research Foundation by auctioning off two of his company's executives for a sponsored leg wax, playing a charity football match against Malmesbury's Victoria Football Club (the Dyson team won 5-1), holding Dyson Quiz Nights at 20 different pubs and donating the proceeds from the sales of 40,000 limited-edition purple and magenta vacuums.

4. It's simply a cool vacuum

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People usually don't throw the word "revolutionary" around when talking about vacuum cleaners, but Dyson's design is considered just that. The bag-less, filter-less design doesn't clog or lose suction. It's a nice piece of eye candy, too, and is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the London Science Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Cologne, the Zurich Design Museum, the Design Museum in Lisbon and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

5. Frustration was the mother of his invention

When Dyson was six-years-old, his father grew ill, forcing the boy to help his mother around the house. Vacuuming was his least favorite chore because of the "terrible smell of stale dog and dust" and poor suction on the vacuum. Three decades later, still frustrated by his vacuum cleaner at home, he was visited a sawmill and saw workers cleaning up sawdust with a big cone that used a spinning column of air for suction. He spent the next three years in his workshop developing his dual-cyclone vacuum.

6. He's an icon of clean

Three years ago, the Dyson became the most popular vacuum cleaners in America—one in five of all floor cleaners bought carried his name. His vacuums have made cameos on Friends and Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show, been given away in goodie bags at both the Emmys and the Oscars, and used to accessorize models at Fashion Week. The man is a real life Mr. Clean, but he's still ambitious. He told Salon.com that he wants to become a verb, in the same way Google has. If you want to help the guy out, Google a vacuum store near you and Dyson your dirty floors.

7. That's Sir James Dyson to you

Dyson was honored as a Knight Bachelor in 2006, a move that drew some criticism from union leaders angered by the fact that, just four years earlier, Dyson moved his vacuum production plant from England to Malaysia. Despite the controversy, Dyson can rest easy knowing that he has a fan in the Queen. In his autobiography he says, "I was bowing in front of Her Majesty to receive this great big medal around my neck when she said, 'And what do you do exactly, Mr. Dyson?' I told her that I was the manufacturer of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. 'Oh, really?' she said. 'We've got dozens of them about the palace.'" A ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

8. He wants you to learn from his mistakes (and yours)

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Dyson says it took him four and a half years and 5,127 prototypes to refine the design of his vacuum. There's a life lesson in determination there, but more important is the knowledge that the road to success is sometimes paved with 5,000+ failures. Dyson embraces the lessons people can learn from mistakes and has said that the "the freedom to fail" is lacking in public education. So in 2006 (a busy year for him), he announced his plan to build the Dyson School of Design Innovation. The goal of the school is to encourage teenagers to explore careers in engineering and design. Twenty-five hundred students will receive a free education with a heavy focus on hands-on projects and close relationships with mentors. The school, funded by the James Dyson Foundation and the British government, will also have weeklong residencies for younger children with interests in engineering.

Dyson's desire to educate also takes shape at his company, where every new employee, right up to the highest executives, tries their hand a building a vacuum on their first day.

9. His wife and kids aren't resting on his laurels

Mrs. Deirdre Dyson has her own rug design business, and a few of her rugs have shown up in the Big Brother house. The Dysons' daughter, Emily, used to work as a designer for Paul Smith. Like her father, she turned her frustration at a lack of appealing products into a business. She now owns Couverture, a boutique in London. Their son Jacob also took up the family trade and has a career in lighting design. The other Dyson son, Sam, is obviously the black sheep of the designing family; he plays guitar in a band called Wax On Wax Off.

10. He's pretty nifty with other things, too

After he turned the world of household appliances on its head, Dyson started tinkering with other things and grabbed headlines at the 2002 Chelsea Flower Show with the "Wrong Garden." Dyson built the water sculpture, which features four glass ramps positioned in a square, with the water seemingly flowing uphill and pouring off the top, after finding inspiration in an M.C. Escher drawing. Like Escher's work, it's a clever optical illusion; water is pumped in at the bottom of the glass structures and comes out of an opening at the top. At the opening, some of the water falls back down the surface of the ramp, while the rest falls over the edge like a waterfall. Compressed air pumped in along with the water causes bubbles to travel up the ramp towards the opening, creating the illusion of the water's upward movement.

His latest project is the Dyson Airblade, a super-efficient and enviro-friendly hand dryer. The dryer produces an air stream that flows out of a slit no thicker than an eyelash at 400 mph. In tests, the Airblade dried hands completely in just ten seconds and beat the energy efficiency of conventional dryers by 83%. Insert your own "this blows as hard as the vacuum sucks" joke here.

Matt Soniak is a mental_floss intern. You can read more about Matt on his own blog, Bat Country. He may have to venture into acting, if only to get his hands on one of those pretty yellow vacuums they give to Oscar nominees.

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entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
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IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

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Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
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If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

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