Monday, December 29, 2014


The Baalbeck Platform

Baalbek (Arabic: بعلبك) is a town in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude 1,170 m (3,850 ft), situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, known as Heliopolis was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire. It is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, and it can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world. The largest and most noble Roman temples ever built, they are also among the best preserved.

Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. The gods worshipped here, the Triad of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design.

The RAMP HOUSE: A Skatable Home by Archivirus

Skateboarders are a fanatical bunch, warriors on wheels who’ll skate whenever and wherever they can. Any urban space will do, but if it’s raining or there isn’t a skate park nearby, what’s a skater to do? Answer: live in the Ramp House, newly completed by Acrhivirus Architecture and Design.

Far from simply having a mini-ramp installed in a living room, the skateboarding factor was incorporated into the very design details, making a home fully capable of being skated – frontside, backside, anyside.                                                                      
Thus, by way of the architect’s imagination, straight lines became curved, and flat surfaces found new meaning as part of a ramp or a bowl.  
The architect designed a home where the living room is no longer just a living room but a mini-ramp that turns into a bowl – which in turn creates a partition with the bedroom and bathroom. Meanwhile, elements like the fireplace and storage units are hidden within the ramp structures.

Psaraki (the architect) also reveals that experts were very much – sorry – on board: “The ramp transitions were made on site by skater friends who had experience skating mini ramps while construction details were drawn after extensive research via the internet and people who might know!”

The final effect? A skater’s dream that wouldn’t alienate those who just want an environment to chill in; a smooth environment where you “can flow from one space to the other, skating or walking”.

Source: scribol | Image: via Archivirus

Age of the PYRAMIDS and SPHINX

Most Egyptologists believe the Great Sphinx on the Giza plateau is about 4,500 years old. But that number is just that - a belief, a theory, not a fact. As Robert Bauval says in "The Age of the Sphinx," "there was no inscriptions - not a single one - either carved on a wall or a stela or written on the throngs of papyri" that associates the Sphinx with this time period. So when was it built?

John Anthony West challenged the accepted age of the monument when he noted the vertical weathering on its base, which could only have been caused by long exposure to water in the form of heavy rains. In the middle of the desert? Where did the water come from? It so happens that this area of the world experienced such rains - about 10,500 years ago! This would make the Sphinx more than twice its currently accepted age. Bauval and Graham Hancock have calculated that the Great Pyramid likewise dates back to about 10,500 B.C. - predating the Egyptian civilization. This raises the questions: Who built them and why?



A Giant Isopod may be one of approximately nine species of large isopods (crustaceans related to the shrimp and crabs) in the genus Bathynomus. They are thought to be abundant in cold, deep waters of the Atlantic. Bathynomus giganteus, the species upon which the generitype is based, is the largest known isopod and is the one most often referred to by the common name "giant isopod".

French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards was the first to describe the genus in 1879 after fishing a juvenile male B. giganteus from the Gulf of Mexico; this was an exciting discovery for both scientists and the public, as at the time the idea of a lifeless or "azoic" deep ocean had only recently been refuted by the work of Sir Charles Wyville Thomson and others. Females were not recovered until 1891.
Giant isopods are of little interest to most commercial fisheries owing to the typical paucity of catches and because ensnared isopods are usually scavenged beyond marketability before they are recovered. However, in Northern Taiwan and other areas, they are not uncommon at seaside restaurants, served boiled and bisected with a clean lateral slice. The white meat, similar to crab or lobster in texture, is then easily removed.

The few specimens caught in the Americas with baited traps are sometimes seen in public aquaria.

Maturing to a length between 19 and 37 centimetres (7.5 and 15 in), and maximally reaching a weight of approximately 1.7 kilograms (3.7 lb) in B. giganteus, giant isopods are a good example of deep-sea gigantism (cf. giant squid); most other isopods range in size from 1 to 5 centimetres (0.39 to 2.0 in). Their morphology is nonetheless familiar to most people as giant isopods closely resemble their terrestrial cousin, the woodlouse: their bodies are dorso-ventrally compressed, protected by a rigid, calcareous exoskeleton composed of imbricate segments. The first of these segments is fused to the head; the most posterior segments are often fused as well, forming a "caudal shield" over the shortened abdomen (pleon) . The large eyes are compound with nearly 4,000 facets, sessile and spaced far apart on the head . There are two pairs of antennae.


The Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), also known as the Spiny Anteater because of its diet of ants and termites, is one of four living species of echidna and the only member of the genus Tachyglossus. The Short-beaked Echidna is covered in fur and spines and has a distinctive snout and a specialized tongue, which it uses to catch its prey at a great speed. Like the other extant monotremes, the Short-beaked Echidna lays eggs; the monotremes are the only group of mammals to do so.


Hagfish are marine craniates of the class Myxini, also known as Hyperotreti. Myxini is the only class in the clade Craniata that does not also belong to the subphylum Vertebrata. That is, they are the only animals which have a skull but not a vertebral column.

Despite their name, there is some debate about whether they are strictly fish (as there is for lampreys), since they belong to a much more primitive lineage than any other group that is placed in the category of fish (Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes). Their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities have led members of the scientific and popular media to dub the hagfish as the most "disgusting" of all sea creatures. Although hagfish are sometimes called "slime eels," they are not eels at all.

Hagfish average about half a meter (18 in) long; The largest known species is Eptatretus goliath with a specimen recorded at 127 cm, while Myxine kuoi and Myxine pequenoi seem to reach no more than 18 cm.

Hagfish have elongated, eel-like bodies, they have 4 hearts and two brains, and paddle-like tails. They have cartilaginous skulls and tooth-like structures composed of keratin.


Paddlefish (family Polyodontidae) are primitive Chondrostean ray-finned fishes. The paddlefish can be distinguished by its large mouth and its elongated snout called a rostrum (bill). These spatula-like snouts comprise half the length of their entire body. There are only two extant species of these fish: the Chinese and the American paddlefish. The American species is Missouri's State Aquatic Animal.

These fish are not closely related to sharks, but they do have some body parts that resemble those of sharks such as their skeletons, primarily composed of cartilage, and deeply forked heterocercal tail fins.

In some areas, paddlefish are referred to as "Spoonbill", "Spoonies" or "Spoonbill Catfish". Paddlefish are also extremely oily. Mounted specimens occasionally leak an oily substance.


The Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, is the second largest living shark, after the whale shark. It is a cosmopolitan species — it is found in all the world's temperate oceans. It is a slow moving and generally harmless filter feeder.

Like other large sharks, basking sharks could some day be at risk of extinction due to a combination of low resilience and overfishing if good conservation practices are not followed.

This shark is called the basking shark because it is most often observed when feeding at the surface and appears to be basking. It is the only member of the family Cetorhinidae. It was first described and named Cetorhinus maximus by Gunnerus in 1765 from a specimen found in Norway. The genus name Cetorhinus comes from the Greek, ketos which means marine monster or whale and rhinos meaning nose, the species name maximus is from Latin and means "greatest". It was later described as Squalus isodus by Macri in 1819, Squalus elephas by Lesueur in 1822, Squalus rashleighanus by Couch in 1838, Squalus cetaceus by Gronow in 1854, Cetorhinus blainvillei by Capello in 1869, Selachus pennantii by Cornish in 1885, Cetorhinus maximus infanuncula by Deinse & Adriani 1953, and finally as Cetorhinus maximus normani by Siccardi 1961.


There were three identical mechanical sharks used in filming, and they malfunctioned constantly. Because the sharks were not tested in water before filming, the first one sunk as soon as it was put in the water. The crew that worked on the film took to calling it "Flaws" because of all of the on-set trouble. 

  • After Robert Shaw finished filming his scenes as Quint, he had to flee to country to escape the IRS. Ironically, Shaw was the second choice for the role and was given the spot after the first actor selected had to leave the country to escape his IRS problems. 
  • Roy Scheider didn't believe that the crew would save him if something went wrong when he filmed his scene on the sinking Orca. He hid axes at various spots around the boat in case he needed to use them to save himself. 
  • Spielberg's own dog played the role of Brody's dog. 
  • One of the mechanical sharks used in the movie was lost at sea during filming. 
  • The movie was supposed to feature many more shots of the mechanical sharks, but they broke down so much that Spielberg was forced to change his plans and use shots from the shark's perspective instead of actually showing the shark. In retrospect, the director believes that this change made the movie much scarier. 
  • The scene featuring the death of character Alex Kintner had to be re-shot because the film rating's board said if it stayed in the film as it was, they would be forced to rate the movie R instead of PG. 
  • Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss did not get along and fought often on set. 
  • When Shaw showed up to film the scene in which he tells the story of the Indianapolis, he was too drunk to deliver his lines and instead kept going off track and talking about his family. The scene had to be redone the next day, and he got it in one take.