Swedish Students Let Off Steam by Screaming in Public

"At 22:00 precisely the windows open and the screaming begins," says an Uppsala University webpage covering "academic traditions."

The line is referring to a local phenomenon that’s been taking place in a specific area of the Flogsta neighborhood of Uppsala, Sweden, since at least the '80s, and possibly as early as the '70s. The locals call it the Flogsta Scream, and it’s pretty simple: At the same time every night, a bunch of people lean out of their windows and scream.

The Scream isn’t restricted to only students, of course—or even to Flogsta, for that matter. The Lappkärrsberget residential area near Stockholm University has a neighborhood scream as well, known as the Lappkärr Cry, while Lund University students in the Delphi neighborhood of Lund, Sweden, participate in the Delphi Roar. (Other names include the Tuesday Scream—Lappkärrsberget screams on Tuesdays only—and Elvavrålet, or "the eleven roar," for the version in Lund, which happens at 11 p.m.) Vuvuzelas (the plastic horns often found at South African soccer games) are incorporated in some versions as well. The screams generally last between one and two minutes, but they vary on a case-by-case basis. Some can last up to 10 minutes.

The lore behind this strange tradition varies as well. Some say that—at least in the case of Flogsta—the practice was started by students in the physics department at Uppsala who needed to let off stress and angst during exam season; others say it was begun as a memorial to a student who killed himself.

It doesn’t necessarily happen every night, either. Arvid Cederholm, who lived in Flogsta in the early 2000s, told mental_floss, "I don't remember it being every evening, but rather if someone started it, others joined in. The angst wasn't a very pronounced part of it, I feel. It was more of a fun thing than an angsty thing."

Back in late 2014, the Flogsta scream received a small burst of attention on the internet thanks to a Reddit thread and a subsequent post on MTV’s website. Amid the swirl, the story somehow changed from "people collectively scream out of their windows at 10 p.m. in certain areas in Sweden" to "you can scream out of your window anywhere in Sweden and people will scream back." There was so much misinformation circulating surrounding the Flogsta scream that Snopes finally wrote a piece about it in order to set the facts straight. (They also noted that similar practices aren’t unknown on U.S. campuses.)

So just to be clear: This doesn’t happen everywhere across Sweden, only in Uppsala, Lund, or Stockholm, and only on specific university campuses. You can’t just show up in, say, downtown Gothenburg, start screaming, and expect folks to join you. You will just annoy the Swedes. Definitely don’t do this.

But if you happen to find yourself at the right Swedish university around 10 (or 11) at night and you’re feeling brave, it might be worth a shot. Maybe wait for someone else to start screaming first, though. Just in case.

This Just In
The Pope Just Officiated an Impromptu Inflight Wedding

Though he might be more famous for his tricked-out Popemobiles, when Pope Francis needs to get somewhere in a hurry, there’s always a papal plane. On Thursday, he made that Airbus 321 a vessel that one lucky couple will never forget when he officiated an impromptu marriage between Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, who have been together for more than 10 years and are both flight attendants for Chile's LATAM Airlines.

It started out innocently enough: on a flight from Santiago to Iquique, Chile, Crux reports, the flight crew was posing with the Pope for a group photo. When Papa Pancho asked the couple if they had had a church wedding, they explained that though they have been civilly married since 2010, the church that they were supposed to get married at was destroyed in an earthquake just a few days before their big day. Not one to let a little thing like being 35,000 feet in the air get in the way, Pope Francis suggested that he make up for their original plans and marry them right then and there.

“He held our hands, blessed the rings, and he married us in the name of God,” Ciuffardi told Crux.

His Holiness also made sure the happy couple knew how historic their nuptials would be. “Never has a pope married a couple on a plane,” he said.

Crew members Paula Podest (L) and Carlos Ciuffardi smile after being married by Pope Francis during the flight between Santiago and the northern city of Iquique on January 18, 2018
Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer

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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