Meet the “Smartest” Man in China

With nine educational diplomas under his belt, Zhou Baokuan can definitely claim the title of “smartest man in China.”

When it comes to education, we all want the best for our kids, but I think Zhou Baokuan’s parents might have pushed him a little to far, when he was a child. I mean, the man started studying and even though he is now 53 years old, he has no intention of stopping.

In recognition of his incredible desire to study, an organization known as China World Records Association decided to award Zhou the title of “man with most diplomas in the world.” Over the course of 35 years of intense studying (sometimes without sleep) the man earned a total of nine diplomas, including three doctoral diplomas and two masters degrees. Zhou, a resident of Shenyang City, admits it wasn’t easy getting this many diplomas, and reckons he spent around 126,500 hours studying for them

Believe it or not, Zhou Baokuan is currently studying to get his fourth doctoral degree, at Fudan University.

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Prince Saint Vladimir – The World’s First and Only Chapel Boat

The Prince Saint Vladimir is basically an old boat converted into a floating church that could make the sacred relics on board accessible to people in remote areas along the Volga River.

This isn’t the world’s first floating church, communities living on water have built plenty of them all around the world, but the Prince Saint Vladimir (named after the saint who baptized Russia) is the world’s first self-propelled chapel boat. Built back in 2004, the unique church was designed to reach even the shallowest waters, so that all the people of the Volvograd region could have access to a church and priest. There were two other similar churches built before, but because they were practically converted barges, they could only be moved by tugboats. The Prince Saint Vladimir is, however, a self-propelled craft.

On September 13, 2010, the great river voyage of the Prince Saint Vladimir began. The floating church will travel around 3,000 kilometers along the shores of the Volga, from the river mouth, all the way to Moscow. It will make stops in both cities and small communities along the shores, allowing people access to relics of eight great saints from the era of the Undivided Church. Its voyage will take the sacred ship to areas that have suffered from drought and terrible wildfires, and the Russian Church hopes it will bring comfort to locals.

Along with the captain and ship crew, a priest will be on board the Prince Saint Vladimir at all times, and he will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy at every stop.

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Bridget Polk – The Rock Lady of New York

Bridget Polk is a New York resident who came to be known as the “Rock Lady”, by fellow New Yorkers who saw her amazing balancing rocks, on the banks of the Hudson River.

Polk, a 50-year-old personal assistant from the upper West Side, began experimenting with rock balancing about a year ago. The idea had been planted in her head a while ago, when a friend showed her the works of a rock balancing artist in Sausalito, and added that she probably couldn’t do it herself. Competitive by nature, Bridget took the comment as a challenge and began practicing rock balancing, on her daily walks along the Hudson River.

She soon found that she had a natural talent for the art of rock balancing, and that it inspired her and people who laid eyes on her works. And that’s understandable, because Bridget Polk’s rock balancing skills are truly remarkable, enabling her to stack rocks in seemingly impossible positions, with their wide ends in the air, balancing on a tiny tip.

When she sees photographers and passers-by admiring her rock balancing masterpieces, Bridget admits she’s tempted to walk up to them and say something like “I did that!”, but she prefers to just stand back and observe people’s reaction. Some of them knock down the rocks, to convince themselves they aren’t glued together, but most of them just try to add to her work or build rock stacks of their own. Regardless of their reactions, Bridget Polk says she feels happy about making any kind of contribution to their daily lives.

The Rock Lady of New York will soon be leaving the Big Apple, to live with her partner, in Portland, Oregon, but she has made sure her rock balancing legacy will live on even after she’s gone. She has been teaching some of her admirers the secrets of the art, and she’s certain that with a bit of practice, they’ll soon follow in her footsteps.

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The Wonderful Can Sculptures of Canstruction 2010

Every year, dozens of teams of architects and engineers compete in creating the most impressive can sculptures for the Canstruction exhibition.

This year, 25 teams did their vest to arrange around 100,000 cans of food into detailed sculptures that would ultimately win them the title of Canstruction champions. The intricate works of art are on display at the World Financial Center Garden, in New York City, until November 22, and visitors are encouraged to donate canned foods like tuna, beans or vegetables. Once the exhibition closes, all the cans are donated to the poor people of New York, by City Harvest.

Last year’s Canstruction winner was a piggy-bank sculpture made from 3.024 cans of salmon and 24 cans of tuna, but this year, judges have a tough decision to make. They have to pick between mosaics of Marylin Monroe and Super Mario, a can-made van and several other mind-blowing creations.

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T’Spookhuys – Probably the World’s Spookiest Restaurant

Known also as the “House of 1,000 Ghosts”, the T’Spookhuys Restaurant was designed to scare the hell out of its customers, with a truly creepy interior design and bizarre menu.

Located in the city of Turnhout, Belgium, T’Spookhuys was founded by Karl Hendrix and Bjorn Leys, as a place where people could experience the horrors of a haunted mansion. When it opened its gates to the public, on October 1st 1997, it shocked pretty much everyone with its creepy interior decorations, squeaky doors, smoke coming down from the ceiling, moving paintings, and other special effects. Soon everyone wanted to “dine in hell” and witness the weird spectacles and cameos that took part at the T’Spookhuys Restaurant.

Some of the foods on the menu included mud pie and spicy worms served in skull-shaped bowls, by waiters dressed as vampires and devil worshipers, but instead of driving people away, this incredibly spooky atmosphere brought in more curious clients. Not even the rumors about satanic rituals being performed on the restaurant’s upper floor didn’t scare anyone.

In 2008, eleven years after they opened this crazy establishment, the owners of T’Spookhuys decided to close down the place and open a whole new club, in the city of Zandhoven. To the joy of urban explorers, T’Spookhuys was left intact, allowing them to explore and take photos of what used to be probably the spookiest restaurant in the world. As you’d expect, there are dozens of stories of ghost and tormented spirits living in the abandoned restaurant, saying that they are the real reason the owners decided to close shop and move away, but no ghost sightings have been reported yet.

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Ben Wilson’s Tiny Chewing Gum Masterpieces

English urban artist Ben Wilson has made it his mission to make the streets of London more colorful, by painting every piece of old chewing gum he can find on the pavement.

Over the last six years, Wilson has been roaming the streets of London, looking for pieces of chewing gum to turn into miniature works of art. Spitting a piece of gum, rather than throwing it away in a bin, or at least using a tissue is definitely the wrong thing to do, but fortunately, an artist like Ben Wilson can turn the whole situation around, using his talent.

Wearing a paint-covered coat and carrying his trusty paint kit, Ben spends most of his days looking for suitable pieces of gum to turn into artworks. He needs them to be a bit old, so that they lack any moisture, then heats them up and applies lacquers. This makes a much better surface for his acrylic paints and hardens the piece of gum. He paints his own designs, but also gladly accepts commissions from passers-by or institutions like the Royal Society of Chemistry, who asked him to paint 118 themed chewing gum artworks, one for each of the known elements.

Each of his beautiful pavement masterpieces takes between a few hours and days to complete, depending on the level of detail. So far, Ben estimates he has painted around 8,000 pieces of gum throughout London, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, although his passion got him into trouble, a couple of times. He’s been arrested twice, but the charges were eventually dropped, since he wasn’t the one who threw the pieces of gum on the pavement, in the first place.

Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art have made him quite popular around London, and even in distant South Korea, where he was featured on a television show.

 

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The Hyperrealistic Paintings of Tom Martin

Tom Martin is a young English artist who  makes use of acrylic paint to create the most amazing paintings. Looking at them you could swear they are simple photographs, but in reality they are painstakingly painted by hand.

Hyperrealism evolved from the “photorealism” movement of the 1970s, and it’s dedicated to making artworks that are “more real than real”. Hyperrealists try not just copy a photograph with paint, but emphasize elements that were not evoked by the original. 23-year-old Tom Martin is already one of the most respected hyperrealist artist in the world, with works featured in art exhibitions all around the world.

Just have a look at his amazing super-sized paintings and tell me if you’d have known they aren’t simple photos or computer generated images.

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Lily’s Kitchen – A Dogs-Only Restaurant Opens in London

Lily’s Kitchen may not be the world’s first restaurant for dogs, but it’s certainly the coolest one right now. Dogs get to eat for free, have their bellies rubbed and can even listen to a nice story. What more could they ask for?

Lily’s Kitchen recently opened on Pimlico Road, in London’s upscale Belgravia neighborhood, and dog owners were quick to have their pooches test out the menu, for free. That’s right, your four-legged friends get to sit at one of the restaurant’s three tables and fill up their bellies with organic food served by a waiter, and you don’t have to pay for it. It sounds to good to be true, but this is just a clever way a dog food company has found to promote their line of organic foods.

During the six week period Lily’s Kitchen is open, dogs will get the chance to be the stars, for a change, while their owners relax or take care of their daily chores. The dogs are served their favorite dishes in paper bowls, by waiters who actually love serving canines, because they never complain about the food, check or stuff like that. After they’ve filled their stomachs, dogs have a wide range of pleasant activities to enjoy. They can have their bellies rubbed, snooze on a comfy sofa, have their aches soothed by a holistic vet, or even enjoy a nice story, read to them by members of the restaurant staff.

While there are always those who complain this sort of things are just stupid, many London dog owners are already in love with Lily’s Kitchen. It offers them the chance to carry on with their daily activities, knowing their dear companion is well taken care of. So even though Lily’s Kitchen is just a temporary establishment, a permanent restaurant for dogs could prove quite profitable.

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Avatar Mosaic Made Out of 4,000 Avatar Blu-Ray Discs

British mosaic artist Laura Hadland has created an impressive Avatar-themed mosaic, as a present for her film-fanatic husband.

A few weeks after creating an amazing toast mosaic for her mother-in law, for which she used 9,852 slices of toast, Laura does it again, this time for her beloved husband. Making use of 4,000 Blu-Ray discs, she managed to create a giant mosaic of a Na’vi. Located on the floor of the London Film Museum, the Avatar mosaic took the artist just a few hours to complete. No news yet on how Laura’s husband reacted to her fantastic gift, but I’m sure he was pretty impressed.

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Australian Spider-Man to Spend Three Weeks with Poisonous Spiders

67-year-old Nick Le Souef, also known as the “Australian Spider-Man” is preparing to spend over three weeks in an enclosed space with hundreds of poisonous spiders.

Le Souef recently took part in a charity event, and because he was so impressed with the results, he decided to put his talents to the test, for charity. The wacky Australian will be living in a 12-foot-by-4-foot space, in the window of one of his shops, together with hundreds of potentially lethal redback spiders, huge huntsmen and black house spiders.

Although he says he is not afraid of the spiders, Nick Le Souef admits he is a little crazy doing what he’s doing. He is confident that he will not get bit, because redbacks are usually calm creatures once they’ve weaved their little nests, and simply because spiders don’t like each other that much, nad they’re most likely to fight among themselves. During his time with the spiders, Nick plans to write his biography.

The Australian daredevil has a history of dangerous stunts, holding Australian records for most time in a snake pit, a shark tank and in a cage full of redback spiders. He is now looking to break the record he set 30 years ago.

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Patriot Dedicates 10 Years to Sculpting Wooden Declaration of Independence

Charlie Kestead, a talented woodworker from Johnstown, USA has spent ten years of his life carving the Declaration of Independence in dark walnut wood.

The giant wooden replica of famous document was completed a few months ago, after 10 years of constant labor. Kested would have probably finished it earlier, but a stroke forced him to abandon his project for a while. Although it impaired his speech and mobility, the dedicated woodworker continued work on his wooden masterpiece, as soon as he was physically able. Almost as tall as its creator, the wooden Declaration of Independence is an exact replica of the original document, down to the bottom signatures. Every letter and character was hand carved out of dark walnut and placed on a background of light Baltic birch, for contrast.

The 81-year-old retired teacher of industrial arts says it was a labor of love, despite the fact that it took most of his free time, during the last decade. He added that all of his efforts paid off when he was awarded first place and best in show at the 2010 Florida State Fair. Fellow woodmakers who saw Charlie Kested’s wooden Declaration of Independence were blown away by his unbelievable patience and attention to details. Every little bit of it is so precise, it’s almost impossible to believe it was done by hand.

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The Excel Drawings of Danielle Aubert

Usually, Microsoft Excel worksheets look like endless rows and columns of important data, but artist Danielle Aubert makes them look like pixelated works of art.

By repurposing data software in a whole new way, Danielle Aubert manages to transform a tool into an original art medium. For each of her Excel paintings, Aubert crated a brand new worksheets, which were automatically set up as grids, and began tying with cell background color, fill pattern, border styles, as well as insert comment boxes, letters and characters.

So far, Danielle Aubert has created three series of her unique Excel drawings. She published a 16-day series as a book, she published a 58-day series on the Internet and created a time-lapse video of her 4.5-month series. You can view all of them on her official website.

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Meet Tubby the Recycling Dog

A Labrador Retriver called Tubby has helped his owner gather and recycle around 26,000 plastic bottles, in the last six years. The canine’s efforts did not go unnoticed, as Guinness offered him a spot in their famous book of records, for the most bottles recycled by a dog.

Tubby and his owners live in Pontnewydd, Wales – one of the best performing recycling authorities in the country, and it’s no wonder, considering both people and pets like to lend a hand…or paw. On every one of his two daily walks, Tubby picks up at least three plastic bottles, crushes them with his teeth, and brings them to his owner, Sandra Gilmore. She says Tubby has had a nose for plastic bottles ever since he was a young pup. He would crawl under things, jump into bushes and even leap into water to fetch the bottles.

Sandra suspects her beloved Labrador loves to collect plastic bottles because of the sound they make as he bites down on them, but regardless of the reason, Tubby has proven his commitment to making our planet greener. Come to think of it, the fact that he likes to chew on them makes recyclers’ lives a lot easier, as the bottles are already crushed.

Miss Gilmore tries to do her part as far as recycling is concerned, and she admits Tubby has helped her quite a bit. During the six years that he’s been “on the job”, he managed to collect 26,000 plastic bottles. I’d say his Guinness Records mention for the “most plastic bottles collected by a dog” is well deserved. Still, it’s pretty sad that dog does more for the environment than most humans bother to.

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Man Spends More than Half His Life Collecting Belly Button Lint

Collecting navel lint is probably not the kind of hobby you want to bring up in a conversation, but that hasn’t stopped a 45-year-old librarian from collecting his own belly button fluff, for the last 26 years.

Graham Barker, from Perth, Australia started his bizarre collection when he noticed his own navel lint, one night, and became curious about how much fluff a person produces. The only way to answer his own question was to monitor his own belly button, and collect the lint. Contrary to what most people believe when they hear about his weird habit, Graham isn’t obsessed with lint, nor does he spend most of his time checking his navel. He is only driven by curiosity, and dedicates a mere ten seconds a day to collecting the fluff, right before stepping into the shower.

The amount of fluff he finds in his navel every night depends on the type of clothes he’s been wearing that day, but he has noticed thermal underwear is the most productive. Each night, he takes whatever he can find in his belly button and stores it in a clay jar, bought specifically for collecting lint. At the end of each year, he ads the lint to his grand collection. In the 26 years that he has been collecting his own fluff, he managed to fill three glass jars, and he is already working on his fourth. Believe it or not, his extensive collection weighs just 22 grams.

Graham Barker admits that lint, as a raw material, is worthless, but as part of an impressive collection it gains both curiosity and financial value. After being acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest collection of navel lint, his three jars of fluff were acquired by a museum, for an undisclosed sum. When they see the belly button lint collection, most visitors have a positive reaction, but there are still those who find it disgusting or simply stupid.

Graham only plans to stop collecting navel lint when he is incapable of doing so anymore, but he reckons he’ll fill up five more jars before then, thus making sure his record doesn’t get beat any time soon.

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Unreal 3D Murals by Eric Grohe

Eric Grohe is a well known artist who makes use of a technique known as trompe l’oeil to create jaw-dropping murals.

American artist Eric Grohe transforms common-looking structures into unbelievable works, and since uses keim mineral paint, his masterpieces can last for over a hundred years. He takes bland looking buildings, derelict walls and manages to give them a whole new life as unbelievable artworks. Each of the murals take Grohe and his two assistants up to a year to complete, as they spend a huge amount of time analyzing Google Earth and Global Imaging Satellites data, in order to get the shadows just right. He often also ads various real items to his 3D murals to make the illusion more believable.

 

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