A parallel Worlds

Monday December 8 2014 / Science & Technology - A Little Levity

The Belgian village of Châtillon is a pretty unassuming place. A stone’s throw from the border with France and Luxembourg, it forms part of the sleepy commune of Saint-Léger which boasts a modest population of 3,500 people.

Paris, New York or London it ain’t, but Châtillon has nevertheless attracted a fair few tourists over the past decades, curious to see and take photos of an eerie phenomenon on the outskirts of town.

For over half a century, until just a few years ago, the forest surrounding Châtillon was the home to what can only be described as a ‘car graveyard’. 

Not a dedicated wrecking yard where decommissioned cars are dismantled, but a secluded place where nearly 500 cars were abandoned to rest, and rust, in peace.

The corroded cars were left in surprisingly orderly lines, resembling bumper-to-bumper traffic, frozen in time.

Branches and vines of surrounding foliage had grown down into the cars, twisting around the rusted, broken down metal. 

These old motors were also eerily animal-like with rusted, busted radiator grills from yesteryear looking like the rib cage of a carcass, voids where headlights were missing resembling empty eye sockets. 

How the graveyard developed remains somewhat of a mystery, but the story goes that cars were dumped there by US troops stationed in and around Châtillon during World War II.

Once the conflict ended, the American soldiers, who had bought cars during their European sojourn, didn’t fancy paying expensive taxes to ship the motors stateside and so hid their vehicles in the dense woodlands near Châtillon, possibly with the idea of picking them up at a later date.

But few, if any, ever came to claim what turned to buckets of bolts. The once shiny lustre of paint wore off and these cars were left to mother nature to moss over and rust. 

Watch this video in Flemish in which a Belgian TV channel visit the forest:

Whether or not the Châtillon car graveyard started this way is still up for debate, but these forests went on to become an unfortunate dumping ground for abandoned cars after the war.

Eagle-eyed observers have noted that you can spot a 1960s Ford Anglia, for example, among a cluster of other post-war cars.

Alain Rongvaux is the property owner of the final resting place for these vintage automobiles. In 2010 he received a summons in the mail ordering him to remove the rusting vehicles from his land for environmental reasons. 

“I inherited these depots after the death of my father, who was very attached to these cars,” said Rongvaux.

If the Belgian failed to remove the cars, the authorities were going to penalise him €250 per vehicle – that’s €125,000 – so he decided to call time on the car cemetery and duly removed the old bangers. 

Today, none of the four car graveyards remain in the forests of Châtillon but recent visitors to the area say a few rusty scrap parts are still lingering in the dense brush, a reminder of the corroded traffic jam that once occupied the space. 

The truth about the genuine origins of the Châtillon car cemetery remains a mystery but the legend of the decaying scrapyard rests among the fronds.

Suggested by
Steven Rogers

Monday November 24 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

In 1999, the world met computer programmer, Thomas A. Anderson, better known as his alter ego, bad-to-the-bone hacker Neo, in the movie, The Matrix.

The special effects in this film were (and pretty much still are) incredible, the most memorable involving Neo dodging a bullet, his body’s reaction to the speeding projectile is captured in the round by dozens of cameras, giving the audience a 360° view of the incredible action sequence.

Since the film’s debut, this multiple-angle photography, better known as “bullet time,” has been embraced by companies like German-born Twinkind, who have used the technology to develop their own 360° scanning systems. Pairing it with 3D printing, Twinkind creates incredibly real, miniaturized statuettes of…you!

Monday November 10 2014 / Science & Technology

Syringe, needle, iodine, cotton balls and a drop of blood: You are now entering the territory of the most dreaded of all visits to the doctor – the one where you need an injection.

Having cold, surgical steel jabbed into various parts of the body to deliver a necessary vaccination is an event that few of us enjoy.

Luckily, there are people out there who are trying to come up with a way of administering a shot that doesn’t involve pointy steel needles.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are in the process of developing a microscopic “tattoo” that can inoculate patients painlessly.

Monday October 27 2014 / Art & Design - A Little Levity

The ancient, pre-Christian Celts believed that there was one day of the year when the ghosts of the dead mingled with the living. This day, called Samhain, was a time to pay tribute to the spirits of their departed ancestors.

Nowadays, this tradition has evolved into “Halloween”, where the dead have become a creepy costume and rather than honouring them, we often find them terrifying.

In his workshop, surrounded by what looks like a set of props from a Hollywood horror flick, Maskull Lasserre seems to be reinvigorating this ancient Celtic tradition, repurposing familiar objects into macabre sculptures and carvings.

Where there were once bell jars, tree branches or axes, Lasserre has chiselled intricate skulls, nooses and snake skeletons.

Monday October 13 2014 / Art & Design

The Cuillin Ridgeline on the Isle of Skye in Scotland is a range of craggy mountains stretching 30 rocky peaks over 12 km (7.5 miles). At their highest outcropping, they reach 992 metres (3,255 feet).

They are a mountain climber’s paradise and some of the most challenging terrain to negotiate on foot…

But then there are those who do it differently.

Ascending these rugged peaks was the dream of Danny Macaskill, a climber of sorts: the kind on two wheels.

This professional bike rider and stunt BMX cyclist decided to push the limits of his incomparable skill by making good on his boyhood ambition: riding up and along the notoriously difficult and dangerous Cuillin Ridgeline and capturing the death-defying climb in his latest film The Ridge.

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