The Time-Honored Art of Carving a Dugout Canoe

iStock
iStock

Long before canoes were constructed from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum, they were made from wood. In the video below, you can follow craftsman Rihards Vidzickis, who belongs to a Northern European artisan guild called Northmen, as he fashions a seaworthy vessel from a single log.

The process is long and arduous: First, Vidzickis scrapes off the bark and marks where the boat's hollow will go. Then, he scrapes, chops, and burns the wood, using mostly traditional methods and tools.

Watch the time-honored process below:

The Truth Behind Italy's Abandoned 'Ghost Mansion'

YouTube/Atlas Obscura
YouTube/Atlas Obscura

The forests east of Lake Como, Italy, are home to a foreboding ruin. Some call it the Casa Delle Streghe (House of Witches), or the Red House, after the patches of rust-colored paint that still coat parts of the exterior. Its most common nickname, however, is the Ghost Mansion.

Since its construction in the 1850s, the mansion—officially known as the Villa De Vecchi—has reportedly been the site of a string of tragedies, including the murder of the family of the Italian count who built it, as well as the count's suicide. It's also said that everyone's favorite occultist, Aleister Crowley, visited in the 1920s, leading to a succession of satanic rituals and orgies. By the 1960s, the mansion was abandoned, and since then both nature and vandals have helped the house fall into dangerous decay. The only permanent residents are said to be a small army of ghosts, who especially love to play the mansion's piano at night—even though it's long since been smashed to bits.

The intrepid explorers of Atlas Obscura recently visited the mansion and interviewed Giuseppe Negri, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were gardeners there. See what he thinks of the legends, and the reality behind the mansion, in the video below.

Watch: The Brilliant Life of Ada Lovelace

Getty Images
Getty Images

Ada Lovelace is widely considered to be the first computer programmer—and every year, the second Tuesday of October is set aside to honor that achievement. She worked with Charles Babbage on his proto-computer designs, and translated an academic paper about Babbage's Analytical Engine from French to English. In the process, she discovered errors in Babbage's design, fixed them, and added a pile of new commentary in a series of notes that were longer than the original paper itself.

Among Lovelace's contributions was "Note G." In it, she wrote an algorithm intended to be implemented by the machine. This algorithm is what many consider to be the first computer program. She wrote:

We will terminate these Notes by following up in detail the steps through which the engine could compute the Numbers of Bernoulli, this being (in the form in which we shall deduce it) a rather complicated example of its powers. ...

(And then it's formulae all the way down.)

If you've ever been curious about what Lovelace did, or why she was such a strong mathematician, let this six-minute mini-biography be your guide:

If you're curious about her translation of that paper, it's online.

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