Rare wonders of nature

I don’t usually pass these on but it just shows you what an amazing world we live in.

I just got sent an email with the following information about various strange wonders of nature via my brother – if you know who the original source is, let me know in the comments and I’ll update with correct credit. You can click on each of the titles to read up more on Wikipedia.

The classical natural wonders are huge and hard to miss – vast canyons, giant mountains and the like. Many of the most fantastic natural phenomena, however, are also least easy to spot. Some are incredibly rare while others are located in hard-to-reach parts of the planet. From moving rocks to mammatus clouds and red tides to fire rainbows, here are seven of the most spectacular phenomenal wonders of the natural world.

1) Sailing Stones

nature-sailingstones

The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a centre of scientific controversy for decades. Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements. However, this theory does not explain evidence of different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions. Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones.

2) Columnar Basalt

nature-columnar-basalt

When a thick lava flow cools it contracts vertically but cracks perpendicular to its directional flow with remarkable geometric regularity – in most cases forming a regular grid of remarkable hexagonal extrusions that almost appear to be made by man. One of the most famous such examples is the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Ireland (shown above) though the largest and most widely recognized would be Devil’s Tower in Wyoming . Basalt also forms different but equally fascinating ways when eruptions are exposed to air or water.

3) Blue Holes

nature-blue-holes

Blue holes are giant and sudden drops in underwater elevation that get their name from the dark and foreboding blue tone they exhibit when viewed from above in relationship to surrounding waters. They can be hundreds of feet deep and while divers are able to explore some of them they are largely devoid of oxygen that would support sea life due to poor water circulation – leaving them eerily empty. Some blue holes, however, contain ancient fossil remains that have been discovered, preserved in their depths.

4) Red Tides

nature-red-tides

Red tides are also known as algal blooms – sudden influxes of massive amounts of coloured single-cell algae that can convert entire areas of an ocean or beach into a blood red colour. While some of these can be relatively harmless, others can be harbingers of deadly toxins that cause the deaths of fish, birds and marine mammals. In some cases, even humans have been harmed by red tides though no human exposure are known to have been fatal. While they can be fatal, the constituent phytoplankton in ride tides are not harmful in small numbers.

5) Ice Circles

nature-ice-circles

While many see these apparently perfect ice circles as worthy of conspiracy theorizing, scientists generally accept that they are formed by eddies in the water that spin a sizable piece of ice in a circular motion. As a result of this rotation, other pieces of ice and flotsam wear relatively evenly at the edges of the ice until it slowly forms into an essentially ideal circle. Ice circles have been seen with diameters of over 500 feet and can also at times be found in clusters and groups at different sizes as shown above.

6) Mammatus Clouds

nature-mammatus-clouds

True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system. Typically composed primarily of ice, they can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction and individual formations can remain visibly static for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. While they may appear foreboding they are merely the messengers – appearing around, before or even after severe weather.

7) Fire Rainbows

nature-fire-rainbows

A circumhorizontal arc (also popularly called fire rainbow) is a rare optical phenomenon. In order to be observed, the sun must be very high in the sky, at an elevation of 57.8° (90 -32.2°) or more, and can only occur in the presence of cirrus clouds.

Cars: Green doesn't always mean better

A little while back I shared with you a really impressive television advert for Honda’s new Hybrid vehicle, the Insight.

Jeremy Clarkson, from the popular car review series Top Gear, got to take it for a spin and in true Clarkson style, gave his view. Brace yourselves. 

It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more. – Jeremy Clarkson on the Honda Insight

You can read his full review here. [via Utter Insanity]

Butterfly Effect 2

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So I rambled on yesterday (well early this morning) after watching The Butterfly Effect movie. I was keen to see another movie along the same lines and wanted to watch the sequel, although not a sequel to the first movie’s plot but another story also referencing the butterfly effect.

Well, I should have taken note of the two warning signs. One being it was a sequel, and two it only getting a 4 out of 10 star rating by viewers on IMDB.

What a dissapointment! The plot was very thin, the characters didn’t really have much depth to them, they tried reusing a similar plot ending like the first movie but failed dismally. And they also seemed to try and sensationalise it even more by adding numerous soft-porn like scenes. You’d be better off watching late-night TV on a local channel on a Saturday night after midnight. 

So if you’ve seen neither, take my advice – only watch the first – the second will just spoil it for you. And if you enjoy things like chaos theories and the butterfy effect, then make sure you don’t miss the TV series called Fringe – it’s well worth it.

Butterfly Effect

butterfly-effect-cover

It has been said that something as small as a flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. – Chaos Theory 

That’s the opening quote in the movie we watched this evening called The Butterfly Effect, starring Amy Smart and Ashton Kutcher. Yes, I know, it’s been out for almost 5 years but remember we have kids so not always easy to go out to the movies you know.

Anyway, the movie is about a guy who, while growing up, has a number of spells where he completely blacks out and doesn’t know what happened for certain periods of times. As a potential aid for him, doctors recommend that he keep a journal so that he could refer to certain portions later should he have another blackout spell and could not remember something. Later on he’s in college and finds out that if he reads certain sections of his journal, that ocurred just prior to a blackout, he could travel back in time to that very moment. I won’t spoil it by giving away much more and the ending but needless to say it strikes a chord!

It then got me thinking – you know, we always ask one another and talk about the what ifs. Like, what if you could go back in time, would you do things differently? Would you change something? And the follow-on question to that would be, if you knew that by going back in time changing one thing could adversely affect another, would you still knowingly do it?

After watching the first film, we’re keen to watch the The Butterfly Effect 2 which came out in 2006. It’s not a sequel to the story or characters but follows the same theory around the butterfly effect.

The Fine Brothers

So, these two jews walk into a bar…

Benny and Rafi Fine are two brothers who seems to be taking the online world by storm with their witty comedies and parodies of movies and TV-Series. I don’t know what planet I’ve been on because I hadn’t heard of them until today – thanks S! [via Wired]

You’ve seen at least some of the TV Series, Lost, right? And everyone knows about Star Trek – check out this great parody skit with action-figure characters from Lost, Star Trek and a few cameo roles thrown in the mix – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8irt6oj2HA

You can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them through their blog. I’m going to keep an eye on these guys.

Real-time News

Isn’t the power of the internet, coupled with blogging and micro-blogging amazing?

I was at home this morning when I heard on the news about a fire in Cape Town that had gutted a backpackers lodge (just around the corner from our office building). 

At the same time I was checking my RSS feeds, reading email and I saw a new tweet from a mate of mine about the fire with a photo and a post on his blog about it.

A quick search of my local news feeds and Twitter and no one else had picked up on this yet. Only after I got to the office, and took a few pictures myself, did the other news agencies pick up on it.

Does it mean journoulists should be worried about their jobs – nope – but I do think they should be keeping their ears and eyes open to other bloggers and micro-bloggers. After all this isn’t the first time news stories have broken out on the Internet even before news agencies and journalists have picked up on it.

Loop Street backpackers fire in Cape Town

Taken from my office window this morning.

 

VOTD: Julia Dales – Beatboxer

My brother just sent me a link of this 17-year old girl, Julia Dales, from Canada, beatboxing. Now I’ve seen some impressive beatboxing, even beat-boxing while playing the flute – but this girl’s got talent! Check it out. In fact, she won the Online Beatboxing Championship this year! You can see the other runners up videos here.

Here she is performing at a talent show – girlz got skillz!

Tilt-Shift AIR Application

TiltShiftGeneratorToolbarEarlier this year I posted about the Tilt-Shift Maker website which allowed you to create your own tilt-shift photographs online.

Adam, from Lifehacker, has just reviewed another website with an Adobe AIR application you can use online or (like I did) download it to your machine and create your own tilt-shift photographs offline. 

It’s a powerful yet simple application with an intuitive interface that allows you to quickly create those tilt-shifted photographs without needing to spend thousands of dollars on a real tilt-shift lense for your camera.

Simply click the Open button and load one of your favourite photographs, click the point on the photograph you wish to focus on (a crosshair will appear on the photo) and adjust the settings accordingly and you’ll see the adjustments in realtime. When you’re don’e simply click the Save button to save your tilt-shifted photograph. [via Lifehacker]

It's official

I can now finally blog about what I alluded to last week. There’s been some water-cooler talk at work for some time now over the concern for lack of current work and new work, which just isn’t coming in as quickly as everyone had hoped. We were asked to put forward ideas for additional cost-cutting measures but it seems the unavoidable has to happen, some staff need to be retrenched. 

In an effort to be fair to all staff the company has decided to invoke the last in, first out policy. So the last 4 full-time employees who have joined the company are being offered retrenchment packages. 

We were told of the likelihood of retrenchment last week but I knew, in all fairness, there weren’t any other practical, feasible and unanimously acceptable ways that this cost-saving could be achieved without retrenchment.

And so, I am one of the fantastic four to be retrenched. It’s been a bit of a weight lifted off my shoulders (I did not sleep well at all last week after the news – after all I have a family and a mortgage to worry about) now that this process has actually been finalised and I can actively focus on moving on. At the same time I’m so ticked off with the fact that I’ve spent the last 9 months proving myself to the company, and now I have to do it all over again, someplace new. I’ve been involved in commercial software development for over 11 years now, I think I’m getting a little old for this now.

Anyway, the company is actually being very helpful in respect of the retrenchment process and are being very accommodating to those being retrenched with regard to use of resources, time off for finding new work and even speaking to their preferred partners to assist us in finding new employment. Something which the company can pride itself in, as that’s something hard to find out there. It’s important to note that this is not the company’s only positive points – they have many, including the people I’ve had the privilege to work with. They’ve done a lot for us and this was really their last resort – so, no harbouring grudges from me. 

I’m really going to miss working here and with the people but I guess it’s just my time to turn to a new chapter. Let’s hope the next one’s longer than this one has been!