Ruth Glacier

The Ruth Glacier, in Denali National Park and Preserve in the U.S. state of Alaska, covers an enormous area in the heart of the central Alaska Range. Located about 3 miles vertically below the summit of Mt. McKinley, it catches all the snow that falls on the southeast side of the mountain, and as the accumulated snow and ice that makes up the glacier slides down the slope, it get squeezed through a one-mile-wide bottleneck of what is called the Great Gorge.

The Great Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges on earth. It runs for a length of 16 km and drops almost 2,000 feet over the distance, creating a grade that forces the Ruth Glacier to descend at an impressive pace of a meter a day. On either side of the gorge are solid granite cliffs that tower 5,000 feet above the glacier's surface. The depth of the ice within the gorge is more than 3,800 feet. If the ice were to melt tomorrow, it could create an abyss 2.6 km deep or more than one-half times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

The mountain lining the walls of the Great Gorge rises sporadically into towering spires and has been given names such as Moose's Tooth, Broken Tooth, Bear Tooth and Wisdom Tooth, to name a few, and really look like animals' teeth. So immense are these spires that what appear to be tiny flakes on these walls are actually ledges wide enough to park a tractor trailer.

As the Ruth Glacier flows down a steeper gradient, it tears and fractures into a treacherous 10-square mile section known as the Ruth Ice Fall near the bottom of the Great Gorge. During summer after the snowmelt, this section becomes virtually impassable.


Blythe Intaglios - The Nazca Lines of United States

About 15 miles north of Blythe, just west of U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River, are a group of gigantic geoglyphs. There are a total of six distinct figures in three locations, including a human figure at each location and animal figures depicting serpents and quadrupeds at the other two sites. The largest human figure measures 171 feet from head to toe. But from the ground level, the figures are indiscernible, nor they are visible from any nearby hill from any distance or angle. Just like Peru’s famous Nazca Lines, they can only be seen from the air. And that is precisely how Blythe Intaglios were discovered.

Unseen by modern humans until the 20th century, these huge figures hidden on the desert floor were discovered in 1931 by local pilot George Palmer when flying over Blythe. Palmer reported seeing outlines of two human figures, serpents and four-legged animals with long tails. Another giant figure appeared just to have stepped out of a large dance ring.

Palmer’s discovery led to a survey of the area by Arthur Woodward, Curator of History and Anthropology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, leading to the geoglyphs being classified as a “Historical Landmark”. However, with no resident custodian, the site soon became subject to decay by vandalism. During the World War II, Blythe was even used as a desert training area and tanks and other equipment destroyed some of the intaglios. It wasn’t until 1952 when the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution sent airborne archaeologists to the site and published an extensive article on the magazine along with aerial photographs, that Blythe Intaglios became known to the outside world. Today, a protective fence around the geoglyphs keep people from walking on top of them.

The figures at Blythe were created by scraping away the dark colored topsoil and rock to expose the light-colored soil underneath, and then piling dark gravel around the figures to outline them. The fine particles have been washed and blown away over the centuries, leaving larger stones or pebbles on the surface.

It is difficult to say how old the Intaglios are, since dating techniques have not been developed to date these types of features. Their age could be anywhere between 450 years to 2,000 years old. It's believed intaglios were made by ancestors of today's Native Americans living along the Colorado River. According to Native American oral histories, the human figure may represent the Creator, while the animal figures may represent mountain lions who helped in the creation. They are most likely a message to the gods, which a common theme throughout human civilization.


Bangkok Shopping Mall Turns Into Fish Pond

The New World shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, has been lying abandonment and lifeless since 1997, but not quite. The roofless four-storeyed structure has since flooded with several feet of rainwater and became a paradise for a variety of fish.

The store, which was built in 1982, was 11 storeys high, and very noticeable because it towered over the surrounding area. But it was later revealed that the developers only had permission to construct a four-storey building. In 1997, Thailand’s supreme court ordered the demolition of the seven-storey extension of the shopping centre leaving a gaping hole on the roof. Over the years, rain turned the ground floor of the mall into a shallow pond, and subsequently a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

To fight the mosquito problem, the residents of the area bought fish of assorted species and released it in the waters to eat the mosquitoes and larvae. Apart from the residents, few people knew about the fish pond until recently when photos were shared on Facebook. That has brought in large numbers of curious visitors, alarming city officials who say the building is unsafe.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has now decided to remove the fish and release the water from the building.


Town with No Cell Phones, Wi-Fi or Radio

Green Bank, in Pocahontas County in West Virginia, the United States, is possibly one of the quietest residential places on earth. There is no cell phone reception here, no Wi-Fi, not even radio and television. But Green Bank is not technologically backward. On the contrary, it’s home to the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope on earth – the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The GBT is the reason why this town is electromagnetically silent.

Radio telescopes work by detecting electromagnetic waves that come from distant galaxies. These signals are so faint that the slightest emission of radio waves from electronic gadgets can interfere with the readings of the radio telescopes. For this reason, all cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio and other communication devices are outlawed here. There are no cell phone towers for miles around, no music plays on the radio or soap operas on the television. Not even petrol cars are allowed because gasoline engines use spark plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture, and electric sparks produce electromagnetic waves.

The boundaries of the device-free zone extend far beyond Green Bank, covering an area roughly equal to 13,000–square-mile. This region is called the National Radio Quiet Zone, and is located around the sparsely populated countryside that straddles the borders of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Almost all types of radio transmissions and certain electronic devices are banned here so that the powerful Green Bank Radio Telescopes can work without disturbance. Green Bank happens to be the closest community to the Green Bank Telescope.

The tech-free life in Green Bank may seem impossible for those who can’t live without their cell phones, but for the 140-odd residents of the town, life is a bliss. Kids aren't glued to the glowing screens of their mobile devices. They actually talk to each other instead of texting. Older residents roll down their car windows to greet each other and leave their front doors unlocked. If they must speak to someone out of town, there are pay phones.

Living under the shadow of the giant telescope, some of the residents are not even aware of the technological advances elsewhere.

"We didn't realize the rest of the world was getting connected and staying connected constantly, via phones and computers and all that," said radio host Caleb Diller, who grew up in Pocahontas County, to NPR. "So we were kinda back in time a little bit. We hadn't progressed to that."

Over the last few years, many people have taken up residence in Green Bank. These people claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS—a disease not recognized by the scientific community. It’s said that people suffering from EHS get symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and chest pains from electromagnetic radiations.

“Life isn’t perfect here,” said Diane Schou, one of the first “electrosensitive” immigrant who came to Green Bank with her husband in 2007. “There’s no grocery store, no restaurants, no hospital nearby. But here, at least, I'm healthy. I can do things. I'm not in bed with a headache all the time.”


The Buzludzha Monument

Located at the historical peak of Buzludzha in the Central Stara Planina, Bulgaria, stands a magnificent piece of architecture. The Buzludzha Monument was built by the Bulgarian communist regime to commemorate the events in 1891 when the socialists led by Dimitar Blagoev assembled secretly in the area to form an organized socialist movement. The peak itself was the place of the final battle between Bulgarian rebels led by Hadji Dimitar and Stefan Karadzha and the Turks, in 1868. At one time, the Buzludzha Monument was the most celebrated monument dedicated to the sociopolitical movement of communism. Now, in the mountains of Buzludzha National Park it stands abandoned, vandalized, and devastated.

The saucer-shaped monument rises to a height of 107m, and was designed by the architect Georgi Stoilov. More than 60 Bulgarian artists collaborated on the design of murals for the site, and thousands of ‘volunteers’ were involved in the construction process, which took almost seven years to complete. In the 15 meter-high main hall of the memorial a 500 sq.m. fresco present portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov. The dome of the structure was covered with thirty tones of cooper. Two 12m stars of ruby glass was built-in on the top of the 70m high pylon of the monument that symbolizes a waving communist flag. The Soviet star which adorns the tower of Buzludzha was three times larger than that at the Kremlin.

Scrawled above the main entrance in red paint, Latin characters spell out the phrase ‘FORGET YOUR PAST’, flanked on either side by powerful socialist stanzas emblazoned in Bulgarian Cyrillic.

Bulgarian Communism came to an end in 1989, and immediately afterwards, the headquarter came into disuse. In 1991 the monument, which still belonged to the ex-communist party, was ceded to the state and was abandoned, looted and left to self-destruction.