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How to Get Rid of Your Exotic Pet, No Questions Asked
Scenes from an exotic pet amnesty in Florida. (All photos: Oliver Lee)

Hypothetical question: If you acquire a baby Burmese python and realize, too late, that it can grow up to 20 feet in length and can’t be contained by an aquarium, what do you do?

The answer, for Floridians at least, is Exotic Pet Amnesty Day.

This is the first event in Kissimmee, about a half hour’s drive south of Orlando; there are a number of tents set up on a grassy field outside the convention center in Osceola Heritage Park. The main tent, where the owners go to surrender their pets, is roped off with yellow caution tape and populated with veterinarians and volunteers for the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which hosts the event.

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Found: The Most Luminous Galaxy Ever Seen
An artist's depiction of what the galaxy might look like (Image: NASA)

The light from the galaxy WISE J224607.57-052635.0 traveled 12.5 billion light years before us humans detected it. But when scientists saw it, they determined that it was the most luminous galaxy even found. The galaxy produces "the light of more than 300 trillion suns," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reports—the product of "a very intense phase of galaxy evolution," in which the supermassive black hole at the center grew and grew.

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Minnesota: Land Of 10,000 Dessert Salads Ingredients for Watergate Salad (Photo:Mark Pellegrini/Wiki Commons CC BY-SA 1.0) 

About 10 years ago, Emily Weiss' sister began making a very special salad that she learned from her in-laws. "It consists of Cool Whip, chopped Granny Smith apples, and chopped up mini Snickers bars," says Weiss, a food critic for Minneapolis City Pages and a native Minnesotan. "It is the very definition of a guilty pleasure. I hate how much I like it."

Snickers salad is not a creation of just one family, but a Minnesota standard, just one of a surprisingly large variety of "dessert salads" which maintain their place in the pantheon of Minnesota cuisine. These are desserts not often seen in the rest of the country, desserts consisting of various sweet things, typically pre-made or shelf-stable items like packaged cookies or canned fruit, suspended in a sweet housing of pudding, Cool Whip, whipped cream, Jell-O, or permutations thereof.

But why dessert salads? And why Minnesota?

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7 Bizarre, Real-Life Tributes to Fairy Tales
Decoration on the Gingerbread Castle. (Photo: Amanda Petrozzini)

Fairy tales have not always been child-friendly. Their origins are often morbid, murderous and cannibalistic. However, it takes a special sort of city to decide to pay tribute to characters from children's stories instead of real-life historical figures. When done right, the results are as inventive and bizarre as any magical yarn. Atlas Obscura has rounded up seven notable monuments to the worlds of trolls, gnomes, mermaids, goblins and witches. 

Franklin, New Jersey

7 Bizarre, Real-Life Tributes to Fairy Tales (Photo: Amanda Petrozzini)

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 The Race to Build the World's Greatest SupercomputerPart of the Dutch supercomputer 'Cartesius' (Photo: Dennis van Zuijlekom/Flickr)

For the past two years, since June 2013, the top supercomputer in the world has been Tianhe-2. (Its name translates to Sky River—the Milky Way.) Tianhe-2 lives in Guangzhou, China, and on a benchmark test, it reached 33.86 petaflop per second. A petaflop is a measure of how fast a computer can perform—one petaflop/s is one thousand trillion operations, performed in an instant.

But Tianhe-2 may not stay at the top for long. This spring, the United States' Department of Energy announced that it was going to spend $200 million to build the fastest supercomputer in the world, by 2018. And when that supercomputer, Aurora, first starts up, there's no guarantee that it'll be on top for long, either.

All around the world, countries are competing to create the world's most powerful supercomputer—and to be the first to break into the next order of magnitude of performance, the exascale.

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