Worst Ways to Die Are Pretty Weird (and Gruesome)

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Worst Ways to Die Are Pretty Weird (and Gruesome)

Elaborate Mosaics Unearthed in ‘Lost’ Roman City

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Elaborate Mosaics Unearthed in ‘Lost’ Roman City

Phallic Curiosity: How a Whale Penis Came to the Explorers Club

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Phallic Curiosity: How a Whale Penis Came to the Explorers Club

10 Ways Space Is Unveiling The Mysteries Of Our World

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10 Ways Space Is Unveiling The Mysteries Of Our World



Just in case the idea of showing up on Google Street View doesn’t bother you enough, there’s an amazing amount of scientific research and studies about the planet being done from orbit. It’s more than a little frightening just how much scientists and astronauts are able to tell about the planet—and us—from miles and miles away.


10Holiday Light And Energy Use

1- holidays

Photo credit: NASA

Chances are, the last people you’d expect to enjoy your beautiful display of holiday lights are NASA scientists. But they’re not only enjoying them, they’re making good use out of them, too.

For the last few years, scientists at NASA have been using satellite imagery to create a worldwide picture of who’s celebrating what holiday—and it’s not for the reason you might think. During the holidays, people are deviating from their usual behavior patterns. They’re going out more, staying up later, and they’re leaving more lights on around the house than they usually would, and that has a huge impact on global energy use.

Getting an accurate picture of the lights has been surprisingly difficult. In 2011, a satellite was launched with the frightening capability of being able to pick up light traces as faint as those belonging to a single-person fishing boatsomewhere off the African coast. The same satellite can also sort through the overload of data that comes from the world’s most populated areas, and it was only when researchers started looking at the progression of data throughout the year that they realized they could tell exactly what countries were celebrating what holidays.

And it’s telling them a lot. Analyzing increased energy usage is also giving them insight into other things, like how the levels of carbon emissions change throughout the year and how energy demands fluctuate. Down the road, this data might lead to ways to use energy more efficiently.

9Measuring Ocean Salinity

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With the launch of the satellite Aquarius, NASA is getting an entirely new picture of just what the salinity levels of the planet’s waters look like. Aquarius is about 650 kilometers (400 mi) above the surface of the planet, and it orbits us in a pattern that allows it to cover the entire Earth every seven days. Capable of measuring the salinity of water to an incredibly minute degree, the satellite had already collected a staggering amount of data in its first two months in orbit—more than we’ve collected from Earthin the past 125 years.

The picture that it’s created is allowing scientists to track not only levels of salinity in the ocean, but also trace water currents, letting them see just what kind of impact melting glaciers and ice caps are having on the planet’s waterways. The satellite is also mapping freshwater currents, giving researchers a look at how the two types of water mix.

Originally launched in June 2011, the satellite cost a staggering $400 million to build, program, and launch. Two decades in the making, the entire thing began with scientists flying a small aircraft over an outdoor pool.


8Space-Based Perfumes

3- rose
When it comes to using science for amazing, groundbreaking discoveries that will change our lives for the better, chances are you’re not going to think of the development of a new kind of perfume. Clearly, you don’t work for perfume manufacturers International Flowers & Fragrances.

In 1998, they teamed up with NASA to create a special sort of greenhouse that would grow flowers in space. It supplied plants with all the Earth-bound basics they would need, but after a rose spent 10 days in space, it returned smelling strangely different. This is because of the different circumstances that surround the flowers when they’re developing the essential oils that give them their smell. On Earth, the oils are created in response to pollinators or pests, and in space, there’s neither.

According to researchers, the rose they took into space had a much stronger scent than its planetside counterparts. Scent molecules taken from the space rose were then integrated into new perfumes. Companies are still sending up plants in an effort to develop new and different perfumes.

7Tracking Polar Bears

4- polar bears

Photo credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen

Even today, the Arctic climate presents some serious challenges to researchers looking to work in the frosty temperatures. It’s so brutal, in fact, that some scientists are finding it easier to look to space for their data collection.

Specifically, researchers are trying to determine just what kind of impact the loss of Arctic ice is having on the wildlife that relies on the ice cover for their survival. Keeping accurate tabs on how many individuals there are in wild populations can be difficult, but with satellite technology, researchers are able to keep an accurate eye on polar bear populations and where they’re going.

Original data was collected over the Canadian Arctic, where researchers from a handful of different organizations—including the Bureau of Ocean Management and the University of Minnesota—used satellite imagery to keep tabs on the bears. It proved harder than it might seem, with visual confirmation necessary for scientists to be sure that the spots they were looking at were actually polar bears.

Once they knew what they were looking for, though, they were able to compare their visual data with satellite images, ensuring that satellites will be able to allow researchers to monitor wildlife activity that would otherwise be impossible to observe.

6Measuring Gravity

5- gravity

Photo credit: NASA

The planet’s mass isn’t a constant when measured at different points, and that means that gravity also changes depending on where you are in the world. It’s most noticeable at the poles, but it fluctuates everywhere. That’s what GRACE is measuring. Launched in 2002, the GRACE satellites have spent their orbital lifetime mapping the planet’s gravitational field and how it changes over the years. The project required two identical craft outfitted with GPS technology which measured the pull of the planet’s gravitational force on them.

At a glance, it sounds like there couldn’t possibly be that much to measure. But gravitational forces are incredibly delicate, and researchers are able to put together an accurate picture of just how much Earth-bound occurrences like a melting ice sheet or a shifting glacier can change the planet’s gravity. It’s also allowing them to start building an accurate map of the ocean floor based on the interaction between underwater mountain ranges and gravitational forces. Once compiled, the data will also reveal patterns in how the geographical layout of the Earth is changing and, in turn, how that isimpacting ocean currents both on the surface and deep underwater.


5Mapping Soil Moisture

6- soil moisture
In January 2015, NASA launched their Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory on a three-year mission to collect data from the planet’s soil. No matter what kind of weather the satellite passes over from its height of 9 kilometers (5.6 mi), its instruments will be able to measure the amount of moisture in the top 5 centimeters (2 in) of soil anywhere in the world that’s not covered in ice or water.

SMAP will be recording a pretty mind-numbing amount of data from its orbit, since it’s able to measure water down to the moisture levels in individual soil, plant, and root particles. On a larger scale, the satellite will also be able to tell where the ground is frozen, although it won’t be able to measure ice.

The satellite will be traveling from pole to pole every 98 minutes, passing over and mapping the same area every two to three days and creating a hugely detailed map of the changes in soil conditions over the years. The impact can be staggering, as it will give researchers added insight into predicting weather patterns, determining the best times to plant, grow, and harvest crops, and predicting storms, rainy seasons, and changes in the weather patterns. Once they have yearly data, they’ll also be looking at how weather conditions change from year to year, and they’ll even be able to spot signs that an area is heading into a period of crop failure and famine.

43–D Forest Mapping

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In a recently green-lit project headed by the University of Maryland, NASA is going ahead with a program called Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI. Once launched, GEDI will be able to create incredibly detailed 3–D images of the planet’s forests.

The project will involve a series of optic sensors and lasers that will be beamed through forest canopies and reflected back into space. The time it takes the reflections to return, along with any interference that they encounters on the way, will be translated into a map of the forest below. The plan is to use around 16 billion of these laser pulses each year to map every temperate forest and rain forest on the planet. The maps will be so detailed that project leaders expect to be able to estimate the age of every tree in every forest.

The satellite will be able to tell where the tree canopy starts and how thick it is, as well as what the forest beneath looks like. That will, in turn, translate into a concrete map that shows just how climate change is impacting the world’s forests, how much carbon is being stored by the world’s trees, and how healthy the forests are in terms of biodiversity and animal habitats.


8- ecostress
The ECOSystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment (ECOSTRESS) is another of NASA’s projects that’s currently in the early stages of development, and its ambitious goal is to monitor the health of the world’s plants. The satellite will be capable of high-resolution, high-frequency measurements that will show how much water plants are losing through their pores, along with how much water is evaporating from the soil. It’ll also be looking at the temperatures of individual plants across the world by measuring the heat that’s given off from the planet’s surface compared against the heat signatures of individual plants.

Because all plants need a certain amount of water to survive, the satellite information will be able to detect problems before the plants actually begin to show signs of the stress that comes from water shortages. Researchers who are monitoring the data will be able to see crop failures before they happen and drought conditions that are just starting, and, most importantly, they’ll be able to do something about it before plants begin to die.

The satellite will pass over the same area about every four days, presenting an ever-evolving snapshot of farm, garden, and ecosystem conditions. The US Department of Agriculture is also getting involved in the project, hoping that eventually they’ll be able to pass on the information to farmers to allow them to make the best decisions for watering and irrigating their crops. In many areas, there are some pretty massive disagreements about the best way to use water resources, and ECOSTRESS will also be providing an overall picture of the planet’s water cycle to help maximize usage and crop efficiency.

2High-Resolution Maps Of Everything

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ASTER is an ongoing, joint project between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and is part of another satellite mission that was originally launched in 1999. Specifically, though, ASTER is taking incredible, high-resolution pictures of pretty much everything on the planet, and it’s seen some amazing things.

One of the most fascinating applications of the photos taken by ASTER has been archaeology. The high-res photos have revealed things like exposed fossils, bones, and stone tools in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The fossils are estimated to belong to one of the earliest human civilizations in history, dating back to 2.1 million years ago. The area, which was excavated in the 1930s, was also the site of the discovery of some of the oldest human fossils on record.

The data coming from ASTER is distributed to a huge amount of researchers monitoring a surprising range of natural phenomena. ASTER is allowing for the prediction of volcanic eruptions, the monitoring of the start and spread of wildfires, the creation of lava lakes, massive changes in the planet’s landscape due to erosion, rising sea levels, and deforestation. They’re also using the data to monitor protected areas like national parks and green spaces.

1Mapping The World’s Waters

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The United States, Canada, and France are collaborating on a project to essentially map the surface of the world’s waterways to a ridiculously exact degree. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission began in 2007 with the goal of creating a global picture of the world’s water.

The satellite maps about 90 percent of the planet’s water, recording surface height that’s accurate to within 0.8 centimeters (0.3 in). This will provide an unprecedented look into the ocean currents that, until now, we’ve known next to nothing about. Until recently, most of our knowledge of ocean currents came from tracking the paths of floating garbage, but with the SWOT program, researchers will be able to compare real-time images of ocean currents with other data—like weather patterns—in order to put together a complete picture of how the planet’s waters are changing over time.

It’s also going to be providing new insight into the world’s freshwater areas, showing researchers how water in the global water cycle is transferred and how water on the boundaries between freshwater and saltwater bodies interacts. The amount of data and the impact is pretty staggering—it’ll help us predict weather patterns and make ocean travel and navigation more efficient, to name a few applications. It’ll also provide data that will help hopefully ease some inter-governmental tensions, with advance warning for potential drought conditions, low levels in reservoirs, and potential problems with rivers shared by several countries or states.

Top 10 Rocks That Stink

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Top 10 Rocks That Stink



When people think about the properties of rocks, odor is not one of the things that comes to mind. Rocks and minerals aren’t known for what they smell like. Most handbooks and manuals of mineralogy make no mention of odor. In general, it’s true that most rocks don’t smell, but there are some that do.




Photo credit: Didier Descouens

Antozonite is a variety of the mineral fluorite with color that shades from dark violet to black. It’s not unusual for a mineral to have a nickname, but antozonite has several. In German, it is known as “stink-fluss” and “stink-spat.” In English, it has earned the names “stinkspar” and “fetid fluorite.” This rare form of fluorite is infamous for its smell.

When antozonite breaks or is crushed, it reeks. The source of the stench isfluorine gas trapped inside the tiny, porous spaces inside the mineral. When those pores are broken open, the acrid fluorine gas is released and reacts with oxygen and hydrogen in the air. The result of the reactions is pungent ozone gas and hydrofluoric acid vapor, which will attack any unsuspecting noses nearby. Fetid fluorite lives up to its name.



Photo credit: Nevada Outback Gems

Sphalerite is the scratch-and-sniff mineral. It is made up of the elements iron, zinc, and sulfur. It’s also the most important ore mineral for zinc. Sphalerite is commonly found around mineral-rich areas known as sulfide deposits. While it can form lovely transparent yellow-brown to black crystals, it often occurs as an ugly, dark lump with yellow, red, brown or black tints. Unfortunately, there are many other minerals that can also look like dark, ugly lumps with tints of various colors.

Because the color of sphalerite can be so different from place to place, almost every student who has ever taken a mineralogy class has learned a quick and easy scratch-and-sniff test to identify sphalerite: Use the mineral to scratch a piece of unglazed porcelain (called a streak plate), and immediately sniff the scratched mineral. The streak on the porcelain will be a shade of yellow, and the scratched mineral will have a sulfur-like smell resembling the odor of a just-lit match.



Jet Jewelry

Photo credit: Detlef Thomas

The poorest grade of coal is lignite. Living up to its identity as a fossil fuel, many pieces of lignite are true fossils that preserve the shape of trees and branches. The 19th-century Victorians liked to carve and polish lignite to a mirror finish and use it in jewelry. They named it jet. The best-known location for jet is the seaside town of Whitby, on England’s northeastern coast.

Queen Victoria made Whitby famous. After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Victoria dressed in mourning black for the rest of her life. She popularized jet jewelry from Whitby because jet was one of the few gemstones that didn’t clash with her all-black wardrobe. This makes jet the only fossil fuel that doubles as a fashion accessory.

One of the tests used to identify jet is to heat a needle and then stick it into the rock. If the rock is jet, it will smell like burning tar or coal. Black plastic will smell like burning plastic, and black gemstones like onyx and hematite will not smell at all after being poked with a hot needle. The hot needle test will leave a little pit on the surface of the jet, so it’s not a good idea to try this on your grandmother’s antique Victorian brooch.



Photo credit: Mauro Cateb

Many sulfide minerals are known for their sulfur-like stink. Pyrite, famously known as “fool’s gold,” is the shiny, gold-colored mineral often mistaken for gold. There is no gold in pyrite, only iron and sulfur. Unfortunately for amateur prospectors, pyrite and gold are often found in the same places. There are several ways to tell pyrite from gold, and one is with your nose.

When gold is warmed up, it has no smell, but when pyrite is warmed up, the mineral will begin to stink. Warmed pyrite releases sulfur into the air. That sulfur vapor wants to bond with oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere, producing hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. Hydrogen sulfide (HS) is responsible for the smell of rotten eggs. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is the smell of brimstone, the poetic name for burning sulfur. Hot fool’s gold: It stinks!



Photo credit: J.J. Harrison

Not all of the smelly sulfide minerals smell like sulfur. There is one mineral that is shiny like pyrite and also contains sulfur and iron like pyrite (plus one other element), but when struck with a hammer or scratched with unglazed porcelain, it smells like garlic! Even if you love garlic in your food, don’t go taking deep whiffs of this mineral because that one other element is arsenic. This mineral is called arsenopyrite, a pale yellow pyrite lookalike.

The garlic smell is actually the smell of arsenic trihydride, better known as arsine gas. The toxic gas released from scratching or striking a small piece of arsenopyrite isn’t enough to poison an adult, but arsenopyrite isn’t a mineral anyone wants to leave on a kitchen windowsill or in the centerpiece on the dining room table. It may be pretty, but you don’t want children and pets to get a hold of it.




Photo credit: Mindat.org

Anthraconite is a black limestone made of calcite and bitumen. It is also known as “stinkstone” or “swinestone.” Bitumen is that black, sticky tar that is mixed with sand and pebbles to make asphalt road surfaces, though some people use the word “asphalt” interchangeably with “bitumen.” In North America, many people use the word “asphalt” for both the tar substance and the road surface, while many people in Australia use the word “bitumen” in the same way. Regardless, anthraconite is full of bitumen.

If you rub anthraconite with a rag or heat it up, it lives up to its name and produces a fetid or tarry stench. Thankfully, it is an uncommon rock; there are only a few places with notable outcrops, like Michigan and Ontario in North America and Saxony-Anhalt in Germany.


Amber Jewelry

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Another organic gemstone that also has its own smell is amber. Like Whitby jet, amber is also a fossil. In this case, it’s fossilized free resin that is millions of year old. Amber isn’t black and opaque like jet. Instead, it is a clear, yellow-to-red stone, famous for washing up on beaches along the Baltic Sea. It is often less dense than saltwater, so it can float on the surface of ocean. Deposits of amber exist all over the world, and people find or dig for amber in places like Alaska, Prussia, Latvia, New Jersey, Kansas, and the Dominican Republic.

Like jet, the smell of amber is liberated using the hot needle test: Heat a needle up and sick it into the amber. The resultant smell is like burning pine sap or woody incense but with more smoke in it. The hot needle test will leave a pit in the amber, too.

The burning pine smell from amber is not the scent marketed by the perfume industry as “amber scent” or “essential oil of amber.” The use of the word “amber” in perfumes is unrelated to the actual gemstone. Perfume amber is based on modern wood oils and has nothing to do with rocks.

3Oil Shale

Oil Shale

Photo credit: Amcyrus2012

Shale is a clay-rich sedimentary rock found all over the world. If shale gets wet, it usually smells like mud or wet dirt. However, the rock known as oil shale has a smell like diesel oil or tar. That oily smell is from a petroleum-like substance known as kerogen. Kerogen is not yet oil. It needs to be heated or treated with solvents first to turn it into oil.

Getting the oil out of oil shale is not easy, as shale is good at preventing the flow of fluids like water and oil. Even if the kerogen could be turned into oil within the shale, pumping it out is expensive and difficult to do without harming groundwater or the environment. Some oil shale could be mined and then treated above the ground, but mining is expensive and, again, not friendly to the environment.

It will be a long time before anyone uses oil shale to produce oil. Regardless, it’s not hard to find an outcrop of oil shale in areas where it is common, like Northwestern Colorado in North America or coastal Queensland in Australia. On a warm day with no wind, just follow your nose.


No list of rocks that stink can omit the smelly rock made famous by the Bible itself: brimstone. The first famous mention of brimstone in the Bible comes from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 19, Verse 24: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” Equally as famous is the lake of fire and brimstone from Chapter 21, verse 8 in the Apocalypse of Saint John, better known as the Book of Revelation: “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”

“Brimstone” is an old name for sulfur, from the Old English “brynstan,” which means “burning rock.” Sulfur and fire are often found together at volcanoes. Volcanic gasses can deposit sulfur on the surfaces of volcanoes and around the mouths of volcanic steam vents called fumaroles. Sulfur is quite flammable, so volcanic eruptions will usually set any sulfur deposits that are present on fire. Fire and brimstone really do go together in nature. Pure, elemental sulfur has no smell. It is the sulfur dioxide smell produced byburning sulfur that is associated with fire and brimstone.



Photo credit: GOKLuLe

Kaolinite is the mineral name for China clay. It is a beautiful, white clay named after Kao-Ling Mountain in China. It is used to make all kinds of ceramics and is also safe to eat. While eating clay may sound strange, people have been swallowing kaolinite for years. It is used in medicines as well as toothpastes.

Up until the late 1980s, the anti-diarrhea drug Kaopectate had two active ingredients: kaolinite and pectin. The odorless sugar compound pectin is a soluble fiber and thickening agent used to make jellies and jams, while kaolinite is excellent at absorbing fluids. The combination of the two was effective against the runs. People old enough to remember the original Kaopectate may also remember its distinctly chalky, clayey smell. That is the smell of the mineral kaolinite.

Catherine Clark is a retired scientist and former college instructor of mineralogy. She writes a blog with the self-explanatory title of someonewaswrongontheinternet.com.

10 People Who Lived In An Airport

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10 People Who Lived In An Airport



An airport is not an ideal home. Unfortunately, some people have no choice but to live in one. A few simply aren’t allowed to leave until their paperwork is sorted out. Others have nowhere else to go. The following people spent weeks, months, and even years calling an airport home.


10Zahra Kamalfar

Zahra Kamalfar

Photo credit: www.cask.sk

Zahra Kamalfar and her husband attended a protest against the Iranian government in 2004. They were both arrested. Two years later, Kamalfar was given a two-day pass to visit her family. They told her that her husband had been executed. She decided to flee the country.

Kamalfar obtained false documents for her family. She and her children boarded a plane to Canada, where her brother lived. The family had to switch flights in both Russia and Germany. They managed to pass through the Russian airport. However, the Germans realized that their documentation was fake, and the family was sent back to Russia.

The Russians wanted to send them back to Iran, but the family didn’t have any travel or ID documents. The Russians tried to force them to sign documents that would send the family back to Iran. They then moved the family to the public area of the travel lounge. The Kamalfars slept on the floor, bathed in the bathrooms, and ate donated food.

Kamalfar applied for refugee status from the United Nations, but she was turned down. She appealed the decision, and she and her family were granted refugee status. After spending 10 months trapped in a Russian airport, Kamalfar and her children were finally allowed to emigrate to Canada.

9Feng Zhenghu

Feng Zhenghu

Photo credit: Feng Zhenghu

In 2009, Feng Zhenghu traveled to Japan to receive medical treatment. When he tried to return to China, he wasn’t allowed to enter the country. Zhenghu booked another flight, and again, he wasn’t allowed to enter. He ultimately tried to go home eight times. Four times, China sent him back, and the other four times, he wasn’t allowed to board the plane. He refused to enter Japan after his last attempt; Zhenghu chose to wait in the airport until Chinese officials allowed him to go home.

It was going to take a while. Zhenghu was a human rights activist who had written several pieces that were critical of the Chinese government. He’d reported on government officials’ violations of the law, and he’d composed volumes of 430 cases that described how citizens’ civil rights had been violated.

Zhenghu’s airport stay was unpleasant. He only had tap water to sustain himself for the first few days; Japanese officials refused to accept his money for food. He had to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive. Many people gave him goods, although nothing could improve his sleeping situation. Zhenghu slept on a steel bench, and he could only rest between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM. The airport was almost always busy.

After he had spent 92 days in the Japanese airport, he was allowed to return home. He did not receive a warm welcome. Zhenghu was placed under surveillance for a year. Then his phones and computers were confiscated, and he was placed under house arrest.


8Mohammed Al-Bahish

Mohammed al-Bahish

Photo credit: BBC News

Palestinian Mohammed al-Bahish met a woman on vacation in 2013, and the two made plans to marry. Al-Bahish booked a plane to Kazakhstan, where his girlfriend lived. The pair went to register their intention to marry. Then al-Bahish discovered that his refugee travel documents were missing, and his Kazakh visa had expired.

He flew to Turkey to renew his Kazakh visa, but he was turned back at the border and sent back to Kazakhstan. The Kazakhs wouldn’t let him enter the country because he didn’t have a visa. He had nowhere else to go, either: Israel wouldn’t let him travel to the Palestinian territories.

Al-Bahish was trapped in the airport. He was confined to a small, windowless room that had a bunk bed and a sofa. Airport security monitored his every move, and he was rarely allowed to leave the room. When he was given bathroom and coffee breaks, he was followed by security guards.

Al-Bahish spent five months stuck in the airport before he was given refuge in Finland. He started to learn Finnish while he waited for his girlfriend to join him.

7Kokoba De Jacques

Kokoba de Jacques

Photo credit: France 24

Kokoba de Jacques was a refugee from Ivory Coast. After traveling for several months, he decided to live in Morocco. He registered as an asylum seeker in 2012, and he was allowed to stay in the country.

Two years later, de Jacques requested authorization to leave, and it was granted. He spent four days visiting fellow refugees in Mauritania before returning to Morocco. Airport officials would not let him back into the country, however. They asked him to show proof of his residence and financial resources, and de Jacques showed them the documentation. They still wouldn’t let him into the country.

De Jacques was stuck in the airport. He wasn’t allowed to leave the transit zone, and they wouldn’t even let him get his luggage. He only had €100, which was spent on food. His money ran out after three weeks, and airport employees brought him bread and cheese to eat.

Luckily, de Jacques had his computer, and he could talk to relatives. He managed to get in contact with a lawyer, and a court ordered his release. The airport did not comply with the order for a week. When de Jacques was finally freed from the airport, he had spent 43 days sleeping on cardboard boxes. He was given no explanations or apologies.

6Anthony Delaney

Anthony Delaney

Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

In 2004, Anthony Delaney lost his job and his home. He couldn’t find a new job, and he became desperate. He only received £236 a month from the government—not enough to survive. Delaney didn’t want to sleep on the streets, so he went to a local airport and made it his home. He slept, ate, and showered there. He only left to collect his Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Officials didn’t like Delaney living in the airport, so they banned him. Delaney didn’t leave; the airport was the only place where he could be “clean, dry, and warm.” He was arrested several times. The courts pitied him at first. Then they learned that he’d been caught shoplifting CDs, and he admitted that he had stolen passengers’ baggage. Delaney spent a few months in jail. He went back to the airport after he was released.

Delaney had spent more than three years of his life living in the airport when he was arrested for the fifth time. The judge gave him a year to sort out his life, or he would be imprisoned. This time, he managed to get his life in order. He found an apartment, a girlfriend, and a job.


5Fadi Mansour

Fadi Mansour

Photo credit: Simon Schluter

Fadi Mansour fled Syria in 2012, due to the civil war. He was facing compulsory military service. He went to Turkey, although he made plans to leave when he found out that Syrians were barred from legal work.

He bought a fake passport and boarded a flight to Germany. The plane stopped in Malaysia, and they realized that his passport was fake. Mansour was sent back to Turkey. Turkish officials tried to send him back to Malaysia, but Malaysia refused to accept him. He was sent back to Turkey again.

Mansour was detained in the Problematic Passengers Room, a small space he shared with 40 other people. There were no beds, no windows, and no privacy. Another detainee disagreed with Mansour’s religious beliefs, and he tried to convince other people to kill Mansour. Mansour was attacked three times.

After the last attack, Mansour tried to escape the airport. He managed to board a plane to Lebanon, but Lebanese officials caught him and returned him to Turkey.

In the end, Mansour spent a year in the Turkish airport before Australia offered him asylum. Mansour was reunited with his family, who had been granted humanitarian visas.

4Sanjay Shah

Sanjay Shah lived in Kenya, and he wanted to emigrate to England. He was eligible for a British Overseas citizen passport because he was born in Kenya when it was under colonial rule. Shah was allowed to apply for full citizenship, but he did not fill out the required paperwork before he left for England in 2004.

Shah arrived in England without a return ticket, and he had little money. Believing that he intended to stay in the country, airport officials stamped “prohibited immigrant” on his passport and sent him back to Kenya.

However, Shah had already renounced his Kenyan nationality. Kenya does not allow dual citizenship, so Shah had surrendered his Kenyan passport when he left the country. Shah was afraid that if he left the airport, he would be arrested and imprisoned. Kenyan officials later told him that he could leave the airport, but he worried that to do so would hurt his chances of becoming a British citizen.

Shah stayed in the airport. He ate cafeteria food, slept in lounge chairs, and showered in the restrooms. His wife and son brought him food and clothes every few days. After he had spent 13 months living in the airport, Shah was granted full British citizenship. He soon traveled to England, and he stayed with his sister until he managed to support himself.

3Hiroshi Nohara

Hiroshi Nohara

Photo credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

In 2008, Japanese tourist Hiroshi Nohara boarded a plane bound for Brazil. The plane had a layover in Mexico, and Nohara missed his flight, so he decided to stay in the Mexican airport. Nohara had money and a return ticket home; he just wanted to stay in the airport.

Weeks passed, and Nohara refused to budge. Both Japanese and Mexican officials tried to convince him to leave. He refused, and they couldn’t force him to leave, as he wasn’t doing anything illegal. His visa allowed him stay in the country for six months, and there was no law that said he couldn’t stay in the airport.

At first, Nohara frightened passengers, but people warmed to him. They brought him food and drinks, and he became a local celebrity. Tourists would take his picture and get his autograph. He was interviewed, and he said that he had no reason for staying in the airport.

After he had spent three months in the airport, a woman named Oyuki took pity on him. She offered Nohara a chance to sleep in a real bed. He left the airport with her.

2Ahmad Family

Ahmad Family

Photo credit: ABC News

Hasan, Gulistan, and their four children lived in Syria. After their city was attacked by multiple suicide bombers, the family decided to flee the country in 2015. The four oldest family members had Iraqi passports, but the two youngest didn’t. The family acquired Syrian passports through Hasan’s nationality.

They decided to travel to Russia, where Gulistan’s sister lived. The family was issued Russian visas, and they boarded their plane. But when they arrived in Russia, Russian authorities said that the visas were fake. Then they said that the passports were fake, and they confiscated them. The family was accused of trying to illegally cross the border. Russia rejected their asylum.

The Ahmads were trapped in the airport. They made a home in a disused smoking cubicle, a glass box that was next to the waiting lounge. They couldn’t go outside. If they left the airport’s transit zone, it would have constituted an illegal crossing of the border. They could have been arrested and sentenced to six years in prison.

The Ahmads had to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive. People gave them food, water, money, and toys for the children. Their living conditions were poor, and Gulistan became sick. She was sent to the hospital. Two police officers guarded her ward.

Someone took pity on the family and paid for them to sleep in a nearby hostel, though Russian officials would not let them stay there during the day. Syrian officials soon confirmed the family’s passports. The family was granted temporary asylum and were recognized as refugees. After 50 days in the airport, they could legally stay in Russia.

1Mehran Karimi Nasseri

Mehran Karimi Nasseri

Photo credit: Rex Features

Mehran Karimi Nasseri was expelled from Iran in the 1970s. He lived in Belgium for a while before he decided to emigrate to England, where he had once studied. Nasseri boarded a plane that was headed to England via France. Unfortunately, he lost his refugee papers when someone stole his briefcase. He arrived in England, but he was sent back to France. However, French officials refused to let him enter the country without his papers, but they wouldn’t let him leave, either. Authorities told him to wait in the airport lounge while they figured his situation out. He waited for years.

Nasseri made his home in the basement shopping mall of the airport. He claimed two red benches for himself. They were large enough for him to sleep somewhat comfortably, and he was given pillows and sheets. During the day, he sat on the bench and spent his time people-watching. Many took pity on him, and they donated money and food. He was given many books and newspapers, which helped to pass the time.

After 11 years, a lawyer finally managed to get Nasseri travel documents. He could live in France or travel anywhere. However, he refused to sign the papers, as they listed his nationality as Iranian; Nasseri believed that he was half-British. He continued to live in the airport for another seven years.

Nasseri became ill in 2006 was hospitalized. When he was released, the Red Cross looked after him, and he was put into a hotel. He was not allowed to return to his airport.