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"Baltass," the Ultimate Cups-and-Balls Illusion

YouTube
YouTube

Yann Frisch is a French sleight-of-hand artist best known for a routine called Baltass (a portmanteaux of the French words for "ball" and "cup," balle and tasse), in which he elevates the old cups-and-balls trick into a serious art form. This is true performance art -- aside from the astonishing dexterity required to perform this routine, it evokes surprise, laughter, and even empathy for the frustrated conjurer. In the routine, Frisch's character seems simultaneously dejected that he can't rid himself of the balls, but also curious to see where they keep coming from. It's funny, weird, and very French.

If you enjoy magic, art, or just having your mind blown, watch this performance of Baltass from the 2012 Beijing International Magic Convention:

For more context on the cups-and-balls routine, enjoy this six-minute history lesson/sleight-of-hand demo from Ricky Jay:

If that's still not enough, enjoy Frisch experimenting with a poker chip.

(Via The Kid Should See This.)

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Food
Why You Never See Fresh Olives at the Grocery Store
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iStock

If given a choice, most grocery shoppers prefer fresh produce over something that's been pumped full of preservatives. Yet shoppers are almost never given that choice when it comes to olives. The small, meaty fruits can be found floating in brines, packed in cans, and stuffed with pimentos, but they're hardly ever shipped to the store straight off the tree. As the video series Reactions explains, there's a good reason for that.

In their natural state, because they contain high concentrations of a bitter-tasting compound called oleuropein, fresh olives are practically inedible. To make the food palatable, olive producers have to get rid of these nasty-tasting chemicals, either by soaking them in water, fermenting them in salt brine, or treating them with sodium hydroxide.

Because of its speed, food manufacturers prefer the sodium hydroxide method. Commonly known as lye, sodium hydroxide accelerates the chemical breakdown of oleuropein into compounds that have a less aggressive taste. While other processes can take several weeks to work, sodium hydroxide only takes one week.

Afterward, the olives are washed to remove the caustic lye, then packed with water and salt to extend their shelf life, giving them their distinct briny flavor.

For more on the chemistry of olives, check out the full video from Reactions below.

[h/t Reactions]

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Space
Take an Ultra-Detailed Tour of the Moon With This NASA Video
NASA, YouTube
NASA, YouTube

A new video will give you a tour of the Moon as you've never seen it, courtesy of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The 4K-resolution visualization posted by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, spotted over at CBS, was created using image data collected by the spacecraft since it began orbiting the Moon in 2009.

NASA narrates a guided tour that explores features like the Moon's South Pole, the famous Tycho Crater, the Aristarchus Plateau, and the Apollo 17 landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley.

The high resolution of the imagery allows you to clearly see things like the mysterious 328-foot-wide boulder on top of Tycho Crater's central peak and the Apollo 17 lunar lander and rover that still sit on the surface of the Moon.

The video explains the importance of the sites pictured and what the LRO data can tell us about the Moon's structure and characteristics, like how studying shadows on the Moon's North Pole can help us scope out sites for future solar power generators. Gravity measurements from the Orientale Basin may reveal the structure of the lunar crust there, and temperature readings and reflectance could alert us to potential water ice at the South Pole.

Take your own personal tour of the Moon in the video below.

[h/t CBS]

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