Wonder is everywhere. That’s why, every other week, Atlas Obscura drags you down some of the rabbit holes we encounter as we search for our unusual stories. We highlight surprising finds, great writing, and inspiring stories from some of our favorite publications.
By Michael Zelenko, Jon Lubwama, Abhaya Raj Joshi, Sultan Quadri, Daniela Dib, Lucia Cholakian Herrera, and Viola Zhou, Rest of World
The world’s first Internet cafe opened in London in 1994. Within a few years, they were everywhere, often providing customers with their first moment in the internet era. “The first day I entered, I didn’t believe it,” a university student in Accra recalled. “I didn’t believe it was Ghana.” Today, though, this communal space for exploring cyberspace has all but disappeared, lost to smartphones and the pandemic. Rest of the World visits Uganda, Nepal, Nigeria, Mexico, Argentina, and Hong Kong to visit the world’s last Internet cafes.
by Michael Clair, MLB.com
The Bhutan Baseball and Softball Association began with a social media post: “Hey guys, we’re playing baseball this weekend. Anybody interested?” To the surprise of the organizers, 50 or 60 children showed up to play a sport many had never seen before. Within a few weeks it was 600 or 700. And today, baseball is the fastest-growing sport in the mountainous country, where even finding a flat playing field can be a challenge.
by Sam Lubell, Fast Company
In Punjab in northern India, many houses are topped with practical water tanks in ornate, fanciful shapes: a sewing machine, a kangaroo, the Statue of Liberty, or a weightlifter to name just a few. But why? The complex answer goes back decades.
by Eleanor Noyce, Independent
A coastal town in England is baffled—and pleased—by the sudden appearance of an eight-foot sculpture inscribed with the name of the Baltic god of thunder. “It is not quite a Banksy,” says the Kent Wildlife Trust, which manages the cliffside where it stands, “but perhaps the totem pole artist equivalent?”
by Aleksandar Vasovic, Reuters
An excavator digging for coal in a quarry in eastern Serbia uncovered the remains of an enormous ship, possibly from the third or fourth century, when the area was home to the thriving Roman city of Viminacium. Archaeologists are now racing to preserve the wood and figure out how to move the delicate, 43-foot-long vessel.
by Jessica Murray, The Guardian
The Crook House pub—a 260-year-old building where marbles seemed to roll uphill—was destroyed by fire and unapproved demolition. The Staffordshire, England, community is mourning the loss of its most famous landmark, with makeshift memorials, protests and a call from the West Midlands mayor to rebuild the architectural oddity “brick by brick.”
by Kasha Patel, Washington Post
About two billion years ago, an asteroid hit modern-day South Africa, creating the Vredefort Impact Crater, the world’s largest known crater. But today Vredefort, and other craters like it, are disappearing as a result of erosion. Important scientific data about the origins of life is also being lost, say researchers hunting for as-yet undiscovered impact sites.