Category Archives: geography

Witch Windows of Vermont

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Photo credit: Larry Lamsa/Flickr

An architectural oddity found only in the US state of Vermont is the so-called “witch window”. These are normal portrait-style windows, but angled diagonally so that its long edge is parallel to the roof slope. They are installed in the upper stories in the gable-end wall of the house, and are usually found in old farmhouses.

According to the locals the windows were installed to prevent witches from flying into the house, because apparently witches can’t fly through an angled window, which might physically be true, but one might wonder why all the windows of the house aren’t angled. Surely, a witch would need only one vertical window to enter the house, and there are plenty of vertical windows to use. There … Read the rest

Water Powered Funiculars

Funiculars are an odd mode of transport, but at the same time, they are one of the most energy-efficient one. The system consist of two counterbalanced cars attached at the ends of a long cable that goes up a slope and over a pulley and then comes back down. So when one car goes up, the other comes down. The weight of the two cars counterbalances each other, so that only a minimal amount of energy is required to pull up the ascending car, which is usually provided by an electric motor. Some historic funiculars made the system even more energy-efficient by using water as the motive force.

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Funiculaire Neuveville-St.Pierre, the world’s only poo-powered funicular. Photo credit: Norbert Aepli/Wikimedia

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The Bolivian Clock That Runs Backwards

The building that houses Bolivia’s legislative assembly in Plaza Murillo, in central La Paz, features a clock above the entrance that looks like a mirror image. The positions of the numerals on the clock face are reversed, and the clock itself runs anticlockwise. The building, which was erected during the 1920s and was originally intended to serve as the headquarters of Bolivia's central bank, featured a regular clock until 2014, when the clock was reversed to better reflect the “southern-ness” of the Bolivian people.

“Who said clocks always have to run the same way? Why do we always have to be obedient? Why can't we be creative?” asked Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, who seemed especially pleased with the idea.

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Photo credit: Rogerio Camboim S A/FlickrRead the rest

European Trees With The Most Interesting Stories

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The Environmental Partnership Association (EPA) is seeking votes from the public to help them select the winner of the European Tree of the Year competition 2019. Each year participating countries select an entrant by holding a national poll, from which a winner is selected in the European round by an online poll that runs throughout the month of February. The winner is announced at an awards ceremony in late March held in the EU Parliament, Brussels.

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Cemetery Guns And Coffin Torpedoes

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This unusual-looking gun, now exhibited at the Museum of Mourning Art in Arlington Cemetery, once kept body snatchers away from cemetery grounds and discouraged them from digging up dead bodies. The gun would be set near the foot of the grave and a series of tripwires would swing the gun in the appropriate direction when triggered, and fire upon the unsuspecting thieves.

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Yasukuni Shrine, Where War Criminals Are Revered

The Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni, in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is a beautiful spiritual place for remembering those who died in service for Japan. As many as 2.4 million men, women and children, and even various animals, are enshrined here. These people (and animals) lost their lives in numerous conflicts involving Japan spanning nearly a hundred years—starting from the Boshin War of 1868–1869 to the Second World War, including the First Indochina War of 1946–1954.

Those enshrined are mostly military men, but there are also civilians who died while taking part in various activities involving war, such as Red Cross nurses and air raid volunteers, factory workers and those who died in Soviet labor camps and those killed in Merchant Navy vessels, and so on. In addition, Yasukuni … Read the rest