Showing posts from January, 2010

Book Review: The World Without Us

Another great read called The World Without Us , this time on a best seller by Alan Weisman. This is a book that hypothesizes what would happen to Earth if mankind disappears overnight. It does not attempt to explain why and how humans can suddenly vanish.  Instead it tries to portray how cities and other man-made artifacts will collapse, in addition to how other lifeforms will adapt.  To illustrate its points, this piece utilizes vivid examples like the crumbling of New York City -- think Will Smith racing the red Camaro through a run-down and overgrown Times Square in  I Am Legend .  This publication has also inspired various TV series like  Life After People  on the History Channel.   Here are some interesting points: 1.    Our houses, built of the usual suspects (wood, clay, bricks), will fall easily to nature.  Their biggest enemy is water that seeps through the smallest cracks, thaws and freezes over time.  Although most roofs are waterproof, water can always find a way to rus

Battle at Kruger

Here is an amazing footage taken by a tourist a few years ago at Kruger National Park in South Africa. A lion pride startled a buffalo herd, attacked and grabbed a calf near shore, only to be surprised by a sneaky crocodile. A tug of war then ensued and the lions claimed victory over the croc. However, the victors soon found themselves losers as the buffalo herd returned, fought off the lions and rescued the calf!  A whole show was produced by Nat Geo Wild based on this short film!  Here are some key points from the experts in the show: 1. Had the leading buffalo stood its ground, the lions might not have charged because the buffalo had numbers.  By turning and running, the herd immediately became prey. 2. The lions were well positioned nonetheless and attacked from three angles. 3. The lions tried to kill the calf by suffocating it. One lion bit its trachea, another its nostrils, but they did not get the job done. 4. The 600-pound croc battled against four 300-pound lions.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Happy New Year! This is my first post in 2010, after a brief hiatus celebrating year end festivities. Apart from watching the magnificent NYE fireworks in Sydney, I managed to do some sightseeing in Canberra and stumbled into the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC). This place was a godsend as I have always had a deep obsession in astronomy. The CDSCC is part of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) and only one of three facilities around the world. The other two are in Goldstone, California and Madrid, Spain. There are four giant radio antennas in this complex.  Each are referred to by a "Deep Space Station" or DSS number. These "dishes" are enormous. The largest one, DSS-43, is 70m in diameter, and is a whopping 23 stories tall when standing on one end. It is the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Owing to high security, i.e. fences,  I could not get a close-up shot to do its monstrous size justice. Operating 24/7, the antennas provid