Do Androids Dream of Liquid Trees

"Things bad," says old man.

Tom Scocca asked three interesting questions today. The first was: what’s up with that liquid trees story? Yesterday the feed was suddenly full of posts like:

These sidewalk tanks full of Hulk blood do exist, according to a World Bio Market Insights story from December, 2021 that refers to a contemporaneous Euronews story. About a week ago a Twitter account called Scientific Fundraising freebooted a Youtube video from last June by Zoomin TV, where the scientist who developed the liquid trees explains that while they may look like a big tank full of water and algae, that is in fact exactly what they are.

But what seems to have kicked off the current cycle of Liquid Tree hype is an article posted yesterday by a content mill called Yup That Exists which claims that:

The team of researchers, based at the University of Belgrade, created the liquid trees by using cellulose nanofibers, which are incredibly small fibers found in plant cell walls.

By processing these fibers into a liquid form, the scientists were able to create a substance that has many of the same properties as natural wood, including high strength and toughness.

They did what now? The article continues:

Another potential application for liquid trees is in the energy sector. The nanofibers used to create liquid trees are highly conductive, meaning that they could be used to create high-performance batteries and other energy storage devices. Liquid trees could also be used to create highly efficient solar panels and other renewable energy technologies.

None of this is true. The Yup That Exists story links back to World Bio Market Insights, which doesn’t make any of these claims. Cellulose nanofibers are real, and do have some interesting properties, they just don’t have anything to do with these tanks of algae. I ran the post through a couple of AI content detectors, which rated it “7% human generated” and “likely AI.” Yup That Exists did not respond to a request for comment, but I think we can all guess what happened here.

Now, I know what you're thinking—this isn’t great, but so what if some no-name content mill is generating trash articles with AI? The hidden gem is: Buzzfeed is doing this too.

Tom asked his second good question at much greater length in NY Mag’s The Strategist today and it is: why are the LED lightbulbs so bad?

I don’t remember how long it took to notice, or think I had noticed, a series of letdowns: a faded look to the page of a storybook, a flicker in the corner of the eye, those sudden unexplained failures or half-failures. A slate-blue sock that was indistinguishable from a charcoal-gray one till I brought them over by the window. A certain unreality was creeping in…

I started to confide in people that I was seeing things, that the light was wrong, and usually they knew exactly what I was talking about. Over lunch, a friend unspooled an epic account of his quest for dimmable bulbs that would actually dim. A stranger in a shared taxi forwarded me a blog post he’d written about his conviction that the color of objects lit by LEDs was washed out and about his incredulity at how fast they failed.

I rarely get more than a year out of the current LED bulbs. I imagine we’ll adjust, like we adjusted to inaudible cell phone calls, the daily slaughter of school children, and the live feed of anxiety and horror in our pockets. I hate to be all “old man says things are bad now” but as an old man I have to say, things are bad now.

Today in TikTok nursing horrors: “Have you ever heard of a human decanter?” (Cw: people being medically creative.) A Florida principal “…tried to send $100,000 from the school’s account to a scammer posing as Elon Musk… The principal was repeatedly told she was speaking to a scammer.” Also today in Florida: Disney bigfoots Meatball Ron with King George III clause. “‘Attacking Mexico,’ or whatever you’d like to call it, is something that President Trump has said he wants ‘battle plans’ drawn for,” a source tells Rolling Stone’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley. Cup Noodles breakfast is “artificially flavored as maple syrup pancakes, sausage and egg.” You can just eat ramen for breakfast, you don’t have to be a pervert about it. New emoji include moose 🫎, goose 🪿, and fear 🫨. I had to upgrade the Tabs mainframe supercomputer to post that, thanks a lot Jennifer Daniel.

Today in Crabs:

Tiktok frame of a crab-shaped bike chainring, with an embedded comment that reads “My Bro needs a CNC router at this point”

Wrestling turned me cis, then it turned me trans,” writes Josie Riesman for Polygon.

The essential, irreducible element of a wrestling match is the ability to show suffering — the very thing drummed out of every boy by high school, if not earlier. It’s the heart of the art form. No matter how skilled a wrestler is technically, it doesn’t count at all unless they can make the audience believe they’re being hurt. Every wrestler has to spend a significant amount of every match showing nothing but raw, visceral agony. They have to show their secret face, the most vulnerable one of all.

Toot by Chamomile Hangover: As of today, the term “hate-fuck” will be replaced with the more family friendly “cranky-panky”

Today’s Song: Bad Optix, “Raid” (it’s Tim Armstrong and Jesse Michaels from Operation Ivy!)

I’ve been Rusty, this has been Today in Tabs, you have been an exquisite soul unique in all of time and space, and how fortunate I am that in this life I am one who has been allowed to create beauty with newsletter. Season 8 music here, much more music here. And there are a handful of white 2XL shirts left if that’s your vibe. Tag yourself, I’m Down Arrow. Pass through the paywall and ascend to the Next Level:

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