The Reason There's Over a Hundred Abandoned Giant Arrows Across the U.S.

Being an airmail pilot in the 1920s was a dangerous occupation—according to Half as Interesting, the average person in that profession died after just 900 hours of flying. One of the biggest dangers had to do with navigating at night; once darkness fell, pilots often had no idea where they were going. Aviation maps didn't exist yet, and this was decades before the days of GPS. For a while, pilots had to rely on giant bonfires next to landing strips. But eventually the U.S. government hit on a solution: thousands of giant glowing arrows, known as airway beacons, showing the way across the country. The arrows, accompanied by lighted towers and erected every 10-15 miles from New York to San Francisco, made airmail faster, cheaper—and most importantly, much safer for pilots.

By World War II, most of the arrows were scrapped as advances in radar and radio communications made them obsolete, but at least 121 still remain across the country. (CityLab notes that Montana still uses about 19 of them for pilots flying through the mountains.) And they haven't been entirely forgotten: The site Arrows Across America is devoted to photos and details of the remaining arrows.

You can learn more about how the arrows worked, and where they are now, in the Half as Interesting video below.

Interactive Version of a Classic Color Manual Used By Charles Darwin Is Now Available Online

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iStock

Scientists who study the natural world do more than tally numbers. Sometimes making an accurate scientific observation comes down to finding the perfect word to describe the shade of dried lavender flowers or the breast of a screech owl. In the 19th century, naturalists had Werner's Nomenclature of Colours to refer to—and now anyone looking to expand their color vocabulary can access the book's contents online, Fast Company reports.

Published in 1814, painter Patrick Syme designed the guide based on the work of geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner. It features 110 distinct hues, each with a name, number, and a list of the animals, plants, and/or minerals that feature it in nature. Prussian blue, for example, naturally occurs in blue copper ore, the stamina of bluish purple anemone, and the spot on a mallard drake's wing, while wine yellow can be found in the saxon topaz, white currants, and the body of a silk moth. The book was used as a handy reference guide by researchers recording observations the field, including Charles Darwin.

Now, using free scans of the book from the Internet Archive, designer Nicholas Rougeux has transformed it into an interactive digital experience. The original color swatches and descriptions are included, as well as some modern additions. Click on a color and the entry will expand to show photographs of the plants, animals, and minerals mentioned. Rougeux has also made posters based on the manual available on the website.

Werner's Nomenclature of Colours may have been the color bible of its time, but it still covers just a fraction of all the shades that have been named. After exploring the digital guide online, continue to grow your knowledge with this color thesaurus.

[h/t Fast Company]

Writing a Term Paper? This Font Is a Sneaky Way to Meet Your Page Count

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iStock

Stretching the margins, widening line spaces, making your periods slightly larger than the rest of the text—these tricks should sound familiar to any past or current students who've ever struggled to meet the page requirements of a writing assignment. As more professors get wise to these shortcuts, students are forced to get even sneakier when stretching their essays—and the digital agency MSCHF is here to help them.

As Fast Company reports, MSCHF has released an updated version of Times New Roman, the only difference from the standard font being that theirs takes up more space per character. When developing Times Newer Roman, the designers manipulated one character at a time, stretching them just enough to make a difference in the final page count without making the changes look noticeable. The result is a typeface that covers about 5 to 10 percent more line space than Times New Roman text of the same size, saving writers nearly 1000 words in a 15-page, single-spaced paper in 12-point type.

Getting the look right wasn't the only challenge MSCHF faced when designing the font. Times New Roman is a licensed property, so Times Newer Roman is technically a twist on Nimbus Roman No.9 L (1)—an open-source font that's meant to look indistinguishable from Times New Roman.

If you'd like to test out the font for yourself (for curiosity's sake, of course; definitely not to use on your term paper), you can download Times Newer Roman for free.

[h/t Fast Company]

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