Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hyper-realistic Paintings by Omar Ortiz

Alright, I know some of your folks hate hyper-realism but you can't deny the amazing patience, not to mention the incredible talent, these artists display through their work. Here is another one:

Omar Ortiz was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 1977, where he still resides, the main elements of his hyper-realistic paintings are the human figure and a magical set of fabrics. He studied for a degree in Graphic Design at college, where learned different techniques such as drawing, pastel, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, and airbrush. After studying Graphic Design decided to devote himself to the world of painting. In 2002 He did his first oil painting class with the painter Carmen Alarcon to which he considers his main teacher of Art. Now paints in oils, considering the noblest art.

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Volker Steger's Photos of Squashed Bugs

German science photographer Volker Steger, in his book BUZZ: The Intimate Bond Between Humans and Insects, published microscopic photographs of insects that crashed into the windshield of his car. He collected the dead bugs from his car’s bonnet and ran them under a scanning electron microscope. Steger actually taped plastic foil to the hood of the car, so that fallen bugs didn’t stick to the hood, and drove his car hitting as many insects as possible.

“The speed is important”, Steger says. “The right speed is about 70 km/h. Flies that get hit by a car at that speed look like fallen angels in the electron microscope.”

The specimens in the book came not only from the hood of his car, but also a pest control company, a pharmaceutical conglomerate, a zoo, a university, a flea circus, the police of Bavaria, a dead dog, and the rotting leg of a diabetes patient. His book features photographs of over 100 squashed insects.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

‘Day On The Beach’ by Kacper Kowalski

‘Day on the beach’ is a short but fantastic photo series by Polish photographer Kacper Kowalski documenting the bustle of activity on a small beach from morning to sunset, taken from a dizzying height. Kacper Kowalski, who specializes in aerial photography, grabbed the second prize in World Press Photo 2008 contest in the category ‘Arts and Entertainment’ for this series.

The beach in question is located near Wladyslawowo, a small resort in the Baltic Sea Coast.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thousands Strip In Salt Lake City to Protest Conservative Laws

Thousands of people stripped to their underwear and ran through Salt Lake City to protest what they called the 'uptight' laws of Utah. Undie Run organizer Nate Porter said the goal of the event on September 24, Saturday, was to organize people frustrated by the conservative nature of the state's politics.

Nudity was prohibited by organizers. Participants donned bras, panties, nightgowns, swimwear or colorful boxer shorts – and some added political messages by expressing support for causes like gay marriage on their chests, backs or legs. Porter estimates 3,000 people participated in the run, which began in downtown Salt Lake City and circled past the state Capitol building about a mile away

Other weird protests: Kissing protest in Chile, Slutwalk protest in Toronto, PETA’s bloody protest

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Wire Sculptures by Gavin Worth

These amazing wire sculptures were created by self-taught artist, illustrator and designer Gavin Worth.

By bending black wire into something of freestanding line drawings, I create sculptures that engage the viewer by involving them in their subtle changes. When the light in the room shifts, so does the mood of the piece. A breeze might softly move an arm. My wire sculptures tell stories of simple human moments: a woman adjusting her hair, a face gazing from behind tightly wrapped arms, a mother gently cradling her baby. The honest, unguarded moments are the ones that I find to be the most beautiful.

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Body World Exhibition in Rome

The Body World exhibitions are one of kind exhibitions using an extraordinary process called Plastination invented by the controversial German anatomist Dr Gunther von Hagens.

Plastination is a technique of preserving bodies or body parts by replacing the water and fat components by certain plastics, thereby yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample. Plastination was invented in 1977, but it was not until the early 90s that the equipment was developed to make it possible to plastinate whole body specimens.

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Photo:Reuters

Dr von Hagens plastinated animals are now on display at an exhibition in Rome. The exhibitions shows the whole bodies plastinated in lifelike poses and dissected to show various structures and systems of human anatomy allowing visitors to see and better understand about anatomy, physiology, and health by viewing real human bodies. The exhibitions also shows the long-term impact of diseases, the effects of tobacco consumption and the mechanics of artificial supports such as knees and hips. Each exhibition features more than 200 real human specimens, including whole-body plastinates, individual organs, organ configurations and transparent body slices with each specimen taking up to 1,500 man hours to prepare.

The Disciples: Fans of Rock Concerts by James Mollison

For over three years photographer James Mollison photographed fans outside different concerts. His stunning panoramic portraits of pop concert fans emulating their idols are collected in an addictive volume called ‘The Disciples’. Featured bands and stars include Madonna, Marilyn Manson, 50 Cents, Sex Pistols, Spice Girls, Iron Maiden, Rod Stewart and more. Says James Mollison,

I was fascinated by the different tribes of people that attended them, and how people emulated celebrity to form their identity. As I photographed the project I began to see how the concerts became events for people to come together with surrogate 'families', a chance to relive their youth or try and be part of a scene that happened before they were born.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Lena’s Stone Forest

Lena's Pillars, also called Lena’s Stone Forest, is a natural rock formation about 60 km upriver from Yakutsk, in Russia. The amazing stone structures towers over 150 meters in height and extends along the river for about 80km.

Lena’s Pillars have fascinated travellers since the 17th century. But getting there is not an easy task. Your trip will start in Moscow city from where you will have to take a four day journey to the Siberian area of Yakutsk. First, you have to take a flight to Yakutsk, so long that if you flew opposite direction you could easily come to New York. The average price for such flight costs around $800. From Yakutsk you have to take a boat. Though, supposedly only a half a days trip upriver, it takes significantly longer and the locals can offer you a 3 day trip on a small boat for about $500. Finally after four days of travel, you will have arrived at your destination.

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Lena Pillars contains outstanding evidences of the Earth and its living population development history. Numerous fossils of ancient organisms found here are unique preserved evidences of a very important stage in the history of the organic world and a biodiversity "boom", that occurred in lower Cambrian epoch. Also in Lena Pillars area the fossils of mammoth fauna representatives were found: mammoth (Mammulhus primigenius Blum), bison (Bison priscus Boj), fleecy rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiguibatis Blum), Lena horse (Eggus lenensis Russ), Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L)

This unique ecological and tourism location was submitted as a World Heritage site in 2006.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jonathan Hardesty's 9 Year Journey From Novice To Master Painter

What happens when one guy practices art every day for nine years? Since he first picked up a pencil, American artist Jonathan Hardesty has been logging his artistic growth on a website called Conceptart.org. Since September 2002, Hardesty has been posting his sketchbook online under the title "Journey of an Absolute Rookie: Paintings and Sketches" on a discussion board on the same site. Hundreds of images ordered chronologically and spanning more than 70 pages, this spectacular forum thread records his phenomenal progression from untrained to professional artist.

Those with plenty of time in hand can visit the original monster thread. The rest can watch the video below.

Born in Dallas, TX in 1980, Jonathan’s first artistic endeavour began at the University of Pennsylvania where he started basic drawing and figure drawing courses. At the age of 22, his drive for more rigorous and traditional training led him to apply to the classical realist atelier, Pantura Studios, to study under masters Hans-Peter Szameit and Sanna Tomac. After studying for nearly three years, Jonathan and his wife moved to Dallas, Texas where he began building his body of work and honing his skills. In addition, he is teaching traditional atelier methods to a small group of committed and talented students online at Classical Art Online.com. Jonathan’s work is included in various collections throughout the United States and has been exhibited in invitational shows both nationally and in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photographs of Tourists by Peter Otto

London based photographer Peter Otto’s series ‘Tourist Places’ is about sightseers in the act of photographing monuments, often in awkward and hilarious poses.

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Paper Role Portraits by Anant Nanvare

Conqueror Paper celebrated ten years of production in India with “Colours of India”, a print advertising campaign featuring faces composed of rolls of paper seen end on and created by Mumbai based Anant Nanvare.

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Iconatomy: Collage of Celebrity Icons From Two Eras

Swedish artist George Chamoun has made a digital collage series called Iconatomy where he has merges present day icons with their counterparts from yesteryear. The collage is so beautifully done, it almost looks like photographs of the same person.

Iconatomy is the result of a workshop in Fine Arts with the theme “icons”. George Chamoun chose to work with movie icons from two different eras and named the project Iconatomy from the words “icon” and “anatomy.”

“The pictures were not morphed in any way, “Chamoun explains. “What you see is a collage of two different people in each picture. Did it take me a long time to find the right pictures? Hell yes it did!”

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The Hair Raising Hairpin Bends on Trollstigen Road in Norway

Trollstigen is one of the most dramatic mountain roads in Norway. It is located approximately 15 kilometers south of Åndalsnes in the county of Romsdal, and has a steep incline of 9 percent with 11 hairpin bends as it snakes its way along the steep mountainside to Stigrøra, 858 meters above sea level. Because of the sharp turns and narrow width vehicles over 12.4 meters long are prohibited from driving the road.

Trollstigen is a popular tourist attraction of Norway. At the top there is large parking place which allows visitors to leave their cars and walk for about ten minutes to a viewing balcony which overlooks the road with its bends, the lofty mountains encircling it and the Stigfossen waterfall which falls 320 meters down the mountain side.

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Photo credit

Erupting Volcanoes As Seen From Space

Volcanic eruptions are one of the most violent and beautiful geological phenomenon are earth, constantly reminding us of the restless planet we live on. Presently there are about 500 active volcanoes in the world – the majority following along the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' - a 40,000 km horseshoe shaped area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes of which 50 each year. There are more than 1,500 potentially active volcanoes on earth.

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A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station allowed the astronauts this striking view of Sarychev Volcano (Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009. Sarychev Peak is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain, and it is located on the northwestern end of Matua Island.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Art of Tree Shaping

Tree shaping is the practice of training living trees and woody plants into artistic shapes by carefully orchestrating how the tree and the branches grow. Techniques such as grafting, bending, creasing, framing, weaving, twisting, braiding, pruning and ring barking are employed to archive the unnatural shapes.

Tree shaping is a form of living sculpture, sharing a common heritage with other artistic horticultural and agricultural practices, such as bonsai, espalier, and topiary, and employing some similar techniques. A unique and distinguishing feature evident in many examples of the work is the purposeful inosculation of living trunks, branches, and roots to form artistic designs or functional structures.

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Artist Peter Cook seated in his living garden chair

Tree shaping has been practiced for at least several hundred years, as demonstrated by the living root bridges built by the ancient War-Khasi people of the Cherrapunjee region in India. These are being maintained and further developed today by the people of that region. Early 20th century practitioners and artisans included banker John Krubsack, Axel Erlandson with his famous circus trees, and landscape engineer Arthur Wiechula. Contemporary designers include artists Peter Cook and Becky Northey, who call their work "Pooktre", arborist Richard Reames, who coined the term "arborsculpture", and furniture designer Chris Cattle, who uses the phrase "grownup furniture".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011 in Munich

It’s that time of the year again. The 178th Oktoberfest, opened in Munich, Germany last Saturday. The three-week long beer festival held annually in Munich, is one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.

Only beer which is brewed within the city limits of Munich is allowed to be served in this festival. Gigantic quantities of German beer are consumed, with almost 7 million liters served during the 16 day festival in 2007. A liter of beer at this year's festival costs between 8.7 and 9.2 euros. Visitors also enjoy a wide variety of traditional fare such as roast pork, grilled ham, and sausages along with Pretzel, as well as Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).

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Monday, September 19, 2011

World's Littlest Skyscraper

Located at 701 LaSalle Street in downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, is the Newby-McMahon Building, a smallish structure 10 feet by 18 feet in area and four-story in height. Since 1920, this Neoclassical style red brick and cast stone building has been referred to as the ‘world’s littlest skyscraper’ –a sobriquet it received from Ripley's Ripley's Believe It or Not! because of the building’s amusing origins.

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Photo Wikipedia

In 1912, a large petroleum reservoir was discovered near the town of Burkburnett, in Wichita County, Texas. Soon Burkburnett and its surrounding communities started experiencing explosive growth in their populations and economies. By 1918, approximately 20,000 new settlers took up residence around the lucrative oil field, and the city was running out of office space. As a solution, a petroleum landman and structural engineer from Philadelphia named J.D. McMahon announced in 1919 that he would build a high-rise annex to the existing Newby Building. Eager to seize the opportunity to become even wealthier, investors pooled in their money and McMahon collected $200,000 in no time. Blueprints for the proposed skyscraper were drawn and distributed, but nobody noticed that the scale of the blueprints was in inches rather than feet.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The World’s Largest Chocolate Bar

The Worlds Finest Chocolate company set the Guinness World Record for the largest chocolate bar on September 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The bar, which stands nearly 3 feet high and measures 21 feet long, weighs 12,290 pound beating the previous record chocolate bar by more than a ton.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Lastel- The Corpse Hotel in Japan

At a country where the death rate is 1.6 million per year, death is a booming market in Japan, and one Yokohama businessman named Hisayoshi Teramura is trying to tap into it by offering a hotel exclusively for the dead. Mr Teramura who already has a business of graves and funeral homes opened up this bizarre inn opposite an innocent noodle shop in a Yokohama suburb last year.

The corpse hotel named Lastel offers rooms for the dead at a daily rate of 12,000 yen where the bereaved families can temporarily keep the dead bodies while they wait their turn in the queue for one of the city's overworked crematoriums. In Yokohama, the average wait for an oven is more than four days, driving up demand for half-way morgues such as Lastel.

"Otherwise people have to keep the bodies at home where there isn't much space," says Teramura. It also provides a captive audience to which he can market his other funeral services and wares.

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Using an automated storage system, the hotel stores and chills encoffined corpses, delivering them through hatches and into a viewing room, day or night, whenever friends and family come to pay their respects.

Hisayoshi Teramura's inn looks much like any other small lodging that dots the port city. Occasionally, it's even mistaken for a love hotel by couples. The hotel staff turns them away saying they only have cold rooms. Cheesy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thousands of Love Locks on Hohenzollernbruecke Bridge, Germany

Thousands upon thousands of locked padlocks can be seen affixed to the fence across the unpronounceable Hohenzollernbruecke bridge in Cologne, Germany. The phenomenon called Love Locks (or Love Padlocks), which many believe to have originated from Italy, is a new kind of vandalism where lovebirds lock padlocks bearing their names against fences, gate, bridge or similar public place to symbolize their everlasting love.

According to Wikipedia, Love padlocks have existed for quite some time, though there are no certain sources for their origin. In Europe, love padlocks started appearing in the early 2000s. In Rome, the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia, who later made it into the film-adaptation Ho voglia di te.

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Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/GETTY IMAGES

A similar bridge in Serbia exist, where the practice of love locks can be traced to before World War I. The story goes as that there was a local schoolmistress named Nada, from Vrnjačka Banja, who fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other Relja went to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, Relja and Nada broke up their engagement. Nada never recovered from that devastating blow, and after some time she died as a result of her unfortunate love. As young girls from Vrnjačka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, together with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.

European Vegetable Carving Championships

Vegetable carvers from around the world are taking part in the first European Carving Championships being held within the GÄSTE 2011 Trade Fair for the Restaurant, Hotel and Catering Business, in Leipzig, Germany. The three-day championships which was held from September 4th till 6th, included both individual and team competition. Individual food sculptors competed with each other in three categories: individual, cocktail and platter set and composition, and then teamed with fellow competitors for the live carving competition.

In the latter competition, participants had four hours to use their imagination and creativity to carve in front of the jury’s eyes. Each participant was provided with a basket containing melons, giant papayas, kohlrabi, cucumbers, radishes, Chinese cabbages and carrots. Participants may bring their own pumpkin too.

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Vegetable sculptor Vadim Nefedov fits wings on an eagle he carved at the first European Carving Championship in Leipzig, Germany.  (AFP PHOTO / Jan Woitas)

The art of vegetable carving originated in China but has acquired numerous followers in Europe in recent years. In future, the competition will be staged every two years at alternating venues.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monsanto–A Village Built Among Rocks

Southeast of Serra da Estrela in Portugal, perched on the side of a mountain, is a lonely and enchanting village of Monsanto. The village is built among rocks, with houses squeezed between gigantic boulders, and tiny streets carved through the rocks. Monsanto’s appearance hasn't changed in centuries. Some of the granite houses have Manueline doorways and the ruins of a castle that started as a Lusitanian fortified settlement, affords magnificent views stretching as far as Serra da Estrela.

In 1938 Monsanto was voted "the most Portuguese village in Portugal" in a national contest, and since then building restrictions have allowed it to remain a living museum. It is not easy to reach Monsanto by public transportation, but its atmosphere and immense panorama is worth a drive from the towns nearby or Serra da Estrela.

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Photo credit

Miss Universe 2011 National Costumes

The national costume contest is arguably the most colorful part of the Miss Universe pageant. This annual parade of sartorial ridiculousness is the most amusing to watch too. And how can we leave out something like that from Amusing Planet?

This year at the 60th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant, 89 contestants from as many countries are presently fighting out with each other for the coveted crown, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I have heard that this is highest number of participants ever, surpassing the previous record of 86 contestants in 2006.

Because there are so many pictures, this will be a thumbnail gallery. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge. And when you are done with this gallery, don’t forget to checkout the previous year’s national costumes contest.

Miss Colombia, Miss Romania and Miss Canada

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Rommerz Rabbit Hopping Competition in Germany

Over eighty rabbits took part in the fifth annual Rabbit Hopping competition on August 28, 2011 in Rommerz near Fulda, Germany. The rabbits competed in light-weight, middle-weight and jumping-for-points categories clearing miniature obstacles. Rabbit hopping is a growing trend among pet rabbit owners in Central Europe and the first European Championships are scheduled to be held later this year in Switzerland.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Metallic Garden of Nanowires

Nanowires are incredibly thin structures with diameter usually ranging from 30 to 60 nanometers or less. In contrast, human hair is usually between 60 and 120 micrometers wide – one micrometer being 1,000 nanometers. Because nanowires are extremely thin they cannot be manufactured by conventional methods; instead, they are grown chemically.

One way to grow nanowires is to start by spreading a thin layer of plastic on a conducting substrate, such as copper. The plastic is has several vertical pores in its structure stretching from the copper substrate to the surface. The pores are made by bombarding the plastic with high energy particles that rip holes through the layer. The substrate and plastic layer in then placed in an electroplating solution and a current is passed through it. The electroplating metal will be deposited in the pores, creating nanowires. When the wires have grown to the surface of the plastic layer, the current is switched off. Finally, the plastic is dissolved leaving the metal nanowires.

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But what happens if you let the wires grow beyond the plastic surface? Galina Strukova and her buddies at the Institute of Solid State Physics in Chernogolovka, Russia, have found the answer – nanoflowers.

The metals spontaneously built up fantastically complex forms that resemble ferns coral, branches and leaves. The team used alternating layers of lead and indium with those of palladium and nickel to create the amazing structures in the picture above.

Barra Airport–World’s Only Beach Airport

Barra Airport is one of the world's most spectacular and beautiful airports, located on the hebridean island of Barra. The airport is actually a beach, in fact, it's the only airport in the world where scheduled flights take-off and land on a beach. That is, provided the airport's three runways are not submerged at high-tide. This wide shallow bay of Traigh Mhor, near Barra's northern tip, was once famous primarily for its cockles until aircraft started to use the beach on 14 June 1933. Scheduled air services to and from Barra Airport began on 7 August 1936.

The beach is set out with three runways, marked by wooden poles at their ends. This allows the Twin Otters that serve the airport to almost always land into the wind. At high tide these runways are under the sea and flight times has to be regularly rescheduled with the tide. If emergency night landing is required vehicle lights are used to illuminate the runway and reflective strips laid on to the beach.

Photo: Murdo MacLeod

Surprisingly, the Barra beach is also open to the public. In fact, it’s a very popular spot for cockle picking. Visitors to the beach can tell if the airport is operating by checking to see if the windsock is flying.

Although flying into or out of Barra sounds like a great adventure, the airport is subject to the same safety rules as anywhere else. Facilities include modern emergency services, though the airport fire crews are called out far more frequently to help stranded dolphins or seals on Traigh Mhor than for any reason connected with the aircraft operations.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Slate Sculptures by Stephen Kettle

Stephen Kettle, born in Castle Bromwich Birmingham in 1966, is a British sculptor who works exclusively with slate. After leaving school, Stephen served seven years in the Royal Navy and left the service in 1989 to work in his Fathers construction business. It was during the following 15 years that Stephen honed his skills that he now employs in his sculptures, using techniques that were passed to him from his Father and a host of other tradesmen along the way.

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Photo credit

Stonework is the core of his identity with each piece of slate touching its neighboring slate on both sides as well as from above and below. Although the slate is held together with an adhesive (that is of his own invention), none of the adhesive is visible due to the tightness and accuracy of the stonework. This is no mean feat as the majority of slates are of different thicknesses and are seldom perfectly flat.

His works range from miniature to monumental with both figurative and abstract pieces in Museums and private collections and are viewed by over three million people each year. His best known works are statues of R.J. Mitchell (designer of the legendary Spitfire which is now owned and permanently displayed at the London Science Museum) and Alan Turing, mathematician, wartime code breaker and intellectual parent of the computer. The Alan Turing statue is permanently housed at Bletchley Park where it has gained much media attention in recent years. Kettle also has a bust of Winston Churchill in the Darrah /Harwood collection at the same site.

Beautiful Pictures of Rice Terraces

Terraces Cultivation, also known as Step Farming, is used to cultivate sloped land such as on hilly or mountainous terrain. Terraced fields decrease erosion and surface runoff, and are effective for growing crops requiring much water, such as rice.

In most systems the terrace is a low, flat ridge of earth built across the slope, with a channel for runoff water just above the ridge. Usually terraces are built on a slight grade so that the water caught in the channel moves slowly toward the terrace outlet. In areas where soils are able to take in water readily and rainfall is relatively low, level terraces may be used.

Terraced paddy fields are used widely in rice farming in east, south, and southeast Asia, such as China, Japan, the Philippines. Terrace farming is also common throughout the Mediterranean Basin, where they were used for vineyards, olive trees, cork oak, etc and in parts of Africa. In the Andes, farmers have used terraces for over a thousand years to farm potatoes, maize, and other native crops.

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Terraced Rice Paddies of Longsheng (Photo credit)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chilean Students Stage Kissing Protest to Demand Education Reform

More than 100 university students took part in a kissing protest in Santiago, Chile, as part of continued demonstrations over education standards and costs. Pairs of college and high school students locked lips in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral on September 1 while passers-by stopped to watch. The arousing scene startled the kids and old people, while some onlookers applauded.

The kiss-in marked a humorous break from mass student and teacher protests that have at times sparked violence and police crackdowns. The students had staged a similar kissing protest in July demanding higher quality and more equitable education. Protesters plan more large-scale protests next week.

This picture gallery contains photos from protest held on Thursday, as well as on July 6, 2011.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

World's First Virtual Store Opens in Korea

A major South Korean retailer has opened what it appears to be the world's first virtual store geared to smartphone users, with shoppers scanning barcodes of products displayed in a Seoul subway station. Homeplus, the nation’s second largest discount chain, is offering 500 items including food, electronics, office supplies and toiletries at its "store" at Seolleung station in the south of the city of 10 million.

Seven pillars and six platform screen doors have been plastered with images of life-size store shelves filled with goods -- such as milk, apples, a bag of rice or school backpacks -- which each carry a small barcode. Shoppers download a related application on their smartphone and make purchases by taking photos of the barcodes.

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"You place an order when you go to work in the morning and can see the items delivered at home when you come home at night," said a spokeswoman for Homeplus.

In fact, consumers don’t have to be anywhere near the virtual store. For example, if you want to order replacements of a bottle of water that you have in your hand, you don’t have to stop by the subway station. You simply scan the bottle’s barcode with the Homeplus app. The products are delivered later to home or office.

World's First Elephant Hospital in Thailand

Soraida Salwala opened the World’s First Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand in 1993 to treat elephants that are ill or injured as a result of work, abuse or neglect. To date, she and her staff have treated over 3,000 elephants for everything from eye infections to knife wounds, gunshot wounds, broken bones, drug addictions and building prosthetic limbs for the survivors of landmine accidents.

When Soraida Salwala was a young girl, she and her father happened upon an elephant that had been hit by a car. She wanted to take "Uncle Elephant" to the hospital; when her father informed her that there was no hospital for elephants, she was heartbroken. In 1993, Soraida realized a lifelong dream to create a hospital for elephants. The Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand, is the first of its kind in the world.

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Photo Thilo Thielke / SPIEGEL

Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital assists in medical care and helps to promote a better understanding of the elephant's physiology, important in treating them for illness. For generations elephants have been a part of the Thai culture, although today the Thai elephant mostly is domesticated animal, since Thailand now has few working elephants. Many are used in the tourism sector at special elephant parks or zoos, where they perform in shows. In some cases Thailand is still deals with roaming elephants on the city streets, usually after the mahout, an elephant driver, becomes unemployed, which often causes the elephant serious stress.

Official website

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Burning Man Festival 2011

Burning Man is a liberal arts festival that takes place in the last week of August week before Labor Day in the Black Rock Desert, in Northern Nevada. This annual arts festival whose attractions include colossal art installations, all-night dance parties, marathon kite-flying sessions and off-kilter fashion shows, is described by many participants as an experiment in community, artwork, absurdity, decommodification radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.

This year some 50,000 people have headed to the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles North of Reno, to take part in the festival while weathering extreme conditions.

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Annual Tomatina Festival in Spain, 2011

La Tomatina is the craziest and the largest food fight festival organized every year in the town of Bunol in the Valencia region of Spain. An estimated 35,000 people some from as far away as Japan and Australia, took up arms and pelted each other with 120 tons of ripe tomatoes on August 31, 2011, the day of the festival.

The origin of the Tomatina festival dates back to 1944. During a parade of gigantes y cabezudos, young men who wanted to participate in the event staged a brawl. Since there was a vegetable stand nearby, they picked up tomatoes and used them as weapons. The police had to intervene to break up the fight, and forced those responsible to pay the damages incurred. The following year the young people repeated the fight, only this time they brought their own tomatoes from home. They were again dispersed by the police. After repeating this in subsequent years, the party was, albeit unofficially, established.

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The festivities usually begin at around 10 AM with singing and dancing. Then at about 11 a loud shot rings out, and the chaos begins.

The fight continues for one hour, at the end of which the whole town square is colored red and rivers of tomato juice flow freely. Fire Trucks hose down the streets and participants use hoses that locals provide to remove the tomato paste from their bodies. After the cleaning, the village cobblestone streets turn pristine due to the acidity of the tomato disinfecting and thoroughly cleaning the surfaces.

Beautiful Underwater Photography by Elena Kalis

Russian-born photographer Elena Kalis has been residing on a small island in the Bahamas, surrounded by clear ocean, for the past decade. So it comes as no surprise when she admits that the ocean is her main source of inspiration. Elena Kalis’s photographs experiments with light, shapes and color and how these constantly shift with time underwater. In her most acclaimed series “Alice In Waterland”, she used her own her own daughter, Sascha, as a model. Checkout some of her work.

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