+
More

Glass cars, sentient spoons, and an inventor who's challenging our idea of normal.

True
The CW

What is normal?

Many designers create products that are normal but better — or "super normal," as a Japanese design philosophy calls it.

Dominic Wilcox, a designer and inventor from northeast England, has turned this philosophy on its head by using normal items and twisting them into something whimsical. By using everyday items, he takes things we understand and twists them into something "surprising and inventive."


The results are often playful and humorous, like a tummy-rumbling amplification device:

GIF via Dominic Wilcox/YouTube.

Wilcox explained why playfulness opens up the creative process in an interview for design publication Cool Hunting:

"Sometimes there’s a temptation to think, 'What does it do? How do we sell that?' That closes the idea down. I try to keep it open and push it as far as possible. It’s about playfulness, open-mindedness and taking risks, the freedom to make mistakes, whatever they are."

Many of his playful inventions are actually kind of useful.

It's not all tummy-rumbling amplification devices; many of Wilcox's inventions are designed to solve minor inconveniences with whimsical solutions.

Like a nose stylus for hands-free scrolling:

All images via Dominic Wilcox, used with permission.

Shoes that light up to point you in the right direction using built-in GPS navigation:

Stickers to make your shiny car or bicycle look like junk to would-be thieves:

A spoon that "wakes up" as you eat with it, then "loses energy" and goes to sleep after four hours to let you know it's time for a snack:

A teacup with its own mini cooling fan (sadly, this one's only a prototype):

For Wilcox, it's about playing with our idea of "normal."

At last year's London Design Festival, Wilcox showcased his invention for the future — a future where our roads will be so safe that cars could be made of glass. He created a driverless car prototype with colorful stained glass that includes a comfy bed nestled inside:

Passengers would simply relax or take a snooze in their beautiful car while they're safely whisked to their destination.

It completely reimagines what a "normal" driving experience could be. Wilcox mused to Cool Hunting:

"[In my imagination] the future is super safe, so why not have a glass car? Some people might think it’s ridiculous, but why not?"

Wilcox is even twisting what it means to be an inventor.

Stephen Colbert invited Wilcox to appear on "The Late Show," where he tested a number of Wilcox's inventions, including a cereal-serving head crane device:

GIF via "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

When Colbert asked Wilcox, "Are you a sculptor or are you an inventor? Because these things seem like conceptual art at the same time as being inventions," Wilcox replied:

"I just like being imaginative and creative. It doesn't matter how I express it. ... I've tried [to invent a word] many times. I did my business cards ... and underneath my name I [put] 'inventurer' — half adventurer, half inventor — but then I scrapped that one."

Here's to the "inventurer" in us all.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This company makes it easier than ever to enjoy guilt-free fairly traded coffee

Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

13-year-old ventriloquist sings incredible, sassy version of 'You Don't Own Me' on 'AGT'

Ana-Maria Mărgean only started her hobby in 2020 and is already wowing audiences on "America's Got Talent."

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Ana-Maria Mărgean singing "You Don't Own Me" on "America's Got Talent"

It’s not every day a ventriloquist act is so jaw-dropping that it has to be seen to be believed. But when it does happen, it’s usually on “America’s Got Talent.”

Ana-Maria Mărgean was only 11 years old when she first took to the stage on “Romania’s Got Talent” to show off her ventriloquism skills, an act inspired by videos of fellow ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 champion Terry Fator.

Using puppets built for her by her parents, the young performer tirelessly spent her quarantine time in 2020 learning how to bring them to life, which led to her receiving a Golden Buzzer and eventually winning the entire series in Romania.

Mărgean is now 13 and a competitor on this season of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” hoping to be crowned the winner and perform her own show in Vegas, just like her hero Fator.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less