Man-made Islands – WIF Travel

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Amazing

Man-Made

Islands

The gradual formation of the Earth has given us some impressive islands, which are home to some of humankind’s biggest cities and even countries. While humans can’t make islands as impressive as mother nature, we’ve certainly have made some very cool ones. These are 10 of the most amazing artificial islands from all around the globe.

 10. Notre Dame Island (Canada)

In order to get ready for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, the city of Montreal, Quebec, needed to build a metro system. In order to build one, they needed to dig out 15 million tons of rock, and they came up with an ingenious way to use it – they built Notre Dame Island in the Saint Lawrence River.

Today, the island is home to several tourist attractions, including the Jacques Villeneuve Circuit, which is where the Canadian Grand Prix is held, and it’s also where the Montreal Casino is located.

9. Wilhelmstein (Germany)

Wilhemstein is found on Lake Steinhude, which is the largest lake in northwestern Germany. Its construction was ordered by William, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe, and it was built between 1765 and 1767. Fisherman would take rocks over in their boats and then drop them in the water until the island was formed.

The island is 134,548 square feet and was originally designed to be a fortified hideaway for the Count. Today it is a museum and a tourist attraction.

8. Treasure Island (USA)

The artificial island with the best name started off as a sandy shoal off the coast of San Francisco. The city decided the shoal was a hazard for boats, so construction on the island started in 1936, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 25 million cubic yards were taken from all over the bay to make the island, which is a mile by a mile-and-half. It was completed in 1939, just in time for the Golden Gate International Exposition. After the exposition came to an end in September 1940, the Navy took it over and it became Naval Station Treasure Island. It was closed in September 1997 for civilian use.

Today, the island is best known for its flea market and annual music festival called Treasure Island Music Fest, because if you’re holding a concert at a place like Treasure Island, you don’t really need a clever name.

It also has a restricted area of abandoned houses because the soil is contaminated with radioactive waste. The Navy never explained why there was radioactive waste, but there are two theories. The first is that they repaired ships there that may have been exposed to nuclear radiation during nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific. Another theory is that they purposefully covered a ship in radiation to train servicemen to wash off the radiation.

For decades, the Navy hid the fact that the island was contaminated with radioactive waste and then refused to investigate it when it was made

public. It was only in 2010 that they started to clean up the area.

Last year, after 20 years of planning, it was announced that 8,000 homes, a hotel, and parks are to be built on the island, which will cost $5 billion.

7. Hulhumalé (Maldives)

Found in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is a tropical country and home to a 0.7 square mile man-made island called Hulhumalé. People first moved onto the reclaimed island in 2004, and as of 2016, it is home to 40,000 people.

When developing the island, there was a focus on sustainability and the island was designed to be climate change resilient. It’s also the only smart city in Maldives; there is a smart grid built into the city and it has a state of the art traffic light system.

On the island, you can find hotels and restaurants, but the main attraction is the beautiful beach, which has water that is full of marine life. Water sports, like snorkeling, are available and boat trips are quite popular.

6. THUMS Islands (USA)

The THUMS Islands were constructed in 1965 in Long Beach, California. They’re a set of four artificial islands, and the name is an acronym for the five companies who had it constructed – Texaco, Humble (now Exxon), Union Oil, Mobil, and Shell. From the companies who built it, you’ve probably gathered that there aren’t any homes on the island, and you’d be totally correct. Instead, the islands are oil drilling facilities.

The problem facing the developers when constructing the islands is that oil drilling facilities aren’t exactly the prettiest structures and the area where they planned to build the facility was full of million dollar beach front properties. So to make it less of an eye sore, they hired architect Joseph Linesch, who was known for his work on theme parks like Disneyland. The final product is what The Los Angeles Times calls “…part Disney, part Jetsons, part Swiss Family Robinson.”

 The island is still used for oil drilling and as of 2015, there were about 1,550 active drills.

5. The World (United Arab Emirates)

The United Arab Emirates’ biggest and most populous city, Dubai, has several impressive man-made islands and one of the most interesting projects is the World Islands. Construction started on the islands in 2003, but momentum on the project came to a halt because of the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, the 300 islands that make up the seven continents have started to sink into the Persian Gulf.

In 2014, the project came back to life and construction restarted on the islands. The developers said that it will have lavish hotels and restaurants, along with half-submerged, half-skylit floating homes that are called seahorses. They cost $2.8 million each and 70 percent have already been sold.

4. Amwaj Islands (Bahrain)

Bahrain is a small country in the Persian Gulf and it is home to a group of beautiful artificial islands called the Amwaj Islands.

Construction on the islands started in 2002 and from the beginning it was designed to be a smart city. Cisco and Oracle were given contracts to develop fiber optic networks for all the homes and businesses on the islands.

The islands have different sections and one of the most impressive areas is Al Marsa, also known as the Floating City. The houses are surrounded by deep canals, which allows home owners to park their boats in front of their homes, making it look like a very modern version of Venice, Italy.

Another impressive area of the islands is the Central Lagoon, which is the commercial area of the islands. In the Central Lagoon, there is nearly 600,000 square feet of commercial space including open-air markets and two dozen restaurants.

3. IJburg (Netherlands)

In cities where there are housing shortages, governments and real estate developers have to get a little creative when it comes to building new homes. One city that is having a particularly difficult time with a lack of housing is Amsterdam. One of their solutions is a series of artificial islands called IJurb.

Construction on the islands started in 1996 in IJmeer, which is a lake east of the city. There are three islands: Steigereiland, Haveneiland, and Rieteilanden, and they are connected to each other and the mainland by bridges.

As of 2015, there were 20,000 residents living in IJurb, but once construction is completed, it will provide homes for 45,000 people. Also on the islands are schools, shopping centers, hospitals, restaurants, and beaches.

Within IJurg, there is a neighborhood called the Waterbuurt or the Water District. In that neighborhood, the homes are floating houseboats that are moored to jetties. People who don’t mind spending a little bit more even have a dock outside their home where they can dock their boat.

2. The Pearl-Qatar (Qatar)

Qatar is an oil rich country in the Middle East, and even though it may be physically impossible to play soccer there because of the extreme heat, it’s set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. A few tourists coming to enjoy the World Cup will be able to stay on one of the most unique man-made islands in the world, the Pearl-Qatar. Construction on the infrastructure of the island took about 10 years and it was completed in 2014.

It has nearly 20 miles of coastline and on the island there are three five-star hotels, 492,000 square feet of international retail, restaurants, and entertainment. This includes a 64,000 square foot family entertainment center.

As of 2014, there were 12,000 people living on the island, but that number is expected to increase four-fold by 2018.

1. Palm Jumeirah (United Arab Emirates)

On both sides of the World Islands are the two Palm Islands. On the left is Palm Jumeirah and on the right is Palm Jebel Ali. Palm Jebel Ali has yet to be finished and it’s unclear when it will be completed. When the construction is finally done it’s expected to house 250,000 people, and it will have four theme parks. Construction on Palm Jumeirah went a bit smoother and in 2006 people started to move to the island.

When it was completed, it added 320 miles to the coastline. Amazingly, out of the two islands, Palm Jumeirah is the smaller one and it’s only about half the size of the Palm Jebel Ali. It’s home to several hotels, resorts, restaurants, and shopping centers. It also has a monorail to get around.

All three of Dubai’s artifical islands were built by dredging up millions of cubic feet of sand from the seafloor, and then sprayed into the pattern of the islands using GPS. Then, for the Palm Jumeirah, seven million tons of mountain rock were used to form a seven-mile breakwater around the 17-fronded palm tree to protect the island from waves and ocean storms.


Man-made Islands

– WIF Travel

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 221

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 221

…Ekcello is trying to find a way to communicate with the least accessible of the three off-worlders…

“She is sleeping Sammy, just sleeping,” Father Sam explains to his daughter.

It was a torturous five-some-odd minutes, during which the Eridanians had re-closed their eyes and seemed to concentrate on Celeste. At the conclusion of this quietness, she momentarily returns to her family.

“They want us to follow them Sam. Please trust them.” Celeste collapses into his apprehensive arms.

He makes intense eye contact with them as if to say, “If you hurt either of my girls, you will regret it.”

Ekcello must have got the crude message and determined it as anxiety. For the first time, Sampson finds out what it is like to “Talk” with these haunting humanoids.

#Sampson McKinney, we are the people you know as NEWFOUNDLIANS. Please excuse our seeming disarray, but as you may sense, we were not prepared for your presence on NEWFOUNDLANDER/Explorer. That simple mode of transportation was our ancient attempt at understanding your species#

The strain on Sampson’s mind overwhelms him, mostly because Ekcello is trying to find a way to communicate with the least accessible of the three off-worlders. Even the youngest McKinney seems to have had her fears alleviated. But Dad’s mental resistance results in a headache of migraine-ic proportions, all because he just not on their prevailing wavelength.

Not far from the outer edge of the tower Eupepsia, the lofty structure that Explorer Eridanus2 - Copyhad brought them to, and an elevator of sorts await. To be accurate, it was only an open-air platform; not a conveyance for the faint of heart. It makes nary a noise, barely jostling a hair on their heads or having a sense of motion whatsoever.

For all his astronautical achievements Sampson begins to squirm when the one mile mark of the vertical climb is gained. He sits down next to his mentally drained spouse and uses his spare arm to clutch Deimostra, who at this point of her young life has no fear… none. He wishes that she would take a nap at this critical time in the meeting of two worlds; 9 light-years apart in The Milky Way and a light-century apart in societal progress.


THE RETURN TRIP

The Meeting of Two Worlds

Episode 221


page 262

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 213

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 213

…Deimostra has spent the final 15 hours sleeping, harmlessly dreaming of the people they were about to meet…

“I think we may have made a slight miscalculation about just how old the Newfoundlander is, considering this collection of spaceships.”

Photo by Lauren Hansen-Flauschen for Penn Museum

“Then how does one account for those never-before-seen artifacts in storage below, Sam?”

“Maybe they were lifted out of museum and the curators reported them as stolen. Or maybe they got lucky and found the stuff where no one else had looked before; I’m sure they had mass spectrometers long before we did.”

“No Sam, I’m telling you that modern man has not seen those treasures below! As for getting lucky — maybe, but not likely, considering the archaeological coverage in the Nile Delta.”

As NEWFOUNDLANDER shimmies into its pre-destined parking place, something occurs to Sampson’s astro-nautically trained mind, “Could it be that these people have abandoned space travel? I mean, did you see a fleet come out to escort us in? Have any of us seen any shuttle traffic, weather satellite or space station anywhere on the way here?”

Before Celeste can agree, the closing of the 100 foot tall doors distracts her and once again they are left to wonder what happens next. The enclosure now adds a claustrophobic slant to their rampant speculation. Confinement is a stark certainty, after over 5 years in the vastness of deep-space

Unease, doubt, apprehension: all these begin to consume Commander Sampson McKinney, formerly of Space Colony 1, recently employed NASA astronaut and previous inhabitant of Earth. It is all he can do to merely stand still and wait. The waiting is the hardest part.

“Have we landed yet Mother and Father?” Deimostra has spent the final 15 hours sleeping, harmlessly dreaming of the people they were about to meet, confined to her cabin for safety’s sake. Her feet have never been in contact with solid ground, but that is about to change. She has put on the dress Celeste had fashioned for this very portentous occasion, a feminine frock with as many little girl touches as were available on this male laden vessel.

“We have just landed dear one and we are inside a very, very…very large building.” She spins Deimostra around, tugging and adjusting clothing and hair. “These people are going to meet my pretty little girl.”

“When will we get to meet them?” she asks.

“I believe they would be coming through door number two!” Sampson hazards a cautious guess at the first sign of activity.

The next chapter of Earth’s history is about to be written.

The folks on Planet X is in for a surprise of historic proportion.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 213


page 252 (End Ch. 8)

Contents TRT

Rare Can’t-Miss Photos – WIF Photography

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Rare Pictures

You Should See

With the almost insane amount of pictures taken on a daily basis around the world these days, it’s quite hard to say that there’s such a thing as a rare one. That same thing certainly doesn’t apply for past photos. But regardless of whether they’re past or present, there are some rare pictures out there that you should definitely see. And that’s because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, unless you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to subtly flex so you can impress strangers on Instagram.

 10. Maradona’s Hand of God

It was on June 22 during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico that history was written, and past injustices were avenged – or so the Argentinians say. It was Argentina facing England in the quarter-finals and tensions were running high among the 115,000 fans in the stadium. It was only four years earlier that the two countries were again engaged, but in a totally different way. That was during the Falkland War, fought over the islands in the South Atlantic – a short, but brutal conflict that ended with Argentina’s defeat. So, as you can imagine, the match was for far more than just the chance at the title. Luckily for Argentina, however, they were playing their greatest footballer ever – Diego Armando Maradona.

Six minutes into the second half and the man-legend himself was in the penalty area with the ball flying towards him. The English goalkeeper was charging forward to punch the ball away, only for Maradona to somehow head it over him and into the goal. The crowd went wild! After the match, however, he jokingly commented that the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” As you can see in the photo, he wasn’t a particularly tall player, only 5-foot-4, and so he made use of his left hand so he could reach it. Just in case you’re unaware, unless you’re the goalie using your hands in soccer (or football, if you like) is very illegal. And almost everyone, his teammates included, saw it, with the exception of the referee. Maradona later said that “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them: ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.” That goal later became known as the Hand of God.

And to make matters even worse for the English, only four minutes later Maradona scored another goal, voted in 2002 as the Goal of the Century. The match ended 2-1 for Argentina, and they went on the win the World Cup. After the England match Maradona said that “Although we had said before the game that football had nothing to do with the Falklands war, we knew they had killed a lot of Argentine boys there, killed them like little birds. And this was revenge.”

9. The Night Prohibition Ended

It’s somewhat amazing and funny to see a group of grown men and women looking like a bunch of kids who just turned 21. And it’s not like most of those people in the photo weren’t drinking any alcohol throughout the Prohibition Era, but they could now do it legally. Soon after the end of WWI, Congress passed the 18th Amendment into law, prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol all throughout the United States. Originally intended to crack down on crime, drunkenness and lewd behavior, Prohibition ended up doing the exact opposite in most respects.

While alcohol consumption did fall by nearly 70% during the early years, it nevertheless gave rise to organized crime. The years that followed weren’t called The Roaring Twenties for nothing, you know. Underground speakeasy lounges opened up all over the place, and the country experienced a high rise in smuggling and bootlegging. It is estimated that around 10,000 people died of alcohol poisoning during the Prohibition Era from bootleg whiskey and tainted gin. The government even poisoned alcohol in order to scare potential drinkers. Some grape growers, who didn’t replace their vineyards with orchards, opted instead for manufacturing juice concentrates to be sold in brick form. Consumers would dissolve those bricks in water and get grape juice. But there was a clear warning on the label to not leave the solution to ferment for 21 days or it would otherwise turn into wine. And a good thing the warning was there, too – you know, for the consumer’s safety.

It was during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency that the 18th Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933, as a way to raise taxes during the Great Depression that began several years earlier. Some states maintained the ban on alcohol many years after 1933, with Mississippi being the last to start legally selling alcohol again in 1966. But some counties spread throughout 10 states still ban it to this day. One such county is incidentally the one where Jack Daniel’s whiskey is produced.

8. What Does an Upside-down Iceberg Look Like?

As most of us know, icebergs only show about 10 percent of their actual size, with the rest being submerged underwater. And that upper part that we normally see is heavily weathered by the elements and is always covered in snow. But as filmmaker Alex Cornellwould come to see on a trip to Antarctica in 2014, the underbelly of an iceberg is even more incredible than its upper part. It has a stunning aqua-green color with different shades of blue and green pressed in different layers. And not to mention the liquid water that flows through it “almost like an ant colony,” as Cornell described it. The reason the iceberg has that amazing color is because the ice is ancient. Over many thousands of years, as snow piles on the ice, the one at the bottom forces all the air pockets out. In this state, heavily compacted ice absorbs a tiny amount of red light, giving it this bluish tint. And to see something like this is rare, even in iceberg country.

But as one of the scientists present on the ship said, this phenomenon could happen more often as time goes on. In the past, the ice sheets would extend for miles out to sea, and when icebergs did break off, they did it more calmly. But with the more recent increases in temperature, that no longer happens and the ice breaks off almost immediately after it no longer touches land. “Like squirting toothpaste out of a tube. A little bit of toothpaste comes out the tube, then it breaks off, and a little bit more comes out the tube, then it breaks off. So you get these really thin pieces of ice that flip over right when they’ve broken off,” explains Justin Burton, an assistant professor at Emory University.

7. Too Revealing?

Back in the 1920s lady beach goers were being arrested by the police for wearing swimsuits that were too revealing. But were these bathing suits too revealing? The short answer is… yes. Kind of. For the time. When looking at past events, it’s easy for us to judge them by our present standards, but as any good historian can tell you, you shouldn’t. Analyzing history based on our current views of the world is known as presentism and should be avoided if you really want to understand the events that happened back then. By looking at things through our present-day lens, we basically remove that particular event out of its own context and we end up judging those people for things that didn’t belong in their time or way of thinking.

In this photo, two women were being arrested by the police on July 12, 1922 for defying a Chicago edict that forbade “abbreviated bathing suits.” At the same time in New York, 20 female special deputies known as “Sheriffettes” were patrolling the beaches looking for ‘too much skin.’ In 1921, a woman was arrested in Atlantic City for wearing her stockings rolled down below the knees. When a police officer demanded that she roll them back up, she refused and ended up punching him in the eye. But looking at the broader picture,women’s bathing suits in the early 1900s were made out of wool, incredibly cumbersome, and had high necks, long sleeves, skirts, and pants. Not even men were allowed to be bare-chested, with the authorities saying that they didn’t want “gorillas on our beaches.” So, these suits could have easily been considered as “abbreviated” back then.

In any case, in 1908 came film star Annette Kellerman who got arrested on a beach in Massachusetts for wearing a one-piece body suit that showed her neck and arms. She brought it back from England and it was somewhat similar to men’s swimsuits at the time. By the 1930s and with the arrival of new clothing materials such as nylon and latex, swimsuits lost their sleeves and began hugging the body more. They also had shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.

6. Two Unlikely Partners in Crime

In November 2016, the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center posted several photos of a coyote and a badger working together for their common good. Interspecies collaboration is uncommon in nature, but not unheard of. And when it does happen, it’s usually between prey animals trying to increase their chances of survival, and not between the predators themselves. But in what can only be described as ‘synergy at its finest’, here we have two different predators working together to catch food for themselves. Even though the two were also spotted hunting alone, they do team up on occasion – and most often so during summer.

On the one hand, we have the coyote, who is an excellent runner and can catch prey trying to escape. But if that prey has a burrow in which to hide, then it’s game over for the coyote. Luckily, his friend the badger is an excellent digger, so if that happens and the prey runs into a hole, he then takes over the operation and gets the job done. While studying the pair, the researchers have come to the conclusion that by working together, not only do the two have a greater chance of actually catching something, but they also spend a lot less energy in doing so. So, maybe there’s a lesson in there for all of us on the merits of teamwork and cooperation.

5. The Day Sweden Switched Lanes

It wasn’t that long ago that the Swedes were driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, so on the 3rd of September, 1967, they changed it to the right side… literally. This day came to be known as H Day, where the “H” stands for “Högertrafik” – the Swedish word for “right traffic.” Now, even though the photo gives the impression that everything was in chaos, it actually wasn’t as bad as it looks. Four years before the switch happened, the Swedish government appointed a special committee to oversee the transition. They implemented an extensive education program, they advertised the change on milk cartons and even on women’s underwear. Several days before H Day, they put out over 130,000 reminder signs, as well as flyers on people’s windshields. During the night in question, the traffic was shut down for several hours across the country, over 360,000 road signs were changed, and the drivers were then instructed to change lanes once everything was in place. Only 157 minor accidents were reported on H Day with only 32 personal injuries.

The reason for the change was logical, even though many people didn’t really want it in the first place. For starters, most other European countries, Sweden’s neighbors included, were driving on the right-hand side already. Secondly, most cars in Sweden were imported from the United States and they already had left-side driver seats. In the early days, this mismatch of left-side steering wheel and left-hand roads proved to be an advantage for the Swedes because they had more to worry about with the poor conditions of the side of the roads than oncoming traffic, but by the 1960s this was no longer a problem. And lastly, the country witnessed a tripling of the number of cars in ten years and they were expecting to double again by 1975. So, they decided to make the switch before that happened. The change also brought with it a steep drop in road accidents, particularly during overtaking, or those involving pedestrians. The insurance claims also went down by as much as 40%.

4. The 110 Million-Year-Old Statue

When discovered, most dinosaur fossils look just like a pile of rocks, and only a trained eye can distinguish one for what it actually is. And in the vast majority of cases, these fossils are no more than mere fragments or partial skeletons. But back in 2011, every paleontologist’s wet dream came true when this 2,500-pound dinosaur fossil was unearthed in Canada’s Millennium Mine in Alberta. The fossil was so well preserved it even bears the tile-like plates and parts of its skin. This not only helped scientists have a far more detailed look at an actual dinosaur, but it also offered information regarding its color. Because, believe it or not, we still don’t know what color dinosaurs were, and all depictions we see of them are only based on informed speculation. Nevertheless, this dinosaur seems to have had a reddish or reddish-brown color, which was in contrast to its light colored horns.

When alive, this nodosaur stretched more than 18 feet long and weighed close to 3,000 pounds. The herbivore sported a tough, thorny armor on its back and two 20-inch-long spikes coming out of its shoulders, somewhat similar to bull horns. It is estimated to have lived sometime between 112 to 110 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period, and most likely suffered a tragic end. Paleontologists speculate that it was swept out to sea, possibly during a flash flood, and once it sank to the bottom, minerals quickly infiltrated its skin and bones, turning the dinosaur into stone. Some pebble-like masses found inside the carapace were, most likely, the dinosaur’s last meal. Today, the statue-like fossil is at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Canada.

3. 41 Klansmen and a Ferris Wheel

This photo was taken in Cañon City, a small mining town in central Colorado, on April 27, 1926. One interesting thing about it is that it wasn’t until 1991, when it was donated to the Royal Gorge Museum & History Center in Cañon City, someone else (other than those Klansmen in the photo and some of their friends and family) had the chance to see it. And it took another 12 years before the photo somehow made it from the museum’s archives to the internet in 2003. The reason this is interesting is because the local newspaper ran a story called “Klansmen pose for picture on merry-go-round” without actually adding the picture. But regardless of the fact that it took this photo decades before people could actually see it, it nevertheless represents a somewhat crucial point in American history. And a hopelessly inaccurate newspaper headline, because geez, that’s totally not a merry-go-round.

That year was the KKK’s zenith in power, popularity, and influence over the country. By the mid-’20s the Klan had somewhere between 4 to 5 million members, or about 15% of the country’s entire eligible population. And what’s more, Cañon City was the Klan’s capital back then. The state’s governor was a Klansmen, the senator was openly endorsed by the KKK, the mayor of Denver had links with them, and the town’s Baptist Reverend, Fred Arnold, was the actual Grand Dragon. Now, even though their attire is identical, and the bigoted beliefs are similar, the 1920s version of the KKK was notably different than the Klan that emerged during the 1960s in the South.

For starters, the old-school Klansmen focused their attention on Catholics more than black people; they strongly supported Prohibition, and mostly used intimidation rather than actual violence to deter new immigrants. The end of WWI saw a great deal of immigration, mainly from Italy and other Southern European states, and the Protestants were afraid to lose their jobs because of them. But two years after this photo was taken, the Klan would all but disappear. In 1928, the Reverend Grand Dragon died unexpectedly, and with no succession plan in place, the KKK lost most of its influence in both politics and the general population.

2. Two Afghan Medical Students and Their Teacher

When looking at this photo of two female medical students listening to their female professor as they’re examining a plaster mold, Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be the first place that comes to mind, does it? But back in the mid-1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, the country was going through a period of relative peace and prosperity, spared for a brief moment in time from the many internal conflicts and foreign interventions that had plagued it for decades before, and have since. These two decades in Afghanistan’s history saw the biggest strides made by its people towards a more liberal and westernized way of life.

The country remained neutral during WWII and didn’t align with either of the two superpowers during the Cold War that followed. It nevertheless was the beneficiary of aid from both the US and the Soviet Union, who were trying to ‘court’ it to their side. Modern buildings began to spring up all throughout Kabul and burqas became optional for a while. If Afghanistan would have been allowed several more decades of social and economic stability, it would have been unrecognizable by comparison to today’s actual look. Unfortunately, however, things were not to last. Foreign pressure, military coups, subsequent invasions, and ensuing civil wars have made Afghanistan into what it is today – and the war still wages on. If anything, this photo shows what peace, even if it’s short lived, does to people.

1. Savage Capitalism

The buffalo, America’s most iconic animal (second only to the bald eagle) was nearly hunted to extinction by the late 19th century. Once, more than 60 million head strong, their numbers were reduced to only 100 by the early 1880s. The reasons for its systematic extermination were, first and foremost, industrialization and expansion. The Great Plains Indian tribes, most notably the Comanche, were standing in the way of the Americans’ expansion for decades and the best way to deal with them was to deprive them of their main source of food, which was the buffalo. Up until the 1860s, the Indians were hunting them at about a rate of 280,000 head per year – which was around the maximum of the sustainability limit the buffalo population could provide. But in the winter of 1872 to 1873 alone, more than 1.5 million hides were shipped out East. The motivation for this government-endorsed mass killing was the many factories springing up on the East Coast and the ever increasing need for industrial belts, and other everyday leather products.

Hunters were paid $3.50 ($110 today) per hide and could singlehandedly kill an entire herd in mere hours. They would choose a vantage point farther away and then shoot them one by one until all of them were dead. People were even doing it from trains traveling to and from the East and West Coasts, so as to entertain themselves. Many Indians were in on it too, even to the bitter end. And once the proud beasts were all dead, they were skinned and their carcasses left to rot where they fell. Once whitened under the scorching sun, the bones were collected and sent to be turned into fertilizer for the now buffalo and Indian-free Great Plains.

But Mother Nature had a rather ironic way of returning the favor to the savage capitalists. There was a delicate balance struck between the many buffalo herds and the Great Plains themselves, put there by countless eons of coevolution. And when the buffalo were all gone, and together with the intensive agriculture that followed, the topsoil slowly began to erode, leading to the devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Many people died of dust pneumonia, malnutrition, and other complications. America then saw the greatest mass migration in its history, with over 2.5 million people moving to other places, and at a time when the country was already going through the Great Depression no less. Some scientists now fear that with the current climate trends, another Dust Bowl may be looming just over the horizon.


Rare Can’t-Miss Photos

– WIF Photography

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 199

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 199

…the American people are not about to tamper with the perception of perfection… perception being the trigger for reality…

Perfection in Octad, 2010 by Rizwana A Mundewadi

It becomes very apparent by the pre-election year of 2035 that no one has the stomach to mount a challenge to Crippen/Walker. Not even the garden-variety armchair billionaire, with cash to burn and no need of a good reputation, will waste his time or money. Oh, the Democrats have scrounged up a glossy young candidate for convention purposes, but that only serves as a checks/balance to incumbent power, thereby preserving a solid 2.5-party system for future use.

At this particular point in history, the American people are not about to tamper with the perception of perfection… perception being the trigger for reality.

There is, however, steadily rising suspicion surrounding the United States’ and Roy Crippen’s inspired pet-project: SOL. Once it is achieved, speed-of-light travel will give the creator and his nation the single largest advantage ever attained by man.

  1. Unless you count 5000 BCE, when the wheel was invented.
  2. Or before that, some ancient figured out how to start a fire manually.
  3. Or, after all that, anything from “The Wizard of Menlo Park” (Edison).

To those who are screaming foul, Roy Crippen reminds those earth-bound worriers that SOL is only possible in the darkness of space. During his various discourses on the subject, President Roy reminds the wider-world that when plans for Space Colony II were vacated, with each nation taking the cash-out option from the insurance settlement, gone are the days when every new technology is shared. For those who are jealous, SOL translates to “s**t-out-of-luck”.

Surely the usual defendants, i.e. Russia, China, United Korea, Talibanistan, will do their best to beg, borrow or steal the expertise, but Prez Roy has cleverly invited them to the technology feast, on his terms only, with pre-approved scientists. The former Aldona Afridi, using his Fletcher Fitch disguise, is in charge of (dis)parsing the know-how.

The Crippen dedication to the SOL Project is a given, with the trusting approval of the voting public. Of course there are the “Starships cause hardships” arguers, but they need only look to everyday improvements to their lives for moral validation.

And now Deke & Gus McKinney, having blossomed during the SOL (also the ancient Roman Sun-god) era at NASA, has their hand prints all over the wet-cement that is the speed-of-light. And though the stairs only go to the second floor, look for them to lift it out – off the drawing board and past the Moon.


THE RETURN TRIP

2nd Floor Upstairs Neon by Dean Harte

Episode 199


page 238

Contents TRT

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 186

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 186

…Charlotte gets things done, Gus and if that means she puts the fear of God into a few fence-sitters, so be it…

The conquest of space and time are not the only things that dominate the events of 2032, in the ambitious brains of Deke & Gus. The upcoming Presidential election in November has captured their imaginations and currently commands their attention.

The latent bubbles of youth rise to the surface when it comes to their Uncle Roy and his running mate Charlotte Walker. Not that the spirited would-be-VP has replaced newly-minted-mother Francine in their hearts or lives; it’s more like a healthy slather of Sriracha Aioli on their Corn Flakes.

“This is better than when the Texans went to the Super Bowl last year,” Gus gushes out an equate-able comparison.

“O yeah?! How many kids can say they have the President for a stepfather,” counters Deke who is just as excited about being on the ground floor of a presidential campaign; second only to having stepfathers x2 (Roy & Braden King) and a fox for a stepmother (Francine).

“Shouldn’t you guys be getting for the family portrait? You’re too old to have Francine dress you,” Roy injects some reality into the moment. “Charlotte and her family have been in-and-out of the studio for an hour by now.”

“She scares me Uncle Roy.”

“Are you talking about Francine or Charlotte… I won’t tell.”

“Seriously? She can scare the hide off mountain lion!”

“I am glad you are not the campaign manager. Charlotte gets things done, Gus and if that means she puts the fear of God into a few fence-sitters, so be it.” As a note, Roy’s poll numbers have surged since he announced his running mate. “I need you two to be the best campaign ambassadors out there.”

“Is Francine going with you when you go to New York?”

“Probably, but what does that have to do with anything?”

“Because, because that means Braden will insist we stay at his house.” Gus used to have a crush on ‘that news-fox on channel 13’, but now they are newly-minted family unit and all this in/out – home/away is hard for him to adjust to.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 186


page 223

Contents TRT

 

Bungle in the Jungle – WIF Nature

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Strange Things

Found

in the Jungle

Jungle View, Simon Scales – Concept Art – Matte Painting

The jungles are, and always have been mysterious. People can and have gone in them, never to be seen again. And even if they make up just 7 percent of the Earth’s land surface, with that number going down year after year, they are home to half of all living creatures on the planet. And what’s more, we don’t even know many of them. Nevertheless, the jungle can hide a great deal of mysterious things. Here are 10 of them.

 10. A Long Lost Mayan City Found by Looking at the Stars
It’s a fairly well-known fact that the Maya were good astronomers. The Mayan calendar may ring some bells, though it is often confused with the Aztec Calendar. And it never does get as much credit as it should. Nevertheless, a 15-year-old boy by the name of William Gadoury, from Quebec, Canada, has put the Mayan stargazing ability to the test. He theorized that the ancient pre-Colombian civilization used to build their cities in accordance with the overhead constellations.By making use of images from the Canadian Space Agency, Google Earth, as well as other known Maya settlements, he was able to pinpoint and discover marks which indicate a possible hidden city deep in the Yucatan jungles of Mexico.

Though nobody actually went there to analyze the site first hand, mostly because of the dense vegetation, the images provided by the satellite point to a possible pyramid complex hidden beneath the overgrown canopy. The satellite discovered linear elements that resemble a street network, as well as a rectangular shape that may actually be a pyramid. These images could, of course, show nothing more than natural features interpreted as man-made, but this is highly unlikely. Straight lines and rectangular shapes are rarely found in nature on their own, and are almost always a sign of human activity. If proven to be true and there actually is an undiscovered Maya settlement there, then this technique could prove useful in finding other lost cities just by looking at the stars.

9. The Largest Flower in the World

Growing some 3.3 feet across and weighing in at around 24 pounds, the Rafflesia Arnoldii is the largest flower in the world. There are 17 known species and they all live deep in the rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, and the Philippines. But this isn’t your ordinary flower to give your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. Not because she doesn’t have a big enough vase to put it in or anything, but because this flower is notorious for its smell of rotten flesh when in full bloom. Also known as the “corpse flower”, it makes use of this particular “perfume” in order to draw in its main pollinator: the carrion fly. It sports five immense, red colored, leathery petals and a deep well in the middle. The flies go inside hoping to find some rotting flesh, but instead are covered with the flower’s pollen.

The corpse flower is also a parasite. It doesn’t have any leaves, stem, or roots and instead makes use of some threadlike growths that go inside its host: theTetrastigma Vine. Prior to its bulb sprouting, there are no visible signs of the flower’s existence. It can take up to ten months for the flower to go from bulb to full bloom. And when it does, it stays like that for only a few days; a week at best.Nobody really knows when that happens and it is extremely hard to make one do so in captivity. Singapore’s Botanic Garden hasn’t yet been successful in growing its own. So, if you really want to see one live, your best bet is to go deep within the Southeast Asian jungles to find one.

8. The Boiling River of Amazonian Legend

When he was only a boy, Andrés Ruzo, a geophysicist, was told a legend by his grandfather. This legend was about the conquistadors and how they went in search of El Dorado, the city of gold, deep in the Amazonian jungles. And from the fortunate few that were able to return came all sorts of stories. These stories were about man-eating snakes, jungle people with poison darts, trees bigger than they’d ever seen, and a boiling river capable of instantly killing anyone who would fall in its waters. This story remained with Ruzo into his adulthood. And for his PhD, he decided to make Peru’s first detailed geothermal map. Now, boiling streams do exist. They are located near volcanoes or other geothermal hotspots. But the thing is that the Amazonian basin is nowhere near such places, and the existence of a boiling river would be next to impossible. But as fate would have it, his aunt, of all people, was familiar with the boiling river. Not only had she been there before, but she was friends with the river shaman’s wife.

She then took him there, some 440 miles away from any volcanoes, and deep within the Peruvian jungle. The river itself is about 82 feet wide and 20 feet deep in some places, and for a distance of about 4 miles its waters are close to boiling point. This site is known as Mayantuyacu, and is considered sacred by the natives. What’s even more interesting is the fact that they use its waters for everything from cooking, brewing tea, or washing. But since this place is nowhere near a volcano, there isn’t a simple answer as to where the heat comes from. The best explanation so far, which probably is the case, is that this water comes from far away, as far as the glaciers high up in the Andes Mountains. Then it goes through an immense network of fissures within the mountains themselves, then deep underground where it’s heated, only to come back out in this place, making this stretch of the river boil.

7. Sigiriya – The Eighth Wonder of the World

Located on the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka, there is an abandoned fortress/palace that some say is the Eighth Wonder of the World. Sigiriya’s origin dates back to the 5th century AD during the reign of King Kashyapa, 477-495, and was built on a 600 foot tall, vertical granite slab towering over the surrounding jungle. King Kashyapa came to power after successfully overthrowing his father and usurping his brother’s rule on the throne of Sri Lanka. He later killed his father by walling him up while still alive. Fearing for his life, his brother, Moggallana, fled to Southern India, where he would raise an army, determined to take back the throne from King Kashyapa. Knowing this, Kashyapa then moved the capital from Anuradhapura, to the strategically located Sigiriya. The site was chosen due to its defensive capabilities. The granite slab itself was a “plug” that once covered the mouth of a volcano. But over time, the volcano subsided and eroded, leaving only the huge stone in place.

Now only a ruin , Sigiriya was once a crowning technological achievement and quite possibly the most important urban planning site of the first millennium in the world. The complex was comprised of the royal palace located at the very top, a mid-level terrace that includes an exquisite gate shaped in the form of a huge lion, and the lower part, which was made up of other smaller palaces, elaborate gardens, and the city itself. The western wall of the granite stone was a covered in huge murals, 460 feet long and 130 feet high; probably the biggest in the world. The frescoes depicted over 500 partially undressed ladies, maybe the king’s mistresses, or probably priestesses during various religious ceremonies. The spiral stairs that went up to the palace were built next to the Mirror Wall. This was once covered in plaster and polished to the point where the king could see his reflection when going up to the palace.

Things, however, didn’t last. The king’s brother did eventually return with an army and defeated Kashyapa in battle. Taking back the throne of Sri Lanka, he moved the capital back to Anuradhapura and transformed Sigiriya into a Buddhist monastery that lasted up until the 14th century. The site was then abandoned for 500 years, only to be rediscovered by accident when some British troops went past it in 1831. The first small scale archeological work began in the 1890s, and only in 1983 did the Sri Lankan government get involved. Since then Sigiriya has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. Cuvette Centrale – Congo’s Hidden Carbon “Bomb”

For the past three years, scientists have been meticulously mapping the Congo Basin and what its soil has buried just below the surface. As it turns out, there is one of the largest carbon sinks in the world, covering an area larger than England, some 56,000 square miles in total. This swampland, even though it makes up just 4 percent of the whole Congo Basin, holds as much carbon below ground as the amount stored above ground (in the form of trees and vegetation) for the rest of the basin put together. That’s roughly 30 billion tons of carbon, or about 20 years’ worth of fossil fuel emissions in the US. When the investigations started, scientists had no idea of what they’d come across, and this peatland turned out to be 16 times larger than previously anticipated. Peat is decomposing organic matter turned partially into soil. It is most commonly found in cooler regions like Siberia, Northern Europe, or Canada, but they’re also found in tropic regions like this one.

When plant matter dies it falls into these marshlands and gets partially decomposed. But because of the water above, this decomposition stops midway. Left alone, peatlands make great carbon sinks, sucking up carbon from the air via plants and then storing it underground when these plants die. This particular marshland started forming roughly 11,000 years ago with the end of the last ice age, when Africa became more humid in its tropical regions as a result. However, if for whatever reason the water is drained or it evaporates, then the peat starts decomposing again, releasing all the carbon into the air with devastating effects. Now, because it was only recently discovered and is basically unprotected, this peatland is vulnerable to deforestation and drainage in order to make room for agriculture, particularly for palm oil. The same thing happened in Indonesia, where over 36,000 square miles of peatland were exposed in recent decades, in order to make room for palm tree plantations.

5. The Stone Spheres of Costa Rica

Ever since the late 1930s, people have been discovering strange stone spheres scattered all across southern Costa Rica. In order to make room for banana plantations, farmers began clearing the jungle only to come across these round balls ranging in size from only a few inches to over 6.6 feet in diameter, and weighing in as much as 15 tons. Not knowing what to make of them, the farmers either pushed them aside with bulldozers or blew them up with dynamite. Word got around that there was gold inside, so people began destroying them, but, surprise surprise, there was no gold.

Nevertheless, they did get proper archaeological investigation soon after their discovery. Some of the stone spheres, which were left in their original place, were found alongside pottery shards dating from around 300 to 1550 AD. But most of them are believed to have been made around the year 1000 AD, more than 500 years before the Spanish Conquest. There isn’t much information about their creators, however, with the culture disappearing soon after the European arrivals. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence points to the fact that these people lived in scattered settlements no larger than 2,000 people at a time. They also made use of agriculture and lived in circular houses. Go figure!

To create these spherical stones, this ancient civilization probably used a combination of techniques such as controlled fracture, pecking, and sand grinding. Contrary to what you might hear about them from various sources, they are nowhere near to being perfect spheres. But given the technology at the time, they are impressive nonetheless. Their purpose, on the other hand, is a complete mystery. Since they were removed from their original positions, we can only imagine their intended purpose. While some of the stones were still on site during the 1940s and ’50s, archaeologists documented them as being arranged in straight or curved lines. One such arrangement was said to be in direct alignment with the magnetic north. Others were said to be on top of low mounds, leading scientists to speculate that some of them, at least, were kept indoors. But because many of these stones have been relocated, it makes it impossible to verify. Today, most ofthe stone spheres adorn public places and even private gardens. Many of them have since found their way to other countries as well, particularly in the US.

4. Zombie Fungus

The Cordyceps are a genus of fungi with a worldwide distribution. But most of the almost 400 species are found in the humid and tropical regions of Asia, in countries like China, Nepal, Japan, Bhutan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. What they do, is that they infect an insect, usually an ant (but it depends of the species of Cordycep), and then they take control over the poor animal. Since 85% of all insects in the world live in rainforests, the fungus’ preference for ants kinda makes sense. For instance, it’s estimated that over 8 million ants cover a single hectare of tropical forest.

When these ants come in contact with the spores of these fungi, they immediately get infected. And as if out of a sci-fi movie, the fungi then takes control over the actions of the ant, making it climb the foliage as high as it can. There, the ant will fix itself to a leaf or a twig, and it will eventually die. Next, the fungus will sprout from the ant’s head, forming a long stem over the following three weeks. Then, the next generation of spores will burst from its tip and will fall to the ground, ready to be picked up by other ants, and the cycle repeats itself.

The higher the ant goes, the wider the distribution these spores have, and the more ants can pick them up. Now, if other ants come by an infected one, they immediately take it as far away from the colony as possible and dump it there, in order to prevent infection. What’s really interesting about these “zombie fungi” is that each species specializes on just one type of insect; not just ants. This indicates that there’s a close co-evolution between the parasite and the host. And what these fungi ends up doing on a grander scale is that they keep any one species from getting the upper hand. If one group of insects becomes too numerous, they have a higher chance of getting infected, thus constantly promoting diversity in the jungle.

3. The Lost Stone Head of Guatemala

Back in 1987, a doctor of philosophy by the name of Oscar Rafael Padilla Lara received a photograph of a giant stone head located somewhere in the jungles of Guatemala. The photograph was reportedly taken during the 1950s by a man who owned the land where the head was located. Dr. Padilla then tracked down the landowner and went looking for the head. Unfortunately, however, when they got there the head was gone. Well, it was still there, actually; it just no longer looks like a human head. From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala was ravaged by civil war and it seems that the mysterious stone head was used as target practice by the rebels. The site is located some 6 miles away from the small village of La Democracia in southern Guatemala. Dr. Padilla measured what remained of the monolith to a height of about 20 feet. But since the war was still taking place at the time, he never returned to the site.

Now, there have been other stone heads discovered in the country, as well as southern Mexico, which were created by the Olmec civilization during the first and second millennium BC. What makes this stone head so special, however, is the fact that it doesn’t look anything like the others. While the Olmec monuments resemble a more “Negroid” appearance – something that sparked all sorts of wild theories – this one had a more “Caucasian” look to it, which again ignited alien conspiracies. Some, nevertheless, speculate that this head was maybe an anomaly in the Olmec period, or maybe it was made by another culture altogether, before or after the Olmecs themselves. Others believe that, similar to the Easter Island Statues, there may be a body underneath yet to be discovered. But there is some controversy about the whole story. Due to the odd nature of the discovery and the unlikely and seemingly unfortunate series of events surrounding it, some believe the head to be a hoax. The answer, however, is still hidden within the Guatemalan jungles.

2. Real Life Tarzan

It’s a known and accepted fact that those who venture into the jungle have a big chance of never coming back out again. There are plenty of things that can go wrong and they sometimes do. But it’s not that common for people to lose themselves in the jungle willingly. But on extremely rare occasions, this happens as well. This was the case of a man and his then-infant son, who’ve been living in the Vietnamese jungles for over 40 years. During the Vietnam War, Ho Van Thanh, now over 80 years old, took his youngest son, Ho Van Lang, deep within the jungle in order to escape an US air raid that killed his wife and two older sons. Unbeknownst to him, however, his wife gave birth to another son just before the air raid, and this baby also managed to somehow survive, and was then taken by his uncle, Thanh’s brother.

Forty years later, the two were discovered some 25 miles away from the nearest village, living in a tree house constructed close to a stream. The two also crafted their own makeshift tools like axes, knives and even arrows, and were even tending a sugarcane plantation. They also had a small fire going in the suspended hut and made their own underpants from dried tree bark. When discovered, the father was barely able to walk due to his old age, and even forgot most of the language. His son, though thin, was in peak physical condition, but like his father, didn’t know the language. Neither of them was suffering from any diseases. When taken back to the village, the father was taken to the hospital in order to receive proper medical treatment. However, doctors had to tie him to the bed because he kept trying to escape back into the jungle.

1. The White City of the Monkey God

Ever since the time of Hernan Cortez and his conquest of the Aztecs, there have been legends of a mighty city somewhere deep in the unexplored jungles to the south. This city was said to be so wealthy and so powerful that nobles were eating their food from plates of gold. And in charge of this city was an all-powerful monkey god. The Bishop of Honduras sent a letter to the King of Spain in 1544, telling him that after an arduous travel through the dense jungles, guided there by some locals, he saw the city from the top of the mountain in one of the valleys below. After that, the legend only continued to grow. That was until 1939, when an explorer by the name of Theodore Morde claimed to have found it in the Mosquita Valley area in Honduras. However, he was later found dead in his parent’s house, having supposedly hanged himself, never revealing the actual location.

However, a recent archaeological expedition in the area has actually discovered the site by making use of state of the art technology. The ancient city is located in a crater-like valley, surrounded by mountains and covered by almost impenetrable vegetation. The exact location is, however, kept a secret in the hopes of keeping looters away. The archaeologists have since managed to map an extensive area of the site, discovering plazas, earth pyramids, and countless valuable artifacts and stone statues. Though they don’t believe in an actual “White City of the Monkey God,” they do believe that they’ve stumbled upon something even greater: apreviously unknown civilization that inhabited the area long ago.


Bungle in the Jungle

– WIF Nature