Before diesel and electric engines made sailing convenient, boats and barges had to be either rowed or pulled. In many European countries such as the Netherlands and the UK, and to some extent in France, Germany, and Belgium, horse-drawn boats were common. Horses and sometimes mules and donkeys would walk along the canal on a towpath pulling behind a small tow-boat loaded with goods or passengers. Because the cargo moves on water, friction is minimal, allowing the horse to pull fifty times as much weight as it could pull in a traditional cart on road.
A vintage English narrow boat being pulled by a horse, on the Cromford Canal, near Matlock, UK. Photo credit: david muscroft / Shutterstock.com
Read more »
The Egyptians had pyramids, the Mesopotamians had ziggurats, which are massive brick structures with raised platforms with successively receding levels. Nobody knows what they stood for, but it’s presumed that they once contained shrines dedicated to the gods and had living quarters for priests. The Great Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq is one fine example of a ziggurat. But Choga Zanbil is one of the few ziggurats that lies outside Mesopotamia, and it’s the largest one among them. The ziggurat stands at the site of the ancient city of Elam, in today’s Khuzestan province in southwest Iran.
Choga Zanbil was built around 1250 BCE by the king Untash-Napirisha to honor the great god Inshushinak. But before the ziggurat could be completed, the king died and construction … Read the rest
One physicist thinks if he can understand the patterns that form on ice, he can understand the universe… Read the rest
Maison Carrée in Nimes, France. Photo credit: Lamax/Shutterstock.com
The Maison Carrée in the city of Nimes, in southern France, is the only ancient Roman building that you don’t have to use the word “ruins” to describe. Although not as impressive as the Parthenon of Athens, nor as elegant as the Pantheon in Rome, the Maison Carrée retains an integrity in its design, and preserves much of its original ornamentation, unlike so many ancient buildings that have been repurposed through the ages.
The Maison Carrée was built in the beginning of the first century. According to the inscription, it was dedicated to Lucius and Gaius Caesar, the grandsons whom Emperor Augustus had adopted as his hopeful heirs. Unfortunately, they died young before Augustus could be succeeded, … Read the rest
About 8 kilometers south of Ypres, in the middle of a farm, is a small green pond known as the “Pool of Peace”, but its creation was a rather violent event.
It was 1916 and the First World War was in its second year. The Germans had occupied the Belgian coast and was using the coastal ports as bases from which they attacked merchant ships and troop transports in the North Sea and English Channel. Capturing these ports became a major objective for the British army. But before that could happen, the British had to drive the Germans out of a tactically important high ground called the Messines–Wytschaete Ridge, located south of Ypress, in Belgium.
The crater at Spanbroekmolen, also known as the Lone Tree Crater … Read the rest
A popular way to see the beautiful city of Bruges in Belgium is from a boat cruising along the city’s many canals. The historic city center is conveniently enclosed within an ‘egg’ encircled by canals allowing tourists to take a boat ride around the city center admiring the charming historic houses and churches. The city’s canals themselves are worth seeing, particularly the tree-lined Bruges-Sluis Canal or the Damme Canal.
The canal is about 15 km long and connects Bruges to the Dutch border town of Sluis through the town of Damme. It was dug on the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte, and hence it is also called Napoleon Vaart, or Napoleon Canal.
Panoramic view of the famous Damme Canal. Photo credit: canadastock/Shutterstock.com
Read more »
Free speech is more important than internet trolls… Read the rest
The world’s longest sea crossing connecting Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai opened this week in China. The unusual bridge cum tunnel system consist of a series of three cable-stayed bridges and one undersea tunnel, as well as two artificial islands for a total length of 55 km.
The largest part of the crossing is the 30-km-long Main Bridge, which is actually a bridge and a 6.7 km undersea tunnel that dips beneath the Pearl River Estuary and emerges at the other end just before the Hong Kong border. The undersea tunnel was built to avoid disrupting shipping lanes. The route then continues over a 9.4-km-long viaduct and ends at Chek Lap Kok, the island where Hong Kong International Airport is located.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge … Read the rest
In south-west England, there runs a great earthwork from the mouth of River Dee near Chester, to the estuary of River Severn near Chepstow, traversing through more than 150 miles, although the earthwork is not continuous. This is Offa’s Dyke, and for centuries it has marked the boundary between England and Wales.
Offa was the king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia during the second half of the 8th century. He controlled large swathes of land in the lowlands of Britain to the east and south-east of what was to become England, but the land to the west was divided into a number of kingdoms free from Anglo-Saxon rule. These kingdoms, ruled by the Romano-Britons—a culture that evolved after the fall of the Roman Empire—eventually become … Read the rest
Nature follows specific laws, but results are often irregular and asymmetric like clouds and coastline and ocean waves. So when NASA scientists flying over the northern Antarctic Peninsula last week as part of Operation IceBridge spotted a neatly cut rectangular piece of iceberg floating amidst a jumble of broken ice, everybody thought it was pretty interesting.
While icebergs with relatively straight edges are common, this was the first time anybody has seen an iceberg with two corners at right angles, explained Jeremy Harbeck, senior support scientist of Operation IceBridge.
Read more »
… Read the rest