All posts by M.C.

Athabasca Sand Dunes

Stretching for approximately 100 kilometers along the southern edge of Lake Athabasca, in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, are some of the most northerly active sand dunes on Earth. Unlike most dunes, which are associated with dry and arid region, the Athabasca Sand Dunes are located in the middle of a wetland and a boreal forest, making it one of the most unique sand dunes and a geological oddity. The dunes are spread across more than 30,000 hectares, and due to their unusual ecosystem, they harbor an extraordinarily diverse biological life.

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Photo credit: Hidehiro Otake 

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The Soledar Salt Mines

Some 250 million years ago, a part of Ukraine was under a shallow ocean. When the ocean dried up, it left behind a huge deposit of salt which got buried underneath due to upheavals in the earth’s crust. A large concentration of this salt is located under a small city called Soledar, a Russian word meaning “gift of salt”.

For a long time, this area was known for brine springs, caused by the solution of underground salt deposits by ground water. This brine was used to produce salt since the 16th century. The brine was cooked in pans with wood fires, to evaporate the water. This process was extremely energy hungry, leading to large scale deforestation in the regions south of Soledar. In the 18th century, … Read the rest

A Taxonomy of Choices: Axes of Success

As part of our support for the Choice of Games Contest for Interactive Novels, we will be posting an irregular series of blog posts discussing important design and writing criteria for games. We hope that these can both provide guidance for people participating in the Contest and also help people understand how we think about questions of game design and some best practices. These don’t modify the evaluation criteria for the Contest, and (except as noted) participants are not required to conform to our recommendations–but it’s probably a good idea to listen when judges tell you what they’re looking for.

If these topics interest you, be sure to sign up for our contest mailing list below! We’ll post more of our thoughts on game design Read the rest

Strange Brew

According to a 1957 US government study entitled The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages, canned and bottled sodas and beers “could be used as potable water sources for immediate emergency purposes as soon as the storage area is safe to enter after a nuclear explosion.”

This information was provided by the Atomic Energy Commission, which placed caches of consumer beverages around the Nevada Proving Grounds then exploded one 20 kiloton and one 30 kiloton device there. The surviving beverages within a quarter mile of the blast were slightly radioactive, but “well within the permissible limits for emergency use.” As for the flavor, taste testers described the beers and sodas as “still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor … Read the rest