The Reason There's Over a Hundred Abandoned Giant Arrows Across the U.S.

Being an airmail pilot in the 1920s was a dangerous occupation—according to Half as Interesting, the average person in that profession died after just 900 hours of flying. One of the biggest dangers had to do with navigating at night; once darkness fell, pilots often had no idea where they were going. Aviation maps didn't exist yet, and this was decades before the days of GPS. For a while, pilots had to rely on giant bonfires next to landing strips. But eventually the U.S. government hit on a solution: thousands of giant glowing arrows, known as airway beacons, showing the way across the country. The arrows, accompanied by lighted towers and erected every 10-15 miles from New York to San Francisco, made airmail faster, cheaper—and most importantly, much safer for pilots.

By World War II, most of the arrows were scrapped as advances in radar and radio communications made them obsolete, but at least 121 still remain across the country. (CityLab notes that Montana still uses about 19 of them for pilots flying through the mountains.) And they haven't been entirely forgotten: The site Arrows Across America is devoted to photos and details of the remaining arrows.

You can learn more about how the arrows worked, and where they are now, in the Half as Interesting video below.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Wisconsin Corn Maze Highlights the Tardigrade—"The World's Most Resilient Animal"

Treinen Farm
Treinen Farm

On some farms, designing a corn maze is a chance to create larger-than-life art. There have been mazes modeled after flags, dinosaurs, and video game characters—but this tardigrade corn maze, spotted by Atlas Obscura, may be a first.

Tardigrades—also called "moss piglets" or "water bears"—are microscopic organisms that thrive in a variety of environments around the world. Real tardigrades are too small to see with the naked eye, but that's certainly not the case with the tardigrade maze at Treinen Farm; from the air, it's impossible to miss.

Angie Treinen owns the Wisconsin farm with her husband, and she was inspired to design a maze in the image of the tardigrade after learning about them at a science event a few years ago. Like much of the internet, she was instantly smitten with their stubby legs and roly-poly bodies. They also turned out to be the perfect mascot for 2020; water bears are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth, surviving in tundras, at the bottom of the ocean, and even in space.

"I think I stumbled upon the idea to do a tardigrade pretty early on, but I rejected it for a long time," Angie wrote on the farm's website. "As a huge nerd, I’d seen water bears at an event at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and I thought they were fascinating and amazing and exactly what we needed: tiny, adorable, unbelievably tough."

The tardigrade corn maze took 120 to 150 hours to cut and covers 15 acres. Guests can experience the maze in person at Treinen Farm now through November 8, 2020.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]