Scientists Baffled by Man Who Can Change His Pupil Size on Command

A 23-year-old student in Germany can reportedly shrink and enlarge his pupils on command, a feat previously thought to be physically impossible.

The dilation and constriction of the pupil were believed to be completely automated processes triggered by various factors, like entering a bright or dark environment, but a recent case study suggests that isn’t always the case. A young student in Germany is believed to be able to voluntarily control the tiny muscles that adjust the size of the pupil, a feat once thought to be impossible. The authors point out that while some people can alter their pupil size via “indirect methods”, this person is instead able to directly control the sphincter muscle in his eyes to adjust the size of his pupils.

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China’s Anti-Desertification Poster Family Has Been Fighting the Gobi Desert for 22 Years

Wang Tianchang and his family moved into the Gobi Desert 22 years ago, at a time when most people were running away from the encroaching wasteland. The Wangs have been fighting the desert ever since, becoming a symbol of China’s anti-desertification campaign.

Desertification is one of China’s most serious environmental problems. The great Gobi Desert at stretching along the border with Mongolia has so far eaten away about 650 million acres of the country’s land and is showing no signs of slowing down. As it moves ever deeper into the heart of China, massive sandstorms blow sand into the capital Beijing and other major cities, putting millions of lives at risk. The Great Green Wall, a reforestation program designed to create a 2,800-mile tree barrier at the edge of the advancing desert has had limited success so far, but the Chinese media machine focuses less on the shortcomings and more on the successes, using everyday heroes like Wang Tianchang and his family.

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Marathon Runner Learns to Live Without Stomach, Colon and Gallbladder

36-year-old Juan Dual likes to joke that he is empty inside, but in his case the phrase has a literal meaning. Over the years, he has had his stomach, colon, rectum and gallbladder removed, but he has learned to live without them.

Juan’s sad but inspiring story began when he was only 13-years-old. It was then that he was diagnosed with a terrible hereditary condition called familial multiple polyposis, which left him with a 99.8% chance of developing cancer of the digestive system. His grandmother and an uncle of hers died of colon adenocarcinoma, and his father had undergone surgery of the bowels to avoid succumbing to the same fate. At age 19, right after finishing high-school, Juan underwent a tough operation to have his colon and rectum removed. Sadly, it was only the beginning…

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7ft 5in-Tall, 14-Year-Old Chinese Girl Hailed as “New Yao Ming”

Zhang Ziyu, a 14-year-old basketball player from Shandong, China, has been getting a lot of attention because of her unusual height, 7ft 5in (2.26m), and getting compared to Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming.

In photos and videos that have been doing the rounds online for the past week, Zhang Ziyu can be seen towering over both teammates and opponents during an under-15s tournament in Jingzhou, where she just happened to score 42 points in a game, as well as 25 rebounds and six blocks. Chinese media reported that Zhang’s parents were both professional basketball players, but still, her stature is surprising, especially considering her age.  She is already  taller than both her father (6ft 11in/2.13m) and her mother (6ft 6in/1.98m).

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Buddhist Monk Has Saved Tens of Thousands of Stray Dogs in the Last 27 Years

A Buddhist monk in Shanghai, China, has dedicated more than half of his life to caring for stray dogs, rescuing and taking care of tens of thousands of them since 1994.

53-year-old Zhixiang is the head monk of the Bao’en Temple in Shanghai, but nowadays his disciples take care of most of the day-to-day business, as he spends all his time taking care of the rescued animals. There are currently around 8,000 dogs, not to mention hundreds of cats, as well as chickens, geese and peacocks in Zhixiang’s care, but he’s been rescuing abandoned and stray animals since 1994, so he is used to it. Over the years, he has learned to administer medicine and give the animals shots, as taking them all to a vet would be too costly, and only recently started taking donations from other animal lovers, as a ways to make ends meet.

Zhixiang’s mission as a rescuer of stray animals began in 1994. He was riding in a car on the highway when he witnessed a cat being hit by another vehicle. It wasn’t dead, but it was left severely injured, struggling to crawl to the side of the road with only two paws. It’s an image that the Buddhist monk hates to remember and the one that pushed him to start rescuing strays.

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Meet Takimika, Japan’s 90-Year-Old Fitness Instructor

Most 90-year-olds can barely walk, let alone exercise, but 90-year-old Takishima Mika not only conducts daily fitness regimens religiously, but she actually works as a fitness instructor at a gym.

For most of us, “age is just a number” is just a tired cliché, but people like Takishima Mika, aka “Takimika”, are proof that it doesn’t have to be. The sprightly pensioner, who turned 90 on on January 15, is more active than most 20-year-olds and probably fitter too. She is Japan’s oldest fitness instructor and has become somewhat of a minor celebrity in the Asian country, both because of her excellent physical shape, and her positive attitude and infectious smile. But Takimika wasn’t always like that. In fact, her transformation began late in life, when she was already in her 60s.

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The Desert Healer – Man Spends Two Decades Creating Green Oasis in Middle of Cold Desert

Anand Dhawaj Negi, a retired bureaucrat turned desert farmer, spent over two decades of his life turning the cold wastes of northern India’s Himachal Pradesh into a vibrant oasis.

In 1977, the Indian Government kickstarted an ambitious program to mitigate the adverse effects of desertification in the Asian country’s cold and hot deserts. A. D. Negi  worked in the financial department in charge of the Desert Development Program and saw millions of dollars go down the drain with no real results to show for it. Whenever he asked scientists and officials involved in the program why there was no real progress, the answer would always be that they lacked the technology to develop any type of sustainable crops in the inhospitable environment that is the desert. A farmer’s son himself, Negi grew tired of excuses and took a leave of absence in 1999 to take a crack at it himself. By 2003, he had already permanently retired from his job to concentrate all of his energy on his growing desert oasis.

A native of Sunam village in Kinnaur, Negi took it upon himself to turn a barren patch of land in the cold desert of Himachal Pradesh into a green oasis just to show everyone, particularly the struggling farmers in the area that it could be done. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, but the former bureaucrat knew what he was getting into and had the ambition and patience to see it through.

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70-Year-Old Pensioner Has Completed Over 100 Marathons in the Last 20 Years

A 70-year-old Chinese woman has been dubbed “Super Grannie” after it was revealed that she is an avid runner, with over 100 marathons completed in the last two decades.

Most people choose to take it easy after they retire, but Liaoning-based Wang Lang is definitely not one of them. She only started running at the age of 50, as a way to keep in shape, but soon realized it was her passion. She ran her first marathon in 2004 and hasn’t stopped since, racking over 100 completed marathons under her belt. From 2005 to 2017 she completed the annual Beijing Marathon thirteen times, and this year she set a new record, becoming the oldest person to ever complete the 168-kilometer Liaoning marathon, within some 40 hours.

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Rock Climbing Master Scales Steep Cliffs Without Using His Hands

Johnny Dawes, one of the influential rock climbers in history, and a true living legend in certain circles, has been getting a lot of attention in recent years for his no-handed climbing feats.

Dawes, aka the Stone Monkey, the Leaping Boy, the Dawes, has always been famous for his dynamic rock climbing style and bold ascents, but his most recent endeavors are probably the most impressive, at least to the untrained eye. Now in his late 50s, the English rock climber has dedicated himself to the esoteric discipline known as no-handed climbing, which as the name suggests, is all about climbing steep rock faces without using your hands. It sounds crazy, but it looks even more so.

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Backwards Man – Unique Superpower Allows Man to Speak Backwards

John Sevier Austin, a video editor from North Carolina, has a very unusual superpower – his brain allows him to speak and sing backwards, and is fluent in the unique “language”.

Ever since he was a young boy, Austin knew that he was a bit different than most children his age. Try as he might, he never fit in with the other kids, he could never be on the same page with them, and that really messed with his head growing up. It wasn’t until a few years ago that he found out he had Asperger’s syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder on the autism spectrum, which explained both his social awkwardness and his strange superpower – the ability to speak and sing backwards.

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Woman Spends Over $150,000 on Two Footbridges to Make Sure Her Son Gets to School Safely

A loving mother in China’s Henan province spent more than a million yuan ($154,000) building two metal footbridges in front of her son’s school, to make sure he and the other kids cross the road safely.

The woman, identified only by her surname, Meng, recently told Henan Television Station that the road outside her son’s school was always congested when parents dropped off or picked up their kids, and with no traffic lights installed in the proximity, crossing the road was a dangerous affair for both students and teachers. Another reason why she spent money out of her own pocket to build the footbridges over the road was that the school was located on lower ground and the puddles that constantly formed on the road caused her son to always come home with his feet soaking wet.

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India’s ‘Mango Man’ Creates Mango Tree That Produces 300 Different Varieties

Haji Kalimullah Khan, aka Mango Man, is a world renowned horticulturist and fruit breeder known for his accomplishments in breeding mangoes, and especially for his crowning achievement, a mango tree that produces 300 different varieties.

When Haji Kalimullah Khan dropped out of school at the age of 15 to make growing and breeding mangoes his life’s work, his family, like most farmers in Malihabad, Northern India, was growing only two varieties of the delicious tropical fruit. But one day, after seeing a rose plant that produced flowers of different colors in a friend’s flower garden, Khan learned about plant crossbreeding, and started wondering if the same principles didn’t apply to fruit trees. This was the beginning of a career that would eventually see him crowned as one of the world’s leading horticulturists and fruit breeders, and earn him the affectionate nickname “Mango Man”.

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91-Year-Old Active Police Officer Has No Plans to Retire Anytime Soon

At 91 years of age, LC “Buckshot” Smith may just be the world’s oldest serving police officer, but he says he has no plans to retire just yet.

Buckshot doesn’t move around as fast as he used to, but that hasn’t been stopping him from patrolling the street of his home town, Camden, in Arkansas, four days a week. After serving for 46 years as a deputy, he retired, but he couldn’t stay away from the job for more than five months. He doesn’t hunt, doesn’t fish, all he ever enjoyed doing was being a police officer, so he went back to work in his 80s, as a rookie cop. He loves serving his community and only plans to retire for good “when the good Lord tells him to”.

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Eco-Warrior Spends 24 Years Turning Barren Hills Into Lush Green Forest

Once called a madman and laughed at by members of his community, an Indonesian man is now being hailed as a hero after spending a quarter of a century covering 250 hectares of barren hillsides around his home with banyan and ficus trees.

The story of Sadiman, the Indonesian man who singlehandedly brought a forest back to life, began in the early 1990s, but the problem he helped fix can be traced back to the 1960s. It was then that great forest fires ravaged the forests on the southern slope of Lawu Mountain, in Central Java, turning hundreds of hectares state-owned pine forest to ash and leaving barren hills in their place. For decades dozens of villages in the Regency of Wonogiri battled draughts and famine, until an unlikely hero took it upon himself to bring back the forest and create a better life for him and his community.

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Indian Man Turns Barren Land Into 10,000-Tree Orchard

An Indian man who started planting trees in a barren, sand-filled field 15 years ago is now being praised for transforming the wasteland into a 10,000-tree orchard.

Satyendra Gautam Manjhi, a simple man from the small village of Imaliyachak, in the Indian state of Bihar, claims he was inspired to start planting trees after being visited by Dashrath Manjhi, known as “the man who moved a mountain“. The story of how he spent over 20 years chiseling away at a mountain to make a road to his village has inspired a generation, including the protagonist of this story. Satyendrav says that Dashrath himself told him to start planting an orchard, and that’s exactly what he did.

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