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18 Beautiful and Unusual Playing Cards

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Cards are a fun way to pass the time, and there are so many decks available—featuring everything from lumberjacks to characters from Ghostbusters—that you'll never think about getting a boring set from a drug store ever again. Here are some cards so beautiful, you might not even want to use them.

1. RAINBOW CARDS; $13

These colorful cards come from the Brooklyn-based design duo Fredericks & Mae. When spread out, the cards create a vibrant rainbow. They come in a foil-stamped box and are accompanied by a booklet with some game recommendations.

Find it: Amazon

2. PEAKS; $15

Peak Playing Cards each come with an illustration of one of Colorado's 53 14ers (mountains that are at least 14,000 feet above sea level). Each card features a different mountain along with its name and elevation. You can decide between Day and Night decks that show different illustrations on the back. All the backs are the same so no one can figure out what cards you’re holding.

Find it: Art of Play

3. GLITCH; $15

These seemingly defective cards are created by San Francisco-based designer Soleil Zumbrunn. The result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, you can now purchase a deck for yourself online.

Find it: Amazon

4. BROSMIND; $4

Barcelona-based design studio Brosmind created 54 delightful illustrations for this whimsical pack of cards. Each illustration is better than the last, with images like spades riding dogs and doughnuts running around.

Find it: Amazon

5. GHOSTBUSTERS; $10

These officially licensed cards by Albino Dragon have completely original illustrations. Each card has a different character from the classic ‘80s comedy, including Slimer, Peter Venkman, and Winston Zeddemore.

Find it: Amazon

6. AND 7. CATS AND DOGS; $8 AND $4

Remember lenticular pictures? Now you can get them in playing card form. On one set, there are 52 different felines—and two dog jokers. If you’re more of a dog person, they have some of those too. Just try not to get too distracted moving the cards back and forth.

Find it: Cats, Dogs

8. SOLITAIRE; $14

Enjoy this throwback deck, which features the original artwork for the Windows 3.0 Solitaire game. Designer Susan Kare even designed joker cards just for the deck. The retro cards are the perfect thing to play with in your family’s computer room.

Find it: Amazon

9. MINIMALIST; $10

Designer Joe Doucet aimed to make these cards are simple as possible. Instead of illustrations of the suits, Doucet marked each card with the number and a small icon for the suit. The backs feature a single slash. The cards come in either black or white.

Find it: Areaware, Amazon

10. CMYK; $13

The cards do away with suits in favor of the colors in the CMYK model: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The cards in each color suit are different opacities, which creates a gradient when they're laid out.

Find it: Hundred Million

11. TIM BURTON; $5

This spooky deck of cards comes from the creative mind of Tim Burton. The face cards come with illustrations of characters from Burton’s book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories.

Find it: Amazon

12. BACON; $8

Breakfast time is now card playing time. These bacon-themed cards are the perfect thing for the hungry poker players in your life. The face cards feature some royal piggies while the number cards are shown as strips of bacon.

Find it: Amazon

13. FIREFLY; $9

Fans that are still a little sore about the untimely end of Firefly might take some comfort in these officially licensed cards. Artist Ben Mund created illustrations of objects and characters from the show for the cards, which come pre-weathered.

Find it: Amazon

14. ANIMAL KINGDOM; $10

This deck is called "Animal Kingdom" for a reason—the face cards sport some pretty regal looking animals. These cards are also conservation-minded: They're printed on paper from sustainable forests, and for each deck purchased, a dollar will be given to the World Wildlife Fund.

Find it: Amazon

15. PIXELS; $10

These unusual cards are illustrated with pixels that are separated by a transparent grid. You can see through your cards, but your opponents can't see what you’re holding.

Find it: Amazon

16. JANE AUSTEN; $13

Relive all your favorite Austen novels with these playing cards, which feature quotes from the book as well as characters illustrated by Hugh Thomson and Chris Hammond.

Find it: Amazon

17. MADE BY CHILDREN; $12

These adorable playing cards were illustrated by children in Korea. Now you can play with smiling hearts, dinosaurs, and squishy looking spades. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds benefit children in developing countries.

Find it: Art of Play

18. LUMBERJACK; $12

Instead of crowns, deck your face cards in plaid. These lumberjack-inspired playing cards are sure to be a hit with your woodsier friends. Made by Bicycle, the fun cards feature trees, saws, and other lumberjack fixings.

Find it: Art of Play

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
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science
Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

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