TIME Bizarre

It’s Raining Worms in Norway

And it's not even the first time

Forget cats and dogs. It’s been raining worms in Norway.

Biology teacher Karstein Erstad recently came across “thousands of earthworms” on top of snow at least half a yard deep while skiing on mountains outside Bergen, according to The Local, an English-language European news network.

“It’s a very rare phenomenon,” he said, citing reports he found of worm rainfall in the 1920s. “It’s difficult to say how many times it happens, but it has only been reported a very few times.”

“People have now observed the same phenomenon in many places in Norway,” added Erstad. “It’s very peculiar, I don’t know why so many people have discovered it. I don’t know if there have been some special weather conditions lately.”

[The Local]

TIME viral

This Is the First Doughnut to Be Launched Into Space

No, that isn't the title of a Flaming Lips album. It's an actual thing

It was one small step for two brothers and a giant leap for mankind after the duo succeeded in sending what is believed to be the first doughnut into space this month.

According to Swedish news outlet the Local, the brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jönsson from Lysekil, Sweden, crossed the border into Norway last week, where they attached a doughnut and camera to a weather balloon and launched the contraption, sending it almost 20 miles above the earth’s surface.

“I’m really into space and photography, and I used to play around with weather balloons back in school,” Alexander told the Local. “Then we had the idea that we should send something really crazy up into space and thought ‘Hey, nobody has ever sent a doughnut up before.’”

Hours after being launched, the vessel and the doughnut came crashing down to earth and was later recovered in Lake Vättern, Sweden. The doughnut, albeit soggy, was still intact.

TIME portfolio

This Is the Strangest Animal Exhibit You’ll Ever See

As parts of Norway's Bergen Museum underwent major restoration, thousands of displayed animals had to move

When the Bergen Museum in Norway closed the doors of its natural-history section for restoration in 2013, it was forced to operate an unusual migration: move thousands of taxidermied animals.

“It was a really magical place,” says Norwegian photographer Helge Skodvin, who grew up in Bergen and now lives blocks away from the historic architecture, which was founded in 1825.

“For every person living in Bergen or being raised in Bergen, the natural-history museum is a common place to spend your Sunday,” Skodvin tells TIME. “If you ask [Bergen residents], they all have stories about the museum.”

Thus when Skodvin learned about the renovation and the consequential mass “animal migration,” he wanted to be a witness.

The fragile figures, many of which haven’t been out of the antiquated display cases for almost 150 years, have to be carefully wrapped for transportation. But instead of sweating over the move as the staff did, Skodvin chose to photograph it with a sense of humor. Armed with a medium format camera and a tripod, Skodvin set each animal at the center of the frame, and then, he just “let the animals be themselves.”

The animals will spend five years hibernating in a temporary storage across town before they can finally return home in 2018. “It’s like they are going for a little vacation,” Skodvin says. Although the photographer remembered the grand space with wooden floors as frightening when he was young, the museum now offers guided tours for visitors to wander around the emptied galleries.

Helge Skodvin is a freelance photographer based in Bergen, Norway. He’s a member of Moment photo agency presented by Institute.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME Internet

Vernal Equinox: New Google Doodle Celebrates First Day of Spring

Kirsten Lepore—Google

A celestial trifecta welcomes in the change of seasons

The Sun, the moon, and Google are celebrating the official start of spring — this year’s vernal equinox on March 20 will include a solar eclipse, a supermoon and a stop-animation Google Doodle.

As TIME wrote last year, the vernal equinox is when “earth’s axis is angled such that the world gets an equal amount of daylight and night,” signaling the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

This year’s spring begins with a celestial bang. Most of Europe and parts of northern Africa and Asia will be treated with a partial solar eclipse and the few inhabitants of the Danish Faroe Islands and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago will be lucky enough to witness a total eclipse. Or, you can watch a streaming broadcast here.

In parts of Europe, Google is adding an animated eclipse to their Doodle.

Fans hoping for a grandiose stargazing experience will be disappointed to learn that the supermoon, when our moon’s elliptical orbit reaches its closest point to earth, will be invisible because a new moon is required for a solar eclipse.

The Google Doodle welcomes springtime with a lovely line of flowers that grow and bloom before a bumblebee lands in the middle to collect pollen.

Read next: See the Best Solar Eclipse Pictures

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Money

This is What Norway’s Money Will Look Like in 2017

Norges Bank held a nationwide design competition

lost-at-e-minor_logo

This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

Nope, you are not seeing a pixelated image of Norway’s new currency. That is the real deal right there! Last spring, the central bank of Norway, Norges Bank, held a nationwide design competition to replace their look of their currency. Their theme: ‘The Sea.’

Instead of choosing just one winner, they chose two – one design for each side. The front side features a series of artworks from design studio The Metric System, called ‘Norwegian Living Space.’ Beautiful and timeless this front design might be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the attention the back design is getting. The back side features an abstract motif of pixels called ‘Ripple Effects’ by Enzo Finger.

“The obverses from The Metric System are very well suited to the incorporation of necessary security elements. The expression is open, light and typically Nordic,” says Norges Bank. “Using the pixel motifs from Snøhetta Design as the reverse will give the notes both a traditional and a modern expression.”

The bank notes are set to be released in 2017.

(via Visual News)

TIME conflict

The Tragic Nobel Peace Prize Story You’ve Probably Never Heard

Carl Von Ossietzky
Hulton Archive / Getty Images German pacifist writer Carl Von Ossietzky, circa 1933

This is the story of the "long-ailing, wornout, beaten Nobelman" Carl von Ossietzky

In some years, and this year was no exception, there is no obvious choice for the Nobel Peace Prize. Speculators can guess, pundits can argue, but ultimately the Norwegian committee’s decision — if there is one — comes as a surprise to many.

In 1935, however, the choice seemed obvious. The plight of Carl von Ossietzky, a journalist and socialist activist held in a Nazi concentration camp, had drawn international attention. After serving during the First World War, von Ossietzky became a staunch pacifist and decried German rearmament, facing persecution under successive German governments but refusing to flee despite the threat to his safety. He had been put in a Nazi camp in 1933.

Albert Einstein and French author Romain Rolland were among the period’s celebrity activists who supported Ossietzky’s nomination for the peace prize. Wrote TIME that year:

If ever a man worked, fought & suffered for Peace, it is the sickly little German, Carl von Ossietzky. For nearly a year the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has been swamped with petitions from all shades of Socialists, Liberals and literary folk generally, nominating Carl von Ossietzky for the 1935 Peace Prize. Their slogan: “Send the Peace Prize into the Concentration Camp.”

But the Third Reich was anything but pleased that one of its prisoners might receive the high profile award. The Germans pressured the committee against choosing him, with one Nazi state newspaper warning the Committee “not to provoke the German people by rewarding this traitor to our nation. We hope that the Norwegian Government is sufficiently familiar with the ways of the world to prevent what would be a slap in the face of the German people.” Under this Nazi pushback, the Committee announced it would not award anyone the prize that year–citing violence in Africa and political instability in Asia. “The time seems inappropriate for such a peace gesture,” the Committee said in a statement.

The Committee would redeem itself a year later, retroactively awarding von Ossietzky the 1935 prize, worth $40,000. The move infuriated Hitler. German media called von Ossietzky a “traitor” and the award an “insult” to Germany. The Führer threatened to cut off relations with Norway, even after the Foreign Minister resigned from the Committee over the decision, and declared that Germans would never again be allowed to receive Nobel Prizes. (Several German scientists who were subsequently awarded Nobel Prizes were unable to accept the award until after World War II.)

But by the time the award was announced, von Ossietzky’s health had worsened. The Germans had already moved him from the prison camp to a hospital in Berlin, perhaps aware of the impending international attention that would soon befall him. When they unexpectedly allowed journalists to meet with him, he was “looking thin and sounding tired,” TIME wrote after an interview with him:

But in high spirits, Herr von Ossietzky chirped, ‘I count myself as belonging to a party of sensible Europeans who regard the armaments race as insanity. If the German Government will permit, I will be only too pleased to go to Norway to receive the Prize and in my acceptance speech I will not dig up the past or say anything which might result in discord between Germany and Norway.’

Von Ossietzky was never allowed to accept his prize in Norway, and his tortuous saga continued. Though he was eventually released from prison supervision, it was widely assumed that the release was on the condition that he refrain from activism. In an eerie TIME interview in 1937, von Ossietzky praised the Nazi government and announced that he had been allowed to accept the prize money. But the TIME article also made clear that von Ossietzky’s words were not entirely freely spoken. “Hollow-eyed and pale, Ossietzky knew that if he got himself imprisoned again, it would be his death,” the article noted.

Still, the sickly Nobel Laureate’s troubles continued. A swindler claiming to be a lawyer proposed to collect von Ossietzky’s prize money for him, only to launder the funds and keep them for himself. Almost all of the money was recovered by May of 1938 when von Ossietzky died at 48 of, according to the official death record, meningitis — but by then he was, as TIME wrote, a “long-ailing, wornout, beaten Nobelman.”

Read the 1935 story about the Nobel Peace Prize Committee passing over von Ossietzky: Way of the World

TIME norway

Why Nobody Wants to Host the 2022 Winter Olympics

Canadian forward Sidney Crosby (87) and
Yuri Kadobnov—AFP/Getty Images Canadian forward Sidney Crosby (87) and Canadian defenseman Scott Niedermayer (27) jubilate as their team wins gold against the USA in the Men's Gold Medal Hockey match at the Canada Hockey Place during the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada on February 28, 2010.

Hosting the Games is too expensive

Nobody wants to let the Games begin.

On Oct. 1, Oslo withdrew its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the fourth city — after Stockholm, Lviv and Krakow — to have second thoughts about hosting the Games. With only Beijing and the Kazakh city of Almaty left in the running, the International Olympic Committee now faces the difficult task of choosing between two undemocratic nations with less-than-stellar human-rights records. But Norway’s decision suggests that if the IOC hopes to stem the tide of unwilling hosts, it faces an even more difficult task: reforming itself.

Why doesn’t anyone want the Olympics? Price is a good place to start. The $448,000 cost of the first modern Games, held in Athens in 1896, wouldn’t cover a single Danny Boyle–choreographed opening ceremony these days. The total bill for Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games came to $6.4 billion, while London’s summertime turn in 2012 cost over $14 billion. Sochi, whose venues and infrastructure had to be built pretty much from scratch, rang in at an anomalous but no less heart-stopping $51 billion.

Those kinds of numbers help explain why even a wealthy nation like Norway would reconsider its candidacy. Although Oslo budgeted a comparatively sober $5.4 billion, and even though the ruling Conservative party initially backed Oslo’s bid, concerns over ballooning costs grew strong enough to chip away at the government’s support. Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed that her government would not continue to pursue the Games.

“We’ve received clear advice and there is no reason not to follow the advice,” Solberg told the press. “A big project like this, which is so expensive, requires broad popular support and there isn’t enough support for it.”

Those same concerns were echoed in Sweden earlier this year. “The city of Stockholm needed time to investigate whether the estimated costs were realistic,” says Markus Jonsson, press officer for the Moderate party in Stockholm’s city hall. “But there wasn’t enough time.”

Lviv dropped out because of the unstable conditions in Ukraine. But for the other wavering contenders, including St. Moritz and Munich, which as late as November 2013 was still weighing a 2022 bid, a growing awareness of the true costs of hosting the Games played an important role in their decisions not to compete. And on top of concerns over cost, there were fears over benefits too.

“People used to think ‘We can get sports arenas paid for by American TV revenues, so why not?’” says Harry Arne Solberg, sports-economics professor at Norway’s Trondheim Business School. “But that’s never been the case. Now they’re more realistic.”

Although the IOC contributes some funds and politicians frequently dangle the promises of jobs, tourist dollars and brand-new infrastructure in front of their constituencies, the Olympics rarely deliver that kind of return on their investment in developed nations. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Games typically create anywhere from 50,000 to 300,000 jobs, but most of those jobs are temporary and go to people who already have work (only 10% of the 48,000 jobs created by the London Olympics, for example, went to previously unemployed people). In a country like Norway, where unemployment is currently just 3.4%, that effect is mitigated even more. “The work and analysis that were done concluded that there would have been benefits,” says Ingunn Olsen, communications director for the Oslo2022 campaign. “But they would not have balanced the cost of the Games.”

Indeed, hosting the Games may only make economic sense these days for developing economies that can benefit from the very specific kind of boost that an Olympics can offer. “The real cost of the Games — the operating expenses, the upgrade to existing facilities — that will be paid off,” says Holger Preuss, professor of sports management at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. “But the infrastructure costs will not. If you need new sports facilities, if you need new roads and railways, then it’s O.K. But if you don’t need general infrastructure, you shouldn’t bid. The Olympics are not about making money. If you want to make money, invest in an oil platform.”

The IOC did not hide its displeasure with Norway’s decision. “Senior politicians in Norway appear not to have been properly briefed on the process and were left to take their decisions on the basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies,” said IOC executive director Christophe Dubi in a press release issued in response. “For a country of such means, full of so many successful athletes and so many fanatical winter-sports fans, it is a pity that Oslo will miss out on this great opportunity to invest in its future and show the world what it has to offer.”

But some Norwegians, among others, suggest that the IOC is in no position to be pointing fingers. On the same day that the Norwegian Prime Minister announced her government was withdrawing its support for the campaign, Norwegian paper VG ran a story that detailed the IOC’s hospitality requirements as outlined in its contract. In the fiercely egalitarian country, the headline “IOC Requires Free Liquor at the Stadium and a Cocktail Party With the King” was sure to ruffle feathers among a population that, polls showed, was already predisposed against the Games. “Many of the requirements of the IOC do not harmonize with the Norwegian way of thinking and living,” says Oslo2022’s Olsen.

The IOC has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for both its perceived extravagance and its lack of transparency. Although governments contribute financially to its coffers, it remains a private organization whose accounting remains off the public record and whose members are appointed rather than democratically elected. In 2008, the British think tank One World Trust rated the IOC the least transparent of 30 international organizations, including NATO and Goldman Sachs.

IOC bosses also set the standards for who makes what from the Olympics. “If you look at the 1980s, TV rights were auctioned by the local host, which kept 90% of the revenues,” says Solberg. “Now 68% of sponsorships and TV revenues are kept by the IOC.”

Solberg believes that fewer host competitors will pressure the IOC to change. In fact, Thomas Bach, IOC president for just a year, has promised to do just that. In December, the committee is expected to vote on a package of changes that would make the bidding process easier and the sports program more flexible. It would also lower the cost of hosting the Games.

But that won’t come soon enough for sober Norway. Although Bach said at a press conference on Oct. 2 that the IOC would not reopen the bidding, he couldn’t hide his disappointment at being left with two less-than-ideal candidates. “All this shows that this was very much a political decision,” Bach he said. “This why we are feeling so sorry for sport in Norway and the athletes.” The same could be said for the Olympics as a whole.

TIME Aging

Norway Is the Best Place to Grow Old

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Westend61—Getty Images/Brand X

But a third of countries are not meeting the needs of their growing aging populations

Growing old is a pleasure—if you’re in Norway, that is. A new report looking at the social and economic wellbeing of older people in 96 countries reveals that Norway is the happiest place to age, followed by Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada.

It’s not as much fun elsewhere. The report, called the Global AgeWatch Index, found that a third of countries are ill equipped to deal with increasingly large aging populations. The report says that in low and middle income countries, only a quarter of people over age 65 receive a pension. Countries on the low-end of the list lacked programs for free health care and chronic disease treatment, community centers and subsidized transport.

The report by HelpAge International and the University of Southampton shows that by 2050, 21% of the global population will be over age 60. While more people are living longer, if people are also living sicker or without support, that takes a serious economic toll. In the U.S. alone, 2012 data noted that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid eat up about 40% of all federal spending and 10% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The authors note that Norway claimed the top spot because it has well-developed organizations for the elderly, a long history of state welfare and strong social media campaigns that create public awareness of age-related issues. The worst country for the elderly is Afghanistan, according to the report, and the United States ranked seventh overall.

Here’s the entire Global AgeWatch ranking:

  • Norway (1)
  • Sweden (2)
  • Switzerland (3)
  • Canada (4)
  • Germany (5)
  • Netherlands (6)
  • Iceland (7)
  • United States (8)
  • Japan (9)
  • New Zealand (10)
  • United Kingdom (11)
  • Denmark (12)
  • Australia (13)
  • Austria (14)
  • Finland (15)
  • France (16)
  • Ireland (17)
  • Israel (18)
  • Luxembourg (19)
  • Estonia (20)
  • Spain (21)
  • Chile (22)
  • Uruguay (23)
  • Panama (24)
  • Czech Republic (25)
  • Costa Rica (26)
  • Belgium (27)
  • Georgia (28)
  • Slovenia (29)
  • Mexico (30)
  • Argentina (31)
  • Poland (32)
  • Ecuador (33)
  • Cyprus (34)
  • Latvia (35)
  • Thailand (36)
  • Portugal (37)
  • Mauritius (38)
  • Italy (39)
  • Armenia (40)
  • Romania (41)
  • Peru (42)
  • Sri Lanka (43)
  • Philippines (44)
  • Viet Nam (45)
  • Hungary (46)
  • Slovakia (47)
  • China (48)
  • Kyrgyzstan (49)
  • South Korea (50)
  • Bolivia (51)
  • Columbia (52)
  • Albania (53)
  • Nicaragua (54)
  • Malta (55)
  • Bulgaria (56)
  • El Salvador (57)
  • Brazil (58)
  • Bangladesh (59)
  • Lithuania (60)
  • Tajikistan (61)
  • Dominican Republic (62)
  • Guatemala (63)
  • Belarus (64)
  • Russian (65)
  • Paraguay (66)
  • Croatia (67)
  • Montenegro (68)
  • India (69)
  • Nepal (70)
  • Indonesia (71)
  • Mongolia (72)
  • Greece (73)
  • Moldova (74)
  • Honduras (75)
  • Venezuela (76)
  • Turkey (77)
  • Serbia (78)
  • Cambodia (79)
  • South Africa (80)
  • Ghana (81)
  • Ukraine (82)
  • Morocco (83)
  • Lao PDR (84)
  • Nigeria (85)
  • Rwanda (86)
  • Iraq (87)
  • Zambia (88)
  • Uganda (89)
  • Jordan (90)
  • Pakistan (91)
  • Tanzania (92)
  • Malawi (93)
  • West Bank and Gaza (94)
  • Mozambique (95)
  • Afghanistan (96)
TIME viral

The Guys Who Sang ‘What Does the Fox Say?’ Are Back With a New Song About Tying Knots

The Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis has returned with a new jam -- but it's unlikely they'll achieve the same level of viral success with this one

Remember exactly one year ago when a weird little song that told us what the fox says blew up in a very major way? Well, those guys — Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis — are back on the scene and they’re no longer singing about animals. They’re over that. This time around, they’ve got a new obsession: knots.

Yup, really. The duo’s new track, “Trucker’s Hitch,” is an ode to the difficult art of tying knots — in particular, the very tricky little kind called the trucker’s hitch. It’s a catchy little ditty and, like last year’s hit, is pretty bizarre, but it just doesn’t seem like it has the power to blow up in the same way. (The “What Does the Fox Say” video has nearly 450 million views. Just saying.) Plus, the video isn’t nearly as over-the-top and absurd.

We could be totally wrong here, though. Maybe Ylvis die-hards will help give “Trucker’s Hitch” the momentum it needs to become even more of a smash hit. But somehow, foxes just seem so much more compelling than knots.

TIME Iceland

Watch Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano Spew Lava Into the Air

Bardarbunga has been erupting since Aug. 31

These beautiful images, filmed by Nature Explorer, capture the moment Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano shoots lava into the air.

Bardarbunga has been spewing out fountains of molten magma over the Holuhraun lava field since it started erupting on Aug. 31.

But the volcano is also emitting noxious gases, like sulfur dioxide, which are putting the health of scientists working at the site at risk, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Residents living in the region have reported a stench in the air.

“It smelled like old redfish,” 68-year-old Unni Johansen, told the Journal.

Children and those with respiratory problems are being advised by Iceland’s health authorities to stay indoors, as scientists have traced the volcano’s toxic gases as far afield as Norway and Finland.

[WSJ]

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