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Be Amazing: Move a Whole Town

Whether you're looking to become invisible, swallow a sword, quit smoking, find Atlantis, buy the Moon, sink a battleship, perform your own surgeries, or become a ninja, our new book Be Amazing covers all the essential life skills! This week, we'll be excerpting a few lessons from the book.

Hibbing, Minnesota, was a mining town. Established in 1893, it quickly became the largest of several cities built on the Mesabi Range iron-ore deposits. Known as the "richest village in the world," the town grew to a population of 20,000 by 1915 and boasted opulent hotels, decorative Victorian banks, and all the cultural amenities of "big city" life. But, in 1912, a geologic survey revealed that Hibbing was actually closer to the iron ore than any of its founders had anticipated—as in, right on top of it. Clearly, something had to give, and in an area where iron was king that something was obviously going to be the city of Hibbing.

Lust for iron aside, the locals weren't quite ready to raze the town and start over from scratch.

Balancing greed with thriftiness, they simply decided to reuse what they already had—moving the bulk of the town two miles to the south and out of the way of the strip mining machines. Amazingly, for an era when heavy construction equipment was still just a twinkle in a foreman's eye, this plan actually worked. Hibbing survived and the awkwardly placed iron mine, now known as the Hull-Rust, is the largest open-pit mine in the world today, covering 2,291 acres and producing 1.4 billion tons of ore. Granted, your hometown might not sit on top of a veritable gold mine of, well, iron, but if you don't try moving it you'll never know for sure.

YOU WILL NEED

"¢ A town
"¢ Horses
"¢ Logs
"¢ Chains
"¢ A very understanding citizenry

Step 1: LOSE THE FOUNDATION

It was just holding you down anyway! Mary Jane Finsand's book, The Town That Moved, explains how the citizens of Hibbing slowly jacked up their public buildings and homes high enough that they were no longer connected to the foundations beneath.

Step 2: GET ON A ROLL

Giant trees from the nearby forest were felled and stripped to become rollers, which were laid one after another beneath each building. Chains attached the building to a team of horses. As it moved across the line of rollers, workmen would bring the end log around to the front. Hey, we just said the process worked . . . not that it was fast! Moving began in 1919, but the final building didn't make the journey until the 1960s.

Step 3: BE SAFE

The people of Hibbing trusted the movers not just with their possessions but also with their lives. Many houses were actually moved with all the furniture and residents riding inside. Lucky for them, the movers had a pretty solid success rate. Of the 200 buildings moved, only one didn't survive the trip.

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Big Questions
How Are Royal Babies Named?
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Jack Taylor, Getty Images

After much anticipation, England's royal family has finally received a tiny new addition. The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second son was confirmed by Kensington Palace on April 23, but the name of the royal newborn has yet to be announced. For the heir to the British throne and his wife, choosing a name for their third child—who is already fifth in line to the throne—likely won't be as easy as flipping through a baby name book; it's tradition for royals to select names that honor important figures from British history.

According to ABC WJLA, selecting three or four names is typical when naming a royal baby. Will and Kate followed this unwritten rule when naming their first child, George Alexander Louis, and their second, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Each name is an opportunity to pay homage to a different British royal who came before them. Some royal monikers have less savory connotations (Prince Harry's give name, Henry, is reminiscent of a certain wife-beheading monarch), but typically royal babies are named for people who held a significant and honorable spot in the family tree.

Because there's a limited pool of honorable monarchs from which to choose, placing bets on the royal baby name as the due date approaches has become a popular British pastime. One name that keeps cropping up this time around is James; the original King James ruled in the early 17th century, and it has been 330 years since a monarch named James wore the crown.

If the royal family does go with James for the first name of their youngest son, that still leaves at least a couple of slots to be filled. So far, the couple has stuck with three names each for their children, but there doesn't seem to be a limit; Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to George VI in 1936, shouldered the full name of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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technology
Amazon Is Reportedly Working on a Home Robot
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iStock

If you feel as though Amazon’s various Echo devices, Dash buttons, Kindle readers, Prime boxes, and other products have left you needing even more of the shopping giant’s presence in your life, you’re in luck. According to reports, the company is working on a robot that could soon be locomoting around your home and collecting terabytes of data in the process.

Bloomberg reports that Amazon is currently working on development of the robots under the project name “Vesta,” after the Roman goddess of hearth and home. The speculation is that Amazon wants to finalize a design that would allow the robot to move from one room to another and utilize an on-board camera to acquire information about their human companion. Those familiar with the project believe that it might be a kind of mobile Alexa, Amazon’s current AI interface that allows people to order products and acts as a kind of universal remote for the home.

With a camera and wheels, a portable Alexa might be able to be more proactive in checking for bathrooms low on toilet paper or kitchen cupboards that might need more packaged goods. It might also be able to respond to commands when its owner has moved to an area out of Alexa’s reach.

The size, features, battery life, price, and adorableness of the robot are all still unknown. If the project continues to move forward, it might be beta-tested in Amazon employee homes in late 2018, before coming to market in 2019.

[h/t the Verge]

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