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This Musical Instrument App Responds to Different Levels of Touch

There’s no shortage of apps that transform your smartphone into a musical instrument, but it’s easy to feel disconnected from the experience when you're playing through a glass screen. With Apple’s new 3D Touch feature, however, music composed with a iPhone can sound—and feel—more sophisticated than ever before.

The new iPhone app Noise comes from the music company Roli, whose previous credits include a line of squishy keyboards with pressure-sensitive keys. The keys on Noise’s digital keyboard have the same soft definition, which highlights their touch sensitivity. Noise includes 25 preset instruments like “Breath Flute” and “Dirt Organ.” Every aspect of the sound quality from reverb to fuzziness can be customized, and looping synths can be sped up or slowed down as they play in the background.

The most impressive feature of the new app is its “five dimensions of touch” that allow it to respond to much more than just a tap on a screen. The categories are strike (how hard you hit a key), pressure (how hard you press it), glide (moving your finger side-to-side), slide (moving it up and down), and lift (how fast you remove your finger). Strike, pressure, and lift were especially made to take advantage of the 3D Touch feature of the iPhone 6S—but even if you have an older iPhone you can still use the other two dimensions of the app with iOS 9 or later. 

For serious musicians, Noise can wirelessly connect to a variety of digital instruments and sound systems. And while there is an option to buy additional instrument sounds, the app itself is free

[h/t: Verge]

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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