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7

This Japanese Theater Company Provides A Unique Viewing Experience For Its Live Audience

Dance show enthusiasts in Japan can now watch performances live with the necessary precautions and adjustments made. Japanese dance company Moonlight Mobile Theater was able to come up with a way to bring its live audience back to their shows while maintaining the proper health protocols. The viewers sit in separate cubicles surrounding the stage, where they can watch the dancers perform via the letter-drop slots provided on their seats: 

“We intentionally created small holes and slots resembling mailbox slots,” said Nobuyoshi Asai, the theatre’s artistic director and choreographer, explaining how limiting the scope of viewing allows the audience to become more absorbed in the performance.
The theatre company began this peephole viewing in December after cancelling most of its shows last year because of the pandemic. Since December, all 12 of the peephole performances have sold out.
Though this response has been encouraging, only 30 people are allowed in the audience at each show. This does not cover the cost of the performance, including additional safety measures such as disinfecting the venue. Government subsidies barely help the company make ends meet.
While acknowledging the difficulties, Asai is steadfast in the advantages of this idea.
“If we don’t do it, artists will lose opportunities to dance and act,” he said. “We want to propose this as a model to bring audiences back to theatres.”

Image via Reuters 


7

The California Pacific Coast Highway Is Falling

Thanks a lot, climate change. The iconic Pacific Coast Highway in California is at risk of collapsing entirely as parts of the road have been falling into the ocean after intense rainstorms. Erosion expert Gary Griggs says that the road’s days are numbered, as another 150-foot piece of the highway broke off, according to the state’s Department of Transportation:

Repairs are scheduled to be complete in early summer. For now, travelers must turn around when they reach the gaping hole – there's no bypass in that remote stretch of road.
As global temperatures warm because of human-caused climate change, Griggs says the conditions that lead to this kind of damage will only increase. 
The PCH's days are numbered, Griggs said. It's "inevitable” one day the fixes and repairs won't be enough or will be too costly to save the highway.

Image via USA Today 


7

Octopus Tries On A Baseball Cap

This Australian octopus was caught  trying on a discarded cap on camera by diver Jules Casey. Casey’s footage shows the octopus trying to fit its whole body inside the cap, and then giving up and scuttling away on the seafloor. I suggest watching the entire footage, because it’s both fascinating and adorable. Check the video here

Image screenshot via Flipboard 


7

This Cuttlefish Passed A Cognitive Test For Children

Hey, animals are smart too! This cuttlefish proves the intelligence of non-human species by passing a new version of a cognitive test. The marshmallow test, a cognitive test designed for children, was adjusted to test a cuttlefish’s intelligence, as ScienceAlert details: 

A child is placed in a room with a marshmallow. They are told if they can manage not to eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they'll get a second marshmallow, and be allowed to eat both.
This ability to delay gratification demonstrates cognitive abilities such as future planning, and it was originally conducted to study how human cognition develops; specifically, at what age a human is smart enough to delay gratification if it means a better outcome later.

However, the cuttlefish isn’t the first animal to pass the test of delayed gratification! Other animals have also been trained and were able to pass the test: 

Because it's so simple, it can be adjusted for animals. Obviously you can't tell an animal they'll get a better reward if they wait, but you can train them to understand that better food is coming if they don't eat the food in front of them straight away.
Some primates can delay gratification, along with dogs, albeit inconsistently. Corvids, too, have passed the marshmallow test.

Image via ScienceAlert 


7

6 Ancient Bizarre Beliefs With Logical Explanations

The stories that are handed down from ancient times can seem infinitely weird to us, because we are familiar with the scientific method and modern technology that allows us to explore the nature of things. That doesn't mean there weren't smart people around way back then, but even those who figured there was a logical explanation somewhere had to find a way to explain the world to the uneducated masses. Imagine you were a person of some education and experience in the Dark Ages, and so were considered a medicine man or a wizard. You had to find a way to explain why this place wasn't good for castle construction to an illiterate king, so fire-breathing dragons it was.

Well, it's hypothesized that, back in the Iron Age, people would seal up treasure in the tombs of kings and rich people. The thing is, they would seal these tombs with a ton of things that decomposed: people, animals, vegetables, etc. The buried flesh would emit gasses as they decomposed, and with nowhere to go, they would create pressurized gas pockets. Try to open the tombs with a torch so you could see, or cause a spark with an iron spade, and BOOM!: big, firey oblivion in a world where Michael Bay wouldn't be around for thousands of years.

In Wales, there was a king who was trying to make his walls impenetrable. The only thing is, the walls kept falling down. A young real-life Merlin told the king that it was dragons fighting underground, possibly because he believed it, possibly because when a king asks you a question, you give him an answer even if it's nonsense. Instead of underground lizards, it was more likely gas pockets buried in the vast Welsh coal deposits underground.  

Read more about fire-breathing dragons, plus the likely real-life explanations for witches, vampires, and more at Cracked.


7

Octopus Selfie Wins Ocean Art 2020 Underwater Photo Competition



The "Best in Show" award in the Ocean Art 2020 Underwater Photo Competition has been announced. Photographer Gaetano Dario Gargiulo won a trip to the Solomon Islands for the above image of an octopus in a tide pool. According to the story of the shot, the octopus itself snapped the photo!

On the day of the photo, I remained in the tide pool as the tide was too low to venture outside of its boundaries. In one of the shallowest parts of the pool I noticed an octopus. I placed my camera near its den and the octopus started interacting with it. It came completely out of the den and to our amazement it started shooting pictures! My son (3 y.o. in the background) was very curious about the octopus.

The image, titled "Day of the Tentacle," also won in the wide angle category. You can see all the winners in this gallery. -via Boing Boing


8

Eight Snowplows in Minnesota Get Names



Taking a tip from the gritters of Scotland, the Minnesota Department of Transportation ran an online poll to name eight of their snowplows. The winning names are shown above, and all the names in the running can be seen at the competition site. There were more than 122,000 votes cast, and many of those who voted will now have some intangible connection with their local snowplow. I'm just surprised that Tator Tot Hotdish didn't rank among the winners. -via Laughing Squid


9

True Facts: Deception in the Rainforest



Don't you just love it when you watch a video for the comedy you expect, and end up learning something neat? Ze Frank is happy to introduce us to some weird creatures of the rainforest and the things they do to survive. He covers techniques like camouflage, toxicity, and mimicry that rainforest creatures use to avoid predators, which are all forms of deception. Plants do some of these things, too. You can't trust what you see in the rainforest, but you will enjoy the fabulous photography of bizarre animals in this video.


8

The Yard Sale Purchase That Turned Out To Be Worth $500,000

A Connecticut man’s yard sale purchase turned out to be a grand bargain of a lifetime. The unnamed man bought a small blue and white porcelain bowl with floral motifs for just $35. Thinking that it could be an antique piece, he had the bowl examined, and it turns out the bowl was a Ming dynasty porcelain bowl from the early 15th-century Yongle period. The bowl is estimated to be worth around $300,000 to $500,000!

To an untrained eye, the porcelain bowl may appear like a relatively modern product. However, by examining the quality of the porcelain, glaze, and floral motifs, experts were able to pinpoint its creation to the rule of the Yongle Emperor. This period from 1403 to 1424 is considered one of the finest periods of Chinese Imperial porcelain production. This small bowl (about six inches in diameter) was likely made for use in the courts of this Ming dynasty ruler. The brilliant blue designs were created during a period of experimentation in cobalt techniques with rigid quality control. Hence, the small “lotus bowl” (named for its shape) is an almost-unparalleled example of craftsmanship.
The floral designs on the bowl bear resemblance to motifs depicted in the Islamic Middle East. In cobalt, lotus, peony, chrysanthemum, and pomegranate blossoms surround the vessel. The porcelain of the Yongle period was traded throughout the world, reaching lands in the Middle East and East Africa. However, according to experts at Sotheby's, it would have been rare to find such a small piece outside of China, as mostly larger pieces were sent abroad. Despite the broad reach of trade routes, Chinese porcelain was a rare luxury in Europe. The first piece is though to have arrived in the 14th century. It would not be until the 18th century that European manufacturers managed to create their own porcelain vessels.

Image via My Modern Met 


7

This Man Transforms Tin Cans to Bags

Anyone ever heard of "upcycling"? It's repurposing things that would otherwise be thrown into the trash and transforming them into a higher-value product. This man from Thailand really did it well by transforming Coke tin cans into handbags!

This made me think -- what are your "repurposing" project hacks?

Image Credits: Tharinee Kedsopa


7

Meet The Man Behind The Mini Castles In Gerbstedt

Günther Beinert still remembers how he broke down a wall at his parents’ old house, and how he made his first small castle by reassembling the materials with a mixture of ash and sand. He was a boy in his teens at that time.

Over the years, Beinert would become a bricklayer, and through this profession he would get “more involved in [his craft].” Beinert is 87 years old now, but his passion for building miniature castles is still very much alive.

Today, the small town of Gerbstedt is adorned by Beinert’s miniature castles, and one can immediately see them upon arrival.

Learn more about Beinert’s life and his love for his craft over at Atlas Obscura.

(Image Credit: Gerbstedt City Council/ Atlas Obscura)


7

Kyoto's Traditional Houses Are Going Extinct

Kyoto's traditional homes called Machiya are going extinct. That's partially due to the government's desire to keep the people safe from fires (since a Machiya is traditionally made of wood). Moreover, Machiyas tend to be extremely hot during the summer and extremely cold during the winter. The ceiling is very low, too. Thankfully, because of the increasing number of tourists, the locals and the government have been more involved in trying to preserve and renovate these traditional houses!

See this video to have a virtual tour of a Machiya. My favorite part? The traditional Hinoki Cypress tree bath and the courtyard garden!

Video Credits to Abroad in Japan / Youtube


7

Researchers Have Read This Sealed Letter Without Opening It

Have you received a sealed letter and looked at it against the sun to see what's inside? Only to find out that you can't understand anything.

Well, these researchers have been successful (unlike us...) in reading an unopened 17th Century letter without breaking the seal.

Image Credit: Unlocking History Research Group archive

The letter, dated 31 July 1697 and sent from French merchant Jacques Sennacques in Lille to his cousin Pierre Le Pers in The Hague, had been closed using “letterlocking”, a process in which the letter is folded to become its own envelope, in effect locking it to keep it private. It is part of a collection of some 2,600 undelivered letters sent from all over Europe to The Hague between 1689 and 1706, 600 of which have never been opened.

Image Credit: The Museum Voor Communicatie

The international team of researchers from universities including MIT, King’s College London, Queen Mary University London, Utrecht and Leiden, worked with X-ray microtomography scans of the letter, which use X-rays to see inside the document, slice by slice, and create a 3D image. They applied computational flattening algorithms to the scans to enable them to virtually unfold the letter without ever opening it, and discovered that Sennacques had been asking his cousin for a certified copy of a death notice of one Daniel Le Pers

For those curious, here's what's written:

“It has been a few weeks since I wrote to you in order to ask you to have drawn up for me a legalised excerpt of the death of sieur Daniel Le Pers, which took place in The Hague in the month of December 1695, without hearing from you,” runs the letter. “I am writing to you a second time in order to remind you of the pains that I took on your behalf. It is important to me to have this extract & you will do me a great pleasure to procure it for me & to send me at the same time news of your health & of all the family.”

Image Credit: Unlocking History Research Group archive


7

How Long Do Kittens Sleep?

Babies need a lot of sleep for their development. Kittens are similar to babies, so don’t be surprised and worried if you find them sleeping most of the time. But how long do kittens sleep? The Dodo has interviewed Dr. Julian Rivera, a veterinarian, in order to find answers.

More often than not, it’s totally normal.
“Depending on their age, kittens can spend between 70 to 90 percent of their time sleeping,” Dr. Rivera told The Dodo. “Cats are prodigious sleepers, and even as adults sleep about 50 percent of the time.”

So when should you worry about your kitten? This is what the veterinarian has to say.

According to Dr. Rivera, you should hit your vet up if your kitten:
  • Is unable to stand
  • Isn’t nursing (if your kitten is young enough to still be nursing)
  • Isn’t eating
  • Has gums that are turning blue or purple

(Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos/ Pixabay)


7

Stylish Dog Sneakers By RIFRUF

After seeing that Caesar’s paws often get burnt, inflamed, or cut, the designers from RIFRUF immediately realized that their dog needed shoes. However, as they searched for dog shoes available at the market, they did not find any that met their expectations, and so they decided to make shoes on their own. With this, the RIFRUF brand was born.

“Dogs and humans have been companions for over 16,000 years, yet to this day not a single person thought of creating a quality set of dog shoes that function and actually look good – we are here to change that,” the RIFRUF team shares. The shoes are made from custom knitted ‘rufknit’ mesh upper and natural rubber outsoles – the same materials one finds in their favorite human sneakers. Secured with Velcro straps at the heel, the design allows for a custom fit that accommodates most paws while locking the shoe in place.
Being avid dog lovers, the RIFRUF team seeks to represent more than just dog fashion, introducing contemporary design, adaptability, and safety into one sneaker model. “From the dirty streets to the fashion runway, on those hot summer days and cold snowy nights, in the pouring rain and across rough terrain, and from the moment they are born to when their health matters the most, RIFRUF is with your dogs every step of the way,” the company says. 

Now Caesar’s paws will always be safe. And the same goes for the dogs that will wear these. 

(Image Credit: rifrufqueens/ Instagram)






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