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Amusing Planet - Amazing Places, Wonderful People, Weird Stuff



The “Lone Pine” Trees Growing Across Australia  

Many war memorials across Australia have pine trees growing in their grounds. These trees are called "Lone Pines", and their ancestry can be traced back to a single pine tree that stood where one of the bloodiest battles of the Gallipoli campaign took place. The Battle of the Lone Pine was fought around an area called Anzac Cove, on a rise known as "Plateau 400", in Gallipoli, in Turkey. It was year 1915 and the First World War was in full force. The Allied offensive against the Ot...

2017-06-21 16:45:00
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How Amsterdam's Airport Is Fighting Noise Pollution With Land Art  

Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, located just 9 km southwest of the city, is the third busiest airport in Europe and one of the busiest in the world. In an average year, more than 63 million passengers pass through Schiphol in as many as 479,000 flights to and from various international destinations. That's an average of about 1,300 flights every day, or nearly a flight every minute. In other words, Schiphol is very busy and very loud. When the Dutch military first built a landing strip here in...

2017-06-20 16:26:00
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Inkerman Cave Monastery of St. Clement  

The Inkerman Monastery of St. Clement, located near the city of Inkerman at the mouth of the Black River, is built into the natural caves and hollows in the cliff face carved by the river. The name "Inkerman" is Turkish meaning cave fortress, although the city itself is located in the Crimean peninsula, a territory currently under dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The current monastery was founded in 1850 on the site of a medieval Byzantine monastery where the relics of St...

2017-06-19 17:15:00
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The Sand Covered Floors of Caribbean Synagogues  

The Caribbean is not all about sandy beaches, its about sandy synagogues too. As many as four synagogues in this part of the world have floors covered with sand, and a fifth one in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. These Jewish places of worship have a regular wood or brick base, but topped with a layer of sand about an inch or two in depth. The tradition of spreading sand on the floor is thought to have originated at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, which raged across Spain and all Spanish colon

2017-06-19 17:11:00
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The Norias of Hama  

The norias of the ancient Syrian city of Hama are seventeen historic waterwheels located along the Orontes River that date back to the Byzantine Era, although locals claim they are older still. The water wheels, called noria, are part of the city's now-defunct irrigation system, and were designed to lift water from the river and move it through aqueducts to agricultural fields and people's home. The wheels were powered by the current of the flowing river. As the wheels moved, wooden buckets ...

2017-06-15 12:12:00
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Operation Tracer: The Secret Plan To Bury Soldiers Alive Inside The Rock Of Gibraltar  

The great limestone monolith called the Rock of Gibraltar, towering over the small British overseas territory near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, has long been Gibraltar's natural defense. During the American Revolutionary War of the 18th century, and later, during the Second World War, the British Army dug a dizzying maze of tunnels at the base of the rock to defend this strategically important military hold against enemy attacks. More than 50 km of tunnels permeate ...

2017-06-13 12:15:00
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Casa Vicens: Gaudi's First Building Opens To Public  

More than 130 years after it was built, the first building designed by Barcelona's famed architect Antoni Gaudi opens to the public for the first time. Casa Vicens was built as a summer home between 1883 and 1885 for Manuel Vicens i Montaner, a brick and tile factory manufacturer. Gaudi was 31 years old at that time and was just beginning his career. Throughout his graduation years at the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona, Gaudi's work portrayed a rather Victorian style, similar...

2017-06-13 12:14:00
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The Moving Facade of Bund Finance Center, Shanghai  

A new financial quarter is being built near the waterfront of Shanghai's old town. Designed by British architectural firms, Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio, the 420,000 square meter development includes two 180-meter-high landmark towers, containing offices, a boutique hotel, and a wide variety of luxury retail spaces. At the heart of the scheme is the arts and cultural center with a flexible façade that can be changed to dramatically alter the look of the building. Read more » &...

2017-06-12 16:34:00
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A New Atmospheric Phenomenon Called Steve  

For the past three years, members of a Facebook group called the Alberta Aurora Chasers, consisting of photographers who exchange tips and images of the famed northern lights, have been capturing images of a gorgeous arc of light across the sky. The arc can be seen streaking across the northern sky typically in mid-latitude location like Calgary or Edmonton. It has a distinctive purplish or greenish color, and sometimes looks braided like a helix. The group initially mistook the glowing ribbon o

2017-06-10 16:21:00
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Haiti's Wandering Street Pharmacies  

In the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince, one need not be a pharmacist to sell medicine. All you need is a bucket and the willingness to roam the streets in the hot sun looking for patients. For many Haitians, medicine is an ordinary consumer good just like candies or groceries are, and buying them off roaming street peddlers is the norm. As a matter of fact, actual pharmacies are hard to come by in Haiti, and these street dispensaries are the main source of medicine for many Haitians. Ph

2017-06-09 20:31:00
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Spreewald: Germany's Venice  

About 100 km south-east of Berlin in the State of Brandenburg, lies the beautiful Spreewald Biosphere Reserve. This low-lying area in which the river Spree meanders in hundreds of small waterways through meadows and unspoiled forests is one of Germany's most beautiful and greenest holiday destinations. Like most of Brandenburg, this region was sculpted during the last Ice Age by the retreating glaciers. As the glaciers began to melt and disappear, it left behind a delicate network of streams

2017-06-09 15:47:00
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The Sand Collars of The Moon Snail  

These strange-looking frilly edged flat spirals made of sand sometimes wash ashore on tropical beaches. They are called sand collars—so called because they are said to resemble an old-fashioned detachable shirt or blouse collar. Sand collars are made by the female moon snails when they lay eggs. Moon snails, also known as the necklace shells, are a predatory sea mollusks in the family Naticidae. The snails are known for their rather globular-shaped shells and their voracious appetite for other...

2017-06-08 12:03:00
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The Pines That Lean Towards The Equator  

Most trees grow vertically straight, but under challenging conditions where individuals have to compete for light, or when mechanical stress is intense, trees may grow at an angle. Araucaria columnaris, or Cook pines —named after Captain James Cook, whose second voyage around the globe carried the first botanists to classify the tree— is a tree endemic to New Caledonia in the Melanesia region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean, but have since been planted in temperate, subtropical, and tropic...

2017-06-08 09:52:00
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El Helicoide: A Shopping Mall That Became A Prison  

Sitting on top of a small natural hill, amidst the slums of San Agustín, in south-central Caracas, Venezuela, is a magnificent building with a spiraling ramp that coils onto itself becoming tighter and tighter, rising higher and higher, until it reaches the apex crowned by a geodesic dome, designed by none other than Richard Buckminster Fuller himself. El Helicoide, or the Helix, is one of Venezuela's most important relics of the modernist movement. It was supposed to be the world's first ...

2017-06-08 09:49:00
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Pomerode: The Most German Town In Brazil  

About thirty kilometers to the north of Blumenau, a city in Brazil, lies the town of Pomerode, so named because its founders came from Pomerania, a region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, split between Germany and Poland. The town was founded more than 150 years ago, yet even today, ninety percent of the town's 25,000 inhabitants speak German with a distinct 19th century Pommersch accent. Pomerode is probably one of the "most German towns in Brazil." This is immediately apparent as...

2017-06-06 13:12:00
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Rama's Bridge: A Bridge Built By Monkeys  

In the great Indian epic of Ramayana, penned several thousand years ago, author Valmiki speaks of a bridge over the ocean connecting India and Sri Lanka. The epic poem, that stretches for nearly 24,000 verses, narrates the life of the divine prince Rama and his struggle to rescue his abducted wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, the ruler of Sri Lanka. Rama, the crown prince, was forced to relinquish his right to the throne and go into exile for fourteen years. During his stay in the forest, h

2017-06-03 12:58:00
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The Melbourne Building With A Face  

Some people see faces in everything—in clouds, in the arrangement of faucets on a sink, on a power socket, and on the facade of a building. But the enormous face on this 32-story apartment building at the Carlton end of Swanston Street, in Melbourne, is not an illusion. The face has actually been sculpted on to the building's southern and eastern facades by the creative use of negative spaces formed by white balconies against black windows. An architectural world's first, the building na...

2017-06-02 12:13:00
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The Hanging Houses of Cuenca  

In the Castile-La Mancha region of central Spain, the Júcar river has carved a deep gorge as it flows through the Iberian Peninsula. Along its length, there are many small towns and cities. Of particular note is the medieval city of Cuenca that's located where another river, the Huecar, merges with the Júcar. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cuenca is an outstanding example of a medieval city, built on the steep sides of a mountain, with slopes descending into the deep gorges of the two riv...

2017-06-01 12:35:00
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Magdalen: The Island of Shipwreck Survivors  

The small archipelago of Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, off the coast of the Canadian province of Quebec, is home to some 12,000 people. Nearly everyone of them is a descendant of a shipwreck survivor. The Magdalen Islands, also known as Îles de la Madeleine, have a long history of shipwrecks. In the 18th and 19th centuries, an estimated 500 vessels fell victim to the shifting sands and shallow waters of the Magdalen Islands, in Canada's predominantly French-speaking province...

2017-06-01 10:57:00
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Mudflat Hiking in The Wadden Sea  

The southeastern edge of the North Sea, along the coast from Denmark through to the Netherlands, is a shallow belt of mudflats and barrier islands. Usually, it remains underwater, but twice a day when the tide goes out, the waters retreat a massive 15 km revealing a huge expanse of tidal flats. This region is known as the Wadden Sea and it's described as "one of the last remaining natural large-scale intertidal ecosystems" on earth. The Wadden Sea stretches from Den Helder in the Net...

2017-06-01 10:55:00
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Jamestown: The First English Settlement in America  

More than a hundred years after Christopher Columbus' historic voyage in 1492, a team of roughly one hundred colonists left England in late December 1606 on three ships, and reached Chesapeake Bay by late April the following year. A month later, on May 14, 1607, they established the first English colony on American soil on a narrow peninsula in the James River, located near present-day Williamsburg, Virginia. They named the settlement Jamestown, after their King James I, who granted a charter ...

2017-05-27 12:39:00
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Cerro Rico: The Mountain That Eats Men  

High in the Andes, in southwest Bolivia, towering above one of the highest cities in the world, stands the cone-shaped peak of Cerro Rico —the "rich mountain". The name was given by the Spanish Colonials for the huge quantities of silver it contained. The Spanish thought that the entire mountain was made of silver ore. In 1545, a small mining town was established at the foot of Cerro Rico, and some 3 million natives were forced to work at the mines. Hundreds of thousands died from casualti...

2017-05-26 20:00:00
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Giant Hand Sculptures Around The World  

The other day, a pair of giant hands appeared rising out of a canal in Venice, as if to support the sides of the Ca' Sagredo Hotel. It was an installation art by Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn who wanted to make a visual statement of the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the historic city. Quinn isn't the only one to use hands to deliver a powerful message. Let us look at other giant hand installation around the world. Mano del Desierto, Atacama Desert, Chile Perhaps the most ...

2017-05-25 21:50:00
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The Ravens of The Tower of London  

For many centuries, the historic Tower of London, on the north bank of the River Thames, has been guarded by ravens. These winged creatures receive the most royal treatment. They are attended to by servants, fed with meat regularly purchased from the nearby Smithfield Market, and their health is carefully monitored. But they are never allowed to leave the grounds of the Tower, because the belief goes that should the ravens leave, the Crown and the Tower will fall. Photo credit: www.gounesco.com

2017-05-25 21:49:00
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The Stone Labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island  

Bolshoi Zayatsky is a small island belonging to the Solovetsky archipelago in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, in Russia. The island is home to about 13 or 14 mysterious labyrinths as well as more than 850 heaps of boulders and numerous other stone settings such as a stone symbol with radial spokes, possibly representing the sun. The locals call them "vavilons". The labyrinths are constructed from local boulders set in rows on the ground in the form of spirals. Often there are two spira

2017-05-25 21:47:00
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Seoul's Floating Skygarden  

A kilometer-long section of a disused overpass in the heart of Seoul has been converted into an urban nursery with more than 24,000 potted plants, shrubs and trees. The Seoul Station Overpass was built in the 1970s to provide a vehicular connection from Namdaemun market, the largest traditional market in Seoul to the East, across the station area to the various parks in the West. In 2006, following intensive safety inspections, the City of Seoul deemed the 17-meter high structure of the overpass

2017-05-23 12:04:00
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The Underground Homes of Matmata, Tunisia  

A lot of communities around the world, particularly those in hot climates, traditionally live in caves to escape the heat. The Berbers of Matmata, a small village in southern Tunisia, do so too. However, unlike most underground dwellings, the homes in Matmata are not built on the side of the mountains. Instead, they are created by digging a large pit in the ground, and then around the sides of the pit caves are dug to be used as rooms. The open pit functions as a courtyard, and are sometimes con

2017-05-22 13:14:00
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The Turtle Graveyard of Sipadan  

Back in the early 1980s, the famous ocean explorer Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau and his team paid a visit to the island of Sipadan, off the coast of Borneo to film a documentary about its crystalline waters. One of the highlights in this film was a mysterious underwater cave in which they found lots of bones and skeletons of sea turtles. For lack of a better explanation, Cousteau suggested that perhaps old sea turtles just went there to die peacefully. In reality, the turtles enter the cavern b

2017-05-22 13:13:00
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The Lava Tubes of Undara Volcanic National Park  

In the vast savannah of Australia's North Queensland, 300 km southwest from the city of Cairns, lies the Undara Volcanic National Park where you will find some of the largest and longest lava tubes on the planet. The Undara lava tubes were formed in a massive eruption that occurred about 190,000 years ago causing lava to flow more than 90 km to the north and over 160 km to the north-west. During this fiery episode, 23 billion cubic liters of lava was estimated to have spewed forth from the Und...

2017-05-22 13:11:00
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The Missile at Madison Quarry Lake  

Standing in the middle of an old and abandoned limestone quarry in Madison, in the US state of Alabama, is a 53-foot-tall nuclear missile. The 1962 "Minuteman" missile used to be on display at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center's Museum, but because the educational exhibits are updated regularly, it was moved to a warehouse. In 1995, when the old limestone quarry was turned into a diving park, the owners acquired the non-functional Cold War relic and erected it in the middle of the lack. Th...

2017-05-18 12:33:00
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The Big Circles of Jordan  

The Big Circles are a collection of 12 giant circular stone structures spread across parts of Jordan and Syria. Despite they being over 2,000 years old, very little archaeological attention has been given to them and they remain largely unknown, even among local experts. The circles were discovered in 1920 by a British pilot named Lionel Rees when he flew across the deserts of what would become Jordan. The pictures Rees took of these immense stone circles became some of the earliest aerial archa

2017-05-18 12:32:00
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The Sapphire Mines of Ilakaka, Madagascar  

Ilakaka is a small town in the south west of Madagascar along Route Nationale 7, the main road linking the capital city Antananarivo to the port of Toliara. Twenty years ago, Ilakaka practically didn't exist with barely 40 residents. In less than ten years, its population soared to 60,000 as people from all over Madagascar began flocking here in search of sapphires. Sapphire was discovered in southern Madagascar in the late 1990s. Until then, Ilakaka was little more than a truck stop with a sm...

2017-05-17 10:57:00
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Linesville Spillway: Where Ducks Walk on Fishes  

The Pymatuning Reservoir in Crawford County, in the US state of Pennsylvania, was once a very large swamp. The Shenango River flowed through this ancient swamp and provided sustenance to industries located downstream in the Beaver and Shenango valleys. But when a devastating flood hit the valleys in 1913, the need to tame the river was felt. In 1934, a dam and a reservoir was built to conserve waters entering the swamp and to regulate the flow of water in the Shenango and Beaver rivers. A concre

2017-05-17 10:56:00
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The Curious Tree Engravings by Psychiatric Patients at Perryville  

At the Perryville Community Park in Perryville, in the US state of Maryland, not far from the Perry Point Veteran's Medical Center, is a group of about a hundred trees with cryptic messages carved into their barks. The trees sit on land that was once part of the Perry Point Veteran's Administration Medical Center before becoming the Perryville Park. The Medical Center is a psychiatric hospital, and many of its patients are U.S. military veterans. During their stay at the psychiatric hospit...

2017-05-15 21:30:00
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George Parrot: The Man Who Became A Pair Of Shoes  

George Parrott, who was also known as Big Nose George, was a small time cattle rustler and highwayman in the American Wild West in the late 19th century. He was reputed to have a large nose, hence the nickname. Big Nose and his gang enjoyed a successful career robbing freight wagons and stage coaches. In those days, all business transactions were done in cash, and coaches often carried large amounts of paper money especially during paydays. One day back in 1878, Big Nose's gang decided to tr...

2017-05-12 23:37:00
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St. Pierre and Miquelon: The Last French Colony in North America  

About 25 kilometers off the coast of Canada, in the North Atlantic, lies a tiny bit of France. It's a string of islands belonging to the archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which—despite being located nearly 4,000 kilometer away from the mainland— are still under French control. These islands represent the last foothold of colonial France in the Atlantic. The islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon were first set foot on by Europeans in 1520, and they became a French colony is 1536. For ...

2017-05-11 17:38:00
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La Rinconada: The World's Highest City  

High in the Peruvian Andes, far above the tree line, lies an old gold-mining camp that has, over the years, grown to the status of a city. Over 30,000 people live in this mountainous city five vertical kilometers up in the air—the highest-elevation human settlement in the world. La Rinconada is so high that its weather condition resembles that of the west coast of Greenland, despite being situated only 14 degrees from the equator. The summers are wet and winters dry; the days are cold and nig...

2017-05-10 22:02:00
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Bialowieza: Europe's Last Primeval Forest  

Before the arrival of humans, much of northeastern Europe was covered by primeval forests that stretched for thousands of kilometers across the European plains. Today, they have almost entirely disappeared with only a few patches of old growth trees standing in the most remote corners of the Carpathians and other mountainous areas. The Bialowieza Forest, spanning the border between Poland and Belarus, is an exception. Covering just over 1,500 square kilometers, the Bialowieza Forest represents

2017-05-10 22:00:00
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Río de la Plata: The Widest River You've Never Heard Of  

On the southeast coast of South America, between Uruguay and Argentina, there is a tapering intrusion of the Atlantic Ocean. The funnel-shaped intrusion extends about 290 kilometer inland and terminates at the point where the Uruguay and the Parana rivers meet. This is Río de la Plata, or the "River of Silver" in Spanish. Depending on who you ask, Río de la Plata is an estuary, a river, a gulf or a marginal sea. Geographers argue that Río de la Plata is not exactly a river but an estuar...

2017-05-09 12:17:00
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Alex Chinneck's Architectural Illusions  

A historic building in London's Covent Garden, violently slashed through the middle, floats mysteriously in the air with no apparent support underneath the entirely dislocated upper half. A terraced house in Margate has its entire redbrick front slipped away from its frame and lies slumped in its own front garden. A red Vauxhall Corsa hangs upside down with the tarmac peeled back from the pavement and curled over. Welcome to the magical world of Alex Chinneck, a British artist known for his la...

2017-05-09 12:15:00
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Xylotheque: The Wood Library  

In 18th century Germany, where modern forestry began, a curious sort of library began to grow. Enthusiasts began to collect samples of different woods, but instead of simple blocks the samples were fashioned in the shape of books. These wooden "books" could be opened to reveal a hollowed out compartment where botanical samples of the source tree were stored—leaves, seeds, nut, twigs, fruit, flowers, pieces of root and bark. In some cases, written descriptions of the tree and the diseases ...

2017-05-05 21:09:00
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Saatse Boot: A Russia-Estonia Border Anomaly  

In southeast Estonia, in the municipality of Värska Parish, lies a peculiar border irregularity. A small piece of Russian land called the "Saatse Boot"—so called because of its boot shaped intrusion— juts into Estonian territory as the Russian-Estonian border twists and turns through the lake and forest landscape of this region. It so happens that this piece of foreign land lies directly between two small Estonian villages—Lutepää and Sesniki—and traditionally, the only way to rea...

2017-05-05 21:07:00
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Thomas Dambo's Forgotten Giants  

Danish artist Thomas Dambo has been building stuff using trash and recycled materials since an early age, starting with smaller sculptures such as birdhouses and furniture to bigger pieces such as the six "Forgotten Giants" he recently installed around Copenhagen. Built mainly from recycled wood, such as old pallets, an old wooden shed, a fence and so on, Dambo along with a team of local volunteers created six giant troll-like wooden sculptures and hid them at some of his favorite places ar...

2017-05-04 22:10:00
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Nasreddin Hodja of Turkey  

You may have not heard of Nasreddin Hodja, but in the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of Europe, Nasreddin Hodja is a famous folk character. His stories have been told across a vast geographic area extending from Hungary through India to China, and from Southern Siberia to North Africa. Over the centuries millions of kids have grown up listening to the stories of Nasreddin Hodja's legendary wit and droll trickery. Nasreddin Hodja is portrayed as a wise man and a simpleton at the same tim...

2017-05-04 12:28:00
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Project West Ford: Earth's Artificial Ring  

In the summer of 1963, the United States successfully put a gigantic ring around the earth. But unlike Saturn, earth's ring was not made of dust, rock, and ice, but thin hair-like strands of copper wires—half a billion of them. The wires, or needles, were part of Project West Ford, which was an attempt to strengthen the earth's ionosphere and provide the United States Military a jam-proof, fail-proof, and destruction-proof communication system. Clumps of copper needles from Project West F...

2017-05-03 17:02:00
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De Poezenboot: Amsterdam's Cat Boat  

A city with over one hundred kilometers of canals, it's no surprise that Amsterdam is full of houseboats. However, one such boat in the historic Herengracht district is hiding something peculiar inside. On any given day it's home to about 50 felines! No, this isn't a hoarding nightmare gone wrong. The cat boat, or "de poezenboot" in Dutch, is the world's only floating cat sanctuary. Photo credit: Antony Stanley/Flickr Read more » © Amusing Planet, 2017.

2017-05-02 13:00:00
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The Wild Horses of Namib Desert  

The sparsely vegetated plains around Garub on the eastern fringe of the Namib Desert is no paradise. The land is barren, the climate dry and hot, and vegetation is few and sparse. Yet, over the decades, a group of a wild horses have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions and made the desert their home. Numbering between 90 and 150, these wild horses are one of the most isolated horse populations in the world, and the only feral herd residing in Africa. Photo credit: jbdodane/FlickrRead more

2017-05-01 15:49:00
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Mary And Her Little Lamb  

The childhood nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is familiar to all, but did you know it's based on a real Mary and a real lamb and a real incident that took place at school? The real Mary, Mary Sawyer, was born in 1806 in the town of Sterling, Massachusetts, the United States. One day, when Mary was about ten, she discovered two recently born lambs on their family farm. One was abandoned by the mother and was nearly dead from cold and neglect. Mary asked her father if she could...

2017-05-01 10:54:00
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This Football Stadium in Henningsvær  

The Henningsvær Idrettslag Stadion in the small fishing village of Henningsvær, located on two small islands off Lofoten, in Norway, can hardly be called a stadium; it has got no stands—just a couple of meters of asphalt poured around the field—and is used only for amateur football. But its location is majestic. The stadium is located on a rocky islet surrounded by stunning views consisting of dramatic mountains and jagged peaks, open sea and sheltered bays. The football pitch was laid by ...

2017-04-28 23:21:00
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The Brand New Island of Surtsey  

Located about 30 kilometers off the southern coast of Iceland, lies the small island of Surtsey. It is one of the world's youngest island with an age just over fifty years. Like all islands, Surtsey was conceived in an underwater volcanic eruption which began at a depth of 130 meters in the Norwegian Sea. Molten lava kept piling up at the bottom and a mound began to rise, until it broke the surface on 14 November 1963, and the island was officially born. Surtsey on November 30, 1963, 16 da

2017-04-28 12:03:00
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The Forgotten Ruins of Mrauk U  

Spread across the beautiful rolling hills of Rakhine in Western Burma, lies a little known archeological site—the medieval town of Mrauk U. Once the capital of the powerful Arakan empire where Portuguese, Dutch and French traders rubbed shoulders with the scholars of Bengal and Mughal princes on the run, Mrauk U is now a sleepy village where goat herders tend to their animals, farmers work their fields and women fetch water from the wells located among the hundreds of old temples and Buddhist ...

2017-04-26 12:38:00
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The Cyanometer of Ljubljana  

At some point in life, almost every child on Earth asks, "Why is the sky blue?" Today we know the answer—the sky appears blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter the other wavelengths, or colors. But it took a long time for scientists to figure that out. It wasn't until 1859 when the phenomenon was first correctly explained by Irish physicist John Tyndall, although it was Lord Rayleigh, who studied it in more detail a few years later, afte...

2017-04-25 21:36:00
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The Museum of Failures  

Every successful product launch is usually preceded by a string of failures, but we only remember the winners and ignore the failures and pretend they never happened. A new museum is set to open in Sweden that hopes to make this right. The "Museum of Failures" is the brainchild of Dr. Samuel West, an organizational psychologist, who has spent the last seven years studying failure and success and what people say about both. Dr. Samuel West holding the Nokia N-Gage.Read more » © Amusin...

2017-04-25 12:49:00
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Underwater Mailboxes Around The World  

Remember the last time you were diving underwater and suddenly remembered an important letter that you had to post that very instant? Yup, it has happened to all of us. Fortunately, these five places has us covered. Hideaway Island, Vanuatu The underwater post office off the coast of Hideaway Island in the island nation of Vanuatu is one of the most famous in the world. It was established in 2003 and is located in 3 meters of water. The post office provides special waterproof postcards that tou

2017-04-25 12:47:00
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The Dolerite Columns of Coastal Tasmania  

The coastline of the southern Tasmania, in Australia, is composed of stunning rock columns that protrude up to 300 meters from the sea level. These rocks are what geologists call dolerites, with its distinct elongated shape and hexagonal columns. Dolerites form when molten rocks pushed up from the deep underbelly of the earth cools quickly and crystallizes to form small visible crystals in the rock. When the rate of cooling is just right, the rocks shrink in volume, causing the creation of crac

2017-04-24 13:18:00
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Djerbahood: The Street Art Drive That Transformed A Tunisian Village  

The sleepy little village of Erriadh on the island of Djerba—once known as the "island of dreams"— is not part of Tunisia's tourist circuit. It's primarily a pilgrimage site, being home to the largest and oldest synagogue in North Africa —El Ghriba— which is in continuous use for over 2,000 years. Other than a few thousand pilgrims, the village sees very little foreigners. There are no large businesses or hotels in Erriadh; only small houses with traditional Berber architecture f...

2017-04-24 12:00:00
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23 

The Fainting Goats of Tennessee  

Unlike humans, animals rarely faint from surprise, panic attacks or any other strong emotional stress. But there is a breed of goat that appears to do so. When startled, the so-called "fainting goat" collapses on its side. They fall over, often with legs comically raised towards the sky. After laying motionless on the ground for a few seconds, they recover and bounce back on their feet as quickly as they fell. This curious reaction to fright has made fainting goats the popular subject for m...

2017-04-22 12:31:00
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63 

Enormous Iceberg Stranded in Canadian Town  

Icebergs are not a rare sight off the east coast of Canada. Indeed, there is an area stretching from the coast of Labrador to the northeast coast of the island of Newfoundland that has been nicknamed the "Iceberg Alley" for the sheer number of icebergs that floats into the vicinity during spring and early summer. But even longtime residents did a double take when an astonishingly big one ran aground near the village of Ferryland, this week. The big chunk of ice towers 150 feet. It's the la...

2017-04-21 11:46:00
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69 

Coco de mer: The Forbidden Fruit  

In the islands of Praslin and Curieuse, in the Seychelles, grows one of the most exclusive palm trees in the world. The coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica) has tall slender trunks that rise more than 30 meters above the ground. At its crown is a mass of fronds, with leaf blades fanning out nearly five meters across. On mature individuals, the leaves are often fringed at the edges. Their withered ends hang from the palm below the vibrant, healthy green crown. Possibly the most renowned feature of co

2017-04-20 20:16:00
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65 

The Al-Rajajil Standing Stones  

Al-Rajajil, sometimes referred to as the Standing Men, or Standing Stones, are a collection of some fifty groups of man-made stone columns near the ancient oasis town of Sakakah in Al-Jawf province in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The stones are arranged in groups of four or more, joined at the base and leaning outwards at random angles. Some of them have appears to have fallen over. Nicknamed the Stonehenge of Saudi Arabia, the Al-Rajajil stones are believed to have been erected more than 6,000 y

2017-04-19 12:15:00
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73 

The Rosetta Disk: Preserving The World's Languages  

It is estimated that there are some 7,000 spoken languages in the world, of which nearly half are in danger of extinction and are likely to disappear in the next hundred years. Most of these endangered languages have less than a few thousand speakers left, and with no documentation. Nearly five hundred languages have fewer than ten speakers and are very likely to vanish very soon. Other languages are lost gradually when they are overwhelmed by a more dominant language at school, in the marketpla

2017-04-19 12:10:00
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82 

The Abandoned Soviet Camp of Wünsdorf in Germany  

About 25 miles south of Berlin lies the small town of Wunsdorf, home to about six thousand inhabitants. But less than thirty years ago it had a population of sixty thousand, of which fifty thousand were soldiers of the Red Army. They lived inside one of the biggest military bases in Europe and the biggest Soviet military camp outside the USSR. The former headquarters of Soviet forces in Germany was so large that it was known as "Little Moscow", with daily trains going to the Soviet capital. ...

2017-04-17 16:47:00
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61 

Equihen Plage: The Village of Inverted Boat Houses  

Equihen Plage, on the coast of northern France by the English Channel, is a small seaside village with a population of about 3,000. Up until the beginning of the 20th century, Equihen Plage was a fishing village with a dry harbor—the kind where fishing boats were launched into the sea by sliding them on logs. Today, the village is famous for its many inverted boat houses—locally known as "quilles en l'air"—that serve as unique holiday accommodation for travellers. In the old days, ...

2017-04-17 11:28:00
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106 

The Handmade Globes of Peter Bellerby  

When Peter Bellerby couldn't find the perfect handmade globe for his father's 80th birthday, he took matters into his own hands. He decided he would create two globes from scratch—one for his father and one for himself. "After all how difficult can it be to make a ball and put a map on it?", he wondered. But making a globe is extremely difficult, as Bellerby found out. Correctly applying the little strips of the map, called gores, onto the spheres itself took eighteen months to perfec...

2017-04-15 13:44:00
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89 

Kissimmee's Monument of States  

Back in 1941, after Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a retired physician and president of a local tourist club, Charles W. Bressler-Pettis, devised an idea to erect a unique monument in Kissimmee, Florida, that he hoped would inspire American solidarity in response to the attack. He wrote to the governors of each state and requested them to send him local rocks. Soon rocks of every shape, size and type began to arrive. There were native granite, quartz, small boulders, fossils, and pieces...

2017-04-15 11:24:00
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114 

These Massive Tunnels Were Dug By Giant Sloths  

Across northern South America, there are hundreds of colossal tunnels large enough for humans to walk through, but they weren't dug by men. Nor they were formed by any known geological process. But their creators have left evidence all around the walls and ceilings—giant claw marks. Geologists call these tunnels "paleoburrow," and they are believed to have been dug by an extinct species of giant ground sloth. A large paleoburrow in Brazil. Photo credit: Heinrich FrankRead more » ...

2017-04-14 12:03:00
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124 

Thomasson: Architectural Relics That Serve No Purpose  

A city is like a living organism, constantly growing and evolving with time. Buildings get renovated, new structures are added and old ones removed, and in this process bits and pieces get left behind. We have all seen them: a flight of stairs that ends in a blank wall, a door hovering on the exterior of the second floor with no balcony, a walled over doorway. These architectural vestiges that serve no purposes have a name. They're called "Thomassons", a term coined by Japanese artist Gen...

2017-04-13 12:20:00
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141 

Labuan's Mystery Chimney  

Standing on a rise on the north of the island of Labuan, located off the coast of East Malaysia, is a 100-feet tall red brick chimney. The chimney is nothing remarkable as far as chimneys go—just a square-shaped brick tower with two arches at the base and a decorative frieze at the top. But what has puzzled archeologists for decades is why it was built. Various hypothesis has been put forward to its purpose. Some said it belonged to an unfinished mansion, while others said it was a light house...

2017-04-12 11:42:00
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109 

The Wreck of Swedish Warship Mars  

About 18 km off the coast the Swedish island of Öland, in the Baltic Sea, at a depth of about 75 meters, lies one of the most beautiful shipwrecks. The low level of sediments, slow currents, brackish water, and the absence of a wood-eating worms have kept the wreck of the 16th century warship "Mars" in a remarkable condition. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars was one of the largest battleships in the world when it was built, even larger than the famous Swedish ship Vasa. The ship was c...

2017-04-12 11:40:00
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129 

The Bottlecap Alley  

For years, boozers from the Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, and elsewhere, have been paving a short alley located between the pub Dry Bean and the restaurant Dixie Chicken, with used bottle caps. The alley, about 50 meters long and 2 meters across, is today filled with hundreds of thousands of weathered metal bottle caps. It's a curious little attraction. The alley periodically receives "donation", in the form of bottle caps, from the surrounding bars and individuals wh...

2017-04-11 11:35:00
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102 

Lahaina Noon: When Shadows Disappear  

Notice anything odd about this picture? The sun is out as you can tell by the shadows under the cars and on the walls. But why aren't the yellow poles casting any shadows? It appears as if someone cut out the poles from another picture and pasted it here. That, or it's a screenshot from a badly rendered videogame where the developer forgot to turn on the shadows. But I can assure you it's a real picture, and it was taken in Hawaii. The reason why there are no shadows is because the sun ...

2017-04-10 10:35:00
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73 

Venta Rapid: Europe's Widest Waterfalls  

At just 2 meters tall, the Venta Rapid, or Ventas Rumba in Latvian, is one of the smallest waterfalls in the world. But its low height is compensated by its impressive width. At its widest, which happens during spring floods, Ventas Rumba is up to 270 meters wide making it the widest waterfall in Europe. Even during summer, when there is less water, the falls are about 250 meters wide. The Venta Rapid flows over a layer of Devonian dolostone. Below it is a more fragile dolostone that has been s

2017-04-10 10:16:00
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111 

Inuit Tactile Maps of Greenland  

Like everybody else, the Inuit people of Greenland have been making maps to navigate the rugged coastline, but unlike maps made on paper, their maps are carved on wood that could be read in the dark by feeling. Often made of driftwood, these maps represent the contours of the coastline in a continuous line up one side of the wood and down the other. The contours of the land are highly exaggerated, allowing users to navigate entirely by feel. The navigator would often carry them under his mittens

2017-04-07 16:56:00
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102 

Colletta di Castelbianco: A Modern Stone Village  

Up on the steep hillside of the Maritime Alps near the Italian Riviera, halfway between Genoa and Nice, lies the ancient medieval village of Colletta di Castelbianco. It's just a bunch of old stone houses with red-tiled roofs and baby blue windows bordered in white. But hidden behind these mediaeval façades lie a high tech secret—every home has fiber broadband Internet connection and satellite TV, and the village has a sophisticated business center with teleconferencing, fax, and audio-visu...

2017-04-07 10:42:00
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109 

Mark Twain's Study at Elmira College  

On the campus of Elmira College in upstate New York sits a small octagonal wooden cabin with a writing desk and chair, a brick fireplace and a few other memorabilia related to Mark Twain. It was inside this cozy cabin where the celebrated American writer produced some of his best works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, A Tramp Abroad, Life on the Mississippi, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Now if you are pictu

2017-04-05 20:51:00
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118 

The World's Quietest Train Stations  

Some of the world's busiest train stations are located in Japan. Indeed, as per statistics that surfaced in 2013, out of the top 51 train stations in the world, all but six are located in this small but suffocatingly dense island nation. The busiest of them all —the Shinjuku Station in Tokyo— handles a staggering 3.6 million passengers every single day, or 1.3 billion riders a year. In contrast, the Shippea Hill station in Cambridgeshire, Britain, has an average of just one passenger per m...

2017-04-05 12:12:00
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117 

The Japanese Hotel Staffed By Robots  

In the last few weeks, we have been hearing a lot about how robots have been replacing human workers across industries in developed countries. According to a recent study conducted jointly by economists from M.I.T. and Boston University, for every robot that was added to the workforce up to six workers have lost their job, and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent. The study also found that up to 670,000 Americans have lost jobs to industrial robots between 1990 and 2007. Another s

2017-04-01 13:54:00
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84 

The Fluorescent Rocks of Sterling Hill Mining Museum  

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum in New Jersey, United States, is known for its variety of immersive and educational exhibits, but is best known for its massive collection of fluorescent minerals. The fluorescent exhibits are displayed along the walls of the so-called Rainbow tunnel that was excavated in 1990. The walls of the tunnel are lined with rare minerals that glow bright green and red under ultraviolet light. The museum was originally an old zinc mine, and one of the oldest in the country

2017-04-01 11:30:00
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161 

Karaba Brick Quarry of Burkina Faso  

Bricks are usually molded from clay, but in Karaba, a small African village in southwestern Burkina Faso, bricks are quarried out of the hillside. This hill is made of laterite, a reddish-colored rock rich in iron and aluminum. Historically, laterite was cut into brick-shaped blocks and used in building. In Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and other southeast Asian sites, you can find many construction made of laterite. In more recent times, laterite instead of stone has been used in road laying because

2017-04-01 11:27:00
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144 

The Festival of Exploding Sledgehammers  

Every February, residents of the tiny town of San Juan de la Vega in Mexico perform the re-enactment of a four hundred year-old battle that took place between the local farmers and the wealthy landowners. According to legends, the farmers were sided by a local miner and rancher, and the town's namesake, Juan aquino de la Vega, who was a Robin Hood type of person who robbed from the rich and gave it to the poor. Unlike historic re-enactments where revelers dress in full costume and rage a mock ...

2017-03-29 12:15:00
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104 

Galileo's Missing Fingers  

Everybody in Florence knows where Galileo Galilei lies buried. His mortal remains are in a crypt inside the famous Basilica di Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church of the city. The 16th century scientist shares this space with several of his illustrious fellow Italians, such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo, the philosopher Gentile and the composer Rossini. When Galileo died in 1642, the Grand Duke of Tuscany wanted to bury him in this very place next to the tombs of his fa

2017-03-28 12:16:00
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138 

The Basement Shops of Sofia  

Street vendors are a common sight in cities across the world. The inability to pay high rent, or the unavailability of cheap commercial space, have pushed these small merchants on to streets, and in some cases, on to basements, as in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Known as klek shops, these basement shops are unique to the city of Sofia. The shops are set in the basement of the buildings containing a small window that opens in the sidewalk, usually below the knee level. This is why they are kn

2017-03-27 15:04:00
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125 

Vilarinho da Furna: A Drowned Roman Village  

Vilarinho da Furna, in the municipality of Terras de Bouro in the Braga district, in northern Portugal, was an old village that was erased from the map in 1972 by the construction of a nearby dam. A reservoir up on the River Homem was filled and Vilarinho da Furna went down underwater, but not for eternity. Once in a while, when the water level of the reservoir falls below a certain level, the ghostly buildings of a once flourishing village emerges. Vilarinho da Furna's death was sudden, but t...

2017-03-27 15:03:00
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134 

The Temple of The Flying Monks  

That tiny orange figure levitating above this futuristic structure high on the Songshan mountain in rural Henan, China, is indeed a monk, although he is not flying by the sheer power of meditation. There is a giant fan beneath him, hidden in the interior of the structure. This is a vertical wind tunnel, the kind where skydiving is practiced. Designed by Latvian architecture studio Mailītis Architects, the recently completed Shaolin Flying Monks Temple is actually a 230-seat amphitheater where S...

2017-03-23 11:29:00
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141 

The Wild Burros of Oatman, Arizona  

Positioned in the ancient part of old Route 66, in the US state of Arizona, Oatman is full of wild burros —an old Spanish term which means donkeys— roaming the streets. This town with an old western appearance has been an enjoyable place and a tourist attraction for the burros wandering around with springiness. The wild donkeys can be hand-fed with 'burro chow', naturally known as hay cubes, which are readily available in the town. Although they gently behave with tourists, still you wil...

2017-03-23 11:08:00
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154 

Moroccan Wall: The Longest Minefield in The World  

You may or you may not have heard about "Western Sahara", but if you consult Google Maps or any other modern atlas, you will notice this region clearly identified in the southern end of Morocco. "Western Sahara" is not an actual country, as indicated by the lack of a political boundary between this region and Morocco, but it isn't totally under the control of Morocco either. It is a disputed region with a complex, war-torn history, and like many other disputed regions in the world, it ...

2017-03-21 13:07:00
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129 

The Japanese Soldiers Who Wouldn't Surrender  

Emperor Hirohito's announcement of Japan's surrender at the end of the Second Word War came as a blessed relief to millions of Japanese who had suffered during the long hostilities, but not everybody was prepared to lay down their arms. Japanese soldiers had been indoctrinated to fight onto death, refuse surrender and sacrifice themselves instead of being taken as prisoners. So when the shocking announcement came through the mouth of the Emperor on 15 August 1945, hundreds of soldiers went i...

2017-03-19 10:51:00
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137 

Agloe: A Fake Town That Became Real  

In the 1930s, a small town named Agloe suddenly began appearing on the maps of New York. It was positioned near an unmarked dirt road that led from Roscoe to Rockland, and near to Beaverkill. That road was neither visited by anyone nor was it popularly known, and very few people, if any, outside of the mapmakers' company, knew that the town of Agloe didn't even exist. Agloe was a copyright trap—a century old trick mapmakers and dictionary makers have been using to catch copycats. When comp...

2017-03-19 10:49:00
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143 

The Battle for Castle Itter: The Strangest Battle of WW2  

In the waning days of the Second World War, five days after Hitler shot himself in his bunker in Berlin, one of the most bizarre battle took place at a 19th century castle in the Austrian Alps. Castle Schloss Itter, located on a hill close to the village Itter, had some very prominent French personalities held prisoners by the SS. After the prison's guards fled, the hardy prisoners took arms and fought side-by-side along with American and German troops against the Nazis. The Battle of Castle

2017-03-11 12:44:00
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44 

Thilafushi: Maldives's Garbage Island  

What does an island with not a speck of land to spare do to get rid of hundreds of tons of garbage generated each day by its one million yearly tourists and nearly four hundred thousand permanent residents? They dump it into another island, of course. The stunning tropical islands of Maldives, southwest of India, is known for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters. But very few are aware of its dirty side. Just a few miles west of Male, the capital city of Maldives, and one of the most densely

2017-03-10 12:13:00
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191 

The Mysterious Caynton Caves  

What appears to be an ordinary rabbit hole in a farmer's field is actually the humble entrance to a large underground cave whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Located in the grounds of Caynton Hall, near Beckbury, in Shropshire, England, the Caynton Caves were believed to have been dug in the late 18th or early 19th Century, but popular legend associate them with the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order that was founded in the 12th Century, originally to guard pilgrims on their way

2017-03-09 12:52:00
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152 

Monument to The Armenian Alphabet  

Located near the village of Artashavan, close to the highway, in Armenia, stands 39 giant carved Armenian letters dedicated to the language its speakers take pride in. The Armenian alphabet is more than 1,600 years old and it's still used today in its original form. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, in 405 CE in order to make the Bible accessible to Armenians and spread Christianity. Prior to that, Armenians had no alphabet of their own an...

2017-03-09 10:30:00
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184 

This Croatian Island Looks Like A Giant Fingerprint  

This tiny island in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia, has been under a lot of attention in recent times. Located in the Sibenik archipelago on the Dalmatian coast, this small island of 1.4 square kilometer is completely covered by a web of dry stone walls. When viewed from the air, the oval-shaped island of Baljenac, (also spelled Bavljenac), looks like a giant fingerprint with long lines of low walls resembling ridges and grooves of the skin. Like many west European nations such as Ir

2017-03-07 20:20:00
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178 

Chaiten: The Town Buried By A Volcano  

Early in the morning of May 2, 2008, a volcano located about 10 km to the north of the town of Chaiten, near the Gulf of Corcovado in southern Chile, rumbled to life after nearly 10,000 years of inactivity. The plume of volcanic ash rose to 17 km and blanketed the entire town. At that time about 4,000 people were living in Chaiten, who were immediately evacuated. The Chaiten volcano continued to erupt for the next several days becoming increasingly violent. The ash column became 30 km tall and...

2017-03-07 10:22:00
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176 

Bridegroom's Oak: The Tree With Its Own Postal Address  

Bräutigamseiche, Dodauer Forst, 23701 Eutin, Germany If you write a letter addressed to the address above, it will end up in knothole of an oak tree in the Dodauer Forst forest near Eutin in Germany. In the past hundred years, thousands of people have written to this tree, and reportedly hundreds have had their wishes fulfilled— the wish of finding one's love partner. Photo credit: Holger.Ellgaard/Wikimedia Read more » © Amusing Planet, 2017.

2017-03-06 20:24:00
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166 

The Deepest Metro Stations in The World  

The average metro train doesn't go beyond a few stories underground. But sometimes the geology and the geography of the region, such as the presence of rivers and swamps, forces engineers to go deep underground. The Arsenalna, a station on Kiev Metro's Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska Line, is such an exception. Arsenalna station is located 105.5 meters below the surface, making it the deepest metro station in the world. If you made a vertical shaft on earth as deep, you could drop the entire Statu...

2017-03-04 12:45:00
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138 

The Witty Epitaphs of Key West Cemetery  

A cemetery might seem like an odd destination on a tourist circuit, but the one in Key West, Florida, has a lot of history and some rather interesting tombs. This 19-acre graveyard was founded in 1847 after a terrible hurricane in October 1846 washed away the old cemetery that was located near the coast. After this, the new cemetery was built on the highest point in Key West, and the old graves that survived the hurricane were moved here. Because of the high water table, most of the graves lie a

2017-03-02 22:04:00
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172 

The Museum of Broken Relationships  

An empty bottle of whiskey, a pair of fake breasts, a pair of tattered blue jeans, a toaster, an axe, and a stack of Brazilian Playboy magazines. These are some of the artifacts displayed at the Museum of Broken Relationships, a project that collects and displays the wreckage of failed romantic exploits. The museum has two locations—the original at Zagreb, Croatia, and a second establishment opened in Los Angeles, the US, about a year ago. The Museum was the brainchild of Olinka Vistica and Dr...

2017-03-02 14:54:00
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143 

The Ruins of Suakin Island  

The island town of Suakin, in north-eastern Sudan, was an important port for trade and culture on the East African coast for centuries. The town is located on a flat, oval-shaped island, on the west coast of the Red Sea, inside a narrow inlet that penetrates four kilometer inland and ends in a wide basin about two kilometers across. There are two round coral islands in the shallow basin. One of the islands is deserted and contains nothing but a cemetery. The other island to the south is the site

2017-03-01 21:26:00
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219 

Grime's Graves: A Neolithic Flint Mine  

maThis strange lunar-like landscape in the middle of Thetford Forest in Norfolk, England, looks very similar to mortar craters in Normandy and in Somme from the First World War. But these ones in Norfolk have a different origin, and despite their name, they are not graves. Grime's Graves is actually a large flint mining complex from the Neolithic age that's at least 4,500 years old. In the Neolithic era, flint —a hard, mineralized form of quartz—was a valuable natural resource and high...

2017-02-28 16:40:00
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186 




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