There Are 72,000 Tons of Diamonds Hiding Throughout This Town in Germany

iStock.com/Kharichkina
iStock.com/Kharichkina

The tiny town of Nördlingen, in the German state of Bavaria, has a quaint kind of storybook charm about it. But what's hiding in the village's buildings and foundation might make it one of the glitziest places on Earth: Nördlingen is bejeweled with the equivalent of 72,000 tons of diamonds, according to Smithsonian.

The diamonds, which are strewn throughout Nördlingen, aren't just any gemstones either; they formed roughly 15 million years ago, when an asteroid traveling at a speed of approximately 15.5 miles per second struck the Earth. Geologists estimate that the space rock measured about one kilometer wide (the same size as modern-day Nördlingen) and weighed close to 3 billion tons. Upon making contact, it created intense heat and pressure—enough to produce a coarse-grained rock called suevite, which consists of glass, crystals, and diamonds.

When settlers arrived at the site millions of years later in 898 CE, they had no idea they were building their homes and businesses on land that had the highest diamond concentration of any place on Earth, as the diamonds scattered throughout the area were too small to see with the naked eye. For years, Nördlingen locals assumed the crater's origin was volcanic. It wasn't until the 1960s that it was confirmed to have come from an asteroid.

Not knowing any better, residents used the suevite as a building material to construct their town. As a result, many of Nördlingen's most famous structures—including St. George's Church and a protective perimeter wall leftover from the Middle Ages—have a high carat value.

Today, residents of Nördlingen know they're living atop tons of diamonds, but they're not about to tear apart their town to sell off the materials. The diamonds in suevite are tiny—less than 0.2mm across—and are therefore practically worthless, even in such high concentrations. But the German town has found different ways to profit from their unusual claim to fame. Tourists come from around the world to appreciate Nördlingen's glimmering architecture and tour the Ries Crater Museum, which displays local samples and those from other craters around the world.

[h/t Smithsonian]

When Should You Book Your Thanksgiving and Christmas Flights? Right Now!

zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images
zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, paying for distressingly expensive airline tickets is just part of life when it comes to traveling for the holidays. And, while you might think you’ll get the best deal by checking fluctuating prices obsessively from today until the day before Thanksgiving, you’re probably better off booking your flights right now.

“Once you get within three or four months, the chance of something cheap popping up for Christmas or New Year’s is not very likely,” Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure. “Certainly don’t wait until the last week or two because prices are going to be way higher.”

This is partially because airlines devise algorithms based on last year’s ticket sales and trends, and they know many travelers will fork over some serious cash rather than decide not to go home for the holidays—and there are always plenty of people who wait until the last minute to book their flights. In fact, so you know for next year, the absolute best time to book holiday travel is actually during the summer.

Scott Mayerowitz, the executive editorial director of The Points Guy, admits that it is possible to save a little money if you’re extremely diligent about following flight prices leading up to the holidays, but he thinks your mental health is worth much more than the pittance you might (or might not) save. “The heartache and headache of constantly searching for the best airfare can drive you insane,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Your time and sanity [are] worth something.”

If you’re not willing to throw in the towel just yet, you could always track the prices for a little while, and give yourself a hard deadline for booking your flights in a few weeks. Mayerowitz says buying your seats at least six weeks in advance—or earlier—is a good rule of thumb for holiday travel. That still leaves you several weeks to periodically scroll through flight listings and get a feel for what seems like a reasonable price.

To minimize your travel anxiety even further, try to fly one one of these dates, and check out eight other tips for a stress-free holiday trip.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Welcome to Cool, California. Population: 2520

Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It’s not hard to find U.S. towns with some pretty weird (and sometimes depressing) names, so we shouldn't be surprised that people have the option of settling in the tiny town of Cool, California.

Initially named Cave Valley, due to the limestone formations nearby, the town popped up around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The population eventually grew to 4100 people.

It's unclear when the town went from Cave Valley to being Cool. One legend suggests that a beatnik named Todd Hausman bequeathed the name after passing through in the 1950s, but the veracity of that story is doubtful since the Cool Post Office was founded as early as 1885. According to Condé Nast Traveler, records show that a reverend named Peter Y. Cool came out to pan gold and settled in the town in 1850, possibly serving as the source of the change.

Whatever the origin of its name, the town of Cool has ample branding opportunities. There’s the Cool Grocery Store and the Cool Beerwerks brewery and restaurant, which specializes in Hawaiian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Cool has held the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run every year since 1990.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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