The “Lone Pine” Trees Growing Across Australia

Many war memorials across Australia have pine trees growing in their grounds. These trees are called “Lone Pines”, and their ancestry can be traced back to a single pine tree that stood where one of the bloodiest battles of the Gallipoli campaign took place.

The Battle of the Lone Pine was fought around an area called Anzac Cove, on a rise known as "Plateau 400", in Gallipoli, in Turkey. It was year 1915 and the First World War was in full force. The Allied offensive against the Ottoman Empire in Gallipoli wasn’t going on very well, and so they decided to create a diversion at Anzac to draw the Ottoman attention away from the main assaults at Sari Bair, Chunuk Bair and Hill 971.

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The Lone Pine Cemetery at Gallipoli. Photo credit: Jorge Láscar/Flickr

How Amsterdam’s Airport Is Fighting Noise Pollution With Land Art

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, located just 9 km southwest of the city, is the third busiest airport in Europe and one of the busiest in the world. In an average year, more than 63 million passengers pass through Schiphol in as many as 479,000 flights to and from various international destinations. That’s an average of about 1,300 flights every day, or nearly a flight every minute. In other words, Schiphol is very busy and very loud.

When the Dutch military first built a landing strip here in 1916, they chose the site because it was a polder —a broad and flat lowland that used to be the bed of a vast lake. Over the decades the flat expanse of the Haarlemmermeer polder became one of the most densely populated areas of the country, and the noise produced by the airport became an annoying problem for the residents.

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Inkerman Cave Monastery of St. Clement

The Inkerman Monastery of St. Clement, located near the city of Inkerman at the mouth of the Black River, is built into the natural caves and hollows in the cliff face carved by the river. The name “Inkerman” is Turkish meaning cave fortress, although the city itself is located in the Crimean peninsula, a territory currently under dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

The current monastery was founded in 1850 on the site of a medieval Byzantine monastery where the relics of St. Clement were supposedly kept before their removal to San Clemente by Saints Cyril and Methodius. The early Christians are supposed to have kept the relics in a grotto which could be visited only on the anniversary of his death.

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Photo credit: Alexxx Malev/Flickr

The Sand Covered Floors of Caribbean Synagogues

The Caribbean is not all about sandy beaches, its about sandy synagogues too.

As many as four synagogues in this part of the world have floors covered with sand, and a fifth one in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. These Jewish places of worship have a regular wood or brick base, but topped with a layer of sand about an inch or two in depth.

The tradition of spreading sand on the floor is thought to have originated at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, which raged across Spain and all Spanish colonies in the Americas. During this turbulent period in history, all non-Christians, including Jews, were forced to convert to Christianity. Many of these converts, however, continued to practice Judaism, but secretly. And sand provided a means to this secrecy.

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The Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue in Willemstad, Curaçao. Notice the sand on the floor. Photo credit: www.snoa.com

The Norias of Hama

The norias of the ancient Syrian city of Hama are seventeen historic waterwheels located along the Orontes River that date back to the Byzantine Era, although locals claim they are older still.

The water wheels, called noria, are part of the city’s now-defunct irrigation system, and were designed to lift water from the river and move it through aqueducts to agricultural fields and people’s home. The wheels were powered by the current of the flowing river. As the wheels moved, wooden buckets placed at the periphery of the wheels scooped water out from the river and emptied it into aqueducts. Gravity then lead the water along aqueducts to its destination in various parts of the city.

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Photo credit: Alessandra Kocman/Flickr

Operation Tracer: The Secret Plan To Bury Soldiers Alive Inside The Rock Of Gibraltar

The great limestone monolith called the Rock of Gibraltar, towering over the small British overseas territory near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, has long been Gibraltar’s natural defense. During the American Revolutionary War of the 18th century, and later, during the Second World War, the British Army dug a dizzying maze of tunnels at the base of the rock to defend this strategically important military hold against enemy attacks. More than 50 km of tunnels permeate this massive monolith, and they were once housed with guns, hangars, ammunition stores, barracks and hospitals.

After the end of the Second World War, a myth began to circulate that within the Rock there is a secret cave which was meant to hold six men, sealed from the outside. The men were expected to survive and observe the activities of the Germans for a period of one year or more, should Gibraltar fall to Nazi forces.

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The Rock of Gibraltar. Photo credit: Rob/Flickr

Casa Vicens: Gaudi’s First Building Opens To Public

More than 130 years after it was built, the first building designed by Barcelona’s famed architect Antoni Gaudi opens to the public for the first time.

Casa Vicens was built as a summer home between 1883 and 1885 for Manuel Vicens i Montaner, a brick and tile factory manufacturer. Gaudi was 31 years old at that time and was just beginning his career. Throughout his graduation years at the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona, Gaudi’s work portrayed a rather Victorian style, similar to that of his predecessors. However, shortly after finishing school he began to develop his own style that was characterized by Neo-Mudéjar influence. Some characteristics of this style include the juxtaposition of geometric masses, the use of ceramic tiles, metalwork, and abstract brick ornamentation. Casa Vicens is one of the first buildings in the Art Nouveau style.

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The Moving Facade of Bund Finance Center, Shanghai

A new financial quarter is being built near the waterfront of Shanghai's old town. Designed by British architectural firms, Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio, the 420,000 square meter development includes two 180-meter-high landmark towers, containing offices, a boutique hotel, and a wide variety of luxury retail spaces. At the heart of the scheme is the arts and cultural center with a flexible façade that can be changed to dramatically alter the look of the building.

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A New Atmospheric Phenomenon Called Steve

For the past three years, members of a Facebook group called the Alberta Aurora Chasers, consisting of photographers who exchange tips and images of the famed northern lights, have been capturing images of a gorgeous arc of light across the sky. The arc can be seen streaking across the northern sky typically in mid-latitude location like Calgary or Edmonton. It has a distinctive purplish or greenish color, and sometimes looks braided like a helix.

The group initially mistook the glowing ribbon of purple and green light as an airplane contrail. It was only when experimenting with their camera settings, like slow shutter speeds, and photo editing software to improve the color saturation, did they realize that the arc of light was self illuminated, unlike condensation trails from airplanes that are lit from light sources on the ground.

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Meet Steve, a stream of hot, fast-moving gas, glowing over Porteau Cove Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada, in May 2016. Photo credit: Vanexus Photography

Haiti’s Wandering Street Pharmacies

In the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince, one need not be a pharmacist to sell medicine. All you need is a bucket and the willingness to roam the streets in the hot sun looking for patients.

For many Haitians, medicine is an ordinary consumer good just like candies or groceries are, and buying them off roaming street peddlers is the norm. As a matter of fact, actual pharmacies are hard to come by in Haiti, and these street dispensaries are the main source of medicine for many Haitians.

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Photo credit: Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti