Keep Clam And Disco On

Four years ago, University of California, Berkeley graduate student Lindsey Dougherty discovered the two-inch disco clam in Indonesia. Its defining characteristic was the colorful light shows that it displayed on its lips. Recently she discovered how the clams were able to do this: their lips are covered with tiny spheres of silica, which are able to reflect the blue-green light that filters better underwater. Next, Dougherty plans to investigate the clam’s 40 (!) eyes to figure out if it can actually see the beautiful colors it reflects.

Built To Ride

In Mexico and Ecuador, hundreds of miles of passenger railways have been left unused for decades. Mexican artists Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene built themselves a car they called SEFT-1 so they could explore these forgotten pathways to now-isolated regions. An exhibition of the images they recorded between 2010 and 2012 goes on display this week in London.

Up In Flames

In a very short period of time, Iraqi jihadist group ISIS has become one of the most feared subsidiaries of al-Qaeda. This satellite image shows the billowing smoke as the group sets fire to Iraq’s primary oil refinery, Baiji. They took over the refinery shortly thereafter.

Confirmed: The World’s Biggest Tetris Game Is World’s Biggest

In April, Drexel University professor Frank Lee played a huge version of the game Tetris on the side of Philadelphia’s Cira Centre skyscraper. This week Guinness World Records confirmed that Lee’s game set the record for the largest architectural video game display. The record Lee beat was, in fact, his own, set in 2013 on the same Philadelphia skyscraper–but then he was playing Pong.

A Vintage Take On Classic Images

Artist Adam Lister approaches his work with a unique sensibility for vintage tech and canonical art; he paints “iconic images” in a geometric style reminiscent of 8-bit computing. The images he chooses for inspiration range from pieces of classic art (like this one, inspired by Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”) to more recent icons, including Mister Rogers, Wonder Woman, and R2-D2.

Robots That Tug At Your Heartstrings

A new exhibit opening soon in Pittsburgh raises the question: Does human sympathy extend to robots? The exhibit, by artists Bill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers, is filled with robots that interact with humans when they enter the space, making the humans feel simultaneously curious and intrusive. The title, “La Cour des Miracles (The Court of Miracles)” hearkens back to a medieval Parisian neighborhood of the same name, which housed many of the city’s beggars with fake deformities and handicaps. Each robotic “character” is meant to draw on the viewer’s empathy; the artists have titled them The Begging Machine, The Convulsive Machine, The Crawling Machine, The Harassing Machine, The Heretic Machine, and The Limping Machine.

A Crash Frozen In Time

Among the many images of snow and ice, NASA’s P-3 Orion airplane occasionally spots something different and spectacular. This is the wreckage of a B-29 Superfortress airplane that was forced to land in northwest Greenland–in 1947. The crew, headed to the North Pole, all survived the crash, but then had to wait for three days before rescuers could get to them.

Pure Potash

Whether you’ve heard of it or not, potash is pretty important to you. It’s a salt that contains potassium and is used in a lot of commercial fertilizers, and it’s so valuable that huge mines have sprung up across the United States, including this one in Moab,Utah. Potash is deep in the ground and dissolved in water, so after it’s been pumped to the surface, those beautiful blue evaporation pools are necessary to get the potash in a usable form.

A Devilish Jump

The Munk’s devil ray is one of four species of devil rays found in the Gulf of Mexico. Even though all nine species in the world jump out of the water, scientists don’t know why. Some think it may be to evade predators or parasites, some as a display during mating. Others think that the rays may communicate with the slapping sound they make when they hit the water, although no one’s quite sure what they would be saying.