Category: Weird

What Happens in the Real World if You Find a Buried Treasure?

Ever wonder what happens if you actually found a buried treasure or some sort of National Treasure-esk haul of ancient loot? Well, wonder no more.

To begin with, as ever in just about everything, the answer to that is complicated. The bottom line is that most countries have laws that regulate what has to be done when something precious is found. And disappointingly, usually, it has to be given to an authority for the sake of scientific research. As to whether you’ll get paid for it, well, we’ll get into that.

First, when objects like coins, jewelry or other objects made of precious metal are found and they are so old that no owner can be attributed to them, they are classed as a treasure trove. This is the legal term deriving from Anglo-Norman tresor trové which means ‘found treasure’. It is very close to the modern French trésor trouvé, which means … exactly the same: ‘found treasure’.

As mentioned, most countries have laws governing the finding of such “found treasure”.

As you might infer from the fact that there are set laws on the books pretty much in every nation of the world concerning treasure troves, this sort of thing actually isn’t totally uncommon, owing to the fact that burying treasure was once a relatively common thing. Such “treasures” are called hoards in archæology and as banks were not available to protect treasured items in ancient times, burying them to later unearth them was an easy solution.

Time periods with a high occurence of hoards can be interpreted as indicating times of unrest. If the person who buried the treasure does not come back to unbury it for various reasons like forgetting where it was, hurriedly having to relocate to another area or, you know, death by Viking or the sort, the hoard remains to be found by a lucky person.

Buried treasure could also be offerings to gods. Especially in hard to access places, this is a likely interpretation, as it would indicate no intention to retrieve the treasure.

Apart from hoards, burials are another source of artifacts such as coins, jewelry et cetera. Burial rites vary a lot across time and place. In many cultures it was customary to bury quite valuable objects with the deceased, for example ornate weapons or jewelry. Of course, this has attracted looters in ancient times as well as today.

So burials could contain valuable things, but really any place where humans did, well, anything, artifacts can potentially be found, like settlements, of course, or battlefields.

All these treasures from hoards, burials and other sources are lying there, waiting to be found.

Some have made it their hobby to search for these treasures with a metal detector, though interestingly this is not legal everywhere. But a metal detector is not always needed to unearth treasures. Sometimes objects are unearthed without anyone digging for it, be it by natural processes like freezing or erosion, but sometimes because of ploughing.

This is why walking across ploughed fields in a systematic fashion is a common method for looking for archeological digging sites. Objects found during these field surveys are precisely mapped and identified. And don’t expect anything fancy. Most of the time, it’s tessels from pots, pieces of badly corroded metal and other rather unspectacular seeming objects. Yet through the precise mapping and identification of objects, archæological sites can be identified, which can later be dug out by archæologists.

So finding treasures, while rare, is not unheard of. As noted, it happens often enough that regulating it was deemed necessary. And as we have seen, the practice of burying things for whatever reason means that there are indeed things to be found.

Found treasures were already regulated in Roman Law, which is the foundation of many modern legal systems. In Roman Law, found treasures could be kept if found on one’s own land. If found on another person’s land, the treasure had to be shared between land owner and finder.

This might explain the behaviour of the man in Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.[1]

The man didn’t want to share the treasure with the owner of the field, so he hid his discovery and bought the field to be the sole beneficiary of the treasure.

In later times in Europe, found treasures would usually go to the owner of the land. In Europe’s feudal system, this meant either the monarch or the nobility who own the land, that is the landlord.

Nowadays, laws vary greatly. In the USA, the finder of a treasure has a good claim to it, only the original owner has a better claim. But in reality, it can get very very complicated with many parties involved with conflicting claims.[2] In the US legal system, nothing is ever easy. Certain states use old English common law which includes the treasure trove law. But the application of the English treasure trove law is piecemeal and conflicting.

Another applicable law is that for ‘mislaid’ items. This law has the aim to bring together a person or their descendant with their lost property. However, this law is not really suited for archæological artifacts as they are so old that making a connection between a person hundreds of years ago to the present landowner is usually a bit of a stretch.[3]

In any case, as the Archæology magazine explains, law in the United States has evolved towards granting the landowner the right to found objects on their property to the detriment of the finder:

“By rejecting treasure trove and similar finder’s rationales, those courts have fostered legal policies that discourage waton trespass to real property, and give protection to a landowner’s possessory claims to any artifacts that have been so embedded in the land as to become part of it. Rejection of the rules that reward finders at the expense of landowners also strengthens anti-looting provisions, and discourages casual, but potentially destructive unplanned searches. Indeed, removal of artifacts from the soil is now recognized in the majority of states either as illegal severance of chattels, trespass, or theft.[4]

In the United Kingdom, treasure troves belong to the crown, but surprisingly, finders are treated very well compared to in other countries. In the United Kingdom, with the exception of Scotland, someone who finds a treasure has to bring it to the attention of the local coroner. Yes, the same person investigating deaths. They will then decide if the find is indeed deemed a treasure. Then, the market value of the find will be determined by the Treasure Valuation Committee, a governmental institution. Museums can then buy the item. They will pay a reward to the finder that can not exceed the set market value. If no museum wants to purchase the treasure, the finder may keep it and do as they please with it. In other words, museums get a preemptive right to purchase a treasure.

The market value is above the amount an antique dealer would pay. As the antique dealer wants to resell items with a margin of profit at market value, they will pay an amount smaller than the market value. Therefore, selling an item directly at market value to a museum can potentially be more profitable for the finder, who skips the middle man and their profit margin.

Compared to other countries, it is a very good arrangement for finders. However, failure to submit found treasure will earn heavy penalties. For example, in 2019, two men were sentenced to ten and eight-and-a-half years of jail time respectively for not having reported a find from the Viking age they made in 2015 with metal detectors. Most of the treasure was lost, as the finders sold off many of the coins on the private market.[5]

The English law here is not applicable to Scotland. That said, treasures found in Scotland are also the property of the crown. Nevertheless, the process of what happens when someone finds a treasure is not dissimilar to what happens in the rest of the UK: The find gets assessed by an agency called the Treasure Trove Unit at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. They assess the find and send a report to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, a governmental office, in which they claim the crown’s right to treasure trove or bona vacantia. The latter is applicable to abandoned goods. The treasure then gets offered to museums. If they are interested in acquiring a treasure, they pay a reward to the finder.[6]

A notable difference to the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom, is that in Scotland, treasure trove law not only applies to coins and other objects made of precious metals. All kinds of artifacts can be deemed treasure in Scottish law.

Moving on to Germany, they have laws called “Schatzregal” that regulate what to do with treasure. In this case, all kinds of objects can be seen as treasures: fossils, pottery tessels and of course coins, jewelry etc. It generally only applies to objects of scientific value. Every federal state has their own law that also regulates if a finder gets remuneration. Even though every state has their own law, contrasting with many other places, the gist is this: The state owns all treasures and hardly any state will pay a reward for objects. Bavaria is the odd one in the bunch and has no law regarding treasure troves at all.

Now you may ask, why is the state so precious about owning these treasures? Why can’t finders just do what they want with what they find?

The answer is that there is a conflict of interest at play: the interests of finders in remuneration clash with a societal interest in research.

Regulating what to do when artifacts are found is deemed as a necessity, because found objects could be of great scientific value.

A problem arises when amateur treasure hunters just dig up archæological sites, armed with metal detectors to find valuable artifacts like golden brooches or coins. The motives can be enrichment through the sale of artifacts or the thrill of finding a piece of history. This activity is highly damaging to archæological sites to the point of making the sites worthless for research.

To exemplify the problem, in Germany some ancient Celtic cities (called Oppida) have not been excavated by archæologists yet. As archæological technology is constantly evolving, some sites or sections of sites are deliberately kept untouched to leave something to future archæologists to do research on with new methods. This is because once a site is excavated, some of the information is irreparably lost. It is a destructive and irreversible process. After all, when a hole is dug, it is impossible to put the excavated earth back into the hole in the exact way it was found. This is why archæological digging involves painstakingly precise documention of all the findings and processes down to the very colour of different layers of dirt.

Another reason that known sites have not been dug out yet is also down to simple time and funding constraints.

Treasure hunters with metal detectors loot those places of their metal items. Archæologist Müller-Karpe says that one of the Oppida in Hessia has been robbed of an estimated 50,000 metal items, leaving the site virtually metal free.[7]

Looting not only precludes scientific research on the objects themselves, the looting also causes disturbance in the soil scrambling the traces that are still present.

Furthermore, looters will often falsify the origin of artifacts to make a sale appear legal. This is the case in Germany where treasure troves belong to the state in most federal states, but not Bavaria. Thus, objects are sold as originating from Bavaria on online selling platforms to make them appear like legal finds. Of course, obfuscating the true origin in this manner reduces its scientific value even more.

The artifacts also lose scientific value by being extracted from the soil without proper archæological documentation. Not only are the sites damaged, the artifacts themselves also lose some of their worth for science. Extracted from their context, in which layer of the earth they were found, the objects that could be found next to it, the exact positioning etc. All of this information is important to an archæologist.

The problem of the looting of archæological sites has become so prominent, that ongoing archæological digs are often kept as secret as possible and sometimes guarded to prevent looters using the opportunity to go snitch some stuff under cover of darkness from an already dug up site.

As you can see, it is a difficult problem where the interests of land owners, finders and the scientific community clash. Given the complication and many nations and states in the world, needless to say there is hardly a consensus from place to place in the law. That said, should you happen to find a buried treasure, the best place to find out the exact local law for free is probably your nearest public museum, whose officials often know the skinny on procedures and rules in the area.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

ABC News. 2019. “Treasure hunters jailed for failing to declare trove of Viking coins discovered using metal detectors.” ABC News, November.

Contributors to Wikimedia projects. 2020a. “Treasure Act 1996 – Wikipedia.”

———. 2020b. “Hoard – Wikipedia.”

———. 2020c. “Treasure trove – Wikipedia.”

“Found Something?” 2018. Treasure Trove in Scotland.

“GROTTO AT SJ 7756 0290, Beckbury – 1367600 | Historic England.” 2020.

Hermann, Jonas. 2015. “Benjamin Czerny: Mann findet riesigen Schatz und landet vor Gericht.” DIE WELT, February.

Participation, Expert. 2016. “Treasure Act 1996.” Statute Law Database, October.

Pruitt, Sarah. 2020. “Is This a New Templar Temple?” HISTORY.

“The Slow Death of Treasure Trove – Archaeology Magazine Archive.” 2020.

“Treasure Trove in Scotland.” 2020. Treasure Trove in Scotland.

  1. S. Legal, Inc. 2020. “Treasure Trove Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.”

[1] Matthew 13:44 (King James Bible)



[4] id.




The post What Happens in the Real World if You Find a Buried Treasure? appeared first on Today I Found Out.

The Curious Case of Exploding Whales

Whales are among the largest animals to have ever lived, with the Blue Whale, at a whopping 173 metric tons, holding the absolute record. Thus, the rare occasions when a dead whale washes ashore tend to cause massive headaches for the local population and authorities, not only due to the massive bulk and nauseating smell, but also the alarming tendency of whale carcasses to explode. Like most animals, as soon as a whale dies the bacteria in its gut begin to digest it from the inside, leading to a buildup of gas that causes the corpse to swell up and eventually burst. This is exactly what happened on January 29, 2004, when a 17-meter Sperm Whale washed ashore at Tainan City, Taiwan. The animal was lifted onto a trailer and was being driven to the Sutsao Wildlife Reservation Area for necropsy when it suddenly exploded in the middle of a busy city street, showering some 600 onlookers in blubber, blood, and whale guts. But not all whale explosions are caused natural processes; one bizarre incident in 1970 involved rather more human intervention, and would, for better or worse, help put a small Oregon town on the map.

On the morning November 9, 1970, beachcombers near the town of Florence – 200 kilometres south of Portland – stumbled upon a leviathan: a 14-metre long, 7 ton Sperm Whale carcass that had washed ashore the night before. While the massive corpse quickly attracted a crowd of curious onlookers, they were just as quickly repelled by the rapidly-worsening smell, and the local authorities were called in to deal with the problem. Curiously, at the time beaches fell under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Highway Division, who placed 41-year-old engineer George Thornton in charge of the cleanup. According to Thornton, he was only appointed because his supervisor, district engineer Dale Allen,

“…took off hunting when this thing broke – conveniently, I think. To be fair, they had already planned on going, but this thing made them all the more anxious to go.”

Left holding the bag, Thornton set about determining how best to dispose of the reeking mountain of blubber. The corpse couldn’t be buried as the tide would quickly uncover it, and it was too large to burn. Nor could it be simply cut apart, for the simple reason that no volunteers could be found to do so. After consulting with the US Navy, Thornton finally settled on a solution: dynamite. The idea was to blow the corpse into smaller, more manageable pieces that could then be cleaned up crabs, seagulls, and other marine scavengers.

But how much dynamite to use? As no formal guidelines for this kind of operation existed, Thornton was forced to use his intuition and eventually settled on 20 cases – or around half a ton. But as luck would have it, on the beach that day was local gun store and range owner Walter Umenhofer. Umenhofer, who had received explosives training during WWII, informed Thornton that 20 cases was far too much, and that 20 sticks – or around 4 kg – would be sufficient. But Thornton was none too keen on a bystander telling him how to do his job, and Umenhofer’s advice was ignored In an interview 25 years later Umenhofer stated:

“But the guy says, ‘Anyway, I’m gonna have everyone on top of those dunes far away.’ I says, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna be the furtherest SOB down that way!’”

The blast was set for the afternoon of November 12, and a crowd of around 75 bystanders gathered to watch from the nearby dunes. Covering the event were cameraman Doug Brazil and anchor Paul Linnman of KATU-TV Portland, whose broadcast was soon to become legendary. The dynamite went off at 3:45 PM, sending a fountain of smoke and blood 100 feet into the air, which Linnman described as resembling “a mighty burst of tomato juice.” In Brazil’s footage, the spectators can be heard cheering for a brief moment before, to everyone’s horror, a series of slapping sounds is heard as chunks of the carcass begin to rain down on the beach, turning, in Linneman’s immortal words:

“…land-lubber newsmen [into] land-blubber newsmen…for the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.” 

So powerful was the blast that it sent pieces of the whale flying more than half a mile. One piece of blubber the size of a car tyre flattened the roof of a brand-new Oldsmobile belonging to none other than explosives expert Walter Umenhofer, who had purchased the vehicle at a dealership sale called – and, we can’t make this stuff up- “Get a Whale of a Deal.”

Yet despite the massive explosion the whale was still mostly intact, the dynamite having only carved out a small section of the carcass. Worse still, the seagulls which were supposed to clean up the remains were nowhere to be seen, having been frightened away by the blast. Thornton was thus forced to send in Highway Division workers with earth-moving equipment to clear away the remaining pieces and bury them elsewhere on the beach. Nonetheless, Thornton was optimistic about the operation, later stating in an interview with the Eugene Register-Herald:

“It went just exactly right, except the blast funnelled a hole in the sand under the whale.”

He then added:

“I said to my supervisors, usually when something happens like this, the person ends up getting promoted. Sure enough, about six months later, I got promoted to Medford.”

But the situation was best summed up by Linnman, who ended his broadcast with:

“It might be concluded that, should a whale ever be washed ashore in Lane County again, those in charge will not only remember what to do, they’ll certainly remember what not to do.”

The current policy of the Oregon State Parks Department regarding beached whales is to bury them on-site or, if the sand is too shallow, to relocate them to another beach.

The exploding whale of Florence soon became a part of Oregon folklore, and as the years passed the incident began to be regarded as little more than an urban legend. But the story took on a life of its own two decades later when it came to the attention of humorist Dave Barry, who recounted it in a May 20, 1990 edition of his column in the Miami Herald. The article, titled “The Far Side Comes to Life in Oregon,” contains such gems as:

“The responsibility for getting rid of the carcass was placed upon the Oregon State Highway Division, apparently on the theory that highways and whales are very similar in the sense of being large objects.”

“There was no sign of the sea gulls, who had no doubt permanently relocated in Brazil.”

“But this is no time for gaiety. This is a time to get hold of the folks at the Oregon State Highway division and ask them, when they get done cleaning up the beaches, to give us an estimate on the US Capitol.”

An uncredited version of Barry’s article soon began to circulate on the internet, leading many to believe that the incident had only recently taken place. According to Ed Schoaps, public affairs coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation:

“We started getting calls from curious reporters across the country right after the electronic bulletin board story appeared. They thought the whale had washed ashore recently, and were hot on the trail of a governmental blubber flub-up. They were disappointed that the story had 25 years of dust on it.”

Despite Schoaps’ endless clarifications, the calls kept coming, and Schoaps’ office phone soon became known as the “Blubber Hotline.”

“I still get regular calls about this story,” said Schoaps. “It amazes me that people are still calling about this story after nearly 25 years.”

Fifty years later, the Exploding Whale still evokes mixed feelings for those who were there. George Thornton remained convinced that the operation was a success but had been spun into a public relations disaster by hostile news reporters. When contacted by Paul Linnman in 1995 for his book The Exploding Whale and Other Remarkable Stories From the Evening News, Thornton declined to be interviewed, stating:

“Every time I talk with the media it tends to blow up in my face.”

Thornton retired from the Oregon Department of Transportation in 1990 after 43 years of service and died in 2013 at the age of 84.

While initially unimpressed by the mockery the exploding whale brought to their town, the residents of Florence eventually came to embrace the incident as a quirky part of their history, even voting in June of 2020 to name a new recreational area “Exploding Whale Memorial Park.”

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Barry, Dave, The Farside Comes to Life in Oregon, Miami Herald, May 20, 1990,

Exploding Whale 1970,

The Tale of the Exploding Whale, Xpat Magazine, September 2006,

Pietch, Bryan, ’Exploding Whale’ Park Memorializes Blubber Blast 50 Years Later, The New York Times, June 20, 2020,

Bacon, Larry, When They Blow Up a Whale, They Really Blow it Up! Eugene Register-Guard, November 13, 1970, id=KOdVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=IeEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6114%2C3133152

Son of Blubber,

John, Finn, Exploding Whale? It’s a True Oregon Tale, Offbeat Oregon History, October 19, 2008,

Tomlinson, Stuart, Exploding Whale Engineer George Thornton Has Died at Age 84, The Oregonian, October 30, 2013,

The post The Curious Case of Exploding Whales appeared first on Today I Found Out.

The Worst Military Airplane Ever

The history of aviation is filled with truly terrible aircraft. For every Sopwith Camel there was the SPAD S.A, which placed the gunner precariously in front of the propeller to clear his field of fire. For every Spitfire there was the Boulton-Paul Defiant, a WWII turret fighter based on outdated WWI tactics. For every Boeing 747 there was the Bristol Brabazon, a giant white elephant designed by committee and obsolete long before it was completed, and for every Messerschmitt 262 there was the Me-163 Komet, a rocket fighter so dangerous it killed far more of its own pilots than enemy ones. But in the pantheon of awful aircraft, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Christmas Bullet, a machine made terrible not because of human error, rushed design, bureaucracy, or the steady march of technology, but because its creator was among the most shameless, audacious charlatans in American history.

William Whitney Christmas was born on September 1, 1865 in Warrenton, North Carolina. He attended St. John’s Military Academy, the University of Virginia, and George Washington University, earning a Masters in the Arts before switching to a career in medicine. Though throughout his life he styled himself as “Doctor” Christmas, there is no evidence he ever obtained a formal medical degree. In any case his medical career was short-lived, for sometime in the early 1900s he abandoned his practice to enter the brand-new field of aviation. Christmas supposedly built and flew his first aircraft in 1908, but claimed he was forced to burn it in order to protect the top-secret design. Though no evidence of this machine’s existence has ever been found, in 1909 Christmas did patent a design he dubbed the “Red Bird,” a direct copy of an aircraft called the “Red Wing” built by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experimentation Association. Though again there is no evidence this aircraft was ever built or flown, soon thereafter Christmas set out in search of business partners with which to launch his own aircraft company.

On October 26, 1909, Christmas incorporated the Christmas Aeroplane Company in Washington D.C, along with investors Creed M. Fulton, Lester C. McLeod, and Thomas W. Buckley. While over the next eight years the trio would pour thousands of dollars into the company –  variously renamed to the Durham Christmas Aeroplane Sales & Exhibition Company and later the Cantilever Aero Company – no aircraft were ever built, though on December 5, 1915 Christmas published an article in the New York Times in which he claimed to have sold eleven “Battle Cruisers” to Britain and France. Finally, in 1917, Fulton, McLeod, and Buckley left the partnership in disgust. Undaunted, Christmas managed to convince brothers Henry and Alfred McCorey, who ran a brokerage firm in New York, to invest in the company. That same year, America entered the Great War. Sensing an opportunity, Christmas paid a visit to the struggling Continental Aircraft Company of Amityville, Long Island and laid out a series of advanced aircraft designs, including a single-seat “scout” and a three-place “fighting machine.” In a truly bizarre move, Christmas pitched these designs as part of an audacious plan to fly into German territory and kidnap Kaiser Wilhelm II, thereby forcing Germany to capitulate. Desperate for contracts, Continental accepted Christmas’ proposal, and assigned Vincent Burnelli as chief designer.

To power his aircraft, variously known as the “Christmas Bullet,” “Cantilever Aero Bullet,” or “Christmas Strutless Biplane,” Christmas contacted New York Senator James Wadsworth, who convinced the U.S. Army to lend Christmas one of its experimental Liberty 6 engines. The engine was provided on the condition it only be used for ground tests and that the Army inspect the aircraft before its maiden flight – conditions Christmas promptly ignored. Meanwhile, back at the factory, Burnelli was growing increasingly concerned with Christmas’ unorthodox design choices. Inexplicably, the good Doctor insisted that the aircraft’s fuselage be constructed of steel and wood veneer, resulting in an aircraft that weighed an astonishing 2100 lb – nearly twice as much as comparable aircraft of the era. But even more concerning were the machine’s wings. While at the time most biplane wings had to be braced with struts for structural rigidity, Christmas insisted these were unnecessary and that the wings should be allowed to flex freely, almost like a bird’s wings flapping. Worse still, the wings were constructed of short sections welded together, creating joints that, in Burnelli’s words, could be “snapped over your knee”, and were so heavy they had to be winched onto the fuselage. Burnelli tried desperately to get the design changed, but Christmas refused to budge and the first Bullet was completed to his original specifications. However, by this time the Great War had already ended, putting an end to Christmas’ harebrained kidnapping plan.

Unsurprisingly, Christmas had great difficulty finding a pilot willing to test-fly the Bullet, with candidate after candidate taking one look at the machine before, we imagine, letting out a giant “nope!” and walking away. Eventually, however, Christmas convinced air mail pilot Cuthbert Mills to get behind the controls. The maiden flight, which took place sometime in January 1919, started out promisingly, with the Bullet rising gracefully off the airfield and steadily climbing to 3000 feet. Suddenly, however, the wings ripped off the fuselage and sent Mills spiralling into the ground, killing him instantly. An article in Flight magazine published a month later neatly summed up the underlying cause of the crash:

“It would seem that such construction would result in a low factor of safety, but the designer claims a safety factor of seven throughout.”

Christmas, unfazed by the accident, proceeded to cover up Mills’ death and ran a newspaper ad claiming that the Bullet had achieved a speed of 197 mph over Central Park, Long Island, an event apparently witnessed by Army Air Corps Colonel Ernest Harmon. Then, with characteristic audacity, he returned to the Army and, despite having destroyed their brand-new engine, somehow convinced them to lend him a propeller for his new prototype. The second Bullet was displayed at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1919, before being sent to the testing field. Shortly before its maiden flight, it was realized that the propeller was too long and dug into the ground, prompting Christmas to enter the hangar and cut down the offending blades with a saw…

Predictably, the second test flight also ended in a crash, resulting in the death of pilot Lt. Allington Joyce Jolly. Nonetheless, Christmas and the McCorey Brothers appeared in the May 1919 issue of Vanity Fair, with Christmas describing the Bullet as the “safest, easiest plane in the world.” But even Christmas must have realized that he could not go on killing pilots indefinitely, and abandoned the project before the Bullet could be formally evaluated by the U.S. Army. Instead, he set out to sell some of his 300 aeronautical patents to the US Government, appearing in 1923 before the House Select Committee on Expenditures in the War Department. In his testimony Christmas made all manner of outlandish claims, including that his company was being swamped with orders from Europe, that he had received a million-dollar offer to rebuild Germany’s air force, and that the prototype Bullets had indeed flown successfully but that the negatives had been destroyed by the Government as part of a conspiracy against him. Then, in an astounding display of Christmas’s sheer audacity and silver-tongued charm, he billed the Army $100,000 for the use of his “revolutionary” flexible-wing design – and the Army paid up…

William Christmas would move on to a long succession of ventures and schemes, eventually ending up as Vice President of the General Development Corporation, a Miami-based real estate firm. He died a wealthy man in 1960 at the age of 95. During his brief foray into aviation, Christmas had accomplished something almost unheard of. He had swindled his business partners and the US Government, built one of the worst aircraft in history, and was responsible for the deaths of two pilots, yet still somehow managed to come out on top. His is a story of ambition and skulduggery that could only have taken place in the lawless Wild West of early American Aviation.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact

Another aircraft that frequently tops lists of the worst ever is the Fisher XP-75 Eagle. Designed as a long-range bomber escort by the Fisher Body division of General Motors in 1942, the Eagle was a Frankenstein’s monster of an aircraft, cobbled together from the tail of a Douglas SBD Dauntless torpedo bomber, the wings of a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter, and the undercarriage of a Vought F4U Corsair fighter. Unusually, the twin V-12 engines were mounted behind the pilot and connected to the propellers through a long driveshaft running under the cockpit floor. The idea behind this hybrid construction was to reduce costs and speed production by using components from already-proven aircraft.

But while the P-75 was touted by GM as a “wonder plane” with incredible range and rate of climb, in testing the Eagle proved to be something of a turkey. Its engine was underpowered and prone to overheating, the aircraft’s rearward centre of gravity made it unstable, and its undersized wings and control surfaces gave it poor handling characteristics. Development dragged on for two years, and while many of these early teething problems were worked out by September 1944, by this time the Eagle had already been surpassed in its intended escort role by production aircraft such as the North American P-51 Mustang and Lockheed P-38 Lightning, and production was halted after only six P-75s had been completed.

While the Eagle may have seemed like a terrible idea right from the start, there was method to GM’s madness. The company’s conversion from peacetime automobile production to wartime aircraft production had taken herculean effort, its five eastern automotive plants having to be torn down and rebuilt essentially overnight. Aircraft manufacturing had also proven very different to automobile manufacturing, and it had taken years of dedicated work to iron out all the kinks in the assembly process.

By 1942, GM factories were at full capacity producing aircraft like the Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber and 4F4 Wildcat fighter and the North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. In that same year, Boeing finished development of its sophisticated new B-29 Superfortress bomber, stoking fears among GM’s management that their factories would soon be forced to produce them. Wishing to avoid a repeat of their previous woes with tooling-up new production lines, GM hatched a clever scheme. By agreeing to take on the Army Air Force’s requirement for a long-range escort fighter, they were able to create a high-profile  “priority project” that would exempt them from full-scale B-29 production. And it worked: while the Fisher Body division did produce subcomponents such as engine nacelles and tail assemblies, GM factories were never called upon to produce full B-29s. Thus for all its inherent faults, in the end the P-75 Eagle actually accomplished exactly what it was designed to.

Expand for References

Dwyer, Larry, Frankenplane: General Motors / Fisher P-75 Eagle, The Aviation History Online Museum,

Holley, I.B, A Detroit Dream of Mass-Produced Fighter Aircraft: the XP-75 Fiasco,

Wrigley, Sylvia, The Worst Aircraft Ever Constructed, Fear of Landing, September 14, 2012,

Blazeski, Goran, The Christmas Bullet – World’s Worst Aircraft, The Vintage News, December 1, 2016,

Doctor William Christmas’ Bullet, Fiddlers Green,

Lovell, Joseph, The Christmas Bullet Was the Worst Plane Ever Made, Planelopnik, April 4, 2018,

The post The Worst Military Airplane Ever appeared first on Today I Found Out.

40 People Respond To ‘Which Is The Worst Single Decision In History Ever Made By A Person?’ – BoredPanda

Nobody was born screwup-proof. I mean, look at the times you’ve made a mistake, like, in the past year, and your blank page will be full by the second month of the year.

But there’s one thing about getting caught lying and entirely another when someone literally makes a regretful decision that starts the plague in their country, or when an entire business goes bankrupt.

So when someone put up the question “Which is the worst single decision in history ever made by a person?” on AskReddit, it immediately became a hit on the subreddit. 47.3k upvotes and 17k comments later, we’ve got the most illuminating replies that may, in fact, make us change our perspective of things. Welcome to the land of historical screwups, the place where any given error is worse than your very worst one times infinity.


Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. There was no cause or direct threat, and it led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, trillions of dollars spent, and the creation of ISIS.

Image credits: technicalaversion


Allan Savory the ecologist who killed 40000 elephants because it was believed that grazing was causing the desertification of Africa, only to find out later that elephants were essential to prevent desertification.

Image credits: corylew


Burning of the Library of Alexandria

Image credits: Russian_Spy_slav


My great great grandfather, a carpenter, did some work for a poor painter in the neighbourhood. The painter had no money, so he offered either a bottle of wine or a painting. My great great granfather chose the wine.

The painter was Edvard Munch, and the painting would have been worth millions upon millions today, or even just a few decades later (if translated to todays money).

Image credits: Brillek


“Hey, let’s create a coffee machine that uses a single use plastic cup for every cup of coffee or tea. How bad can the trash from that really be?”

I actually read that the creator of the K-Cup, John Sylvan, regrets inventing the pod system.

Image credits: Gorctam


“Alright gentlemen we’ve successfully fended off the Greeks for 10 years, our great city of Troy still stands. If we keep this up surely they will realize the siege is fruitless and return home before long.”

“Yo captain there’s this big ass wooden horse outside”

“Oh rad bring it in”

Image credits: Mr_Boi_


Well, the decision of Inalchuq, the governor of the Khwarazmian city of Otrar, to attack Genghis Khan’s trade caravan was pretty bad. Khan was famous as a ruthless warlord, not the sort of guy you want to piss off.

But maybe they could have got away with it. Genghis sent three ambassadors to negotiate a settlement.

Which is when Muhammad II, the Shah of of Khwarzem, made the really bad decision to kill one of these ambassadors and send the other two back without their beards as a sign of humiliation.

Genghis Kahn was so enraged he assembled an army and destroyed the Khwarazmian Empire. Wiped out every town they had. He even re-routed a river to wipe out the village where the Shah was born, wiping it off the map. By 1120 there wasn’t much of anything left.

Image credits: Horacecrumplewart


Mao Zedong

Pest capaign: He basically told his nation to take pots and pans to kill all the sparrows. However, the ecosystem was disturbed and the locust population skyrocketed.

Seeds: he thought that planting seeds 1 meter in the ground would result in greater roots and better harvest. He also thought that putting tons of seeds in one compact area would cause a better harvest. All the seeds died however. Around 30 million or so died from Famine under his rule.

“Hey! Look at the other nations industrializing! Lets smelt all our metal to build better infrastructure. What? It creates pig iron which is super unstable and impure therefore being ultimately useless? Oops!” -Mao

Image credits: s_sekowski


Eastman Kodak deciding not to go forward with their own newly invented digital cameras and instead sticking with film because it made them so much money at the time.

Image credits: starshame


Here’s a recent one…

After successfully invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, the US decided that all members of the ruling Baath party should be banned from government and military positions in the new government.

The result was a crop of knowledgeable bureaucrats and military leaders available to join a group of terrorists under Zarqawi to form a little group that would go on to become ISIS.

Image credits: JayArlington


Invading Russia. Always invading Russia.

Image credits: warriorwoman96


Thomas Midgley Jr can lay claim to three:

First, he discovered and helped popularize the use of lead in petrol/gasoline, causing unimaginable harm to the atmosphere and our brains. He contracted lead poisoning when working on the project, but apparently neglected to draw any conclusions from this.

Second, he lead the team that discovered freon, the first chlorofluorocarbon, and helped popularize the use of CFCs in refrigeration and industrial applications, causing further unimaginable harm to the atmosphere

It’s suggested that he had a greater impact on the atmosphere than any other single person in history.

As for the third, well:

In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted poliomyelitis, which left him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to lift himself out of bed. In 1944, he became entangled in the device and died of strangulation.

Image credits: JamesCDiamond


How about the guy who bought 20,000 Albanian slaves, brought them to Cairo, trained them to be the greatest warriors of their time, and then got overthrown by said slave warriors because they were so well trained.

Image credits: TheRealSumRndmGuy


Maybe the worst business decision ever made was by Xerox with their Alto computer.

Xerox invented the graphical interface modern computers use. Desktop, folders, copy/paste etc. They basically invented the modern computer in the ’70s. But the problem was, the people in charge at the time were businessman without any technical knowledge so they didn’t realize what they had. They did nothing with it and gave it away to universities and showed other companies. The famous story is that Steve Jobs saw this and within 5 minutes realized this was the way computers would work in the future. He copied it, because Xerox didn’t patent their invention and didn’t do anything with it and the rest is history.

Image credits: cheesyvoetjes


The guy who rejected Hitler’s art academy application?

Image credits: Nondramatic


John H. Sununu might count. He was an MIT educated engineer, brilliant guy, PhD in mechanical engineering. He even served on MIT’s Advisory Board of the Technology and Policy. He remains a member of the National Academy of Engineering. More importantly, he was a governor of NH and later the White House Chief of Staff under George H.W. Bush.

As Bush’s adviser, he was the first one with a STEM background to doubt climate change. He publicly questioned the validity of James Hansen / NASA’s modeling efforts. In fact, the US was on the verge of signing a binding climate treaty with 65 other nations (in 1989!)

Prior to this point, the argument was “how do we balance emission reductions versus economic losses”, with conservative forces recognizing the danger but insisting we protect businesses from overreaching regulation. After Sununu’s public doubts, the entire debate shifted to “is climate change even real?”. It inspired the “everything’s fine” PR campaign that has been ongoing ever since. I honestly suspect treaty opponents didn’t even realize that pure denial would be a realistic strategy until Sununu called James Hansen a liar.

I guess in another 50 years we’ll see the true extent of the damage he did. Ironically all this falls not on some moron, but on a brilliant guy who decided to speak on something outside his expertise.

Image credits: Ut_Prosim


Gavrillo Princip shooting Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

On that day, a man acted upon his self-constructed vendetta against a non-tyrranical monarch, thinking the world would remember him as a symbol against foreign tyranny. A symbol of national sovereignty.

A year later, 10 million men were dead.

Image credits: Dickcheese_McDoogles


The decision by the Scottish to invade England during Black Death must be up there.

Image credits: jtswtf


That one time nintendo had a partnership with sony to develop a CD based console but in the end changed their mind and kicked Sony out cuz they decided to stick with cartridges.

Sony then thought “screw this, We’ll make our own console, with blackjack & hookers” and created the playstation as a f**k you towards nintendo…

Image credits: YoungDiscord


Game of Thrones Season 8

Image credits: figtoria


Blockbuster not buying Netflix.

Image credits: powerlesshero111


Radcliff Line – The process to divide India and Pakistan boundary in 1947 was done hastily and without major considerations to local populace religion. Radcliff was not a geography guy and majorly messed up the process. Millions died.

Image credits: earliestowl


David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on Brexit, closely followed by Teresa May caking a snap General Election and losing her party’s majority.

Image credits: RegalGibbon


Two terrible decisions for the price of one:

The British gave Native American’s blankets diseased with smallpox to “thin” out their ranks during The French and Indian War. They didn’t anticipate just how deadly this would be; some tribes losing as much as 90% of their number due to the epidemic.

When Edward Jenner invented the smallpox vaccine, Britain made fast allies by exporting it out to the world. Some of those shipments were to be sent to the United States, with the intention of helping both the Colonial American populace and the Native American Populace.

Only problem was that the Colonials and the Natives were having a bit of a war for the west at the time. The US Army took the vaccines hostage, with the intention of letting more Natives die, until they gave up and moved into the reservations the US Army had built for them.

Native Americans just can’t catch a break at all.

Image credits: killingjoke96


Anatoly Dyatlov making sure with every step, that reactor 4 at Chernobyl exploded in 1986.

Image credits: dikarich


Yahoo refused to buy Google for 1 million and later for 40 billion again.

Edit: They refused 1 million, later offered 3B, and Google wanted 5B so no deal. And Yahoo was offered 40B by Microsoft and they didn’t want to sell. And later they sold for 4.6B.

Image credits: Jasper_Reddit


The Donner Party of 90 pioneers choosing to take a shortcut when heading West from Illinois to California in 1846. Said shortcut led to them getting trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains and resorting to cannibalism.

Image credits: QuestioningAccount1


Robert Ballard, one of the guys who discovered Titanic, says that his biggest regret is that he and Jean-Lous Michel didn’t bring a piece of the Titanic up with him when he first discovered it in 1985. At the time, they didn’t want to disturb the wreck, and leave it pristine. But if they had done so, then they would’ve been able to claim legal ownership of the wreck under international maritime law, and therefore more control over it. Because they chose not to do that, everyone and their grandma is free to take artifacts and pieces of the wreck, and this makes preservation impossible.

Image credits: RedWestern


Maybe not the *worst*, but maybe Ronald Wayne, he was a co-founder of apple along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Just 12 days after forming the company, he sold his shares for $800. He owned 10% of the company, which would be worth ~$80,000,000,000 (80 billion) today.

Image credits: ProGenji777


The guy that sold the bottling rights for Coca Cola, for $1, and never even made the guy pay the $1.

Image credits: TheGarp


How about the greatest single decision that could have ended up as the worst single decision in history ever made by a person?

Vasily Arkhipov. The man who was solely responsible for preventing nuclear war in 1962. The three officers on board the diesel-powered and nuclear armed B-59 sub had to agree unanimously to launch the nuclear torpedo. Conditions due to the Kennedy administration’s blockade began to take a toll upon the crew members. Diesel subs can get incredibly hot over extended periods of time, the batteries failed and the air conditioning stopped, and the lack of fresh air from increased carbon dioxide levels means delirious crew members. Eventually two officers, Captain Savitsky, and the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov got sick of waiting due to thinking WWIII had already begun and decided to go through with the launch. But Arkhipov was second in command and his position as flotilla commander meant they also needed his approval to launch it. If he wasn’t a flotilla commander it wouldn’t have been needed gain his approval even as second in command. Vasily disagreed and all three actually got into a physical confrontation, fighting over command of the torpedo. Eventually they agreed with Vasily and had brought the sub to surface. Needless to say, they faced criticism and were disgraceful to their superiors who would have rather saw them go down with their ship than be captured by the enemy.

According to Wikipedia: ”Each captain was required to present a report of events during the mission to the Soviet defense minister, Andrei Grechko. Grechko was infuriated with the crew’s failure to follow the strict orders of secrecy after finding out they had been discovered by the Americans. One officer even noted Grechko’s reaction, stating “upon learning that it was the diesel submarines that went to Cuba, removed his glasses and hit them against the table in fury, breaking them into small pieces and abruptly leaving the room after that.”

It’s safe to say that there’s an almost unanimous amount of agreement over the importance of Arkhipov’s decision. Everyone from Chomsky, to McNamara have agreed that this was the defining moment of whether or not we would prevail as a species. This was it. The test. The launch of the torpedo would have meant the nuclear destruction of the blockade above, and thus the invasion of Cuba and the launching of the NATO nukes in Turkey and other European countries. Meaning the missiles in Cuba which were operational at this point, would have decimated all the major cities on the Eastern seaboard, and the major cities in the Midwest.

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., an advisor for the John F. Kennedy administration and a historian, has stated, “This was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in human history.”

Image credits: SubatomicG


Eight years ago when that guy bought two large pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin.

Image credits: Im_jk_but_seriously


Hmm, here are a few candidates:

Hitler/Napoleon (for attacking Russia)

Dyatlov for various things he decided at Chernobyl (but there are so many Versions of that it’s hard to say who was most responsible)

Whoever ordered Pearl Harbor (for ordering the attack)

Licencing Thalidomide for use against morning sickness (killed about 40% of the unborn babies and had horrendous effects on many of the rest)

Using Hydrogen to fly the Hindenburg

Image credits: Aibeit


Brutus decided to join Cassius in murdering the dictatorial tyrant, Caesar. The reason? They suspected his intent to become a king.

Which then started a chain of events leading to his adopted son Caesar becoming a military dictator without equal, having all the powers of a king without being called one.

When this Caesar Augustus dies, his name and title is passed on for the next four hundred years almost like you would a crown. Monarchies then returned all over Europe, in the style of Augustus Caesar.

And so, the decision of Brutus to join the conspiracy in effect changed all of Western civilization for the next 1900 years to adopt the very political style he wanted to avoid.

It would not be until the 1770s when America and later France would begin revolting and experimenting with Democracies and Republics.

Image credits: Ipride362


Whoever signed the bill passing prohibition


Sultan Murad IV sending the first flying man in history (Hezarfen Ahmed Çelebi flying three kilometers over the Bospurus in 1638) , into exile instead of putting all efforts into aviation.

Image credits: WeirdAstronaut


Alcibiades was considered a traitor in Athens for leading his men to death. A traitor in Sparta because he got the queen to cheat on the king with him and a traitor in Persia after including them in a war

Image credits: itsmustafatime


The Soviet government not informing their nuclear power plants of the defect which caused Chernobyl to melt down and almost destroy all of eastern Europe.

Image credits: iconoclast63


William Howard Taft running for US president:

Prior to ww1, the US elections took place with Woodrow Wilson winning with a 36% (give or take) majority, how could this happen? Taft. The election was split 3 ways, Wilson for the democrats, and Taft and Teddy Roosevelt for the Republicans, they split the vote and Wilson Won. Had Taft not split the vote Roosevelt would have won and serve a third presidential term. As president, Roosevelt would have almost definitely pushed the US one WW1 much earlier than Wilson did, possibly shortening the war by up to a year. The main impact of this would have been on Russia, while it wouldn’t have saved the Tsar, it would have put down Lenin and prevented the rise of Communism, as it would have denied Lenin the public backing he needed, given that the current govt. didn’t look quite so incompetent. With no Lenin, no Stalin, no mass genocides, speaking of genocides, the fear of communist take-over largely fuelled support for the Nazi party and without them, Hitler would have lived and died a fringe extremist with very few people even noticing him.

TLDR; Taft ran for president, split the vote, denied Roosevelt a third term, which lead to a prolonged WW1, the Russian Communist take over, WW2, Cold War, etc.

Image credits: Dan-aufsE-IOO


Kaiser Wilhelm II firing Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck had a plan. He always has a plan. But not when an incompetent Kaiser boots him out of his means of putting his plans into action. Bismarck had everything set up perfectly, but Wilhelm II decided to f*ck up everything he had set up, and got into WWI for it.

Image credits: AdouMusou

My 18 Photos Show The Eerie Aftermath Of The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – BoredPanda

It was March 11th, 2011 in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan. The day an earthquake rocked, a tsunami engulfed, and a nuclear power plant went into meltdown.

I am an explorer of the abandoned world. I search for remnants of what we leave behind when we relegate things to decay. I have explored many locations with sad tales and dark histories. I experience a wide range of emotions when I explore forgotten places, as I attempt to document the forgotten world. I immerse myself in the story of each location, in an attempt to present photos with context. Sometimes this is a happy partnership, other times it may uncover a painful past.

Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming emotions I felt when I visited the disaster-stricken Fukushima region of Japan in 2019. Even a decade after the incident, the area bears the scars of that day.

I would like to share one story with you, that affected me the most. Of the several places I explored in Fukushima, there is one that sticks in my mind.

More info:

#1 The School Stands Only A Few Hundred Meters From The Sea Front. The Floor Of The Sports Hall Has Collapsed In The Decade Since It Was Abandoned

As I stood in an abandoned school gym, I could see the Pacific Ocean only a few hundred meters away. Beautiful and calm when I visited. On March 11th, 2011 the staff made a brave decision. As the tsunami warning sirens sounded, protocol dictated they remain inside. The tsunami wall should protect them, or so it was thought. For some reason, perhaps some intuition, the staff decided instead to evacuate. Their decision undoubtedly saved the lives of the 82 students and all 15 staff members. On this day, the tsunami breached the seawall and struck the school.

I could not help but think that many other schools did not escape the unstoppable tsunami, that many more stories had a much more tragic end.

#2 This Arcade Is Now Dark And Empty, With Coin Trays And Paper Littering The Floor

#3 Everywhere You Can See Nature Swallowing Houses And Vehicles, The Things Left Behind When The People Fled

#4 Although Most Of The Supermarket Is Dark, A Long Skylight Illuminates The Front Of The Store

#5 The Chevrolet Impala Ss Looks Like It Would Still Run If The Owner Ever Returns

#6 The Air Inside This Abandoned Supermarket Was Musty And Stale

#7 A Japanese Funeral Car, Called A Reikyūsha, Lays Forgotten On An Old Dealership Forecourt

#8 The Arcade Machines Here Featured Anime Designs, Some From My Childhood Favorites

#9 Products And Litter Cover The Floor, The Piles Reach Knee-Height In Some Areas

#10 A Cheeky Nissan Pao Peeks Out From Behind A Small Bush

#11 Another Abandoned Pachinko Hall That I Explored In Fukushima

#12 Sweets And Snacks Still Line The Shelves And Racks, Long Passed Their Sell-By Dates

#13 Everything On The Shelves Is Covered With Layers Of Dust And Grime

#14 Abandoned Shops Are Everywhere, And It Is Forbidden To Approach Them

#15 This Abandoned School Was Evacuated Shortly Before The Tsunami Hit, Everyone Escapes Unharmed

#16 This Abandoned Pachinko Hall Would Once Have Been A Hive Of Activity. Pachinko Is A Popular Japanese Arcade Game

#17 Tarmac Is Cracked And Weeds Grow Everywhere At This Abandoned Car Dealership

#18 As Re-Inhabitation Of Fukushima Begins, Perhaps These Gaming Halls Will Come Back To Life Once More

10 Candid Photos That Won The Independent Photographer’s Contest In “Street Photography” – BoredPanda

In February 2021, The Independent Photographer organized its monthly photo contest around the theme “Street Photography.” On this occasion, the renowned photographer Martin Parr was a judge in choosing the best photos.

Martin Parr is one of the most iconic contemporary photographers. A true chronicler of our age, he is known for his iconic photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical, and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world.

Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1994 and was President from 2013–2017. He has had around 40 solo photobooks published and has been featured in around 80 exhibitions worldwide. Parr also acts as a curator and editor. He has curated two photography festivals and was invited as artistic director of the 2004 edition of the Rencontres d’Arles.

Congratulations to the Winners & Finalists of this photography contest!

More info: | Instagram | | Facebook

#1 Giuliano Lo Re

“The Train for Jaipur”—India.

People are resting inside the train that will bring them from New Delhi to Jaipur. For a few hours, the wagon becomes their home. Some of them are resting on the seats and seem immersed in their thoughts, some brush their teeth, shave or prepare food.

Image credits: Giuliano Lo Re

#2 Joseph-Philippe Bevillard—2nd Prize

“After Church Wedding”—Wexford, Ireland, 2019.

Women and girls from the Irish traveling community get together after church. Girls as young as 3 wear high heels, false tan, eyelashes, make-up, and colorful dresses as part of their ritual.

Prize: $600.

Feedback from Martin Parr:

“This image taken at a traveller’s wedding in Wexford in Ireland really catches the atmosphere of such an event, with everyone in the right place. The woman on the left, adjusting her daughter’s dress, with a cigarette in the mouth is exceptional, and this with the layers of pink dresses makes an exceptional image. It is a co-incident that the 2 winners both distilled a complicated real life situation into beautifully balanced images. You will see with my runners up, you often get a strong image with a lot more simplicity, but for me, the real challenge of street photography is to make order out of chaos.”

Image credits: Joseph-Philippe Bevillard

#3 Marcel Van Balken

“Repair”—Dordogne, France.

The car was apparently broken because there is someone underneath. But it’s not clear what she is doing. The woman is perhaps trying to repair the car but her dog is still waiting and less confident in it.

Image credits: Marcel van Balken

#4 Monia Marchionni—3rd Prize

“The gardens from the sky”—Cuba.

During a summer day, the three generations of an Italo-Cuban family are serenely spending their time in a period house overlooking the sea.

Prize: $400.

Feedback from The Independent Photographer Editors:

“Theatrical and deeply expressive, Monia Marchionni’s impeccably-timed image eloquently communicates the eccentricities of family life; capturing the unique temperament of each character with rare lucidity, it demonstrates how a seemingly quotidian scene can be transformed by the lens of a skilled street photographer.”

Image credits: Monia Marchionni

#5 Orna Naor

“Children looking through the glass”—Bnei Brak, Israel, 2000.

Image credits: Orna Naor

#6 Carlos Antonorsi

“Fantasy Alley”—Hollywood Beach, Florida, USA, 2020.

Image credits: Carlos Antonorsi

#7 Florian Lang—1st Prize

“Buddhist Roadside Shrine”—Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2020.

People are paying a visit to a Buddhist roadside shrine in the center of Siem Reap.

Prize: $1000.

Feedback from Martin Parr:

“One of the hallmarks of a great street photo is to get every component lined up, so out of a jumble of people, objects with the background, everything has room to breathe. In this rendition of this roadside Buddhist shrine in Cambodia everything is in place, and the people have real presence within the frame. It is difficult to find fault with any of the details in this image, and I know how tricky this is to pull off.”

Image credits: Florian Lang

#8 Andrew Biraj

“Workers in a shipyard”—Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Workers in a shipyard by the river Buriganga, on the outskirt of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Image credits: Andrew Biraj

#9 Lorenzo Caten

“La comitiva”—Paola, Calabria, Italy, 2020. “La comitiva” is an Italian term that indicates a group of young friends with a very close bond. I met this group randomly along the seaside and I spent some evenings with them portraying their everyday rituals along the rocky beaches of a small town in the south of Italy.

Image credits: Lorenzo Caten

#10 Susanne Grether

“Workout session”—Varanasi, India, 2020.

Image credits: Susanne Grether