Friday, December 27, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Morbid Anatomy

morbid anatomy library drunken mouse
Nothing better than a drink and a good book

A weird museum in Brooklyn by the name of the Morbid Anatomy Museum is an interesting expension of the library that has the same name,which has been making artifacts, curiosities and books available to the public. Hosting events classes and other things about the wonderful world of morbidity and death showcased in the taxidermy in, let´s called it unusual,poses of animal carcasses. The Museum is a non-profit organization to showcase to the public the important area of death, featuring a large exhibition space and drawing from private collections of the things in private hands that are the most bizarre to be found and featured. You can also find a library to research on the premises and no museum would be complete without a gift shop.

morbid anatomy museum
Just a normal day in class

If you ever want to visit the museum is open on Saturdays between two and six in the afternoon.

The library makes available a collection of curiosities, books, photographs, artworks, ephemera, and artifacts relating to medical museums, anatomical art, collectors and collecting, cabinets of curiosity, the history of medicine, death and society, natural history, arcane media, and curiosity and curiosities broadly considered. The curation is done by experts who are not afraid to scour the darker spots for hidden treasure of everything morbid and bizarre.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Checkpoint Charlie

checkpoint charlie in 1961
Checkpoint Charlie in October 1961

Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most famous sights in Berlin and all of Germany. The original military equipment, sandbags, guard towers and anti tank barriers have long been replaced by replicas to keep the historical look and story of the place alive. It seems that the high amount of tourists visiting the place every year are not really bothered by the fakes.

The former military checkpoint and border between the Capitalist West and Communist East is probably the most famous border of the whole cold war and a symbolic representation of the iron curtain that descended upon Europe. Besides the Bridge of Glienick it is the most important checkpoint in terms of military importance and only one of three that was controlled by American soldiers.

Checkpoint Charlie today

The name Checkpoint Charlie comes from the the extended alphabet widely represented in military linguistics. Checkpoint “C” has the two companions in Helmstedt-Marienborn Checkpoint “A” Alpha and Dreilinden-Drewitz Checkpoint “B” Bravo.

Moreover the checkpoint was somewhat exclusive and could only be used by foreigners, foreign to either Germany, and government officials of both Germanies, which is mildly confusing to say the least.

The checkpoint was one of the most “frosty” of the cold war and gained its fame in October 1961. Then soviet and allied tanks were facing of on the streets stacked to the teeth with live ammunition. The place was also home to daring escapes mostly to the free West. Many of these refugees paid with their lives.

Today the historic place has been turned into a museum.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The Real Hogwarts

Fake characters posing in front of the real location.

Hogwarts, locally known as Alnwick Castle is the setting for all the outside shots of 8 of the 8 Harry Potter movies. Located in Northumberland, England near the border to Scotland the castle has a near 1000 year history of battles since the Norman invasion. Due to the lack of bloodthirsty battles in modern times the site has received a large influx of movie battles. Especially Quidditch battles fought here on camera. In addition to the Harry Potter scenes the castle has served as a backdrop to Black Adder, Robin Hood, Elizabeth and Dracula franchises. 

Outside shot of the real thing

If you re-watch the movies you can catch the outside movie scenes not only during the Quidditch games but also during the flying lessons with wizardry teacher Madame Hooch. That might not be enough for you so you can actually visit the castle grounds and participate in broomstick flying lessons and other courses related to the Harry Potter universe.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Pandamonium

Titled the "Giant Panda Adventure" Hong Kong´s Ocean Park features cuddly fuzzballs also known as Red Panda, Lesser Panda or Firefox the namesake and much cuter alternative to the internet browser.

At the park the enjoy Halloween...

Make the job of panda keeper one of the most sought after positions on the planet...

...and explore

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The Door of Hell

On fire for over 40 years you can visit this speck of land in the depths of the former Soviet Union in modern day Karakum desert, Turkmenistan. Over a hundred meters wide the hole burns near the quiet little village of Derweze whose building developers probably advertise with slogans as: "Tradition of cute campfires" and "Enjoy the smell of sulphur in the air"

The door is not a natural occurrence and has been caused by Soviet drilling efforts in 1971 when a drilling rig "accidentally" punched the huge hole into a natural gas cavern of massive dimensions. The rig is still somewhere in there as the collapse swallowed it whole. 

People responsible thought that the next best solution to drilling gas is lighting gas on fire and set the cavern ablaze. The burn was expected to last for only a few days but to this day is still in progress. Although it kind of set natural gas drilling efforts back it gave a boost to the tourism. The Door of Hell is now an international tourism attraction.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The real Temple of Doom

Not weird or bizarre at all. Also one of the hands is giving me the finger I think.

Not much is known on the mysterious internet computing cloud about the white temple. It rests in calm and tranquil Northern Thailand and is known as the Wat Rong Khun. Legend has it that a ghostly jinn resembling or posing as a human architect with the name of  Chalermchai Kositpipat came down from the heavens in 1997 and proclaimed the site of the temple to lack a terrifying feel of doom and religious imagery. The architect, who is a talented painter / artist by profession, and most likely not averse to the idea of mind altering drugs, designed the exterior and interior and provided the murals.

The inside of the temple. Here we see a historic scene of Gautama Buddha fighting of the Imperial Fleet and destroying the Space and Time Continuum while the Hubble space telescope takes photos. On the right we have the other members of the superfriends justice league who the Buddha commands. (At least that is what I see it is kind of a Rohrschach test)

What better religion than buddhism, known for nonviolence, love, respect and peaceful existence and eternal bliss, would have been better to inundate the disturbing halls of the temple with religious bliss.

The artist certainly has constructed  a timeless piece of art. Asked by the press about his stylistic artwork Chalermchai Kositpipat said: "I got complaints from everybody – from the Thai government, from monks and from other artists, saying that what I was doing was not Thai art."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Sigmund Freud had an awesome couch

Could you imagine a better place to contemplate the meaning of life and other deep thoughts? Do you want to become one with your inner self and urges and be one with the world? Well there is no better place than the couch of Sigmund Freud. 

The couch has actually had a rough life. Being born and raised in Bergasse, Vienna the homestead of the celebrated father of psychoanalysis the couch enjoyed a wonderful homelife. 

The couch had the imperative to enjoy such varied and famous patients as novelist Hilda Doolittle, who feared that a second World War was about to happen, which turned out to be a valid concern. The Rat Man, a young lawyer obsessed with rats and the Wolf Man Sergei Pankejeff, who had dreams about wolves in his childhood a manifestation of his depression.

The couch continued travelling to London with Freud and found its final resting place in the London home now turned museum. 

As a celebration of Freud´s 157th birthday the museum made a public call to fund restoring the upholstery for a mere £ 5000. The slogan for the couch still stands today: "possibly the most famous piece of furniture in the world"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The tallest statue in the world

Depicting the Vairocana Buddha originating from Brahman texts and representing the concept of emptiness in buddhism the statue rises in the province of  Lushan County, Henan, China. It was built in 2002 and stands 153 meters tall on a hill to increase the magnificence of its presence. 

The construction of the Buddha was sparked by an international event that echoed in media around the world and sparked a huge public outcry. The destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001 by the ruling Taliban. Condemnation of the mistreatment of the cultural heritage sites lead to the established of a new sight to enjoy for generations to come. 

Size comparison (Vairocana on the left)

The statue overseas the Foquan temple which was built during the chinese Tang dynasty, whose rulers dominated imperial China between 618 – 907 AD. Take something old and something new and create a heritage.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Underwater Savior

Located in the Mediterranean Sea off the sleepy Italian town of San Fruttuoso on the Italian Riviera. A submerged Christ of the Abyss stretches his arms skyward from the ocean floor in the bay. The sculpture was created by Guido Galletti after an idea of Italian diver Duilio Marcante. The statue was placed near the spot where the sea claimed its first scuba diving victim of Italy. It depicts Christ offering a blessing of peace, with his head and hands raised skyward.

The commemorative display was cast with metal molten from medals awarded to soldiers in the second World War. Ship parts of warships and submarines were included in the casting process. You could say that the artist transformed a commemoration of war into a message of peace.  

The statue is transformed by corrosion and sea creatures slowly reclaiming the ocean space for itself and enhancing the look of the art.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: I like big busts and I cannot lie

On the bank of the Tuul River, east of the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar a 40m tall statue of Genghis Khan on horseback rises on the steppes the ancestral grounds of the Mongolian horde. The statue is hollow in the center and visitors can make their way to the head of the horse through its chest and neck. From the very top of the horse tourists can enjoy a panoramic view. 

The main statue area will be surrounded by 200 Ger, yurt camps, designed and arranged like the pattern of the horse brand marks that were used by the 13th century Mongol tribes. The Ger camps are an integral part of the Mongolian society since the times of Genghis Khan and large living quarters of yurts still survive to this day in major towns of the area. Some of these are over 100 years old.

The piece of the world is still available on Geopieces and can be had just for a sign up.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The Communist Parliament of the Future / Past?

The future of architecture in the past. Sitting atop a mountain like an abandoned flying saucer, this giant structure looks like it was created on another planet. The House of the Bulgarian Communist Party was built in another era, however, one that long ago crumbled along with the way of life it embodied. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Bulgaria moved into a new age of parliamentary democracy.

People are staring in awe at the structure expecting aliens to emerge at any moment

The front of the building is emblazoned by the lyrics of the International anthem the unofficial hymn singing the praises of communism. The interior is circle shaped with a large central area and benches all around rising up like in a modern day stadium. The walls where decorated with intricate mosaics that did not survive the downfall of the iron curtain.

Just remember the glorious meetings of communist leaders here, who were occupied with playing their favourite game of "I´ll show you my nuclear warhead if you show me yours".

Friday, November 29, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Shinjuku Robot Restaurant

One of the more obscure and bizarre experiences for the seasoned traveller and on the top of the list of only in Japan experiences. Tokyo hasn't seen any attraction like this since the Bubble Era.

Picture a basement in Shinjuku's Kabukicho district, Tokyo. Every night of the year women wearing nothing more than bikinis stage mock battles for a live audience. The twist: enormous remote controlled robots are the combatants. The whole experience could come out of the mind of only the most abstract thinkers. Neon colours, mirrors and light show equipment and all kinds of robotic technology are fitted into the restaurant just to offer a dinner and a show to customers. The robot attraction was built at a cost of ¥ 10 billion or about € 73 million and a dinner plate runs a customer about € 40.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Geopieces of the Day: Meiji Period Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena

15 consecutive days, three times a year the arena bustles. The three grand tournaments held in January, May and September celebrate japanese Sumo wrestling in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan. The growing popularity of Sumo during the Meiji period led to the building of the original Kokugikan in Ryōgoku in 1909. Today's sumo stadium, the Kokugikan, is the fourth built in Tokyo and has been in use since 1985. It seats over 10,000 visitors.

A Grand Tournament at Tokyo's Kokugikan. Ringside tickets cost € 110, boxes cost between € 70 and       € 90 per person, and arena tickets will set you back between € 15 and € 60. If you did not have the chance to get your ticket in advance you can maybe still get one on the day of the tournament. You might want to show up at about 5-6 in the morning to have a chance. Price conscious people might want to watch a training bout but you have to be an early riser as the start at 6am and are mostly over by 8am.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Killer Robots in Seaside Park

Odaiba Seaside Park Gundam Robot statue

At Odaiba Seaside Park one can enjoy the man made beach at Tokyo's waterfront although swimming is not allowed. The venue draws visitors with the promise of romantic walks on the beach and leisure activities such as boardsailing and paddle boating but the area is definitely most famous for the giant statue of a Gundam robot. 

The 18 meter tall robot is a scale model of the title character of famous japanese anime Gundam. The statue was built by toy manufacturing conglomerate Bandai-Namco to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its anime. It is a perfect replica fully equipped with light beams that light up the sky at night and fog machines shooting out mist. 

So enjoy a nice picnic at the seaside in Odaiba park and go sightseeing under the watchful eyes of a giant robot.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Geopieces of the Day: Tokyo Big Sight

Tokyo Big Sight

This week we are looking at japanese entries on our world map and start of with Tokyo Big Sight, a nickname for the Tokyo International Exhibition Center. The building not only stands out for its architectural style but is also one of the main event locations in Japan for trade shows and events and is scheduled to host events like wrestling, fencing and taekwondo in the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Japanese culture is of course a little different from western ideas so many exhibitions are quite strange to mainstream audiences.

Comiket at Tokyo Big Sight

For example Comiket the world´s largest self published manga fair held twice a year. One of the many grassroot art and culture movements in Japan.

International Anime Fair at Big Sight Tokyo

Or the yearly International Anime Fair held at the Big Sight. The event is famous for giving out the Tokyo Anime Awards, prizes for creations in the field of animation, to both foreign and local artists.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The Eye of the Sahara

The Eye if the Sahara, also known as the Richat structure, is a geological wonder deep in the sahara desert. It has also been characterized as a geological bullseye and the exact origins and causes are not universally agreed upon. 

The shape, spanning 50 km from edge to edge features zones of different erosions and is to flat for a meteorite impact and could be an eroded volcanic dome. The layers have eroded away leaving a shape of a peeled onion with many different layers of stone. The layers range from Proterozoic in the center to Ordovician at the edges. The whole area therefore displays rock that could have formed up to 2.5 billion years ago to 400 million years ago. 

The structure shows all the specific characteristics of a maar, a low relief vulcano. Although today we only know of low volcanoes that are up to 8 km in size and usually they are filled with water, according to the origin of their name derived from the latin "sea". Maybe we are looking at the remains of a monster.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The highest Building in the World

As this picture from photographer Gerald Donovan proves the Burj Khalifa is really really high. Standing 828m tall it is the highest building in the world currently, until oil rich Dubai residents decide to increase their spending on first grade real estate again.

Some fun facts about the skyscraper:

  • In order to ensure a fresh water supply more than 100 km of pipes run through the building pumping nearly 1 million liters of water per day
  • The air conditioning uses air from the top of the building, which is cooler and cleaner than "ground" air. Due to the high humidity in Dubai´s climate the cooling system produces lots of condensing water that is collecting and used to irrigate the surrounding green areas.
  • Cleaning the whole tower takes 36 workers 3-4 months, although much of the window cleaning is actually automatized.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The deadliest Mountain in the World

Annapurna, a name that strikes terror into the heart of the most seasoned climbers under the high UV-intensive mountain sun.

Climbers attempted to scale Annapurna mountain range for fifty years before finally reaching its peak in 1950. It may only be the tenth highest of its kind in the world but it is still more than 8000m high and every seasoned professional trying to conquer the mountain has a 41 percent chance of never making it down to safety again.

Death Trap Peak

183 people have gone up but only 130 have survived to tell the tale. 53 people have died trying. This makes the mountain the most dangerous to climb in all the world. Other mountains have established base camps and tourism, like Mount Everest, where you can buy a complete training, oxygen for only a few hundred dollars a bottle and guides that push you up the mountain side. Annapurna is much more dangerous than that.

This is also reflected in the number of ascents of a meager 130 compared to more than 5000 ascents of Mount Everest who claims 4.3 fatalities for every 100 successful summits.

Most professional climbers hint that the south face of the moutain is the most dangerous route of all the 8000 mountains. The route contains big ice cliffs and seracs which are hard to climb and treacherous to evaluate.

Seracs of Annapurna

The seracs are huge columns of ice that form at glacier crevasses leaning in every direction. They are brittle and deadly as they may topple at any time even in the most stabilizing cold weather conditions. In order to get to the peak climbers must traverse this wasteland facing the danger of falls, collapses and entrapment. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The most expensive Residence in the World

This week we are looking at the biggest, tallest, most extraordinary things you can find on the world map. To kick things off let´s have a look at the most extraordinary house that was built by a private individual. Just for the purpose of calling it home.

Meet Indian entrepreneur Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman of Reliance Industry and stakeholder of more than 40% of India's natural gas and oil conglomerate. He has a personal wealth of more than 20 billion $ and is the richest man in India.

A person of such a stature of course desires a stately home that is representative of his power. That is why he built Antilia.


The record for most expensive house in the world was set in 2010, when the $1 billion, 37,161 square meter Mumbai home: Antilia, was finished. And at that price, it will likely hold the record for years.

The 27 floor skyscraper home is built for just the five people in the family and sits on a construction plot of more than 15.000 square meters. It is bigger than the Palace of Versailles. It employs more than 600 people just to keep the building and all its features up and running.


The highrise is equipped with a health spa, a salon, a ballroom, a 50-seat movie theatre and multiple swimming pools, yoga and dance studios and ice cream room. The most luxurious feature is a snow room that generates snowflakes 24/7 365 days a year to escape the tropical climate of India. In order to ensure transportation there is a car garage that expands over 6 floors of the building.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Trolltunga

Trolltunga the norwegian word for Troll's Tongue sticks out of a vertical mountain side of Skjeggedal above a large drop into the Hardanger Fjord. The tongue offers a beautiful view of the natural formations which resulted from the last ice age and the norwegian town of Odda.

The location is one of the lesser known nature formations in Norway and only draws a few thousands visitors every year. If you will you could call it an insider tip in the travel world of geological oddities. Another reason why it is not one of the busy travel places is the location. Climbing the Troll's Tongue is a hiking trip of four hours and although you don't  have to take rock climbing equipment you have to battle your fears. On a ledge that hovers about 700 m above the lake below visitors need to control their fear of heights. This is especially true because the area has no safety rails or spots for hooking climbing ropes in order not to disturb the peaceful nature of the place. Seasons also play a role in the ascent to the Tongue as it is only safe to make the trip in the summer months between June and September.

The cliff is part of the precambrian bedrock and was formed during the ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago, when the edges of the ice sheet reached down to northern Europe . The water from the glacier froze in the crevices of the mountain and eventually broke off large, angular blocks, which were later carried away with the glacier. Along the cliff itself deep cracks have formed. The 11 kilometer trip to Trolltunga also passes through the bedrock, and the clean washed slippery hillsides.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Neuschwanstein Castle

465 tonnes of Salzburg marble, 1,550 tonnes of sandstone, 400,000 bricks and 2,050 cubic metres of wood, 2 steam cranes and 300 artisans working day and night by the light of oil lamps. That is what it took to construct one of the most visited castles in the European Heartland.

Neuschwanstein Castle now

Built and paid for by Ludwig II of Bavaria the castle tried to revisit romantic architecture of the middle ages. The king was a lover of castles apparently as Neuschwanstein wasn't his only construction project. He was engaged in 2 more castle building projects, which never finished and indebted himself for more than 14 million Mark to achieve his goals. Ludwig was technically bankrupt and threatened suicide to stave off creditors from taking over his construction projects.

Panorama of the Castle

The King never saw the castle completed as he did before work was complete. His successor made the castle accessible to paying visitors to balance the debts and the royal house basically turned it into a cash cow tourist destination, which it still remains today. 

The setting of Neuschwanstein could not be more idyllic. However, movement in the foundation area has to be continuously monitored, and the sheer rock walls must be repeatedly secured. The harsh climate also has a detrimental effect on the limestone façades, which will have to be renovated section by section over the next few years.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Ghibli Town

In a quiet suburb of Tokyo, Japan there lies a park in which you can find a self declared museum of fine arts. The walk to the entrance reveals a lot of what is about to come.

How can I help you, Sir?

Guarding the entrance is big fluffy and kind Totoro one of many favourite characters from the japanese Ghibli animation studios that is better known in the western hemisphere for producing such classics as Princess Mononoke. The fine arts museum is all about the Ghibli experience and the greeting at the door beckons at things to come.

Inside you will be immersed in the story of characters from more than 18 animated feature films and countless short movies, commercials and television films. Let us take a look at some of the best exhibits.

The Catbus, one of the characters from the movie "My Neigbor Totoro", who greeted you at the main door is transformed into a giant plushy that can be climbed and explored. This will make you want to be a kid again.

Guarding the rooftop of the museum is a robot soldier from the movie "Laputa Castle in the Sky" who watches over the skygarden of the structure. One moment you are in the museum and the next you can experience a roof garden in one of the most densely populated areas of the planet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Elephanta Caves

Just 9 nautical miles across the sea from Mumbai, India are the ancient Elephanta caves. The green island is one of histories wonders due to the cave temples that have been cut into the rock in the seventh century. The temples are dedicated to Shiva and many of the artful rock panels reflect Shiva in the role of  creator, protector and destroyer.

The island of Elephanta houses seven caves and their decorated temples and the images from Hindu mythology, bear a unique testimony to a civilization that has disappeared. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly in the huge high reliefs in the main cave.

The date of the famous Elephanta Caves is still very much debated and varies from the 6th century to the 8th century according to different specialists. They constitute one of the most striking collections of rock-art in India. There are two groups of caves. To the east, Stupa Hill contains two caves, one of which is unfinished, and several cisterns. To the west, the larger group consists of five rock-cut Hindu shrines. The main cave is universally famous for its carvings to the glory of Shiva, who is exalted in various forms and act ions. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: French Market, New Orleans

3 centuries of history and 6 blocks of shopping open daily, that is the message the French Market in New Orleans lives by. It was founded in 1791 as a Native American trading post and remains the oldest market of its kind in the United States of America. 

The French Market then

The market´s oldest structures that are still used today were established in 1813 at a time the area was the only one in New Orleans that was allowed to sell meat giving it the name of "Meat Market". Only after this privilege was revoked it started to use the name French Market and turned into a major tourist attraction over time. Today more than five million visitors and tourist from all over the world dive into the French Market experience every year.

The French Market now

Over time the traditional market area was expanded and renovated to include cafes and restaurants serving creole food typical for the region and individual areas specialized to become a farmers market offering fresh produce and a flea market trading in all kinds of bargains.

Artists display their achievements in the area and specialty shops have sprung up that celebrate the rich past of the area. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The Iron Pillar

Standing at the center of the Quwwatul Mosque the Iron Pillar is one of Delhi's most curious structures. Dating back to 4th century A.D., the pillar bears an inscription which states that it was erected as a flagstaff in honour of the Hindu god, Vishnu, and in the memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta II, whose reign extended into the 4th century A.D. How the pillar moved to its present location is not recorded in history. The most amazing part of the pillar´s story highlights ancient India's achievements in metallurgy. The pillar is made of 98 per cent wrought iron and has stood 1,600 years without heavy rust building up on the structure or decomposing.

The Iron Pillar

The Delhi Iron Pillar is a classical example of massive production of high class iron and is the biggest hand-forged block of iron from antiquity. It is made from wrought iron, which is a process of joining or folding two pieces of metal by heating them to a high temperature. The iron that was used also has a very low content of carbon which was unusual for the time. 

The Pillar stands at 7.3 metres tall, with one metre below the ground; the diameter is 48 centimetres at the foot, tapering to 29 cm at the top, just below the base of the wonderfully crafted capital; it weighs approximately 6.5 tonnes. Do not forget that it is only one piece of iron, folded and welded together to create the massive structure.

It is a demonstration of the high degree of accomplishment in the art of iron making by ancient Indian iron and steel makers. It has been said that the Indians were the only non-European people who manufactured heavy forged pieces of iron and the pieces were of the size that the European smiths did not learn to make more than one thousand years later. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Ancient city of Pompeii

In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted and took the city of Pompeii with it. The tragedy remains in people´s minds not only because of the magma that conserved buildings, people and items of everyday use but also because roman writer Pliny witnessed the catastrophe from nearby Misenum.

Remains in Pompeii

Pliny described the tragedy a few years later in a letter to his friend Cornelius Tacitus:

"My uncle was stationed at Misenum, in active command of the fleet. On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had been out in the sun, had taken a cold bath, and lunched while lying down, and was then working at his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to a place which would give him the best view of the phenomenon. It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. In places it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it.

Ruins of the city with the perpetrator Mount Vesuvius in the Background

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: Christiana - Free state and drug traffic center of Kopenhagen

Some people cut a hole in a fence, took over an empty space and founded their own free state in the midst of Copenhagen.

Why? Drugs of course.

Unofficial Flag Art of Christiania

Established in 1971 in an area formerly occupied by an army base Christiania is a self proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood covering 34 hectares of land and containing about 850 official residents.
The legal status of the area is to this day dubious. The supervision of the community has been transferred from the town of Copenhagen to the country of Denmark. A normalization of the area and a clear rule of law have never been achieved.

The whole area is basically a large social experiments that would drive anthropologist to foam from their mouths if they were told that they got a license for social studies in the community.

Christiania Breakfast Foods

The community of Christiana is made up by entrepreneurs who trade in soft drugs like cannabis, ex-hard drug users and everyone who does not agree with the normal runnings of society. This has helped to spread free thinking people, popular theater groups, yoga classes and meditation circles. 

Sometimes the police try to crack down on it, sometimes they do not. It mostly depends whether Christiania is currently seen as a nuisance or a major tourist attraction.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Geopiece of the Day: The 5 coolest exhibits from the National Air and Space Museum

17,000 space artifacts, more than 3,000 individual pieces from the historic Apollo moon landing program, containing a multitude of items that have been in space and on our calmly orbiting neigbor, the moon. That is the National Air and Space museum. Let us have a look at the best exhibits it has to offer

1.  The Wright Flyer

12 horsepower, a maximum flying altitude of a few meters and a record flight of 59 seconds covering a distance of 250 meters, that is progress.

I like this museum. Lots of cool planes
- That guy from yelp

2. Space Suits for Kids

All ages of spaceflight and all materials are represented in the space suit collection of the museum. The best part is of course the infant version, an early advance in technology to make sure that mom and dad could take their kids when booking a holiday on the moon.

Space suits. You know, for kids!

3. Tiger Air Insignia

Inspiring a Kellogg´s brand of corn flakes that helped millions of kids to develop cute early onset diabetes, the Tony the Tiger air insignia of the 14th Air Force, United States Army Air Forces is on display in the National Air and Space Museum. It features a derpy looking tiger with wings and a stylized japanese imperial flag, somebody probably got reamed for the design. 

Tony the Tiger gives you wings 

4. Felix the cat blowing up your enemies

United States Navy fighting Squad Number 6 definitely had the best designer. Nothing could strike more fear into the hearts of your enemies than Felix the Cat and his ACME like bomb supply. 

Feel the terror of his large eyed gaze

5. Dr. James B. Edson´s lunchbox kit of awesomeness

Not only does this lunchbox kit come from the former belongings of a NASA scientist, he also was involved in "Lunch Talks" at the museum educating others how NASA made cool large fiery rockets that penetrated space, time and our imaginations. One day he thought his lunchbox was to badass not to be seen by everybody and donated it to the museum.

Feel the rocket powered coffee penetrate your taste buds

The only thing missing from the museum and our list:

You know it to be true!