For Sale: The Safest House in America, Complete With Hidden Command Center

Paul Wegener
Paul Wegener

For some people, locking the front door just isn't enough to feel fully safe at home. Maybe they set up a home security system. Maybe they go out and buy a fancy smart home hub with a security camera. Or maybe they spend six years and $30 million to build a veritable fortress mansion, as one guy in Atlanta did. That house, called the Rice House and referred to as one of the safest homes in America, is now up for sale for $14.7 million.

Built by an entrepreneur who hired a security architect with a background designing Justice Department buildings (and his own bunker/house), the Rice House is billed as a "modern fortress" in the real estate listing.

For its owner, creating an impenetrable home was more of a personal challenge than a real security need, according to Bloomberg. But by its features, you'd think it was built for a Bond super-villain or a head of state, not a businessman in a wealthy Atlanta neighborhood.

A secure door with several locks
Paul Wegener

It has its own water and power supply, a 5000-square-foot command center hidden behind a waterfall, a vault, and doors capable of withstanding machine gun fire. There’s an indoor gun range, in case you need some target practice. There’s enough room in the garage for 30 cars, in case you have a few dozen Batmobiles—or you want to invite friends to hunker down with you during the apocalypse.

And since anyone who lives there might be more invested in staying safely inside the gates than going out on the weekends, the place has plenty of amenities that make it a standalone mini-community. It’s got its own art gallery, a gym, a bowling alley, a wine cellar, a home theater, and a pool. It has three kitchens and two commercial elevators, with staff quarters so the servants you inevitably need to cater to you never need to leave, either.

But wait, there’s more. If the house lacks something you want, that’s fine! Because according to the listing, “the property purposefully awaits final personalization.” In other words, for your $14.7 million, it’s not finished.

Check it out here.

National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Aretha Franklin With Week-Long Exhibition

Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA
Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA

With the passing of Aretha Franklin on August 16, 2018, the world has lost one of its most distinctive voices—and personalities. As celebrities and fans share their memories of the Queen of Soul and what her music meant to them, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery will pay tribute to the legendary songstress's life with a week-long exhibition of her portrait.

Throughout her career, Franklin earned some of the music industry's highest accolades, including 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nearly 30 years later, in 2015, the National Portrait Gallery fêted Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize, which recognizes "the accomplishments of notable contemporary Americans whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery collection." (Madeline Albright, Spike Lee, and Rita Moreno are among some of its recent recipients.)

Milton Glaser's lithograph of Aretha Franklin, which is displayed at The National Portrait Gallery
© Milton Glaser

Franklin's portrait was the creation of noted graphic designer Milton Glaser, who employed "his characteristic kaleidoscope palette and innovative geometric forms to convey the creative energy of Franklin's performances," according to the Gallery. The colorful lithographic was created in 1968, the very same year that the National Portrait Gallery opened.

Glaser's image will be installed in the "In Memoriam" section of the museum, which is located on the first floor, on Friday, August 17 and will remain on display to the public through August 22, 2018. The Gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and admission is free.

New Color Scale Makes Data Visualizations Easier for Colorblind People to Read

Mars topography visualized on a rainbow scale
Mars topography visualized on a rainbow scale
NASA/JPL/USGS

When designers want to visualize changes in data, like in a heat map or a topographical survey, they often reach for the rainbow. The rainbow color scale is almost the default for visualizing scientific and engineering data. And yet, putting all the colors of the rainbow into a single image isn’t a good idea. For one thing, as Scientific American reports, it makes visualizations impossible to read if you’re colorblind. And even if you can pick out every color in the image, that doesn’t mean you understand what going from red to violet means.

Now, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington have developed an alternative to the rainbow color scale that will make data visualization and other images easier to decipher for people with color-vision deficiency and the general public. Using a mathematical model of how the brain perceives differences in color, they created a new color scale they call cividis, which shows data exclusively in shades of blue and yellow—the colors that someone with colorblindness would see while looking at a rainbow color scale.

A nanoscale image overlaid with four different color scales
The new blue-yellow color scale is labelled CVD-Jet
Nuñez et. al, PLOS ONE (2018)

They took traditional rainbow color maps and ran them through software that converted them to look closer to the blue-yellow scale that reflects what someone with the most common form of colorblindness sees. Then, the software adjusted the color and brightness of that image to look more consistent with how people interpret data. One of the problems with the rainbow scale is that people automatically see the brightest color as a peak, sometimes leading them to incorrect conclusions. Even though yellow is one of the middle colors in Roy G. Biv, it often jumps out at people as the most extreme color on the map, though red is the highest on the scale. In this color scale, the color does get brighter as the values go up, so you don't have to work as hard to interpret it.

In general, most people don’t intuitively know what order the colors of the rainbow should appear in at all. Red and violet are at opposite ends of the Roy G. Biv scale, but that’s not visually apparent. Narrowing the range down to two colors makes it easier for readers to pinpoint where on the scale a specific point is.

The two-color scale also makes changes in data look more gradual, whereas with a rainbow of colors, the difference between each color looks very stark. The ability to show a gradual progression can reflect more nuance.

It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. An eye-catching, complex rainbow visualization can lead scientists to misinterpret their own data, while an easier-to-read scale makes it easier for them to pick out patterns. In one 2011 study cited by Scientific American [PDF], scientists at Harvard found that doctors were faster and better at spotting signs of heart disease while looking at 2D images of arteries on a color scale that just used black and red than while looking at a 3D rainbow visualization.

Cividis has already been added to the color-scale libraries of some image-processing software, and its creators hope to convince more scientists and designers to use it in the future.

[h/t Scientific American]

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