Ancient Astronomers

Astronomy wasn’t invented a couple of hundred years ago. The study of stars is almost as old as humanity itself.

Cave Paintings
The oldest and most famous cave paintings (16,000 to 20,000 years old) are in Lascaux, France. The animals and human figures in the cave were long thought to be symbols of magic or worship to help hunters. Eventually someone noticed that the dots of paint that decorate the animals are actually diagrams of groups of stars. Most constellations have different symbols today, but the giant bull (possibly the best-known image in cave art) is actually the constellation we still call Taurus -the bull. His eye is the star Aldebaran, and a V-shaped decoration of dots around it represents the Pleides star cluster.


The first ancient monument to be identified as an astronomical observatory was England’s Stonehenge. It’s attracted a lot of interest from wanna-be Druids over the years, but current researchers think it was built and rebuilt by three separate cultures between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago. While it’s not clear exactly what it was used for, the astronomical alignments of the stones are unquestionable. The stones mark out the sunrise at midsummer and midwinter, and the rising and setting of the moon (which repeats in a cycle of 8.6 years). Some people claim to have found many more significant alignments and have suggested that Stonehenge could have been used to predict eclipses -pretty sophisticated stuff. But did the Druids actually make these calculations? We’ll probably never know, darn it.


Just as mysterious is the recently discovered stone circle of Nabta, Egypt, which at 7,000 year old is the oldest astronomical observatory of its kind so far discovered. Like Stonehenge, it marks sunrise and sunset at midsummer, but other than that, no one knows who built it or what else it might be for. The site was abandoned after 2,000 years, just before the rise of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Did the ancient Egyptians get their astronomical knowledge from an older civilization in the Sahara?

The star Sirius was worshiped by a whole range of ancient peoples, from the Arabs and ancient Egyptians to the West African tribes of the Dogon and the Bozo (don’t laugh; they’re real). The Egyptians built whole rows of temples pointing at the spot on the horizon where Sirius would rise each year. This was the beginning of their calendar year and marked the flooding of the Nile. For them, Sirius was the resting place of the dead and the most important star in the sky.


Among the Arabs and some tribes in Mali, there was a belief that Sirius had a companion, which the tribesmen called the Eye Star, and which was supposed to have supernatural qualities. Sirius really does have a companion: a small white dwarf star called Sirius B, which is not visible to the naked eye. So how did these primitive people know about it? The Dogon have precise astronomical information about its movements, which they celebrate with rituals, even though they admit that it’s invisible. (We don’t know about you, but we’ve got chills.) They even had a story about a third star, the Star of Women, which was also invisible. And guess what? In 1995, it was discovered that there really is a third star, a red dwarf that’s been named Sirius C.


Because questions remain about the alignment of ancient monuments, the field is wide open for speculation. New Agers (who speculate wildly at least three times before breakfast) will tell you that the Egyptian pyramids are time machines, UFO bases, or gates to other dimensions. Thank heavens (no pun intended) for the Mayans of Mexico, who left detailed written documents to explain the astronomy behind the construction of their pyramids. It turns out that the Mayans had a highly developed calendar system, using astronomical events to fix magical dates for sacrifices and other rituals. Their pyramids were built on alignments that pointed toward the positions of the Sun, the Moon, planets, and stars at these special dates. It can’t be definitely proven that the Egyptian pyramids, or the similar ziggurats of Mesopotamia, were built on the same kind of idea, but the astronomical alignments are similar, and so far no one have come up with a better explanation.

For the Mayans, the two most interesting objects in the sky were the planet Venus and the Sun. While Stonehenge and other ancient sites fixed the position of the midsummer sun at dawn, the Mayans used the moment when it directly overhead. Venus dips below the horizon at a variable date in the year and rises about 50 days later. The Mayans were able to calculate this period, and they were also able to predict eclipses. They marked these occasions with human sacrifice and chose days to go to war by consulting their astronomical calendars.

In the hills of Wyoming, there’s an ancient stone construction called the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, which some have called the American Stonehenge. A similar construction is the Moose Mountain Wheel in Alberta, Canada. Both were sacred sites for local Native Americans, but archaeologists date them from before the Plains Indians arrived to some unknown indigenous people.

The Big Horn Wheel has been dated to AD 1000-1400, and Moose Mountain to about 2,000 years ago. The markers -this time neat piles of stone- pick out important events in the sky: the summer solstice and the rising of the bright stars Aldebaran, Rigel, Sirius, and Fomalhaut. there are lots of other medicine wheels and similar constructions in North America, many of which are so damaged that it’s impossible to reconstruct their original alignments. But since the positions of dawn and the rising of the stars have changed a little over the centuries, it’s possible to date the construction of them (and all the others) by accurate scientific methods.

It’s not surprising that great civilizations like the Egyptians and the Mayans could develop a kind of astronomy. What’s amazing is that people from the Stone Age -or people still living Stone Age lifestyles- also had detailed knowledge of astronomy. Native Americans, nomads in the Sahara desert, and even genuine cavemen were doing the math and measuring the angles. How many people today could build an astronomical observatory out of lumps of rock?

You over there. Yes, you. Wanna give it a try?



Top 10 Beautiful Yet Deadly Carnivorous Plants

Over many million years of evolution, nature has created some most unusual and bizarre plants that attract, trap and digest animals. The list of animals that fall prey to these plants includes anything from small vertebrates and water fleas to nematodes and butterflies.

Famous as ‘carnivorous plants’, there are more than 600 of these fascinating species found all over the world. Having colonized a wide range of habitats, each type of plant is yet characterized by particular environmental conditions. Let's take a look at some of the most beautiful but deadly ‘meat-eater’ plant species.

10. Nepenthes

Nepenthes are an interesting looking plant genus, native to the Old World tropics and featuring about 100 species. Also known as 'Asian pitcher plants', they colonize a wide variety of tropical habitats, ranging from sea level to cool mountain regions.

The traps of these plants are passive pitfall traps, shaped like a pitcher, that do not move. These remarkably stable traps are filled with liquid which contains surface active substances. This liquid ensures that the victims are completely wetted and cannot escape once they have fallen in.

9. Cephalotus

Cephalotus has a very small area of distribution in southwestern Australia and it contains just one species, Cephalotus follicularis. It is also known as the 'Australian pitcher plant', as the plant has pitcher-shaped trap leaves.

It catches prey with the aid of pitfall traps. The whole process takes place in three different zones: the attraction zone, a slip zone, and a digestive zone. The trap opening is constricted by a collar, so once a victim falls into it, they are unable to climb back out again.

8. Heliamphora

This long-lived, evergreen perennial herb that develops simple or branched shoots from a rhizome is none other than Heliamphora. Collectively known as 'sun pitchers', these plants have a well-developed root system. The tubular leaves of the plant serves as the trapping organ. The funnel-shaped pitchers are filled with water and formed as pitfall traps. When insects fall into this liquid and drown, they are digested with the aid of bacteria that live in the liquid.

7. Byblis

Sometimes also called the 'rainbow plant', Byblis is a small genus of carnivorous plant which catches its prey using passive adhesive traps.

The leafy surfaces of rainbow plants are densely covered with glandular hairs, which are nothing but the traps. This trap secretes drops of mucilage to attract flying insects. As soon as the prey lands on this sticky slime, it gets stuck and then slowly starves to death.

6. Utricularia

First described in 1753, Utricularia is the most widely distributed genus of the carnivorous plants. Also famous as ‘bladderworts’, the tiny traps of this genus are the most complex and sophisticated found in carnivorous plants.

These little traps are bag-like structures which are suspended from the leaf braches. The trap opening is surrounded by snare-like antennae. Together with hairs and glands, the antennae attract the prey toward the valve opening. Once caught, there is no escape for the prey.

5. Sarracenia

Found exclusively in eastern Northern America, this genus has about 8-10 different species. The most attractive feature of these plants is their tubular leaves with a wing-like seam.

Usually Sarracenia species trap insects using pitchers with nectar and the slippery footing around the lip. It is also observed that the pitcher fluid has an intoxicating and anesthetic influence on various insects.

4. Pinguicula

With more than 80 species, the genus Pinguicula seems a bit plain at first glance. But these plants contain their own subtle beauty and complexities. Also known as ‘butterworts’, most of them are terrestrial and herbaceous rosette plants.

Leaves of butterworts have long-stalked glandular heads which produce sticky mucilage at their tip to ensnare the prey in ropy strands. Also, most Pinguicula species have a musty odor, which may serve to attract prey.

3. Aldrovanda

Similar to the genus Dionaea (see below), Aldrovanda species also use the snap-trap method to catch their prey. An herbaceous floating aquatic plant, typically pale green in color, it is also known as the ‘waterwheel plant’.

It contains leaves similar to those of the Venus flytrap. As suggested, to catch passing prey, a snap trap mechanism is used. The trap lobes are equipped with trigger hairs which cause the trap to close quickly and completely.

2. Drosera

Drosera regia, the king sundew, after being fed blood worms

The genus Drosera comprises more than 150 species, which are certainly the jewels of the carnivorous plant world. Also known as 'sundews', these plants are capable of self-pollination and self-fertilization.

Sundews have active adhesive traps. Their prey is also attracted with the aid of optical signals. Using stalked mucilaginous glands covering its leaf surface, the plant captures insects. In fact, to catch the victim, all species of sundew are capable of moving their tentacles toward the blade center.

1. Dionaea

The trap of a Venus fly trap, showing trigger hairs.

No one can deny the divine beauty of the ‘Venus flytrap’. Known as one of the most wonderful plants in the world, this species features probably the best-studied traps of all carnivorous plants. The genus Dionaea includes just one species, the Venus flytrap, a relatively small rosette plant which produces shoots in the spring.

The fast moving trapping leaves of the plant are snap traps with marginal bristles. As soon as the prey is sealed in, the trap closes and secures the prey; its soft parts are broken down, digested and absorbed. The digestion completes in about 10 days.

Today, it is hard to ignore the conservation status of some of the carnivorous plants. The growing interest in rare plant collection and habitat destruction are the two major factors affecting the survival of these incredible plants. Thus, combating illegal trade could help ensure their conservation.



Top 10 Unusual Landscapes

Inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of the places I’ve visited this summer, I thought it would be interesting to write an article on some of the world’s strangest landscapes. The Tessellated Pavement located in Tasmania, the Brazilian Valley of the Moon, Salar de Uyuni, Davolja Varos, the Giant’s Causeway and the following ten unusual landscapes proof Mother Nature is anything but boring. What’s the most unusual landscape you have ever seen?

10. Chocolate Hills, Philippines

More than 1,770 perfectly cone-shaped hills can be found in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, more exactly in Bohol. Unfortunately, these amazing hills aren’t really made of chocolate, but they do look curious. The hills look like a sea of chocolate kisses during the dry season. The unusual geological formation has baffled geologists for decades. There are different theories on how the conical hills formed.

Spread over an area of 50 square kilometers, the amazing hills are Philippines’s 3rd National Geological Monument together with Hundred Islands National Park and Taal Volcano, the world’s smallest active volcano.

9. Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

Scattered along the beautiful Koekohe beach in New Zealand, these unusually large boulders attract tourists from all over the world. According to the Society for Sedimentary Geology, “the Moeraki boulders are large calcite concretions with septarian veins of calcite and rare late-stage quartz and ferrous dolomite”. What’s so special about the Moeraki Boulders is the fact that they formed on the sea bed approximately 65 million years ago, a period that coincides with the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, now called the Cretaceous–Paleogene (or K–Pg) extinction event, a period of massive extinction of species, including dinosaurs.

8. Gates to Hell, Turkmenistan

It is estimated that Turkmenistan owns the world’s fifth largest reserves of natural gas. In May 2011, this was discovered in Turkmenistan – the second largest gas deposit, the South Yoloten gas field. It covers 1,500 square miles and is preceded by Iran’s South Pars gas field, the world’s largest.

The Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as Gates to Hell, is burning without interruption since 1971. It’s the year when some geologists who were digging in Darvaza for gas deposits, discovered a huge crater filled with poisonous gas and decided to light it on fire to burn off the excess and prevent local poisoning. Unfortunately, the deposit continues to burn to this day. Nobody knows for sure how much gas has been wasted and for how long it will continue to burn. Doesn’t this story remind you of the Centralia PA mine fire?

7. Pinnacles Desert, Australia

The enigmatic Pinnacles Desert is located in Australia’s Nambung National Park. Thousands of limestone pillars rise from the sands of the desert. The strange-looking limestone formations reach up to four meters in height.

Australia is famous for its unusual rock formations. Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Ayers Rock – also known as Uluru, the world’s largest monolith – Devil’s Marbles, the Wilpena Pound in Flinders Ranges, Murphy’s Haystacks, the Twelve Apostles and the incredible Wave Rock are some of the world’s most fascinating rock formations.

6. Stone Forests, China

The South China Karst region extends over 500.000 square kilometers. The spectacular karst topography comprises three provinces: Guangxi, Yunnan and Guizhou.

The Naigu Stone Forest and and the Suogeyi Village are protected UNESCO Sites since 2007. According to, the stone forests of Shilin, Yunnan Province “represent one of the world’s most spectacular examples of humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes. The stone forests of Shilin are considered superlative natural phenomena and a world reference with a wider range of pinnacle shapes than other karst landscapes with pinnacles, and a higher diversity of shapes and changing colors.”

5. Göreme National Park, Turkey

The main attraction of Turkey’s Cappadocia region is the Göreme National Park located in the Göreme Valley. Entirely sculpted by erosion, this spectacular landscape hides a wonderful historical heritage. Part of the national park includes rock-hewn sanctuaries that contain unique evidence of Byzantine art from the post-Iconoclastic era, ancient underground cave dwellings and troglodyte villages. There have been discovered the remains of a human habitat estimated to date back to the 4th century.

According to geologists, the eroded plateau of the Turkish valley is an extraordinary example “of the effects of differential erosion of the volcanic tuff sediments by wind and water.”

4. Rio Tinto, Spain

The 58-mile-long Spanish river flows from the mountains of Sierra Morena to the Gulf of Cadiz through one of the earth’s largest deposits of pyrite. The rather otherworldly landscape is the result of at least 5,000 years of mining activity. With a low pH and full of heavy metals, scientists claim that the Rio Tinto fluvial-estuarine system is one of the planet’s most polluted. Rio Tinto played a key role in history. It is the birthplace of the Bronze Age and Copper Age.

3. Ethiopia’s Dallol Volcano

The number three spot goes to the hottest inhabited place on earth. If the average year-round temperature in Ethiopia is 94 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature regularly exceeds 115 degrees in the Danakil Depression, where the Dallol volcano is located.

At approximately 157 feet /48 m below sea level, Dallol is the planet’s lowest land volcano.

The bizarre landscape with hues of red, green, yellow and white consists of salt ponds, hot mineral springs and geysers. The diverse colors come from potassium salts colored by sulphur and various chlorides & oxides.

2. Antelope Canyon, USA

I envy all of you who had the chance to visit this corner of paradise. Blessed with unusual but splendid rock formations, Arizona seems to be the home of natural wonders. The Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Wave are some of the world’s most visited and photographed places.

The Antelope Canyon is split into the Upper Antelope Canyon (Tse’ bighanilini) & the Lower Antelope Canyon (Hasdestwazi). The meaning of their Navajo names translates into “the place where water runs through rocks, respectively “spiral rock arches”. The lower section is deeper, longer and more challenging than the upper one.

1. Socotra Island, Yemen

You have not been transported to another planet. It’s the number one of list, the most unusual landscape I’ve ever seen.

There is a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean that has been described as the world’s most alien-looking place. The Socotra Archipelago consists of four islands and two rocky islets of universal importance. claims that “37% of Socotra’s 825 plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world. As one of the most biodiversity rich and distinct islands in the world, has been termed the “Galápagos of the Indian Ocean”.

The Yemeni island is home to some fascinating species of flora, such as the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena Cinnabari), the Desert Rose (Adenium Obesium), Cucumber Tree (Dendrosicyos Socotranum), Dorstenia Gigas and many more. Aren’t these some of the weirdest looking plants you’ve ever laid eyes on?



Top 10 Quotes by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, writer, and wit who was an integral part of the fin de siècle group of artists who made up the Aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century. As a young man, he attended Trinity College in Dublin, and then applied for, and won, a demyship at Magdalen College at Oxford University. There, he became a freemason, even though he was fascinated with Catholicism. It was at Magdalen College that Wilde came into his own, reading, writing, wearing his hair long, and refusing to conform to social norms. He decorated his rooms lavishly and entertained visitors almost daily.

In his third year at Magdalen, Wilde met Walter Pater, an influential player in the Aesthetic Movement. Pater helped Wilde form some of his own personal philosophical tenants, and Wilde lauded him in The Critic as Artist. Here we take a look at some of the best quotes by one of the most quotable wits of the 19th century on this, the anniversary of his death. As we explore the quotes, we learn a little more about this charming but excessive individual.

10. “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
– from The Critic as Artist

In the essay The Critic as Artist, Oscar Wilde set out to present the aesthetic philosophy in a dialog between two characters – Gilbert and Ernest. Gilbert tells Ernest that basically true art comes from criticism – that critical thought is guided by the soul as well as the aesthetic sense. Gilbert also says, “The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.” Wilde knew he was ahead of his time, and he certainly did suffer for his lifestyle, if not for his genius.

9. “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”
– from The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray was Wilde’s only published novel. The title character, influenced by Lord Henry Wooton, chooses a life of hedonism, and winds up trading his soul for eternal beauty – instead of aging, the portrait that Basil Hallward painted of Dorian would age instead. Dorian goes on to live a life of debauchery, the only evidence of which is displayed on the ever-corrupting painting that stays hidden behind a curtain. While the novel garnered mostly negative criticism upon publication in 1890, it has gone on to be analyzed and glorified in literary circles as a commentary on influence, responsibility (or lack there of) and the duplicity of the aesthetic movement with its desire to break societal norms, all the while still concerned with Victorian perception and reputation. This is something that Wilde would experience firsthand.

8. “All great ideas are dangerous.”
-from De Profundis

De Profundis is a letter written at the end of Wilde’s imprisonment for “improper acts.” The imprisonment was the result of Wilde’s intimate relationship with a young aristocrat named Lord Alfred Douglas. Douglas’s father was the Marquess of Queensberry, and he was staunchly opposed to his son’s association with Wilde, who was unapologetic about his lifestyle, and his choice to keep company with young, attractive men. Wilde and Douglas began their association in 1892, and by 1895 Wilde had seen some success with the plays The Importance of Being Ernest and An Ideal Husband. The Marquess began to harass Wilde publicly, accusing him of sodomy, so Wilde sued him for libel. The tables turned, and Wilde was sent to prison for “gross indecency with other men.” The trial was highly sensationalized, with Wilde sentenced to two years imprisonment, with hard labor.

The letter in question was not actually published until Wilde had been dead for five years. It consists of two main parts – the first is a retelling of Wilde and Douglas’s relationship, and the second is an account of Wilde’s spiritual development.

7. “If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.”
– from Lady Windermere’s Fan

Lady Windermere’s Fan was a satire that follows Lady Windermere, her suspicion that her husband is unfaithful, her confrontation of said husband, who invites a woman to Lady Windermere’s birthday party, Lady Windermere’s overreaction to this by almost taking up with a lover, and the discovery that the woman she suspected her husband was cheating on her with was really her mother. Confusing? Yes. But then, so was Wilde’s own life. He married Constance Lloyd in 1884, fathered two children by her, despite his preference for the company of men. Constance stayed married to Wilde, but changed her name and the names of her sons to Holland to remove them from the scandal surrounding Wilde’s imprisonment. She died two years before Oscar did, because of complications from a fall.

6. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

– from Lady Windermere’s Fan

This is one of the most famous Oscar Wilde quotes. It is spoken by Lord Darlington, who has a great admiration for Lady Windermere, much to her chagrin, though she later decides to have an affair with him. It doesn’t happen, and she and her husband end up reconciling. This quote shows a bit of humility, when Wilde felt anything but about the play. In fact, he made a rather notorious speech at the premiere of the play, wherein he congratulated the audience on their “performance” in watching and reacting to the play.

5. “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
- from the prologue of The Picture of Dorian Gray

The quote above comes from the preface of A Picture of Dorian Gray that Wilde added in a later edition. A long, passionate missive, it transcends the story itself in many ways, but has also been criticized as pretentious. Judge for yourself:
“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.”

4. “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
– from The Nightingale and the Rose

Obviously, this quote was close to home for Wilde, who suffered greatly for his honesty about his lifestyle. He did want to make people laugh, and he succeeded, but it was not enough to save him from social death and exile.

3. “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
– from An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband was the last play to hit the stage before Wilde’s imprisonment. The play explores the concept of honor – public and private, and this quote speaks to Wilde’s, and the aesthetes idea that the artist’s only goal is to create art and get it into the world. It also cracks on the Victorian idea of propriety – saying that if nothing else, if you love yourself, you have at least one lifelong fan.

2. “The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.”
– from The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Selected Critical Prose

Obviously, Wilde was an artist and wanted to be known for his art, his wit, his style, and his statement to the world. Instead of being fascinated with those things, the public focused on Wilde’s personal life and the scandal that surrounded his trial and subsequent imprisonment. After he was released from prison, he was in poor health and because he was an aspiring Catholic he requested a retreat but was denied, which hurt his feelings badly. He reunited with Douglas, much to his wife and friend’s dismay, and his health continued to fail. He cabled Robert Ross, who would be the executor of Wilde’s estate, to come help him after he and Douglas had split.

1. “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”
- reported final words

Wilde uttered this phrase to visitors in his last days, after he was confined to his hotel room. Ross arrive on November 29, 1900 and sent for a priest because Wilde looked so sick. He had cerebral meningitis and was on a lot of morphine at the time he died. Sadly, one of the most prominent Wilde biographers, Richard Ellman, wrote that the meningitis was brought on by syphilis. Further study has been done on the circumstances of Wilde’s death, and it is almost certain that he did not have syphilis after all. Ellman rushed to finish his biography of Wilde because of his own failing health, so the cause of Wilde’s death remains a topic of some debate. Wilde was baptized into the Catholic Church the day before his death, so his wish to become Catholic was finally granted, which brought him peace in his final hours.

Oscar Wilde died on November 30, 1900, leaving a rich legacy of thought, an interesting body of work, and, obviously, plenty of quotable lines.



Top 9 World Famous Pits and Sinkholes

Nature never stops to amaze us with its magnificent phenomenon just like these inexplicable holes in the ground. I bet that these holes make an excellent tourist attraction. Check out these unreal photographs and location descriptions of 9 of world’s most famous pits and sinkholes.

1. Lisbon, Portugal, Sinkhole

A parked bus was the unfortunate “meal” of a sinkhole that opened up in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, in 2003.

“Anything that increases the flow of water into subsurface soil can speed up the formation of sinkholes’” ,Missouri State’s Gouzie said. In many cities, utility infrastructure such as sewer lines and fiber optic cables are buried in troughs filled with loose material, which can wash away over time. In some cases, a stretch of road can essentially become a concrete bridge over mostly empty space.

“It’s eventually not enough to hold the weight of the next truck over it,” Gouzie said.

2. Guatemala Sinkhole

Heavy rains from tropical storm Agatha likely triggered the collapse of a huge sinkhole in Guatemala on Sunday, seen above a few days afterward.

In the strictly geologic use of the word, a sinkhole happens when water erodes solid bedrock, carving an underground cavity that can then collapse. Many parts of the United States are at risk for that type of event.

The Guatemala sinkhole fits into a broader use of the term, which refers to any sudden slump of the ground’s surface. Instead of solid bedrock, much of Guatemala City rests atop a layer of loose, gravelly volcanic pumice that is hundreds of feet thick. And at least one geologist says leaking pipes—not nature—created the recent sinkhole.

Overall, the risk for repeat sinkholes in Guatemala City is high—but highly unpredictable.

3. Winter Park, Florida, Sinkhole

the sinkhole in Winter Park, Florida (map), opened up in 1981 underneath the city’s public swimming pool, Missouri State’s Gouzie said.

“I’ve never seen a final report as to whether the pool was leaking,” he said, adding that water can flow into the underlying soil through tiny cracks in the bottom of a pool. Even watering plants at the pool’s perimeter could have sent enough runoff through Florida’s sandy soil to erode the solid limestone underneath.

Gouzie said the U.S. Geological Survey has mapped the types of bedrock that exist across the country. But studies of the underground cracks and fissures—and the way water travels through them—are still needed to predict where sinkholes could occur.

4. Mulberry, Florida, Sinkhole

This 185-foot-deep (56-meter-deep) sinkhole appeared in 1994 in Mulberry, Florida (map), in a pile of waste material dumped by mining company IMC-Agrico. The company was mining rock to extract phosphate, a main ingredient in fertilizers and a chemical used to produce phosphoric acid, added to enhance the taste of soda and various food items.

After phosphate was extracted from the rocks, the gypsum-based waste product was dumped as a slurry. As layer after layer of the stuff dried, it formed cracks, like those that appear in dried mud. Water later made its way through the cracks and carried away subsurface material, setting the stage for a sinkhole.

5. Blue Hole, Belize

Sinkholes can happen anywhere water can erode a vertical channel that connects to a horizontal drain, a situation that allows a column of solid material to wash away, Missouri State’s Gouzie explained.

If the sinkhole is near the sea—or in the sea, as with the famous Blue Hole in Lighthouse Reef off the coast of Belize—seawater can quickly seep in after a collapse, forming a deep pool.

6. Picher, Oklahoma, Sinkhole

Years of mining for zinc and lead has left Picher, Oklahoma, near the border with Kansas, literally full of holes—including this sinkhole seen in 2008. Some mines were dug too close to the surface, and the roofs were unable to support the weight of earth on top, leading to collapses.

“It has happened in Missouri and in western Pennsylvania from coal mining,” Missouri State’s Gouzie said. “We’ve gotten better with buidlng mines so the roofs can support the weight over top of them.”

7. Iceland Sinkhole

Adventure kayaker Mick Coyne lowers himself down the wall of a sinkhole toward the headwaters of the Jokulsa, Iceland’s second longest river. Though the river is fed by melt from a glacier, this 150-foot (45-meter), inverted funnel-shaped hole was blasted into being by rising steam from geothermal vents below.

8. Ik-Kil Cenote, Mexico

Swimmers float in the saphirre waters of the Ik-Kil cenote, near the Maya site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Cenote means “natural well” in Spanish. Sinkholes occurring at sea level will fill up as high as the water table, creating the famous clear blue pools, used by the Maya royalty for both relaxation and ritual sacrifices.

9. Neversink Pit, Alabama

Neversink Pit, a wet limestone sinkhole in Alabama seen above in 1998, is about 50 feet (15 meters) deep and houses a rare species of fern. The sinkhole was bought in the 1990s by a group of cavers to preserve it for future generations.

Karst is the geologic term for landscapes formed mainly by the dissolving of limestone or dolomite bedrock. In the United States, karst underlies parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Alabama, Texas, and most of Florida. Such areas are marked by sinking streams, subterranean drainage, large springs, caves—and, of course, sinkholes.



Top 5 Natural Wonders of the World Which Will Disappear

Dark estimates ! According to some estimates, if global warming continues, the Great Barrier Reef will disappear by 2030, glaciers in the Swiss Alps and Mount Kilimanjaro will suffer the same fate in less than 40 years, and ice in the Arctic will North Pole leave “empty” and polar bears are threatened by extinction. Here are five natural wonders of the world are under threat of extinction and worth seeing.

1. Everglades
National park in Florida, which has an area of ​​approximately 2.5 million acres, including wetlands, cypress pond, mangroves, pine savannas.What is interesting about this place that is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators share the territory.Threats are: pollution that comes from farms, invasive species, developing irrational, plus the fact that 60% of the region’s water is diverted to cities.At least 20 other species
in the Everglades are in danger

2. Maldives
Why are in danger these islands?Because continued global warming and melting ice leads to rising sea levels. The small islands and atolls 1190 (of which 200 are inhabited) amounted to only about 2.5 meters above sea level.These lovely islands are situated in Indian Ocean and is rich in coral and fish species that are unfortunately in danger, such as leopard sharks.

3. Ranthambore National Park - Indian state of Rajasthan
Do you like tigers?Well this is the perfect place to see they.Bad news because wild tiger population has declined overall by about 3,200 copies, more than half of them living in India. Unless efforts are extreme, these animals could disappear in our lifetime.

4. Tropical Forest Tahuamanu
This lovely place is populated of Macaw parrots which are endangered, such as jaguars, ocelots and giant otters.Magnificent forest of Peru is a significant source of mahogany, but illegal logging has severely affected the United States is responsible for the purchase of 80% of mahogany.

5. Yangtze River Basin

Exotic animals such as sheep, dwarf or giant panda can be found in this area.Yangtze River basin is in danger of losing species of marine life and animal special. Deforestation, pollution and landslides have severely affected region.