Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Don't drown in Black Friday sales. Here are 5 unique deals.

These gear picks will make your home, office and free-time hours a little more efficient and fun—plus there's a killer app for when you're ready for a vacation.

Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash
  • These four cool gadgets will boost productivity, improve your home and offer big fun.
  • Matt's Flights alerts you to all the big airline flight discounts.
  • Save an extra 20% with coupon code BFSAVE20.


The Black Friday avalanche is deafening. Every retailer is on every platform shouting to the rafters about their biggest bargains.

Smart shoppers, however, aren’t thrown off by the volume and hype. Instead, they look to trusted outlets to point out some truly inspired Black Friday deals. Dig a little deeper than the big box store ads and you’ll find five items like these, including gadgets to make home, office and free-time hours a little more efficient and fun—and a killer app for when you’re ready for a vacation.

Plus, use the coupon code BFSAVE20 during checkout to get another 20% off each.

Mobile Pixels DUEX Pro Portable Dual Monitor - $199 (After coupon; originally $249)

Double your productivity with this IndieGoGo favorite: A portable, lightweight, 1080p secondary monitor that effortlessly attaches to your laptop. Either work on dual screens or flip the DUEX Pro around and use it as a brilliant visual aide for presentations. It’s energy efficient, remarkably durable and with this offer, you can also save over $40.

Space Fighter Building Block Drone - $31.99 (After coupon; originally $59.99)

Perfect for the super-smart kid on your list that's bound to be an engineer when they grow up, this DIY drone teaches key principles like aerodynamics, weight distribution and more. Of course, it flies like a champ, too. But you can be the cool adult who bought the brainy kid their own drone. You win the holidays, and save almost $30.

Altec Lansing ALT-500 Turntable - $60 (After coupon; originally $150)

This minimally modern looking turntable brings the vinyl revolution squarely into the 21st century at almost $100 off its regular price. Yes, it plays all your old school LPs and 45s and pumps your tunes through two built-in stereo speakers or connected through a home sound system. It also sports Bluetooth connectivity to stream music from your favorite device or through a synced Bluetooth speaker.

Flume Smart Home Water Monitor - $135 (After coupon; originally $199)

Attach the Flume sensor array to your water meter at home, connect the system to your WiFi and you’ll start receiving constant water monitoring data to unlock all the mysteries of your utility bill. Flume offers real-time leak warnings and detailed insight into all the water used throughout your home or property at any time.

Matt's Flights Premium Plan: Lifetime Subscription - $120 (After coupon BFSAVE40; originally $499.99)

Matt’s Flights is the travel hawk’s best friend. Whenever an airline makes a pricing error (or even just lays out a ridiculously discounted flight), Matt’s instantly lets you know. From premium bargains to 1-on-1 flight and travel planning support 24 hours a day, you’ll never pay for full price airline tickets again. And this offer is a huge deal itself, almost $350 off the regular price.

Prices are subject to change.

When you buy something through a link in this article or from our shop, Big Think earns a small commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.

More From Big Think
Related Articles

What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan?

Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth

Image: Mohammad Reza Kamali, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • J.R.R. Tolkien himself hinted that his stories are set in a really ancient version of Europe.
  • But a fantasy realm can be inspired by a variety of places; and perhaps so is Tolkien's world.
  • These intriguing similarities with Asian topography show that it may be time to 'decolonise' Middle-earth.
Keep reading Show less

Giant whale sharks have teeth on their eyeballs

The ocean's largest shark relies on vision more than previously believed.

Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Japanese researchers discovered that the whale shark has "tiny teeth"—dermal denticles—protecting its eyes from abrasion.
  • They also found the shark is able to retract its eyeball into the eye socket.
  • Their research confirms that this giant fish relies on vision more than previously believed.
Keep reading Show less

A massive star has mysteriously vanished, confusing astronomers

A gigantic star makes off during an eight-year gap in observations.

Image source: ESO/L. Calçada
Surprising Science
  • The massive star in the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy seems to have disappeared between 2011 and 2019.
  • It's likely that it erupted, but could it have collapsed into a black hole without a supernova?
  • Maybe it's still there, but much less luminous and/or covered by dust.

A "very massive star" in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy caught the attention of astronomers in the early years of the 2000s: It seemed to be reaching a late-ish chapter in its life story and offered a rare chance to observe the death of a large star in a region low in metallicity. However, by the time scientists had the chance to turn the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile back around to it in 2019 — it's not a slow-turner, just an in-demand device — it was utterly gone without a trace. But how?

The two leading theories about what happened are that either it's still there, still erupting its way through its death throes, with less luminosity and perhaps obscured by dust, or it just up and collapsed into a black hole without going through a supernova stage. "If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," says Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, leader of the observation team whose study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

So, em...

Between astronomers' last look in 2011 and 2019 is a large enough interval of time for something to happen. Not that 2001 (when it was first observed) or 2019 have much meaning, since we're always watching the past out there and the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy is 75 million light years away. We often think of cosmic events as slow-moving phenomena because so often their follow-on effects are massive and unfold to us over time. But things happen just as fast big as small. The number of things that happened in the first 10 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, for example, is insane.

In any event, the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is far way, too far for astronomers to directly observe its stars. Their presence can be inferred from spectroscopic signatures — specifically, PHL 293B between 2001 and 2011 consistently featured strong signatures of hydrogen that indicated the presence of a massive "luminous blue variable" (LBV) star about 2.5 times more brilliant than our Sun. Astronomers suspect that some very large stars may spend their final years as LBVs.

Though LBVs are known to experience radical shifts in spectra and brightness, they reliably leave specific traces that help confirm their ongoing presence. In 2019 the hydrogen signatures, and such traces, were gone. Allan says, "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

The Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is one of the most metal-poor galaxies known. Explosive, massive, Wolf-Rayet stars are seldom seen in such environments — NASA refers to such stars as those that "live fast, die hard." Red supergiants are also rare to low Z environments. The now-missing star was looked to as a rare opportunity to observe a massive star's late stages in such an environment.

Celestial sleuthing

In August 2019, the team pointed the four eight-meter telescopes of ESO's ESPRESSO array simultaneously toward the LBV's former location: nothing. They also gave the VLT's X-shooter instrument a shot a few months later: also nothing.

Still pursuing the missing star, the scientists acquired access to older data for comparison to what they already felt they knew. "The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009," says Andrea Mehner, an ESO staff member who worked on the study. "The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO's newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view."

Examination of this data suggested that the LBV may have indeed been winding up to a grand final sometime after 2011.

Team member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College, says "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night. Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-meter telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO."

Combining the 2019 data with contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imagery leaves the authors of the reports with the sense that "the LBV was in an eruptive state at least between 2001 and 2011, which then ended, and may have been followed by a collapse into a massive BH without the production of an SN. This scenario is consistent with the available HST and ground-based photometry."

Or...

A star collapsing into a black hole without a supernova would be a rare event, and that argues against the idea. The paper also notes that we may simply have missed the star's supernova during the eight-year observation gap.

LBVs are known to be highly unstable, so the star dropping to a state of less luminosity or producing a dust cover would be much more in the realm of expected behavior.

Says the paper: "A combination of a slightly reduced luminosity and a thick dusty shell could result in the star being obscured. While the lack of variability between the 2009 and 2019 near-infrared continuum from our X-shooter spectra eliminates the possibility of formation of hot dust (⪆1500 K), mid-infrared observations are necessary to rule out a slowly expanding cooler dust shell."

The authors of the report are pretty confident the star experienced a dramatic eruption after 2011. Beyond that, though:

"Based on our observations and models, we suggest that PHL 293B hosted an LBV with an eruption that ended sometime after 2011. This could have been followed by
(1) a surviving star or
(2) a collapse of the LBV to a BH [black hole] without the production of a bright SN, but possibly with a weak transient."

Quantcast