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Photos - July 2006

Ice Palace

July 31st 2006 02:35
An ice palace or ice castle is a castle-like structure made of blocks of ice. These blocks are usually harvested from nearby lakes when they become frozen in winter. The first known ice palace appeared in St. Petersburg, Russia and was the handiwork of Russian empress Anna Ivanovna.
Many ice palaces have been built since. The capital city of Minnesota, St. Paul, has played host to several ice palaces since 1886 as part the city's Winter Carnival. Every year since 1954 the Quebec City Winter Carnival in Quebec City has featured ice palaces or ice castles of various sizes.
Below are pictures of ice palaces from such carnivals.

Ice Carnival
Ice Carnival

Ice Castle

Ice Palace Outside
Ice Palace

Ice Palace Inside
Inside an Ice Palace

* This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation Licence. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Ice Palace.

Sitka, Alaska

July 28th 2006 03:38
Alaska’s “Inside Passage” was gouged into shape by massive glaciers millions of years ago. Cruising the Inside Passage is an experience you would not want to miss. Apart from breathtaking scenery, there is wildlife in abundance. A place of interest for a tourist to visit while cruising the Inside Passage in Alaska is Sitka.

Sitka was originally settled by Tlingit Indians. In 1799 Alexander Baranov, governor of Russian America, established Sitka. In 1802 the Tlingit Indians attacked the settlement, and few settlers survived. In 1804 the Russians returned with force and re-established the settlement. Sitka was made the capital of the Russian America in 1808. In 1867, after the collapse of the fur trade, Russia sold Alaska to the USA. To mark this occasion the Russian flag was lowered and the United States flag raised on Capital Hill, Sitka. Sitka remained the Capital of the Alaskan Territory until 1906, when the seat of government was transferred to Juneau. Sitka was kept on the map through the gold rush and the fishing industry, but its main growth occurred during World War 11, when the navy constructed an air base on Japonski Island.

Sitka is a beautiful seaside town, situated on Baranof Island and its most treasured asset is its natural beauty. It is surrounded with undisturbed wilderness – spruce forests and majestic mountains.
Sitka, Alaskan Inside Passage, Alaska, USA
View of Sitka from Capital Hill.

It was from this strategic hill that the Tlingit people defended their land against the Russians and later, in 1867, where the papers were signed selling Alaska from Russia to USA.
St Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Sitka, Alaska.

St Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral was originally built in 1844 -1848.

The traditional Russian Orthodox building is filled with antique relics and its collection of priceless Russian icons is amongst the best in the world. In 1966 the Cathedral was burnt to the ground and chains of over 100 people saved 95% of its contents before it was engulfed in flames. A visit to Sitka is not complete without going into this Cathedral to admire the icons and soak up its history and atmosphere. St Michael’s is now on the National History Landmark registry.
Kelp, Sitka Sound, Sitka, Alaska.

While in Sitka we went on a semi-submersible tour vessel, with glass windows, to view the underwater world in Sitka Sound. Long hours of summer daylight and nutrient rich currents support a breathtaking wealth of sea life. The giant kelp forests are home to many plant and animal species and we were intrigued with the vast array – jellyfish, kelp, sea grasses, anemones, star fish, crabs, clams and fish. This photo, taken through a window in the semi-submersible vessel, shows a species of kelp, which, we were told, is the fastest growing plant on earth. Nuts on the plant are full of nitrogen to float the plant upwards towards the sunlight.

While in Sitka you can choose to show yourself around or join fishing, land and wildlife tours. Whatever you choose, make sure you experience the heritage of the three distinct cultures – Tlingit, Russian and American - which blend to make Sitka what it is today.


Zuleyka Rivera, born October 3, 1987 in Cayey, Puerto Rico, is one of the youngest winners of the Miss Universe pageant at 18 years of age. She is the fifth Puerto Rican to win the title, and makes Puerto Rico the second most successful nation to compete in the pageant behind the United States.
Shortly after she was crowned the winner, she fainted briefly during a press appearance as a result of the heat and the weight of the heavy, chained dress she was wearing. Below are pictures of her during the pageant. You can see more here.

Miss Puerto Rico

Miss Universe Bikini

Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Japan
Miss Puerto Rico wins over Miss Japan

Zuleyka Rivera is crowned by Natalie Glebova of Canada, Miss Universe 2005.
Zuleyka Rivera is crowned by Natalie Glebova of Canada, Miss Universe 2005.

Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Universe 2006

*The above images used with permission from damnfunnypictures.


World's Tallest Buildings

July 26th 2006 04:31
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat defined four categories in which the "world's tallest building" can be measured:

1. Height to the structural or architectural top (including spires and pinnacles, but not antennas, masts or flagpoles)
2. Height to the highest occupied floor
3. Height to the top of the roof
4. Height to the top of antenna

Taipei 101, completed in 2004, currently leads the first three categories with 509 m (1,671 ft) in the first category, in the second category with an occupied floor at 439 m (1,441 ft), and in the third category with 449 m (1,474 ft).
Tallest Building in the word - Taipei 101
Taipei 101, Taiwan

The Sears Tower in Chicago still leads in the fourth category with 527 m (1,729 ft), previously held by the World Trade Center until the extension of the Chicago tower's western broadcast antenna in 2000, over a year prior to the Trade Center's destruction in 2001. Its antenna included, The World Trade Center measured 526 m (1,727 ft). After completion of the Sears Tower in 1973, it held the record in the first three categories. It had lost them all by 2003, but due to the extension of its antenna in 2000, it took over and still holds the record in category 4.
World's Tallest Building - Sears Tower
Sears Tower, Chicago

The first was the only category to be held by the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, with 452 m (1,483 ft). It held the title from its completion in 1988 until Taipei 101 exceeded it in 2003. Including broadcast antenna the building reaches 1,472 feet (448 m).
Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia
Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

The Empire State Building in New York, which was finished in 1931, was the tallest building in the world for a record 41 years until the construction of the World Trade Center, and shortly afterwards the Sears Tower.
Empire State Building in New York
Empire State Building, New York

Tallest Buildings in the World Comparison
World's Tallest Buildings, Comparison

Please note that we are counting buildings as structures with floors throughout. The KVLY-TV mast is a television transmitting tower in North Dakota, USA, used by Fargo station KVLY channel 11. At 2,063 ft (628.8 m), it is currently the world's tallest structure. The Petronius Platform in the Gulf of Mexico and the CN tower in Toronto are also taller than Taipei 101 or the Sears Tower.
World's Tallest Structure - KVLY-TV Mast
KVLY-TV Mast, North Dakota

* This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation Licence. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Tallest Building in the World.
** The images of Taipei 101, Sears Tower, Petronas Towers and Empire State Building were used with permission from damnfunnypictures.
*** The images of the tallest buildings comparison and KVLY-TV Mast are licenced under the GNU Free Documentation License, and come from the Wikipedia pages for Tallest Building in the World and KVLY-TV Mast.

Diamond Ring Hotel - Abu Dhabi

July 25th 2006 05:02
The United Arab Emirates are famous for their innovative buildings and hotels, such as the Burj al-Arab in Dubai. There is another hotel in the planning stages to be built in Abu Dhabi, which has been dubbed the 'Diamond Ring Hotel" in English, or “الدولاب الهوائي" in Arabic. I pasted that into Google Translate and it gave me "Wheel antenna".
Below are some images of what the hotel should look like if it's ever constructed. They seem to have contradicting ideas about whether the hotel will be built on the mainland or on a separate island. They look pretty cool anyway.

Diamond Ring Hotel on Land

Diamond Ring Hotel Close Up

Diamond Ring Hotel

Diamond Ring Hotel Aerial View


Grand Canyon

July 24th 2006 03:24
The Grand Canyon is a very colourful, steep-sided gorge, in northern Arizona, USA.
The canyon, created by the Colorado River cutting a channel over millions of years, is about 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 0.25 to 15 miles (0.4 to 24 km) and attains a depth of more than a mile (1,600 m). Nearly two billion years of the Earth's history has been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateaus have uplifted
Bright Angel trail, Grand Canyon, Indian Gardens.
Looking down Bright Angel trail to the Grand Canyon. The green area is Indian Gardens.
Geologists continue to debate ideas about the formation of Grand Canyon. According to Geologist Wayne Ranney: "To date, geologists have been unable to determine the canyon's precise age and what specific processes were at work in carving it". There is no authoritative theory on the formation of Grand Canyon.

[ Click here to read more ]

Glacier Bay Cruise, Alaska

July 21st 2006 05:02
Visiting Glacier Bay in the Glacier Bay National Park Reserve, south east Alaska, USA, is an exhilarating experience. When Captain George Vancouver sailed into the entrance of what we now know as Glacier Bay over 200 years ago it was described as a great wall of ice. Disturbingly, the glacier has now retreated, leaving a bay 65 miles long, displaying many fjords and inlets. There are no roads leading to Glacier Bay and there is a limit to the number of vessels allowed in the Bay at any one time. Our cruise vessel took a whole day to travel up the Bay to Margorie and Grand Pacific Glaciers and back into the Gulf of Alaska. Park Rangers embarked our vessel at the entrance to Glacier Bay National Park and gave a commentary, providing us with cultural, educational and environmental insight throughout the journey. As we cruised along we saw a number of humpback whales swimming and spouting and groups of sea otters lazing and diving. It took all morning to sail up to Margorie and Grand Pacific Glaciers and when we arrived we stayed for about an hour. It hardly seemed long enough to take in the majestic grandeur of the Glaciers.
Margorie Glacier, Glacier Bay, Alaska, USA
Margorie Glacier, Glacier Bay
The Margorie Glacier is about 34 km long. The pure white and blue colouring of the glacier, marked with brown lines of dirt and debris, plus the massive size of the wall of ice, combine to make an awesome sight.
Margorie Glacier, Glacier Bay, Alaska USA.
On the day we visited Margorie Glacier it did not calve (lose chunks of ice) very often but when it did it was exciting to see, hear the loud crack, watch the water spray up into the air as the chunks crashed down, and see the waves circle out from the disturbance. We observed waterfalls in the tunnel going back into the glacier. Optimistically we hoped the tunnel would collapse so we could observe the spectacle, but that was not to be.
Glacier Bay, Alaska, USA
Looking down Glacier Bay from the Margorie and Grand Pacific Glaciers.
Cruising down Glacier Bay, John Hopkins Glacier, Alaska, USA
Cruising down Glacier Bay, John Hopkins Glacier

Lebanon Israel Conflict

July 20th 2006 04:06
Below are pictures of Lebanon from the current conflict with Israel. It just makes you feel for all the innocent civilians being bombed. More pictures available here.

Lebanon Israel Conflict

[ Click here to read more ]

I was listening to a "Captain Obvious" segment on the radio where people ring up with self-evident statements they have seen or heard, such as a chainsaw with a "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands" warning sticker on it. Then somebody rang up who had found a diagram of the solar system with "Diagram not to scale" written on it. I was thinking, that's not actually a Captain Obvious" because it you had a diagram of the Solar System with the Sun at say, the size of a tennis ball, then the Earth would be the size of a grain of sand and would be about 10 metres away. That is if you were drawing it to scale, which a lot of people wouldn't realise. So the idea of the images below is to help everyone put the size of the planets in our Solar System into a little perspective. I hope you find them as interesting as I did. The images below are to scale.

The smaller planets compared to the Earth
The smaller planets compared to the Earth

[ Click here to read more ]

Hummer Stretch Limousines

July 18th 2006 01:26
The Hummer or H2 Hummer is now becoming one of the most popular limousines amongst rental companies in the USA. Purists may not consider them to be a true limousine but rather in its design and application is between a sedan and a bus. Below are some pictures of the outside and inside of these "Hummer Limos".

Hummer Stretch Limousine Outside

[ Click here to read more ]

We've seen how beautiful the earth looks from space during the day, but it's equally as beautiful at night. Below are pictures of different continents taken when the sun was on the other side of the world.

Earth at night - satellite picture - North America
North Pole/North America

[ Click here to read more ]

Visiting Alaska provides the tourist with an exhilarating vacation. A cruise from Valdez to Whittier through Prince William Sound reveals some spectacular scenery and much wildlife (animals and birds). The cruise develops into an exciting experience as the vessel slowly makes its way close to Columbia Glacier, through icebergs which have broken off the glacier. One can’t help thinking of the Titanic as icebergs hit against the side of the vessel.
Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound, Alaska
Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound.
The glaciers and icebergs sometimes look blue because as light attempts to travel through them, its colours are scattered and the blue colour is not as easily absorbed as red and yellow. Chunks of ice from a melting iceberg are actually very clear.
iceberg, Prince William Sound, Alaska
This iceberg, in Prince William Sound, shows blue and brown. The brown is soil and rocks (debris) picked up by the glacier as it moves along its course. The part of the iceberg under the water melts more quickly than the part above. Eventually this makes the iceberg top heavy and it rolls over.
Steller Sea Lions, Prince William Sound, Alaska
Steller Sea Lions, Prince William Sound.
Steller Sea Lions are a marine mammal. They are the largest sea lions in the world. The average male is approx 3 metres long and weighs about 900kg. They are tan to golden brown in colour and 70% of the population is in Alaska. Studies are being undertaken to try and discover why the population of Steller Sea Lions is on such a sharp decline, and they have been listed as an endangered species.
Sea Lions on icebergs near Columbia Glacier
Sea Lions on icebergs near the Columbia Glacier.

Black bear, Prince William Sound, Alaska
We saw a feast of wildlife while on the cruise around Prince William Sound (eg minke whales, sea lions, sea otters, orcas, kittiwakes, puffins, bald eagles) but nothing thrilled us more than the sight of this black bear by the water’s edge. We had just finished viewing the Salmon Farming ‘cages’ (another amazing story) when there it was – a black bear in the wild!

[ Click here to read more ]

Sakura - Japanese Cherry Blossoms

July 13th 2006 00:53
Sakura is the Japanese name for ornamental cherry trees.
Sakura, a well-known and ubiquitous symbol of Japan, are represented on all manner of consumer goods, including kimono, stationery, and dishware. Cherry blossoms are frequently depicted in art, and are associated with both samurai and kamikaze.
Annually, the Japanese track the sakura zensen, or Cherry-Blossom Front. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in February, and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. Then it proceeds north, arriving in Hokkaido a few weeks later. Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts. They will go to parks, shrines and temples with family and friends and hold a "flower viewing party" known as hanami.

[ Click here to read more ]

Sinking of the USS Oriskany

July 12th 2006 00:32
USS Oriskany was an Essex-class aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, and was launched on the 13th of October 1945. She was used in the Vietnam War amongst her 25 years of service, then was decommissioned in 1975. Various proposals to reactivate the ship failed due to the ship's poor material condition. On the 17th of May 2006, she was sunk as part of a pilot program to create artificial reefs.
The Oriskany was sunk 24 miles off the coast of Pensacola and the sinking of the 888-foot ship took 37 minutes.
The small boat on the deck of the carrier contains a generator and electronics to set off the explosions. It was designed so this small boat would float free after the carrier sunk.

[ Click here to read more ]

Loch Ness Monster

July 11th 2006 00:59
The Loch Ness Monster, sometimes called Nessie or Ness is a mysterious and unidentified animal or group of creatures said to inhabit Loch Ness, a large deep freshwater loch near the city of Inverness in northern Scotland.
The earliest sightings of "Nessie" date back to the 6th century. There also was a large number of sightings around the 1930s. However, it wasn't until the 1960's that these stories became poopular. There is much evidence for and against the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, most mainstream scientists and other experts find current evidence supporting Nessie unpersuasive. Below are some of the more well known photos of Nessie.

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Mandarin Duck

July 10th 2006 01:15
The Mandarin Duck is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 41-49 cm long with a 65-75 cm wingspan.
Mandarin Ducks are frequently featured in Oriental art and are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity.
The species was once widespread in eastern Asia, but it is now endangered because of large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat. The populations in eastern Russia and in China are both probably well below 1,000 pairs, although Japan may have around 5,000 pairs.

[ Click here to read more ]

Trans-Alaska Pipeline

July 7th 2006 03:44
If you are a tourist in Alaska, and you are travelling from Fairbanks to Valdez, you are in for a real treat. The kaleidoscope of scenery just keeps coming.
Scenery from Fairbanks to Valdez
Scenery from Fairbanks to Valdez
Scenery from Fairbanks to Valdez
Worthington Glacier, Alaska
Worthington Glacier, Alaska
The Worthington Glacier is located on Thompson Pass, near Valdez. It is one of the glaciers which has easy access, and therefore is visited by many tourists but you cannot walk on this glacier.
Keystone Canyon, Alaska
Vehicles pass through Keystone Canyon when driving into Valdez.

[ Click here to read more ]


July 6th 2006 02:17
Cranberries are a major commercial crop in many parts of North America. The picture below shows how Cranberries are harvested today. Commercial cranberry fields are diked so they may be flooded. When the berries are ripe, they float, making harvesting a matter of flooding the field, shaking the vines a bit, and skimming off the berries into waiting trucks. Various mechanisms have been used through the years to "shake" the vines, including a 2005 innovation that reduces vine damage and increases yield.

Cranberry Harvest in New Jersey
Cranberry Harvest in New Jersey (from Wikipedia)

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Sand Castles

July 5th 2006 00:32
Sand castles are typically made by children, simply for the fun of making them. However, adults sometimes engage in contests making sand sculptures, in which the goal is to create structures which don't appear to be constructed just from sand; they can become large and complex.
Some sand sculptures from a competition are shown below. More pictures here.

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First Permanent Photograph

July 4th 2006 00:41
The first ever successful permanent photograph was produced by Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He began experimenting with processes to set optical images in 1793. Some of his early experiments produced images, but they faded rapidly. He was said to have first produced long lasting images in 1824. The earliest known surviving example of a Niépce photograph (or any other photograph) was created in June or July of 1827 (or 1826, according to some sources) and is shown below. Niépce called his process "heliography", meaning "sun writing". It was a slow process which required perhaps some 8 hours of bright sunlight to affix the image; therefore it was used to photograph buildings and inanimate objects, but could not be used to photograph people.

First ever photograph
Niépce's earliest surviving photograph, circa 1826 (from Wikipedia)

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Petrified Forrest

July 3rd 2006 00:00
Petrified Forest National Park is located in northeastern Arizona. The pieces of permineralized wood are fossil Araucariaceae, a family of trees that is extinct in the Northern Hemisphere but survives in isolated stands in the Southern Hemisphere. During the Late Triassic, this desert region was located in the tropics and was seasonally wet and dry. In seasonal flooding, the trees washed from where they grew and accumulated in sandy river channels, where they were buried periodically by layers of gravelly sand, rich in volcanic ash from volcanoes further to the west. The volcanic ash was the source of the silica that helped to permineralize the buried logs, replacing wood with silica, colored with oxides of iron and manganese. Several major and many smaller concentrations of petrified wood occur in the park.

A petrified log in Petrified Forest National Park.
A petrified log in Petrified Forest National Park. (from Wikipedia)

[ Click here to read more ]

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