2018-12-01:
Paint Drying (2016)

Welcome to the 7th Advent Calendar of Curiosities! You can find all prior content on the main page! Subscribe to the feed, or simply follow me on Twitter to be notified of new content. Enjoy! ^_^

Paint Drying is a 10-hour movie directed by the British filmmaker Charlie Lyne and released in 2016. It literally shows a single, unbroken shot of white paint drying on a brick wall.

With this movie, Lyne is protesting against the practices of the British Board of Film Classification, specifically against censorship and mandatory classification: all movies shown in UK cinemas have to be reviewed by the BBFC, and the filmmakers have to pay around 500 GBP per hour of film material.

But on the flip side, the BBFC is also required to watch the movies submitted to them in full. Lyne raised the money for submitting the film on Kickstarter. According to a BBFC spokesperson, "Examiners are required to watch a very wide variety of content every day, so this didn't phase them."

The movie was rated "U" for "Universal".

2018-12-02:
The Big Bay Boom Incident

The Big Bay Boom is an annual fireworks show that takes place in San Diego since 2001. It claims to be one of the largest and logistically most complex fireworks in the world.

But in 2012, 7000 fireworks intended for a 17-minute show went off at once, and exploded simultaneously in less than a minute. Nobody was harmed. The incident was blamed on a corrupted computer file.

2018-12-03:
Bubblegum Broccoli

In an attempt to provide children with more healthy food, McDonald's allegedly once experimented with broccoli flavored like bubblegum. According to then-CEO Donald Thompson, the flavor turned out to be confusing for children, and thus, the broccoli was never introduced.

2018-12-04:
Cloaca

Cloaca is a conceptual art installation by the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. It is a machine that simulates a digestive tract: Food can be fed to a transparent bowl at one end, and it then passes through a series of tubes and containers, until a feces-like substance is ejected at the other end.

Delvoye sells the (realistically smelling) output for 1500 EUR a piece. According to him, "it is selling very well".

According to Delvoye, the art piece is a comment to the pointlessness of modern life. He wanted to build the most useless machine – one that reduces food to waste.

2018-12-05:
Polydactyl Cats

Usually, cats have 18 toes: five toes on each fore paw, and four on each hind paw. But then, there are polydactyl cats, which have more toes than that, with up to seven toes per paw. The recognized world record for the highest number of toes is 28.

The trait seems to be most widespread along the east coast of North America. It is not common in Europe, probably because the cats were associated with witchcraft and killed.

Polydactyl cats were valued on board of sailing ships for their extraordinary climbing and hunting abilities. Sailors also thought they brought good luck at sea.

2018-12-06:
Exploding Toads

In 2005, there was a pond near Hamburg, Germany, where about a thousand toads exploded in just a few days. The event dumbfounded scientists for several weeks. The area was closed down by the police out of fear of a infectious disease.

Finally, an animal doctor found the explanation: The toads were so distracted due to their mating season that crows, which also lived near the pond, could pick the toads' skin open, pull out their liver and eat it. Later, when the toads tried to inflate their bodies as a defensive reaction, the opened skin couldn't hold the pressure, leading to the explosion.

2018-12-07:
The Icelandic Phallological Museum

According to the museum's website, it contains "more than two hundred and fifteen penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland."

"Now, thanks to The Icelandic Phallological Museum, it is finally possible for individuals to undertake serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion."

2018-12-08:
Strangler fig

The strangler fig is a rain forest plant, which has developed a special strategy to survive and spread: When birds put its seed at the top of other trees, the fig just starts growing there, where it already has access to sunlight. It then grows its roots down to the ground, and while doing so, envelops its host tree. Sometimes, it will fully enclose the host tree with its leaves and roots, so the host dies. But at this point, the strangler fig has developed a stable structure, and can survive on its own.

2018-12-09:
Simulation hypothesis

The simulation hypothesis states that we most likely live inside a computer simulation.

The argument goes like this: Computer games have gotten dramatically more realistic over the last decades. In comparison to Pong, modern 3D games look a lot like the real world, and VR games even go one step further. If we assume that the games get more realistic every year - even by a tiny bit - eventually they will be indistinguishable from reality. At that point, a lot people might have such simulation games in their video consoles.

Considering that we can't distinguish between being inside such a game and being in the "real world", and that there are many simulations, but only one real world, it is very likely that we are inside such a simulation.

I've recently heard one addition to this theory: The reality layer above ours, which runs our simulation, is probably really boring. When you look at games and movies produced by us, they always compress interesting stuff into a limited amount of time and space. Probably, the beings which created our simulation would have done the same, and made it more exciting or interesting than their reality.

2018-12-10:
Opening soon!