WTF Fun Fact 13398 – Dubai Helicopter Uber

Dubai, with its towering skyscrapers and world-class infrastructure, offers a plethora of experiences. However, to truly appreciate the city’s grandeur, nothing compares to a bird’s eye view. That’s where Uber helicopter tours in Dubai come into play.

Uber a helicopter in Dubai

Uber helicopter tours provide a unique opportunity to see Dubai from above. Operated by Uber, these tours allow passengers to book a private helicopter ride. The tour typically lasts around 12-15 minutes, during which passengers can marvel at the breathtaking views of the city. The tour includes a scenic flight over iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, and the Dubai Marina.

Booking an Uber helicopter tour in Dubai is a straightforward process. Start by downloading the Uber app and signing up for an account. Once you’ve completed this step, search for Uber helicopter tours within the app. A list of available tours will appear, and you can choose the one that suits you best. Book the tour and pay for it using your Uber account.

It’ll cost you

The cost of an Uber helicopter tour in Dubai varies based on the time of day and the duration of the tour. On average, a 12-15 minute tour costs approximately AED 600-700 per person. This price includes the helicopter ride itself and a private tour guide who will point out the city’s landmarks during the tour.

When embarking on an Uber helicopter tour, passengers can expect a thrilling and unforgettable experience. The tour begins with a safety briefing and an introduction to the helicopter. Passengers are then escorted to their seats in the helicopter. Once everyone is seated, the helicopter takes off, commencing the tour. Throughout the journey, passengers can soak in the stunning views of the city and its landmarks. The tour guide will highlight various points of interest, providing valuable information about each location.

Safety first

While the adventure of Uber helicopter tours is exhilarating, safety is a top priority. Passengers must follow the safety instructions provided by the tour guide and remain seated throughout the flight. It’s important to refrain from taking flash photos and avoid leaning out of the helicopter. Additionally, dressing appropriately for the weather conditions and wearing comfortable shoes is advisable.

Oh, and if you want a stateside helicopter ride to avoid the traffic while traveling to JFK, Uber offers those as well.

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Source: “Uber Helicopter Dubai: Your Ticket to a Scenic Tour of the City” — Arabian Diaries

WTF Fun Fact 13395 – German Mythology’s Nøkken

In Germanic folklore, the Nøkken or Nix is a creature associated with bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and streams. Depictions of the water spirit show it as a shapeshifter, capable of assuming various forms to lure unsuspecting victims.

The mysterious Nøkken

The Nøkken is believed to be an elusive and mysterious creature and possesses the ability to transform into different forms. It often appears as a beautiful horse, a seductive human, or even a monstrous water serpent. The shape-shifter uses its ability to entice and deceive unsuspecting individuals who venture too close to the water’s edge.

Legends describe the Nøkken as a mischievous being with a penchant for playing enchanting melodies on musical instruments, such as the violin or harp. Its hauntingly beautiful music can mesmerize listeners and draw them closer to the water’s edge, where they may fall victim to the Nøkken’s traps. Some believe the Nøkken’s music possesses a hypnotic quality, luring people into its grasp.

Both good and bad

According to folklore, those who encounter the Nøkken must exercise caution and resist its enchanting allure. If someone falls under its spell and touches the Nøkken, they become stuck, unable to escape its clutches. Some believe that only the power of the cross or religious symbols can break the Nøkken’s hold and save the victim from certain doom.

The Nøkken is not always portrayed as an evil entity, though. Some tales depict it as a guardian of nature or a water spirit with the ability to bestow blessings upon those who respect and honor the waters it inhabits. Some legends even depict the Nøkken as a helpful creature, offering valuable advice or teaching musical skills to talented individuals.

Throughout history, the Nøkken has captivated the imaginations of storytellers and artists alike. Its portrayal in literature, music, and visual arts has contributed to its enduring presence in folklore. The Nøkken serves as a symbol of the beauty and danger that reside within the natural world, reminding us of the inherent mysteries and complexities of the human imagination.

It’s important to note that folklore and legends may vary across different regions and cultural traditions. The Nøkken’s characteristics and legends associated with it can differ from one storytelling tradition to another. These stories are an integral part of cultural heritage, passed down through generations to preserve the rich tapestry of folklore.

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Source: “Nix” — Encyclopedia Britannica

WTF Fun Fact 13391 – Giant Penguin Hoax

In 1948, the quiet shores of Clearwater Beach, Florida, were the site of a giant penguin hoax that would continue for a decade and not be explained for another 40 years.

Florida’s giant penguin hoax

Mysterious tracks resembling giant three-toed footprints emerged from the sea, leaving people astounded and intrigued. These footprints, approximately 35 centimeters long and 28 centimeters wide, stretched along the beach for miles, suggesting the presence of a colossal creature.

Word of the strange tracks quickly spread, and eyewitness accounts of unusual creatures started to surface. For example, students at the Dunedin Flying School claimed to have spotted a creature resembling a furry log with a boar’s head swimming in the water. A couple walking along the beach recounted a sighting of a towering creature waddling near the water before vanishing into the sea. The news of these encounters only deepened the mystery.

Monster hunting

The local police were compelled to investigate the footprints. British biologist Ivan Terence Sanderson, known for his ventures into pseudoscience, also took an interest in the case. Sanderson conducted his own investigations. He meticulously studied the tracks that continued to appear over the next decade. Sanderson proposed that a massive, 15-foot-tall penguin might be responsible for the enigmatic footprints.

The case for a giant penguin

Sanderson noted that the tracks consistently followed gentle slopes, even if it meant meandering along the way. Moreover, they skillfully avoided any obstacles, no matter how small, such as bushes or debris. These traits, according to Sanderson, were characteristic of typical animal behavior. He found it implausible that the tracks could be the result of a hoax, given the level of detail and precision involved in their creation.

The idea of an undiscovered giant penguin roaming the beach without anyone noticing seemed more plausible to him.

Uncovering the truth

Fast forward to 1988. That’s when the truth behind the peculiar footprints was finally revealed. A local man named Tony Signorini stepped forward and confessed to the prank.

Signorini and his friend, Al Williams, were inspired by a National Geographic photo of dinosaur footprints. Motivated by a mischievous spirit, they decided to embark on a decade-long hoax. They constructed enormous three-toed metal feet, which they attached to tennis shoes. Their plan involved taking a small rowboat out to sea, with one of them wearing the 14-kilogram (30-pound) shoes and walking up the beach. Later, they would rendezvous with the boat further along the coast.

To create the illusion of a large stride, Signorini would stand on one leg and swing the other, building momentum for a jump. The pair often had their friend report the footprints the following day to ensure their efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed. They meticulously orchestrated a prank that fooled the public and even experts for an astonishing four decades.

After Signorini’s passing in 2013, his family made sure that his obituary commemorated his role as “The Clearwater Monster.”

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Source: “The Giant Penguin Hoax That Fooled Florida For 10 Whole Years” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13384 – Centralia Mine Fire

In Pennsylvania, a fire has been burning underground since May 1962. This coal-seam fire, known as the Centralia mine fire, has defied all attempts to extinguish it and continues to smolder to this day.

The origins of the Centralia mine fire

The exact cause and start date of the Centralia mine fire remains a matter of debate. Some suggest that it was ignited deliberately on May 27, 1962. That’s when the town council set a fire to clean up the landfill in an abandoned strip mine. However, others argue that the fire had already been burning before that fateful day. They think it may have originated from the Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932.

Regardless of its precise origin, the fire quickly spread into the labyrinth of abandoned coal mines beneath Centralia. This helped perpetuate its unstoppable grip on the town.

The extent of the destruction

The Centralia mine fire is estimated to have the potential to burn for more than 250 years. It stretches over an area of 3,700 acres and reaches depths of up to 300 feet. This is a result of the abundance of coal and network of underground tunnels providing a fuel source.

Efforts to extinguish the fire have been futile, with multiple excavation projects failing to snuff out the flames.

The impact of the Centralia mine fire on the town and its residents has been catastrophic. Over time, the hazardous levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and low oxygen levels caused health concerns, leading to the evacuation and relocation of most residents.

By 2017, the population dwindled to just five residents. That’s a stark contrast to the 1,500 inhabitants at the time the fire began. Abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructure, and eerie streets shrouded in smoke have transformed Centralia into an unlikely tourist attraction.

The ongoing legacy of the fire

As the fire persisted, legal battles and controversies emerged. In 1992, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey invoked eminent domain, condemning all the buildings in Centralia. The government offered the residents buyouts, and most accepted, leaving only a handful determined to remain in their homes.

Despite appeals, the remaining residents were eventually ordered to leave. However, the town reached an agreement in 2013 to allow some holdouts live out their lives before the properties would be taken through eminent domain.

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Source: “This Mine Fire Has Been Burning For Over 50 Years” — History Channel

WTF Fun Fact 13367 – Shortest Commerical Flight

When we think of air travel, we tend to think of long-haul flights and transcontinental journeys. But there are also short flights. In fact, the world’s shortest commercial flight lasts a mere 57 seconds (sometimes 90).

Where does the shortest commercial flight go?

This unique route connects the Scottish islands of Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkney archipelago.

These two charming islands steeped in history and natural beauty. Situated close to each other, separated only by a narrow stretch of water, these islands provide the backdrop for the world’s shortest airline flight.

Spanning a distance of approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers), the Westray to Papa Westray flight route has gained worldwide fame for its timing. Operated by Loganair, Scotland’s national airline, this short hop is an essential lifeline for the local community, connecting residents, and providing essential transportation between the two islands.

What it’s like on a 57-second airplane journey

The aircraft employed for this short flight is typically the Britten-Norman Islander, a versatile twin-engine light aircraft. Designed for short-haul regional flights, the Islander offers excellent maneuverability.

Some flights between the islands can last 90 seconds. Regardless of the flight length, passengers experience a thrillingly rapid ascent and descent. However, the brevity of the flight often means that the passengers barely have time to buckle their seatbelts before reaching their destination.

Passengers also get a unique opportunity to take in the breathtaking beauty of the Orkney Islands from an aerial perspective. While the duration of this flight may be short, its significance to the local community cannot be overstated. For the residents of Westray and Papa Westray, this regular air service provides is essential. It’s used for commuting, transporting goods, accessing medical services, and maintaining social connections.

The Westray to Papa Westray flight operates according to a tightly coordinated schedule. Flights typically depart from Westray Airport and arrive at Papa Westray Airport multiple times a day. This ensures that the community has reliable access to this vital transportation link.

To celebrate this extraordinary flight, passengers are presented with a certificate upon completion of the journey. The certificate serves as a unique memento, reminding travelers of their participation in this exceptional aviation experience.

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Source: “What it’s like to fly on the shortest commercial flight in the world, which lasts just 57 seconds” — Business Insider

WTF Fun Fact 13359 – The Biltmore Mansion Railroad

The Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina features 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, and elaborate gardens and grounds that sprawl over 8,000 acres.

During the mansion’s construction, a miniature railroad system was built to transport the massive amounts of building materials required to construct the estate. After the mansion’s construction was completed, the railway system was repurposed for transporting guests and farm products around the estate.

Building The Biltmore Mansion

In the late 1800s, George Washington Vanderbilt II commissioned the construction of the Biltmore Mansion in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The estate still stands as a major tourist attraction. It features a whopping 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, and gardens that span over 8,000 acres.

Constructing the Biltmore was no easy feat. The mansion necessitated a massive amount of construction materials. And these had to be transported to the remote construction site in the mountains and over rugged terrain.

That’s why Vanderbilt commissioned the construction of a miniature railroad system to transport the building materials to the site. The narrow-gauge system spanned over three miles and used a small steam engine that pulled flatbed railcars loaded with supplies like bricks, lumber, and stones.

Navigating the Blue Ridge Mountains

The railroad system was a significant engineering feat for its time. It was designed to navigate the steep inclines and tight corners of the mountainous terrain with ease. It was also able to transport much larger quantities of building materials than traditional wagons or trucks. As a result, Vanderbilt was able to transport massive amounts of building materials to create his elaborate mansion.

Once the mansion was completed, Vanderbilt repurposed the railway system to transport guests and farm products around the estate. Visitors could also take a ride on the railway and enjoy the scenic beauty of the estate’s gardens and grounds.

Today, visitors to the Biltmore Mansion can see remnants of the railway system, including the original steam engine, tracks, and bridges.

Today, remnants of this innovative transportation system – the original steam engine, tracks, and bridges – are still visible. They serve as a powerful reminder of the bold vision and ingenious problem-solving that went into constructing the Biltmore Mansion, adding another layer of intrigue for modern visitors.

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Source: “Building an Empire: Restoring the Biltmore Estate” — Yesterday’s America

WTF Fun Fact 13356 – The Design of 432 Park Ave

Manhattan’s 432 Park Ave is one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. Interestingly, the inspiration for the facade came from an unexpected source: a trash can.

Designing Manhattan’s 432 Park Ave

Rafael Viñoly was the architect behind 432 Park Avenue’s design. And he found inspiration in the work of Austrian designer Josef Hoffmann. Hoffmann was a prominent figure in the early 20th century, known for his role in founding the Wiener Werkstätte, a community of artists, designers, and craftsmen dedicated to creating high-quality, handcrafted objects. Among Hoffmann’s numerous designs was a 1905 wastepaper basket. It featured a simple, elegant cubic design featuring a square cutout pattern.

Viñoly saw beauty in the minimalism and geometric pattern of Hoffmann’s trash can and decided to incorporate these design elements into the exterior of 432 Park Avenue. The result is a grid of large windows.

From trash to treasure

The building, completed in 2015, is 1,396 feet (425.5 meters) tall. That makes it one of the tallest residential buildings in the world.

432 Park Ave has 96 floors and a total of 104 condominiums. Each floor features just one or two luxury residences.

The building’s slender design is an iconic part of Manhattan’s skyline, but its construction presented unique engineering challenges. To ensure the building’s stability and withstand strong winds, engineers needed unique structural supports to withstand winds.

Furthermore, to counteract the swaying that tall buildings can experience, engineers installed two tuned mass dampers on the 88th floor. These massive steel and concrete structures weigh approximately 1,200 tons and stabilize the building by counteracting movements caused by wind.

For all the luxury inside, you’d never know it all started with a trash can.

The influence of Josef Hoffmann’s wastepaper basket on 432 Park Avenue highlights the beauty of finding inspiration in everyday objects. The ability to transform a humble item into the basis for an architectural marvel speaks volumes about Rafael Viñoly’s ingenuity and creative vision.

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Source: “NYC’s $1.3B Supertall Skyscraper Was Inspired by a Trash Can” — Wired

WTF Fun Fact 13347 – Metallica Concert in Antarctica

Would you attend a Metallica concert in Antarctica? It may have been cold, but it was also history-making.

The iconic heavy metal band etched its name in the annals of music history on December 8, 2013, by becoming the first musical act to perform on all seven continents.

Metallica plays Antarctica

Metallica’s concert in Antarctica took place near the Argentine Antarctic Base Carlini, located on King George Island. They dubbed it “Freeze ‘Em All.”

This remote and inhospitable location provided the backdrop for an unforgettable musical event. The concert was not only a testament to the band’s global reach but also a unique opportunity for a small audience of contest winners and researchers stationed at the base to witness an extraordinary performance.

To ensure the success of the concert despite the harsh Antarctic environment, a transparent dome was erected to protect the band’s equipment and the attending audience from the extreme cold temperatures. To minimize any potential environmental impact, the sound from the concert was transmitted to the audience through headphones, enabling them to fully immerse themselves in the music without disturbing the delicate Antarctic ecosystem.

Global reach

Metallica’s decision to play in Antarctica not only showcased its groundbreaking spirit but also underlined its commitment to connecting with fans across the globe. By venturing to the southernmost continent, the band demonstrated their willingness to push boundaries and explore uncharted musical territories. This endeavor cemented Metallica’s reputation as a pioneering force in the music industry.

The significance of Metallica’s concert in Antarctica extended beyond the performance itself. It symbolized the power of music to transcend geographical boundaries and unite people from diverse backgrounds. The audience comprised not only die-hard Metallica fans but also scientists and researchers stationed at the Argentine Antarctic Base Carlini.

Making history

The Metallica concert in Antarctica marked a milestone in music history. It showcased the band’s adventurous spirit, their commitment to their fans, and their willingness to push boundaries. By conquering the seventh continent, Metallica solidified its position as a truly global band.

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Source: “Metallica Play a Dome in Antarctica” — Rolling Stone

WTF Fun Fact 13330 – Kamikatsu Recycling

Kamikatsu recycling is intense. Citizens are expected to separate their recycling into 45 different categories! Kamikatsu is a small town located in Tokushima prefecture in Japan. It has become a paragon of innovation in waste management and, more specifically, recycling.

How did the strict Kamikatsu recycling program begin?

They began their journey to zero waste began in 2003 when the government mandated a policy to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. The town stepped up in a big way, making its unique zero-waste initiative become a model for sustainability.

Kamikatsu’s strict recycling program requires residents to sort their waste into 45 different categories. The program is designed to maximize the amount of waste that can be recycled or reused and minimize the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

Some of the categories include:

  • Paper (including newspapers, magazines, cardboard, and packaging)
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminum cans and foil
  • Steel cans
  • Plastic containers (sorted by type)
  • PET bottles (sorted by color)
  • Tetra Pak packaging (such as juice boxes)
  • Food waste (to be composted)
  • Textiles (such as clothing and fabric)
  • Appliances and electronics
  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Bulky waste (such as furniture and mattresses)
  • Construction waste

Residents are even required to wash their waste before placing it into the correct bins.

What are the challenges of this type of program?

The town’s recycling facility has separate areas for each category of waste, and staff members carefully sort the materials. Of course, this comes with challenges. One is the cost of transportation – the town is in a remote location.

The second challenge is one all towns and cities face – the need to change the mindset and behavior of residents. The town has implemented a variety of programs to educate residents about the importance of waste reduction and recycling, including workshops, events, and campaigns.

However, changing deeply ingrained habits and attitudes takes time and persistence. As you might imagine, the town’s strict recycling requirements have been met with mixed reactions from residents. Some find the requirements to be burdensome and time-consuming.

Nevertheless, Kamikatsu has become a model for sustainable waste management and has earned international recognition for its sustainability project.

Meeting goals

Originally, the goal was for Kamikatsu to become a zero-waste town by 2020. While the town did not exactly happen, it has made significant progress in reducing its waste output.

By 2020, over 80% of its waste was being recycled, composted, or reused. The town has also taken steps towards becoming carbon-neutral, building a solar power plant and financing a project to turn food waste into biogas.

In 2016, the town opened its Zero Waste Academy to educate visitors about its recycling program.

Kamikatsu’s journey towards zero waste and carbon neutrality is a glimpse into a sustainable future and an inspiration to individuals and communities around the world.

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Source: “‘No-waste’ Japanese village is a peek into carbon-neutral future” — The Guardian