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The Weird Week in Review

Scottish Village Gets a "Sister City" -on Mars

Many cities and towns around the world have a link to another city or town far away, for friendship and cultural exchanges. The village of Glenelg, on the western coast of Scotland, has announced it will "twin" with another place with the same name. Glenelg, Mars, is the designated name of the spot that the Mars Curiosity rover is headed toward. Officials in Glenelg, the Scottish one, announced that an official "twinning" ceremony will take place on October 20th. Although there will be no Martian natives at the ceremony, American astronaut Bonnie Dunbar will attend.

The World's First One Ton Pumpkin

The Topsfield Fair, near Boston, Massachusetts, has an annual giant pumpkin weigh-off and has for years offered a $10,000 bonus for the first one-ton pumpkin. Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, has delivered that pumpkin. His entry weighed 2,009 pounds!

“It’s a great world record,” said the general manager of America’s oldest agricultural fair, James O’Brien. “Topsfield has had a lot of world records, but this one is special. This is absolutely one of the top sites in the country where you can come and weigh-off a pumpkin.” There have been seven world record giant pumpkins weighed at Topsfield in the last 15 years, O’Brien said.

The previous world record pumpkin was 1,843.5 pounds, set just a day before Wallace's weigh-in. Wallace won $5,500 for this year's competition and the $10,000 bonus, too.

Radioactive Money in Moscow

Muscovite Yelena Kryzhanovskaya withdrew ten 5,000 rubles notes from her bank account. She hid the money under her pillow. A couple of days later, the 61-year-old turned on her radiation meter, apparently a common household item in Russia, which she keeps to check produce. The meter sounded an alarm, and Kryzhanovskaya traced the radiation to the money under her pillow! Emergency workers determined that the levels coming from the cash was 20,000 times the amount of normal background radiation, comparable to the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe. The money was put in a lead container and taken to a nuclear storage facility. Kryzhanovskaya is now worried about whether her money will be replaced. The bank says it has no idea how the money became contaminated.

City Crews Spotted "Mowing" Artificial Turf

City contract workers in Townsville, Australia, became the butt of jokes after motorists took pictures of them apparently mowing artificial grass that had been installed on street medians. The pictures were posted on social media sites. They weren't really mowing the Astro Turf; it just looked that way. The city had asked the contracting company to clean cigarette butts off the turf strips, and they brought out large vacuum cleaners that resembled lawn mowers. The city has now asked that the company think of another cleaning method, to keep from looking ridiculous.

The Case of the Panties Dropped

Hocking County Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf, who is running for a second term, complained to the Ohio Elections Commission about her opponent, Republican lawyer Jason Sarver, who she said spread a rumor that she put her underwear on a judge's bench. Apparently, a court hearing was delayed while Fetherolf left and corrected a "wardrobe malfunction." But she denies the part of the story in which she returned to the court and entered her panties as evidence.

Judge Wallace was restrained about details, but he agreed with the prosecutor: “No panties have ever been placed on my bench by anyone, including her.”

The election commission dismissed the complaint.

Missing Maple Syrup Found

Ten thousand barrels of maple syrup were stolen from Canada's strategic syrup reserve in Quebec in August. That's about $20 million in maple syrup. Police believe the thieves pumped the syrup out into tanker trucks, but do not know how they avoided security. Tuesday, the RCMP raided a warehouse owned by S.K. Export in Kedgwick, New Brunswick, and seized some of the stolen syrup. However, it was only a fraction of the amount stolen. Authorities say arrests are pending.

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This Just In
Workers in Quebec City Discover Potentially Live Cannonball Dating Back to the French and Indian War
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Quebec City is famous today for its old-world European charm, but a construction crew recently discovered a living relic of the city’s military past: a potentially explosive cannonball, dating all the way back to the French and Indian War.

As Smithsonian reports, workers conducting a building excavation in Old Quebec—the city’s historic center—last week unearthed the 200-pound metal ball at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets. They posed for pictures before contacting municipal authorities, and archaeologist Serge Rouleau was sent in to collect the goods.

Initially, nobody—including Rouleau—knew that the rusty military artifact still posed a threat to city residents. But after the archaeologist toted the cannonball home in a trailer, he noticed a rusty hole through the center of the shell. This made him fear that the projectile was still loaded with gunpowder.

Rouleau contacted the Canadian military, which deployed bomb disposal specialists to collect the cannonball. They moved it to a secure location, where it will reportedly be either neutralized or destroyed. If the cannonball itself can be saved as a historic relic, it might be displayed in a museum.

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” munitions technician Sylvain Trudel told the CBC. “Old munitions like this are hard to predict … You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

Experts believe that the cannonball was fired at Quebec City from Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River, during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle occurred on September 13, 1759, during the French and Indian War, when invading British troops defeated French forces in a key battle just outside Quebec City. Ultimately, the clash helped lead to Quebec’s surrender.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Weird
Sponge-Like Debris Is Washing Up on France’s Beaches, and No One Knows What It Is
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The shores of northern France are normally a picturesque spot for a barefoot stroll. That was until mid-July of this year, when walking down the beach without stepping on a spongy, yellow blob became impossible. As Gizmodo reports, foam-like objects washed up by the tide have covered close to 20 miles of French coastline over the course of a few days.

Unlike the boulder-sized "fatbergs" sometimes found on the beaches of Britain or the snowballs that crowded Siberian beaches last November, the spongy invasion has no known source. Experts have ruled out both organic sponges found in the ocean and polyurethane foam made by people. Jonathan Hénicart, president of Sea-Mer, a French nonprofit that fights beach pollution, told La Voix du Nord, "When you touch it, it's a bit greasy. It's brittle but not easily crumbled. It has no specific odor […] We do not know if it's toxic [so] it should not be touched."

The northern coast of France borders the English Channel, a waterway that welcomes hundreds of commercial ships every day. Strange cargo is constantly falling overboard and washing up on shore. Since the sponges resemble nothing found in nature or an artificial material that's commonly known, it's possible they're a combination of both. They could be a type of foam, for instance, made out of seawater and air bound together with a substance like soap or fertilizer.

Experts won't be able to verify what the mess is made of until the Cedre Association, an organization that studies hydrocarbon pollution, analyzes samples collected from the beach. That process should take about a week. In the meantime, French officials are working to clear the coastline while assuring the public the phenomenon doesn't pose a threat to their health. Nonetheless, beachgoers in northern France should think twice before kicking off their flip-flops.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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