Astronomy Picture of the Day
Guys, outer space is so awesome. Unfortunately, I don’t live there, so I have to feed my space addiction by going to this stellar (ha, ha, get it?) NASA site and ogling the cosmos. Each day on APOD, NASA posts a picture of the universe accompanied by an explanation of what we’re looking at from an astronomer. My favorites are always the galaxies (especially M83, which served as inspiration for the French electronic group!). Also, one time in middle school my friend and I became weirdly obsessed with Jupiter’s beautiful, ice-covered moon Europa, which might support life forms. Oooh!!! With APOD you get everything from fireballs to this eerily perfect photo of a rainbow illuminated by the moon. The APOD archives go all the way back to 1995, so there are plenty of mesmerizing and cool pictures of the universe to explore. —Hazel
To be quite honest, I am just counting down the days until the robo-pocalypse. Yes, the dark day when the robots finally rise up against us fleshy overlords. I’ve resigned myself to this inevitability. Every day I try to make friends with the toaster, hoping it’ll put in a good word for me when the time comes. (So far it’s been unresponsive, but I haven’t burned toast in months, so I think we’re on the same page.) But to make absolutely sure I’m the first person who knows about the impending war, I check robots.net daily. The blog constantly updates itself with the latest in robotics news, so there’s no better place to get the hook-up (ROBOTS I AM VERY FUNNY I CAN TEACH YOU TO LAUGH). They showed me some cool stuff within just the last week, like a robot that runs on human excrement. Meaning poop. —Shelby
Dreams of Space
Please ignore the ugly web design and appreciate the content: images from nonfiction children’s books about space flight from 1945 to 1975, 30 years when both space exploration and kids’ education were a huge deal, meticulously scanned and arranged into categories by the science librarian John Sisson. Some of the illustrations are so detailed you could build a functional spaceship based on them. Even if vintage illustrations don’t melt your heart as they do mine, or if you’re simply not a retro-nerd type, the website is an interesting portrait of an era of childlike admiration of the universe and naïve faith in the power of technology. —Emma D.
The Prelinger Archives
This online collection holds more than 2,000 “ephemeral” (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films from 20th century America. The best thing about it is that all these films are in the public domain, and completely FREE to use. Grab some video and chop it up, project it, rearrange it if you want, they don’t care! The same goes for the related image archive, but I find the video collection to be extra special. You will get lost in a historical K-hole, but it’s better than spending a whole night on YouTube, because this is educational! My favorite things to look up are ancient anti-drug ads, nature videos, and old footage of cities I’ve lived in. One time I watched this 90-minute “documentary” of the youth gangs of San Francisco in the early ’60s. The dudes were really fly, and I got lost watching them dance at the soda fountain. You never really know what you’ll come across when you’re browsing the Prelinger, you are guaranteed to eventually find something funny or fascinating, and sometimes very beautiful. —Dylan
I love crafting. Knitting, crocheting, cooking, drawing, sculpting—making something out of nothing is the closest we get to playing God, and I LOVE IT. Unfortunately, I am miserably pathetic at crafting. The Heavenly Father would take one look at my English stitch and and shake his head. He would want me to know he loves me no matter what— but hey, maybe I’d like to try my hand at something else? But thanks to Scarlett, a 16-year-old girl in London who possesses a divine talent for all things crafty, no one will ever know I once used a crochet hook to pick my nose. Until now, I guess. My favorite things she’s done: knitted bow ties and cupcakes in a jar. —Shelby
Coast to Coast AM
Whenever I meet someone who listens to this late-night radio show, I get all soulmate tingly because that usually means their interests include UFOs, cryptozoology, the occult and other paranormal phenomena…aka all of my favorite things! On the Coast to Coast website you can listen to previous shows, where guests discuss topics such as time travel and synchronicity, or see photos of ghostly figures caught on film! It’s definitely a place for those who are curious about the strange and supernatural like myself, but be warned, you can easily fall into a C2C K-hole looking up all of these things! —Marie
I understand that National Geographic magazine is not a new thing. I also understand that photography and the internet are pretty old hat. But what I don’t understand is why everyone isn’t spending hours a day looking at pictures on the National Geographic website. They have SPACE! They have OCEAN! They have LIONS! It frankly boggles the mind that every person in the world doesn’t have this remarkable inter-place bookmarked. —Shelby
Those familiar with Vincent Pacheco’s works for the WAFA collective won’t be surprised that his new project is a piece of well-designed visual pleasure. But what distinguishes Earth from the mass of aesthetically pleasing art publications on the internet is its emphasis on responsible creation, and its poetic approach to the subjects of nature, science, magic, ecology, and the mysteries of the universe. Each issue is available for totally free as a PDF or a print magazine. —Emma D.
Arthur magazine (2002-2011), now sadly defunct but accessible through its online archive, often guided me through late-night, homework-procrastinating internet explorations when I was a young teenager preoccupied with astrology, psychedelia, and other mystical matters. I discovered a lot of essential music through this resource, and it served as a starting point for many of my crazy binge-research expeditions on subcultures and weird phenomena. Perhaps my favorite feature is their archive of Diggers papers. The Diggers were a street-theater group in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury during the late ’60s, and were basically the central force of good and beautiful things in the area during that time. They distributed these broadsides, which are available to read/see here, for free. My senior quote came from Diggers paper no. 10, and went: “GOOD MORNING GENTLE LOVING DEEP FRIENDS we are NOW the god module of the SUPER FREAK OUT TIME IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND IT IS RIGHT NOW AND IT IS NOW AND NOW AND NOW.” Anyway, Arthur Mag is full of weird, wonderful, and beautiful content, and I’m happy it still lives on for fellow strange-seeking teenage girls to explore. —Dylan
Althought I spent most of my childhood watching Star Trek reruns and imagining what I’d be like as a Jedi (strong, cool, purple lightsaber), the Final Frontier never ceases to scare the bejesus out of me (I’m filled with tiny Jesuses). All that open space out there just…being there. All the time. So vast and empty. It has no right! You hear me, space!? But within that giant inky forever-ness is some really, really gorgeous stuff. And thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope I get to look at it for hours every day. —Shelby
Radiolab is a podcast unlike any other podcast out there. It’s a podcast that’s reinventing what podcasts can be, based on a radio show that’s reinventing what radio can be. It’s a show that’s out for fun—just two guys telling each other stories while the sound and music for the stories kind of floats up around them. OK, this description is not doing justice to how fast-paced, lush, and intricate it sounds. One of the guys—Jad—is a composer, and he writes the music and does the gorgeous mixes. Typical stories on Radiolab are not typical of anything you’ve ever heard, and they’re all true: two girls from different towns meet in the most random possible way (a balloon drops from the sky) and turn out to be complete duplicates of each other, a guy with terrible allergies learns that people with parasites inside them somehow rarely have allergies and so—this is no joke—he flies to Africa and walks barefoot around pits filled with human shit until he gets infected with hookworms (yes they enter through the soles of his feet) which CURE HIS ALLERGY, a girl goes into a coma and there’s nothing else I can say about this one without spoilers except it may be the very best radio story I’ve ever heard, and her boyfriend deserves a good-boyfriend medal. (Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know, it’s serious.) One of my favorite episodes is about the moment of death and what comes after, and includes these fictional storylets (mini-stories?) read by the morosely deadpan actor Jeffrey Tambor (from The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development). One story begins: “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is the moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time. So you wait in this lobby until the third death. There are long tables with coffee, tea, and cookies; you can help yourself. There are people here from all over the world, and with a little effort you can strike up convivial small talk.” And then we go to that lobby and hang out. And it’s not corny at all, it’s actually totally amazing. Radiolab. Radiolab! Radiolab!!! —Ira Glass
I love science and philosophy, but I am literally too stupid to understand them, and my attention span is so short that I need hard stuff to be served to me with a LOT of sugar. Comedy is my candy, and so the podcast Professor Blastoff is a perfectly balanced meal of smarts and silliness. It’s like Radiolab for restless people who like to laugh. Tig Notaro (one of the funniest human beings on the planet) and two of her also-hilarious comedian friends (Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger) hang out and talk about big ideas like time travel, global sustainability, creativity, sexual attraction, and love with all sorts of special guests, but no amount of explaining is really going to get across what’s great about this show, which is, like, you know when you’re hanging around your funniest friends and you guys just riff off one another for an hour and you can’t stop laughing? This is like that, but the friends are PROFESSIONAL-GRADE funny, and also: SCIENCE. —Anaheed