The Disgusting Food Museum

A new museum aimed to assault the olfactory senses of visitors and churn their stomach opened yesterday in Sweden’s third largest city, Malmo. Inside are various exhibits that some cultures supposedly eat, such as fermented shark meat, bull penis, fermented herring, maggot cheese and ant larvae. It’s so bad that the museum provide visitors with vomit bags before they enter.

“I want people to question what they find disgusting and realize that disgust is always in the eye of the beholder,” said Samuel West, the founder of the Disgusting Food Museum, who is also known for the Museum of Failure. “We usually find things we're not familiar with disgusting, versus things that we grow up with and are familiar with are not disgusting, regardless of … Read the rest

Horse-Drawn Boats

Before diesel and electric engines made sailing convenient, boats and barges had to be either rowed or pulled. In many European countries such as the Netherlands and the UK, and to some extent in France, Germany, and Belgium, horse-drawn boats were common. Horses and sometimes mules and donkeys would walk along the canal on a towpath pulling behind a small tow-boat loaded with goods or passengers. Because the cargo moves on water, friction is minimal, allowing the horse to pull fifty times as much weight as it could pull in a traditional cart on road.

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A vintage English narrow boat being pulled by a horse, on the Cromford Canal, near Matlock, UK. Photo credit: david muscroft / Shutterstock.com

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The Ziggurat of Choga Zanbil

The Egyptians had pyramids, the Mesopotamians had ziggurats, which are massive brick structures with raised platforms with successively receding levels. Nobody knows what they stood for, but it’s presumed that they once contained shrines dedicated to the gods and had living quarters for priests. The Great Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq is one fine example of a ziggurat. But Choga Zanbil is one of the few ziggurats that lies outside Mesopotamia, and it’s the largest one among them. The ziggurat stands at the site of the ancient city of Elam, in today’s Khuzestan province in southwest Iran.

Choga Zanbil was built around 1250 BCE by the king Untash-Napirisha to honor the great god Inshushinak. But before the ziggurat could be completed, the king died and construction … Read the rest

Author Interview: Anaea Lay, “Gilded Rails”

It’s speed dating for the railway-tycoon monopolist robber baron! To obliterate your competition, you must marry a suitable partner before time runs out. Gilded Rails is a 340,000-word interactive dating-management novel by Anaea Lay. I sat down with Anaea to talk about the world of robber barons and the challenges of coding 11 romance options. Gilded Rails releases this Thursday, November 1st. 

Tell me about the world and time period Gilded Rails is set in. What the heck is a robber baron?

The game is set in a slightly alt-history 1874 U.S. That puts us firmly in the middle of the post-war Reconstruction period and at the very, very beginning of what became known as the Gilded Age.  Which is all a very dry way of … Read the rest

Scientists Learn the Ropes on Tying Molecular Knots

The world is tied up in knots. They form spontaneously in swirling vortices of smoke, in long strands of yarn or hair, and in the earbud cords that somehow always tangle in one’s pocket. Even down at the molecular scale, they appear in the long chains making up some proteins, and when they arise in DNA’s twists and coils, enzymes have to help unwind them. Biophysicists study these knots to figure out how they get there and how they contribute to the behavior of those molecules.

Chemists, meanwhile, have turned their attention to molecular knots of their own making: smaller synthetic constructions assembled from joined fragments rather than tied in a single continuous biomolecular string. In their labs, they have been painstakingly synthesizing such tiny knots, … Read the rest

The Draw of the Gothic

 

To understand the literary Gothic—to even begin to account for its curious appeal, and its quality of simultaneous seduction and repulsion—it is necessary to undertake a little time travel. We must go back beyond the builders putting the capstone on Pugin’s Palace of Westminster, and on past the last lick of paint on the iced cake of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House; back again another six hundred years past the rap of the stonemason’s hammer on the cathedral at Reims, in order to finally alight on a promontory above the city of Rome in A.D. 410. The city is on fire. There are bodies in the streets and barbarians at the gates. Pope Innocent I, hedging his bets, has consented to a little pagan worship … Read the rest