links for 2010-10-19

  • On the shore of a lake near Diefdijk, in the Netherlands, lies a military bunker that's been sawn in half. It's part of a project to highlight the country's military history, dreamed up by a pair of Dutch design firms — Atelier de Lyon and Rietveld Landscape.

    The bunker was originally part of the "New Dutch Waterline" — a plan concocted in the 1500s and used until 1940 to protect the cities of Muiden, Utrecht, Vreeswijk and Gorinchem by intentionally flooding the terrain around them, turning the Dutch economic heartland into almost an island. Under the water lay ditches, barbed wire, mines and other hazards for advancing troops.

    (tags: netherlands)
  • in their study, Damisch and colleagues challenge the conclusion that superstitious thoughts bear no causal influence on future outcomes. Of course, they were not hypothesizing that the trillions of tiny cracks upon which we tread every day are imbued with some sort of sinister spine-crushing malevolence. Instead, they were interested in the types of superstitions that people think bring them good luck. The lucky hats, the favorite socks, the ritualized warmup routines, the childhood blankies. Can belief in such charms actually have an influence over one’s ability to, say, perform better on a test or in an athletic competition? In other words, is Ray Allen’s performance on the basketball court in some ways dependent on eating chicken and rice at exactly 2:30? Did Jason Giambi’s golden thong actually have a hand in stopping a hitless streak?
  • During World War II, Allied forces readily admitted that German tanks were superior to their own. The big question for Allied forces, then, was how many tanks Germany was producing. Here's how they reverse-engineered serial numbers to find out.
    (tags: WW2)
  • The first Bewick's swans of the season have arrived in the UK, potentially signalling the start of a bitter winter, as temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing in the next few days.

    According to folklore the early arrival of Bewick's swans heralds a particularly cold winter. Eight of the birds arrived in Gloucestershire yesterday, the earliest they have made their annual trip since 2003.

    (tags: weather winter)

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