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A Scientist Invented the Cyanometer Just to Measure the Blueness of the Sky

The cyanometer, invented in the 18th century by the Swiss scientist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, had one evanescent purpose: to measure the blueness of the sky.In 1760, when he was 20 years old,...

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Found: Enormous Alligator Going for a Stroll

Some of us like a good stroll through the grass. So do giant alligators, apparently.The Lakeland PD, which calls the alligator "HUGE GINORMUS VERY LARGE," reports that Lakeland local Kim Joiner...

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Chinese Police Destroy Fake Terracotta Army

Police in Xi'an, capital of China's Shaanxi Province recently raided an illegal replica of the world-famous Terracotta Army, and leveled it to rubble. That’s what happens when you try to fool...

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In the 1970s, the U.S. Navy Tried to Talk Like Whales

In the summer of 1974, a pod of pilot whales swimming near California's Catalina Island heard some unexpected sounds. Coming through the water was a familiar set of messages—swooping whistles, keening...

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Listen to the Low Earthly Hum of a Candle Pipe Organ

Right now, there's a curious low industrial hum emanating from what used to be a fish market built in 1769. At De Vishal gallery in Haarlem, Netherlands, a large nine-pipe organ operated by burning...

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Two Russian Icebreakers Are Currently Stuck In Sea Ice

On December 14th, two Russian cargo ships set out from the port of Arkhangelsk, near the country's western border, about 3000 miles to Pevek, its northernmost point. With the help of two icebreakers,...

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The Rise of the Luxurious Suburban Master Bathroom

The 1986 edition of the International Collection of Interior Design, a trade magazine for those in the business, issued a bold statement regarding bathrooms:“The era of the utilitarian, puritanical...

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This 19th-Century Book Chronicles Victorians' Strange Cat Fears And Fascinations

In the 1800s, people were just as crazed about cats as we are today. But instead of memes, Instagram posts, and viral videos, the Victorians had satirical comics and chronicles.English cartoonist, and...

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The Park Service Just Spent $40 Million on Grass and Will Not Let...

In 2009, after the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, which was attended by a record 1.8 million people, the ground of the National Mall was wrecked. As those hoards had moved over the lawn,...

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Found: A Not-So-Great Report Card From 1957, Hidden in the Floor

Sanj Maisuria’s house in Edmonton, Canada, had a secret hidden in its walls since 1957—a report card for one Maureen Kiernan, who, it’s easy to imagine, tried to hide her bad grades by slipping the...

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Canada Is Sending in Acousticians to Investigate Mystery Ping in Arctic Ocean

For months, hunters in the Canadian territory of Nunavut have had to deal with a mysterious foe—a pinging sound coming from deep beneath the Arctic Ocean. The noise, which can be heard through the...

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Where Wax U.S. Presidents Go to Retire

For some, 43 wax likenesses of U.S. presidents in a maze of dimly lit rooms is a ready-made nightmare. For others, they’re a solid business investment.When Gettysburg’s Hall of Presidents and First...

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Scientists Have a New Idea About the Origins of Namibia's Fairy Circles

In the Namib desert, the land is patterned with mysterious circles, arranged in a regular pattern. Across the expanse, rings of high grass cordon off empty spots of sandy orange ground. The origins of...

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The 1977 Report Detailing FBI Misconduct While Surveilling Martin Luther King...

A version of this story originally appeared on Muckrock.com.In January of 1977, FBI director Clarence M. Kelley received a much-anticipated memo from the Office of Professional Responsibility,...

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The Female Space Sculptor Who Designed the Earliest Space and Aviation Helmets

Who is the real Alice King Chatham, sculptor of helmets worn by monkey astronauts?That was the question posed to a panel of four celebrities—one of whom was Betty White—in the August 31, 1964 episode...

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A Wisconsin Highway Is Covered in Red Skittles

It's winter, and the highways are icy. What do you do? You can cover them with salt. You can spray them down with de-icer. Or you can do like they just did in Dodge County, Wisconsin and let someone...

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Found: A Medieval Horse Head Hidden in the Colosseum

Even at one of the most famous monuments in the world, there are still secrets to be uncovered.At Rome’s Colosseum, in an area around the steps leading to the basement, the skull of a horse was found,...

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The Father and Son Who Ate Every Animal Possible

The year is 1813. You’re an undergraduate at the University of Oxford, enrolled in a course on the science of geology. The teacher, a man clad in long black robes and grasping a large hyena skull,...

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Watch a Time Lapse of a Museum Preparator Uncovering Fossil Specimens

Before majestic skeletal structures of centuries-old species are placed on display at museums, an intricate process takes place behind the scenes. Hundreds and thousands of hours are spent removing the...

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The Heated, Highly Political Roof War That Captivated Berlin Before World War II

Sharp observers will notice something strange about the attractive residences lining Am Fischtal, a bucolic street in the Zehlendorf section of Berlin. On one side, the buildings have flat roofs, while...

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