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A Canadian duo and their Kickstarter-funded, pedal-powered helicopter have won one of the longest-standing challenges in the history of aviation — keeping a human-powered aircraft hovering up in the air at height of at least 9.8 feet, within a 32.8 by 32.8-foot square, for 60 seconds minimum. The challenge, known as the Sikorsky prize, has withstood at numerous failed attempts since it was established in 1980, 33 years ago, even with a $250,000 bounty. But it was finally bested earlier in June by the Atlas, a gigantic human-powered helicopter designed by Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert, aeronautical engineers from the University of Toronto, who cofounded a company AeroVelo.

The pair funded the construction of their winning aircraft through a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, and just barely managed to beat a rival team from the University of Maryland, whose craft Gamera failed to stay within the square-foot range required by the prize, as Popular Mechanics reports.

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The 25th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is under way, and entries will be accepted for another six weeks, until June 30, 2013. First prize winner will receive a 10-day Galapagos expedition for two. National Geographic was once more kind enough to allow me to share some of the early entries with you here, gathered from four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. Photos and captions by the photographers. [42 photos]

A fennec fox walks against the wind in Morocco. The fennec, or desert fox, is a small nocturnal fox found in the Sahara Desert in North Africa. (© Francisco Mingorance/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)    

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Richard Lacayo

There’s a line from Henry David Thoreau that’s an old favorite of environmentalists: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Not many people have taken that idea so much to heart as the great Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, who spent much of the past nine years trekking to the last wild places on earth to take the pictures collected in his new photography book, Genesis (Taschen; 520 pages), a window into the primordial corners of creation.

The Genesis project grew out of two dilemmas in Salgado’s personal life. In the late 1990s, his father gave him and his wife Lélia the Brazilian cattle ranch where Salgado, now 69, spent his childhood. He remembers the place in those days as “a complete paradise, more than 50% of it covered with rain forest,” he told Time on the phone from his home in Paris. “We had incredible birds, jaguars, crocodiles.” But after decades of deforestation, the property had become an ecological disaster: “Not only my farm, the entire region. Erosion, no water—it was a dead land.”

By 1999, Salgado was also completing Migrations, a six-year photographic chronicle of the human flood tides set loose around the world by wars, famines or just people searching for work. The project took him to refugee camps and war zones and left him wrung out physically and emotionally. “I had seen so much brutality. I didn’t trust anymore in anything,” he says. “I didn’t trust in the survival of our species.”

So as a kind of dual restoration project—for himself and his Brazilian paradise lost—Salgado and his wife began reforesting his family property. There are now more than 2 million new trees there. Birds and other wildlife have returned in such numbers that the land has become a designated nature reserve. As his personal world regenerated, Salgado got an idea: For his next project, why not travel to unspoiled locales—places that double as environmental memory banks, holding recollections of earth’s primordial glories? His purpose, Salgado decided, “would not be to photograph what is destroyed but what is still pristine, to show what we must hold and protect.” He likes to quote a hopeful statistic: “45% of our planet is still what it was at the beginning.”

As part of the Genesis project, Salgado has made 32 trips since 2004, visiting the Kalahari Desert, the jungles of Indonesia and biodiversity hot spots such as the Galápagos Islands and Madagascar. He hovered in balloons over herds of water buffalo in Africa (“If you come in planes or helicopters you scatter them”). He traveled across Siberia with the nomadic Nenets, people who move their reindeer hundreds of miles each year to seasonal pasture. “I learned from them the concept of the essential,” he says. “If you give them something they can’t carry, they won’t accept it.”

Traveling to the Antarctic and nearby regions, Salgado found vast flocks of giant albatrosses off the Falkland Islands and “the paradise of the penguins” on the South Sandwich Islands. “Islands at the end of the world,” Salgado calls them. “Or as we say in Brazil, ‘where the wind goes to come back.’” And where Salgado went too and came back with glimpses of paradise in peril—but not lost, not yet.

Sebastião Salgado is a Brazilian documentary photographer living in Paris. He has produced several books, and his work has been exhibited extensively around the world. His latest work, Genesis, premieres at The Natural History Museum in London on April 11, on view through Sept. 8, 2013. The exhibition will have its North American premier at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from May 1 through Sept 2.

Richard Lacayo is an art critic and editor-at-large at TIME.

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Can We Expand Our Consciousness with Neuroprosthetics?: Malcolm MacIver at TEDxCaltech

Malcolm Maclver's formative years were as a grade four dropout living with his off-the-grid parents in a remote part of northern Ontario, Canada. He's since overcompensated by getting training in a host of disciplines including computer science, philosophy, neuroscience, and engineering, and is now a professor of engineering and neurobiology at Northwestern University. He works on the relationship between how animals move and how they sense their environment. He also develops technology based on exotic movement and sensing capabilities of animals. He pioneered the development of a new sensor inspired by the ability of certain fish to sense using a self-generated electric field. This new technology holds great promise for enabling work around oil spills or in submerged vessels where ordinary vision is useless. He has served as science advisor for several sci-fi TV series and movies, blogs about science for Discover magazine, and develops science-inspired interactive art installations that have exhibited internationally. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are <b>...</b>
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Today NPR is streaming the new Youth Lagoon album and tomorrow he does on tour, just going to keep it short, what a great record, enjoy.

TRACKLIST
Through Mind and Back
Mute
Attic Doctor
The Bath
Pelican Man
Dropla
Sleep Paralysis
Third Dystopia
Raspberry Cane
Daisyphobia

TOUR DATES
02-26 Missoula, MT – Badlander
02-27 Bozeman, MT – Filling Station
02-28 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
03-01 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
03-06 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
03-13-16 Austin, TX – SXSW
03-22 Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest
04-12 Indio, CA – Coachella
04-19 Indio, CA – Coachella
04-21 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
04-22 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
04-24 Austin, TX – Mohawk
04-25 Dallas, TX – The Loft
04-26 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
04-27 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
04-28 Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree
04-30 Orlando, FL – The Social
05-01 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
05-02 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
05-03 Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
05-04 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
05-07 Northampton, MA – Pearl St.
05-10 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
05-11 Columbia, MD – Sweet Life Festival
05-13 Toronto, Ontario – Great Hall
05-14 Columbus, OH – A&R Bar
05-15 Chicago, IL – Metro
05-16 Madison, WI – Majestic Theater
05-17 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line
05-22 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
05-23 Vancouver, British Columbia – Venue
05-24 Gorge, WA – Sasquatch! Fest
06-05 Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center *
* with the National

Youth Lagoon’s second album, Wondrous Bughouse, is one of the most arresting headphone records you’ll hear this year. Trevor Powers, the band’s sole member, layers strange but alluring synth textures under quirky melodies and simple pop beats, in the process creating an expansive and endlessly engrossing world of sonic curiosities.

As with Youth Lagoon’s 2011 debut, The Year of Hibernation, the songs on Wondrous Bughouse are moody but not melancholy. Thematically, Powers finds himself in an existential spiral, as he asks grand questions about mortality, the spiritual world and his own mental state — which he describes as “hyperactive.” Weighty subjects ripe for pensive introspection, sure, but the music is uplifting, if a bit dysphoric, like an awkward hug for all that is light and beautiful.

Powers, who says he controls his busy mind with music, offers no illuminating epiphanies or profound discoveries on Wondrous Bughouse, out March 5; he says he hasn’t had any. But the songs allow him to assume the identity of Youth Lagoon and sort through all the emotional and mental baggage he, like so many, carries with him everywhere. The album opens a window into our odd little world, with the understanding that life is a baffling mystery, but also a wonderful ride.

via NPR

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Cable cars, algae bio-fuel cells, and urban agriculture are sandwiched into just a small slice of Arup's future skyscraper.

Rob Hunt/Arup

The urban buildings of the near-future will be tall, smart, adaptable, responsive, honest, modular, recyclable, clean, and deeply embedded into the systems of their host cities, if an imaginative vision from Arup's Foresight team is anything to judge by. In its evocatively titled It's Alive, Arup (the firm responsible for the structural design of the iconic Sydney Opera House) asks if we can imagine the urban building of the future while simultaneously presenting its take on the matter. The report contains plenty of ideas, albeit briefly stated, so I thought it would be fun to identify some of today's science and technology that has made it into Arup's skyscraper of tomorrow and discuss whether Arup's vision is more grounded in fact or fiction.


Arup's urban building of 2050 Rob Hunt/Arup

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Arup's future-scraper is the product of its time; a time 37 years from now that will suck and be awesome in approximately equal measures. Why suck? Because 37 years will see us through to the year 2050, and Arup shares (or perhaps borrows) the OECD's troubling forecast of a warming, overpopulated Earth hungry for, yet deficient in, essential resources. According to this narrative, there will be 9 billion people, with 6.3 billion living in towns and cities.

The good news is that we'll still have iPhones—or their future-proxies, at least. Arup describes the denizens of our future cities as "net-native adults" who have grown up with smart cities, smart clothes, and smart objects. The Internet of Things will be ubiquitous, Arup suggests; presumably to the point that it has been abbreviated simply to "things," the "Internet of" having been long since forgotten.

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Whenever I see old abandoned boats, the first thing I try to imagine is its launching as a new boat. I always wonder how or why a boat that  just might have many stories to tell would just be left to rot. Still there is a certain beauty to weathered wooden boats long forgotten by their owners. Someday, sooner rather than later, somebody will build houses or a strip mall on this now vacant lot on the Outer Banks. I can just see this boat heading out for a day’s catch. Waves crashing over the bow. And men in yellow slickers, their eyes cast towards the open sea.

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Love at Work: Brady Wilson & Rick Boersma at TEDxGuelphU 2012

Brady Wilson is an author and expert on how conversation affects organizational energy to create dynamic results. Since 1993, Brady has trained and coached executives and managers in Fortune 500 companies across North America. His expertise is communication, specifically enabling leaders to unlock discretionary effort by engaging their people through face-to- face conversation. Juice Inc. In 1999, Brady launched his own business, Juice Inc. Juice's mission is to enrich peoples' lives by co-creating environments where it feels good to work and it's easier to get results. Brady is a high-energy, intensely pragmatic presenter, trainer and coach who elicits conviction, trust and credibility, giving people the courage, desire and skills to act on change. Brady's has the intrinsic ability to deeply understand and draw out strong levels of engagement from his participants. He makes the complex simple and creates experiences that move concepts from the head, to the heart to the hands. This quality has also led to the research and development of several innovative communication tools, including Pull ConversationTM, The 5 Drivers of Employee EngagementTM and The Juice CheckTM. Originally from Manitoulin Island, Brady and his wife Theresa now reside in Guelph, Ontario with an almost-empty nest.
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