TIME Bizarre

Watch This Man Solve the World’s Hardest Rubik’s Cube Very Quickly

He solves the 17x17x17 puzzle in 7.5 hours but the video is only 6 minutes

While some people might fritter away seven and a half hours bingeing on Netflix, YouTuber RedKB (in real life, Kenneth Brandon) has made more productive use of his time. Over the course of five days, working for several hours at a time, he was able to solve the world’s most challenging Rubik’s Cube: a 17x17x17 block.

Brandon started by solving each color’s center, then finished with the border, which proved much easier. For puzzlers with a lot of time on their hands and an itch to see the play-by-play, Brandon has posted the full seven-plus hour version as well.

[Mashable]

TIME Bizarre

7 of the Craziest Predictions for the Future, From the Past

Sight, Sound & Smell
American film producer Mike Todd Jr (left) sits with Swiss inventor Hans Laube, who points to his 'Smell-O-Vision' machine, in 1959 Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Visionaries of the past imagined a world that subsisted on kelp, exercised mind-control with grouch pills and genetically modified tomatoes to fit perfectly on sandwiches

Back in 1992, in a special issue of TIME devoted to predicting what to expect in the new millennium, writer Lance Morrow waxed philosophical about why we prognosticate in the first place. Quoting political scientist Michael Barkun, he wrote, “The human mind abhors a vacuum … Where certainties are absent, we make do with probabilities, and where probabilities are beyond our power to calculate, we seek refuge from insupportable ignorance in a future of our own imagining.”

The future we’ve imagined over the last century has, in some cases, come to fruition: The global population has skyrocketed as resources have waned, and technology has unlocked boundless potential and eliminated entire categories of jobs. But in other cases, those forecasts remain indecipherable from the plots of science fiction movies. Of course, a prediction that sounded crazy in 1909 (say, Nikola Tesla’s vision of an instrument “which will enable its bearer to hear anywhere on sea or land for distances of thousands of miles”) might, a century later, end up in nearly 90% of Americans’ pockets.

At the risk of looking a fool when some of the following come true a century from now, here is a roundup of some of the looniest predictions since the advent of TIME — the magazine, not the concept — in 1923:

The future human will be a Cyclops. “Yes, in distant centuries or millenaries man will be a Cyclops, a Polyphemus, a being with one eye only.” So said Dr. Thomas Hall Shastid in a 1933 article about the “Face of the Future.” This future eye, explained Shastid, would be in the center of the face, below a high forehead, where the bridge of the nose once rested. The doctor reasoned that the human eye originally evolved to see far into the distance, but as the modern human “reads, writes, repairs watches, cuts gems, examines pictures, and so forth,” the cyclopean peeper would evolve to accommodate these close-range tasks and pastimes.

Grandchildren of the television age won’t be able to read. Covering the construction of a new TV station in 1951, TIME addressed the potential downsides of a newly television-obsessed culture. “Our people are becoming less literate by the minute,” the writer lamented, suggesting that in the zero-sum game of recreational hours, TV would eat up more and more of the time people once spent “reading books and thinking thoughts.” “By the 21st Century our people doubtless will be squint-eyed, hunchbacked and fond of the dark,” the writer predicted. “But why am I carrying on like this? Chances are that the grandchild of the Television Age won’t know how to read this.”

Every medical malady will be treatable with a miracle pill. If the Swiss doctor Francois Ody’s 1956 prophecy ever comes true, hospitals are going to find themselves in a tough spot. One of the most distinguished surgeons in Europe at the time, Ody imagined that “All the victories which have been the pride of brilliant surgeons will be forgotten,” replaced by the discovery of a “substance which, in the form of a capsule, will capture the sources of energy that will bring recovery within hours.” Such a magic antidote would obviate the need for surgery in most cases, leaving in its wake not only dumpsters full of scalpels, but also the physical pain inflicted by tearing a body open and sewing it back up.

“Frogmen” will live in underseas bunkers and tend to kelp farms. One way to address food shortages of the future, according to the RAND Corp. in 1966: eat more kelp. The think tank imagined that “Huge fields of kelp and other kinds of seaweed will be tended by undersea ‘farmers’ — frogmen who will live for months at a time in submerged bunkhouses.” The kelp, rich in protein, would then be ground into a powder which “could be regenerated chemically to taste like anything from steak to bourbon.” Though seaweed extracts are commonly used as additives today, they’ve yet to supplant the rest of our food supply. And so far, their cultivators still live on dry ground.

Spouses will be able to secretly control one another’s moods with “grouch pills.” The same 1966 article that predicted a kelp-driven food economy had something to say about marital relations, as well. If one spouse is in a particularly cantankerous mood, his or her partner, predicted RAND, “will be able to pop down to the corner drugstore, buy some anti-grouch pills, and slip them into the coffee.” Of course, the last half-century certainly has seen remarkable advances in psychiatric medication — from Adderall to Prozac — but as far as instantaneous mind control goes, we’re still relegated to old fashioned remedies like avoidance and a glass of wine.

Tomatoes will be square. The mechanization of agriculture during the middle decades of the 20th century drastically changed the face of farming. Some, observed former Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman, believed the automation would “chill the ageless intimacy between man and his land.” Others saw nothing but progress in the increased production modern machinery afforded. Still others saw square tomatoes. “Another phenomenon in the not too distant future,” envisioned the Research and Development Chief at Deere & Co., “is square tomatoes, which, after all, could be more easily packaged by machine — and fit better in sandwiches.”

We will be able to feel and smell whatever’s on our television sets. Television has not rendered a generation illiterate (though some would argue just barely), and neither has it mastered senses beyond sight and sound, as a 1992 article about “multisensual media” predicted it would. According to Nicholas Negroponte, then director of M.I.T.’s Media Lab, the 21st century will bring “full-color, large-scale, holographic TV with force feedback and olfactory output.” The images on your TV, in other words, will be feelable and smellable, features whose desirability will vary greatly depending on exactly what it is you’re watching. Of course, we’ve got another 85 years to go in this century. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to feel the ruffles on Seinfeld’s puffy shirt and get a contact high from watching Weeds.

TIME Bizarre

Hasbro to Replace Penis-shaped Play-Doh Toy

It also offered to replace the tool for anyone who has it

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Facing criticism from some parents over a Play-Doh toy that looks similar to a penis, Hasbro says it will replace the offending implement with a different tool.

The complaints over the so-called “extruder tool” in Play-Doh’s Cake Mountain toy have been going on since at least November, when Tulsa, Oklahoma, TV station KTUL showed the tool to parents and asked them what they thought. The two-piece syringe-like tool — which includes a tube with corkscrew-type ridges around the outside and a dome-shaped top with a hole at the tip — can be used to squeeze Play-Doh to look like decorative cake frosting.

The station blurred the image of the tool during the piece, saying it was due to parents’ reactions. One woman told the station it was “a pretty phallic cake-decorating piece.”

After Christmas hit, comments started pouring in to Play-Doh’s Facebook page. Jennifer Turner, a Rhode Island mother, posted a message saying it had ruined her Christmas.

“Every person I asked, including my two older children, all agreed that it looked way too similar to a penis,” Turner said in an email with The Associated Press. Her photo was posted and re-posted online, and Turner said she has since been bashed and made fun of for pointing out the obvious and taking a stand.

Erin Rivers, a mother of two from Melbourne, Florida, thought it was hilarious when she helped her 6-year-old daughter open the box.

“I pulled out this extruder tool and I just started cracking up at it, I couldn’t help it. Then I immediately put the Play-Doh in it and took a picture of,” she said. Then, she posted it on Facebook. “My friends have just as dirty minds as I do. It was hysterical to me. And then I gave it my daughter to play with.”

Her daughter and 4-year-old son do not notice anything strange about the toy, she said.

Pawtucket-based Hasbro Inc. has received thousands of comments on the Play-Doh Facebook page about the toy.

“We are in the process of updating all future Play-Doh products with a different tool,” it said in a statement posted on the page Tuesday. It also offered to replace the tool for anyone who has it.

Rivers, 31, who works in a pediatric dental office, says she’s not upset at all. But she is flabbergasted that the toy slipped past so many layers of people at Hasbro.

“They have to have someone who creates it, someone who makes the plastic mold, someone who plays with it,” she said. “I can’t imagine that as many people that probably saw the toy, not one person said ‘Does anyone else think this looks like a penis?'”

TIME Bizarre

Play-Doh Penis-Shaped Toy Outrages Parents

Part of a Play-Doh baking kit

Play-Doh’s decision to equip its new baking kit with a tool that remarkably resembled a penis has parents outraged over its lack of family-friendliness.

In an extra unfortunate design choice, the tool–included in the Sweet Shoppe Mountain Playset, which lets kids make cakes out of Play-Doh–was designed to squeeze out Play-Doh icing. Parents have complained about its phallic shape since November, according to Businessweek, but an influx of angry comments on Play-Doh’s Facebook page around Christmas drew greater attention to the issue.

Hasbro, which owns Play-Doh, said in a statement to Businessweek that “We have heard some consumer feedback about the extruder tool in the Play-Doh Cake Mountain playset and are in the process of updating future Play-Doh products with a different tool.”

[Businessweek]

TIME Bizarre

Teresa Giudice Pledges to Give Up ‘Bad Carbs’ for the New Year — in Prison

Celebrity criminals: They're just like us!

In 2015, Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice will go to prison. While there, she will avoid “bad carbs.”

In a truly surreal video released Tuesday — just six days before she reports to FCI Danbury to serve a 15-month sentence for fraud — Guidice reflects on her plans for the new year, smile fixed, champagne flute in hand.

“Going forward, I would like to stop eating bad carbs,” Giudice tells fellow Housewife Dina Manzo while nodding her head emphatically from a gold balloon-filled room we can only imagine is located in an alternate reality replete with #HealthyLiving prison cafeterias.

“That’s a good one,” Manzo replies.

Giudice also resolves to “build” a better butt (feasible), only surround herself with positive people (questionable), and try to purge herself of her excessive goods (not only attainable, but mandatory).

If possible, things takes a turn for the even more unhinged when Manzo declares, “I want to be more spontaneous this year. If I want to go away somewhere, I’m just going to let that happen and people will figure things out.”

“You should!” Giudice says, head still bobbing. “I have four little ones, so I can’t do that.”

Oh, honey.

TIME Bizarre

See the 2015 Times Square New Years Eve Ball in One GIF

New Years Eve Times Square Ball Drop GIF
Countdown Entertainment; GIF by Adam Glanzman for TIME

The 11,875-pound ball is covered in 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles

Every New Year’s Eve brings a new ball to New York City’s Times Square. The tradition began in 1907 and remains one of the world’s most iconic spectacles at the turn of the new year.

This year’s design is called The Gift of Fortitude. The design utilizes “diamond cuts on either side of a crystal pillar to represent the inner attributes of resolve, courage and spirit necessary to triumph over adversity,” according to the Times Square Ball’s official website.

The ball is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights and can display more than 16 million vibrant colors in billions of patterns.

TIME Bizarre

A Baltimore Truck Driver Has Won the Maryland Lottery for a Second Time

Some people really do have all the luck

“It’s great to be back” is something not many people get to say to lottery officials while collecting their winnings.

But those were the exact words uttered by a Baltimore truck driver last week after he won the Maryland Lottery for the second time, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The unidentified 39-year-old driver only realized he had won the $2.85 million jackpot when he heard the winning ticket came from a Safeway in Waldorf, Md., where he had bought one after stopping to fill gas.

The man had previously netted $250,000 in a second-tier Mega Millions prize in 2005, which he said he used for a down payment on a house. He reportedly plans to use his second jackpot to pay off the house and save for his two sons. And, of course, take a vacation.

[Baltimore Sun]

TIME Bizarre

Obama’s Golf Game Prompts Couple to Relocate Wedding Set for Next Day

US-MALAYSIA-OBAMA-NAJIB-GOLF
President Barack Obama jokes with reporters as he plays golf with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzak at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Dec. 24, 2014 Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images

The President called the bride to apologize

President Barack Obama’s golf game in Hawaii forced a military couple to relocate their wedding a day before their planned nuptials on Sunday.

Natalie Heimel and Edward Mallue Jr. had just finished their rehearsal at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, located on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, when they were informed they would have to move their planned ceremony at the 16th hole because the President would be playing through the holes, Bloomberg reports.

Wedding organizer Naile Brennan said anyone who plans an event there while Obama is in town is warned ahead of time about the chance of an 11th-hour rescheduling. The ceremony was moved to a “much prettier and much nicer venue,” she said. “It’s more secluded and there are no golfers yelling ‘Fore!'”

Even though the newlyweds knew Obama was in town — they invited him to their wedding but received a congratulatory no-show letter in response — their relocation still came as a shock. After Obama found out what happened, according to Jamie McCarthy, a sister of Mallue, “he apologized and congratulated them” in a “wonderful” personal call to the bride.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Bizarre

18 Surprising Photos of Christmas Around the World

From Santas on water skis to motorcycles, here are some unusual and unexpected celebrations

TIME Bizarre

7 Science Tricks That Will Amaze Your Holiday Guests

Or keep you occupied if you aren't feeling the party

Whether you’re looking to entertain your holiday guests or desperate to kill time at a family gathering, there’s always a cool science trick you can fall back on.

Here are some of the best tricks fit for this holiday season using only stuff you’ve already got lying around the house. Just remember to stay safe!

1. Forget the egg nog — impress your guests with eggs that bounce. Soak an egg in vinegar, and the vinegar dissolves the egg shell over time. What’s left on the egg is its membrane, which is surprisingly tough and gives the egg a bounciness:

2. But if you’re set on egg nog, try out this easy egg yolk separation hack. Crack eggs onto a plate. Then squeeze an empty plastic bottle to lift up the egg yolks from the egg whites. The air pressure in the bottle sucks up the yolk:

3. Did your candle go out? Light it with its own smoke. When a candle blows out, it emits a brief trail of vaporized wax. If you hold a flame to this vaporized wax inches from the wick, the wax will ignite, and the flame will head back down to the wick:

4. Or just get rid of your candles and make these green fire lanterns. Mixing methanol and boric acid and lighting a fire creates a chemical reaction that emits a green flame. This is how flame jugglers make their green fires, too. Just remember to do this safely!

5. Defy gravity during dinner. It’s possible to press two forks together and balance them on the edge of a toothpick over the rim of a glass. It seems odd that a tiny toothpick can hold up two forks, but it’s because their center of gravity isn’t where it seems to be:

6. No corkscrew? Open your wine by cutting the bottle with fire and string. Loop a string around a wine bottle a few times and wet the string with acetone. Light the string on fire, then carefully spin the bottle in your hands to heat the glass evenly. When you plunge the bottle into cold water, the heated molecules tighten so quickly the glass fractures. Again, stay safe with this one!

7. Grow a last minute Christmas “tree.” Cut out cardboard in the shape of a tree. Then, stand it in a mixture of water, salt, ammonia and a fabric bluing agent. The cardboard soaks up the mixture and crystals grow from a salt crystallization process:

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