Around the World in 80 Days, the Modern Version

Jules Verne wrote the novel Around the World in Eighty Days in 1872, in which Phileas Fogg makes a wager that he can travel around the world in just eighty days. Fogg did precise calculations to gauge his travel, and although he ran into complications, completed the trip in time. Can someone do that today? There have been a few people, mainly celebrities, who recreated Fogg's feat, one even on a bicycle. But can an ordinary person using ordinary travel methods do it? Yes they can! You don't even need a private plane.

There are a few trick involved, though. Rail travel is still feasible in many parts of the world, and your route should take you through nations that aren't at war or hard to enter. The real trick is to book passage on cargo ships. Read how, with a bit of planning, you can circumnavigate the earth in eighty days at The Travel.

A Short Biography of Human Excrement and Its Value

Back when all humans were nomads, they would do their business and move on. Then when people started to settle down into stable communities, we had to figure out our shit. In the Bible, God told the Hebrews how to treat the promised land. Outhouses became a thing, and many societies recognized the fertilizer value of our waste, either on a household scale or as an industry. Larger cities posed a problem, though, and that's how we ended up with modern sewage systems. While we've created a world where we never have to think much about human feces, seven billion pounds of excreta every day is a problem.

Lina Zeldovich, author of the book The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health, tells how her grandfather would ceremoniously clean out the septic tank once a year and use the sludge as fertilizer for trees, garden soil, and to activate the compost. She also goes through a short history of how people have utilized human waste over millennia and why we should go back to using our gross domestic product more sustainably instead of paying to treat it as a problem. Read The Power of Shit at Aeon. Oh yeah, it contains the proper amount of puns for the subject. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Myotus)

How Different Dog Breeds React to Home Invaders

Dogs naturally want to protect their homes and families, but some are better at it than others. Some need only their reputation, while others have to actually make a move to scare a stranger off. And some are just plain lousy in both intimidation and home protection. Jonny Devaney acts out a range of reactions when a burglar confronts a few different dog breeds. Do you have one of these breeds? Let us know how accurate he is. -via reddit

"Close Enough" Words for Things You Can't Remember

Have you ever had a brain fart and couldn't remember some common word or term that you needed to use? You can often get the point across by using whatever words might be close. That's how a peacock becomes a "disco chicken," or a cow can be called a "moo beast." In an AskReddit thread, people tell funny stories of folks communicating the best they can when the exact word escapes them. 

Couldn't remember groomsmen, went with dudesmaids instead.

I forgot the word for ‘exterminator’ so I used ‘ant exorcist’ instead.

It gets even better when people who speak English as a second language go all the way around the world for an English term they don't know. That's how a reindeer became a "Christmas llama." That's really odd, but you still know what he means. And you'll always remember it. Read forty of the funniest incidents of this sort of thing at Bored Panda.

How Supercuts are Made

Soon after YouTube debuted in 2005, the concept of "supercuts" took off. Some are works of art, some are specifically to drive a point home, and many of them made us say, "That took a lot of work!" We could imagine someone searching through countless hours of source material, looking for the clips they needed. That may have been true in the early days, but now there are tools to aid in the process, like search engines and video editing software.

In 2014, artist and educator Sam Lavigne built a tool called Videogrep that automatically makes supercuts. No, it's not as simple as, say, online image generators, but in the new tutorial Lavigne posted, the magic behind the search is revealed. It's subtitles.

Videogrep uses the timestamps in subtitle files to make supercuts of videos. It will automatically look for a few different types of subtitle files, including .srt files (the most common subtitle format), .vtt files (a common web-based subtitle format), or specially formatted .json files that videogrep can generate itself (more on this later).

That makes so much sense, you have to wonder why we didn't figure it out earlier (unless you already did, in which case you'll think I'm an idiot). The tutorial explains how to download videos, find subtitle files or make one, and make a supercut based on words. You can search for specific words or phrases or words ending in "ing." You can adjust the parameters to include an entire sentence, since subtitles have punctuation. That makes for a less-jarring supercut like this one. Or you can search for the most common words in a video. This would be a lot of fun for someone who knows what they are doing. Now if we can just figure out the trick to making dance supercuts...  -via Metafilter

The Ping Pong Table Bike

Here at Neatorama, we've long loved and admired Benedetto Bufalino's funny public sculptures, such as his cement mixer disco and his street sign skateboard. This artist adds whimsy and humor to urban life.

The latest project from Bufalino's studio in Lyons, France is this ping pong table. It's built around a bicycle for easy transportation between or even during games. It comes equipped with training wheels. I don't think that's because of his limited bicycling skills but the sheer weight of the table.

Bufalino rides it here in Esch-Sur-Alzette, a town in Luxembourg known for its vibrant art scene. He reports that he's already returned to France via bike, but not necessarily this bike.

Hidden Ancient Settlements Found in the Bolivian Amazon

There have always been tales of vast wealthy cities hidden in the Amazon rainforest. Explorers have died trying to find these cities, and the gold they supposedly contained. Conventional wisdom among archeologists was that the soil was too poor for agriculture, which was crucial for supporting large cities. Besides, they hadn't found any. It turns out that when a large civilization is wiped out or moves away, a rainforest will hide what they left. Trees and other vegetation sprout up, animals and floods leave their mark, and before you know it, all that's left are rumors. Oh, these places are still there, you just can't get to them.

Lately, concrete evidence of advanced societies in the Amazon has come to light. Deforestation uncovered some clues. Now a remote-sensing laser system called lidar has detected 26 urban centers hidden by the forest in southeast Bolivia. Two of them each cover an area three time the size of Vatican City! These cities contain pyramids, walls, elevated roadways, terraces, and buildings. The largest site, called Cotoca, belonged to the Casarabe culture, which flourished between 500 CE and 1400 CE. Their disappearance predates European invasion, and scientists don't know what happened to them. Read about the new discoveries at Nature.    

Uterus-Shaped Cereal Is Part of This Healthy Menstrual-Themed Breakfast

It's called "Period Crunch."

Intima, a company that makes menstrual products, such as environmentally-friendly period cups and Kegel muscle training devices, would like to normalize conversations about periods. Yahoo! News reports that the company has launched a cereal with little bits shaped like a human uterus. The cereal is, appropriately, raspberry flavored and stains milk red.

Period Crunch comes in boxes with diagrams of the female reproductive tract and conversations starters about menstruation. Intima argues that cultural forces prevent many women from talking comfortably about periods. Chatting about menstruation over breakfast could be a way to overcome these inhibitions.

Photo: Intima

A First Look at Andor

Several years ago, we were teased with the idea of Diego Luna returning to the Star Wars universe in his role as Cassian Andor, one of the heroes of Rogue One. Finally we see that it's a sure thing, as the TV series Andor is scheduled to land on Disney+ on August 31. It's a prequel to Rogue One, not only an origin story for Andor, but also about the formation of the Rebellion, when everyday people could no longer take the abuses of the Empire and decided to stand up for their rights. Luna not only stars in the series, he is the executive producer. We will also see a young Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O'Reilly, and Forest Whitaker will appear as his Rogue One character Saw Gerrera. The cast also includes Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, and Kyle Soller. First announced as a 12-episode series, Andor has since been expanded to two seasons, and possibly more. Let's hope so, because this two-minute teaser is intriguing.    

Sharkcano: An Erupting Volcano Full of Sharks

An active volcano with sharks inside seems like the premise for a SyFy movie, doesn't It? And we've made fun of such movies many times. But this story is real, and NASA and marine biologists have evidence. The Kavachi Volcano is an active, completely underwater volcano near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. By "active," we mean it erupts quite often since its discovery in 1939. Large eruptions occurred in 2000, 2007, and 2014, with smaller eruptions in between. If it's on a seven-year schedule, there's no surprise in Kavachi erupting on May 14, 2022. NASA's Landsat 9 satellite captured images of the underwater plume

Meanwhile, life has been thriving inside Kavachi's volcanic crater. Sulphur-loving microbes that seek hot water have been observed, and sharks, too! Both hammerhead sharks and silky sharks have been seen living in the crater since 2015, and there are pictures. When bait was lowered into the crater, sharks swam up from the depths of the active crater to retrieve it. Don't they know it's supposed to be too hot and acidic for them to live in? What the sharks know is that there are other tasty species of fish also living in the crater.

Unfortunately, we have no reports actually showing the sharks being ejected from the volcano during the latest eruption, or whether they survived. The SYFY version will probably show it in detail.  

By the way, there is already a movie called Sharkcano, but since it was a National Geographic documentary shown on Disney+, it wasn't all that heavily promoted. We can assume there were no sharks shown ejecting from an exploding mountain.

The Rough Afterlife of Five Star Wars Filming Locations

The many Star Wars films introduced us to strange new worlds, with names like Yavin, Tatooine, Endor, and Ahch-To. These are all inspired by, and filmed in, beautiful and exotic earthbound locations (Bespin being a notable exception). After all, they are just movies. But time marches on, and the film shot at those locations is up to 45 years old now. What are those places like now? Unfortunately, some have had a pretty dismal time coping with the fame brought by an appearance in Star Wars, with fans traveling there as if they were on a pilgrimage. But that's not the only problem.

Ahch-To is suffering from too many tourists, partially because of its Star Wars fame. Mustafar, being geologically active, is in danger of sliding into the sea. Tatooine has seen some terrorists move in. Yavin was damaged by partiers. And the forest moon of Endor is no more, a victim of industry. Read where all these places are and what's happened to them since their Star Wars appearances, at Cracked.

The Magical Cut -and How to Heal It

The guy from The Action Lab (previously at Neatorama) cuts his hand with a plastic butter knife and manages to draw blood. Or does he? This is the magic of chemicals. He's got different chemicals on each side of the knife, and they combine when he presses it against his hand. The combination of ferrochloride and potassium thiocyanite makes the blood, and then the addition of sodium fluoride makes it all turn transparent again. You might think this is genius way to do fake blood for a movie scene, but honestly, the cost of the chemicals is probably much more than what you'd pay for professional fake blood packets. But hey, it might be worth it to impress your kids someday. -via reddit

Unveiling New Names for US Military Bases

One peculiarity of the US Army is the naming of military bases after generals who actually fought against the United States. But that is coming to an end. A commission, called the Naming Commission, was tasked with coming up with new names for nine posts: Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Rucker, Fort Polk, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Pickett, and Fort Lee. The commission is made up of eight retired officers and historians. The new names are taken from war heroes and barrier breakers, except for Fort Bragg, which will be renamed Fort Liberty. The new names are:

Fort Moore, after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and his wife, Julia Moore. Hal Moore co-wrote the book We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, about his experiences in Vietnam. Julia Moore helped create a casualty notification team.

Fort Walker, after Mary Edwards Walker, Civil War surgeon and spy and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

Fort Cavazos, after Gen. Richard Cavazos, the Army’s first Hispanic four-star general. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in Both Korea and Vietnam.

Fort Gregg-Adams will be named for Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, who both rose through the ranks to become military supervisors during World War II, despite the segregation of the military at the time.

Fort Barfoot, after Tech. Sgt. Van Barfoot, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in World War II.  

Fort Johnson, after Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a member of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I. His heroic actions were recognized by the French, but he was not honored by the US until long after his death. Johnson received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2015.

Fort Novosel, for pilot Michael Novosel, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War with the US Army, after serving in World War II and Korea with the Air Force.  

Fort Eisenhower, after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led Allied forces in World War II and served as president of the United States.

Read more about each of these namesakes at Task and Purpose. Then you'll want to go to Wikipedia and read even more about them. -via Metafilter

War is Older Than Written History

Humans were busy killing each other many thousands of years ago, before they had the ability to leave written records about it. How do we know this? Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of warfare all over the world. It's all in how you read the clues. For example, a burial ground in the Nile Valley in Sudan dating back 13,500 years shows that burials were spread out over time, but of 61 bodies examined, 45% show evidence of violence by other humans. This indicates an ongoing struggle, possibly for dwindling resources. In Germany, several hundred were left unburied in one spot around 1200 BCE. Isotope analysis shows that many of them had traveled from elsewhere to do battle. In Australia’s Northern Territory, 10,000-year-old cave paintings depict people fighting each other. In Syria, actual weapons were found, clay pellets shot from slings that could pierce walls, dated to 3500 BCE. Read a roundup of ten prehistoric battle sites from all over the world, and what they tell us about ancient warfare at Mental Floss.

(Image credit: Flickr user Jon Connell)

Carlo Collodi and the Original Pinocchio

Americans know Pinocchio, the wooden boy, mainly as a cute character in a Disney movie. Students in college literature classes are surprised to learn how rich and complex the original version is, and how very Italian it is. Carlo Collodi first wrote Pinocchio as a series of magazine stories beginning in 1881. In his version, the tale begins with a block of wood that talks, and becomes a puppet in the hands of a poor woodcarver who dreams of making some money with a carved puppet that talks. Pinocchio himself is less of a cute, naive kid and more of a brat who gets into trouble constantly.

Collodi imbued his story with plenty of political satire, poking fun at the rich and powerful and warning the common folks of their evil intentions. The author spent his younger years fighting to unite Italy into a single nation, and his later years promoting education for the masses amid a push for literacy in the country. Pinocchio suffers massively for his contrary ways- he was burned, hanged, thrown into the ocean, and jailed during the series. Once he was actually killed, but was brought back by magic due to popular demand. Eventually Pinocchio learns to buckle down and become a good student, but he also learned some street smarts along the way.

Smithsonian takes us to the village of Collodi, which Carlo Lorenzini used as his pen name, to see the influences the environment had on the birth of Pinocchio, and what the delinquent puppet means to the village today.

Email This Post to a Friend

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More