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How 19th-Century German Farmers Turned Caves Into Homes

We associate living in a cave with, well, cavemen from many thousands of years ago. We also know of modern cave dwellers who built homes in existing caves here and there as projects that spanned many years. But the village of Langenstein, near Germany's Harz Mountains, is a completely different story. There, in 1855, ten caves were completely carved out from solid sandstone to make living spaces! Wealthy landowner August Wilhelm Rimpau hired workers who traveled there with their families, but had no place to house them.

“That’s when the local council came across the soft sandstone ridge formation on the outskirts of town. Because they knew about the earlier cave dwellings, the idea emerged of letting the workers reside in caves,” says Scholle. Soon after, the rocks were numbered—one to 10—with chalk, and a lottery was held to determine which families would get a spot. “And then each family got started with carving a home out of solid rock,” he says.

The migrant workers arrived in Langenstein from near and far, says Scholle. In exchange for a little over a month’s salary, they were granted the right to reside in the homes they built for as long as they lived.

“The workers spent all day on the fields, and in the evening they worked on their homes,” he says. On average, each family took a year and a half to complete their dwellings. In the early stages, they slept under makeshift roofs at the entrance. “The sooner you constructed your house, the sooner you were out of the cold.”

Five of the ten cave homes still exist, and are protected as historic sites in Langenstein. See more of them at Atlas Obscura.


The Impossible Intersection

Paris is altering its road system to encourage mass transit, bicycles, and pedestrians and discourage car travel. However, this means that unintended problems will emerge during the process. YouTuber The Tim Traveller explains what happens at one intersection.

There is a crossroads in Paris where all four exits have 'No Entry' signs. This is possibly the Frenchest thing ever to have happened. I went to investigate.

So you could go there, but never leave. While the signage has been updated to solve the problem, I realize that I would have to learn an entirely new system of traffic signs if I were to ever drive in Europe. That's probably not going to happen. I like mass transit. -via reddit


Taking a Superyacht Through Dutch Canals

Why would a 94-meter (310-foot) yacht try to squeeze through urban canals? It's because Dutch shipyard Feadship, the boat's manufacturer, is quite far from the North Sea. This is a newly-built yacht, called Project 817, although it will be christened Viva when it goes to sea. The journey took around four days for this ship, which was designed with the canals in mind. It couldn't have been a centimeter larger than it is.

During the first stage of the operation, Viva was moved from the Kaag Island shipyard to Lake Braassemermeer, where it was fitted with pontoons to raise it up, thus ensuring it wasn't too deep to maneuver through the canals.

Tug boats were then attached to the pontoons on either side of the superyacht, which was also wrapped with protective foil, in order to guide the vessel through the water with precision.

By this point, it was ready to be pushed and pulled along the canals, making its way across a small bridge in the tiny village of Woubrugge, as well as Alphen aan den Rijn, a town in the west of Holland, before reaching the Dutch city Gouda, located south of Amsterdam, a few days later.

Feadship will be able to make even bigger ships in the future, as they are building a new factory near the sea, which they should have done in the first place. Read about the painstaking journey and see more pictures at CNN. -via Digg


Homeowners Find Giant Monopoly Board Hidden Beneath Their Carpet

The in-laws of redditor /u/Yamaha234 tore up the carpet in home to replace it. They found a complete Monopoly game board under it! S/he hopes to convince them to just coat it in epoxy so that it can be played in the future. It may have been a trend once upon a time, as other homes have old Monopoly boards, too.

Other redditors propose ideal games for giant floor play. I suppose choosing Twister would be self-defeating.

-via Laughing Squid


The Mystery Behind Why Some Picasso Paintings Deteriorate Faster Than Others

Four Picasso paintings are a subject of a new multidisciplinary project to prevent degradation through environmental control. The four artworks were made from new mercerised cotton canvases, oil paints based on drying oils such as linseed and sunflower, and animal glue which was used to coat the canvases. After being exposed to identical conditions, staff from the Museu Picasso in Barcelona questioned why one of the works, Hombre sentado (Seated man), deteriorated faster than the other Picasso artworks: 

Picasso used a canvas with a tighter weave for Hombre sentado, coating it with a thicker ground layer of animal glue, researchers found. Both factors meant larger internal stresses formed when the paintings were exposed to fluctuating humidity, while chemical reactions between certain pigments and binding media sparked chemical reactions that caused paints to degrade. As a result, the paints gradually cracked when stresses built, Francesca Izzo, a conservation and heritage scientist at Ca’ Foscari, tells The Art Newspaper.
In the past, conservators have relied mainly on chemical analysis to determine how some materials lead to deterioration. Combining such studies with those of more tangible signs of mechanical damage offers a more rounded picture, allowing conservators to take more informed conservation decisions. “As a conservator-restorer I was finding it difficult to define a conservation strategy: the chemical perspective was not enough, so I started looking for a complementary perspective,” Fuster-López says. The team's discoveries, she hopes, will aid other conservators. “It is our responsibility to supply them with the right tools and understanding of materials.”

Image via the Art Newspaper 


Biorecycling Machine Injects Plastic Into Your Skin To Fight Waste

PhD candidate Matthew Harkness is now exploring the question of what if our body could actually recycle plastic with his Biorecycling Machine. The machine isn’t something big or complicated, it is based on an open-source blueprint of a 3D-printed tattoo machine that he downloaded from GitHub. The concept is that getting a plastic-ink tattoo, your body becomes the recycling machine. Scary, right? Well, the project is merely speculative: 

The catch? This approach only works with a certain type of bioplastic, which is generally considered safe for the human body. Petroleum-based plastics, such as the bags that fill our oceans, need not apply.
The project is speculative, meant to prod us to rethink our values. It’s not meant to become an actual commercial product. As Harkness explains over email, his intent was to “interrogate the . . . ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ campaign introduced in the 1970s. Central to this campaign was placing responsibility for recycling plastics onto consumers and in the Biorecycling Machine project, this concept is taken to the extreme.”

Image via the Fast Company


Huge Snake Rises From The Ocean

Damn, imagine going to the ocean to have fun or to relax and then you spot a huge snake emerging from it! That’s terrifying. Wildlife photographer Rachelle Mackintosh was able to capture an image of an olive sea snake that seemed to appear from nowhere and swam on the surface for a couple of seconds, did a full lift out of the water, then splashed down and disappeared. Giant Freakin Robot has more details: 

The olive sea snake is both large and venomous. They grow in length of up to six feet and have a painful bite that has proven fatal on more than one occasion. It is the most common sea snake along the northern coast of Australia (the snake and spider haven) but is not known as aggressive creatures. Mackintosh explained that researchers said the snake could have been trying to escape danger from the predatory shark. The snake also could have been simply inspecting its surroundings or upon seeing Mackintosh and company, engaging in playful behavior. Well, what’s playful to snakes may not be too playful to humans.

Image via Giant Freakin Robot


Tokyo’s Lucky Cat Temple

Expect a lot of lucky cats in this temple and hopefully, more luck!  Meet Gotokuji Temple, located in the Setagaya ward of Tokyo. The temple is believed to be the birthplace of the maneki-neko (‘luck inviting cat figurine’). You know, the lucky cat figurines that feature a cat sitting up and raising either their right or left paw. Live Japan has more details: 

Temple legend states that during the early 17th century, Ii Naotaka (then the second lord of the Omi-Hikone Domain) escaped from being caught in a sudden thunderstorm after having been invited inside the temple by a cat that lived there. To show his gratitude to the cat, Naotaka decided to dedicate the temple to the Ii clan. After Naotaka passed away, the temple was renamed to Gotokuji, from his posthumous Buddhist name “Kyushoin-den Gotokuten ei-daikoji.”
The cat that created that opportunity for the temple to grow into a respectable and important place was deified as “Fortune-Inviting Kannon.” The cat was later said to bring good fortune, being called “shou-fuku byou-ji” or “maneki-neko.” Gotokuji Temple has been filled with lucky cat figurines donated by worshippers ever since.

Image via Live Japan


Fancy Renting Some Llamas At Your Wedding?

If you know someone who will get married this year, then you might want to encourage them to make the wedding more fun than it already is. How, you ask? By renting llamas, of course. And no, it’s not a joke. You really can rent a llama or an alpaca, thanks to Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas.

Just look at how these newlyweds smile.

(Image Credit: Sad And Useless)


It’s Cerberus, But With Shiba Inu Heads

Cerberus is known in Greek mythology as this terrifying dog that guards the Underworld, one that you would not describe as a “good boy.” But what if Cerberus was not that scary? What if it is cute, like these three-headed Shiba Inu toys made by the Japanese company Qualia? I’d pet Cerberus if this was the case.

Borrowing their name from the mythical three-headed creature known as Cerberus (aka Kerberos), the Shibaberos collectible figures come in five different styles – one where the three heads are horizontal, one where they’re vertically-stacked, a wacky pyramid configuration, one that’s standing, and another that looks like the afterimage of a Shiba Inu shaking its head from side to side. They’re all equally weird and silly.

(Image Credit: Qualia/ Technabob/ Toy-People)


Why The Flight of The Ingenuity Helicopter Is A Big Deal

Just a few days ago, our world witnessed history, as the Ingenuity helicopter took off from Martian soil and hovered for about 30 seconds before coming back down on the ground. To some, this may not mean much, but for scientists, this event is a scientific breakthrough, for many reasons.

There are several technological challenges to conducting a helicopter flight on another world. First, and most significantly, helicopters need an atmosphere to fly.
The blades, or "rotors" of a helicopter must spin fast enough to generate a force called "lift." But lift can only be generated in the presence of some kind of atmosphere. While Mars does have an atmosphere, it's much, much thinner than Earth's — about 100 times thinner, in fact.
Flying Ingenuity in Mars' atmosphere is therefore the equivalent of flying a helicopter on Earth at a height of 100,000 feet. For reference, commercial aircraft fly between 30,000-40,000 feet above the Earth’s surface and the highest we’ve ever been in a helicopter on Earth is 42,000 feet.

More about this over at Space.com.

(Image Credit: NASA TV)


Encouraging Children To Take Risks By Teaching Them How To Play Chess

Taking risks is something that we learn as we grow older. As we live our lives, we learn that life is full of surprises, and from this lesson we learn to make better decisions, and we learn to weigh our choices in challenging situations. This is why risk-taking is an important ability that should be taught to every person as early as possible. The problem, however, is that, as children, we tend to fear the unknown and we grow to avoid risks. If that is the case, then how should we encourage children to take risks? It would seem that introducing chess to them could be an answer, according to this paper published in the Journal of Development Economics.

Playing chess has long been considered a game for those with good logical skills, but past research has also shown that good players must also be able to take risks when necessary—sacrificing a knight, for example, if it looks like a move that will ensure victory. In this new effort, the researchers wondered what sort of mental impact playing chess might have on people who play the game in their youth. To find, out, they enlisted 400 school children (ages 15 and 16) in the U.K. who had never played chess before and training them to play chess. Each child was then tested over a year to detect any changes in their cognitive abilities.
The researchers found that most of the children experienced a decrease in risk aversion in a variety of game playing scenarios. They also noticed that playing chess also led to better math scores for some of the students and improvements in logic or rational thinking.

Learn more about the study over at PHYS.org.

(Image Credit: FelixMittermeier/ Pixabay)


Does Advanced Shoe Technology Really Improve An Athlete’s Performance?

Many were skeptical about advanced shoe technology affecting an athlete’s performance when Nike introduced the concept way back in 2017. But it seems that this technology really does affect the performance of athletes, according to a new paper published in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. The paper found out that advanced shoe technology reduced running times of both male and female athletes.

The study analyzed seasonal best times for elite male and female runners in three race categories—10 kilometers, half marathon and marathon races—between 2012 and 2019. The researchers found a statistically significant decrease in race times after 2017, which coincided with the premiere of the Nike Vaporfly 4%.
Female elite athletes appeared to gain the most benefit from the design improvement, which features a thicker, lighter foam and rigid plate along the midsole. Their seasonal best times between 2016 and 2019 decreased anywhere from 1.7 to 2.3 percent, versus 0.6 to 1.5 percent for the men. For example, the new shoe technology improved female marathon time by about 2 minutes and 10 seconds, a 1.7 percent boost in performance.
"As far as chronometric performance is concerned, it is in our opinion a major advancement," said Dr. Stéphane Bermon, lead author of the paper and director of the World Athletics Health and Science Department.

A revolutionary tech indeed.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

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