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Write a Mozart Waltz With a Game He May Have Invented

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is known for his musical genius, but for the rest of us, writing the kind of music he could dash off with his eyes closed isn’t exactly easy. But what if you could write a Mozart waltz without knowing a single note? It’s possible—thanks to an 18th-century dice game the maestro himself may have invented.

It’s called a Musikalisches Würfelspiel, a more German way of saying “musical dice game.” The concept is simple: Toss a few dice and use the corresponding numbers to select a short snippet of music. String together the music and voila—a waltz!

The game’s easy to play even if you don’t know any music—or have any dice. The concept, which is used by [PDF] computer science professors to teach their students about two-dimensional arrays and random number generation, has inspired student websites for years. These days, there’s even an app, Mozart Dice Game, to help you do it at home.

Although Mozart’s name is frequently attached to the game, it’s not really clear whether he invented it. Dice were popular in Mozart’s day, and similar games have been attributed to other masters like Joseph Haydn and C.P.E. Bach (son of the more famous Bach). Since Mozart was so popular, it’s possible that his name was simply added onto the game to earn more money. (And Mozart’s love of potty humor, games, and low culture—which would have included playing dice—is well known.)

But we do know that Mozart invented another musical game. When he died, a mysterious paper was apparently discovered in his archives. It includes 39 minuet fragments of two measures each, labeled by Mozart with the letters of the alphabet. Historians now think it’s a game—this one designed to use words and names to create a minuet, although there were no specific instructions included.

Mozart apparently saw music as child’s play, but it’s not clear if he actually used games to compose. That said, he seems to have liked composing while playing other games, like lawn bowling. Of course, having fun always makes music sound sweeter—and many of us might never compose a line without a game to begin with.

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National Geographic Ranks The 25 Happiest Cities in the Country
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Feeling unhappy? Maybe it's time to move. National Geographic recently released rankings of the 25 happiest cities in the U.S. The results: Eight of the 25 locations are in the Golden State, but the honor of No. 1 happiest city goes to Boulder, Colorado.

The rankings are based on 250,000 interviews conducted in 190 metropolitan areas between 2014 and 2015. The survey—developed by Dan Buettner, author of the new book The Blue Zones of Happiness, and Dan Witters, a senior scientist at Gallup—looked for data points that are correlated with life satisfaction and happiness, like whether or not you exercise, if you feel safe in your community, whether you feel like you live within your means, and whether you feel like you are reaching your goals.

A map of the U.S. showing which cities made the top 25 happiest cities index.
Courtesy National Geographic

Of course, all that isn’t necessarily the result of your geographical location. But you don’t see cities like Los Angeles or New York—where wealth is also clustered—on the list, so presumably San Franciscans are doing something a little differently.

Take a look for yourself. Here are the 25 happiest places in the U.S., according to the results.

1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California
6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut
9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
13. Salinas, California
14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
21. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia/Maryland/West Virginia
22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin
23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
24. Portland-South Portland, Maine
25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

You can grab a copy of November’s National Geographic to read more about the world’s happiest places.

The cover of Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones of Happiness and the cover of November 2017’s National Geographic.
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Here's How to Turn an IKEA Box Into a Spaceship
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Since IKEA boxes are designed to contain entire furniture items, they could probably fit a small child once they’re emptied of any flat-packed component pieces. This means they have great potential as makeshift forts—or even as play spaceships, according to one of the Swedish furniture brand’s print ads, which was spotted by Design Taxi.

First highlighted by Ads of the World, the advertisement—which was created by Miami Ad School, New York—shows that IKEA is helping customers transform used boxes into build-it-yourself “SPÄCE SHIPS” for children. The company provides play kits, which come with both an instruction manual and cardboard "tools" for tiny builders to wield during the construction process.

As for the furniture boxes themselves, they're emblazoned with the words “You see a box, they see a spaceship." As if you won't be climbing into the completed product along with the kids …

Check out the ad below:

[h/t Design Taxi]

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