If you love VICE magazine and its gonzo approach to journalism then you will probably like Motherboard, Vice’s new home for all things technology and science related. As is common with the publication’s other ventures, the channel is chock-full of the weird and wonderful – from future weaponry to alternate sources of weaponry, and everything in between.
As is the case with Vice and many online outlets, the choice of subject can be a little raw; but that’s what makes them so good, after all. So with viewer discretion advised, here’s a smattering of my favourite Motherboard shows so far.
Drone On: The Future of UAV Over the US
Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs or drones, have exploded in popularity over the last few years among both the military and civilian hobbyists. Not only are wars being fought remotely from thousands of miles away; enthusiasts are beginning to build their own drones, which according to some raises some interesting legal and security concerns.
In this interesting short documentary, Vice travel to Jordan for SOFEX, the world’s largest military weapons exposition, to check out the latest and greatest micro-drones.
The Finer Points of David Rees
Remember that Internet story you heard about the guy who sharpens pencils for a living? Well there’s a good chance his name was David Rees, and yes – he’s the owner of a one-man artisanal pencil sharpening business. David takes sharpening pencils very seriously, so seriously that he quit his successful career as a political cartoonist and founded this business instead.
Charging $15 per pencil, David makes a living from doing one thing and doing it well.
The World’s Highest Ranking Alien Believer
Who doesn’t want to believe that we’re not alone, that someone, somewhere is watching us on a distant planet right now? Paul Hellyer is just like any believer convinced of extra-terrestrials and UFOs – except Paul is Canada’s former Minister of Defence.
Paul famously made headlines at the 2013 Citizen Hearing on Disclosure when he confessed his belief that we live “in a cosmos teeming with life of various sorts.” Hear Paul’s thoughts on UFOs and his decision to go public with his beliefs in this quirky short documentary.
Columbia’s Coke-Smuggling Submarines
As law enforcement gets wise to the tactics used by South American cartels, the cartels are forced to adapt. Smuggling drugs from Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru through Mexico is risky business, and now the drug lords are turning to the oceans, but not boats.
Semi-submersibles are like submarines, except they sit just above the water’s edge making them impossible to spot from land or sea. The only way you’ll catch a semi-sub is from the air, which makes the life even tougher for the authorities trying to keep drugs out of Mexico and the US.
The Thorium Dream
Thorium is a metal that’s as common as lead but that a small grassroots movement swears is a clean, abundant source of nuclear energy. Despite thorium being a potential source of clean and safe energy, the US abandoned research in the 70s and focused on solid nuclear fuels, rather than thorium which is used as a liquid fuel.
These reactors use low pressure, can create around 90 times the power of uranium with much less waste and best of all thorium is completely unsuitable for use in weaponry.
Human Body Farm
In east Tennessee there’s a small stretch of woodland that is home to a large collection of “open air” rotting corpses. Yes, it’s legal and yes, it’s all in the name of science: the science of human decomposition for better solving crimes.
Death is something that comes to us all, but for some people it’s a part of the job description. This film looks at the science, necessity, and characters behind the biggest human body farm in the US. It goes without saying that viewer discretion is advised, though there’s nothing too gruesome on show here.
A Backyard Rocketeer
Hydrogen peroxide rocket propulsion is one of the cleanest and fastest means of rapid acceleration, though its effects are short-lived. Juan Manuel Lozano Gallegos is a Mexican who has dedicated his life to the research and development of hydrogen peroxide propulsion, and he’s got the scars to prove it.
Despite affixing rocket propulsion systems to just about everything he could find (including a bicycle which resulted in some serious fractures) Juan has one passion that over-shadows the rest: the rocket belt.