CLOSE
Original image
National Geographic via YouTube

Musical Roads: 5 Places Where the Streets Sing

Original image
National Geographic via YouTube

You’re probably familiar with rumble strips, those grooves on roads that make a loud, obnoxious noise when a car crosses them. Shoulder and centerline strips are placed to alert drivers that they’re getting too close to the edge of their lanes, while transverse strips typically cross the entire road and are used to signal that drivers should slow down.

In most cases, rumble strips are anything but pleasant to the ear—but a few enterprising individuals realized that it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, varying the length and distance of the grooves can allow cars to create melodies on the road. Here a few places where you can find harmonious highways.

1. DENMARK

The road-as-an-instrument concept was invented in 1995 when two Danish artists came up with the “Asphaltophone,” raised pavement markers that are more closely related to Botts’ dots than rumble strips.

See it in action just after the 1:30 mark:

2. NEW MEXICO

Transportation officials in New Mexico hope that “America the Beautiful” will get cars to slow down on a section of historic Route 66 between Albuquerque and Tijeras. To hear the song at the proper speed and pitch, vehicles must strictly obey the posted speed limit of 45 mph. Drivers are unable to hear the song if they are going even a few miles under or over the limit.

3. CALIFORNIA

The only other musical road in the U.S. can be found in Lancaster, California, where a snippet of the "William Tell Overture” plays for drivers going 55 mph. (Sorry, Sammy Hagar.) The attraction was originally installed near a residential area, but citizens complained so much that the grooves were paved over just two weeks after they were installed. The city received hundreds of phone calls from people who missed The Lone Ranger theme song and eventually agreed to reinstall the strips in an industrial area where it wouldn’t bother residents. If you listen to the clip below and think, “Hmm, something is a little off here...” you’re absolutely right.

4. JAPAN

Japan embraced a number of singing streets after engineer Shizuo Shinoda accidentally scraped a road with a bulldozer and realized that the resulting grooves made interesting sounds. There are now several melody roads in Japan, including this one near Mt. Fuji.

5. SOUTH KOREA

Nearly 70 percent of highway accidents in South Korea are caused by distracted or dozing drivers, so the Korean Highway Corp. has installed musical grooves in particularly dangerous stretches of road in an attempt to get motorists to pay attention. Here’s one of the songs, which you’ll recognize as a slightly off-tune version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Original image
iStock
China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall
Original image
iStock

The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
YouTube // Deep Look
These Glowing Worms Mimic Shining Stars
Original image
YouTube // Deep Look

The glow worms of New Zealand's Waitomo caves produce light, mimicking the starry night sky. Using sticky goop, they catch moths and other flying creatures unfortunate enough to flutter into the "starry" cavern. Beautiful and icky in equal parts, this Deep Look video takes you inside the cave, and up close with these worms. Enjoy:

There's also a nice write-up with animated GIFs if you're not in the mood for video. Want more glow worms? Check out this beautiful timelapse in a similar cave, or our list of 19 Places You Won't Believe Exist topped by—you guessed it—New Zealand's Glowworm Caves!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios