Meet the tree that's wowing folks all over the country with its unusual bounty of fruit.

Sam Van Aken is the creator of the Tree of 40 Fruit, a single tree that grows 40 different types of fruit.

Van Aken is an artist and professor at Syracuse University, and his latest project just might be his most delicious yet.

Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit grow a wide variety of stone fruits (i.e., fruits with large pits in the center), including cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and even almonds.



This is an artist's rendering of the full-grown tree. Each one takes over a decade to mature. Photo by Sam Van Aken, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Art.

It's all possible through an intricate process called "chip grafting."

Van Aken takes a sliver off one of his dozens of small fruit trees.

All GIFS from National Geographic.

Then, he makes a small cut on the branch of the established tree to bring them together.

Finally, he uses a special tape to seal everything, creating almost a small greenhouse right at the incision.

With some sunlight, water, and TLC, the two plants will grow together.

Hundreds of chip grafts and several years later, you have a Tree of 40 Fruit.

Since each variety of fruit blossoms at a different time, Van Aken meticulously plots the location of each branch, essentially designing and sculpting the tree from the ground up.


Van Aken's road map for Tree 75. Image by Sam Van Aken, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Art.

Each tree takes years to mature and develop, which means Van Aken has over a dozen trees in progress.

Tree 75 blooming in 2012. Photo by Sam Van Aken, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Art

He likes to plant the trees in public spaces to encourage inquiry and spark conversation.

The trees can be seen everywhere from the campus of Syracuse University, to a hotel and gallery in Bentonville, Arkansas. There's even a small grove of eight trees at Thompson Point, a mixed-use retail area in Portland, Maine.


Tree Number 75 at Syracuse University in 2013. Photo by Sam Van Aken, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Art.

Each tree is meant to be shared, enjoyed, and pondered. The entire project toys with the viewer's concept of reality, and Van Aken enjoys straddling the border of truth and science fiction.

"Once they happen upon these trees, they would start to question, 'Why are the leaves shaped differently? Why are they different colors?'" he told National Geographic in a video profile earlier this year.

But this project is bigger than art — there are conservation implications as well.

Many of the seeds and plants Van Aken used for the project are no longer used by commercial growers because of size, shelf life, and, yes, even aesthetics. As Van Aken said in a recent TED talk, "People generally don't like a yellow plum."

Delicious yellow plums that Big Produce doesn't want you to have. Photo by Sam Van Aken, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Art.

The Tree of 40 Fruit puts the seeds and plants back to work. In an email with Upworthy, Van Aken said he's using proceeds from the sale of his trees to create an heirloom fruit orchard and field guide to study the precious plants.

The Tree of 40 Fruit is a living, breathing tasty work of art. And you can see it come to life in this short video by National Geographic:

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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