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From World Cup Trophy Capers to Violin Design: This Week's Curios

Last week's Curios covered Excel art, dark matter, and how soccer's most prized trophy went missing.
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Last week's Curios covered Excel art, dark matter, and how soccer's most prized trophy went missing.

Curio No. 948 | The wild history of the Jules Rimet trophy
When Frenchman Jules Rimet created the World Cup in 1929, he needed a trophy. So he commissioned a Parisian sculptor to make a 14-inch gilded statuette depicting the Greek goddess Nike atop a pedestal. The Rimet Trophy was awarded to the inaugural winner Uruguay in 1930. And every winner since. Until 1970, when it was permanently given to Brazil for winning the competition for a third time--as Rimet had declared should happen. But did the Brazilians receive the real Rimet Trophy? It's unclear. By then it had been on quite a journey... keep reading.

Curio No. 947 | A truly powerful lake
Consider this smelly problem. Between the Congo and Rwanda sits Lake Kivu, one of Africa's largest lakes. It's also one of only three lakes in the world known to have limnic eruptions, or lake explosions. A limnic eruption has only been observed twice, but scientists think they understand the phenomenon: 1) the lake water contains high concentrations of gas (usually C02) in a deep layer and 2) the lake is meromictic, which means... keep reading.

Curio No. 946 | The day art defeated Congress
These days, it's pretty hard to get the US Congress to do anything. Let alone reroute nuclear waste. But that's exactly what a sculpture by Michael Heizer did last year. To be fair, it's a pretty big sculpture. Called City, the sculpture has been called "the largest piece of contemporary art ever attempted." It's actually a collection of sculptures twice the size of the Vatican and bigger than the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It's so big, you can glimpse it via satellite images on Google Maps. Heizer began working on City in 1972 using his own funds... keep reading.

Curio No. 945 | Is 'i <3 u' the same as 'I love you'?
The average American "millennial" sends more than 100 texts a day. Naturally, psychologists are curious what all this thumb-typing is doing to young people's human relationships. One study found students were spending an average of 2 hours a day texting. Another found 90% of younger people texted their significant others on a daily basis. The studies appear to show a strong correlation between constant texting and healthy relationships, at least for partners living close to each other... keep reading.

Curio No. 944 | More proof Excel is the coolest program ever
Microsoft Excel is one of the most powerful programs on the planet. It can generate complex financial models, run statistical simulations, and graph just about anything. But Tatsuo Horiuchi, a Japanese artist, uses Excel to make art. Using just the AutoShapes function, Horiuchi creates stunning landscapes and portraits that appear to be painted on a canvas. Horiuchi claims he just stumbled upon this new medium as a matter of frugality--he tells reporters he only started using Excel because it was preinstalled on his computer... keep reading.

Curio No. 943 | What's up with those f-holes?
Violins looks pretty strange. But since their appearance has been the same for over 300 years, we don't notice. The look of the "modern" violin was developed during the instrument's golden age between the 16th and 18th centuries. It's during this period that the body shape and distinctive f-shaped sound holes were established. Before 1700, violins were known as fitheles and the f-holes were completely circular. Slowly the holes evolved first to half-moons, then to C shapes. The reason: acoustic power... keep reading.

Curio No. 942 | Trying to shine light on dark matter
If you think your job is lacking in positive feedback, consider this. In a lab one mile beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota, sits a giant tank of liquid xenon. Scientists have been watching it for three years, hoping to find evidence of dark matter. So far, they haven't seen a thing. Nada. Dark matter is a theoretical material that astrophysicists believe accounts for 27% of our universe, based on the current theories. Because it does not absorb or emit light, dark matter is extremely hard to see. Actually, it has never been observed, and there's no hard evidence that it exists... keep reading.

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