Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer

iStock
iStock

In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animals that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

New Star Wars Furniture Line Brings Wookies and TIE Fighters Into Your Living Room

Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Star Wars movies have inspired apparel, action figures, and even office supplies. Ahead of the release of Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker later this year, Popular Mechanics reports that Disney has teamed up with famed furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue to create a new line of Star Wars-themed products for the home.

Cobonpue is a Filipino industrial artist known for incorporating traditional techniques and nature-inspired designs into his work. The new collection he created for Disney Philippines riffs on the vehicles and characters of the Star Wars universe.

The TIE fighter armchair allows sitters to relax in a seat made to look like the signature combat craft of the Imperial army. There are also end tables inspired by the TIE fighters that utilize the same iconic, hexagonal wing design. Some pieces are inspired by beloved characters, like the Chewie rocking stool, which is made from a shaggy brown material and flourished with his signature bandolier. If you think the Dark Side has more style, the line also includes chairs that pay homage to Darth Vader and Darth Sidious.

After originally launching it in the Philippines, Disney made the collection available to U.S. buyers in May. The furniture is for sale in select retailers and showrooms in 11 states.

TIE fighter Star Wars chair.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.

Chewie stool inspired by Star Wars.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.

TIE fighter end table inspired by Star Wars.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.

Darth Vader chair inspired by Star Wars.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.

Darth Sidious chair inspired by Star Wars.
Kenneth Cobonpue, Lucasfilm Ltd.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

The World’s Largest Underwater Restaurant Just Opened in Norway—Take a Peek Inside

Ivar Kvaal
Ivar Kvaal

Months before it opened, the world's largest underwater restaurant in Norway was already flooded with reservations. Recently, Business Insider reported that Under has finally started serving its first guests. If you can't book a table at the hottest restaurant below sea level, you can look at the photos taken inside to get an idea of the unique dining experience.

In addition to being the largest underwater restaurant on Earth, Under, from the architecture firm Snøhetta, is also the first of its kind in Europe. It's located in the notoriously treacherous waters off Norway's southern coast.

Underwater restaurant jutting out of the sea.
Ivar Kvaal

After entering the angled building from the shore, guests descend into a 100-person dining room with panoramic views of the ocean and passing marine life. The concrete structure is designed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding environment, eventually acting as an artificial reef that attracts plants and animals. The location boasts such biodiversity that Under is also being used as a research center for marine biologists.

Dining room of underwater restaurant.
Ivar Kvaal

Jellyfish in the ocean.
Ivar Kvaal

Once seated, diners will be treated to a seasonal meal from an international team of chefs led by Nicolai Ellitsgaard. The menu highlights locally sourced produce and sustainably caught wildlife. A full meal lasts roughly three-and-a-half to four hours.

Shellfish dish at Under restaurant.
Stian Broch

Spiny crab.
Stian Broch

Dining room of Under, the underwater restaurant.
Ivar Kvaal

Dining room of Under
Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge

Seats at Under are fully booked from now to the end of September. If you're content with getting your name on a waiting list, you can try to reserve a table for earlier in the year through the restaurant's website.

[h/t Business Insider]

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