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Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Balloons Are Made

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Balloons are such a ubiquitous fixture at celebrations, they go largely unnoticed as a pretty impressive feat of ingenuity.

At one time, these harbingers of merriment were made of dried animal bladders and intestines. The first rubber balloons were created in 1824 by scientist Michael Faraday for laboratory use. By the 1930s, balloons were being mass produced and even twisted into animals, and their popularity only increased from there. While it’s hard to come by exact sales figures, it’s estimated that annually, 45 to 50 million balloons are sold in California alone. Manufacturers are able to keep up with this demand thanks to a highly efficient and totally hypnotic production process.

How It's Made has an inside look at what goes in to making a balloon. It starts with pouring dye into a tank of latex, where it’s mixed around for up to 16 hours to saturate the color. Racks of balloon forms are dipped into a tank of coagulate, whose electrochemical charge attracts the colored latex. After the forms are dipped in the latex, a set of spiraling brushes roll up the ends to created the lips for easy handling and blowing. They're then purified in a hot water bath, given a talcum powder and water bath for easy removal, and shot with a bit of air to lift them off the form and on to a conveyer belt. After a turn in the washing machine, they’re taken to their limits in an inflation test.


Romantic, isn't it? (Screenshot)

See the full process in the video below, and prepare to feel the urge to throw a massive party. 

[h/t The Kids Should See This]

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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The North Face
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Design
The North Face's New Geodesic Dome Tent Will Protect You in 60 mph Wind
The North Face
The North Face

You can find camping tents designed for easy set-up, large crowds, and sustainability, but when it comes to strength, there’s only so much abuse a foldable structure can take. Now, The North Face is pushing the limits of tent durability with a reimagined design. According to inhabitat, the Geodome 4 relies on its distinctive geodesic shape to survive wind gusts approaching hurricane strength.

Instead of the classic arching tent structure, the Geodome balloons outward like a globe. It owes its unique design to the five main poles and one equator pole that hold it in place. Packed up, the gear weighs just over 24 pounds, making it a practical option for car campers and four-season adventurers. When it’s erected, campers have floor space measuring roughly 7 feet by 7.5 feet, enough to sleep four people, and 6 feet and 9 inches of space from ground to ceiling if they want to stand. Hooks attached to the top create a system for gear storage.

While it works in mild conditions, the tent should really appeal to campers who like to trek through harsher weather. Geodesic domes are formed from interlocking triangles. A triangle’s fixed angles make it one of the strongest shapes in engineering, and when used in domes, triangles lend this strength to the overall structure. In the case of the tent, this means that the dome will maintain its form in winds reaching speeds of 60 mph. Meanwhile, the double-layered, water-resistant exterior keeps campers dry as they wait out the storm.

The Geodome 4 is set to sell for $1635 when it goes on sale in Japan this March. In the meantime, outdoorsy types in the U.S. will just have to wait until the innovative product expands to international markets.

[h/t inhabitat]

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