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Off the coast of Chile, a group of about thirty islands belonging to the Chiloé Archipelago make up a fiercely independent community with its own distinct identity visible in the islanders’ folklore, mythology, cuisine and unique architecture. So proud the islanders are of their culture that they strongly protested when the government offered to connect the remote islands to the mainland with wha Read More »
Sydney-based artist Michael Pederson creates small signs with humorous messages and tucks them all around his home city at places where you least expect to find them. “Please wait here. Your future self will meet you shortly.” says one sign firmly implanted at the edge of a field. Or you walk into a public phone booth and find an official-looking sign announcing that it’s a time travel pay phone Read More »
For more than forty years a lighthouse stood on a large anvil-shaped peninsula jutting into the Tasman Sea near Jervis Bay, in southern Australia. It stood at a place where it shouldn’t have, luring ignorant ships into the very rocks they were trying to avoid. The cliffs around Cape St George just south of Jervis Bay was notorious for shipwrecks, and so in the mid-19th century, it was decided tha Read More »
You have definitely seen a chindōgu. They are those ridiculous Japanese inventions designed to solve a particular problem but are, in fact, so clumsy and inelegant that they are an inconvenience to use, and generate a whole lot of new problems. A few examples of chindōgu are: chopsticks with a miniature electric fan to cool noodles on the way to the mouth; glasses with attached funnels that allow Read More »
The story of King Arthur and his legendary sword Excalibur which he pulled out of a rock to prove his divine right to the throne is well known. But what is fiction to the British, is fact for Italians—for in a Tuscan abbey in Montesiepi, is a sword plunged into solid rock. The sword, of which only the hilt and a few inches of the blade is visible, is now preserved at the abbey of San Galgano in t Read More »
For centuries, children and kindergarteners have sung and danced to the tune of London Bridge is falling down, but when engineers discovered that the London Bridge was actually falling down in the early 1900s, it was no laughing matter. The stone bridge was just over a century old, and was the busiest point in London crossed by 8,000 pedestrians and 900 vehicles every hour. Surveyors found that t Read More »
The Westbury White Horse carved on the hillside near Westbury in Wiltshire, England. Photo credit: tipwarm/Shutterstock.com A large portion of Southern England is made up of chalk. This white limestone are the shells of tiny marine organisms that lived and died in the seas that once covered much of Britain some 90 million years ago. As time progressed, layers of calcium carbonate built up and go Read More »
This neat little box containing a pair of bellows and an assortment of pipes and other fixtures is a Tobacco Resuscitator Kit from the 18th century, approved for use and distributed by London’s Royal Humane Society, then known as Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned. Tobacco was thought to have invigorating properties and the ability to soak up moisture and warm the body from t Read More »
Many historical figures are celebrated for achieving great things but conveniently forgotten of all the terrible things they did to other people. Christopher Columbus is one prime example. A quick Google search will reveal dozens of beloved characters with shady personalities, but one story that is not told often is that of Arctic explorer Robert. E. Peary who is widely believed to be the first p Read More »
In the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii, there is a small island named Banaba belonging to a scattered group of islands called the Gilberts. Before European contact, Banaba was a beautiful coral island rich in animal and plant life and with a thriving community that shared close links to people of Kiribati. In 1900, a New Zealand prospector named Albert Ellis working for Read More »
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