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100 Wonders: Clown Motel

Clowns have it tough these days. In the last 60 years clowns have undergone a fundamental cultural shift: From goofy, sometimes troublesome characters, to portraits of pure evil. What's behind this...

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Fleeting Wonders: It's a Planet Party with Orionid Confetti

Planets converge for a party in the sky. (Photo: ESO/Y. Beletsky/WikiCommons CC BY 3.0)There’s a celestial conjunction this weekend—did you get the invite? It’s pretty exclusive; not even all the...

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The Teen Girls Who Talked to the Dead

Margaret, Kate and Leah Fox. (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)It was nearing midnight in late March 1848 when two young girls, Katie and Maggie Fox, cried out to their parents from their shared...

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How A Fungus And A Tree Translated Underground Hugeness To Mainstream Success

A smaller specimen of Armillaria pokes its caps aboveground. (Photo: Dan Molter/Mushroom Observer CC BY-SA 3.0)In the late 1980s, a couple of biologists working near a logging site in Michigan’s Upper...

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Places You Can No Longer Go: Church Hill Tunnel

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Why It Was Faster To Build Subways in 1900

Opening day ceremony for the first subway line at City Hall, October 27, 1904. (Photo: Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum)When New York City Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck lifted the first shovel...

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FOUND: A Dying Star Gobbling a Broken Planet

An artist's image of the star's meal (Image: Mark A. Garlick/Nature)One day, the Sun will become a white dwarf star. All its mass will collapse into an area about the size of Earth, but so much more...

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Fleeting Wonders: A Chance to Buy a Wicked Bible

The offending error. (Photo: Bonhams)If you're extremely wealthy and extremely corrupt, get your credit cards ready—because next month, for one day only, you'll have a chance to buy a Bible that tells...

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See Photos from the Stunning San Francisco Coal Mine That Hasn't Been Opened...

Looking north toward the Marin Headlands through a small portal. (All photos by Sierra Hartman)Two hundred feet down the cliff from Deadman’s Point lies an exposed coal vein that, according to the coal...

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Morlocks, CHUDS and Graboids: A Bestiary of Fictional Subterranea

 Gnomes... always peering at us from below. (Photo: Humusak/pixabay)Humans have long been fascinated with the underground. It's a dark, uncharted place where we've allowed our minds to roam free,...

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FOUND: A 2,600-Foot Drug Tunnel

The tunnel (Photo: Policia Federal)Among all the illegal tunnels in the world, the one found this week by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agents is a doozy. It's 2,600 feet long, about three feet...

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FOUND: A Map of Middle Earth, Annotated by Tolkien Himself

The annotated map! (Photo: Blackwell's Rare Books) In the 1960s, the British illustrator Pauline Baynes was working on a color map of Middle-earth, the land of wizards, elves and, of course, hobbits....

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Fleeting Wonders: Crashed Millennium Falcon For Sale

A Death Star-eye view of the home in question. (All photos: Courtesy Unique Estates)A strangely-shaped dwelling in the wilds of Queensland, Australia is capturing the imaginations of aspiring home...

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AO Video Investigation: Movie Worms Ranked By Size

It's autumn at Atlas Obscura headquarters in New York City, and we're lucky enough to be enjoying crisp weather, peak foliage and bars that serve warm drinks. But when we look down at the ground, we...

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The Story Behind the World's Most Terrifying Haunted Doll

Robert the Doll, in close up. (Photo: Cayobo/flickr)Here is something that most people would agree is true about Robert the Doll: He’s terrifying.Ostensibly a little boy in a sailor suit, his careworn...

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Are There Still Real Skeletons In Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean"?

A fake skeleton, cozy in a bed decorated with an (allegedly) real skull. (Photo: Anna Fox/Flickr)For theme park buffs, Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" is considered to be the gold standard of...

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The Rise and Fall of Cruisingforsex.com, a Digital Atlas of Casual Encounters

"The Garden of Earthly Delights", by Hieronyous Bosch. (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)Even in Disney World, an impenetrable fortress of G-rated delights, sex is happening.Hop on a complimentary...

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The Tarantula-Possessed Women Who Could Only Be Cured By Dance

A map of southern Italy, decorated with tarantulas, from Giorgio Baglivi's Opera omnia medico-practica et anatomica, 1723. (Photo: Angelica Calabrese) On a hot day in the summer of 1728, Anna Palazzo...

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Hypnotizing Moving Maps of Bird Migration Patterns

An occurrence map for the American Pipit. (Image: eBird.org)Want to be mesmerized by an expanding orange glow while being reminded of how little and flightless you are? Then eBird.org's bird occurrence...

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FOUND: A Spider as Heavy as a Puppy

A giant spider (Photo: John/Flickr)Piotr Naskrecki, an entomologist at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, was in the rainforest in Guyana, surveying the animals and plants to be found there, when...

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