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The 1925 Serum Run To Nome: The Incredible Story of How a Remote Alaskan Town Was Saved From an Epidemic  

In the winter of 1925, a small Alaskan town called Nome, situated on the edge of the Arctic circle, found itself on the brink of an unimaginable crisis. An outbreak of diphtheria threatened to wipe out the entire community of 1,400. Nome's lone physician, Curtis Welch, feared that if the infection spread, it could put at risk the surrounding communities totaling more than 10,000 people. A large number of these were natives who had no resistance to the disease. To make matter worse, Dr. Welchâ...

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2020-09-23 16:52:00

Petrozavodsk Phenomenon  

On September 20, 1977, between midnight and the early hours of the morning, people over a vast region in eastern Europe, stretching from Copenhagen and Helsinki in the west to Vladivostok in the east, observed an unusual light phenomenon in the sky. According to various eyewitness reports, an unidentified luminous object appeared suddenly on the dark sky, sending pulsed shafts of light to earth. It then moved slowly and silently towards the city of Petrozavodsk and spread over it in the form of

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2020-09-23 16:50:00

The Underground Fortress of ChĂąteau de BrĂ©zĂ©  

ChĂąteau de Breze is a small castle by European standards. Occupying less than 2 acres, this modest U-shaped building surrounded by a dry moat appears nothing out of the ordinary. But beneath its humble foundation lies one of Europe's largest underground fortress. ChĂąteau de Breze is located on the outskirts of the small village of Breze, in the Saumur region of the Loire Valley, France. It was built by Arthus de Maille-Breze, the then lord of the castle, in the mid-16th century. Fear...

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2020-09-21 15:08:00

The Disgrace of Gijon: The Match That Changed World Cup Football  

For the first time in the history of FIFA World Cup, the 1982 edition of the tournament in Spain saw 24 teams take part instead of the usual 16. There were a lot of new faces, such as Algeria, Cameroon, Honduras, Kuwait, and New Zealand. Some of the regulars like Netherlands, Mexico and Sweden also failed to qualify, and this left a lot of vacancies up for grabs. Belgium, Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, England and the Soviet Union were all back in the field after more than a decade of absence. T

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2020-09-18 17:19:00

The Iron Bridge of Shropshire  

The world's first cast iron bridge still stands in Shropshire, England, across River Severn. It's more than two hundred years old. Although cast iron has been used since ancient times to make pots and pans, cannon balls, and decorative pieces such as window grills and chimneypieces, it was never used for structural purposes until architect Thomas Farnolls Pritchard suggested that a cast iron bridge be constructed to span the Severn Gorge in Shropshire. The Severn Gorge, later renamed to the...

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2020-09-17 20:04:00

The Four Inch Flight: The Comical Beginning to Project Mercury  

Like many firsts in spaceflight, Project Mercury began with a failure. The goal of the mission was to put a man in space and bring him safely back to earth, ideally before the Soviet Union did. The Soviets beat America by putting into orbit the first satellite, and now the race was on to put the first human. Unfortunately, Project Mercury was having trouble getting off the ground. In July 1960, the very first attempt to launch a Mercury capsule (that would carry future astronauts) on top of an

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2020-09-16 20:10:00

Vladimir Tatlin's Unbuilt Tower  

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the leader of the victorious Bolshevik Party, Vladimir Lenin, launched a massive monument-building program across the Russian Soviet Republic, the precursor to the Soviet Union, as means for propagating revolutionary and communist ideas. As part of this unabashedly-called "Monumental Propaganda", Lenin put a young Bolshevik architect named Vladimir Tatlin in charge of creating the headquarter for the Third International—an organization that Lenin found...

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2020-09-16 10:33:00

Etienne Bottineau And The Lost Art of Nauscopie  

Etienne Bottineau was a sailor and an employee of the French East India Company who possessed a remarkable skill. Bottineau could detect ships located beyond the horizon hundreds of miles from the coast and invisible to the eye. He would baffle anybody including his superiors by predicting the arrival of these yet-to-be-seen fleets up to four days in advance, and even correctly estimate the number of ships in the fleet. One particularly famous anecdote involving Bottineau's almost supernatura...

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2020-09-14 21:06:00

DĂ©sert de Retz  

François Racine de Monville had at his disposal a large estate on the edge of a 2,000-hectare-forest, in the commune of Chambourcy, about 15 km to the west of Paris. Being an 18th-century French aristocrat with a sizeable passive income generated from numerous land holdings in Normandy, Monville had little to worry about finances, so he spent most of his spare time learning new social skills and honing his many talents that made him very popular at parties. A handsome and charming man, Monville...

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2020-09-12 20:35:00

The Audacity of Peter Tordenskjold: The Naval Captain Who Asked His Enemy For Ammo in The Middle of a Battle  

On November 12, 1720 Peter Tordenskjold died in a sword duel. It will not sound familiar to most people, but he was one of the great national heroes of Denmark and Norway—countries that were once united, a daring sailor who would be the equivalent of what Nelson is to the British, Ruyter to the Dutch, Jones to the Americans or Bazan to the Spanish. Remembered in several popular songs and honored with several statues, streets, books, films and even a festival, a corvette of the Danish navy and...

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2020-09-11 19:33:00

Chinese Magic Mirrors  

For over a thousand years, a rare type of Chinese artifact has been baffling researchers. It's a polished bronze mirror with a pattern cast on its reverse side. The polished surface appears normal and can be used as a regular mirror. But when a bright light is shone on the mirror face and the reflected light is projected on to a surface, the pattern decorating the reverse face mysteriously appears in the projected reflection, as if the solid bronze mirror had become transparent. The Chinese na...

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2020-09-11 16:00:00

Burnley Embankment  

Regarded as one of the "Seven Wonders of British Waterways", the Burnley Embankment, locally known as "The Straight Mile", is an impressive earth embankment that carries The Leeds and Liverpool Canal some sixty feet above the town of Burnley. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal, that began construction in 1770, was originally designed to bypass Burnley in favor of the coal-and-lime-rich regions lying to the south. Burnley would have been connected to the canal by a branch heading up the valle...

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2020-09-10 16:39:00

The Train of The End of The World  

At the southernmost tip of South America, beyond the Andes, lies the beautiful and colorful city of Ushuaia, regarded by some as the southernmost city of the world. And just beyond the city's outskirts run a small steam railway originally built to serve the penal colony of Ushuaia. Today, the Southern Fuegian Railway takes tourists along the picturesque Pico Valley, through the thickly-forested Toro gorge and into the stunning national park. Photo: Deensel/Flickr © Amusing Planet, 20...

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2020-09-09 15:39:00

The Post Offices of Love and Romance  

The town of Bridal Veil, located in Multnomah County, Oregon, the United States, a little distance from the Bridal Veil waterfalls, remains awfully quiet throughout the year, except during wedding season. Thanks to its unique name and a small one-room post office—the town's only functioning business—Bridal Veil sees an influx of would-be couples every spring and summer, who come to this forgotten outpost just to get their wedding invitation mails cancelled by a special postmark. ©...

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2020-09-08 16:54:00

Anthropology Days: The Racist Olympic Event of 1904  

Starting from the late 19th century through the early 20th, human exhibitions were a routine part of circuses, traveling shows, and major expositions in the west, where indigenous people from around the world and their cultures were exhibited as one displayed animals in a zoo. Exhibits for these human zoos were sourced from the tribes of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, the Americas, and elsewhere. These men, women and children were often displayed living in mock eth

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2020-09-07 12:58:00

The Balmoral Pyramid  

Hidden among the trees in the woods surrounding the Balmoral Castle in Royal Deeside, Scotland, are eleven stone cairns erected by Queen Victoria in honour of her family, the largest being an impressive pyramid built to commemorate the death of her beloved husband. The Balmoral Estate was bought by Prince Albert in 1852 as a gift for his wife, Queen Victoria. Because the residence that originally stood on the property was not befitting the Royal Family, Prince Albert built a bigger castle about

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2020-09-04 20:45:00

Vinkensport: Belgium's Competitive Bird Calling  

In the Flanders region of Belgium, a favorite pastime among the old Dutch-speaking folks is raising and training the common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)—a small passerine bird about an ounce in weight, with a bright blue-grey cap and rust-red underparts. The males of the species are the most sought after because of their brighter plumage and stronger voice, which makes them a popular caged songbird. The chaffinch breed between spring and early summer. During this period, the male chaffinch t...

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2020-09-03 19:50:00

Gallaudet Eleven: The Deaf 'Astronauts'  

In the late 1950s, when NASA was still a young organization, one of the biggest challenges for them was to determine whether human spaceflight was a realistic possibility. One thing that was poorly understood was the the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body, and whether motion sickness could hinder space missions and endanger crews. In order to test how the body might react to the stomach-churning rigors of spaceflight, NASA needed people who were immune to motion sickness. An

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2020-09-02 16:56:00

Turlough: Ireland's Disappearing Lakes  

Many lakes whose existence depends wholly on rainwater runoffs are seasonal. The phenomenon is not particularly mysterious—the lake forms when rainwater accumulates in a depression, and disappears when the water dries off. However, in Ireland, there is a type of disappearing lake that does not evaporate into the air; it drains underground. They are known as turloughs. Lough Bunny in The Burren, County Clare, Ireland, is a turlough. Every summer it drains into fissures around the lake's ...

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2020-09-01 12:06:00

The Erfurt Latrine Disaster  

Deaths are always unfortunate and even more so if they occur as a result of an accident. But sometimes there are incidents that have particularly humiliating characteristics and probably among the worst recorded in history is the incident that occurred in Erfurt in the middle of the Middle Ages, when dozens of members of the court of Henry VI perished when the floor of the building where they were standing collapsed. Many lost their lives from the fall but others drowned in excrement as they fel

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2020-08-31 20:51:00

Medieval Rabbit Warrens  

Back in medieval England rabbits were not bred in cages but in specially crafted earthen burrows called warrens, or pillow mounds. These were heaps of earth with multiple, well-ventilated inner chambers where rabbits mated, gave birth and raised their families. The pillow-like mounds were often built in oblong shape and sometimes were connected with each other with stone-lined tunnels. To prevent the rabbits from escaping, a field of pillow mounds was surrounded by a moat, or ditch filled with w

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2020-08-31 11:15:00

The Uranium Cubes From a Nazi Nuclear Reactor  

In the summer of 2013, Physicist Timothy Koeth of University of Maryland received an unexpected gift from one of his friends. It was a small metallic cube, 2 inches per side, wrapped in a piece of paper. Koeth recognized the cube immediately from old grainy photos he saw in books on nuclear history, and if there was any doubt, the accompanying note settled it. It read: "Taken from Germany, from the nuclear reactor Hitler tried to build. Gift of Ninninger." This cube was one of hundreds that...

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2020-08-28 10:54:00

Bull Running in Britain  

Bull running as a sport is mostly associated with the city of Pamplona, in northern Spain. But until the 19th century, Britain had a similar thirst for blood sport. The first documented bull running event in the British Isles took place in 1389 in the town of Stamford, in Lincolnshire. In a document recovered from the "Gild of St. Martin", the event was describes as thus: on the feast of St. Martin, this gild, by custom beyond reach of memory, has a bull; which bull is hunted [not baite...

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2020-08-27 12:39:00

The Very First Image on The Internet  

Back in the early nineties, when the World Wide Web was still young, a group of geeky girls hailing from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)—the birth place of the World Wide Web—used to perform at the organization and other HEP (High Energy Physic) events. They called themselves the "Les Horribles Cernettes" which translates to "The Horrible CERN Girls". They sang about colliders, antimatter, Higgs boson and cosmic rays. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-08-27 11:58:00

The Ruins of Gleno Dam  

In a small valley, among the mountains of Lombardy, in northern Italy, stands a dam, or rather, half a dam. Built on the Gleno Creek, the Gleno Dam was supposed to provide hydroelectric power to the region, but because of shoddy construction, the middle section of the dam collapsed after the reservoir was filled, leading to huge destruction along the downstream valley and the death of over 350 people. The wide gash in the dam is still visible to this day. The Gleno Dam with its gaping hole in

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2020-08-26 18:48:00

The B-17 That Flew With Its Tail Sliced Off  

This famous photograph of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, with its tail section severed but still flying was taken during Word War 2, towards the end of the North African campaign. The story behind this photograph is an interesting one. The airplane shown in the photograph was named "All American" and belonged to the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bombardment Squadron of the United States Air Force. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-08-25 21:33:00

Battle of Surfaces: The Epic Nadal Vs Federer Match  

In the spring of 2007, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were two of the best tennis players in the world. But they excelled on different surfaces. Federer was the champion on grass, having won 48 consecutive encounters for 5 straight years, while Nadal was undefeated on clay for an astounding 72 consecutive matches played for 3 years. A question that invariably arose among tennis fans was: who would come out on top if Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer played on a court that is half clay and half gr

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2020-08-25 15:35:00

Sway Tower, The 14-Story Folly And The World Tallest Unreinforced Concrete Structure  

On the outskirts of Sway, a village near Lymington, on Britain's south coast, stands a peculiar Victorian tower. Visible for miles around, the narrow rectangular tower shoots straight up into the sky for more than two hundred feet, and is crowed by a cupola. A spiraling staircase housed within a separate but adjacent hexagonal tower allows visitors access to all the fourteen floors and the top. Sway Tower is a folly, a purposeless building, that housed nothing but pigeons for more than a hun...

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2020-08-25 09:39:00

Arrhichion, The Olympic Champion Who Won After His Death  

Pankration was a violet sport. Practiced in ancient Greece, this brutal combination of boxing and wrestling had virtually no rules. The object was to defeat the opponent by any means necessary, and this included hitting, kicking, twisting of limbs, and even strangling. The only thing competitors were not allowed to do was bite or gouge the eye. The contest ended when one of the fighters acknowledged defeat or was rendered unconscious. Many fighters lost their lives playing Pankration. Two me

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2020-08-24 17:09:00

Slip Coach: Trains That Split  

In the middle of the 19th century, British railway engineers realized that journey times could be appreciably shortened if trains didn't have to make intermediate stops to drop off passengers. This was an era when railway companies were highly competitive, and being efficient and on time were the qualities that set apart one from another. So instead of making a stop and unloading passengers, they decoupled entire passenger cars on the fly and let them roll into the station on their own device,...

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2020-08-21 22:05:00

Michael Malloy: The Man Who Wouldn't Die  

Killing someone takes a lot of wickedness backed by an equal amount of temerity, none of which was lacking in Tony Marino, Joseph "Red" Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg, when they gathered at a shabby speakeasy in New York City on a cold winter night in 1933, and hatched a scheme. It was the height of the Depression, and these five lowly men were struggling to make their ends meet. Tony was the proprietor of the establishment—a derelict store wedged between...

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2020-08-19 16:17:00

Middleton, The World's Oldest Operating Railway  

The Middleton Railway in Leeds has been chugging along for the past 260 years, longer than any other railways in the world. It was established by an Act of Parliament in 1758 to transport coal from the collieries of Middleton to the factories of Leeds. At that time, rails were made of wood and although steam engines were being used in industries to drive blast furnaces and pump water from mines, nobody had incorporated one on wheels yet. The Brandlings, who operated the Middleton collieries, w

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2020-08-18 23:20:00

Of Mice, Men And Moon: A Short History of Animals in Space  

More animals have flown to space than human beings. In the early years of space flight, all kinds of living beings from rodents to apes were strapped onto rockets and blasted out of the earth's cocoon and into the uncharted waters of space. Once they came back, their psychological effects were observed and physiological changes studied to understand the impact of exposure to space on living tissues. Many of them never made back alive. Many of us have heard of Laika, the world's first spac...

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2020-08-17 19:46:00

London Bridge's Nonsuch House  

The Old London Bridge that stood for 600 years over Thames was the river's key crossing point, as well as the city's prime real estate area. During medieval times, it was natural for bridges to have buildings built upon them. Usually, it was a couple of shops, the bridge keeper's house, and maybe a church. But London Bridge, being long and spacious, accommodated hundreds of buildings, some of which stood seven stories high and overhung the river precariously by several feet. The London Br...

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2020-08-15 23:02:00

A Racing Horse Named Potoooooooo  

There was once a great racehorse in 18th-century Britain named Potoooooooo, who was famed for his endurance and speed. He won over 30 races defeating some of the best racehorses of the time, and many of his victories were at distances over four miles—more than twice the distance of a typical race. Potoooooooo also had significant influence on the thoroughbred breed, having been sired by a horse named Eclipse, who was a great racehorse himself. Standing 163 cm tall, the bright chestnut Eclipse ...

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2020-08-13 13:49:00

Thames Tunnel: The World's First Tunnel Under a River  

At the beginning of the 19th century, London was one of the busiest river ports in the world, and the 600-year old stone bridge over Thames was long out of capacity. Like many medieval bridges, this too was crammed with buildings, some of which overhung the road creating a dark tunnel through traffic passed. Although the bridge was some 8 meters wide, only half of it was available for traffic. This roadway was shared by ox-carts, wagons, coaches and pedestrians coming from both directions. At pe

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2020-08-11 23:37:00

Why Britain Lost 11 Days in September 1752  

Do you know how many British people were born between September 3 and September 13 in the year 1752? None. Absolutely no one was born, nobody died, and no marriages took place during that period. No wars were fought, no bets were made, no trade deals were signed. As a matter of fact, these eleven days didn't even exist in the British calendar. People went to bed on the night of September 2, 1752, and woke up on September 14. The loss of eleven days was the expected consequence of changing ca...

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2020-08-07 20:32:00

Schuttberg: Germany's Rubble Mountains  

Scores of hills dot the edges of many German cities, but these are not natural. They are known as Schuttberg, or "debris hill". Schuttbergs arose after the end of World War 2, and were created primarily from rubble generated by the destruction of German cities. Allied bombing during the six years of war laid to waste nearly every German city, town and village, destroying millions of homes, public buildings, schools, factories, as well as centuries-old cathedrals, mediaeval houses and other ...

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2020-08-05 13:08:00

A Licence to Watch Television  

In many countries, owing a television involves more than one type of cost. First the device itself, which may cost, depending on your taste, from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Then, there are subscription fees for television channels and online streaming, as well as electricity cost. And lastly, a tax for owning the television set, especially if you live in Europe. The purpose of television licence is to fund public broadcasting services. Many state-owned TV channels are largely

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2020-08-04 20:03:00

Graft Chimera  

On a small traffic island on Rodney Road, in Backwell, in the English county of North Somerset, stands a horticultural curiosity—a cherry tree producing two distinct colors of blossom: pink on one side and white on the other. The dual-color tree is thought to have been planted in the late 1950s. Its name, Strawberries and Cream Tree, was given by the town's children. The Strawberries and Cream Tree in Backwell, North Somerset, England. Photo: Mojo0306/Wikimedia Commons © Amusing Pla...

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2020-08-04 11:21:00

Nikola Tesla's Experimental Laboratory in Colorado Springs  

One of Colorado Spring's most famous visitors was electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla, who in the spring of 1899, set up a laboratory on a small grassy hill in what is now Knob Hill. Tesla was drawn to Colorado Springs by the same qualities that brought thousands of tuberculosis patients to the mountain city—the city's thin and dry air. But unlike the city's many residents, Tesla was not looking for a cure. Tesla believed that electricity could be transmitted across vast di...

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2020-08-01 15:51:00

Kinzua Viaduct: The Fallen Bridge  

On 21 July 2003, a fierce tornado struck northern Pennsylvania and destroyed a large section of the Kinzua Viaduct, a historic railroad trestle that was once billed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". The Kinzua Viaduct was first constructed in 1882, and at that time it was the highest and longest viaduct in the world measuring 92 meters tall and 625 meters long. The viaduct was built by the Lake Erie and Western Railway as part of a line from Bradford south to the coal fields in Elk Count...

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2020-07-30 17:37:00

Pelorus Jack: The Dolphin Who Piloted Ships  

The northern end of New Zealand's South Island is a chaos of bays and sounds, and within this intricate coastline lies a narrow and treacherous stretch of water called the French Pass. Ships avoid it because the currents here are so strong that it can easily drag a vessel and smash it against the rocks. The very first European attempt to navigate through these narrows was a near disaster. French Admiral Jules Dumont d'Urville was mapping the coast of the South Island in 1827 when he inst...

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2020-07-29 10:53:00

Dementia Villages  

At first glance, Hogewey, a small community situated about 20 km outside of Amsterdam looks like any other Dutch town. Residents go about their lives normally, picking up groceries, going to the movies and catching up with friends. But unknown to them, they are leading an orchestrated life, a false reality. There are surveillance cameras everywhere, and residents are watched every hour of the day. From the shopkeeper to the gardener, from the hair stylist to the dentist, every one is part of the

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2020-07-27 15:07:00

The Relocation of Abu Simbel Temples  

Hundreds of towns and villages have perished due to massive earth-moving projects such as the construction of dams. But the temples at Abu Simbel, in Egypt, were historically and culturally far too important to let that happen. So when the newly built Aswan High Dam and reservoir threatened to swallow the 3,300-year-old temples, the international community banded together for an extraordinary salvage operation. The Abu Simbel temples were originally located along the Nile river, carved out of t

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2020-07-24 12:32:00

Christopher Columbus's House in Genoa  

It would have been wonderful to see the actual house where Christopher Columbus grew up. Unfortunately, the one that stands in Genoa today is only a reconstruction. Nevertheless, it's an incredibly old structure and was reconstructed only a few decades after the original house was destroyed. Christopher Columbus, a figure of both pride and shame, was born in the city of Genoa, Italy, in 1451. His father was a wool weaver who also owned a tavern where young Christopher worked as a helper. Very...

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2020-07-23 16:36:00

Astola Island: Pakistan's Hidden Gem  

About 25 km off the coast of Balochistan, in the Arabian Sea, lies a large uninhabited island about 7 km long and 2.5 km wide, with sheer white cliffs surrounded by warm turquoise water. A narrow white beach runs around the periphery of the island. At places, the cliffs shrink inland to create secluded cloves. It's almost like in the Mediterranean. Astola Island, also known as Jezira Haft Talar (Island of the Seven Hills), has long been Pakistan's secret. This largely unspoiled island has ...

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2020-07-22 19:45:00

Malbork Castle: The Brick Marvel  

The Malbork Castle in northern Poland wears two feathers in its cap. Not only it is the largest castle in the world measured by land area, it is also the world's largest brick castle. The castle was originally constructed in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights, a German Catholic religious order of crusaders, after the conquest of Old Prussia, in order to strengthen their own control of the area. Over the next hundred years, the castle was enlarged, embellished and fortified until it had ...

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2020-07-21 15:03:00

Miss Subways: The Tube Beauty Contest  

For thirty five years, between 1941 and 1976, a company called New York Subways Advertising ran a city-wide beauty contest. Any New Yorker and female, and between the ages of 14 to 30 could enter it, but to see the contestants and the winners, one had to go underground and ride the transit. The Miss Subways was not a typical pageant. Each month, women across New York City mailed in their photos and biographies to John Robert Powers' modeling agency, and the lucky winners had their photos pri...

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2020-07-17 20:51:00

Colorado Springs: A City Built Upon Tuberculosis  

One of the leading causes of death in Europe and in the United States during the 19th century was tuberculosis, a disease that has plagued humans since ancient times. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that primarily attacks the lungs, causing chronic cough, high fever and significant weight loss. A person suffering from tuberculosis practically wastes away, earning the disease many names such as "consumption" and "white plague". Tuberculosis was an incurable disease, before antibiot...

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2020-07-15 20:26:00

The Bad Beer Brawl: St. Scholastica Day Riot  

On the south-west corner of Carfax, in Oxford, a small, inconspicuous inscription on the side of an old building marks the site of one of the bloodiest pub brawls in history. Before this building was sold to the Abbey National Building Society, it was occupied by the Swindlestock Tavern, a popular watering hole among Oxford University's students and the townsfolk alike. On 10 February 1355, the entire town was celebrating the feast day of Saint Scholastica. Some students were drinking at Swin...

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2020-07-14 10:57:00

The Great Colonnade at Apamea  

One of the main characteristics of the most important cities of Antiquity in the Hellenistic kingdoms, first, and in the Roman territories of the East, later, are the great column avenues. They also existed in Rome itself and other European cities, but the eastern examples are usually larger and many of them are in better condition. The largest of all, and possibly also the first to be built, is the one flanking the thistle of Antioch, which is about 2,275 meters long, that is, just over 2 kilo

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2020-07-13 19:57:00

Thagomizer: Why Stegosaurus' Spiky Tail Was Named After A Cartoon  

Humans and stegosaurus missed each other by more than 150 million years, but people have always wondered how difficult or terrifying life would have been if dinosaurs and humans co-existed. This premise is often explored humorously in cartoons and in movies. Cavemen and dinosaurs frequently featured in cartoonist Gary Larson's The Far Side— a single-panel comic that ran for fifteen years during the 1980s and 90s. The Far Side was known for its surrealistic and dark humor based on uncomfortab...

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2020-07-11 16:31:00

The Balloon Satellites of Project Echo  

The world's first communication satellite was remarkably unsophisticated—a big silvery plastic balloon coated with aluminum, soaring roughly 1,000 miles above the earth. It carried no active communication components, no relays. Just two FM transmitters for telemetry purposes, powered by nickel-cadmium batteries charged by solar cells. The satellite achieved its purpose by passively reflecting any radio signal directed towards its large shiny surface. For eight years it relayed radio and tele...

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2020-07-09 16:00:00

A Hidden Memorial to Lenin in a Forest  

Vladimir Lenin was a controversial Russian revolutionary leader who has been idolized and demonized in equal proportions since his death in 1924. Even during his lifetime, Lenin had developed a cult of personality rivaled only by America's George Washington, according to historian Nina Tumarkin. Tens of thousands of Lenin statues were erected across the Soviet Union and in allied Communist countries. Almost every village had one. His face adorned postage stamps, crockery, posters, and the fron...

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2020-07-09 12:40:00

The Soviet Bomber That Was Reverse Engineered From Stolen American B-29s  

Ask anyone, what won the war against Japan during the Second World War, and the answer would invariably be the 'atomic bomb', but truth be told, it was the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that broke Japan's back. Months before Bockscar delivered the final payload of the war, hundreds of American B-29s had flown across the Pacific in thousands of sorties to destroy Japanese cities as well as their ability to fight. The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was every nation's envy. It was the most advanc...

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2020-07-07 14:50:00

The Vajont Dam Disaster  

In the valley of the Vajont River, about a hundred kilometers north of Venice, stands an old, disused dam. The vast wall of white, wedged high up in the rocks of the narrow gorge, was constructed to harness the waters of a small mountain river in order to create a lake from which hydroelectric power could be generated to feed northern Italy's postwar development and economic growth. But the engineers and geologists ignored the early warning signs, leading to a disaster of cataclysmic proport

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2020-07-04 12:33:00

The Masked Women of Iran  

Head covering, veils and burqas are common sight among many Muslim communities around the world. There are a lot of different styles and each have their own name, but none of these come even remotely close to the vibrancy of the boregheh mask. These colorful masks are donned by the women of the Hormozgan Province in southern Iran. They are available in a variety of shapes and styles, but the most common ones are rectangular, pinched between the eyebrows to create a sort of vertical wall running

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2020-07-03 11:58:00

The Windmills of Paris  

Windmills of Montmartre, Maurice Utrillo. Paris is not exactly hilly, but there are a couple of high points in the city where one can easily catch the breeze. Back when Paris had a flourishing grain milling industry, these hills were dotted with numerous wind mills—more than three hundred, some say. Enormous quantities of grain arrived from the Americas and mills in the area ground them up into fine flour for local consumption. Bread was the staple food for the poor French peasants. Durin...

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2020-07-02 11:29:00

BĂŒsingen am Hochrhein: The Town Torn Between Two Countries  

BĂŒsingen am Hochrhein is a German town with a lot of Swiss character. That's because this small town on the Rhine is entirely surrounded by Switzerland. That makes BĂŒsingen an enclave, and like many territorial enclaves, BĂŒsingen has absorbed the many forms and conventions of its host nation—perhaps a little more willingly. Residents of BĂŒsingen speak Swiss and prefer to use Swiss francs instead of Euro. In fact, until the late 1980s, BĂŒsingen didn't even accept the Deutsche Mark. E...

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2020-06-30 16:16:00

DĂŒrkheimer Riesenfass: The Giant Cask  

The historic town of Bad DĂŒrkheim lying on the edge of Palatinate Forest on Germany's oldest wine routes, is well known for its vineyards and mineral springs. Every year, on the second and third weekend of September, corresponding to Oktoberfest celebrations around the country, Bad DĂŒrkheim holds the world's biggest wine festival called Wurstmarkt—which actually means "sausage market". The festival takes its name from the spacious sausage market area in the middle of the town whe...

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2020-06-30 12:15:00

The Jailhouse That Got Accidentally Sold  

It takes quite a stretch of imagination to call Harvard a city. With an area just over half a square mile and population of about one thousand, Harvard, in Clay County, Nebraska, is little more than a town. Nobody ever goes there unless they have family, friends, or business. But if you are passing through Clay County, take a detour and make a quick stop at Harvard in order to marvel at a nondescript two-room brick building and chuckle at the historic marker that describes how this small structu

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2020-06-29 20:42:00

The Rzhev Memorial to Soviet Soldiers  

A towering new statue honoring Soviet soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War is to be unveiled tomorrow, June 30, in the city of Rzhev in Tver Oblast by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Funded partially through public donations, the 25-meter tall bronze sculpture stands on top of a 10-meter mound and can be seen from miles away. The dramatic sculpture depicting a soldier of the Red Army standing solemnly with a gun in his hand was completed in April, but due to the current

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2020-06-29 16:02:00

The Polar Bear Jail of Churchill  

Living in Churchill in northern Manitoba, Canada, has its perils. Situated on the banks of Hudson Bay, approximately 1,000 km north of the provincial capital, Winnipeg, Churchill is one of Canada's most remote towns. Few places are inhabited so far north, with the exception of a couple of Inuit communities and research stations. But cold and isolation are not the only challenges its residents face. Their biggest threat is polar bears. A polar bear warning sign in Churchill, Manitoba. Photo:...

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2020-06-25 21:27:00

The Lost Patents  

The United States Patent and Trademark Office was established in 1790, and since then the federal office has issued over 10 million patents for all sorts of inventions. Virtually every patent is available to the public, either on paper or microfilm, or digitized and searchable on the Internet—except the first ten thousand patents. They went up in smoke exactly 184 years ago. At that time, the Patent Office was housed inside the Blodget Hotel Building, in Washington, along with the post office...

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2020-06-24 20:46:00

The Meridian That Stood Up To Greenwich  

Railways, in the late 19th century, ushered in a revolution in transport, but with that arose one unexpected problem. Back then, there was no standardized time, and every town and city kept their own clock which varied from their neighbors sometimes by several hours. This created grave inconvenience for rail travelers, because they couldn't tell at what time a train would arrive at a particular station and how long a journey would be because arrivals and departures on railway timetables were...

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2020-06-23 11:19:00

Turning Night Into Day: Nuclear Explosions in Space  

On August 1, 1958, a few minutes before midnight, an intense flash of white light tore across the night sky illuminating everything it touched for miles around Johnston Island, a tiny atoll located smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The black sky turned blue, and personnel at the air force base instinctively ducked for cover. The source of the light was a nuclear test conducted high up in the atmosphere. It was one of two conducted under Operation Hardtack to study, among other things, t

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2020-06-19 17:30:00

Liverpool's Secret Tunnels Built By An Eccentric “Philanthropist”  

Williamson Tunnels under Edge Hill, in Liverpool. Photo: Friend of Williamson's Tunnels Joseph Williamson was a wealthy businessman, but he was not born into wealth. His father was a poor glassmaker. Poverty forced Joseph to leave his family behind in Warrington and seek employment under the tobacco merchant Richard Tate in Liverpool. Joseph Williamson was only eleven years old at that time. Through hard work, Williamson rose thorough the ranks of the company, married the daughter of Richa...

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2020-06-18 20:15:00

That Time When The US Almost Blew North Carolina  

During the 1950s and 60s, the United States suffered a string of mishaps with nuclear weapons. From lost nukes to accidentally dropping bombs over their own territory, most of these accidents were not serious, posing no threat of detonation. But a couple of them were close shaves. The Goldsboro incident is one of them. On the night of 23 January 1961, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber patrolling the skies over the Atlantic Ocean developed a fuel leak. The pilots were advised to steer their craft tow

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2020-06-17 23:28:00

OncoMouse: The Mouse That Disrupted Science  

In 1988, the US Patent Office awarded for the first time in history a patent for an animal to the Harvard University. The U.S. Patent Number 4736866 was for a small genetically engineered mouse, white and furry, with red beady eyes. His name was OncoMouse. OncoMouse's creators scientists Philip Leder and Timothy Stewart, however, had not created a better mouse. On the contrary, it was much worse. The Harvard scientists had genetically modified the mouse to make it highly susceptible to canc...

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2020-06-16 16:35:00

Bƍsai Musen: Japan's 5 PM Chime  

The loudspeaker of Japan's national disaster warning system in Owkudani Hakone, Japan. Photo: WAN CHEUK NANG/ For those living in disaster prone areas, the wail of an outdoor warning siren routinely disrupting your peace is all too common. These loudspeakers, that make up the often county-wide network of disaster warning system, has to be regularly tested, but instead of blaring their horns and needlessly jangling the nerves of the citizens, why can't outdoor warning siren...

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2020-06-16 11:05:00

DĂŒrer's Rhinoceros: A 16th-Century Viral Fake  

Five hundred years ago, Europe saw its first rhinoceros in more than a thousand years. The animal was fairly common during Roman times seen in circuses and gladiatorial events. But after the fall of the Roman Empire, rhinoceros faded away from people's memory, becoming something of a mythical beast alongside dragons and unicorns—until one living example arrived from the Far East. The rhinoceros was a gift from Afonso de Albuquerque, the governor of Portuguese India, to King Manuel I of Po...

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2020-06-13 20:54:00

The Cobbled Hell of TrouĂ©e d'Arenberg  

The famous cobblestone road through the forest of Saint-Amand-Wallers, in France. Photo: Radu Razvan/ The forest of Saint-Amand-Wallers, just outside Valenciennes, in northern France, is bisected by a perfectly straight cobbled road. Laid during the time of Napoleon I, in the late 18th century, this crudely constructed rural road connecting the mining village of Arenberg with other villages to the north, is normally used as a short cut by the locals. But once a year, the quiet

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2020-06-12 11:27:00

Monte Stella: Milan's Rubble Mountain  

The city of Milan is as flat as a pancake, save for a little bump in the northwest called Monte Stella. In the vast expanse of Po valley, where Milan is situated, Monte Stella looks little more than a swelling from an insect bite. But for the city's joggers and young people looking for a little elevation in their daily exercise routine, Monte Stella provides the perfect spot. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-06-11 16:22:00

The Healing Soil of Boho  

In the Boho highlands of West Fermanagh Scarplands in Northern Ireland, there is a longstanding belief that the soil from the local churchyard has miraculous curative powers. It was on this churchyard, in 1815, the Reverend James McGirr, who was a faith healer, was buried. On his deathbed, Father McGirr himself had supposedly declared that "the clay that covers me will cure anything that I was able to cure when I was with you while I was alive." Since then, a local custom developed. Whenever...

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2020-06-10 21:58:00

The World's Largest Brick Bridge  

Before the age of steel and concrete, bricks and stones were the only two materials available to architects and bridge designers hoping to span a river or a valley with a structure that was both strong and durable. While these ancient building materials might not match some of the qualities of steel, they suited the needs of the time. Indeed, stone bridges in particular are virtually indestructible. There are thousands of stone and brick viaducts across Europe and Asia that dates back by hundred

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2020-06-09 14:39:00

A 16th Century Math Book With Pop-Up Models  

Euclid's Elements, first published in 300 BC, was one of the most important and influential textbooks ever written in the history of science and it laid the foundations of mathematics. It was one of the earliest mathematical works to be printed after the invention of the printing press, and by some estimates, it is second only to the Bible in the number of editions published since the first printing in 1482. By Queen Victoria's time, The Elements had became a standard textbook in schools, ...

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2020-06-08 20:51:00

Alexis St. Martin: The Man With A Hole In His Stomach  

By the early 19th century, physicians had a clear understanding of the human anatomy (from dissecting cadavers) but knowledge about the role of each internal organ and how they worked in a living and breathing individual was hazy. Doctors had a couple of diagnostic tools at their disposal, such as the stethoscope and the laryngoscope, to poke and prod their patients with, but the scope of these devices were limited. Nobody had ever seen the insides of a living person, save during hastily carried

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2020-06-05 11:43:00

Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov's Two-Headed Dog  

In 1955, at a meeting of the Moscow Surgical Society, a sensational exhibit was presented to the assembled guests. On the platform close to the audience, a large white dog was brought in. The dog looked happy, cheerfully wagging its tail, and unintimated by the large crowd of eager guests in front of him. He seemed particularly unconcerned by the unnatural appendage protruding from the side of his neck. Just a few days before the meet, the dog had undergone a major surgery during which the S

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2020-06-03 21:25:00

LlĂ­via: A Curious Spanish Enclave in France  

A welcome sign on the road to LlĂ­via, a landlock state of Spain inside France. Photo: LMspencer/ Deep in the Pyrenees, surrounded by French territory, the small town of LlĂ­via is the envy of Catalans—for, for the past 350 years, LlĂ­via has been reasonably independent from its Spanish homeland—something which the rest of Catalonia has been struggling to achieve for the past one hundred years at least. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-06-02 21:39:00

The War Rubble of Crosby Beach  

Photo: pshab/Flickr Just beyond the coastguard station at the end of the promenade at Crosby Beach, in Liverpool, is a flat stretch of sand littered with broken bricks, stones, mortar, marble, tilework and more, rendered smooth and round by the action of waves over many decades. It looks like construction rubble, but there is a deep history in these pulverized, glassy bricks. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-06-01 15:42:00

The Unknown Martyrs Who Became Catacomb Saints  

Relics of saint and holy people have always been an integral part of Christianity. There was a time when bones, skins, fingernails, severed heads and even entire bodies of saints were preserved and cherished by the populace. But when the Protestant Revolution gripped Europe in the early 16th century, thousands of these relics were destroyed. The iconoclastic behavior was the most fervent in Northern Europe, especially in Germany, where many Catholic churches were plundered, vandalized and outr

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2020-05-29 20:47:00

Clever Hans: The Horse Who Could Do Math  

In a paved courtyard surrounded by high apartment houses in the northern part of Berlin, a small crowd had gathered to watch an old high school mathematics teacher demonstrate the brilliance of one of his precocious pupil. The sixty-something math instructor stood proudly with a black, slouch hat covering his thinning white hair. To his left, stood the pupil—an impressive Russian trotting horse. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-05-27 16:48:00

Stanley Kubrick's Rejected Monolith  

The iconic Monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was originally not a mysterious black slab. The director wanted it to be transparent. To that end, Kubrick commissioned a local plastics firm, Stanley Plastics to cast the monolith out of a solid block of transparent acrylic. However, when the sparkling clear polymer block was delivered, the notoriously picky director was disappointed by the way it appeared during screen test. Kubrick eventually rejected the prop in favor of

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2020-05-27 12:09:00

Waterloopbos: Where Dutch Engineers Learned to Play With The Sea  

A quarter of Netherlands lie below the sea level. Most of these low-lying areas are land reclaimed from the sea. The region was originally occupied by the estuaries of three large rivers—the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt, as well as their tributaries. Starting from the late 16th centuries, the Dutch drained the low-lying areas called polder by building an elaborate drainage system consisting of dikes, canals, and pumping stations. The highlight of this incredible engineering is a series of...

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2020-05-25 15:41:00

Pervitin: The Wonder Drug That Fueled Nazi Germany  

When Heinrich Böll, the German writer and Nobel laureate, was a young man in his twenties, like many able-bodied youths of his time, he joined the Wehrmacht, the German Armed Forces of Nazi Germany. During World War 2, he served all over Europe as well as the Soviet Union. On November 9, 1939, while fighting in occupied Poland, Böll wrote to his parents back home in Cologne: "It's tough out here, and I hope you'll understand if I'm only able to write to you once every two to f...

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2020-05-21 21:30:00

Draining of Fucine Lake  

In western Abruzzo, in central Italy, about 80 kilometers east of Rome, lies one of Italy's most fertile plains. The vegetables that are grown here are highly appreciated across Italy for their distinguishing quality and taste. Particularly popular is the Fucino potato which was awarded the "Protected Geographical Indication" in 2014—a quality label awarded by the European Union to agricultural products of excellence closely tied to a particular territory. Surrounded by low hills, ...

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2020-05-20 20:37:00

Tsar Tank  

Before World War I, military tanks were a mere concept. Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of a human-powered armored vehicle, with canons all around it. In the 15th century, a Czech general built armored wagons fitted with cannons and used them effectively in several battles. In the short story, The Land Ironclads, first published in 1903, H.G. Wells imagined hundred-foot long armored fighting vehicles equipped with canons and rifles, and large enough to carry a platoon. Around the upper edges of

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2020-05-19 16:30:00

Aerotrain: The High-Speed Train That Almost Revolutionized Transport  

Some of the fastest trains in service today have a top speed in excess of 200 miles per hour. With the exception of Shanghai maglev, all of them are conventional wheel-on-tracks system, which is remarkable because rolling friction has always been the biggest obstacle to high-speed travel. But if you want to see what the future has in store for rail travelers, just look at the world speed records—out of the top ten speed record holders, eight are maglev trains. The highest speed achieved by a...

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2020-05-15 20:37:00

Remembering Epidemics With Plague Columns  

Military victories are much celebrated, but a victory against a common enemy, such as a disease, is as important, especially in older times when human population was routinely decimated by waves of killer epidemics. In such times, people desperately seeking for cures and respite from the sufferings offered prayers and votive offerings to the Gods. Those cities who could afford erected large churches, such as the Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, constructed after the Italian Plague of 1629-1...

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2020-05-14 16:04:00

Vennbahn: The Railway That Created a Peculiar Border Problem  

Germany and Belgium's border problem. Photo: gunnsteinlye/Flickr Along the German-Belgian border runs an old disused railway track, the Vennbahn. It passes through three countries, starting at the German town of Aachen, goes through Belgian territory and ends in Troisvierges in northern Luxembourg. Along the way it snakes in and out of Germany and Belgium creating a very odd border situation in the region. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-05-12 15:23:00

Turnspit Dogs  

Observe the scene above depicting the inside of an inn at Newcastle, Wales, in the late 19th century. Men and women are sitting around the tables gossiping over drinks and smoke, waiting for the meat to get done. A woman is sitting by the fire tending the rotisserie, but the actual work is being done by a small dog furiously running inside a small hamster wheel hanging from the ceiling. He is the turnspit dog—a short-legged, long-bodied dog breed with a heavy head and drooping ears. Famed zo...

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2020-05-11 20:21:00

The Pearl Rush of Caddo Lake  

Caddo Lake. Photo: Maciej Kraus/Flickr Natural pearls are a rarity today, but a hundred years ago, before British biologist William Saville-Kent first developed the technique of pearl culturing, natural pearls were found in many parts of the world and it was the only kind of pearl people wore. For thousand of years, divers retrieved natural pearls from wild oysters in the Indian Ocean in areas such as the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Mannar. The pearl fisheries of the Persian G

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2020-05-09 12:16:00

Kruger Shalati: The Train Hotel Over Sabie Bridge  

For several years, it was possible to hop into a train at Komatipoort, on the South Africa-Mozambique border, and ride through the wilderness of the Kruger National Park up to Tzaneen, a large town located outside the National Park. On the way, the train stopped at the railway bridge over Sabie river, where guests disembarked and were escorted by armed rangers right into the bush. After enjoying the park by day, the guests retreated to their carriages at night to sleep before moving on to thei

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2020-05-07 16:36:00

The Bayeux Tapestry  

History is not always written. Sometimes it's carved. Sometimes it's embroidered. In a museum in Bayeux, in Normandy, is such a piece of commemorative work—a 70 meter stretch of fabric embroidered with figures and scenes that tell one of the most famous stories in British history—the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century by William, Duke of Normand,y who became the King of England in 1066 after the Battle of Hastings. The Bayeux Tapestry was made soon after the battle, and te...

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2020-05-06 20:03:00

The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary  

When cotton first came to Europe from Central Asia during the Middle ages, people were fascinated by the fluffy, fibrous balls that resembled wool. They knew cotton grew on trees, but they were unaware exactly how. Having never seen a flower that fluffy, people just assumed that the cotton came from lambs, but the lambs themselves grew on trees. © Amusing Planet, 2020.

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2020-05-05 20:32:00

Black Weddings: Marrying in The Time of Cholera  

Last month, a peculiar wedding ceremony took place at a cemetery in Bnei Brak, a city in Israel, just east of Tel Aviv. With government regulation prohibiting large gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, the wedding was a small affair with only a few attendants huddled under a small black canopy, the chuppah. The groom was an orphan and while the identify of the bride was not disclosed, she was probably an orphan herself. The two had never met before, never known each other. These

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2020-05-01 16:06:00

Cosmos 954: The Nuke That Fell From Space  

What goes up must eventually come down, including satellites that are currently orbiting the earth. After their work is done, they will be deliberately tossed back into the atmosphere where they will burn up in the high altitudes. Little, if any, will actually hit the ground. But sometimes a satellite fails and falls back to earth unpredictably, posing hazard to human population, wildlife and the environment. And what if the satellite contained an active nuclear reactor? © Amusing Plan

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2020-04-29 21:01:00

The Allure of Gigantic Excavators  

A young girl stands inside the enormous bucket of "Big Muskie", the world's largest dragline excavator. Photo: Charles Barilleaux/Flickr  Near McConnelsville, Ohio, just off State Route 78, is the Miners' Memorial Park dedicated to the coal mining industry of southeastern Ohio that dominated the economy of this part of America until about fifty years ago. The small park is centered around a single exhibit—a colossal steel bucket that was once attached to the business end of the lar...

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2020-04-28 11:49:00

The Mysterious Hum Nobody Can Explain  

For the past nine years, residents of Windsor city, situated on the Canadian side of the US-Canada border just across Detroit river, have been complaining of a mysterious and persistent low-frequency humming noise. It comes and goes at random intervals, sometimes lasting hours and other times droning on for days. Those who can hear it—for not everyone can—compares the uncomfortable hum to an idling diesel engine or a pulsating subwoofer. Others say it sounds like a continuous distant thund...

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2020-04-25 19:41:00

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