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

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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]

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travel
These Suitcases Convert Into a Mini Kitchen, Office, or Bed
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Finally, a product has been released to appease travelers who have long demanded a suitcase they can cook scrambled eggs on. A new line by Italian designer Marc Sadler, spotted by Lonely Planet, features three aluminum suitcases that can be converted into either a mini kitchen, a work station, or even a bed.

A cooktop suitcase
Marc Sadler

The cook station suitcase will soon be released as part of the special edition Bank collection, which will be sold by suitcase brand Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano. It comes with built-in power, a cooktop, mini fridge, several drawers with cutlery, and a foldable chopping table.

Those who travel often for work may want to opt instead for the workstation suitcase, which features a pull-out chair, work surface, electrical outlets, and wooden drawers. Ideal for camping, the bed station comes with a fold-out wooden frame and mattress topper. It also happens to be the most expensive of the three, at a cost of €6900 ($8135).

A suitcase converts to a pull-out bed
Marc Sadler

A suitcase with a built-in desk and drawers
Marc Sadler

It's unclear whether these suitcases would make it through airport security, but TSA does permit camp stoves as long as they don't have fuel inside them. Don't try to make breakfast while waiting at your gate, though—there are probably rules against that.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Art
This Wall Chart Shows Every Oil Painting Vincent Van Gogh Ever Created
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Vincent van Gogh, among other things, was a prolific painter. He created 85 oil paintings of women, 70 of flowers, 42 of wheat fields, and 38 of his own image. The Post-Impressionist master’s nearly 900 oil paintings can now be seen all in one place, thanks to a new wall chart from Curious Charts.

A chart of Van Gogh's paintings
Curious Charts

In this “Visual Taxonomy of Van Gogh,” the painter’s oeuvre is organized into a few categories, like still lifes and landscapes, and further broken down into subcategories such as water and bridges, wheat, and trees. Timothy Sanders, who runs Curious Charts with his wife, Aurélia, said he started out by organizing Van Gogh’s works into categories in an Excel spreadsheet.

“When we had the idea of trying to fit all of Van Gogh’s paintings, which is almost 900 in total, onto a single poster-sized chart, it was really exciting,” he says in the video below. “But as we quickly discovered, there were a lot of challenges.”

Size and spacing were the biggest issues, and the 24-inch-by-36-inch poster took three months to create. There are notations underneath each image specifying the title of the work and the year it was painted.

The Sanders duo is raising funds for the project via Kickstarter, and so far they've raised nearly $1500 of their $2000 goal. The fundraising campaign ends June 14.

Scroll down to see more photos of the chart, plus a video showing how it was made.

Details of the Van Gogh chart
Curious Charts

Details of the Van Gogh chart
Curious Charts

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