Watches, Stories, & Gear: Our Own Black Hole, Skiing Down A Mountain, & iPods

“Watches, Stories, and Gear” is a roundup of our favorite content, watch or otherwise, from around the internet. Here, we support other creators, explore interesting content that inspires us, and put a spotlight on causes we believe in. Oh, and any gear we happen to be digging on this week. We love gear.

Share your story ideas or interesting finds with us by emailing our Managing Editor at [email protected] Header image credit: Griffon Mims

Avatar Sequel Gets First Teaser

Sometimes a trailer for a new movie comes along and you just have to ask yourself, “Do people want this?” After more than a decade, James Cameron is finally ready to unleash his sequel to Avatar upon the moviegoing public, and we got our first good look at it in the new trailer for the flick, coming in December, officially dubbed Avatar 2: The Way of Water. By some metrics, the original film is still the biggest of all time, which is strange considering the lack of pop-cultural weight the movie currently enjoys (try to think of the last time you had a conversation with someone about Avatar). But it would be wrong to count out James Cameron, who is unquestionably one of the most important living filmmakers, whose every new film is said to be a certain flop, and then comes back to become an enormous hit. We’ll see if that trend continues when the Avatar sequel lands in theaters later this year.

See What It’s Like Being Launched Out of a Centrifuge at 1,000mph

Maybe don’t watch this video on an enormous screen if you’re at all prone to motion sickness. Now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, we can talk about the ingenious tech behind SpinLaunch, a novel system for launching small payloads into low earth orbit without the dangers of explosions (there’s no onboard fuel) in a sustainable way (the process is purely electrical). The system works by launching a payload from a centrifuge at a speed great enough to send it into orbit, and the projectiles have specially designed fins to keep them spinning at the proper rate to get to the desired height with reliable accuracy. In a recent test, SpinLaunch attached a camera to their payload, giving viewers a unique view of the object screaming toward the sky before finally leveling off in the stratosphere. It’s quite a sight, and worth a watch for anyone interested in the future of how we’ll get work done in space (as long as you don’t think you’ll lose your lunch).

Skier Makes First Descent of Makalu …On Skis

credit: Griffon Mims

Tucked away in the Mahalangur Himalayas and approximately 12 miles southeast of Mount Everest, stands the fifth highest mountain in the world, Makalu. There have been over 560 successful summits of Makalu since the first summit bid by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy in 1955, however zero successful ski descents of the 27,776 foot ice, rock and hard packed snow laden behemoth. Well that changed this past week as mountaineer and skier Adrian Ballinger became the first person to successfully make the first ski descent of Makalu. Outside Magazine caught up with Ballinger post his record descent and recounts all the details from his expedition, some of which is just mind blowing, from their unique preacclimatization approach which included staying in a hypoxic altitude tent to help adjust to the thin air and Ballinger’s 10 minute break after summiting to snap a few photos and then immediately snapping into his skis to make the descent. Out of the 14 highest peaks, Kanchenjunga remains as the only mountain unskied and when asked if that was next for Ballinger, he responds, “I truly want to sit with this one and be content for a bit … but with that high and mighty stance, Kanchenjunga is the last unskied 8,000 meter peak.” Feel free to take that break Adrian, we’ll all be here waiting when you’re ready to take on Kanchenjunga.

Apple Says Goodbye to iPod

Apple

The iPod had a great run, but after 20 years, Apple is moving on. This week Apple shared that they’re finally discontinuing the iPod, the MP3 player that ushered in a new age of carrying music (and video, and the internet) with you wherever you go. The prevalence of smartphones and streaming services that give you immediate access to virtually any song you can imagine make the iPod somewhat redundant, but we saw plenty of commentary around the internet this week from longtime users who claim they’ll continue to hang on to their much loved devices. The last remaining iPod, the iPod Touch, hadn’t received an update since 2019, and the classic “click wheel” iPods have been off the scene for quite some time, so the writing was certainly on the wall with respect to the iPod’s ultimate fate. Still, this truly represents the end of an era, and it’s a good reminder that even the most ubiquitous and beloved tech eventually becomes completely obsolete.

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Google Shows Off AR Glasses that Translate in Real Time

Google held their annual I/O Conference this week, and in addition to a Pixel Watch, we also got a glimpse of a set of augmented reality glasses capable of real-time speech translation. The glasses, which feature a hip, thick frame, can not only hear what’s being said and make the translation visible in words to the wearer, but can also see sign language, and translate that as well. The glasses seem to be in usable concept form at the moment, so no word on how they might perform in real world situations, such as a noisy market. Additionally, if you’re expecting to use this type of device while traveling, their practicality may be limited unless both parties of the conversation are wearing them. Regardless, it’s a pretty trick bit of tech that we’d love to see fleshed out further.

Astronomers Deliver First Image Of Black Hole at Our Galaxy’s Center

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration/National Science Foundation

Back in 2019 the astronomers behind the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) revealed the first ever direct image of a black hole by capturing the one at the heart of galaxy M87. This week, the same team released another, this time allowing us a view of the one at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The data to reveal this image (which isn’t really an image like we take with regular cameras) was actually taken over a series of 5 nights back in 2017 from 8 different observatories across the world working on concert with one another. Combined, the data added up to around four petabytes, and the imaging of our own black hole proved more challenging to piece together, verify, and review than M87, which is why we’re only hearing about it now. The image itself is similar to the first, with a trio of bright spots forming a ring. It’s frustratingly blurry, but hey, it’s a very long way away, and you know, it’s radio waves – and this is likely just the first step in getting direct “images” of black holes. For a much more concise explanation of what you’re looking at and how it was captured, check out this video by the excellent YouTube channel, veritasium

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eBay Finds: Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox

credit: aluv_watches

We’ve got a real winner this week for your bidding pleasure, a vintage 1960’s Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox alarm watch with original box! The Memovox is easily the most famous and recognizable of all the vintage alarm watches. This example is in superb condition. The 37mm wide stainless steel case is excellent and looks like it may have only suffered the slightest of light polishes in the past. The original silver dial is gorgeous, with a clean silver finish and no patina that I can see from the pictures. The dual crowns are both signed with the “JL” logo as they should. The manual wind caliber K911 movement looks super clean, and the seller states that the watch runs and works as it should. The bracelet is a chintzy aftermarket piece, but once you put a proper croc or lizard strap on it, this watch will be the pride of any collection. As a nice touch, a period correct box that may well be original to the watch is also included. Great find to see one of these in such great shape listed as a true auction.

View auction here.

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