Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Excavating a "Solar Boat"

Photograph by Khalil Hamra, AP

For the first time in centuries, a multi-ton limestone slab—one of dozens—floats free of the "tomb" of a 4,500-year-old, disassembled "solar boat" at the foot of the Great Pyramids in Giza (map), Egypt, on Thursday.

Below are hundreds of delicate wooden "puzzle pieces," protected by the climate-controlled tent built over the site in 2008.

Once the months-long process of extracting the pieces is finished, researchers expect to spend several years restoring the ship before placing it on display in Giza's Solar Boat Museum near the Pyramids. A similar ship found nearby has already been reconstructed and is on display in the museum. At about 140 feet (43 meters) long, the restored ship is thought to be a bit bigger than its still fragmented sister.

Solar boats played an important role in story of the afterlife in ancient Egyptian mythology. Each night the sun god Ra—in the form of the evening sun, Ra-Atum—was thought to sail through the afterlife in one boat to battle gods and beasts until he rose as the morning sun, Ra-Horakhty, and sailed his day boat across the sky.

Buried near the Great Pyramid, the buried sister boats were likely intended to assist Pharaoh Khufu on similar journeys during the afterlife.


Earthlings (film)

EARTHLINGS is a 2005 movie about mankind's use of nonhuman animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and for scientific research. The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix and features music by Moby, both of whom are practicing vegans. It was directed by Shaun Monson, and co-produced by Maggie Q, who are also vegan.

Covering pet stores, puppy mills and animal shelters, as well as factory farms, the leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment industries, and finally the medical and scientific profession, EARTHLINGS includes footage obtained through the use of hidden cameras to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely on animals. It draws parallels between racism, sexism, and speciesism, and advocates veganism.


Pohon Tertinggi di Dunia (Hyperion)

Rekor pohon tertinggi dunia yang semula dipegang sebuah pohon redwood yang dinamai Stratosphere Giant, ternyata telah dipatahkan. Ilmuwan menemukan tiga pohon di sebuah hutan di California bagian utara yang lebih tinggi daripada pohon itu.

Pejabat kehutanan Amerika Serikat Rick Nolan menyatakan, para ilmuwan itu menemukan tanpa sengaja. Ketika tengah mengikuti jalan setapak di hutan lebat dekat Eureka, California pada musim panas, mereka menemukan ketiga pohon redwood pantai yang lebih tinggi daripada Stratosphere Giant setinggi 113 meter.

Pengawas Taman Nasional Redwood itu mengatakan pohon tertinggi dari tiga pohon itu mencapai 115,2 meter, dan dinamai Hyperion. Namun pengukuran tambahan akan dilakukan untuk mengkonfirmasi rekor baru itu, sebelum menyatakan Hyperion sebagai pohon tertinggi.

“Ada dugaan kuat bahwa tiga pohon ini lebih besar daripada pohon yang tumbuh di ekosistem redwood pantai," kata Nolan. “Mereka akan jadi pohon hidup tertinggi.”

Tebalnya kanopi hutan redwood California menghalangi pandangan para ilmuwan yang ingin mengukur ketinggian pohon. Selain harus berjuang menyusuri hutan yang amat lebat itu, para ilmuwan terpaksa harus memanjat ketiga pohon untuk menjatuhkan tali pengukur ke dasar hutan untuk memperoleh angka akurat.

“Mustahil bagi seseorang di permukaan tanah untuk memilih mana yang lebih tinggi dari ketiganya,” kata Ruskin Hartley, direktur konservasi Save-the-Redwoods League.




Monday, June 27, 2011

Poverty in the Shadow of Plenty

Photograph by Amanda Rivkin

With a bowl beside her, a child beggar sleeps on the street at midday on the main thoroughfare of Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, Georgia. Although the government of Georgia receives about $65 million in annual transit fees due to the BTC oil pipeline route across its territory, the nation has no mineral wealth of its own to exploit.

Thirty percent of Georgians live in poverty and the unemployment rate is 16 percent.