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Inside the Belarus Chernobyl Zone

More than 30 years after the Chernobyl disaster, it's common to see "field trips" into Pripyat, Ukraine. But the exclusion zone crosses the border of two nations, which wasn't really a thing before the fall of the Soviet Union. In Belarus, the hot zone is called the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve. A vlogger called bald and bankrupt hiked into the reserve to explore. He found abandoned buildings and a sad, untended cemetery. Then at about 13 minutes in, he meets two people who live alone in an abandoned village, who never left after the nuclear meltdown; a 92-year-old woman and her son Igor. They may live in the middle of nowhere, but they have retained their hospitality. -via reddit


The Instagram-famous Plant that Used to be Impossible to Find

This plant, called Pilea peperomioides, is native to China, where it grows in rocky soil in the shade. It's pretty rare even there, and was even more rare among houseplant enthusiasts until recently. Pilea is nice-looking, propagates easily from offshoots, and most importantly, it thrives in low light and dry soil. A few Instagram users could sell an offshoot, or "pup," with no roots for as much as $45 each. That changed, as commercial growers have noticed pilea's popularity. You might be able to get one in a pot for just a few dollars now. Read the story of how pilea went from Yunnan province to Instagram to your local nursery at Vox.



A phobia is an "irrational, abnormal, unwarranted, persistent, or disabling fear." There are many types of phobias you can explore here. Berlin filmmaker Ahmet Serif Yildirim uses block toys to illustrate quite a few different phobias, from fear of spiders (arachnophobia) to fear of public speaking (glossophobia).  As the video goes on, you can't help but feel sorry for the poor, anxious set of eyes that have to deal with them. -via Laughing Squid


How DNA From a 200-Year-Old Pipe Connects Maryland and Sierra Leone

Archaeologists were excavating a site at Belvoir, the historic home of Francis Scott Key's grandmother, in Crownsville, Maryland. They were looking for the Revolutionary War encampment of French commander Rochambeau, but what they found turned out to be much more important in its implications for future research. They found the brick floor of the site's slave quarters.  

A team from the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, began excavating the 32-by-32-foot building in 2014. Julie Schablitsky, chief archaeologist with the department, noticed a pipe stem sticking out of the brick floor and subsequently dated other artifacts in the soil layer to determine its age, somewhere between 150 and 200 years old. But a more thrilling detail emerged upon further analysis. Schablitsky and her team tested the tobacco pipe stem for human DNA, and found direct evidence that it belonged to a woman. Not only that, the DNA most closely matched that of the Mende people of Sierra Leone.

Enslaved people were brought over by the shipload from Africa between 200 and 400 years ago. They, and their descendants, were denied written records of their origins and ancestry for the most part. Since clay pipes easily retain DNA from saliva, this discovery opens up a new channel to establish genealogical records based on DNA that could fill in the gaps for those who want those records. Read about the find at Atlas Obscura.

(Image: courtesy of Julie Schablitsky)


Human Musicality Versus Other Animals' Predisposition to Music

Humans and animals both share the ability to perceive sound and music but our experience with music may be different from that of other animals.

What differentiates the human experience of music to that of, say, songbirds or dogs? There are various aspects of music that contribute to our perception and enjoyment of it which may differ from animals.

This article explores how our human musicality may have evolved or have been wired differently such that it becomes a whole other level of experience from that of animals'.

(Image credit: Papafox/Pixabay)


Pickle Pie

The Sunglow Cafe in Bicknell, Utah, is famous for their pickle pie. Or maybe the word is notorious. Everyone buys a slice because they are curious. With tourists passing through, that's a lot of slices whether they like it or not. -via Tastefully Offensive


An Interactive Bar Chart of the Most Populous Cities in the World (1500-2018)

China is still the most populous country in the world but India is right on its heels and may one day surpass China.

Over the course of history, various cities in the world have accommodated large populations. But it might come as a surprise what the most populous city is today.

Here, you will see which cities in the world have had the largest populations since 1500.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


11 Worst Lies That Mainstream Nutrition Has Led You To Believe

We attempt to put the healthiest and most nutritious food on our plates, but with all the choices, it is not easy to determine what we should actually be eating. Many common beliefs what a healthy diet should like are totally wrong. Have a look at the eleven lies and myths told to us by mainstream nutrition.

Article as posted via Amaze and Amuse



The Rivalry Between Two Doctors to Implant the First Artificial Heart

America's most famous heart surgeons once worked together and then settled across town from each other in Houston, Texas. Dr. Michael DeBakey led the cardiac division at Methodist Hospital and Dr. Denton Cooley founded the Texas Heart Institute in 1962. Both were fighting an epidemic of heart disease when Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant in 1967.  

Barnard’s triumph turned up the heat on what was then, a simmering competition between two surgeons who were probably the most famous in the world, who appeared on the covers of major magazines like Time and Life, and who palled around with famous patients like Jerry Lewis and the Duke of Windsor. Not to be outdone by a foreign doc whose skills were derided in Houston, DeBakey, who had been skeptical of transplants and had been working for years on an artificial replacement for the heart, did a 180 and began to look into heart transplants. He did not invite the participation of Cooley, who had performed the first successful heart transplant in the U.S. in 1968 and had since done more than any other surgeon in the world—17—to join him. (“Maybe it’s immodest of me,” Cooley would later say, “but I thought that since I was the most experienced heart surgeon in the world, I was the one best qualified to perform transplants in Houston.”)

There is some debate—still—about what happened next, but not the ultimate result. Transplantation, it turned out, wasn’t the miracle it had initially appeared to be. By the end of 1968, only three of Cooley’s patients were still alive, and no one knew why. (The introduction of the drug cyclosporine, which suppressed the immune system and allowed the body to accept a new heart, was still about 15 years away.) Prominent surgeons around the world who had similarly lost their transplant patients were calling for a moratorium on the procedure.

Meanwhile, engineers were working on an artificial heart, which might be able to bridge the gap between failing hearts and the rare compatible donor. Read the story of the rivalry over the first successful artificial heart implant, 50 years ago next month, at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Max Aguilera-Hellweg)


Supercomputer Stranded Floating in Space

In preparation for the age of space commercialization, HP is leading the pack by sending a trailblazing commercial off-the-shelf server into space.

It was supposedly scheduled to return in 2018 but their ride home, a Russian capsule, wasn't able to pick them up because of a launch abort. Now, Spaceborne Computer sits stranded in space waiting to get back to Earth, hopefully in spring.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Alien Hunting Space Submarines

In the hunt for alien life, our icy solar system could hold the answers that we need. Autonomous submarines are being built to dive to their depths.

“The extra-terrestrial vehicles will explore the ocean worlds of our solar system, much like how the Mars rovers explore the surface of Mars,” she says. Top of the list of nearby water worlds is Europa, the ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter. Thought to harbour vast oceans kept fertile by volcanic activity, Europa’s ice sheets have long been a favourite destination to start looking for life elsewhere in our solar system. And with help from Nasa and other partners, Casey’s team at WHOI are busy designing the first submarine to explore this alien aquarium.

Do aliens exist? Scientists say it's unreasonable to believe they don't. Read this article at Wired to find out more about the alien hunt!

Image Credits: WHOI


The Calorie Wars

One diet plan may work for some but each person may need to use different methods and approaches if they want to stay fit and healthy.

Though it is quite a popular notion that having a strict count on your calories would help you lose weight, it may be difficult to precisely count all the calories you intake every day.

Each body processes calories differently. Even for a single individual, the time of day that you eat matters. The more we probe, the more we realise that tallying calories will do little to help us control our weight or even maintain a healthy diet: the beguiling simplicity of counting calories in and calories out is dangerously flawed.

(Image credit: i yunmai/Unsplash)


Artist Encases Incredibly Detailed Miniature Worlds Inside Antique Pocket Watches

Greek artist Gregory Grozos blows life into antique jewellery by encasing miniature worlds inside pocket watches and pendants, and the results are beyond stunning!

“A few years ago I had the idea of making an entire tiny world which a person can carry on him or her,” reveals Grozos. “I then started developing ways to do exactly that. My work is very painstaking and most pieces take days or even weeks to complete.” Each carefully composed trinket is made of countless individually placed elements such as tiny figurines, little cogs, and miniature trees. Many of Grozos’ steampunk inspired pieces seem to house entire factories inside their metal casings, with complex machinery and tiny people working inside.

Take a look at the entire collection here!

Image Credits: Gregory Grozos


MySpace Has Lost Almost All Pre-2016 User Content

Yes. You've read that right. An estimated 50 million MySpace audio tracks have been lost along with photos and videos.

While the deletion of embarrassing teen photos and dodgy demo tracks may come as a relief to some former users, it's a massive loss of the internet's living history and, unlike many mass content deletions, there was no warning to allow users and archivists to back anything up.

Not that anyone was using MySpace anyways. Maybe it's a sign from the universe that it's time to kiss your past goodbye. Read the whole story here.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons


A Massive Sun Storm Hit Earth in Ancient Times...And It Could Happen Again

A new study finds that a gigantic solar storm hit Earth about 2,600 years ago, one about 10 times stronger than any solar storm recorded in the modern day and could wreak havoc if they were to hit now, given how dependent the world has become on electricity.

"Today, we have a lot of infrastructure that could be badly damaged, and we travel in air and space where we are much more exposed to high-energy radiation," senior study author Raimund Muscheler an environmental physicist at Lund University in Sweden, told Live Science.

Read the entire story over on

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

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