Wednesday, 28 February 2018


7 foods that are good for your heart
By Robin Shreeves,
Mother Nature Network, 27 February 2018.

About half of the deaths in the United States from cardiovascular disease have one contributing factor in common: a poor diet. We've known for a long time that what we eat affects our heart health, but two new studies look more closely at how food affects cardiovascular health, Dallas News reports.

Researchers determined that food is the biggest contributor to heart health. It's more of a factor in how healthy a heart is than genetics, exercise and smoking. Eating the wrong foods contributes to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes - all risk factors for heart disease.

Foods that are high in saturated fats, sugar and white flour should be eaten in moderation, but it's not just what you don't eat that can contribute to heart health. There are some foods that can be a regular part of your diet that make the heart happy, and here are just a few.

1. Oatmeal

Photo: cgdsro/Pixabay

The high fiber in oatmeal helps to control cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. The fiber reduces low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol. Stay away from the sugar bowl and instead sweeten oatmeal with antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries or raspberries for added heart benefits. Oatmeal is also a filling food, and a bowl for breakfast might stave off the mid-morning munchies and the temptation to reach for a doughnut.

More good news about oatmeal: It doesn't matter what type of oats you choose. Whole oat groats have basically the same nutrition that quick cooking oats have. The difference in the oats will be the cooking time and the texture, not the amount of fiber.

2. Beans

Photo: jan_nijman/Pixabay

The American Heart Association sings the praises of beans as a protein source that's good for your heart. Beans are low in fat, and the fat they contain is not saturated like the fat found in a lot of animal protein. And, like oatmeal, beans are high in fiber and are good for cholesterol. The AHA recommends rinsing canned beans well to get rid of some of the salt since it can contribute to high blood pressure.

More good news about beans: Eating beans instead of beef for protein helps put a dent in greenhouse gas emissions. And you don't have to go eliminate beef completely for these benefits. If everyone switched out a few beef dinners a month with a few bean dinners, there would still be environmental benefits.

3. Blueberries

Photo: Andi_Graf/Pixabay

Beyond cutting back on salt, there's more you can do to keep your blood pressure in a healthy place. You may be able to improve your systolic and diastolic blood pressure by eating blueberries every day. It could take as little as eight weeks of enjoying the sweet berries to do it. A study found that participants who ate blueberries daily lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average 5.1 percent and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 6.3 percent.

More good news about blueberries: They're good for the health of your hair, too. They have a ton of vitamin C, which feeds the hair follicles in your scalp making them strong and less susceptible to breakage.

4. Salmon

Photo: schlauschnacker/Pixabay

The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, as well as other oily fish like sardines, mackerel and tuna, lower the risk of heart problems like arrhythmia and atherosclerosis, according to Health. A 5-ounce portion also has 40 grams of protein.

More good news about salmon: Like blueberries, it's also good for healthy hair.

5. Popcorn

Photo: stevepb/Pixabay

Perhaps an unexpected food on this list, popcorn is high in polyphenols, antioxidants that improve heart health. Of course, how the popcorn is prepared makes a big difference. Movie theater popcorn and the majority of microwave popcorns contain fat, salt and even sugar that aren't heart healthy. Popcorn should be air popped or popped in olive oil to reap all the benefits.

More good news about popcorn: This snack that's also high in fiber and whole grains can be made in the Instant Pot so you don't have to stand over the stove shaking a heavy pan for 10 minutes.

6. Tea

Photo: Myriams-Fotos/Pixabay

All teas - green, white, black and herbal - have heart-healthy properties, says Huffington Post. They have a positive effect on blood vessel function, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies show that it could take as little as one cup of tea a day to get these benefits, too.

More good news about tea: The beverage may also help control high blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes. So, tea helps combat heat disease on more than one front.

7. Pumpkin seeds

Photo: dfespi/Pixabay

The healthy fats in pumpkin seeds help reduce cholesterol. They're also packed with magnesium, which helps to control blood pressure, according to Active Kids. When they're roasted in heart-healthy olive oil, they're even more beneficial. Watch the salt; sprinkle it very lightly on your roasted pumpkin seeds.

More good news about pumpkin seeds: They're plant-based protein bombs and bolster your immune system.

Top image: Blueberries. Credit: Couleur/Pixabay.

[Source: Mother Nature Network. Images added.]

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


10 Artistic Projects Designed to Save the Environment
By Adrian Chirila,
Toptenz, 27 February 2018.

Art, in its many shapes and sizes, is particularly appreciated for its beauty and the emotions it stirs up. What makes any particular piece of art into a masterpiece, however, is the level of honesty that’s been infused into it by its creator. It is then up to us to see and appreciate it. Now, for all that art can give us, some say that it doesn’t really offer any utilitarian use. And here’s where “practical art” comes into play.

This is when an artistic project also serves us, or in this case, the environment, by not just focusing on the aesthetics but instead blending the visual and the utilitarian together. In a world where we can no longer afford to be wasteful, combining two or more purposes into one thing should become the norm, and these artistic projects are doing just that.

10. Oscillating Platforms


Somewhat reminiscent of upside-down ship hauls, Oscillating Platforms are the design of Felix Cheong from Toronto, Canada. What these platforms are able to achieve, beyond looking pretty, is to turn both wind and wave energy into electricity. Being stationary and docked along a pier, these Oscillating Platforms allow for visitors to get on in order to relax and meditate while gazing at the ocean. But while this is happening, the platforms are constantly generating electricity. The mast and sail are there to catch the prevailing winds, gently rocking the platform back and forth, and acting as a sort of oscillating water column.

The energy of the waves, along with the motion generated by the wind and the people walking on the deck, causes the air trapped inside the belly of the platform to be forced through a turbine. When water recedes away, air is drawn back in through the exposed top of the water column. This gentle back and forth motion causes the platform to constantly generate electricity. In a sense, one could compare this alternating movement to a person breathing. Others, on the other hand, could say that these Oscillating Platforms are a prettier alternative to offshore wind farms, let alone a diesel-powered generator.

9. The Skygarden

By taking to heart the old saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” a team of Dutch architects has managed to take a 3,225-foot-long section of abandoned highway in Seoul, South Korea, and turn it into an elevated walkway, completely covered in vegetation. Known as The Skygarden, or Seoullo 7017 in South Korea, this once derelict piece of infrastructure now serves a renewed purpose. Not only does it change the way people move around the city, it does it in such a way so as to give the passersby a sense of serenity while doing so. There are a total of 24,000 individual plants, spanning over 228 species and subspecies, all native to South Korea. They are all placed in different-sized containers and at different heights, so as to offer shade while not actually obstructing the view. “Our design offers a living dictionary of plants which are part of the natural heritage of South Korea and now, existing in the city center,” said Winy Maas, one of the architects. “The idea here is to connect city dwellers with nature, while at the same time also offering the opportunity of experiencing these amazing views to the Historical Seoul Station and Namdaemun Gate.”

The many plants are arranged in family groups, each of which is then further organized in the Korean alphabetical order. This makes the Skygarden, as Winy Mass said, into a living dictionary. This particular arrangement also allows for the walkway to change more drastically throughout the seasons. This means that during fall, the maple tree section is particularly vibrant, while in spring the cherry blossoms take center stage. Along the Skygarden, people can stop and admire the scenery wherever they want, but also have the option of stopping at the many art galleries, tea houses, restaurants, and cafes along the way.

8. Warka Water

Warka Water is the simple yet elegant idea of two Italian designers to bring fresh water to parts of the world that are suffering from a lack of it. Ethiopia is one such place, and many women in this part of the world have to trek for many miles each and every day to collect drinking water. This water is oftentimes dirty and shared with all sorts of animals, domesticated or otherwise. Warka Water works by making use of condensation. It’s nothing more than a 30-foot-tall bamboo tower, lined with a special polyethylene fabric that’s capable of trapping tiny water droplets straight from the atmosphere, and then funneling it into a container at the bottom. Each of these towers is capable of generating roughly 26 gallons of water per day, even in the driest of climates. With several of these towers, a small village would be able to produce all its water needs - literally out of thin air.

Another important fact about these Warka Water pillars is that they only weigh 130 pounds and can be assembled by only four people, without the need of any special tools, knowledge, or scaffolding. Several designs have been created, some of which are wider than others and able to provide shade for those around it. The name Warka comes from an Ethiopian tree which, for the people living there, symbolizes fertility and generosity, and is oftentimes used as a place for social gatherings.

7. The BVI Art Reef

Built to promote the growth of corals, the BVI Art Reef was born thanks in large part to an underwater photographer by the name of Owen Buggy. He came across a derelict WWII Navy fuel barge, known as the Kodiak Queen, and which took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. This barge was scheduled to be scrapped, but after Buggy found out about its historical significance, he decided that it deserved a better fate. He brought his idea to philanthropist Richard Branson, who owns Necker Island, part of the British Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean. The two, alongside several other non-profit groups, decided that it’s better to sink the ship, but not before building an 80-foot mesh kraken on top of it. (Naturally.) After several years of careful planning and scouring the ocean floor for the perfect location, the project was finally ready.

The old ship, as well as the huge kraken that was sits on top as if it was the one that actually took the barge down to the bottom of the sea, will be the foundation on which a new coral reef will form, attracting, in turn, the entire underwater ecosystem that goes with it. The BVI Art Reef is open to all divers, marine scientists, and local students from the British Virgin Islands. The BVI Art Reef gives us a unique platform to capture people’s attention on the importance of addressing ocean conservation and in particular, combat climate change, protect our coral reefs, and rehabilitate vulnerable marine species,” said Branson in an interview. “This is an incredible opportunity to create one of the most meaningful dive sites in the world.”

6. Beyond the Wave


Beyond the Wave is an artistic concept aimed particularly at Refshaleøen, an old industrial site, part of the harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark. When the shipyard went bankrupt back in 1996, the area became home to many creative entrepreneurs, small craftsmen, and flea markets. It also acts as a regular venue for various social events and music festivals. Now, even though Beyond the Wave could work in other places, Refshaleøen was initially chosen because of one key factor - the wind. The area is subject to an almost constant breeze coming in from the North Sea, making this place perfect for what this project has to offer. The idea is to make use of as many 50 to 80-foot-tall flexible piezoelectric poles as possible. These move in the wind and generate electricity through pressure.

Attached to these poles will be a series of 5-foot-wide ribbons that will flow in the breeze, creating the waves the project references in its name. These ribbons, too, have the power to generate electricity, since they’re made out of a transparent organic solar material. Together, the poles and the ribbons will act as a sort of fluid roof over the entire neighborhood. The electricity they generate will be used partially to illuminate the installation, as well as to heal the heavily polluted soil beneath. It will be able to achieve this via a process known as electro osmosis. This technique will be able to separate pollutants, such as heavy metals, from the other matter found in the ground.

5. The Exhale Chandelier

Chandeliers are almost always the centerpiece of every palace around the world. And even though palace life is not as it used to be, the chandelier has made a comeback. Here’s one that not only lights up the room, but also cleans up the air by absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen.  So, how does it work? As you can clearly see, the Exhale Chandelier, as it’s called, is green. And it’s green because it’s filled with algae. Julian Melchiorri is not only a designer, but also a leading biochemical technology researcher. Among various other projects, he was increasingly interested in how his research can be more easily applied to everyday life. And with this particular object, we could say that he achieved that goal.

The chandelier has a metal frame that’s entirely handmade, and which supports 70 different-sized leaf modules, displayed in a radial array. These can be rearranged to form many other shapes, giving it a wider versatility than the one presented. With it, Melchiorri also tried to mimic the symbiotic relationship found in nature, where one being’s waste is something else’s valuable resource. In this case, these algae offer us their exhaled oxygen in exchange for our exhaled CO2.

4. The Clear Orb


The Clear Orb is a conceptual design presented at the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative Competition, with the purpose of aiding California with an annual influx of about 500,000 gallons of fresh water. Designed to be accessible from the Santa Monica Pier via the beach boardwalk, the Clear Orb will actually be located several hundred feet offshore. Seen from a distance, the huge sphere would look like it’s hovering just above the waterline. But once close, you’ll see that there’s actually a way to get there. Known as the “Contemplation Walkway,” the 1,000-foot-long path gradually descends to the point where you’d be below sea level.

The inner walls of the walkway will be covered in a list of all extinct animals, in an attempt at getting the visitors to be more considerate about their fellow inhabitants. The outer walls, on the other hand, will be able to harness the power generated by the waves and turn it into electricity. The sphere itself is 130 feet in diameter, and with the help of some solar contractors located on top, it’s able to pump seawater inside. Once there, it evaporates and condenses, thus turning into fresh, drinkable water. It’s then released through the bottom, cascading over the Orb’s supporting structure.

3. The Smog Free Tower

Beginning with a Kickstarter campaign, the Smog Free Tower is the brainchild of Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde. Standing at 23 feet, the tower is able to purify over a million cubic feet of air per hour, and runs on renewable wind energy. It first appeared in Rotterdam and then made a tour around China. And because of its minimalistic design, the Smog Free Tower is able to blend perfectly with an urban landscape. What it does best is to collect two certain types of pollutants, PM2.5 and PM10. This particle matter (PM) is a mixture of liquids and solids that come together to form tiny droplets that float in the air.

These can get into the lungs, causing all sorts of serious health problems. These microscopic particles are also the main cause for smog. The Smog Free Tower, however, is able to catch 75% of these. To make things even more interesting, the tower is also able to compress these particles and create pieces of jewelry from it. Roughly 35,000 cubic feet of filtered air is needed to produce one ring that can be then purchased by a passersby.

2. The Spiraling Treetop Walkway

Designed by EFFEKT architecture studio, the Spiraling Treetop Walkway will be one of Denmark’s newest acquisitions in 2018. The 130-foot-tall spiraling structure is basically an observation tower that will allow its visitors to observe a forest from a completely different perspective. It will start from the ground and will go all the way up, offering a more in-depth view at all the levels of the forest. Once at the very top, people will be presented with a 360 degree view that extends all the way out to sea. Being shaped, more or less, like an hourglass instead of a cylinder, it gives the walkway a more slender look overall, as well as greater stability and a larger observation deck at the top.

The reason behind its construction and the effects it can have the environment are not as straightforward as the other entries on this list. What it does, however, is to bring people back in contact with nature. While this might seem like something that’s not particularly useful in the greater scheme of things, the fact that we’re so disconnected with nature is the main reason why we’re so apathetic when it comes to matters such as deforestation, animal extinction, and the shifting climate.

1. Trash Animals

Now, for the last entry on this list, we’ve actually chosen to go with some street art. Designed and put together by Bordalo Segundo, these amazing street murals are scattered throughout his hometown of Lisbon, Portugal, and are collectively known as Trash Animals. The name was chosen because these giant murals are actually made out of trash Bordalo found on the streets of Lisbon. In Portugal, street art is not only allowed, but actually encouraged by the authorities.

Street art, as one local official puts it, is a means for the ordinary citizen to experience art without actually having to go to a museum or gallery to do so. Children, especially those living in inner-city neighborhoods, can become inspired by simply walking down the street. So, in other words, Bordalo Segundo’s Trash Animals not only help the citizens of Lisbon to get more in contact with art, but also raise awareness of the effects of climate change. And let’s not forget the fact that actual trash was used to make these murals - trash that would have otherwise made its way either at the dump or in the ocean.

Top image credit: qimono/Pixabay.

[Source: Toptenz.]

Monday, 26 February 2018


Top 10 Nonexistent Islands That Appeared On Maps
By Oliver Taylor,
Listverse, 26 February 2018.

There are certain islands that have been “discovered” and added to maps before being found to be nonexistent. Yet, their discoverers often claim to have sighted them, and some even said they landed on them. Expeditions sent to the supposed locations of these islands often ended up finding the open ocean and nothing else, although some claimed to have found the islands.

We have complied ten such islands. This list does not contain islands deliberately added to maps to catch plagiarists, similar to trap streets.[1] All the islands were actually reported to have been spotted, though some were made up. However, they all appeared on maps.

10. Sandy Island

Photo credit: Google/BBC News

Sandy Island was only found not to exist in 2012. Before then, it appeared on several maps, including Google Earth, where it was positioned between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia in the Pacific. The island was first recorded by the British whaling ship Velocity in 1876 and first appeared on a British map in 1908.

Several expeditions failed to find the island, and it was removed from some maps in the 1970s. However, it remained on other maps. Curiously enough, the island does not appear on French maps, which means that the French either knew about its nonexistence or were ignorant of its supposed existence. If the island really existed, it would have belonged to France, since it was in French waters.

The non-existence of the island was proven by scientists from the University of Sydney, who decided to visually confirm its existence after they realized their charts showed the supposed location of the island to be 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) deep. It is believed that the crew of the Velocity saw a pumice raft, which they mistook for an island. Pumice rafts are floating rocks formed by volcanic activity. They are known to float past the area where Sandy Island was supposedly located.[2]

9. Saint Brendan’s Island

Photo credit: Guillaume Delisle

If ancient maps were correct, Saint Brendan’s Island (or Isle) is supposed to lie west of the Canary Islands and south of the Azores in the North Atlantic. The island is named after Saint Brendan, an Irish monk who claimed to have found it in AD 512. Saint Brendan didn’t just find the island. He and 14 monks landed on it and even lived there for two weeks.

A monk called Barino even described the island, stating it was covered with mountains, forests, birds, and flowers. Other expeditions searched for the island to no avail, and by the 13th century, it was evident that it did not exist. Marcus Martinez, a Spanish historian, even described it as “the lost island discovered by St. Brendan but nobody has found it since.”

However, another sailor claimed to have found it in the 1400s but couldn’t land because of bad weather. This renewed interest in the island, and the king of Portugal sent out some ships, but they never returned. Saint Brendan’s Island continued appearing on maps, and ships continued looking for it until the 18th century, when everyone finally agreed that it didn’t exist.

According to a website called Journal of the Bizarre, Saint Brendan’s Island really existed. However, it has been submerged and is now under the ocean. There might be some truth to this, as an underwater mountain called the Great Meteor Seamount lies under the sea where the island is supposed to be.[3]

8. Hy-Brasil

Photo credit: Ocultoreveladoaverdade

Hy-Brasil is a nonexistent island said to be about 320 kilometers (200 mi) off the western coast of Ireland. Some maps even represented it as two islands, although they shared the same name. The island first appeared on maps in 1325 and appeared in maps made until the 1800s, when its supposed existence was declared a hoax. The island also has its fair share of myths.

Europeans believed it contained an advanced civilization, while the Irish said it was obscured by a heavy mist and was only visible once every seven years. The name, shape, and location of the island frequently changed on maps, even though it remained in the same region. England sent three expeditions between 1480 and 1481, but none found the island. However, in 1497, a Spanish diplomat stated that one of the English expeditions found Hy-Brasil.

In 1674, a Scottish sea captain named John Nisbet claimed to have spotted the island as he sailed from France to Ireland. He claimed four of his man landed on it and remained there for a whole day. The veracity of Nisbet’s claims remains in doubt, for he further claimed that the island was inhabited by an old man who gave them gold and silver and a magician who lived in a castle.

Captain Alexander Johnson launched a follow-up expedition and also claimed to have landed on the island, although he didn’t mention whether the old man gave him gold. In 1872, Robert O’Flaherty and T.J. Westropp also claimed to have sighted Hy-Brasil. Westropp even claimed he visited it thrice, including one occasion when he took his family along. He claimed they saw the island appear and disappear.[4]

7. Frisland

Photo credit: Nicolo Zeno

In 1558, Nicolo Zeno from Venice claimed that two of his ancestors, Antonio and Nicolo, discovered an island called Frisland in the 1380s. Zeno claimed the island was south of Iceland, with Norway to its east and Estotiland in the west. Estotiland itself would have been either Newfoundland or Labrador in North America. If that was so, it means Zeno’s ancestors reached America before Columbus.

It is believed that Zeno faked the existence of Frisland because he wanted to be popular. And the Venetians swallowed his lies hook, line, and sinker because they wanted their navy to remain relevant, as it was being thrown into obscurity by the prominence of the navies of Spain, France, and England.

Frisland appeared on several maps until it was declared to be a hoax in the 19th century, but not before several sailors claimed to have sighted it. In 1576, Englishman Martin Frobisher mistook Greenland for Frisland, and John Dee even claimed it for England in 1580.[5] Then, in 1989, Giorgio Padoan, a philologist (who studies historical writings), claimed Zeno was telling the truth and that the Italians reached the New World before Columbus.

6. Buss Island

Photo credit: John Seller

Buss Island is a non-existent island that was supposedly located between Ireland and the nonexistent Frisland. It was discovered by Martin Frobisher, who, as we already mentioned, mistook Greenland for Frisland. In 1578, he probably mistook another island for an undiscovered island, which he named Buss Island.

Captain Thomas Shepard claimed to have visited and mapped Buss Island in 1671, causing England to send an expedition. The expedition failed to find the island. More expeditions were sent to find the fabled Buss Island, but none succeeded in finding it, even though ships that weren’t looking for it always claimed to have found it.

In 1776, it was reported that the location of the supposed Buss Island was shallow, which made some believe it had sunk. It was even renamed the Sunken Land of Buss. However, an expedition by John Ross in 1818 revealed that the alleged location of the island was not shallow. Buss Island continued to appear on maps until it was expunged in the 19th century.[6]

5. Crocker Land

Photo credit: Scout

Like Frisland, Crocker Land is another island that was completely made up. This time, it was by Robert Peary, who was trying to raise funds for an expedition to the Arctic. In 1907, Peary claimed to have discovered a new island around Greenland, 209 kilometers (130 mi) northwest of Cape Thomas Hubbard in Northern Canada, during an earlier expedition in 1906.

He named the island Crocker Land, after George Crocker, who had co-sponsored his 1906 expedition to the tune of US$50,000. Peary wanted another US$50,000 from Crocker, which was what the fake island was all about. Peary even wrote a book titled Nearest the Pole, in which he talked about his fictitious island. Everyone believed him, and several explorers even started looking for the island.[7]

Crocker Land remained elusive, which led some to call it “the Lost Atlantis of the North.” However, it appeared on Arctic maps created between 1910 and 1913. This new land, which was even called a continent in some quarters, generated widespread interest, especially in the United States, until it was exposed as a creation of Peary.

4. Dougherty Island

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Some call it Dougherty’s Island, but it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t exist. Dougherty Island was named after Captain Daniel Dougherty, who “discovered” it far south in the Pacific Ocean during a trip from New Zealand to Canada in 1841. Several other sailors also confirmed its existence, but one Captain Scott couldn’t find it when he passed by its supposed location in 1904.

On August 11, 1931, The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia reported that a joint British, Australian, and New Zealand expedition sailing to Antarctica passed by the supposed location of Doherty’s island and couldn’t find it.

The details of the incident were noted by the commanding officer of the ship, Captain Mackenzie, who stated that the vessel passed directly above where the island was said to be. The weather was clear, and there was no island within a 19-kilometer (12 mi) radius, so it couldn’t have been somewhere else. Dougherty Island was removed from British maps in 1937.[8]

3. Emerald Island


In 1821, Captain Nockells spotted an island south of Macquarie Island and close to Antarctica. He named it after his ship, the Emerald. Emerald Island seemed to have a preference for determining whoever sees it, since it supposedly appears and disappears at will. Some expeditions claimed to have sighted the island, while others reported that they couldn’t find it. Some even say it moves around, which is why people cannot see it at its supposed location. Others say the island really existed but has been submerged due to seismic activity.

Those who claim to have seen the island cannot agree on what it looks like. Some say it is mountainous with steep cliffs, while others say it is hilly with green forests. In 1890, one captain even said it was small and full of rocks with no suitable place to land.

In 1840, two ships commanded by Commodore Wilks of the United States passed over the supposed location of Emerald Island and found nothing. Captain Soule also passed over the alleged area of island in 1877 and found nothing. Shackleton and Amundsen passed by where the island should have been in 1909 and 1910 and also found nothing.

However, two interesting incidents occurred around the claimed location of the island in 1894 and 1949. In 1894, a Norwegian expedition to the South Pole spotted what they thought was the island. However, it ended up being an iceberg. HMNZS Pukaki of the Royal New Zealand Navy also spotted the island in April 1949. Getting closer, the crew discovered that the supposed island was actually a group of clouds that appeared to be on the water.[9]

2. Isle Of Demons

Photo credit:

In 1542, Jean-Francois de Roberval, the lieutenant-general of New France (now Canada) left the shores of France for New France with three ships. With him was his cousin, Marguerite de la Rocque, who he marooned with her lover and her maid on the Isle of Demons, which was supposedly located on Quirpon Island in today’s Newfoundland. Legend had it that the Isle of Demons was filled with demons and beasts that attacked anyone that dared step foot on its shores.

Why Roberval marooned his cousin remains unknown. Some say he hated the relationship between her and her lover, while others say he wanted to take over her properties. One account also states that Roberval actually marooned Rocque’s lover, and Rocque opted to join him, although another version states that it was Rocque who was marooned, and her lover decided to join her. There is no account of the maid willingly joining.

The maid and Rocque’s lover died on the island, but Rocque survived and even birthed a baby. The baby later died, leaving her alone on the island until she was rescued by some fishermen in 1544. The veracity of this story remains in doubt, since the Isle of Demons was removed from maps in the mid-17th century because it was determined not to exist.[10]

1. Saxemberg Island


Saxemberg Island was discovered by John Lindesz Lindeman in 1670. According to Lindeman, the island, which is supposedly located in the Southern Atlantic, is flat with a mountain in its center. Several follow-up expeditions claimed to have spotted the island, even though Australian navigator Mathew Flinders carefully searched for it in 1801 and found nothing.

In 1804, Captain Galloway claimed to have spotted the island and even its central mountain. Captain Head corroborated his claims in 1816. Other sailors also said they saw the island, and some even claimed to have landed on it.

One Major General Alexander Beatson even made a detailed report of the flora of the island in 1816. He furthered his theory by claiming that Saxemberg Island, along with the islands of Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, and Gough (which all exist) were formed from the same continent. Saxemberg Island itself continued appearing on maps until it was agreed to be nonexistent in the 19th century.[11]

Top image: Thermal image of the alleged location of "Sandy Island." Credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]

Friday, 23 February 2018


Can you start a sentence with “But” or “And,” or end a sentence with a preposition? Is it acceptable to split infinitives, or to write in first person? Uncover all that and more writing myths, in this infographic by Grammar Check.

Top image credit: Free-Photos/Pixabay.

[Source: Grammar Check.]

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


7 strange vehicles to get you from A to B
By Nick Lavars,
New Atlas, 19 February 2018.

The rise of the internet and sites like Kickstarter has facilitated a spread of ideas like never before - some fun, some world-changing and a whole lot that can only be described as weird. The realm of transport is a particularly good place to see oddball creations in action, and while the seven presented here might not be the most effective in getting you where you need to go, they would certainly turn some heads along the way.

1. Blizwheel ESkates

Credit: Blizwheel/Facebook

Why bother with regular old roller skates when you can effortlessly glide along on electric versions? Better yet, a pair that can folded flat so you can stow them away in a drawer when you get to the office? From the outside, the Blizwheel ESkates look like a set of dinner plates strapped to your ankles, but on the inside are some nifty mechanics, including a motorized wheel with solid rubber treads, a fold-out platform for your feet and another set of stability wheels to even it all out.

With a top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) and a range of 15 miles (24 km) per charge, these electric roller skates can be controlled via a finger-worn device that triggers acceleration as the user bends the digit and deceleration when they straighten it out. At US$569 a pop, they fell short of their Kickstarter goal, but the success of rivals like the RocketSkates tells us we haven't seen the last of this kind of design.

2. A single, spinning ball

Credit: Olaf Winkler/YouTube

The more you reduce the amount of wheels on a scooter, the more balancing skill you ask of your rider. To offset this, creators have come up with various self-balancing mechanisms to prevent meetings with the pavement, but none quite like the handiwork of German electrical engineer Olaf Winkler.

His Üo scooter does away with wheels entirely in favor of a single rubber ball, which keeps the rider on the move thanks to a set of motorized omni wheels that send it spinning in the desired direction. Acceleration, braking and turns can initiated by leaning, and a small joystick on top of a telescoping stick can be used to pivot. Like the Blizwheel ESkates, the Üo failed to meet its funding goal on Kickstarter, although this approach is one we're not all that confident of seeing again.

3. Extreme parenting

Credit: Quinny

Back in 2012, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk caused quite a stir by taking his then four-year-old, helmet-less daughter for a spin around his backyard bowl. It is unclear whether the team at Quinny drew inspiration from The Birdman's antics, but they probably weren't among his critics, having since launched a stroller that doubles as a skateboard to bring some extra adrenaline to your afternoon amble.

During its development, the team received its fair share of feedback from potential customers about the safety of the Longboardstroller. They responded with "multiple safety innovations," including a padded bumper bar and a handbrake. That might still not be enough for some, but those interested in giving it a whirl can order a Longboardstroller through Quinny's website for US$745 (European customers only).

4. Scooters go tubular

Credit: Video screenshot Kickstarter

Folding electric scooters have proven particularly fertile ground for innovative ideas, and the GoTube is certainly one of the smoother solutions we've come across. It can have you zipping across campus at up to 10 mph (16 km/h) one minute, and then strolling between classes with what looks like a tube of architectural blueprints the next.

With a range of 7.5 mi (12 km) and an ability to tackle inclines of 10 degrees, the GoTube obliterated its Kickstarter goal after launching in December 2016, although a cursory glance at the comments there suggests that there is quite a bit of discontent among backers. So buyer beware.

5. Semi-prone cycling


The so-called Bird of Prey bike takes a form typically limited to one-off rides for speed record attempts and tries to make it more appealing to the mainstream cyclist. Its creators bill a few advantages over the traditional upright cycling position, including better aerodynamics, better handling and even better safety.

"On a standard bicycle if you put on the brakes in a panic stop you will fly over the handle bars face first," Aldrige told us when it launched back in 2015. "In a panic stop on a Bird of Prey Bicycle it is impossible to go over the handle bars... The rider's body mass is low, which is the reason it is impossible."

If you're convinced and these features are ticking your boxes, the Bird of Prey can be ordered through the website for the rather serious sum of US$4,800.

6. Step onto this laptop-sized panel and glide away

Credit: Cocoa Motors/YouTube

The WalkCar from Japan's Cocoa Motors is basically a small platform that you stand on and shift your weight to start moving along, thanks to four tiny wheels underneath, an electric motor and battery. Each charge is claimed to provide an hour of use, and offers a top speed of 16 km (10 mph).

When announced in 2015, the WalkCar seemed like another audacious transport concept that would never see the commercial light of day. But in 2016 Cocoa Motors opened up preorders for the vehicle. As it stands, the preorder button is still the closest thing you'll find to a purchase option, but if you've got some patience and US$1,280 to spare, then you can take your place in the line.

7. A brush with danger?

Credit: Solowheel Global/YouTube

Solowheel first arrived on the scene in 2011 with an electric unicycle that uses a self-balancing gyro system to keep riders upright. Fast-forward to 2018 and the company is turning to a decidedly low-tech solution for wonky first-timers, deploying large brushes on either side of the wheel exactly where you might find training wheels on a bicycle.

These vertical bristled matrices - ok, brushes - are intended to make hopping aboard a Solowheel less intimidating. Beyond adding to the vehicle's stability, the brushes also turn riders into inadvertent street sweepers, and any effort to clean up city sidewalks deserves a high-five from us. Currently on Kickstarter, Solowheel owners can add a stabilizing brush to their setup for an early pledge of US$69, with shipping slated for May 2018.

More images at the gallery.

Top image: Bird of Prey 2015 Bicycle. Credit: Bird of Prey Bicycle.

[Source: New Atlas.]