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Teh Eng Koon // Getty Images
Teh Eng Koon // Getty Images

Meet the Workers Risking Their Lives to Rebuild the Great Wall of China

Teh Eng Koon // Getty Images
Teh Eng Koon // Getty Images

Repairing centuries of damage to the Great Wall of China is no easy task. (Which, of course, makes sense when you consider that the wall took more than 1800 years to erect.) Since 2005, workers have carried out grueling—and often, life-threatening—physical labor to see that the World Wonder is restored to the same tiptop shape it was in during the Ming dynasty.

Most recently, restoration efforts have been focused on the Jiankou section of the wall. The re-bricking process requires that workers dangle from a single rope, held by their teammates, while they coat the wall in cement. The faintest slip of the hand could cost them their lives.

As if the physical demands weren't enough, the laborers are also burdened with the responsibility of maintaining historical accuracy. Last year, preservationists were outraged by the "botched" repairs made to the Great Wall in northeast China. "A once unkempt, haunting 700-year-old stretch of the wall now looks like a cement skateboarding lane dumped in the wilderness," The New York Times wrote at the time.

New video footage from Live China—and spotted by National Geographic—gives an up-close view of this physically demanding work, as well as the process of transporting bricks via donkeys and mules. You can watch it in full below:

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science
What Pop Culture Gets Wrong About Dissociative Identity Disorder
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From the characters in Fight Club to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, popular culture is filled with "split" personalities. These dramatic figures might be entertaining, but they're rarely (if ever) scientifically accurate, SciShow Psych's Hank Green explains in the channel's latest video. Most representations contribute to a collective misunderstanding of dissociative identity disorder, or DID, which was once known as multiple personality disorder.

Experts often disagree about DID's diagnostic criteria, what causes it, and in some cases, whether it exists at all. Many, however, agree that people with DID don't have multiple figures living inside their heads, all clamoring to take over their body at a moment's notice. Those with DID do have fragmented personalities, which can cause lapses of memory, psychological distress, and impaired daily function, among other side effects.

Learn more about DID (and what the media gets wrong about mental illness) by watching the video below.

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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