Tag Archives: science

Adventure tales of the unexpected – pt. 5: filling Beijing’s Bird-Nest Stadium + Akrotiri Excavations.

Hi folks!

Onward – with more of my extraordinary terrestrial greatest hits…

Bizarre tale of the unique/unusual kind No. 8

Here’s an extraordinary, extraordinarily-large tale from way back in 2009…

The previously-mentioned Harry Cheung (formerly the director of our Chinese office) just so happened to be friends with none other than Jackie Chan! And together the two of them pooled their power-clout and managed to convince the Beijing authorities to sanction a huge pop concert in the Chinese capital’s main stadium – yes: the (Olympic) Bird’s Nest! The undertaking turned out to cost an arm-and-a-leg, but still we managed to recoup costs from ticket sales (the surplus went to charity) – after all, Jackie himself was to appear (and sing – and not a bad singing voice he has either!), as did other top pop artists from both China and Korea. The event turned out to be massive. Chinese style…

Here’s the scene just before the start, with the stands still-only half-full ->

Btw – this truly was “our” event – organized by us, sponsored by us. Look – only our banners are to be seen around the stands (in both English and Chinese) ->

Read on:…

Erosion, disintegration, conspirology, and OMG-views: the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt.

As promised, herewith, a continuation of tales and pics and musings from my recent trip to Egypt. I’ll pass over the business segment of the trip (as it was much the same as most business segments when traveling: meetings, new acquaintances, discussions, new products, cyber immunity, and plans for the future), and get straight to our first tourism – the Giza Pyramids, no less (plus a spot of Kasperology)…

The Pyramids of Giza are probably one of the most popular and well-trodden places of interest to the tourist in the world – fantastical objects a gobsmacked public has been beholding with wonder for 4500 years already. Down the years terabytes of photos have been taken of them, zillions of tales written about them, and gazillions of scientific articles and assorted other dissertations published about them – and all that came before my short trip to see them the other week. Nevertheless, I wanted to take some photos of my own to share with you, and also to add my two cents in terms of observations and impressions of, and thoughts on, these wondrously wonderful wonders of the world…

So here we go: Cairo, Giza, the ancient Egyptian Pyramids…

My first impression: complete and utter ecstatic delight. Primordial, colossal constructions built several millennia ago! Just imagine the things they’ve endured and outlived! And did you know they were once coated in smooth granite tiles, or that the upper sections were covered in similarly smooth, perfectly white limestone? (Our guide also mentioned how there’s a hypothesis that states the peaks were covered in gold, or at least gold-colored stone.) One can only begin to wonder how grandiose such a spectacle must have been. What a civilization! And soooo long ago!

Read on…

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Putorana and Mauritius – could there be a connection, or is it a trap?!

Question: what does the monumentally massive Putorana Plateau have in common with… the Indian Ocean? Rather – some of the islands located in it ->

Yes – for example, Mauritius (been) and Réunion. Well, I have a theory – a hypothesis – about how they may be connected to Putorana…

Under Réunion (a French colony department), there currently happens to be situated a hotspot – a small area under the (Indian) lithospheric (tectonic) plate where the underground magma for some reason comes real close to the surface of the plate. When the hotspot punched through the plate, Réunion came into being (this is millions of years ago, of course). And that’s how plenty of other islands and archipelagos and atolls in the Indian Ocean were created, including Mauritius and Maldives. The plate slowly moved (for millions of years) over the hotspot, and every dozen million years or so – another punch-through and another new island!

Ok. That’s the islands covered. Now for some land-based volcanism to continue the theme…

Read on…

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Putorana’s significant geological history – as little-known about as the plateau’s monumental beauty.

The Putorana Plateau is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places in the world, that’s for sure. That is… in good weather (just like Kamchatka and the Kurils). I keep writing that – “in good weather” – all the time of late. I should abbreviate it: GW. So yes – in GW, the landscapes here are simply mind-blowing:

Read on…

Light at the end of the… reactor!

The other week a group of colleagues and I were up in St. Petersburg on business. And in among our busy schedule while there we paid a useful and informative visit to the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. And it was there I got my first glimpse of Cherenkov radiation (and you thought radiation was invisible?), which I’d dreamed of doing for years. I also stood on the roof of a working reactor of RBMK (Reaktor Bolshoy Moshchnosti Kanalniy, meaning ‘high-power channel-type reactor’). An unforgettable experience!

Note: since there’s absolutely no photography allowed at any nuclear facility, the photos below are all taken from the internet.

So, the main thing: Cherenkov radiation. In case you haven’t clicked the link, here’s what it says about it on its Wikipedia page: ‘Cherenkov radiation is electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle (such as an electron) passes through a dielectric medium at a speed greater than the phase velocity (speed of propagation of a wave in a medium) of light in that medium’ (the links –added by me).

And you can actually see this wonder of physics – and beautiful it is too: a fluorescent blue in the core of a nuclear reactor in cooling fluid. The spectacle is a cosmically fantastic one…

(photos from Wikipedia and here)

Read on…>

Global warming: finally – the results of the lockdown experiment!

Hi folks!

If you’re a regular reader of this here blog, you’ll have noticed how I occasionally touch upon ecological topics in my posts here: protecting the environment, global warming, and assorted other things like CO2 emissions. Oh, and by the way, before you shout ‘climate change denier!’… for example, those CO2 emissions, they’re most certainly on the rise – fast. No one in their right mind can deny that, from the man in the street through to the states that signed Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. But when folks become perfectly hysterical paranoid about man’s role in that rise – that’s where I beg to… not quite differ, but at least state that we need to see the larger picture: it may just be possible that industrial and anthropological emissions aren’t the most important factor…

I’ve written somewhere before that:

  • CO2emissions are rising and the climate is warming up. Facts;
  • But putting that down mostly to the activity of human beings is… bothersome. And it does whiff rather of megalomania: is man really that significant and influential to be able to have much effect on what are surely extraordinarily greater, stronger forces of nature?
  • I don’t know the answer to the question just put, but, because I don’t know, I say we need to measure not only emissions of carbon dioxide, but also nature’s intake/usage/absorption thereof. Could CO2 levels be growing not just in and of themselves, but as part of a growing imbalance between emissions and consumption?

Now, those musings, hypotheses, question marks… they’d have stayed musings, hypotheses and question marks, probably, if the corona virus hadn’t become a global pandemic in 2020: quarantine, lockdowns, restricted travel > less emissions from humans and their filthy cars and planes. But, as I wrote in April 2020, how will those lower emissions affect the overall total levels of CO₂ in the atmosphere? 

Here’s my quote from the mentioned post from April:

“Curiously, we’re currently living in… interesting times, and it just so happens that we may be able to get an answer to the second of my two questions here today (‘how will nearly the whole world’s industry coming to a halt affect the growth of CO₂ in the world’s atmosphere?’). 

Indeed, soon we’ll get the results of a unique (if unexpected) global experiment: how the lockdown and the partial halt to world production affects increases in CO₂ in the Earth’s atmosphere. It will also present a good opportunity to check the soundness of several theories about the how much climate is affected by man.

I have to say, it will be somewhat odd if the lockdown makes no difference whatsoever. I mean, among many other things, it would completely cancel out the need for the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, while making a mockery of every country that ever signed either; or am I being too harsh there? ‘Mistakes happen’, they’ll say!” 

So what do you think folks? What is the result of this unique global experiment? I ask as, that answer is ready! And here it is!…

Read on…

Moscow-to-Mars simulation – to see if you’d last the duration!

The other day I visited a most unusual, unique place – and just down the road too. It’s a space-travel training complex where they do simulations of long missions into space. You may have heard of a small group of volunteers who cut themselves off from the world for a long as it takes to fly to Mars and back? Well, this is the place where that happens…

…In this unassuming building:

…Namely – inside cylindrical chambers like the one in the following pic, whose size is no larger than that of a modern-day space ship. Inside everything’s set up to imitate as closely as possible a space flight: limited space, regeneration of water and oxygen, time delays in communications ‘with Earth’, etc. The only thing that’s not reproduced is weightlessness; oh – and windows through which you can see stars ).

Read on…

2 + 12 Earth Day answers.

A week or two ago, I posed 2 + 12 questions to you on the occasion of Earth Day. 

The first question was a rhetorical one: How will the world actually change as a result of global warming? 

There are various hypotheses, models, projections. For sure, sea levels are rising, but not only for the obvious reason that icebergs are melting. Yes, icebergs are melting, but so is the ice – several kilometers thick! – that covers (and presses down) places like Greenland and Antarctica, and this will cause these landmasses to slowly rise up – so much so that, for example, Greenland may join up with North America! Imagine that?! They’ll have to install a new Canadian-Danish border across the new landscape!

But we’ll probably only get an answer to this question in another two or three generations. That is, if the world doesn’t suddenly opt for another stint of ice age.

Swiftly moving on to question 2

How will nearly the whole world’s industry coming to a halt affect the growth of CO in the world’s atmosphere?

We’ll get an answer to this sooner. Most curious for me is – what if it doesn’t affect it at all? But of course I hope it does. Anyway – most of the various answers to this were already discussed.

All righty. Now we turn to questions of a less global nature: about ice, rocks, mysterious circles on the earth’s surface and about animals. Lets’ go!…

Where did the water come from to make the ice on the 80th parallel on Antarctica – some 700km from the shore? Water that then freezes into fields of ice – upon which cargo planes can land:

The hint was there for the taking on the photos: mountains!

Read on…

12+1 🤔 Earth questions.

The other day – Earth Day – I paused to reflect upon global warming on Earth. Today I’d like to pose 12 13 questions about the Earth – about some of its most incomprehensible and mysterious phenomena that have come to my knowledge over the years, many of which phenomena I’ve visited.

So here we go – 12 13 questions about Earth’s mysteries. Ready? Off we go…

And I’ll start… right at the bottom of Earth – in Antarctica!

I. Water in an ice desert

Practically the whole of Antarctica (with the exception of some mountains and coastal areas) are covered with thick layers of ice – compacted snow that’s fallen over the centuries millennia. But in some places there is real ice – frozen water. Like this:

Read on…

Two important questions about the Earth on Earth Day.

On Earth Daytoday – I’d like to say a few words about global warming, particularly the anthropogenic factors that contribute to it – or don’t!

I’d like to go over a few of the theories of, and interdependencies and tendencies regarding, global warming, and also compare some of the theory with the practical. I’ll do so through two two questions…

1. How will the world actually change as a result of global warming?

It is totally and blatantly obvious that the world is warming up. At a minimum in the arctic and temperate zones we can see this for ourselves.

Example: Around 40 years ago when I was a teenager, ~-20°С in winter in Moscow was the norm, -30°С was common, and the occasional dip down to -40°С or below occurred a few times a year. Such cold temperatures, it goes without saying, came with a lot of snow. Today, Christmas and New Year can come and go… without snow! WHAT?!

But it’s not just Moscow. Warming is everywhere. Take… Siberia as another example. But here the damage done may become apparent sooner rather than later: extreme global warming may see inner Siberia becoming an appendage to the Gobi Desert, with Lake Baikal surrounded by tall barkhan dunes. And that’s only after so much methane and other harmful gases have been emitted into the atmosphere that the permafrost in the region – permanently frozen for millions of years – will start to melt!

And it’s not just Russia, of course. But for some regions it will be a different thing altogether.

Take the Middle East, for example. With global warming, excessive evaporation of oceanic water could radically alter the quantity of rain in the region. This could mean the region turns into a fertile flowering garden instead of a famously barren desert. Or… maybe not. We don’t know for sure, we can only speculate!

Then there’s a theory that the current warming is the calm before the storm a mere climatic fluctuation before… an upcoming ice age!

Read on…