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Design a Scarf With Your DNA

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All humans have 99.9 percent of their DNA in common with each other, but that doesn't mean we don't have unique traits and appearances. That mysterious portion of a percent is part of what makes each person easily distinguishable from the people around them. While .1 percent seems like a pretty measly amount, consider that humans share 50 percent of their DNA with bananas, and about 84 percent of their DNA with dogs. When your DNA is only about 16 percent different from something that eats out of the garbage, .1 percent suddenly seems like a lot.

Dot One wants to take advantage of that sliver of unique information and turn it into an interesting visualization. The London company takes customer DNA and illustrates it as a blocky design on posters, family trees, scarves, and tartan. 

English designer Iona Inglesby created this company as a celebration of what makes people unique. With a simple cheek swab, costumers can submit their DNA to be represented on Dot One's products. The company uses a genetic testing facility called AlphaBiolabs for their profiling. Once the sample is submitted, lab techs can scan for stretches of genetic code known as Short Tandem Repeats (STRs). STRs vary in a unique way from person to person and are often studied for forensic cases or paternity tests. 

AlphaBiolabs uses 23 STRs from each genetic sequence to create a unique fingerprint that they claim is completely different from anyone else on Earth. They then turn that information over to Dot One, who matches each STR with a numerical value, based on its molecular characteristics. Each number is matched with a color and the pattern is created. In this way, the company manages to turn cold numbers into something much prettier. The resulting scarves are colorful and personal, making an excellent fashion statement for the colder weather. 

[h/t: WIRED]

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