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This Edible Water Blob Could Change Hydration Forever

It can be tough to get your recommended daily intake of water, but one innovation is making it easier than ever to keep a bottle, or blob, of H2O on hand. Ooho!—an inexpensive, biodegradable "water bottle" that’s paving the way for the future of hydration—first came to the public's attention in 2013.

Created by Rodrigo García González, Guillaume Couche, and Pierre Paslier of Skipping Rocks Lab in London, the orb (which Fast Company once described as looking like a silicone implant) is created by taking a frozen ball of water, then covering it in layers of membrane made from seaweed extract. The process is a riff on a culinary technique called spherification, which is appropriate given that the gelatinous coating is edible.

Back in 2015, Ooho! received a $22,500 sustainability award from the EU, and now it looks like these water blobs could be ready for tossing into your bag on the way out the door in the near future. Designboom reports that the company will begin testing out their water bubbles at major sporting events in 2018.

Ooho! does have serious potential when it comes to environmental efforts: In America alone, 50 billion plastic bottles are used annually, and the spherical Ooho! packaging could one day bump petroleum-based plastic from store shelves. But if the idea of biting into a water blob weirds you out, don’t worry, it’s not a must.

"At the end of the day you don’t have to eat it," Paslier told The Guardian. "But the edible part shows how natural it is. People are really enthusiastic about the fact that you can create a material for packaging matter that is so harmless that you can eat it."

So natural in fact, that you can even make them yourself at home—though, to be honest, the tap might be easier in that case.

To see what it’s like to hydrate with Ooho!, check out the video below.

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2015.

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Design
Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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iStock

In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animal that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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