Thomassons Are Functionally Useless Architectural Relics

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Thomassons Are Functionally Useless Architectural Relics

Stroll about your city, and you'll likely notice a few staircases leading to nowhere, doors opening to brick walls, or pipes filled with nothing at all. Why have these useless vestiges been saved—or even, in some cases, maintained? The architectural relics scattered throughout your town that are purposefully preserved despite being functionally useless are known as "Thomassons," and they have an interesting backstory.

How Alonzo Clemons Overcame A Brain Injury To Become A World-Class Sculptor

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How Alonzo Clemons Overcame A Brain Injury To Become A World-Class Sculptor

You've probably dabbled with Play-Doh as a kid. Most people's sculpting experience ends around there, but that wasn't the case for Alonzo Clemons. Severely disabled as a young child, Clemons could barely speak, nor could he feed himself or tie his own shoes. But his disability brought on one important gift—acquired savant syndrome, a condition where high-level, often prodigious skills appear after a brain injury. This gave Clemons an uncanny ability to create hyper-accurate sculptures of animals that started from a young age and only sharpened as he grew up. Today, he can simply glance at a horse on TV and, in just 20 minutes, sculpt a clay figure of that horse that is anatomically correct down to every muscle. Despite his still very limited vocabulary, Clemons has shown his work throughout the world. Hear Clemons speak about his work in the video below.

The Rube Goldberg Machine Is A Complicated Machine That Does Simple Tasks

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The Rube Goldberg Machine Is A Complicated Machine That Does Simple Tasks

You may have heard a convoluted concept described as a "Rube Goldberg" before...then wondered what in the world that meant. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Rube Goldberg as "doing something simple in a very complicated way that is not necessary." Rube Goldberg was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, who made some pretty complicated machines.The cartoon in the image below, called "Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin," is one of the most famous Rube Goldberg machines. As Wonderopolis explains, this cartoon "sums up what Rube Goldberg machines are all about: creating a machine (or contraption or invention or device or apparatus) that uses a chain reaction to accomplish a very simple task in a very complicated manner." Through a convoluted series of events, the self-operating napkin accomplishes the simple task of wiping his chin.

The AuthaGraph Is The World's Most Accurate Map

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The AuthaGraph Is The World's Most Accurate Map

You may not know this, but the world map you've been using since, say, kindergarten, is pretty wonky. The Mercator projection map is the most popular, but it is also riddled with inaccuracies. Areas like Greenland, Antarctica, and Africa are all distorted on traditional Mercator maps because it's difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the globe in two dimensions. But Hajime Narukawa, a Keio University graduate student in Tokyo, worked for six years to finally resolve this issue.

Nobody Knows Who Designed The Taj Mahal

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Nobody Knows Who Designed The Taj Mahal

If someone asked you to list the most important architecture in the world, the Taj Mahal would likely make your list. For this reason, it may be surprising to learn that NO ONE can say for sure who designed this famous structure. The identity of its architect remains a mystery to this day.The name most often attached to the Taj Mahal is that of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan. But he only commissioned the structure. The Taj Mahal was originally created to hold the remains of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal (translated as "Chosen One of the Palace"). Mahal died tragically after the birth of their 14th child, and Jahan ordered the mausoleum to be built in honor of the favorite of his three queens.