Tag Archives: Amusing Planet

Why is Water Pouring Out of This Tree in Montenegro?

The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty recently shared a video about a unique natural phenomenon in a village called Dinoša, located in southeastern Montenegro—a small country on the Adriatic coast. There is a mulberry tree standing in the meadow there that turns into a fountain whenever it rains heavy. From a hollow on the tree trunk water can be seen gushing abundantly.

Apparently, the rains had flooded the underground springs and the additional pressure created pushed water up the tree trunk through cracks or hollows on the trunk, until it poured out of a hole a few feet above the ground. As you can see from the video, the ground is quite sloppy indicating the amount of groundwater there is in the soil and below. You can … Read the rest

Alexander Fleming’s Microbial Art

Alexander Fleming is widely known as the brilliant microbiologist who gave the world the miraculous life-saving drug called antibiotic. But he also had an artistic side that is perhaps less well known. Fleming was a member of London’s Chelsea Arts Club, where he tried his hand at watercolor and created compositions that were amateurish at best. But his artistic talents didn’t lie in watercolors or pencil sketches but in another medium—living organism.

Fleming was one of the first scientists to use microbes to create works of art. He painted ballerinas, houses, soldiers, mothers feeding children, stick figures fighting and many other scenes on petri dishes using microbes. Fleming produced these artwork by culturing microorganisms having different natural pigments on petri dishes to create colorful patterns. He … Read the rest

Rat King: The Mysterious Conjoined Creature

On a cold January morning in 2005, in the village of Saru in southern Estonia, farmer Rein Kıiv and his son made a curious discovery. On the sandy floor of their shed, they found a cluster of 16 rats with their tails inexplicably tangled into a knot. The rats were squeaking and struggling to escape but the harder they pulled the tighter the knot became. The animals were apparently trying to dig themselves out of a narrow burrow but in the struggle some of them got buried under the sand. Seven of the rats in the tangle were already dead. Rein’s son decided to put the diabolic little scene to an end, and picking up a stick, killed the rest of the wretched animals.

Rein Kıiv … Read the rest

The Rocks That Give Birth

In the Freita mountain range in northern Portugal, close to a village called Castanheira, is a huge block of granite that periodically ejects small pebble-sized stones. This rare geological phenomenon is locally known as Pedras Parideiras, which translates into English as “the rock that gives birth.”

The “mother-rock” is a granitic outcrop measuring roughly 1,000 meters by 600 meters. The rock’s surface is incrusted with small nodules shaped like biconvex discs that are between 2 and 12 cm. Due to thermal weathering or erosion, these nodules become detached from the mother stone, leaving dark reliefs on the surface. These nodules or “baby stone” are made up of the same mineral elements of granite as the mother stone is, but its outer layer is composed of biotite—a … Read the rest

The Seaweed Houses of Læsø Island

On the island of Læsø, located off the coast of Denmark, there are houses with roofs made of seaweed. These roofs are up to a meter thick, and the way they hang over the walls the house appears to be wearing a cloak. Apart from their humongous size, they look a lot like thatch but seaweed is far more durable. Some of these roofs are over 300 years old. They are a unique feature of the island of Læsø.

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Photo credit: Jörg-Dieter Langhans/Flickr

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Why Are These Postage Stamps Cut in Half?

Would you cut a ten dollar bill in half and use as two five dollar bills? Of course not. It's silly to even suggest something like that. Likewise, cutting a postage stamp in half would invalidate it immediately and the stamp would cease to be legal. But there was time, not very long ago, when the post office used to honor bisected stamps.

Unless you are into philately, you might not have heard about or seen a bisected stamp. These are stamps that are cut mostly diagonally across and used in post to pay half its face value. For example, a ten cent stamp could be cut in half and used as two five cent stamps. Some went even further and cut stamps in thirds and … Read the rest

The Building That Was Mailed Through The Post

The inauguration of domestic parcel post service by the United States Postal Office in 1913 was an epochal event in the lives of thousands of Americans, especially those residing in far-flung areas of the country. All of a sudden, commodities such as foodstuff, medicines and other modern goods not easily available in rural areas were as close as the next post office. Customers were able order goods and products from businesses located hundreds of miles away in distant cities and have them delivered directly to their homes. Likewise, farmers were able to ship local produce directly to the consumer, saving both time and money. Within the first five days of service, over four million parcel post packages were mailed and delivered. In the first six months, … Read the rest

Vinegar Valentines: The Victorian Tradition of Sending Anonymous Hate Mail

In the late 19th century, Valentine's Day was more than an occasion for lovers to express their love for each other by sending greetings cards and presenting gifts. It was also the day for haters to hurl abuses and insults to those they didn’t love. Known as vinegar valentines, these cards carrying caricatures and satirical rhymes intending to vilify, mock and hurt the recipient was available in stores across America and Europe alongside beautiful valentine cards adorned with hearts and flowers. Often, these cards—both valentine and vinegar—were produced by the same companies.

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The Basement Cemetery of The New Haven Green Church

The New Haven Green in downtown New Haven, a city in Connecticut, USA, is a small park of about 16 acres. Being surrounded by buildings of the Yale University, courthouses, the New Haven Free Public Library and numerous municipal and commercial structures, the park stays typically busy throughout the day. During public events such as classical music and jazz concerts, and art festivals, which the Green regularly holds, the crowd can swell to hundreds of thousands. For some who are aware of the park’s legacy, this is somewhat disturbingly morbid.

The Green was built in 1638 and was originally conceived as a trade center and town square, and was in fact known as "the marketplace". This common land at the heart of the thriving commercial port … Read the rest

The Magnificent Mudbrick Mosques of West Africa

All around the Muslim world, mosques have a typical architecture characterized by a minaret, a dome, arches and mosaics or stucco decorations. These design elements were brought by the Arabs when they migrated and took control of foreign lands through conquest. But in areas where the spread of Islam was more gradual, brought by merchants and traders, mosque architecture conforms more to vernacular design determined by local skills and availability of materials. Nowhere else this manifests more than in West Africa. The mosques here vary from simple roofless enclosures serving the function of places where the community could gather and pray, to magnificent buildings.

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The Grand Mosque of Bobo-Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso is one of largest example of Sudano-Sahelian architecture in the country. It was built Read the rest