Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Submerged ancient Egyptian treasures

More than 200 objects are showcased at a new exhibition of Egyptian artifacts discovered in a sunken ancient city. Dating back some 2,300 years they were found over a decade ago near what is now the city of Alexandria.

In ancient times, the port city of Thonis-Heracleion was the main port of entry to Egypt for all ships coming from the Greek world.
The city was founded around the 8th century BC, underwent natural catastrophes, and eventually sunk entirely into the depths of the Mediterranean in the 8th century AD.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Star Ruby - Star Sapphire


Other gemstones that may display asterism are rose quartz, garnet, diopside, moonstone, spinel and opal.
Star rubies and star sapphires display a six-ray star that seems to glide across the surface of the gem when moved. This six-ray star is caused due to an optical phenomena known as "asterism".

The term is derived from the Greek word "aster", which means star. Fine star rubies and sapphire come mainly from Mogok and Sri Lanka. The best stones will have just enough silk to create the star effect, but not so much as to harm the transparency and color. These stones are rare and valuable.
Black Star Sapphires with golden stars are one of the most fascinating forms of sapphire. The most valuable of the golden-star black stars come from Chanthaburi, Thailand.

Black star sapphires differ from other colours of star sapphires because the star is formed not due to rutile silk but due to hematite plates.
The Delong Star Ruby resides in the Natural History Museum in New York. Weighing 100.32 carats, it is a deep purplish red, from Burma, it has an extremely sharp 6-rayed star effect.

The Rosser Reeves Star Ruby; a fine-quality star ruby of 138.70 carats from Sri Lanka.
Star of Asia A round six-ray star sapphire weighing 329.7 carats. The stone's origin is Burma, and it's also part of the Smithsonian Museum's collection.

Weighing 27.62 carats, the Star of Bharany Ruby is one of the world’s finest star rubies.
A star ruby is considered potent protection against magic. Star rubies were worn by knights in battle to protect themselves from the enemy. Tales in Karnataka (India) say that if it is worn as a visible pendant or as a headgear then anyone who faces you as an enemy loses half their valour.

The power of star ruby is said to be the highest during full moon.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

H. mephisto a pussy cat

Goldfield's Beatrix gold mine lies a few hours outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, in one of the richest gold fields in the world. It extends more than two kilometres underground. The mine has a workforce of about 10,500 employees and produces 400k oz of gold per year. But recently, something living came up with the gold, a creature that has been named after Mephisto, the Devil from the Faust legend.

This seems like something from a tale, where miners dig 'too deep' and release an unspeakable evil.
Fortunately, the creature that lurks in the Beatrix mine – Halicephalobus mephisto – is barely half a millimetre long.

In the classic German Faustian legend, Mephistopheles promises Faust that he will give him everything that he desires, but in exchange, Faust will then have to serve the devil in Hell.
It’s no demon, but it is a surprising find. It’s an animal that lives where no other animals were thought to exist, in the rocky underworld known as the 'deep subsurface'. To H.mephisto and the other nematodes, the subterranean world is an all you can eat buffet.

They feed on bacteria and other microbes that grow in rich mats on the rocky surface. There are up to a trillion such cells for every one nematode, a feast that could keep H.mephisto going for around 30,000 years. There’s no risk of starving in the deep subsurface.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Canol Road, Yukon, Canada

In April 1942, the U.S. military embarked on a grand scheme to tap a local source for vitally needed oil to support its northern World War II operation.

The war effort included construction of the Alaska Highway, the deployment of thousands of troops in Alaska to guard against a feared Japanese invasion from the captured Aleutian Islands, and a major airlift of supplies to Siberia to aid a beleaguered Russian army’s ultimately successful struggle to turn back a German invasion.
The Canol (short for Canadian Oil) Road was part of a project to build a pipeline and a road from Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Whitehorse, Yukon during World War II.

The pipeline no longer exists, but the 449 kilometres (279 mi) long Yukon portion of the road is maintained by the Yukon Government during summer months.

The 4 inch pipeline was laid directly on the ground, and the high grade of the oil allowed it to flow even at −80 °F (−62 °C). Workers on the road and pipeline had to endure mosquitoes, black flies, extreme cold and other difficult conditions.

One poster for the company that hired workers warned that the conditions could be life-threatening; emphasising that if people were not willing to endure the conditions, they should not apply for the work. The oil flow commenced in 1944, but was shut down in 1945, having not performed entirely satisfactorily.
The primary pipeline between Whitehorse and Canol was later removed and sold for use elsewhere. The refinery was purchased in early 1948 by Imperial Oil, dismantled, and trucked to Alberta for the Leduc oil strike.

The roadway is the surviving legacy of the Canol project. Although abandoned in 1946–1947, the southernmost 150 miles (240 km) was reopened in 1958 to connect Ross River, Yukon with the Alaska Highway.