May 22, 2015

Written by

Chris Gonzales

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Jetman Dubai »

Start your weekend off right by watching this insane video of Yves Rossy and his protégé Vince Reffet soaring over Dubai with jetpacks. Yes, you read that correctly. If anyone is capable of someday inventing a real life version of Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, it’s these guys.

And if the stunts weren’t crazy enough, just know that they can also reach speeds beween 124mph and 186mph, as mentioned during an interview with Russia Today:

It is the first time that two guys [have flown] in formation like that — like birds, but only with body movements. The average speed when we are going straight is about 200kph. While we are descending, we can go up to 300kph. It’s quite fast — it’s like the maximum speed of a biker.


Is Samantha Cristoforetti the Most Awesome Astronaut Ever? »

According to this story by Signe Brewster, she’s certainly in the running. Which is great, but really the piece is more about how astronauts in general interact with the world and even gain celebrity status in the age of social media.

Public outreach has always been woven into the DNA of astronauts. […]

But most of us never have the chance to meet an astronaut. Their presence is a blip on the TV that comes and goes with successful launches and landings. It’s a shame, because there are a whole lot of 9-year-olds who would love to walk up to that microphone and ask a question.

That access is changing. In the age of the internet, we can instantly talk to someone 12,000 miles away on the opposite side of the globe. No one can hear you scream in space, but at least your tweets can travel the 155 miles to Earth.

Wonder who’ll be the first person to tweet from Mars.

Winners of the 2015 University of Miami Underwater Photography Contest »

Every spring, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science puts on an underwater photography contest. We just found out the 2015 winners were announced last month, so click through and enjoy some spectacular fish photos.

“Best Overall” was awarded to the above photo of a Japanese War Bonnet (Chirolophis japonicus), captured by Andrey Shpatak.

Illustration: Gavin Aung Than

Illustration: Gavin Aung Than

Marcus Aurelius: A Meditation »

Gavin Aung Than of the ever-excellent Zen Pencils blog has published a new webcomic inspired by a quote from Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (taken from chapter 2, part 1 of Aurelius’ book Meditations, the entirety of which is free to read online).

Stoicism with a dash of zombies. Weird combo, but I dig it.

Illustration: Carl Burton

Illustration: Carl Burton

In Flight »

Mark Vanhoenacker is a senior first officer for British Airways on the Boeing 747-400 fleet and the author of Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot.

The New York Times adapted an essay from that book, turning it into a beautiful, interactive story about a pilot’s-eye view of life in the sky while en route from London to Tokyo. Read this in a browser, not in Instapaper. I’ll quote my two favorite passages:


Think of an ocean, of all the boats across its vast expanse rising and descending on their local swells. All the boats are on the surface, though their true elevation varies. An altitude referenced to the standard atmosphere is called a flight level and it is just like such a surface: a membrane encircling the Earth, pressed with indentations and textured with rises, shimmering invisibly on the aerial imperfections of the world.


Sometimes I find it hard to remain interested — in the northern lights, in the ceaseless meteors or a hundred other phenomena of the sky and Earth — because they appear so regularly, because to pilots, they are ordinary.

My original excitement returns, at least in part, when I try to share what I see with others. When I see the auroras start to form I often tell the flight attendants, so they can look from a window or come to the cockpit for a wider, clearer view. Sometimes, if a passenger is awake, one of the cabin crew may quietly point to the window, to the surf of light breaking along the sky’s northern shores. Afterward the crew member and I may talk about the sight in the galley, as if it was almost new to us again.

Man, what a writer.

Good-looking Typography »

Tim Brown, writing for Dear Design Student:

Some typographic decisions have better consequences than others. […] We learn to gauge the success of our decisions by reading, looking at good examples, trying things, and talking to each other. By practicing.


Typography will only ever look as good as you can appreciate. Your work will only ever look as good as you are satisfied with, and have the skill to achieve. Practice, and never stop.

Also worth reading: Steph Monett’s Web Fonts: They’re Awesome! article on the Mule Design blog.


The International Flag of Planet Earth »

Oskar Pernefeldt, a graduating student from the Beckmans University of Design (Stockholm, Sweden), has proposed a flag design for the future:


Current expeditions in outer space use different national flags depending on which country is funding the voyage. The space travelers, however, are more than just representatives of their own countries.

They are representatives of planet Earth.


  1. To be used while representing planet Earth.

  2. To remind the people of Earth that we share this planet, no matter of national boundaries. That we should take care of each other and the planet we live on.

Very cool. He also produced a video about the flag’s construction:

The Overview Effect »

Overview is a lovely short film about the phenomenon known as the Overview Effect (which to me feels akin to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s idea of the Cosmic Perspective). I’ve transcribed my favorite quote:

One of the astronauts said, “When we originally went to the Moon, our total focus was on the Moon. We weren’t thinking about looking back at the Earth. But now that we’ve done it, that may well have been the most important reason we went.”

Do yourself a favor and set aside 20 minutes to watch this video today. Also, be sure to read Jodi Ettenberg’s 2012 essay, The Overview Effect, Mindfulness and Travel.


100,000 Stars »

Since I’m on a bit of a space kick today, I’ll go ahead and link up this interactive 3D tour of nearby stars. Fair warning: You may spend an inordinate amount of time playing with this, so beware if you need to retain any productivity for the rest of the day.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.