Sponsored Links

Alt-week 8.11.12: Robo-billies, quasicrystals and radioactive art

Alt-week 8.11.12: Robo-billies, quasicrystals and radioactive art
James Trew
James Trew|@itstrew|August 11, 2012 3:00 PM

Alt-week peels back the covers on some of the more curious sci-tech stories from the last seven days.

It's not like we're trying to out-weird ourselves, it just, somehow, keeps happening. At least one of this week's offerings (we'll leave it to you to figure out which) will possibly be the creepiest thing we post all year. As for the rest, well it's slightly more palatable. We'll get uncharacteristically pumped about cycling, meet some extra-terrestrial quasicrystals and enjoy some art with X-men credentials. This is alt-week.

Think of what you could do with $5,000. You could upgrade your memory, your phone, or of course your tawdry -- and frankly outdated -- hillbilly band. Let's face it, it was getting a little embarrassing anyway. What -- to normal people at least -- might appear to be the stuff of nightmares, is actually a fully functioning animatronic hillbilly band for sale on eBay. If 5k isn't sounding like the bargain you'd hoped for, the singing and dancing troupe even comes with its own faux porch. Buyer collects though, obviously.

Worried you might never sleep again after seeing that? Don't worry, we've got the perfect antidote. You may have heard, there's some sorta sporting event going on in London. We've heard you can see it on TV somewhere. As you may have guessed, the only time we typically get close to breaking a sweat, is when there's some hacking involved. That's until we saw the following video. It's almost like the London Olympic Committee had us in mind when they cooked this up. Like a conspiracy to get sedentary tech writers excited about bikes. It's a bit of a slow starter, but by the time the Chemical Brothers' track fully kicks in, and the Tron-like visuals get going, we're practically banging down the door at Modell's for some hi-tech spandex.

If you're still with us after those two, then you're one of the hardy ones. Hardy enough to stomach the discovery of extra-terrestrial quasicrystals we imagine. Discovered in far eastern Russia, the quasiperiodic crystals (to give them their full name) were found in an environment that scientists claim would have been unable to foster them naturally, leading them to the conclusion that they were brought to this planet by a meteorite. The findings of the scientists indicate that it probably landed around 15,000 years ago in the last glacial period, but we know better.

Altweek 81112 Robobillies, quasicrystals and radioactive art

We're not sure if these alien rocks are radioactive, but if Kryptonite did come in art form, it'd probably resemble something like what we see below. Artists Ken and Julia Yonetani used radioactive uranium glass to create a collection of large and luminous sculptures. If you live in Sydney, Australia, then you can swing by the Centre for Contemporary Asian Art to see the collection for yourself, and don't worry, the artists claim that the glass is only 2 percent uranium by weight so you're perfectly safe. Probably.

Altweek 81112 Robobillies, quasicrystals and radioactive art

Seen any other far-out articles that you'd like considered for Alt-week? Working on a project or research that's too cool to keep to yourself? Drop us a line at alt [at] engadget [dot] com.