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The World’s Most Exquisite Chocolate

The Pure Nacional tree is an ancient cacao tree species that resides in Marañón Canyon in Northern Peru. The ancient cacao tree produces some of the world’s rarest cacao. Due to a disease that spread in the forests of Ecuador, where the tree was cultivated, experts declared the Pure Nacional tree extinct. But it seems that the tree wasn’t lost forever. Dan Pearson and his stepson Brian Horsley discovered a Pure Nacional tree in 2007, as BBC detailed: 

In 2007, two Americans, Dan Pearson and his stepson Brian Horsley, were supplying gear and food to mining companies around the Marañón Canyon in northern Peru near the Ecuador border when they happened upon a strange-looking tree that had football-sized pods growing out of its trunk. Perplexed and unsure what they were looking at, Pearson and Horsley sent several samples to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to get some answers. To everyone’s amazement, the samples were confirmed to belong to the Pure Nacional tree.

image credit: Phil Crean nature / Alamy via BBC


Sound Has The Healing Power

Music and sound are universal methods to relax or find peace. They can be used in all sorts of ways, from podcasts, to songs, to the lo-fi beat music, and to white noise. Music and sound can be therapeutic, as they can modify our psychology and biochemistry, as The Guardian details: 

“Music and sound have the ability to modify our psychology and biochemistry, influence our brainwaves and even synchronise and change physiology such as heart rate [and] breathing,” says sound therapy practitioner Nate Martinez. He works closely with sound and music to promote healing, relaxation and balance in his clients, and believes audio is “intrinsic to our human experience”.
Jennifer Buchanan, music therapist and founder of JB Music Therapy, compares music’s uplifting qualities to those of sex and food. “Humans crave pleasure from listening to music, and the positive feelings they associate with music are inextricably linked to their deepest reward centres,” she says.
And the positive effects run even deeper than dopamine.
“Groundbreaking research found that music creates pleasurable emotions that light up the mesolimbic pathway, the reward centre of the brain that gives us uplifting feelings,” says Buchanan, adding that music has also been proven to produce responses from the amygdala – the part of the brain that modulates our emotional networks. It has the capacity to trigger emotions and even reframe our mindset.
Music-based therapies and treatments, such as sound baths and meditation, have increased in popularity in recent years as people turn to the practice to try to achieve a more relaxed state. But if you’re stuck at home or otherwise unable to access a range of music therapies, how can you achieve the same outcome?

image via The Guardian


The Studio Ghibli Full Movie Roster

Studio Ghibli is famed for its well-crafted animated films. Their releases can take you on a short but cathartic adventure through the worlds they build in movies. My favourite Ghibli film, Spirited Away, is a movie I come back to when I need to cheer myself up. But I know there are more Ghibli films apart from Spirited Away, so this full Ghibli movie guide by The Ringer is a great help in choosing which film I should watch next. Maybe this full roster can help you find your next movie to watch! 

image via Wordpress


Lace Men’s Shorts Are Here For The Summer

Summer is near our doorsteps, and so is the coming wave of new season-themed apparel. Amidst all the thinner clothes in various shapes and forms, a new contender is here to steal the spotlight! Hologram City is selling lace shirts and shorts for men. Is this an atrocity or a unique touch to your wardrobe? 

Image via Design You Trust


The Swish Machine: 70 Step Basketball Trickshot

We've seen a lot of Rube Goldberg contraptions over the years, but this one is special for quite a few reasons. YouTuber Creezy spent a month building it and another month getting all the components working. When it all works, it's a thing of beauty. First you notice how stunningly elaborate the course is. He uses everything from a whiffle ball to concrete blocks. Then you notice what an awesomely beautiful backyard he has. Then you marvel at the camera work. It's not a drone, but a 360° GoPro MAX that captures all the glorious chaos, straight to the relatively unimpressive end. -via Twisted Sifter


When Al Capone Ran a Soup Kitchen During the Great Depression

For a couple of years during the Great Depression, people in Chicago could find a free meal at a soup kitchen run by notorious gang boss Al Capone. By then, Capone had racked up millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, so the cost of his charity was a relative trifle, but it made all the difference in the lives of Chicago residents who had no money for food. And the goodwill generated among everyday people made it harder for the police to investigate his crimes.  

Capone’s charity had no name, just a sign over the door that advertised “Free Soup, Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed.” Inside, women in white aprons served an average of 2200 people a day with a smile and no questions asked. Breakfast was hot coffee and sweet rolls. Both lunch and dinner consisted of soup and bread. Every 24 hours, diners devoured 350 loaves of bread and 100 dozen rolls. They washed down their meals with 30 pounds of coffee sweetened with 50 pounds of sugar. The whole operation cost $300 per day.

The soup kitchen didn’t advertise its connection to Capone, but the mobster-benefactor’s name was connected to it in stories printed in local newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and The Rock Island Argus. Those who were down on their luck, though, apparently had few qualms about eating from the hand of Chicago’s worst crime boss. Often the line to get in to the kitchen was so long that it wound past the door of the city’s police headquarters, where Capone was considered Public Enemy #1, according to Harper’s Magazine. The line was particularly lengthy when Capone’s soup kitchen hosted a Thanksgiving meal of cranberry sauce and beef stew for 5000 hungry Chicagoans. (Why beef and not turkey? After 1000 turkeys were stolen from a nearby department store, Capone feared he’d be blamed for the theft and made a last-minute menu change.)

Read the story of Capone's soup kitchen at Mental Floss.

(Image credit: The National Archives)


Making A Microphone Out Of A Lighter

Sometimes, working in isolation can bring out the best in us. Perhaps the best example that could be given to support this statement is when Isaac Newton changed the course of science while working in isolation at his humble home on a farm called Woolsthorpe. Now, it might not be possible to discover astonishing things that can have a massive impact on science, but we can still discover surprising things while at home, nevertheless.

ElectroBOOM, while staying indoors, tried to create a microphone out of a lighter. Was he successful? Yes, he was.

Check out his video to find out how he did it.

(Video Credit: ElectroBOOM/ YouTube)


Gifford Pinchot: The Man Who Was Both A Politician And A Scientist

If there are two things that great people who have walked the face of the earth have in common, it would be their actions and advocacies, which have left a lasting impact on society. Gifford Pinchot was one such man. Both a politician and a scientist,...

He was one of the pioneers of the US conservation movement and, as an adviser to President Theodore Roosevelt in the first decade of the 20th century, was instrumental in the creation of the US Forest Service and oversaw a huge increase in the amount of national forest land holdings.
An article published by the US Department of the Interior says Pinchot “established the modern definition of conservation as a ‘wise use’ approach to public land. Conservationists believe in using land sustainably to preserve it for future generations, rather than allowing it to be exploited and lost forever.”

Learn more about his life over at Cosmos.

(Image Credit: Pirie MacDonald/ Wikimedia Commons)


International Dishes You Can Cook At Home

One of the major things that strike us with awe when we go to a new place is the food. Sure, the scenery is good for the eyes, but food is what fills up your stomach, not the scenery. And so, the food is deeply connected to a place.

And since we cannot go to the places that we want to go because of the recent events that’s happened to the world, I believe that the best way in which we can experience the respective places that we want to go is not by looking at pictures, but by creating and eating the food native to that place. And we can do both things at home.

Outside Online compiles 9 international dishes that we can cook at home. Ingredients for the dishes, as well as instructions on how to prepare them are at the site.

(Image Credit: Hazel Fowler/ Wikimedia Commons)


Dolphin Perfectly Catches Football In Its Mouth

This dolphin could make a good receiver in a football game. In a display of its impressive mouth-eye coordination, watch as it effortlessly and perfectly catches with its mouth a football thrown from a few yards away.


(Image Credit: ViralHog/ YouTube)


How Letters Were Disinfected in the Late 1800s

The 1700s. A contagion suddenly appeared in the United States, and nobody knew where it came from and how it spread. From the years 1702 to 1800, there were, at the least, 35 breakouts of the dreaded disease in the country, and from the years 1800 to 1879, annual outbreaks occurred. The contagion was known as yellow fever, and nobody knew how the virus spread until the year 1900. In the year 1898, however, the Marine Hospital Service had a hypothesis.

The Marine Hospital Service, precursor to the U.S. Public Health Service, hypothesized in 1898 that yellow fever was spread by fomites, or materials such as bedding, clothing and other objects touched by someone with the disease. That led to concern that contaminants could arrive on letters sent in the mail.

And so they tried to mitigate the risk by disinfecting the letters, after punching holes in them.

Use of the paddles followed by fumigation with gasses like sulfur dioxide or formalin was widespread by the late 19th century. The practice proved both reassuring and annoying. “Your very kind letter—came here—punched as full of holes as your Donax sieve, and smelling of hellfire and brimstone—let a clean letter come from the pure of the Green Mountains and the cursed fools at the fumigating station seize it, punch it so that it is almost illegible, then pump an unbearable stink into it,” General F.E. Spinner, a former U.S. Treasurer, wrote to a Vermont friend in 1887.
The Smithsonian’s paddle is likely from 1899, says Heidelbaugh, when yellow fever was finally on the wane, with just a few mild outbreaks in New Orleans, and the Mississippi cities of Vicksburg, Natchez and Gulfport.
The paddle has a drawing of a mosquito on the back side; added some time after 1900 when Major Walter Reed, an Army surgeon, proved that mosquitos transmitted the virus that caused yellow fever. Handwritten above the mosquito is a peculiar verse: “Bacillus Horribilus/Multi Dentura, (Yellow Fever germ),” which is neither the correct name for the pathogen, nor the correct identification, since it is actually a virus, as Reed showed.

Thankfully, we have e-mails now, and they don’t arrive with a stink.

More details about this story over at Smithsonian.

(Image Credit: National Postal Museum/ Smithsonian)


Italian Police Respond to Hungry Woman

An 87-year-old woman in Firenze, Italy, was at her wit's end when her caregiver did not show up on Saturday. She is unable to cook, and by that evening was pretty hungry. She called 113, the Italian emergency number, and told police her situation. The Florence Police Department sent a patrol to check on her.

After being opened by a neighbor, the two policemen who ran to the scene, Antonio and Giuseppe, entered the woman's house and, after understanding her needs, immediately set to work: they accompanied the elderly woman to the kitchen, they set the table and prepared tomato ravioli for her to eat dinner.

Now, who do I have to call to get Antonio and Giuseppe to cook for me? -via reddit


Florida Woman Finds Alligators Fighting at Her Front Door

Does your home have a Door Gator? They're wonderful appliances. Susan Geschel of Fort Myers, Florida has not just one, but two Door Gators! She was about to step out to pick up some fresh coffee when she saw the alligators fighting just outside her front door. ABC News (auto-start video) reports:

After about 20 minutes by her house, one of the alligators walked across the street to a neighbor’s home while the other disappeared from the area and could have gone to a nearby pond, she added.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Spokeswoman Melody Kilborn said the fighting alligators were reacting to being in a confined space.

-via Super Punch


Why Does Road Construction Take So Long?

It's road construction season! On the first of June, I found that the interstate, the old highway, and the railroad on my daily commute are all undergoing maintenance, repair, and/or expansion. Only time will tell which will take the longest, but I would bet money that the railroad is the first project finished. What exactly are they doing on the roads every day, and why does it take so long? There are a lot of important factors involved in building a safe road that will last long enough to justify its expense. Practical Engineering gives us an overview of the nuts and bolts of road construction projects. -via Digg


This Inflatable Electric Scooter Fits Inside Your Backpack

Once upon a time, I had a bike but my friends didn't. That meant I had to drag the bike as I walked with them, ride it slowly, or well... just ride it ahead of them. Now, poimo (portable and inflatable mobility) offers a new option: ride it when we're not together, and put it in my bag if I want to walk with them.

poimo is not the first micro-mobility solution we’ve seen out there but it is certainly an intriguing one. with a total weight of 5.5kg, the scooter is so compact that it can be folded into an average-sized backpack. the design uses soft robotic technology, resulting in a device that is soft, safe and lightweight enough for people to carry and to allow users to ride it on and off anywhere. in order to reduce the overall weight, a wireless/batteryless powering system has been developed.

the poimo is made of a drop stitch material that is light and strong and although the scooter is still under development, it has been confirmed that it can support a person’s weight. the inflatable body is made from a thermoplastic polyurethane — the same strong material used in airbeds — where the independent components are attached: front and rear wheels; battery; electric motor; handlebars; and the wireless controller. the company says that the process of getting your scooter ready (inflating it and attaching its components) shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

Read more at Design Boom

Images by poimo

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