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6

Who Needs Males? All-Female Termite Colony Reproduced Without Any Males

Biologist Toshihisa Yashiro of the University of Sydney and colleagues have discovered the first-known asexual termite colony in the world. But why get rid of the males?

So why did all-female populations evolve at all? To puzzle out the answer, Yashiro and his colleagues pitted the asexual and sexual termites head-to-head—literally. When they measured the noggins of soldier termites from the all-female and mixed-sex colonies, the researchers found that, unsurprisingly, those in female-only colonies looked a lot more alike. But in this case, uniformity wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
With their relatively unarmored bodies, termites aren’t built for the offensive. Instead, when the colony is under attack, the insect’s main mode of defense often involves plugging the entrances to their nests with their own heads. A variety of head sizes could actually be a burden rather than a boon, meaning the loss of males may have actually empowered these female fighters to survive an assault.

Read the rest over at this article by Katherine Wu over at the Smithsonian

Photo: Mature termite queen surrounded by workers and soldiers. (CSIRO/CC BY 3.0)


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6

Good Clean Fun

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. The shampoo prank goes on for quite some time before the victim realizes someone is messing with him, and even then he suspects the guy showering beside him. Stay for the visual punch line at the end. After all, that's a lot of soap! -via reddit


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6

The Economies With the Most (and Least) Efficient Health Care

The United States dropped from 50th to a tie for 54th in the annual Bloomberg Health-Efficiency Index. The index tracks health costs and life expectancies, using the latest data available, which in this case is from 2015. The drop in ranking may be due to four countries being added to the index this year, all of which placed in the top 25. Read more about how the index was calculated, and see the stats for the top 56 countries at Bloomberg. -via Digg


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5

Painting With Fire

While looking for YouTube videos on how to create flame patina on copper, I came across Czech metallurgic artist Ladislav Vlna. He creates distinctive portraits on a steel canvas using flame from blowtorches. Ladislav uses differing temperatures from the heat of the torches to create a range of colors on his artwork. The artist has been perfecting his technique for over 16 years. And his works have sold for up to $9,400 US.

To watch Ladislav at work on one of his masterpieces, Turkish Public Broadcasting has a YouTube video . Learn about about the artist's technique in an article by Reuters


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6

Lucas Makes a Spider Web

Lucas, the adorable young spider animated by Joshua Slice, is a jumping spider. That's nice to know, but it turns out that jumping spiders do not spin webs. But don't tell Lucas that he can't do something. He'll show you!


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6

Indonesian Teen Survived 49 Days Adrift at Sea

Eighteen-year-old teen Aldi Novel Adilang's job was to keep the lamps aboard a fishing hut lit to attract fish - but when heavy winds knocked the floating hut off its mooring, he was swept out to sea:

Aldi had what the Jakarta Post described as "one of the loneliest jobs in the world," as a lamp keeper for a floating fish aggregator called a "rompong." The vessel is compromised of a modest hut on top of a raft of logs. Aldi's job was to keep the lamps lit at night to attract fish for a period of six months.
Stationed 125 kilometers (77 miles) out to sea off the coast of Indonesia's North Sulawesi region, Aldi's only human contact was a weekly delivery of supplies or via a walkie-talkie.
But on July 14, strong winds unmoored the small vessel, which had no engine and no paddle on board, and blew it thousands of miles away from home toward the remote US island territory of Guam.
After his supplies ran out, Aldi began catching fish from the sea and burning small portions of the rompong's wooden base to cook them on.

Read the rest over at DW


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6

Watch This 7-Year-Old Girl Rock the National Anthem

Seven-year-old Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja sure can sing! Watch her rock the national anthem before a soccer match in California.


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8

Tic Tac as Arranged by Adam Hillman

We've featured Adam Hillman before on Neatorama, but the self-described "object arranger" is back with many more creations. This one above is "TicStack", which I wish we could get for real at the supermarket.


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10

How Rainbow Weevil Creates a Spectrum of Colors

Scientists from Yale-NUS College and the University of Fribourg have discovered a novel color-generating mechanism used by the iridescent rainbow weevil to create a spectrum of colors:

... the researchers determined that the scales of the insect were composed of a 3D photonic crystalline structure made from chitin, the main ingredient in insect exoskeletons. They further discovered that the vibrant rainbow colors on this weevil’s scales are caused by two factors: the size of the crystal structure that makes up each scale, and the volume of chitin used to form the crystal structure. Larger scales have a larger crystalline structure and use a larger volume of chitin to reflect red light; smaller scales have a smaller crystalline structure and use a smaller volume of chitin to reflect blue light.
“The ability to produce these structures, which are able to provide a high color fidelity regardless of the angle you view it from, will have applications in any industry which deals with color production,” said Yale-NUS professor Vinodkumar Saranathan. "We can use these structures in cosmetics and other pigmentations to ensure high-fidelity hues, or in digital displays in your phone or tablet, which will allow you to view it from any angle and see the same true image without any color distortion. We can even use them to make reflective cladding for optical fibers to minimize signal loss during transmission."

(Image: Dr. Bodo D. Wilts)


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9

Make Your Own Hybrid Animal With the Hybridizer

You know how naturalists of the Middle Ages described (or imagined) strange animals as combinations of known animals? You can make your own now! Kajetan Obarski and Igor Hardy made an online generator that combines two animals, illustrated by 17th century engraver Matthaus Merian, into a new animal. Try out the Hybridizer yourself, and see how weird a new creature you can create. -via Nag on the Lake


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9

19 Restaurant Designs That Are Comically Bad

(Image source: redditor Nopeasuoli)

Can you read what this wall painting is supposed to say? The words are placed fairly randomly, and one is even split in two. The original saying is "May all who came as guests leave as friends," but those words were put into a jar and shaken before they were thrown at the wall. At least no one was expected to eat them.

(Image source: redditor peacelovinhippy)

And you have to wonder what the original purpose for this bowl was, since it does not hold food. These are just two examples of inexplicable attempts to make a restaurant memorable. Or maybe there was no real attempt at all. You'll find all 19 compiled at Buzzfeed.


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9

How San Francisco Planned Its Own Housing Crisis

San Francisco is a lovely place to visit, offering tons of charm and history, but if you want to live there it's going to cost you dearly. The laws and regulations that made the city a struggle for lowly working people and their families go back to its early days as a seaport enriched by the Gold Rush. It began with zoning restrictions on boarding houses and laundries, supposedly to set decent living standards, but the desired effect was to drive out Chinese workers. That kind of "local control" continued into the 20th century to favor landowners over various immigrants, minority groups, and the poor. City officials introduced urban renewal projects to fight "blight," the federal government contributed redlining through the FHA, and neighborhoods had their own discriminatory covenants. San Francisco refined its land use and building codes over time, with both intended and unintended consequences that marginalized longtime residents without money or clout. It continued with a rezoning effort in 1978.

It’s clear that many San Franciscans were well aware this rezoning would lead the city toward a housing crisis. The planning commissioners, however, were not moved. Their testimony throughout the hearings made it clear they valued maintaining the city’s predominately suburban layout over affordability. In response to a homeowner who was unhappy that his property would be downzoned to allow fewer units, commissioner Sue Bierman gave a quintessential anti-growth response—countering that San Franciscans were concerned about parking, traffic, and sunlight reaching their backyards, embracing a shift toward zoning that would preserve “more comfortable neighborhoods.” Instead of listening to those folks worried about becoming homeless, the commissioners focused on the single-family homeowners worried about shadows on their yards and parking for their cars.

In the final minutes of the June 27, 1978, meeting, San Francisco’s planning commissioners prepared to approve the EIR, along with its damning final clause, which explained that the project would reduce the amount of housing that could legally be built in San Francisco. “As a result the cost of housing may increase, and that with increasing housing costs, some population groups may find it difficult to live in San Francisco. The proposed zoning will affect the low- and moderate-income households more than any other group and mitigation measures are proposed to help alleviate this impact.”

But commissioner Bierman said she was “troubled” by this statement, and commissioner Nakashima agreed, complaining that it wasn’t the solely the planning department’s fault if housing prices continued to rise. Commissioner Rosenblatt suggested removing the clause entirely—and that’s exactly what they did, erasing their acknowledgement of the plan’s disastrous effects from the document moments before approving it.

Read a substantial history of city planning that led to today's housing crisis in San Francisco at Collectors Weekly.


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9

The First English Novel Was About Talking Cats

Literary scholars often trace the novel form back to 18th-century, although it depends on how you define "novel." A book called Beware the Cat, written by William Baldwin in 1553, appears to fill the bill.

Beware the Cat tells the tale of a talkative priest, Gregory Streamer, who determines to understand the language of cats after he is kept awake by a feline rabble on the rooftops. Turning for guidance to Albertus Magnus, a medieval alchemist and natural scientist roundly mocked in the Renaissance for his quackery, Streamer finds the spell he needs. Then, using various stomach-churning ingredients, including hedgehog’s fat and cat excrement, he cooks up the right potion.

And it turns out that cats don’t merely talk – they have a social hierarchy, a judicial system and carefully regulated laws governing sexual relations. With his witty beast fable, Baldwin is analysing an ancient question, and one in which the philosophical field of posthumanism still shows a keen interest: do birds and beasts have reason?

An intriguing read, no doubt, but the story behind the book is interesting, too. Baldwin, a printer's assistant who wrote other books, sat on Beware the Cat for ten years due to the politics of Tudor royalty. Now, 500 year later, the novel is being turned into a play. Read about Beware the Cat at The Conversation. -via Strange Company


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6

Blue Marble 2

Back in February, Kaplamino gave us a wonderful chain reaction called The Blue Marble. He's back with Blue Marble 2, in which physics and timing combine to make this chain reaction act like a pinball machine! What's really neat about this one is that Kaplamino gives us some insight on how the tricks are done. From the YouTube page:

The trick at 0:23 caused the majority of the fails. It had to be exactly in the right position and it was moving because of the vibrations of the trick above.

The air canon with the balloon was a big challenge to make. The rubber band squeezes the balloon around the straw to release the air in a specific direction. Then the hardest part was to find how to stop the air and deliver it when I want. It was too difficult to put something like tape at the end of the straw because it was either too clingy or not enough. The solution was to twist the balloon around the straw and block it in this position with a rope. In this position the air stays in the balloon until it untwists. I explain it because I think what exactly happened it's not easy to get when you see the video.

After this I built a timing catapult trick. I know I'm crazy because timing tricks are so unreliable, it was mostly based on luck but worked 80% of the time. It was so sensitive, just a little more dust or some hair on my table could make it fail so I had to clean it for almost every take.

Yep I used a fidget spinner again, I'm proud of this one, nice and almost never failed.

The big catapult was supposed to be a trick with fire (the plan was to build something with elements: fire, air and water). The marble was supposed to go up because of the explosion of a firecracker :p

But it was too risky, I know it can work (it worked 2 times) but with MASSIVE luck. It's impossible to predict how they'll explode. And it caused lots of others problems. The marble was burned and it wasn't rolling really well after that.

The shockwave can trigger other tricks and finally the debris from the explosions was falling all over the place and could block the marble at a later stage. It also burned the table and hurt my ears. So I gave up, but maybe you'll find this trick in a screenlink later ;)

About the water trick. Release the water was really easy, but it took me weeks to figure out what to do with it. You can't push something with it, not enough force ...

So I taped a folded paper and when the water touched it, it got wet and unfold because of the weight :D But the marble also touches the water and gets wet. After that you can see that it moves slowly.

Note that we get to see how slanted the table is when the camera pans near the window. There's not much slant at all... just enough. -via Laughing Squid


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7

Is This the Most Magical Meal on Earth?

Disneyland in California was originally built with a private luxury apartment inside for Walt Disney himself. After his death, it was made into an art gallery, then an exclusive lodging experience called the Disneyland Dream Suite. It's now called 21 Royal, the setting for a posh dinner offered for $15,000. Don't faint; that price covers 12 people and includes park tickets, so dinner itself is in the realm of a grand per person. As a theme park journalist, Carlye Wisel got to try it out, and she gives us a blow-by-blow description of the evening.

After a seemingly brief cocktail hour, we’re ushered into the dining room. It’s neoclassical by way of New Orleans, all jewel-toned wainscotting and aquamarine velvet chairs with idealized murals of the park’s Mark Twain Riverboat churning through open waters and the famed Haunted Mansion in all its antebellum glory. A floral eruption of sunset-hued ranunculus, roses, and sprigs of rosemary on the table would almost have you forgetting you’re a stone’s throw from mouse-shaped beignets until a candelabra on the mantle is magically lit by, what else, fairy dust.

Sommelier Matt Ellingson does most of the talking throughout the night, with lengthy backstories for every pour, including our first — a Dom Ruinart champagne named for, as we’re told in detail, the 18th-century inventor of “wine with bubbles.” The first course lands, Osetra caviar offset by an acidic yellow tomato sauce and Alaskan king crab with a delicate potato mousseline crepe. The wine and food pairing isn’t just nice, it’s nearly unprecedented: Save for Club 33, nowhere at the original Disneyland Park sells alcohol, for now.

You might never have an evening at 21 Royal, but you can read about it for free at Eater.

(Image credit: Frank Wonho Lee)

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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6

Lives of The Downtrodden in Early America

We learn a lot about the Founding Fathers and the movers and shakers of colonial America, but what about the regular folk, and especially the poor people who left no records for us? Jon Townsend (previously at Neatorama) knows a lot about colonial America. Here he gives us details from the travel journals of Sarah Kemble Knight and surveyor William Bird, who wrote down the things they saw and the people they met. -via Digg 


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8

Fake Town for Alzheimer's Patients

Reminiscence Therapy is often used in nursing homes and adult-care facilities to help patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. In this type of therapy, the patients are encouraged to talk about their past - and that act of remembering seemed to help improve their mood and cognition.

The George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Center took RT one step further: they created a fake town taken straight from the 1950s. Called the Glenner Town Square, it's built inside a 11,000-square-foot former warehouse and comes complete with a local diner, city hall, gas station, beauty salon and even a library.

Why the 1950s? From the website's FAQ:

Why is Town Square® designed from the era 1953-1961?
Studies have shown that our strongest memories are constructed from the ages of 10-30. The reason being is that this is when the most significant life events occur – graduation from high school, college, first job, weddings, birth of children. That said, a majority of our participants are now in their early eighties. Our participants, who are currently 82 (in 2017), were born in in 1935 and would have been 18 in 1953.

via San Diego Tribune


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12

Japan Has Landed Two Rovers on Asteroid Ryugu

It's like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 asteroid mission has successfully landed two rovers on an asteroid called Ryugu.

The photo above was taken by Minerva-II 1A rover during a hop after it landed on the asteroid. The rovers are designed to hop along the asteroid's surface, and take photos and data, as well as collect samples.

This photo was taken by the second rover, shortly after separating from the spacecraft, on its way down to the asteroid.

Photo: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


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9

"Africa" '50s Style

It's an '80s song set to a '50s beat, and Generation Z doesn't understand at all. But the rest of us can enjoy Postmodern Jukebox with guest musicians Casey Abrams and Snuffy Walden performing Toto's "Africa." -via Laughing Squid


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8

This Raccoon Scaled a Building and ... JUMPED from the Ninth Story!

South Carolina resident Micha Rea was walking on the boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey, when he spotted a raccoon scaling a building.  When the animal reached the ninth story ... it JUMPED down!

Click on the embedded video to see what happened next.


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7

Schrödinger's Cat Thought Experiment with Multiple Cats Stumps Physicists

Even if you're not a physicist, chances are that you're familiar with Erwin Schrödinger's cat.

In his famous Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, a cat inside a box is both dead and alive until the box is opened, and illustrates (just one of the) paradoxical things about quantum mechanics.

But what if instead of one cat, there are two cats?

Find out what happens in this article by Davide Castelvecchi over at Nature.


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10

Praying Mantis Catches, Eats Fish

Praying mantises normally eat other insects, but they aren't picky. They've been seen eating spiders, birds, frogs, and mice, but now a science paper details the first-ever observance of a praying mantis catching and eating fish. Lots of fish.

Observations of this 2.2-inch-long male mantis (Hierodula tenuidentata) were made in a private roof garden in Karnataka, India. The garden may be artificial, but the researchers say it’s a very close approximation of mantises’ natural habitat, featuring wasps, butterflies, spiders, and several planters. The team observed the mantis as it hunted and devoured the guppies, also known as rainbow fish, in a pond, which it did for five days in a row. In total, the mantis ate nine fish, at a minimum rate of two per day.

This is just one mantis, but it shows how adaptable and intelligent they can be. Read all about the pescetarian mantis at Gizmodo.

(Image credit: Rajesh Puttaswamaiah)  


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8

Great Dane Does Lunges

"I don't know what you're doing, Dad, but I wanna do it, too!"

Eli Clark was exercising by doing lunges across the living room, and his great Dane Luca did his best to join in. He didn't quite understand what moves were involved, but gosh darn it, he did his best! That's a good dog. Luca now has his own Instagram account. -via Tastefully Offensive 

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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12

"Cat Grandpa" Naps with Shelter Cats

Terry Laurmen of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is 75 years old. He volunteers at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, where he enjoys brushing the cats. They love it too! The shelter, which specializes in caring for disabled, ill, and elderly cats, is a comfy place, so Laurmen often falls asleep with the cats.

"They all know him, when he walks through the door they run over to him because they know he has the special brush and the special treats. They all pile on top of him and rub all over him and just love him," sanctuary owner Elizabeth told the BBC.

But grooming 20-30 cats can get exhausting, and the other volunteers began snapping shots of Terry taking his daily siestas with his furry friends.

The pictures, posted at Facebook, went viral. When the shelter attached a fundraising link, they raised more than $40,000 in donations! They also have more volunteers because of the publicity. So what's next?

"People have been requesting we make a calendar with Terry and the cats on it!" Elizabeth says.

"I asked him if he would be comfortable with something like that - and he said he'd do anything to raise money for them."

Read more about Cat Grandpa at BBC. -via Fark

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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11

Henry the VIII and Ann Boleyn Halloween Costumes

When redditor Monkeygruven posted this picture of some family friends ready for trick-or-treat, others bemoaned that the kids didn't pick their own costumes, nor did they know who they were portraying. Maybe it was more like this.

Mom: Do you want to wear a scary costume or a princess costume?
Girl: I don't know!
Mom: You can be both! You can be a queen who got her head cut off!
Girl: Yeah, let's do that!
Boy: I want to have my head cut off!
Mom: How about you be the king that murdered her?
Boy: Well, okay. But how will people know I did it?
Mom: Let me tell you a scary story, a true story...

That said, the costumes are awesome. -via reddit

Love Halloween and cosplay? Check out our Halloween Blog!

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8

This Military Parade in Chile has Puppies

Military parades are usually a stuffy kind of affair featuring tanks and things like that, but not in Chile! In their annual military parade in Santiago, the Chilean military featured uniformed officers carrying a bunch of puppies that will be trained to be police dogs.


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8

What’s the Maximum Gravity We Could Survive?

Ever since we managed to put men on the moon, we've been looking for other places for people to go. Then bigger and better telescopes led us to exoplanets, those outside our solar system. Somewhere along the way, we switched from thinking of pure exploration to colonizing other planets. But our bodies were built for Earth. Even if we find an exoplanet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere, liquid water, and tolerable temperatures, would we be able to live with a different level of gravity?

If its gravity is too strong our blood will be pulled down into our legs, our bones might break, and we could even be pinned helplessly to the ground.

Finding the gravitational limit of the human body is something that’s better done before we land on a massive new planet. Now, in a paper published on the pre-print server arXiv, three physicists, claim that the maximum gravitational field humans could survive long-term is four-and-a-half times the gravity on Earth.  

Read how they figured that out at Discover magazine. -via Digg

(Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)


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10

Philadelphia Threw a WWI Parade That Gave Thousands of Onlookers the Flu

A hundred years ago, in the autumn of 1918, the Great War was dragging on, so Philadelphia threw a parade to raise morale and sell war bonds called "Liberty Loans." The parade highlighted any available soldiers and sailors, plus the many homefront organizations supporting them. The spectacle would end with a concert conducted by John Philip Souza himself.  

When the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive parade stepped off on September 28, some 200,000 people jammed Broad Street, cheering wildly as the line of marchers stretched for two miles. Floats showcased the latest addition to America’s arsenal – floating biplanes built in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard. Brassy tunes filled the air along a route where spectators were crushed together like sardines in a can. Each time the music stopped, bond salesmen singled out war widows in the crowd, a move designed to evoke sympathy and ensure that Philadelphia met its Liberty Loan quota.

But aggressive Liberty Loan hawkers were far from the greatest threat that day. Lurking among the multitudes was an invisible peril known as influenza—and it loves crowds. Philadelphians were exposed en masse to a lethal contagion widely called “Spanish Flu,” a misnomer created earlier in 1918 when the first published reports of a mysterious epidemic emerged from a wire service in Madrid.

Within a couple of days, the hospitals started filling up and people were dying. The entire city was shut down. Read how Philadelphia (and other American cities) reacted to the Spanish flu at Smithsonian.


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7

The Weird and Mystical World of Sleepwalking

According to the neighbors, one woman would get on her motorcycle and go riding late at night, although she had no idea because she was sleepwalking. Others cook meals, preach sermons, and commit murder while sleeping. It's estimated that 30 percent of us sleepwalk at one time or another, but we really don't know because we sleep through it.

Although it’s thought to be triggered by stress, anxiety, and alcohol, it is totally unknown why we do it. Are we simply on auto-pilot? Trying to fulfill our fantasies? Or perhaps something stranger…

Science hasn’t always provided satisfactory answers to the many questions raised around sleepwalking. Throughout history, the mysteries of somnambulance have lead many to come up with their own theories—drawing on spirituality, pseudo-science, and folklore—with sleepwalkers seeming to exist somewhere between this world and another.

Read a short history of sleepwalking that covers famous cases, scientific research, and pop culture, at Vice.


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8

Thermostat 6 - Animation

Diane can't ignore anymore the leak coming from the ceiling above the family diner…

A beautiful and strong animation about climate change and human behaviours.

Director : AV-RON Maya, COMINOTTI Mylène, COUDERT Marion, DANO Sixtine

Production year : 2018


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