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

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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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Unboxing Dr. Seuss Toys (and Facts)!
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Dr. Seuss said if he were invited to a dinner party with his characters, "I wouldn't show up."

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Why a Howling Wind Sounds So Spooky, According to Science
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Halloween is swiftly approaching, meaning you'll likely soon hear creepy soundtracks—replete with screams, clanking chains, and howling winds—blaring from haunted houses and home displays. While the sound of human suffering is frightful for obvious reasons, what is it, exactly, about a brisk fall gust that sends shivers up our spines? In horror movie scenes and ghost stories, these spooky gales are always presented as blowing through dead trees. Do bare branches actually make the natural wailing noises louder, or is this detail added simply for atmospheric purposes?

As the SciShow's Hank Green explains in the video below, wind howls because it curves around obstacles like trees or buildings. When fast-moving air goes around, say, a tree, it splits up as it whips past, before coming back together on the other side. Due to factors such as natural randomness, air speed, and the tree's surface, one side's wind is going to be slightly stronger when the two currents rejoin, pushing the other side's gust out of the way. The two continue to interact back-and-forth in what could be likened to an invisible wrestling match, as high-pressure airwaves and whirlpools mix together and vibrate the air. If the wind is fast enough, this phenomenon will produce the eerie noise we've all come to recognize in horror films.

Leafy trees "will absorb some of the vibrations in the air and dull the sound, but without leaves—like if it's the middle of the winter or the entire forest is dead—the howling will travel a lot farther," Green explains. That's why a dead forest on a windy night sounds so much like the undead.

Learn more by watching SciShow's video below.

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