The Underground – Issue #12
Everything you need to know about in this weekly series: How tectonic plates work, a new robotic arm, A game changer for your home, a new way of breathing oxygen, a must-read book, and the best recipes to wow your significant other on Valentine’s Day.
At Social Underground we go beyond the mainstream stuff and see what’s underneath the surface. What should we get into, listen to, read, eat or watch? If there is something in our culture that needs attention, dammit, we will bring it to your attention. With The Underground, we mean to do exactly that: Show you the underground things that you need to know about: Books, music, television, movies, comedians, art, and whatever else we can find to get you into something you never knew about.
Don’t you remember the time you heard that first song from your favorite band? You made the decision to jump head first into that first album and then delve deeper into them. Now, you don’t remember a time where you haven’t listened to that band. If you play guitar, you don’t remember the time where you didn’t know how to play. We want to bring you new stuff that you didn’t know you need in your life to the point where you can’t remember not knowing about it. That’s The Underground.
1. Educate yourself on how plate tectonics work. Even in 1st grade, I would look at a map of the Earth and think, “Hmm, those look like puzzle pieces that could be put together.” The evidence of tectonic plates is all but an obvious conclusion when you merely look up from your desk and stare for a moment. When they drift into each other, they can cause Earthquakes. When they drift below of the oceans and cause a massive Earthquake below, they can cause a major tsunami like the one we witnessed back in 2004 that wiped out $100’000’s of thousands of people in the surrounding countries.
The evidence of plate tectonics has been around for at least 200 years, but most geologists didn’t believe it until the 1960’s when a massive amount of evidence further proved it, as stated in the video below. It’s hard to think that it took until the 1960’s for geologists to finally come to that conclusion.
2. A 19 year old built a $350 robotic arm and will teach you how to make one. One of the biggest fears in my life is to lose a hand or an arm. It would immediately erase my ability to play guitar and write at a normal pace. In the event that I had something like that happen to me, the cost of a modern prosthetic arm could cost up to $30,000. Most of us don’t have that type of money lying around, not to mention that added medical costs that comes with losing an arm and the physical therapy that comes with it.
Mr. LaChappelle entered the robotic hand into a the 2011 Colorado State science fair where he won third place. He says his inspiration for the hand hit him when he met a 7-year old girl who was born without her right arm. She used a prosthetic limb that cost $80,0000. He immediately began to work on a dramatically cheaper alternative.
While perfecting his robotic hand, Mr. LaChappelle contacted a popular YouTube user, with over 90,000 subscribers, called Jeremy Blum, who fixed the programming code that allowed the control glove to wirelessly communicate with the hand.
Aiming to make the hand as inexpensively as possible, Mr. LaChappelle bought an old Nintendo Power Glove and used its sensors. Watch as Mr. LaChapelle showcased the second version of the robotic hand that he entered into his sophomore year science fair. (Via)
As Mr. LaChappelle states in the video, the inspiration for this partly came out of boredom. So as most of us watch marathons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, this kid is aiming to help people with missing limbs, make the deaf hear, and allow the paralyzed to walk again.
Watch his presentation at TED below:
3. Elon Musk, the real-life Tony Stark, just dropped an unforeseen game changer on us. Sure, they have battery power cars, but what about battery powered houses?
“We have the design done, and it should start going into production in about six months or so,” Musk said.
Details on the batteries were sparse, but an obvious use case would be placing them in homes equipped with solar panels to store excess energy. Solar energy company SolarCity already offers Tesla battery packs in some markets that customers can use to store energy and use as a kind of emergency generator. Musk is the chairman of SolarCity and its largest shareholder.
In addition to selling to residential customers, Tesla could also sell batteries to utilities trying to increase energy efficiency. Tesla’s chief technology officer said the company was talking to “almost all” the utilities currently experimenting with battery storage technology. (Via CNN)
Soon you won’t have to be John Connor from the Terminator series to live off the grid, you can be a regular person in a neighborhood rocking a battery that powers your home. When the power goes out for everyone in your neighborhood during a storm, the battery won’t go out, and you won’t have to use a loud generator to maintain power whilst simultaneously making all your neighbors hate you.
4. Thanks to a scientific breakthrough, divers and people in need of oxygen tanks might not need them. Having to carry around a tank of oxygen everyday is quite the inconvenience, not to mention having to refill it. The same thing happens with divers that have to put large tanks on their backs before they jump in the water. Imagine having the tank run out and drowning? Well, that could all be coming to an end.
“Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Small amounts of metals are essential for the absorption of oxygen, so actually it’s not entirely surprising to see this effect in our new material,” said professor Christine McKenzie of the University of Southern Denmark.
The diving aspect is really fantastic. A diver could move with much more agility with all of that equipment deemed unnecessary. Think of it like the prototype suits you’ve seen by Astronauts that are skin tight suits with no gigantic life support system, but in the water for as long as you want. If you have lung issues, you get you old freedom back without having to constantly pull on a suitcase full of oxygen. No more stairs to pull it up, no more of people staring at you, and the most pure oxygen pulled right out of the air.
Check out the demonstration below and the possibilities that may come with this technology.
5. Ismael is a philosophical book written by Daniel Quinn that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it. I was recommended this book a few years back and absolutely loved it. I’m usually not a big philosophy person because most philosophy is just asking questions but doesn’t look for answers. This book, however, was just a fun exercise and a very enjoyable read.
What is Ismael all about?
The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time to save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him—one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?
You can head on over to Amazon to pick it up, or go to any bookstore or library.
6. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and what better thing to do than to seduce your significant other with a special homemade meal. Sure you can take them to a restaurant with food prepared by someone else, but wouldn’t it mean more if you decorated your place, got some wine, and served them food that you made (and didn’t screw up)? Sammy’s recent Sex and Men series can give you a lot more ideas.
This isn’t much help for single people. If you’re single, you can go to the bar, eat something and hope you find your true love (for the night). I mean, 50 Shades of Grey is coming out, so you know all the single girls you’d never want to date are in the theater wearing their favorite Twilight/cat shirt. Plus, all the people in relationships are at home OR all the people in relationships are there because girls love that book and guys will use her excitement she gets from it later. I base that on science I just made up.
Since you’ll probably be spending the entire day together, how about I give you a whole days worth of recipes for each meal?
Valentine’s Day Breakfast — Monte Cristo Benedict
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 thick slices day-old French bread
1 tablespoon butter
8 thin slices cooked ham
4 slices Cheddar cheese
4 slices Havarti cheese
8 poached eggs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives, or to taste
1 pinch kosher salt, or to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Whisk 2 eggs, cream, white sugar, salt, 1 pinch cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and allspice together in a bowl until batter is thoroughly combined.
Lay bread slices into batter, one at a time, and let bread absorb the mixture. Turn bread slices in batter until almost all batter has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and melt butter in the hot skillet. Cook bread slices in the hot butter until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer French toast slices to a baking sheet.
Lay ham slices into the hot skillet and cook until meat begins to brown, about 1 minute per side.
To assemble, place a Cheddar cheese slice on a slice of French toast, top with 2 slices of ham, and lay a Havarti cheese slice over ham.
Bake in the preheated oven until French toast pieces are no longer wet, the batter is set, and cheese has melted and begun to brown, about 20 minutes.
Place sandwiches on serving plates and top each with 2 poached eggs. Season with kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Since you don’t want to eat too much at lunch, how about a light salad?
Valentine’s Day Lunch: Kale Citrus Salad
QUICK PICKLED ONIONS
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 large bundle lacinato kale (~4 cups), chopped
1 grapefruit or orange, segmented (reserve any juice)
1 tart apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate arils or dried cranberries (I used a mix of both)
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
pinch sea salt + black pepper
1/2 Tbsp sweetener of choice (such as maple syrup or honey if not vegan)
1/3 cup olive oil + more for massaging kale
2 Tbsp orange juice (optional – to brighten the flavor)
Berries in spring and summer
Hempseeds, roasted nuts, or sunflower seeds for extra protein
Pickle onions by mixing red wine vinegar, water and sugar in a small bowl and stirring to dissolve. Add sliced onions and let set in the fridge while prepping the rest of the salad. The liquid should cover the onion, so add a bit more vinegar and/or water if needed.
Add kale to a large mixing bowl with 1-2 tsp olive oil and squeeze over reserved grapefruit or orange juice. Use your fingers to massage the kale to break down the bitterness and stiffness.
Next add apple, grapefruit or orange segments, pomegranate or cranberries and set aside.
Prepare dressing in a small mixing bowl by whisking vinegar, mustard, sweetener, and salt and pepper. Stream in olive oil while mixing, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a splash of orange juice to brighten up the flavors, but this is optional.
Add pickled onions to the salad, as well as the dressing (or reserve it for serving), toss and serve. Leftovers keep up to a couple days in the fridge, though best when fresh.
And now for dinner. This is the most important meal of the night because this is the one that you should go all out on. You just wowed your partner with some great food and whatever else you planned for that day (I can do everything for you, so this should take the most effort).
Valentine’s Day Appetizer: Rockin’ Oysters Rockefeller
48 fresh, unopened oysters
1 1/2 cups beer
2 cloves garlic
seasoned salt to taste
7 black peppercorns
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
Clean oysters, and place in a large stockpot. Pour in beer and enough water to cover oysters; add 2 cloves garlic, seasoned salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, drain, and cool.
Once oysters are cooled, break off and discard the top shell. Arrange the oysters on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic in butter until soft. Reduce heat to low, and stir in spinach, Monterey Jack, fontina, and mozzarella. Cook until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Stir in the milk, and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon sauce over each oyster, just filling the shell. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Bake until golden and bubbly, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
Oysters are aphrodisiacs. You add that to all the effort you put into day, and then you can wow them even more with the main course.
Valentine’s Day Dinner: Filet Mignon with Rich Balsamic Glaze
2 (4 ounce) filet mignon steaks
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over both sides of each steak, and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place steaks in hot pan, and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until browned. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add balsamic vinegar and red wine. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes on each side, basting with sauce when you turn the meat over.
Remove steaks to two warmed plates, spoon one tablespoon of glaze over each, and serve immediately.
Now, for the final dish, if you haven’t already had your clothes ripped off, have this after all the naked fun.
Valentine’s Day Dessert: Chocolate Strawberries
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 pint fresh strawberries with leaves
In a microwave-safe bowl, or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, cook chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth. Holding berries by the stem, dip each one in molten chocolate, about three-quarters of the way to the stem. Place, stem side down, on wire rack and chill in refrigerator until hardened.
There you have it. If you don’t want to slum it and buy your love one of those $7.99 heartshaped pizza, try some or all the above. The more you show you care, the more they’ll appreciate you.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.