The Whispering Wall of the Barossa Reservoir and Its Amazing Parabola Sound Effect

When the Whispering Wall was built over a 100 years ago, no one had a clue about its amazing acoustic properties. The concrete dam was constructed by about 400 workers over the South Parra River in Barossa Valley between 1899 and 1902. The dam holds back the 4,515-mega liter Barossa reservoir that supplies water to several areas in southern Australia. The Whispering Wall has always been famous – the 9 storey structure was the first arch dam to be constructed in the region and at one point, the highest in all of Australia. But little did the builders know about the hidden properties of the engineering marvel they had created.

Because the dam is a hard and curved surface, any sound made on one end travels completely unobstructed to the other end. So you could have a perfectly normal conversation with someone standing on the opposite end of the dam (about 450 ft. away), as though they were right next to you! The voices can be heard quite clearly due to a phenomenon known as the parabola effect. The wall is so perfectly curved that it forms one sector of a circle. And the sound waves just bounce in a series of straight jumps all the way to the other end.

whispering-wall

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Black and Blond – The Origin of Blonde Afros in Melanesia

About a quarter of the Melanesian population in the Solomon Islands archipelago has an extremely unusual trait – dark skin with blond hair. The archipelago, located east of Papa New Guinea in Oceania, consists of a thousand islands inhabited by over half a million Melanesian people. They have the darkest skin in the world outside of Africa, but strangely, about one-fourth of the inhabitants sport blond afros.

This rare Melanesian characteristic has baffled scientists and genetic experts for years. Up until now, they have attributed the trait to inheritance – from the Europeans, especially the British, German and Australians, who have been associated with the island for hundreds of years. Several of the islands were under German jurisdiction in the 19th century. In 1893, the UK took southern Solomon Islands under their wing, declaring the region a protectorate. The rest of the islands were added to the protectorate at a later stage. And in the early 20th century, Australian and British companies set up coconut plantations on many of the islands.

So it isn’t entirely unbelievable that the dark-skinned Melanesians got their blond hair from the growing influx of ‘outsiders’. The locals, however, prefer not to go by that theory. They have been insisting for years that their blond hair is a result of a diet rich in fish and constant exposure to the sun. As it turns out, both theories are quite far from the truth. According to a recent investigation, random mutation might actually be the answer to the mystery of the Melanesian blonds.

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Pizza Chain Advertises Rabbit Pizza for Easter with Billboards Made of Real Dead Rabbits

Eating rabbits isn’t a real Easter tradition, but that hasn’t stopped Hell Pizza from adding rabbit pizza to their menu this year. And that’s not even the strange part of this story. What’s really unusual is their marketing strategy. The New Zealand based pizza chain has put up billboards completely covered with real rabbit hides. The posters read: ‘New for Easter. Rabbit Pizza. Made from Real Rabbit. Like this Billboard’.

If you find that gross, you aren’t alone. The restaurant has been receiving severe backlash from locals ever since the billboards went up at multiple locations. But the folks at Hell Pizza are totally unapologetic. They’ve defended their PR stunt on their Facebook page: “As well as being a delicious meat, and even quite cute, rabbits are unfortunately also a noted pest that is damaging to the New Zealand environment, particularly in the South Island.”

General manager Ben Cumming called rabbit meat one of the healthiest meats in the world. “Eating rabbit meat isn’t just environmentally sustainable – it’s actually helping to reduce pests,” he said. “It has a beautiful, subtle flavor and is a great match for the other ingredients on the pizza. You get chunks of the smoky rabbit flavor complimented by sweet and slightly spicy beetroot and horopito relish, then bursts of cream cheese and toasted pine nuts which linger on the taste buds afterwards. We think it’s going to go down really well.”

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Colombia’s Flintstone House Is Made Entirely from Baked Clay

64-year-old architect Octavio Mendoza literally baked the house that he lives in. He calls the 5,400 square foot house ‘the biggest piece of pottery in the world’. Casa Terracotta, or Casa Barro in Spanish, was built exclusively by hand using clay and baked in the sun. Located in Villa de Leyva, a colonial mountain village in Colombia, it is also known to locals as the ‘Casa de Flintstone’ or Flintstone House.

From the outside, Casa Terracotta looks like a huge mound of clay, loosely fashioned to resemble a cottage. It is surrounded by lush green farmland, set against a breathtaking backdrop of the mountains. Inside, the rooms curve and flow into each other, as though the entire house was cast in a single mold. Rustic as it seems, the clay cottage does offer a few modern conveniences – solar panels for hot water, toilets and sinks covered in colorful mosaic tiles, two floors with lounge and sleeping areas, and a fully functional kitchen. Of course, the kitchen table and all the utensils are all fashioned out of the same material – clay. The beer mugs that adorn the kitchen are made of recycled glass and the lighting fixtures from scrap metal.

Mendoza, who spent most of his career designing homes, commercial buildings and churches, calls the clay house his ‘project for life’. He started to work on it over 14 years ago – his goal was to demonstrate how soil can be transformed into habitable architecture by simply using the natural resources at hand. So Casa Terracotta doesn’t contain an ounce of cement or steel. Mendoza, who is also an environmental activist, said: “Think of it this way. In desert places (which exist all across the planet), soil is perfect for this type of architecture. This means that for all those regions, a system like this could bring housing to millions of families.”

Casa-Terracota

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Chinese Businessman Tries to Hide Rooftop Villa with Trees and Bushes

When this wealthy Chinese businessman purchased an 18th floor penthouse apartment in Guangzhou city several years ago, he appeared quite contented with it. But soon, he began to make changes that the neighbors thought were weird. At first, he planted all kinds of huge trees and thick bushes on the roof, which neighbors assumed were meant to protect his privacy. But then he took it one step further, by surrounding the property with camouflage nets filled with plant foliage, which was very unusual.

That’s when the neighbors began to worry for his sanity, but it turns out the businessman wasn’t insane at all. He was actually using all the camouflage as a cover up for the additional two floors that he was secretly adding to his apartment. While he told everybody that he renovating, he was actually adding a 19th and 20th floor to his already massive apartment. And he did this in secret to work around the local planning laws.

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Guy Wears a Different Band T-Shirt for 1,000 Days in a Row. Why? Because He Could!

Isac Walter from Echo Park, Los Angeles, loves his band T-shirts so much that he wore nothing else for 1,000 days straight. Well, there were a few exceptions, but for more or less 1,000 consecutive days he wore the tees without repeating a single band. Walter also created a Tumblr project to document the process – it’s called ‘Minor Thread’.

The home page of the Minor Thread blog states: ‘Click through and you can see Isac’s torso several hundred times, each time draped with a bit of fan memorabilia. He only revealed what he looked like from the neck up after the project was completed.’ And after the project, he also took a photograph with each of the 1,000 T-shirts placed neatly on a photo studio wall, just to show people what 1,000 blog posts look like in reality. It actually took him four days to arrange all the shirts and take the picture.

Walter’s challenge began in July 2011, when he sought out to wear a different band’s T-shirt every day for 500 days. When he accomplished that, he decided to just keep going. And on 7 April this year, he managed to reach the 1,000 mark. In an interview with a T-shirt company in 2013, he said: “T-shirts are like an analog version of social media and social networking. It’s amazing how I can wear a certain t-shirt out and immediately connect with people I’ve never met before. A band shirt alone can initiate new conversations and new friendships.”

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Meet Penelope Popcorn, the Most Fashionable Pig on the Internet

You’d expect any pig named ‘Penelope Popcorn’ to be adorable. And this one-year-old from California does not disappoint. The stylish swine has become an internet sensation after her owner posted photographs of her posing in a range of interesting outfits. Penelope is very popular online, especially on Instagram, where she has over 40,000 followers.

“She has been dressed up and had her nails painted since she was a baby, so she doesn’t mind wearing outfits and posing for pictures,” said the owner. “She is very patient.” Penelope lives with a mother and her two kids and has truly become one of the ladies. The purebred Juliana pig apparently enjoys playing dress-up. She’s also potty trained and can perform a variety of tricks.

In the photographs, Penelope is often seen dressed in a range of swanky headgear shaped like flowers, bows, butterflies, angel wings, and even party hats. One of her most adorable pictures shows her dressed like a little pink bunny – I can see why people are going crazy over this stuff. There’s another one where she’s dressed like a bumblebee. She can be seen sporting sweatshirts too, but the animal disguises are the most popular.

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Brazilian Woman Gets Mugged While Giving Interview About Rising Crime Rate

When this Brazilian woman stopped on the street to speak to a reporter about the rising crime rate in the area, I bet she didn’t expect to give him live demo! As she was complaining on live TV about the incompetent police force, a thief ran up to her and attempted to snatch her gold necklace. The whole thing was recorded on camera – I’d call it downright hilarious if only it wasn’t so appalling.

The incident took place in broad daylight on a busy street in Rio de Janeiro. The video clip shows the woman speaking to an interviewer from RJTV. Just a few seconds into the interview, a young boy hurls himself at the woman, snatches her necklace and runs across the busy street. The woman yells in shock; the reporter’s reaction is instantaneous – he yells too, pushes the woman aside with his fist and attempts to chase the thief down.

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Thriving Bottle Garden Hasn’t Been Watered in Over 40 Years

David Latimer is one of the world’s few proud owners of an entirely self-sustaining bottled garden. Looking at pictures of the lush green bottle, you’d think that growing it involved a lot of hard work. But the truth is that David hasn’t even watered it in over 40 years. It’s just been sitting under the hallway stairs in his home and it’s doing extremely well on its own.

The story of his this amazing experiment began in 1960, on Easter Sunday, when David decided that it would be fun to start a bottle garden. Since they were a bit of a craze back then, he wanted to see for himself what the fuss was all about. So out of idle curiosity, he got himself a 10-gallon globular bottle, poured some compost at the bottom and used a piece of wire to carefully lower a seedling in. Then he put in just about a quarter of a pint of water, and believe it or not, he only watered the plant once more in 1972. Never again after that. It has been alive and kicking for the past 54 years.

The plant that David placed in the bottle is an indoor variety of perennial spiderworts that also go by the Latin name of Tradescantia. The bottle itself is tightly sealed; David only needs to rotate it around often so it grows evenly towards the light. “Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance,” he said. “I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.”

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Artist with Background in Criminology Turns Bones into High-End Jewelry

Artist Kirstin Bunyard has managed to blend her two great passions – fashion and dissection – into a morbid yet intriguing art form. Kirstin makes high-end, elegant jewelry (rings, bracelets and necklaces) using natural bones. In 2009, she started her own label called Ossuaria Jewelry, through which she sells her handmade accessories. She personally selects the bones for each piece and fashions them by hand to create ‘bold and dramatic adornments’ that are meant for ‘people with a bit of an eccentric side’.

Kirstin has a background in criminology, but she was always interested in fashion as well. “From the time I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she said. Her dream was to ‘take on the world of punk culture and high fashion’. She sketched all the time, waiting for the day when her creations would be displayed on the runway. But by the time she got to college, her life had taken a different course.

After college, Kirstin worked for a short while as an autopsy assistant and attended several autopsies and embalmings. During this time she developed a great admiration for bones – the structures that support the body. She found them so elegant and alluring that she began to believe that they deserved a more prominent place outside the body. That’s when she seriously began to consider shifting her line of work.

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Rare Condition Causes Woman to Smell Like Rotten Fish

For 14 years, company director Ellie James has been receiving the same Secret Santa presents at Christmas – bottles of perfume and bars of soap. And when she opens them, she is met with roaring laughter from her colleagues. The presents are mortifying, they break her heart every time because they are a subtle reminder of the horrible genetic disorder that she has to live with. Ellie suffers from a rare condition that leaves her reeking of fish and rotten eggs.

Ellie’s condition might seem amusing or even downright funny, but it’s quite sad when you look at it from her point of view. You might think that she isn’t very good at personal hygiene, but you would be wrong. At one point, she even showered five times a day and scrubbed her skin with dishwashing detergent until it became red and raw. But nothing worked; no matter how much Ellie cleaned herself, the smell kept coming back stronger.

It all began when Ellie turned 30. “At first I didn’t understand what was wrong,” said the 44-year-old from Abingdon, Oxfordshire. “I’d always had impeccable hygiene. The smell was a complete mystery – I wondered if my cat had brought in a mouse and left it to rot. But I slowly realized it was me when strangers began to stare at me while holding their noses. I heard people whispering about me in the office.”

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These Jet Black Tomatoes May Look Weird but They’re Great for Your Health

The ‘Indigo Rose’ is a new, strangely-colored variety of tomato. The fruit is jet black on the outside and juicy purple-red on the inside. These colors might not sound very appealing, but black tomatoes are supposed to be very tasty, and most importantly, rich in antioxidants. Indigo Rose is a cross-breed between red and purple tomatoes, and is the latest ‘superfood’ to hit the market.

I have to admit, I never even knew that purple tomatoes exist. The modified fruit, bred by scientists in America, contain a special antioxidant called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is responsible for fighting diseases like diabetes and obesity, and is the main pigment that lends the tomato its purple color. And when the purple tomatoes are mixed with the regular red ones, the resultant breed turns out black.

Black tomatoes were first bred by Professor Jim Myers at the University of Oregon, during a graduate study about the health benefits of tomatoes. When they discovered that purple tomatoes contained anthocyanin, which also provides color to blueberries, they decided to cross them with some wild red ones. Eventually, they came up with a black strain.

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The Tower of David – Venezuela’s Skyscraper Slum

The Tower of David is a 45-storey skyscraper in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. From the outside, there’s nothing too special about the tower, but on the inside, it’s hardly what you’d expect. In the past seven years, the abandoned building has been become the tallest slum in the world and home to over 3,000 homeless people in the city. It is greatly feared to be a hotbed of crime, drugs and gangs.

When construction began in the early 1990s, the Tower of David (locally known as Torre de David) was intended to be one of the most prominent structures of the new financial district. But when the developer died in 1994, the project was abandoned. By the year 2007, squatters had completely taken over the incomplete concrete skeleton. This actually isn’t too surprising, given the fact that Caracas is a city in need of almost two million homes.

For now, the residents seem to have made themselves very comfortable inside the tower. They enter the structure through an attached parking garage, and motorcycles are used to transfer residents up the first 10 floors. The first 28 floors are inhabited by families, but there are no elevators in the tower, just a single flight of stairs that they have no choice but to climb.

Tower-of-David

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Chinese Farmer Builds Realistic Space Shuttle Replica on Top of His House

We’ve heard so many stories about the Chinese building temples, mountain villas and even entire farms on their rooftops that we’ve honestly lost count. And now we have a new one for you – a crazy man in Guangdong province who put a replica of a spacecraft on the roof of his home.

63-year-old Meng Ni had dreamed of becoming an astronaut ever since he was a little kid. But growing up in the remote village of Xiapu, Jiexi County, he realized early-on that there was little hope of his dream coming true. So he quickly decided to follow in his family’s footsteps and take up farming. Eventually, his farmlands grew in size and he sold them to the government for a small fortune.

But over the years, Meng never gave up on his dream. After considerable success as a businessman, he decided sell a part of his estate to build a life-size replica of a space shuttle on his roof. Although the structure does not have the NASA logo, it does carry an American flag on the side for an authentic appearance. And it’s possible to enter the craft as well; it offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.

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Best Job Ever: Lucky Guy Getting Paid $93,000 to Have as Much Fun as Possible in Six Months

Most people need to save up before they get to travel and have fun. But for this lucky Californian, things are the other way round – he gets paid to do all that and more. Andrew Smith has been appointed the ‘Chief Funster’ of the State of New South Wales, Australia, a six-month job that will earn him a whopping $93,000. And all he has to do in exchange for the money is travel around NSW and do exciting things every day.

Smith landed the dream job after winning a contest as a part of an event to promote NSW as the ideal travel destination for young people. His challenge is to show travelers how exciting the Australian State can be by collecting no less than 802,000 moments of fun in six months. That’s one for every square kilometer of the State. So on a typical day, Smith can be found skydiving, hanging out with famous skateboarders, abseiling the spectacular mountains, and other such stuff.

Funster-Experiment

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