Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Netherland’s Impressive Storm Surge Barriers

The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 20% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level. As much as 50% of its land lie less than one meter above sea level. With two thirds of its area vulnerable to flooding, flood control is an important issue for the Netherlands. The country utilizes a system of embankments, dikes and sluice gates along the seafront and on the mouths of the rivers to prevent storm water from surging in from the sea.

In 1953, after a massive flood in the North Sea that killed 1,835 people, displaced 70,000 more and caused damages worth 1 billion Dutch guilders, the government started building a series of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta to protect the area from flooding. Collectively known as the Delta Works or North Sea Protection Works, the barriers are an engineering marvel that the American Society of Civil Engineers has named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World.”

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Friday, April 18, 2014

New Zealand’s Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is a popular beach and geothermal attraction located on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, approximately 12 kilometers southeast of Whitianga. Between low and high tides, warm water from two underground hot springs rises up through the sand, and by scooping a shallow hole in the sand, you can create a small pool of warm water to lie on. The phenomenon occurs only at low to mid-tide when the water is low to expose the area of sand with hot water underneath. Two hours before and after low tide is the best time to go.

During peak season, hundreds of people and family take to the beach with spades and bucket and start digging pools large enough to lay and relax while the warm water envelops them. The deeper you dig, the hotter the water becomes with temperature reaching as hot as 64°C. Because the water is scalding hot, diggers would often dig a channel to the sea to allow cold water to mix in. With the ebb and flow of the tide each individually created hot pool is washed away clearing the way for the next influx of visitors.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Pseudocraters of Iceland

A pseudocrater looks like a true volcanic crater, but is not. These distinctive landforms are created when flowing hot lava crosses over a wet surface, such as a swamp, a lake, or a pond causing an explosion of steam through the lava. The explosive gases break through the lava surface in a manner similar to a phreatic eruption, and flying debris builds up crater-like feature which can appear very similar to real volcanic craters. Pseudocraters are also known as rootless cones, since they are characterized by the absence of any magma conduit which connects below the surface of the earth.

A classic locality for pseudocraters is the Lake Myvatn area of northern Iceland that was formed 2,300 years ago by basaltic lava eruption. The lava flowed down the Laxárdalur Valley to the lowland plain of Aðaldalur where it entered the Arctic Ocean about 50 km away from Mývatn. There was a large lake in the area at the time, a precursor of the present-day Mývatn. When the glowing lava encountered the lake some of the water-logged lake sediment was trapped underneath it. The ensuing steam explosions tore the lava into small pieces which were thrown up into the air, together with some of the lake.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Makoko, a Floating Slum in Nigeria

The shanty town of Makoko is located on a lagoon on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, a stone’s throw from the modern buildings that make up Lagos, the biggest town in Nigeria and the main commercial and industrial center. In this sprawling slum on the waterfront, adjacent to the 10 km long Third Mainland Bridge, tens of thousands of people live in rickety wood houses raised on slits. There are no official census records, but estimates suggest some 150,000 to 250,000 people live here.

Makoko used to be a small fishing village built by fishermen who came from Benin to make money more than a hundred years ago, before it grew into an illegally constructed one-square-kilometer urban settlement. The population now consists mainly of migrant workers from West African countries, trying to make a living in Nigeria. The oily black water is no longer suitable for fishing; it emits a pungent smell, and a thick layer of white scum gathers around the shack stilts.

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Trinity Site, the Site of the First Atomic Bomb Blast

On July 16, 1945, the world’s first nuclear explosion, code named Trinity, occurred at a test site located 336 km south of Los Alamos on the barren plains known as the Jornada del Muerto in New Mexico. The plutonium device, called the Gadget, was hoisted atop a 100-foot tower and detonated at precisely 5:30 am releasing energy equivalent to 18.6 kilotons of TNT, instantly vaporizing the tower and fusing the desert sand into green glass. The shock wave was felt over 160 km away, and windows still rattled 320 km away. The success of the Trinity test meant that an atomic bomb could be readied for use by the U.S. military. The first deployment occurred on August 6, 1945, when the Uranium-235 device was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and the rest is history.

Today, the Trinity Site is open to public only twice a year, on the first Saturday of April and October. Each time thousands of people make a pilgrimage to check out the partially filled crater left by history’s first atom bomb test – a slight depression measuring 340 feet across. At the center, a stone obelisk made of black lava rock marks ground zero, where the bomb was detonated.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Kawah Ijen, The Volcano That Spews Blue Flames

Kawah Ijen is one of several volcanoes located within the 20 km wide Ijen Caldera in East Java, Indonesia. The caldera of Kawah Ijen harbors a kilometer-wide, turquoise colored, acidic crater lake that leaks sulphurous gases constantly. At night the hot gases burn to emit an eerie blue glow that is unique to Kawah Ijen. The gases emerge from the cracks in the volcano at high pressure and temperature, up to 600°C, and when they come in contact with the air, they ignite, sending flames up to 16 feet high. Some of the gases condense into liquid sulfur, and continues to burn as it flows down the slopes giving the feeling of blue lava flowing.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Crater Lakes of Tongariro National Park

Located in central North Island, Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, and the fourth established national park in the world. The park encompasses three active volcanoes located at the southern end of a 2,500 km long range of volcanoes, below which the Indo-Australian Plate meets the Pacific Plate. The three volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, which have resulted due internal tectonic processes, have erupted as recent as August 2012. The park has two other volcanoes on the northern end that last erupted over 20,000 years ago. These volcanoes have been together building the mountains of Tongariro National Park for over two million years.

Ruapehu is one of the world's most active volcanoes and the largest active volcano in New Zealand. The volcano began erupting at least 250,000 years ago, with major eruptions occurring about 50 years apart and minor eruptions almost every year. Between major eruptions, a beautiful emerald crater lake forms, fed by melting snow. Their brilliant colors are caused by dissolved minerals leaching from the surrounding rocks.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hyper Realistic Eyes Drawn Using Colored Pencils

Jose Vergara, known by his pet name Redosking on his artwork, is an impressively talented artist from south Texas. Vergara’s medium is colored pencils, and he uses them to create a range of stunning drawings from cartoonish figures to unbelievably realistic renderings of human eyes. Vergara started this particular series in November, because he was interested in the 'detail and beauty' of the human eye. His first eye drawing was that of is mother’s. Then he drew his father’s.

The 19-year-old artist was born in Mexico City. When he was eight years old, Vergara suffered an accident that almost cost him his right hand. It was in the hospital, where he was kept for about two months, Vergara realized that it wasn't just a hobby, but a passion.

More artist who draws with color pencils: Marcello Barenghi and Joseph Crone

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Karakul Lake in Tajikistan

Lake Karakul or "Black Lake" is located in the high and dry Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, within the Tajik National Park, in one of the most beautiful and remote location in Central Asia. It is a deep brackish-water lake lying in a closed basin at an altitude of 3,900 meters above sea level. Surrounded by high mountains which block humid air masses, the valley receives less than 30 mm of precipitation a year making it one of the driest places in Central Asia. Between October to May the lake is entirely frozen and forms a white expanse when viewed from Karakul village where a small community of Kyrgyz people survive through nomadic herding of yaks, sheep and goats.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

World's Tallest Ferris Wheel Opens in Las Vegas

The world’s tallest Ferris wheel opened on the Las Vegas Strip on March 31, 2014. Standing at 550 foot tall, the Ferris wheel named “High Roller” sports a 520-foot diameter giant wheel and is taller than the previous record holder, the Singapore Flyer by 9 feet and almost 100 foot tall than the famous London Eye. The wheel is located across from Caesars Palace, adjacent to Flamingo Las Vegas and The Quad Resort & Casino.

High Roller has 28 glass enclosed cabins that can fit up to 40 people each. Moving at a confortable speed of 1 foot per second, the wheel takes 30 minutes to make one complete rotation during which riders can take in the unparalleled view of the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding valley. The ride also includes a dynamic video and music show that fades away seamlessly as the wheel ascends to showcase the most impressive views of the Las Vegas valley. At night, 2,000 LED lights will illuminate the giant wheel and can be programmed to display a single solid color, or different colored patterns during holidays  and special events.

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