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13 Cool and Crazy Variations on the Bicycle

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Bicycles are a great way to get around, but for some people, the standard design could use a little improvement. To celebrate the end of National Bike Month, here's a look at some of the coolest and craziest bicycle variations you might see on the road one day.

1. Taga

While there have been a number of devices that allow you to strap your baby in while you go on a bike ride, the Taga might be the first one that actually turns into a stroller so when you’re done pedaling, you can still push your little one around with you. For those who live to ride, you can even buy a rain cover so your little one stays dry no matter what the weather.

2. ElliptiGO

Do you love your elliptical, but get frustrated by the fact that all that movement doesn’t take you anywhere? Well then, the ElliptiGO may be just the thing you need to get moving for real. This bike has ditched the pedals and instead implemented a set of elliptical steps to make sure you get the full benefit of jogging on a bicycle.

3. Treadmill Bike

For those that prefer the treadmill over the elliptical, the Treadmill Bike lets you take your gym equipment out on the road, using your walking or running power to push the wheels and make you move. It might not be the most efficient  or coolest mode of transportation, but at least you’ll be shedding plenty of calories.

4. Couchbike

Surprisingly, this development in couch potato behavior was brought to you by the same people behind the Treadmill Bike. Personally, I prefer the Couchbike, if only for the undeniable style it bestows upon its riders.

5. Camper Bike

There are plenty of campers that come equipped with bike racks, but a true cyclist wouldn’t want to bother with the car in the first place. Enter the Camper Bike by artist Kevin Cyr. Finally, you can take your trailer with you wherever you happen to bike. You still might want to install a bike rack if you intend to do any mountain biking, though, as I doubt the camper can handle all those sharp turns and dips very well.

6. Renovatia

Jens Eichler’s Renovatia is one cycle that might just be too beautiful to ride. After all, if the riders on this wooden-cycle-built-for-two happen to fall, the beautiful finish might be worn off. Worse still, the bike itself could always break if the accident were severe enough, and with something this stunning, that would be a devastating loss.

7. Cartrider

There are plenty of bikes that have been welded and tweaked to incorporate shopping carts into them. Of course the problem with most of those bikes is that, because they aren’t shopping carts, you can’t actually take them into the store. Instead you have to use a cart in the market, then go outside and transfer your groceries into your bike/cart. Jaebeom Jeong’s Cartrider eliminates this problem by serving more as a cart than a bike. The problem? Well, aside from looking like a goon, once you put your groceries in the bike, you can’t ride it any more.

8. SeeSaw Bike

You’d better not be trying to go anywhere fast if you happen to take a ride on the SeeSaw Bike. That’s because, as the name implies and the picture shows, the bike really is a seesaw ride and only one person will be able to pedal the bike somewhere at a time…and when the seesaw tips over to your partner, they’ll likely undo any progress you’ve already made. Given that you share the one set of handlebars, the steering is an even bigger problem, so just try not to turn anywhere, okay?

9. Innesenti

Admittedly, this is one weird looking bike. In fact, it kind of resembles a backwards tricycle. But don’t let its looks fool you: this is one serious exercise device. It takes its design cues from Formula 1 and Indy Cars, providing it with both incredible speed and shock resistance for those bumpy roads ahead. Best of all, the individualized seat design for each customer ensures that it will also be one of the most comfortable bikes you’ve ever been on. As for the price tag, well, this cycle is strictly for the wealthy –even the cheapest version comes out to around $11,000.

10. Schlooooong Bike

You’ve heard of Schwinn, but for those that can’t get enough limousine, Rat Patrol Oz’s Schlooooong Bike is the ultimate name in stretched bikes. Sure, you probably won’t get far on this completely impractical masterpiece, but you’ll sure look classy when you fall down over and over again.

11. Skeleton Bike

If you’re a Halloween fanatic or a mad-scientist-in-training, you’re certain to love Eric Tryon’s delightful Skeleton Bike, complete with handlebars coming right out of the skull. Of course, if you’re a true mad scientist, then your first thought would be, “how could I get the skeleton to do the pedaling?” Good question, you crazy genius. By the way, you can make this bike your own for only $1,000.

12. Forkless Cruiser

Here’s a bike that’s certain to get the attention of those around you, if only because they think your bicycle is irreparably broken. That’s because Olli Erkkila’s Forkless Cruiser is missing one of the most visually notable pieces of the standard bicycle. Of course, because this bike was designed as an art piece, it’s doubtful that it is actually functional, since it appears the cycle lacks a way to turn the front wheel.

13. Conference Bike

Yes, the Conference Bike seems like a bad joke about what happens when a bicycle is designed by committee, but the bike, originally designed by artist Eric Staller, is actually a lot more functional than it seems. With one person steering and up to seven people pedaling, the bike can actually travel at a pretty decent speed, which is why Google now uses the device to give tours of its campus to new workers. It’s also being used as a safe and fun way to allow the blind to bicycle around town, as it requires only one person with good vision to navigate the cycle. Of course, as its name implies, its most popular function so far has been as a team-building exercise. Still, this monstrosity really is a lot more useful than it might seem at first glance.
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Know of any other fun, goofy or cool bike mods? Tell us about them!

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Courtesy of Nikon
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science
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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Art
‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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