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A Peabody Essex Museum volunteer coaxes a Strandbeest forward. (Photo: Atlas Obscura)

A Peabody Essex Museum volunteer coaxes a Strandbeest forward. (Photo: Atlas Obscura)

Strandbeest Handler #4 was having some trouble. It was time to promenade, and her charge—a ten-foot-long scaffold of tan PVC pipes, flanked by two outstretched sails—had stage fright. Its 12 legs, normally eager to show off their perfectly calibrated stride, were frozen in place. As she tugged on one of its extremities, the scratchy sounds of plastic feet dragging on cement cut through Boston’s City Hall Plaza, and an onlooker cried out: “The Beest is resisting!” 

Resistance was futile—the Strandbeests, artist Theo Jansen’s herd of self-propelled, autonomous-seeming mechanical “animals,” are on their first ever U.S. tour, and the humans in charge are making the most of it. This Beest soon fell into step behind its brother, who sported sharp-edged plastic wings instead of sails, and they did round after round of the small corral, posing for pictures like huge, skeletal show ponies. 

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News of sinkholes hits the headlines on a surprisingly consistent basis. So much so that sometimes it feels as though we are all just walking around on the thin crust of a hollow Earth, waiting to take that one false step that will send us plummeting toward its core.

Over the weekend, this nightmare became a reality once more—and the moment was captured on video. As ABC News reports that this past Saturday, in the city of Harbin, China, a group of pedestrians and commuters waiting at a bus stop learned about sinkholes the hard way, when one suddenly opened up beneath their feet, swallowing five unsuspecting victims, and the bus stop sign.

As the video, which was captured by a noodle restaurant’s surveillance camera, shows, no one appeared to suspect that the ground was unsound. When the collapse occurred, there was no time to jump out of the way.

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Whoa, double black hole! (Image:  Space Telescope Science Institute)

Quasars are unbelievably bright. When astronomers first found them, they thought they might be really, really bright stars—they can be brighter than entire galaxies—but, in fact, their brightness comes from a different source, the black hole at the center. As black holes suck matter in, that friction and heat blooms into a massive outpouring of energy.

The closest quasar to us is Markarian 231, and two Chinese scientists just found not one but two black holes at its center. Probably, as Popular Science reports, they came together when two galaxies merged. But one is smaller than the other, and over time, they should meld together into an even more super massive black hole. 

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 Arches National Park - EntranceArches National Park, one of the many itinerary options for teen tours. (Photo: Jean-Christophe Benoist/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0)

For the youth of America, camp has an undeniable allure (the lack of parental supervision looming large). But why spend your whole summer in one bunk when you can stay at four hotels in California, three campsites in Montana and Utah, and a cruise ship in Alaska?

This is the lure of teen tours—the 4-to-6-week luxury trips out West taken every summer by hundreds of kids around the country.

1861: Picture of Gunnery Camp, the first organized American summer campA photograph from 1861 of Gunnery Camp, the first organized American summer camp. (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)

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'Modern Venus of 1947, Coney Island'. (Photo: Courtesy Brooklyn Museum Collection)

Coney Island has long been an accessible, one-day vacation for New Yorkers wanting to escape the heat. The first amusement ride was built in 1876 and from that time until World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States. It evokes long days at the beach, gaudy fun fairs and nostalgia.

Coney Island has been enshrined in literature, film, television and music. Its strange history is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, called Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, which opens on November 20th. Covering a 150-year period, the exhibition includes artwork, objects and photographs of the iconic amusement park.  

On this last Friday in August, reminisce with this selection of summertime images from the exhibition.    

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