In the early 2000s, Costis Mitsotakis of Greece met a Spanish girl named Sandra del Pozo. They fell in love, and not long after, bought a small RV, left Greece and headed to Spain. Their destination — Sodeto, a town in the northeast corner of the country, where Sandra’s grandmother lived. Animations by Benjamin Stark, made for Radiotopia Live version of El Gordo, 2017 Sodeto is one of about 300 little farming villages that the dictator Francisco Franco built in Spain in the 1950s, in an effort to bring people and agriculture to isolated places. All the towns built during this time look similar, and Sodeto is no exception — there’s a church in the center of town and one bar, which is also the one restaurant, which is also the one place to hang out. The houses are the color of sand, and each has a red-tiled roof. About 200 people live in the town. Sodeto, Spain, images by Katie Mingle Sodeto is not the kind of place that makes news. But all that changed in 2011 when almost everyone in this little village won a piece of the biggest lottery jackpot in Spain. By chance, Costis Mitsotakis had […]
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX.
Raised pavement markers come in a variety of reflective colors, some of which (like white and yellow) have guessable meanings borrowed painted road line conventions. But there are other colors too (like blues and greens) that relay additional information to those in the know. Raised pavement marker art in pedestrian tunnel by Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-ND 2.0) Some colors cue police officers, emergency personnel or maintenance workers, showing them where they can find things like pull-offs, fire hydrants or stop valves. A few variants even feature reversible colors, conveying different messages based on direction of travel. But these meanings — like reflector designs — vary from place to place. Cat’s Eyes in the U.K., Europe & Hong Kong Cat’s Eye on the road surface by Zoney (CC BY-SA 3.0) The Cat’s Eye was invented in 1933 by Percy Shaw of Boothtown, a suburb of Halifax, England. It features reflective glass spheres set inside a rubber and cast-iron housing. Each unit is complex and dynamic, its various materials engineered to serve a variety of clever functions. Cat’s Eye diagram by Ulfbastel (CC BY-SA 3.0) The metal part of the housing protects the device while creating an audible sound when a car […]
In the midst of the Cold War, a submarine-fired guided missile carrying a most unusual payload arced up over the United States and landed in Florida. Launched in June of 1959 by the USS Barbero (SSG-317), a Navy submersible docked in Virginia, this Regulus I rocket held 3,000 letters addressed to top government officials and postmasters general. President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, cabinet members, and federal officials made the list of recipients, in addition to all United States governors, members of Congress and Supreme Court justices. Unannounced to the public in advance, the test was a success. The Regulus missile traveled to its target at an unprecedented 600 miles per hour, then slowed and landed, leaving Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield fascinated by the potential of rocket mail. “This peacetime employment of a guided missile for the important and practical purpose of carrying mail, is the first known official use of missiles by any Post Office Department of any nation,” he boasted. Postmaster General Summerfield taking mail out of the Regulus I rocket after landing Summerfield also predicted that “before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia […]
It started 25 years ago with a ubiquitous ad campaign that turned two track and field athletes into overnight celebrities. Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson seemed destined to compete for the gold, representing the U.S. in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Reebok’s $25MM “Dan & Dave” campaign invited the nation to choose sides, playing the two decathlon contenders against one another in a series of commercials. Reebok was determined to compete with Nike for attention in the athletic community and (at first) this seemed like a novel way to go about it. The ad campaign made its debut during the Super Bowl in a series of sequential shorts building up the rivalry. On Reebok’s behalf, Dan and Dave competed on screen, filming ads and going to talk shows, while also becoming friends behind the scenes. All eyes were on them as they headed to the qualifying trials in New Orleans — the top three contenders would head to Barcelona, and at first it looked like both were going to make it. But things took a turn when one of the athletes got tripped up and failed to qualify for the Olympics. This featured story is the first episode of 30 […]
Runways feature a lot of design details, but one in particular is both easy to miss (as you fly right over it) yet also hard to decode: their unique numbers. Public and military airfields alike feature numeric designations at either end of each runway, but what do they mean? “All runways are numbered based on the magnetic azimuth (compass bearing) in which a runway is oriented,” explains Dave Dargie, Aviation Infrastructure Sector Lead at Stantec. But that seems strange at first glance, since the numbers are too short to represent 360 degrees. Runway number corresponding to compass bearing (CC BY-SA 3.0) The solution is to drop a digit, rounding the compass bearing by ten degrees so you end up with a range from 1 to 36. By extension, the opposite end of any given runway (180 degrees away) will be plus or minus 18 (e.g. 08 in one direction and 26 in the other). Runway sign denoting 08 left and 26 right When multiple runways operate in parallel, an additional designation is added to distinguish between them. For example, 08L-26R and 08R-26L would be used for 08-26 “left” and “right” (relative to the direction the plane is facing) while a […]