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Our Incredible World Like You Have Never Seen it Before Author Andrei Mihai
Author: Andrei Mihai
andrei@zmescience.com
Designer: Tibi Puiu
tibipuiu@gmail.com
ZME Science
www.zmescience.com

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    Our incredible world like you have never seen it before author  andrei mihai Our incredible world like you have never seen it before author andrei mihai Document Transcript

    • OUR INCREDIBLE WORLD, LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFOREwww.zmescience.com© 2011
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeAuthor: Andrei Mihaiandrei@zmescience.comDesigner: Tibi Puiutibipuiu@gmail.comZME Sciencewww.zmescience.com© 2011 ZME Science. All rights reserved.The written content of this e-book is owned under ZME Media (www.zmemedia.com). ZME Media doesn’t retain copyright for the images andgraphics used in this work.The e-book can be freely used, distribuited, copied, printed or shared aslong as no alteration comes to the content or to the source from which itoriginates.Under no circumstances is this e-book to be commercially distribuited.We’d like to thank our faithful readers, to whom this book is dedicated, forstanding by and faithfully supporting us for all these years.If you found our book entertaining please consider sharing it with a friend.Special thanks to Spike Matthews, Rajini & Anjana Rao, Nikole Sturm andFrancine Pereyra. i
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeINTRO .................................................................................................................1Girl Suffering From Syndrome X Doesn’t Age, Remains An Infant.............................2Meet The World’s Only Immortal Animal .................................................................3Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research ........................................59 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The Good Old Days.....................................6 BAYER’S HEROIN ............................................................................................................................................ 6 BOEHRINGER & SOEHNE ................................................................................................................................. 6 OPIUM - NOT JUST FOR NEWBORNS ............................................................................................................... 7 COCA WINE .................................................................................................................................................... 7 AMPHETAMINE INHALERS ............................................................................................................................... 7 OPIUM FOR ASTHMA ...................................................................................................................................... 8 DRAGEES ANTISEPTIQUES AU MENTHOL ......................................................................................................... 8 MRS. WINSLOW’S SOOTHING SYRUP .............................................................................................................. 8 COCAINE TOOTHACHE DROPS ...................................................................................................................... 108 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About ...............11 MAELSTROM ............................................................................................................................................... 11 FIRE RAINBOW ............................................................................................................................................. 12 WATER SPOUTS ........................................................................................................................................... 14 THE HONDURAN RAIN OF FISH ...................................................................................................................... 16 MOONBOWS ................................................................................................................................................ 18 PENITENTES ................................................................................................................................................. 20 SUPERCELLS................................................................................................................................................ 21 ICE CIRCLES................................................................................................................................................. 23Amazing Unexplained Artifacts ............................................................................25 THE LONDON HAMMER – A TOOL OLDER THAN HISTORY ............................................................................... 25 THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM – A GREEK ANCIENT COMPUTER .................................................................. 26 THE DROPA STONES .................................................................................................................................... 27 THE SAQQARA BIRD – AN EGYPTIAN PLANE .................................................................................................. 27 THE BAGHDAD BATTERY – A 2000 YEAR OLD BATTERY ................................................................................. 28 UNEXPLAINABLE FOSSILS AND METAL OBJECTS ........................................................................................... 28 THE PIRI REIS MAP ....................................................................................................................................... 29 THE NAZCA DRAWINGS ................................................................................................................................ 30 THE MYSTERIOUS CITY OF NAN MADOL – A CITY BUILT ON CORALS .............................................................. 32 THE SACSAYHUAMAN WALLS ....................................................................................................................... 33The Sky Burial ...................................................................................................347 Animals That Lived Along With Your Grandparents But Not With You....................37 Japanese Sea Lion ....................................................................................................................................... 37 Desert Rat Kangaroo ..................................................................................................................................... 37 Phantom shiner ............................................................................................................................................ 38 Labrador duck .............................................................................................................................................. 38 Quagga ........................................................................................................................................................ 38 Tasmanian Wolf ............................................................................................................................................ 39 ii
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before Caspian Tiger ............................................................................................................................................... 39The World’s Most Polluted Cities .........................................................................40 Linfen, China ................................................................................................................................................ 40 La Oroya, Peru ............................................................................................................................................. 41 Norilsk, Russia.............................................................................................................................................. 42 Dzerzhinsk, Russia ........................................................................................................................................ 43 Chernobyl, Ukraine ....................................................................................................................................... 44Thank you! ........................................................................................................45 iii
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeINTROThe world is just such an awesome place; what happens on our little planet is fascinating,remarkable, and unique in so many ways that it surpasses, without a doubt, even themost imaginative movie or novel. What you are about to see and read will not take youto another world, but show you just how incredible our own one is, and how things thatyou never would have thought possible take place even in your backyard. What’s soincredible about it? So many things that it would take a lifetime to name just half, so I’mgonna stick to just a handful here: amazing landscapes and animals, bizarre phenomenaand things you’re gonna have a hard time believing about society – that’s what you’regoing to find here.ZME Science is not a science journal, and it is not our intention to publish scientificstudies. This is in no way a comprehensive list and shouldn’t be treated as one, buthopefully, this selection of articles and images will open your eyes, make you go ‘Wow!’,or maybe both. It will also help you discover new things, the kind of things that don’tget broadcasted on TV, and major newspapers or websites almost never write about;the kind of things that get the talk going during the coffee break, because they’re just sofreaking awesome! Oh well, I said too much already, go see for yourself what this is allabout. INTRO 1
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeGirl Suffering From Syndrome X Doesn’t Age,Remains An Infant If you look at Brooke Greenberg, you probably couldn’t tell if there’s anything special about her at all. She seems just like any other toddler; but she’s not. She is in fact 17 years old, but physiologically speaking, she’s not older than a year. There’s hardly any information available about her, and her parents don’t talk about the girl almost at all (can’t really blame them); doctors scratch their heads too.Courtesy Greenberg Family “ Why doesn’t she age?” Howard Greenberg, 52, asked of his daughter. “Is she the fountain of youth?”The same question (among many others) has been asked by scientists, but no answerhas been found until now. What they do know however is that her case is unique, anopinion also shared by her doctor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine pediatricianLawrence Pakula. “ Many of the best-known names in medicine, in their experience … had not seen anyone who matched up to Brooke,” Pakula said. “She is always a surprise.” However, even though she is not aging, it seems that her body is developing as independent parts out of sync. If you were to look at photos of Brooke, she is unchanged, and there’s no indication that she would be in fact getting any older, and as far as everybody knows, if this continues on, she has no reason to die. Her condition has baffled doctors so, that without a better solution, they just named it Syndrome X. But the mystery about her gets Girl Suffering From Syndrome X Doesn’t Age, Remains An Infant 2
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforeeven deeper. She suffered from numerous health problems, including seven perforatedulcers, a seizure and a stroke. When she was five, she had a mass in her brain thatcaused her to sleep for 14 days! Doctors diagnosed the mass as a brain tumour andsaid there was nothing they could do, but after the 14 days, she just woke up and themass was gone, with no fully satisfying explanation in sight.Brooke Greenberg is without a doubt one of the most interesting people on the faceof the Earth, but she didn’t choose the life she has, and she should by no means beturned into a lab rat. However, her body probably yields extremely valuable information,so researchers are still studying some of her analysis, in the hope of understanding moreabout aging, and why not, immortality. Speaking of immortality...Meet The World’s Only Immortal AnimalThe turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth. (c) Peter SchuchertLet your imagination fly ! But wait, if you’re thinking McLeod, you couldn’t be furtherfrom the truth. What you have to do is think small; not microscopic, just big enough to Meet The World’s Only Immortal Animal 3
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforesee with your naked eye. Turritopsis nutricula is the name, and immortality’s the game- this hydrozoan is considered by scientists to be the only animal (or living organismfor that matter) that cheated death.Every living thing has to die at some point; that’s just the way it works, right? Wrong!First, a bit about our Turritopsis nutricula (let’s call it Joe, shall we?) and his family:hydrozoa are a huge class of predatory animals that live mostly in saltwater, closelyrelated to jellyfish and corals. Most species include both a hydroid and a medusoidstage in their life cycle, although not all of them do.But enough about boring hydrozoans, let’s get to ours; what Joe does is he reachessexual maturity, makes little Joes, and then reverts completely to a sexually immature,colonial stage. But wait, he’s even cooler than that: when they’re young they’ve gotonly several tentacles, but at a mature stage, they get to 80-90 of them, which theylose when they revert. They’re able to return to polyp stage due to a cell change in theexternal screen (Exumbrella), which allows them to bypass death. As far as scientistshave been able to find out, this change renders the hydrozoa virtually immortal.If you ask me, it would be really interesting to find out if Joe has memories from his “pastlife”, or if he just starts of brand new each time. I’m not sure how useful that would be,but it sure would be fun to find out. I’m not sure how you would go around finding thatthough, and maybe more effort should be put into something else.Let’s take medicine, for example; numerous promising developments have been madein the field, but a definitive cure for cancer or AIDS is still pretty far, and there’s also theproblem with viruses becoming more and more aggresive. You should know that a bigpart in the development of new treatments and drugs is played, of course, by drugcompanies; and that’s not all you should know about them... Meet The World’s Only Immortal Animal 4
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeBig Pharma Spends More On Advertising ThanResearch There has been some remarkable progress in the field of medicine and pharmaceuticals; but things could be advancing much faster. It’s not that there aren’t many brilliant scientists working in the field, but rather that there’s just not enough funding to go around. So what’s the matter? It can’t be that drug companies don’t have enough money, that would be really hard to believe. No, the problem lies somewhere else; according to a study conducted by York University researchers (Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin ), the pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on advertising than they do on research and development. Now of course the big guys in the pharma industry claim quite the opposite, but let’s take a look at the numbers. Here’s the United States as an example: the industry spent 24.4% on promotion and only 13.4% for research anddevelopment, out of a total sum US$235.4 billion. Ouch!Why is this happening? Well, to put it in layman terms, a drug company is a business,and a business has to make money. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it’s definitelysomething to ponder whenever you see that banner on the bus.Still, you probably shouldn’t stress about this – I know I have, after reading the study,and all it did was gave me a stomach ache. Just like many other people, I stress abouta whole lot of things I shouldn’t. A century or even decades ago, people didn’t seem tobe so stressed out, did ever think about that? What has changed? Researchers haveput a lot of time and money into the study of this problem, and came up with a wholenumerous theories, but really, don’t let them fool you. Here’s the real deal, here’s why itwas so easy in those days: Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research 5
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before9 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The GoodOld DaysBAYER’S HEROIN Yeah baby, between 1890 and 1910, heroin was sold as a ‘less addictive form of morphine’ - and it was way more fun. At some point, it was even recommended to treat the usual cough, but only in children. Diacetylmorphine was first synthesized by Alder Wright, who found it to be even more addictive than opium, and abandoned research in this direction. However, the Bayer company concluded that it was very effective in treating moderate pains and dealing with diseases such as asthma or tuberculosis, so they branded it as Heroin (you just gotta love Germans). What’s interesting is that it was branded in the same period as acetylsalicylic acid, which later became known as aspirin. It’s hard to say which one of these had more success…BOEHRINGER & SOEHNE Boehringer & Soehne were located in Mannheim, Germany (Germans, again?). Never heard of them? Well, if they were doing today what they did about a century ago now, you’d definitely know about them, because they proudly advertised their products, claiming the make the best products from cocaine and chinine. It wasn’t only the quality that made them so good, as their ads said: “Prices no higher than for any other brand”. There’s just not enough of thatthese days, sadly. 9 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The Good Old Days 6
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeOPIUM - NOT JUST FOR NEWBORNS Stickney and Poor’s are known today mostly for spices, but back in the day, they also sold this syrup that helped babies sleep well; and if the opium inside wasn’t enough, then the 46% alcohol would definitely do the trick. Damn, man, that’s got more alcohol than vodka! The 1900 babies were hardcore!COCA WINE Believe it or not, wines with cocaine were not uncommon by any standards. Metcalf Coca Wine was one of the famous brands and everybody who drank it said it will make you happy, and was also good as a medicinal treatment (I bet it was). Maltine Coca Wine was also used a lot in the U.S., especially in New York, where it was made. It was recommended for health reasons – a glass after each meal; and for the children, just a half glass of course, because we wouldn’t want to get them high... oh, I mean drunk. Out of all the coca wines out there, without a doubt, the most appreciatedwas the Mariani Wine. It was so good, that pope Leo XIII never left the house without abottle of it. He loved it so much that he even awarded the producer with Vatican’s GoldMedal.AMPHETAMINE INHALERSBenzedrine (racemic amphetamine) inhalers were available in the U.S. until the mid50s, and they were so appreciated that even airlines gave them to passengers to treatdiscomfort when the plane was taking off and landing.It was also proclaimed that more than 10 million Benzedrine inhalers had been distributed 9 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The Good Old Days 7
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforein the first 7 years it was released, which means they sold even better than misterMcDonald’s hamburgers.OPIUM FOR ASTHMA It’s not clear how effective the treatment was, but at least, the National Vaporizer Vapor-OL (opium) Treatment no. 6 for asthma (as it was called) provided a unique way of smoking opium. You had a pretty volatile liquid that went in a sort of frying pan, heated by a small kerosene lamp placed under the pan.DRAGEES ANTISEPTIQUES AU MENTHOL So yeah, everything seems to be good, at least if you go by the name, but these ‘dragees’ were basically Cocaine throat lozenges. Yeah, cocaine was not only fun, as with the wine, but also useful. This Belgian product was “indispensable for singers, teachers, and orators”. It still is today, at least for the singers. 9 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The Good Old Days 8
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeMRS. WINSLOW’S SOOTHING SYRUPOf course, as a working mother, things are never easy. So when you get home, you wantto get some peace and quiet, and that’s exactly what this soothing syrup was doing.Because no matter how noisy and restless a child is, 65 milligrams of morphine per fluidounce does the trick. 9 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The Good Old Days 9
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeCOCAINE TOOTHACHE DROPSCocaine is our all fun and no stress winner (perhaps there’s a lesson here, somewhere,I’m not sure). These cocaine toothache drops were absolute miracle drugs, and theycured aches almost instantly and they also came with a bonus: after taking them, childrenwere always happier.I remember when I wrote this article, it absolutely blew my mind! To think that just 50years ago, heroin, cocaine, even opium – were perfectly normal; and we wonder whereall the good artists are nowadays. And cocaine wine, now that’s something to crank upthe party... but the pope?! Who would have guessed that... oh who am I kidding, popesdid some pretty messed up things along the way. Anyway, I really don’t want to talkabout religion – let’s move on to something better. How about Mother Nature? If you askme, her awesomeness cannot be described in words. Did you know for example thatthe biggest tsunami ever recorded was over 500 meters tall? It was as big as about 120elephants standing on top of each other, and almost twice as big as the Eiffel tower. Orthat when Krakatau erupted, the ash it sprayed into the atmosphered circled the wholeEarth, twice? And I could go on like this for hours, but let’s narrow it down a bit... 9 Reasons Why There Wasn’t Stress In The Good Old Days 10
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena YouProbably Didn’t Know AboutMAELSTROMWhen you hear a name like maelstrom, you just know it’s about something wicked.Introduced in English by Edgar Allan Poe from the Nordic languages, where it came fromthe Dutch word maelstrom (maalstroom in modern spelling), it literally means crushingcurrent, which is quite a very good description.A maelstom is basically a very big and powerful whirlpool, a free vortex; a free vortex withquite a downdraft. The first described maelstrom was Moskstraumen, which is causedby a very powerful tidal current. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 11
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeDigital representation of a maelstromBoth Poe and Jules Verne depict it as a giant vortex that leads to the bottom of theocean where it is in fact a crossroad of underwater currents. Well... they were a bit off,but still, it’s quite a view to catch.FIRE RAINBOWThe term ‘fire rainbow’ is a bit misleading; the correct term is circumhorizon arc, which 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 12
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforecan really impress your friends while having a beer but it’s kinda hard to pronounce, sowe’re gonna stick to fire rainbow. This type of rainbow is basically an ice halo formed by ice crystals located very high, in the cirrus clouds. This huge flamboyant lovely display of colors is really not as rare as you might think, and how often it appears depends mostly on location, and especially latitude. For example, in the US it can be seen several times a summer each year in the same place, but in Central or Northern Europe it’s very rare.Of course, this rainbow is not formed the way ‘classic’ rainbows are formed. Light passesthrough the hexagonal ice crystals via a vertical side and leaves through the nearesthorizontal bottom face. If their alignment is just right, it makes the whole cloud shinerainbow-colored, displaying this delightful set of colours, as you can see for yourself. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 13
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeWATER SPOUTSWaterspouts seem to be taken out of the Captain Planet series. You know, earth, wind,fire, all that? Well, here it’s all about wind and water actually, because a waterspout is in 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 14
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforefact a really intense columnar vortex (not necessarily a tornado) that takes place over amass of water and links it to a cumuliform cloud. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 15
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeMost of the time, they are weaker than land tornadoes, but some are extremely big andbring the water upward with immense speed and power.They can actually be tornadic or non-tornadic. The non-tornadic ones are way morecommon and less dangerous, with winds being slower than 70 mph (30 m/s). Tornadicwaterspouts are similar at their core to a tornado, but they add huge masses of water tothe show, making it a scenery hard to forget.The even rarer ‘cousin’ of the waterspout is the snowspout (or icespout). They arebasically a very rare type of waterspouts that form at the base of a snow squall. Therehave only been six (!) pictures taken of such an event, so there’s not really much we cangive you here.THE HONDURAN RAIN OF FISHOh, this one’s good. We’ve all probably heard about this in one form of another, butmost just chalk it up to folklore. Well, this isn’t the case! The department of Yoro is hostof one of the most bizarre and amazing phenomena to ever take place: the rain of fish,that takes place every year for more than a century now. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 16
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before Each year, between the months of May and July a dark clouds appears in the sky, followed by a massive thunderstorm, it rains a lot, the whole nine yards. It all lasts 2-3 hours, at the end of which people go out on the street where they find hundreds of living fish on the ground; yeah, they eat them. There aren’t any clear conclusions, but a theory that’s accepted sometimes is that the strong winds and waterspouts take the fish from 200 kmaway. However, a significant number of scientists claim they are not sea water fish, butfresh water fish that swim from a nearby river to an underwater current, and some fishstray from the current and appear on the ground. But here’s the good part: NationalGeographic sent a team to investigate this, and they found that the fish aren’t located inany surrounding bodies of water. Because they are blind, scientists hypothesize the fishlive deep in underground rivers. Far out ! 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 17
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeMOONBOWSWe’ve all (probably) seen rainbows, at day. But how many of us have seen rainbowsat night? Yeah, this can actually happen, due to the light reflected by the moon (thusmoonbow, or lunar rainbow or white rainbow). Of course the light coming from the moonis much, much fainter than that emitted by the Sun, so as a result, so is the formedrainbow; most of the time, it’s even hard for the human eye to separate the colors there. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 18
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeThe biggest chance you have of ever seeing a moonbow is when the moon is full (oralmost full), when it’s the brightest, but there are other conditions required. The sky hasto be very dark (close to black), and, of course, there must be rain falling opposite to themoon. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 19
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforePENITENTES These sharp ice spikes can only be found at high altitudes. Ice (or snow) formations that take the form of blades or spikes varying from a few centimeters to 2 meters (or even more) have fascinated researchers since Darwin’s time, as he was the first to ever describe them. He had to squeeze his way through such a field and was the first to notice they generally follow the direction of the sun. But how are they formed? The mechanism of their ‘birth’ is a bit complicated, and it relies on a process called differential ablation. For penitentes to form, the dew point has to be below freezing. As a result, the snow will sublimate, which requires more energy than melting.The geometry of the surface provides a positive feedback mechanism for radiation,which is trapped by multiple reflections, creating hollows. These hollows, combined withwind that increases the dew point temperatures, provides the right conditions for the 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 20
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforesublimation to create the steep walls and peaks.SUPERCELLSSupercells are rotating updrafts within severe thunderstorms; they’re dangerous, big,and bloody scary. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 21
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeA supercell can be defined as athunderstorm with a deep rotating updraft (mesocyclone). (c) MIKE HOLLINGSHEAD / SOLENT 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 22
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeThey can appear anywhere in the world given the right meteorological conditions, butmost of the times they appear in the Great Plains of the US, last generally 2-3 hours andthey sometimes split in 2, with the two resulting storms going in opposite directions.The supercells usually produce huge amounts of hail, torrential rainfall, strong winds,and substantial downbursts and they are often carriers of giant hail. Scientists havegiven quite an interest in supercells, because, as you could have guessed from the pics,they’re really dangerous. Really.ICE CIRCLESIce Circles are pretty much what you’d expect from them.However, they’re very rare, appearing only in slow moving waters from cold climates suchas Northern Europe or America, but some have also been spotted in Britain, including ahuge one bigger than 3 meters. There are two types of ice circles. Here are the generalnecessary conditions for the first type to form. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 23
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeNo rain and temperatures below 0 Celsius for several days near a slow river bend. Thus,the water creates a force that is called ‘rotational shear’ and breaks a chunk of ice,twisting it around and grinding it to the surrounding ice, turning it into a perfect circle. The second type is perhaps even more spectacular. Also called ice pans, these formations are surface slabs of ice that form in the middle of the river, and not on its side. They’re explained by sudden shifts of temperature. As the water cools off, it gives away heat that creates frazil ice (randomly oriented ice needles loose in the water). These ice particles can, of course, form an ice pan, and if the lake has enough frazil ice and the current is slow enough, the ice pan can reach the sizes that bafflepeople and even become a hanging dam.Words fall short when it comes to describing these wonders of nature, and we definitelyneed a reminder sometimes of just how small we are; but this doesn’t mean that mancan’t create amazing things – on the contrary, we have all the inspiration we need,and you can bet the human race is gifted with inventivity and work power. Even more,we don’t necessarily need technology to create something brilliant, and if you’re notconvinced, these artifacts will definitely convince you. Keep in mind however there is stilla lot of controversy surrounding some of them, and I would bet my acoustic guitar thatat least one or two aren’t for real, but still, it’s worth giving it a thought or two. 8 Totally Awesome Natural Phenomena You Probably Didn’t Know About 24
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeAmazing Unexplained ArtifactsEvery once in a while archaeologists (and sometimes regular Joes) make some remarkablediscoveries. Stunned, they are often unable to explain what it is they’ve found, how itcame into existence, or ascertain its value. This is a comprehensive list of such artifacts;artifacts that many believe should have never existed given the discerned age/period oftheir creation.THE LONDON HAMMER – A TOOL OLDER THAN HISTORYIn June 1936 (or 1934 according to some accounts), Max Hahn and his wife Emma wereon a walk when they noticed a rock with wood protruding from its core. They decidedto take the oddity home and later cracked it open with a hammer and a chisel. Ironically,what they found within seemed to be an archaic hammer of sorts. Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 25
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeA team of archaeologists checked it, and as it turns out, the rock encasing the hammerwas dated back more than 400 million years; in this case the hammer itself would normalyhave to be older. Additionally, a section of the handle has begun the transformation tocoal. Creationists, of course, were all over this. The hammer’s head, made of more than96% iron, is far more pure than anything nature could have achieved without an assistfrom modern technology.THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM – A GREEK ANCIENTCOMPUTER The Antikythera mechanism has been labeled the first known mechanical computer. Found in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, it was designed to calculate astronomical positions. Consisting of a box with dials on the outside and a very complex assembly of gear wheels mounted within, it’s about as complex as an 18th century top-notch clock. The level of sophistication utilized by the device has forced scientists to accept that their perceptions of ancient Greek engineering were faulty, but in their defense, nothing similar to this exists or is mentioned in any known writings from the period of its creation. Based on the knowledge we do have, this mechanism shouldn’t even exist. Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 26
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before According to Professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University, who led the team studyingthe mechanism: “ This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely carefully.” He added: “…in terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa.”THE DROPA STONESI In 1938, an expedition led by archaeologist Dr. Chi Pu Tei into the Baian-Kara-Ula in China made an astonishing discovery. Nearby caves held traces of the ancient culture which once occupied them. Buried by the dusts of time, hundreds of stone disks lay scattered about the cave’s interior. Nothing too spectacular you may think, but the disks turned out to be eerily similar to phonograph records — nine inches in diameter, a circle cut into their centers and an obvious spiral groove. They are believed to be more than 10,000 years old. But the spiral, as it turns out, is composed of tiny hieroglyphics.When studied and translated, it was revealed that the discs tell the amazing yetimprobable story of spaceships that crashed into the mountains, piloted by people whocalled themselves the Dropa.THE SAQQARA BIRD – AN EGYPTIAN PLANE Discovered during the 1898 excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb in Saqqara, Egypt, the Saqqara bird is (as you could have guessed) a bird shaped artifact made from the wood of a sycamore tree. Weighing in at just under 40 grams and with a wingspan of more than 7 inches, it’s been dated back to approximately 200 BC. Lack of documentation and Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 27
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforeother data has led to some speculation. In fact, the ancient egyptians were well aware ofthe principles of aviation. Was it simply the toy of an affluent Egyptian child? Did it servesome kind of ceremonial purpose? Regardless, the object has few realistic bird traits.With its vertical tail, resembling that of an airplane or glider, it resembles no known bird.Scientists came to the conclusion that it couldn’t be effective as an aircraft due to lackof technology, but it could have in fact been a glider.THE BAGHDAD BATTERY – A 2000 YEAR OLD BATTERY This device consists of a 5-1/2-inch high clay vessel, inside of which was a copper cylinder held in place by asphalt. Within the cylinder, archaeologists found an oxidized iron rod. In 1940, Wilhelm König (the German director of the National Museum of Iraq) suggested that these could be galvanic cells, perhaps used for electroplating gold onto silver objects. Nobody has been able to prove him wrong, especially since it only needed to be filled with an acid or alkaline substance to produce an electric charge.UNEXPLAINABLE FOSSILS AND METAL OBJECTS Geology is a relatively “new” science. The progress and developments made through experimentation are absolutely remarkable and have helped in many other fields. Still, there are some things yet to be explained. Though the honeycomb pattern of paleodictyon is already well known, we remain stumped as to how such shapes and figures are created. For example, a fossil of a human handprint was found in limestone estimated to be more than 110 million years, a fossilized human finger withjust as much, and the aparent discovery of a human footprint that possibly sporteda sandal which dates to more than 300 million years ago. These amazing fossilizedimprints/remains have left the scientific community scratching their collective heads. Notto mention the 65 million year old semi-ovoid metallic tubes being dug out of France, Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 28
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforethe unusual block of coal discovered 124 years ago which contained a metal cube thatcouldn’t have formed naturally within the lump, and many more such thingsTHE PIRI REIS MAP In 1929, a group of historians made what can only be described as an amazing discovery, painted on the skin of a gazelle. After study and research, they found that it is a genuine map drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, a well documented admiral of the Turkish navy. He depicts Europe and North Africa, the coast of Brazil, several islands (Azores, Canary Islands, and the mythical island of Antilia), and even Antarctica, which was thought to be discovered more than 300 years later. The most puzzling thing is not that it shows we need to rethink the chronology for a number of exploratory discoveries, but that it describes Antarctica’s topography as notbeing masked by ice and in great detail. The last time that occured was more than 6000years ago. Tell me then. How did a Turkish admiral from half a millenium ago map acontinent that’s been covered by ice for the last 6000 years? Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 29
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeTHE NAZCA DRAWINGSThe Nazca drawings (or lines) definitely have something otherworldly about them.Discovered in 1930 — when the US inaugurated two new commercial lines — theycover 450 square km and some measure more than 200m in length. They depict lines,geometrical figures, animals and figures that we haven’t entirely figured out yet (manybelieve them to be constellations). Whether made for the gods or for some other reason, Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 30
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforeit’s obvious that they were meant to be seen from the sky. Scientists have had troubletrying to figure out how they could have been designed and created without somebodydirecting the work from above. We can only marvel at these amazing figures and continueto wonder how and why they were created by people called the Nazca. Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 31
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeTHE MYSTERIOUS CITY OF NAN MADOL – A CITY BUILT ONCORALS The city of Nan Madol was built between 200 B.C. – 800 A.D., on a coral reef near Micronesia. It consisted of about 100 artificial islands made from huge basalt blocks and connected with viaducts. From the start, it dazzles us with a mix of the bizarre and grandeur and from the start it seems incongruous; 250 million tons of offshore basalt in the middle of nowhere. How were these huge blocks quarried, transported, and placed in the perfect spot? Even by today’s standards, it would an impressive engineering feat. Additionally, the reasoning behind its Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 32
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforedevelopment remains a mystery. Archaelogists have few clues as to what happened tothe civilization responsibile for its creation.THE SACSAYHUAMAN WALLSNear the city of Cuzco, more than 3500 meters above sea level, these amazing wallsfirst fascinated the Spanish conquistadores. They were astonished to discover thesestructures constructed by natives, who, according to them, were ignorant and lacked theability of logical reasoning required to create such wonders. They are in fact 3 concentricwalls, the average being roughly 360 meters in length and 6 meters in height, madefrom limestone blocks that weigh about 300 tons each. The engineers didn’t use mortaror any other kind of cement to bind the walls, but instead they packed the materials soclosely that even a sharp knife can’t be wedged between 2 blocks. Scientists have triedto achieve this at a much smaller scale and have failed in their efforts to replicate the tightjoints of the Sacsayhuaman walls. Amazing Unexplained Artifacts 33
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeThe Sky BurialFirst of all, it has to be said that this once common burial practice in Tibet is prettyhard to ‘digest’ for our ‘civilized’ world, and there’s a big chance you’ll find the picturesshocking. As adepts of Buddhism, Tibetans believe the single most important part of aperson is its spirit, and after death, there is no reason to preserve the body, which is justa hollow vessel. Also, from a more practical point of view, wood is quite scarce and thesoil is really rocky, making it hard to dig a grave. That’s why, after somebody died, thecorpse was cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop where vultures feedoff of it or it just decomposes.My first impression when I first heard of it was quite severe; but thinking about it better,it does seem to make sense. I mean, digging a grave would be extremely hard andimpractical, while finding enough fuel or wood for cremation would be practicallyimpossible. Also, the spiritual meaning is not hard to understand, if you just take a stepoutside the western ideology. The deceased is providing food for a part of nature, whichis a proof of generosity, one of the most important things in Buddhism.The Tibetan name for this ceremony is jhator, which literally means “giving alms to the The Sky Burial 34
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforebirds”. “ Sky burial and open cremation may initially appear grotesque for Westerners, especially if they have not reflected on their own burial practice of embalming. For Tibetan Buddhists, sky burial and cremation are templates of instructional teaching on the impermanence of life.” (unknown) It appeared grotesque for the Chinese government too, who prohibited it from 1950 to 1980. To this day, westerners, while sometimes allowed to witness sky burials, are not permitted to film or take pictures of the procedures. The full procedure is quite expensive, and for those who can’t afford it, simply placing the deceased on a high rock is the an option. The Sky Burial 35
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeThe ceremony takes place in light spirit, as the rogyapas (monks) who perform theceremony talk to each other as when doing any other physical labor. There are differentways to do this; basically beating the body and bones together to a pulp is not uncommon,while some witnesses reported breaking the bones and cartilages with sledge hammers.The vulture in this ceremony is nicknamed the “Eurasian Griffon”, and even with its bigappetite, it can’t eat all that it’s being offered, because in some places there are even afew sky burials per day.I have had very interesting discussions regarding this ceremony and numerous validpoints of view were taken. Please share your opinion, I would love to hear what you thinkabout itThe Eurasian Griffon I was telling you about earlier almost became extinct, but it ultimatelysurvived, and with a lot of care and patience it is now being reintroduced into otherhabitats; however, other species weren’t so lucky. There are countless species thatdisappear, never to be seen again. Countless species of animals are extinct forever, andwe will never see them again, or never see them at all... 7 Animals That Lived Along With Your Grandparents But Not With You 36
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before7 Animals That Lived Along With Your GrandparentsBut Not With YouJapanese Sea Lion Believed to be extinct since 1950, the Japanese Sea Lion lived in the coastal areas of the Japanese Archipelago and the Korean Peninsula. Weighing up to 450 to 560 kg and reaching lengths of 2.3 to 2.5 meters (the males; females were smaller), they preferred sandy open beaches, but they sometimes used rocky areas for breeding too. Harvest records from Japanese commercial fishermen in the early 1900s show that as many as 3,200 sea lions were harvested, and in total about 17.000 specimens were killed,enough to cause their extinction.Desert Rat Kangaroo It lived in the driest, hottest and most desolate environments in Central Australia, relying on its fantastic resistance and independance of water; in fact, it was so prepared that it even shunned the succulent plants of the sandhills. It was first sighted by Europeans in 1841 and was not seen again for 90 years. The last sighting was in 1935, which makes it quite a mysterious creature. They were able to travel enormous distances and high speeds, and they ‘paused only to die’. 7 Animals That Lived Along With Your Grandparents But Not With You 37
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforePhantom shinerThis elusive species of fish was once endemic to the Rio Grande basin and ranged fromcentral New Mexico to southernmost Texas. Not too much information is available aboutthem, and they were only spotted irregularly and only several times. The last knownspecimen was recorded in Mexico in 1975.Labrador duck The labrador duck was never common; it’s believed that this species of duck has been extinct since 1875. It’s also believed that it was the first bird to be extinct in North America since 1500. It was also called the Pied Duck and it fed on small molluscs. Its extinctions is quite a mystery, because it was not sought much by hunters. Still, humans are still probably responsable for its extinction as they caused the decline in mussels and other shellfish on which they are believed to have fed intheir winter quarters, due to growth of population and industry on the Eastern Seaboard;this meant that the duck had no food left, and was practically hopeless.Quagga The Quagga was a subspecies of the plains zebra which lived in great numbers in South Africa’s Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It got this name as an onomatopoeia, being said to resemble its call. The quagga was the first extinct creature to have its DNA studied although the only live photographed member was the Regent’s Park Zoo mare in London. 7 Animals That Lived Along With Your Grandparents But Not With You 38
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeTasmanian Wolf It’s believed that the Tasmanian Wolf has been extinct for about 65 years. Despite its appearance and its popular name, this animal was not in fact a species of wolf, nor was it a dog, which it also resembled. It was actually a marsupial — the largest carnivorous marsupial in recent times — and was closely related to the kangaroo and the wombat. It’s extinction is attributed solely to human activities.Caspian Tiger Caspian Tigers lived in China, Tajikistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey, being the westernmost subspecies of tiger. It’s believed that they became extinct in the late 1950s, though there have been several alleged sightings of the tiger. Being the third largest species of tiger ever to walk the face of the Earth, it still couldn’t resist the massive hunting parties which killed them for their fur.While planning a massive land reclamation program in the beginning of the 20th centurythe Russian governments worked heavily to eradicate the Caspian tiger. Having no roomfor the tiger in their plans, the Russian army was instructed to exterminate all tigers foundaround the area of the Caspian Sea, a project that was carried out very efficiently. Threecheers for the Russian government. The World’s Most Polluted Cities 39
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeThe World’s Most Polluted CitiesTime has shown, man isn’t really good at taking care of animals and habitats it coexistswith. Then again, what could one expect when we can’t even take care of ourselves.Some cities on our planet seem to be taken out of post-apocalyptic novels, and here arejust a few of them, rest assured, there are tens, if not hundreds of cities just as polluted.Linfen, ChinaPotentially Affected People: 3,000,000Source of Pollution: Automobile and industrial emissionsThe Shanxi Province in which Linfen is situated plays a crucial role in China’s huge andever growing coal industry, which amounts to two thirds of the nation’s energy. Buteverything comes at a price: inhabitants claim they literally choke with coal dust in theevenings. The extremely high quantities of pollution are taking a serious toll on the healthof Linfen’s inhabitants, especially the children. It’s at least conforting to hear, though,that Linfen plans to shut down 160 of 196 of its iron foundries and 57 of 153 of its coal The World’s Most Polluted Cities 40
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it Beforeproducing plants and replace them with cleaner more efficient plants; important wordshere: “plans to”.La Oroya, PeruPotentially Affected People: 35,000Source of Pollution: Heavy metal mining and processingThe problem with this mining city is easy to guess… People have been exposed to lead,copper, zinc, and sulfur dioxide for almost a century now. Ninety-nine percent of childrenliving in and around La Oroya have way more lead in their blood than acceptable. Sulfurdioxide concentrations also exceed the World Health Organization guidelines by a factorof ten and the vegetation has been destroyed by sulfuric acid rain. The World’s Most Polluted Cities 41
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeNorilsk, RussiaPotentially Affected People: 134,000Source of Pollution: Major nickel and related metals mining and processingInitially founded as a slave labor camp, this Siberian industrial city is the northernmostmajor city of Russia and the second largest city (after Murmansk) above the Arctic Circle.Here the snow is black, the air tastes like sulfur and the night landscape seems takenfrom one of Tolkien’s novels. The local population is severely affected by the air qualitywhere air samples exceed the maximum allowable concentrations for both copper andnickel. It also houses the world’s largest heavy metals smelting complex. The World’s Most Polluted Cities 42
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeDzerzhinsk, RussiaPotentially Affected People: 300,000Source of Pollution: Cold War-era chemical weapons manufacturingAs weird as it may seem, Norilsk is probably not the most polluted city in Russia. Untilthe end of the Cold War, Dzerzhinsk was among Russia’s principal production sites ofchemical weapons. Even today, it’s one of the most important chemical manufactureplaces in Russia. The city was also home to a leaded gasoline factory. About a quarterof the people there work in chemical factories. For men, the life expectancy there is 42,and for women 47. The World’s Most Polluted Cities 43
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeChernobyl, UkrainePotentially Affected People: Initially 5.5 million, now disputed numbers.Source of Pollution: Meltdown of reactor core in 1986Pictures are too shocking and words can’t express how much damage the meldownof that reactor core has caused. Undoubtedly the most polluted city in the world, thenuclear tragedy caused a huge number of deaths and millions of mutations and problemsfor people only in the surrounding areas. Even today, twenty years later, the 19-mileexclusion zone around the plant remains uninhabitable due to the meltdown that wasmore than 100 times more powerful than the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Someestimate that more than 100 tons of uranium and other radioactive products, such asplutonium, could be released if there is another accident. Chernobyl is also thought tocontain some 2,000 tons of combustible materials. The World’s Most Polluted Cities 44
    • www.zmescience.com Our Incredible World, Like You’ve Never Seen it BeforeThank you!Well I honestly hope you’ve liked it, folks! But hey, if you’ve made it this far, it probablywasn’t so bad, was it? But now you tell me, how was it, really? Did it leave you anydifferent than before reading it? Has it broadened your perspective, or did it make youfeel tiny? If it ignited your passion, spread the wings of your imagination, impressedyou, disgusted you, made you go ‘WOW!’, if it tore the walls of your perception, then,my friend, you have made me a happy man. This is not the best book in the world, itmost definitely has a lot of flaws, but if it moved you, than it served its purpose; and forthat, for letting us reach you, we would like to thank you, and we would like to ask yousomething: Don’t be a prisoner of yourself! This is our world, take a look and see whathappens in it; and guess what, it’s the same world we wake up, drink coffee and havebreakfast, the same world we go to school or work in - and what a world it is! Hopefully,we’ve shown you a small fraction of that, in all its splendour.If you’re a long time reader of ZME Science then you almost definitely know this, andif not, you’ve probably found out already: we make mistakes. We don’t intend to beperfect, because we know we can’t do it. We’re just a bunch of students, not nativeEnglish speakers, trying to do our best and make the world a better place, one post ata time; and we’re constantly trying to improve, every single day. For this we would like tothank you, because it’s you guys that do this. It’s you who support us, and ask for moreand more from us. Whether you like it or not, you guys play an important role in our lives,and hopefully, we can give everything back - tenfold.Here’s Andrei Emilian Mihai and Tiberius Puiu, thanking you, and hoping you’ll be withus for time to come !Oh, and by the way, if you like this, don’t like this, or if you have something to say, we’dbe thrilled to hear from you! Also, if you guys like it, you can bet there’s gonna be asequel! Thank you! 45