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Living Bio-Concrete Can Heal Itself

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Concrete is the world’s most common building material, and a particularly long-lasting one. Concrete structures from the Roman Empire still stand today. But it’s not indestructible, and when this cement mixture cracks under pressure, it’s both dangerous and expensive to fix. Cracks in concrete allow in salt and water that can corrode the steel reinforcements inside. No one wants a bridge, high-rise, or dam to suddenly break apart.  

To make it easier to repair structures that are hard to access—in extreme environments, supertall skyscrapers, or underground—engineers are determined to create a concrete that can fix its own fissures through naturally occurring reactions.

One self-healing concrete prototype starts to work when exposed to sunlight. Another, developed by researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, uses bacteria to mend its own cracks—no sun required. 

Bacillus bacteria are added to the concrete—a blend of cement, sand and water—during the mixing phase. The bacteria feed on capsules of calcium lactate that are water soluble. When moisture enters the concrete through a new crack, it opens up the capsules, allowing the bacteria to feed, germinate, and multiply, and in the process form limestone that fills the cracks. If the concrete remains whole and sealed, no water can get in, and the bacteria remain inactive. Since bio-concrete only needs moisture to work, it's well-suited to heal underground structures in dams, basements, and more. 

Bio-concrete might be particularly useful in China, which used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. did in the whole 20th century

[h/t: reddit]

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Ikea
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How IKEA Turned the Poäng Chair Into a Classic
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Ikea

IKEA's Poäng chair looks as modern today as it did when it debuted in 1976. The U-shaped lounger has clean lines and a simple structure, and often evokes comparisons to Finnish designer Aalto’s famous “armchair 406.” Its design, however, is ultimately a true fusion of East and West, according to Co.Design.

In 2016, the Poäng celebrated its 40th birthday, and IKEA USA commemorated the occasion (and the 30 million-plus Poäng chairs they’ve sold over the years) by releasing two short videos about the armchair’s history and underlying design philosophy. Together, they tell the story of a fateful collaboration between Lars Engman, a young IKEA designer, and his co-worker, Noboru Nakamura.

Nakamura had initially come to IKEA to learn more about Scandinavian furniture. But the Japanese designer ended up imbuing the Poäng—which was initially called Poem—with his own distinct philosophy. He wanted to create a chair that swung “in an elegant way, which triggered me to imagine Poäng,” Nakamura recalled in a video interview. “That’s how I came up with a rocking chair.”

“A chair shouldn’t be a tool that binds and holds the sitter,” Nakamura explained. “It should rather be a tool that provides us with an emotional richness and creates an image where we let go of stress or frustration by swinging. Such movement in itself has meaning and value.”

Save for upholstery swaps, a 1992 name change, and a new-ish all-wooden frame that's easily flat-packed, the modern-day Poäng is still essentially the same product that customers have purchased and enjoyed for decades. Devotees of the chair can hear the full story by watching IKEA’s videos below—ideally, while swinging away at their desks.

[h/t Co. Design]

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Pop Chart Lab
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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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