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Monolith of bodies

When the City of Oslo demolished Gustav Vigeland’s house, they offered him a new one. In exchange, he promised all of his future artwork to the city. For the next twenty years he created 212 remarkable sculptures.

Miracle star

In 1596, German astronomer David Fabricius noticed a star that seemed to appear, disappear, and then reappear months later. It was unlike anything seen before: not a supernova, not a pulsar, but something new – Mira, the miracle star.

Ulcer broth

Helicobacter pylori

Up until the 1980s, scientific consensus held that stomach ulcers were caused by stress and spicy food. Australian scientist Barry Marshall thought differently, and to test his theory he drank a cup of bacteria.

False Cape Horn

False Cape Horn

Sailing around the end of South America, you steer around what you think is Cape Horn. But instead of open ocean there’s a surprise island dead ahead. You’re about to be shipwrecked thanks to the False Cape Horn.

Rocket cat

In the early 17th century, the German artillery master Franz Helm suggested attaching a bomb to the back of a cat, in the hope that it would run into a fortified town and set it on fire. This sounds like a terrible idea.

Decade potato


NASA famously freeze-dried ice cream so that astronauts could enjoy it in space. But this method of food preparation actually dates back hundreds of years: the South American chuño, or freeze-dried potato, remains edible for decades.

Cowboy college

Deep Springs

102 years ago, a tiny junior college was founded in Deep Springs Valley in eastern California. Despite having under 30 students at a time, alumni have received three MacArthur “genius grants,” two Pulitzer Prizes, and an Emmy award.