Friday, September 30, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan with Brooklyn, New York's most populous borough. It is considered as one of the city's most magnificent landmarks. The construction of the bridge commenced in 1869 and was completed in 1883. John Roebling was behind this massive project, a German immigrant who had worked for the Prussian government as a bridge and road builder. He came up with the idea of building a bridge across the East River after he had taken a ferry across the river that ended up stuck in the ice. 
However he did not get to see the bridge he had designed, since he died after crushing his foot in an accident. Another 20 people died during the construction of Brooklyn Bridge. The day it was inaugurated, May 24th 1883, nearly 150.000 people crossed the bridge. 

This bridge not only seemed strong, it also turned out to be just as strong. However many New Yorkers were not convinced the bridge was safe. So as to prove the doubters wrong, P.T. Barnum led a caravan of circus animals, including a herd of 21 elephants, across the bridge in 1884. Brooklyn Bridge ranks as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and remains one of New York's most popular and well known landmarks. 

It stretches for a length of about 1.8 km. The length between the large towers is 486 meters, making it the world's largest suspension bridge. The most noticeable feature of Brooklyn Bridge are the two masonry towers to which the many cables are attached. The bridge officially became a national monument in 1964. 

The bridge has an elevated pedestrian footpath, which not only gives the visitor the opportunity to cross the river without interfering with the traffic that rushes past a level below, but it also offers a great view of the bridges towers as well as downtown Manhattan's skyline. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jordan's new Star Trek theme park

Jordan will soon have its huge new Star Trek-themed attraction, after funding worth $1.5bn was secured for the whole project. The ambitious 184 acre site will be called the Red Sea Astrarium and will be located in the coastal town of Aqaba. It will feature four hotels and Star Trek-themed attractions, including a state of the art space flight adventure simulator ride.

In the park the visitor will be able to see attractions which will feature Jordan's Nabatean, Babylonia, Roman and British influences, along with theatrical productions, night time shows, restaurants and shops. The park is a project introduced by King Abdullah of Jordan, who is a massive Star Trek fan, having featured as an extra in an episode of the television show Star Trek: Voyager. 
Construction on the park is expected to begin in March 2012 and the opening is scheduled for 2014. So if anyone wishes to visit the Middle-Eastern country, probably wait 3 years in order to visit this unique park.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trinity Church

At the very top of Wall Street, where it meets Broadway, anyone can easily spot Trinity Church, a serene survivor of early New York.

The congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church is one of the oldest in the USA, having been established in 1697 under charter by King William III. At that time, the crown granted them a prime piece of real estate at the current location, where a church building has stood ever since. 

The current Trinity Church is the third building to stand at that location, being designed by American Institute of Architects co-founder William Upjohn and was consecrated on Ascension Day in 1846. Upjohn was known as a leader of the American Gothic Revival movement. 

His magnificent design made Trinity Church one of the first and finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. 

Upjohn's designs were of "high church" style, much different than many of the simple Protestant churches being erected in and around the city. It was considered "too flashy". However Upjohn had a different view, giving us the rich characteristics the church has to this day. The remainder of the interior conforms to the rubrics of traditional Gothic architecture as well. The church's spire soars to a height of 86 metres and for many years it was the highest point in the city.

Trinity Church graveyard contains some of the oldest graves in the city, including that of Alexander Hamilton, the US's first Secretary of the Treasury, who owned a house at 33 Wall Street and was killed in a duel with Aaron Burt. A small museum offers a look at the original charter, among other historic artefacts.

The gates of this historic church have served as an impromptu memorial to the victims of 9/11, with countless tokens of remembrance left by both locals and visitors alike.    

Many probably viewed Trinity Church play an important role in the film National Treasure, starring Nicholas Cage, where it stood over the allegedly largest treasure in the world.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alexander the Great first searched for oil!

Oil spills have been evident in various countries of the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and the Far East since the ancient times. According to the writings of Herodotus and other authors such as Plutarch, Pliny the Elder and Marcus Vitruvius, oil spills have occurred in various parts of India, Persia, Syria, Mediterranean islands, Malaysia, China and many more. 
Ancient Greek writers who described the campaign of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC state the existence of oil sources in the southern shores of the Caspian Sea and the River Ochus. This was clear when Alexander took his army there. During the night there were various sources of light around the area were the Greek army was camped, which were lit with a bright yellow light. Alexander was intrigued by this phenomenon and examined it to see how it works. He found that a yellow liquid was used that flowed through a tube which produced the bright light. 

The natives called this light Chirak and the fluid was known as Naphatha, which means the liquid leaking from the ground. The fluid came out from a specific source near the west coast of the Caspian Sea, today Azerbaijan. 
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician and philosopher (who is regarded as the father and founder of medical science), described the use of oil as an active ingredient in many drug prescriptions. 
In the writings of other ancient Greek writers, sources of oil in Sicily were evident, explaining how they believed it was a Sicilian oil which was used for lighting lamps, as roughly explained in Alexander's case near the Caspian Sea. From these examples and other references recorded in ancient documents, it is apparent that oil was known as a liquid fluid long before the modern epoch. The extraction of petrol was achieved with primitive methods in the ancient era. They usually manufactured pits, drilling until the point where the oil was in a liquid form.  
Pliny the Elder describes how the Romans were attacked by improvised devices during the siege of Lucullus which caused a fire whilst being covered with oil. Other historical records indicate that Persians and Greeks used incendiary arrows by steeping them in a mixture of oil and sulfur. Julius Africanus, an author from th 3rd century BC, describes an inflammable mixture of ingredients containing oil and a rock debris. Even Jenkins Khan used it in the 12th-13th centuries flammable arrows. According to Masudi, an Arab author, geographer and traveller from Baku, explains how his city produced oil in the 10th century that was used locally and nationally, transferring it in leather bags.  
Hence, it is quite axiomatic to point that even during the ancient and medieval periods many nations used oil in various ways, which we even use today!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recycling toilet

The Agency Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated nearly $42 million to build toilets that convert human waste into energy. This pioneering idea was designed in order to help areas of the world where there is no sewage system. 

Dr. Andrew Coton's team, from the University of Loughborough, already manufactures a toilet that can produce charcoal, salt and fresh water from human feces. On the other hand Dr. George Stephanides from the University of Delft has built a toilet which converts human bodily functions into electricity. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Virtual Supermarket

An international supermarket giant has introduced virtual goods to subway commuters in South Korea, eliminating the need for a physical store. Supermarket chain Home Plus has plastered a subway station with facsimiles of groceries, labelled with a unique code for each product. The commuters can pass by on their way to work, they can use a mobile phone app to take pictures of the products they want, then check out. The groceries are automatically delivered to their doorstep by the end of the work day. 

This virtual grocery store has been a massive hit, reporting a 130 percent increase in on-line sales. However this experiment is just one of the increasingly innovative ways mobile devices are being used in retail. Smartphones are clearly a new horizon where special offers will be advertised, as is the case in the United States. Whether or not virtual markets catch on, some experts believe radical changes in shopping are right around the corner.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

WW II Sea Forts

The WW II sea forts here were designed by Guy Maunsell, from whom they received their name, and were settled in their current location in 1942, at Thames estuary in an effort by the British to reduce German Bombers in the east coast of England. Maunsell designed two types of forts, one navy and one for the army. 

The strongholds of the Navy consisted of seven individual towers, five of which had anti-aircraft weapons, headlamps illuminating the night sky and a control tower. 
Each tower was mounted on massive concrete columns, which were used as foundations. The columns were assembled on land and transported to the desired spot. 
According to historical accounts the forts shot down dozens of bombers until the end of the war. They were eventually decommissioned in the 1950's and since then have been used occasionally for many other purposes, such as various marine research in the area or even as a basis for 'pirate' radio stations. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Confession App

An application for the iPhone that guides the faithful in the sacrament of confession was released with the blessings of the Catholic Church in the USA. This app does not distribute digital indulgences, but offers an individual examination of conscience of every user. It includes lists of sins and improprieties in order for the user to have a clear conscience. This application encourages the faithful to admit their mistakes, as defined by their religion, and eventually record them. It also urges them to examine their conscience, based on personal factors such as age, sex and marital status. 

The small company Little iApps that developed the plan states that it worked with Catholic priests and ultimately secured the blessing of Bishop Kevin Rhoades, head of the Diocese of Fort Wayne in Indiana. This is clearly an answer to what the Pope stated in his speech on January 24th, which acknowledged that the Catholic Church can not be absent from the digital world. This is a very interesting way of bringing people to confession. All of this can be achieved with a small price of $1.99. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A 10 month drawing

The majority of paintings and drawings take a long time to be completed. However American artist Joe Fenton truly took his time, by taking 10 months to complete one drawing, named Solitude. 

The artist used a mechanical pencil (0.5 mm). He worked daily for 10 hours in order to complete his work. The interesting fact is that he drew each component separately and then joined them as a puzzle to form the final result.

What is easily evident is the religious factor, despite Joe Fenton not being s religious person.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Empire State Building

One of the most known and recognizable buildings in the world, the Empire State Building, is probably the most famous building in the Big Apple. Featuring in countless films, it is of course known for its iconic role in the classic King Kong. Although not being currently the tallest building in the world, it still receives more than 2 million visitors a year. It was considered as the eighth wonder of the world during its construction. The building has 73 elevators and is 381 meters high. It was constructed in just 410 days. 

The Empire State Building is built on a full city block, on 5th Avenue. Construction commenced on March 17, 1930 and the building rose at an average of about four and a half floors a week, faster than any other skyscraper at the first half of the 20th century. The building was officially inaugurated on May 1 1931, in the presence of governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was designed by William Frederick Lamb, coming up with a fairly simple design, defined by requirements such as the budget, time limit and New York City's 1916 zoning law. 

What makes the design great and unique is that for all its simplicity and sheer bulk it has a perfect composition and massing, giving the building a certain grandeur. On the top of the Empire State Building an enormous spire can easily be identified. It was to be used as an anchor so that Zeppelins would be able to embark and disembark passengers. However this idea was not deemed practical , especially after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. 

The Empire State was one of the last skyscrapers to be completed before the Great Depression in NYC.  As a consequence it held its title of the world's tallest building for more than 40 years. However the Great Depression caused a collapse in the demand for office space.

The owners had such a difficult time leasing office space that the building became known as the 'Empty State Building', according to an article from the New York Times. Nevertheless in the 1950s it became the most profitable building in New York City. Every visitor can go up to the 86th floor where the observatory is located. It is the perfect spot to have a 360 degrees view of the city, seeing the financial district downtown, the midtown skyscrapers, most of the bridges connecting Manhattan to the mainland, and the rivers surrounding the island of Manhattan. Nonetheless the best view of the Empire State Building can be found from the Rockefeller Centre. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Siko Horepse Koukli mou/ Kalenin bedenleri Japanese version!

This song is one of the most well known in Greece and Turkey. However here we see the Japanese version of the song, which for many I am sure will seem very funny! Enjoy!

The biggest puzzle in the world

The biggest puzzle in the world is truly huge, its dimensions being 5.4 x 1.92metres. It Consists of 32.256 pieces. The theme is inspired by the world of animation, whilst weighing 17 kilos. 

It can be found in the shops, the only things one needs are 200 euros (about £160), a large room and a lot of patience. This puzzle has entered the Guinness Book of Records and is even sold with a cart in order to transport it from A to B. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Times Square

The centre of New York is one of the 'brightest places' in the world, even during the night hours. Times Square is a major intersection in N.Y.C. and is known as "The Crossroads of the World". It is located at Broadway and Seventh Avenue and extends from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Like city squares in many other major cities around the world, Times Square has become an illustrious landmark and a symbol of New York City. 

Times Square, named for the New York Times offices, has a history as lively as its street life. Theatres, hotels and restaurants sprang up in the 1920s. At the end of W.W. II more than 2 million people crowded into the area to celebrate V-J Day. But by the 1960s, Times Square was known mainly for its sleaze, crime and pornography. In the 1990s, the square was transformed back into a tourist magnet for the more than 20 million annual visitors. 

Tourists and locals alike are attracted to the vibrant energy and exciting atmosphere in Times Square. The bright lights and animated advertisements radiating across buildings throughout Time Square are not only a brilliant sight to behold, they are required of business owners in the are per zoning ordinances. Times Square is a dynamic retail, commercial and residential environment; it stands as one of the most concentrated markets in New York City, also known as the Big Apple. It is a hub of entertainment and home to famous Broadway theatres featuring some of the most popular productions in history. It also acquires clubs, bars, music venues, quality shops, cinemas, hotels and restaurants, making it one of the most lively places on the planet, every hour of the day and night.