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The Architecture of Deceit

Camouflage: it's not just for cuttlefish. From Paris to Los Angeles, many cities are home to secret structures that aren't quite what they seem. The reasons span from the Cold War conflict to general...

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Morbid Monday: A Nightmare at Murder Farm

Belle Gunness and her three children. (Photo via Wikipedia)Children in La Porte, Indiana, grow up listening to graphic horror stories about the gruesome murders committed by Belle Gunness on her farm...

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The (Really) Great Gig in the Sky

 The altar at Il Gesu (photo by Elizabeth Harper)When someone told me I had to see the light show at Il Gesu, I thought they were out of their mind. A light show is something you see after hours at a...

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Meadowcroft Rockshelter: North America's Oldest Human Settlement

Meadowcroft Rockshelter archeology site (image by Jim Cheney)One day in 1955, Albert Miller made his way up to a hillside rock overhang on his farmland in Avella, Pennsylvania. There he noticed several...

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The Fates of Famous Brains

Human brains are notoriously difficult to preserve. They're watery and slippery, and have been likened to the insides of a watermelon. But after the process of preserving them for study was perfected...

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Mars in the Mojave

Google Maps helped me locate the Goldstone 70 meter antenna in Mars, California, but it couldn't help me get there. The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC) sits inside Fort Irwin, the...

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Xylotheks: Wondrous Wooden Books That Hold Wooden Collections

Xylothek in the library of Lilienfeld Abbey, Austria (photograph by Haeferl) A xylothek (from the Greek for tree, xylon, and storing place, theke) is an object where the container is a fundamental...

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The Place Where World War II Never Ended

One of the Kuril Islands (photograph by Dr. Igor Smolyar, NOAA/NODC)What if you were to find out that World War II never really ended? That the most cataclysmic event of the 20th century never actually...

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Morbid Monday: The Game of Thrones Written in Bones, Conquistador Edition

Chapel for Francisco Pizarro in the Lima cathedral (photograph by Christian Haugen)The bones of infamous conquistador Don Francisco Pizarro (ca. 1476 – June 26, 1541) rest in an ornate glass, marble,...

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Hiking the Disturbing Remains of a California Hideout for Hitler

Obscura Society LA loves to take advantage of the natural area that surrounds us in Southern California, especially to explore areas off the beaten path, with curious and mysterious histories whose...

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Bats and Vampiric Lore in Père Lachaise Cemetery

Bat in Père-Lachaise Cemtery (photograph by the author)The symbolism of cemeteries can be rather ominous, with skulls and flying souls and the refrain of memento mori— remember that you will die. By...

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Society Adventures: Cocktails in the Crypt

Lucky Chops Brass Band performing at the New York Obscura Society's Cocktails in the Crypt (all photographs by Steven Acres, visit http://stevenacr.es to view more of his work)Last weekend, the New...

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The Planes, Soviet Trains, and Rare Automobiles of North Korea

The entire country of North Korea has fewer paved roads than the city of Detroit — about one car for every thousand people — and a chronic shortage of petroleum fuel. That's the transportation...

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How to Pick a Lock (With Infographics!)

Schuyler Towne preparing for the workshop (all photographs by Erin Johnson)"Who is to say they would even have locks!" exclaimed Schuyler Towne after he was asked if an alien-locked brief case from...

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Feel like a Monster at These 10 Tiny Towns

Humans are united by a strange fascination: in recreating their worlds in miniature. From England to Istanbul, dedicated individuals have obsessively built tiny versions of their towns — architecture...

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Shrines of Obsession: The Real-World Locations of 11 Cult Films

Some unsuccessful films are quirky enough to capture an underground fanbase, or they are screened often enough in late-night venues that they build a hardcore following. For whatever reason, the fans...

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Ruins of a Human Zoo at the Forgotten Edge of Paris

Ruins of the Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale (all photographs by the author)Colonial exhibitions, showing the exotic plants, animals, and other products of the European empires, were not uncommon in the...

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Airplane Food: Five Aircraft Turned into Restaurants

What about piña coladas inside this plane in Costa Rica? (photograph by Jesús Rodríguez Martínez)Forget the peanuts. Forget the cheap yet expensive snacks you can get on any old jetliner at 30,000...

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The Skeletal Remains of a Hellhound in the Folklore of Devil Dogs

 Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, "Dog and Raven" (1918), woodcut on paper (via Wikimedia)Last year DigVentures, a London-based archaeology group, unearthed the bones of a gigantic dog from a shallow grave,...

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Book Towns: Where Reading Is the Reason to Live

The "Honesty Bookshop" in Hay-on-Wye (photograph by Zach Beauvais)Some small towns in the rural reaches that lost their former industries have reimagined themselves as "book towns." By filling empty...

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