Amazing Volkswagen Glass Car Silos in Germany

The Autostadt is a visitor attraction adjacent to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, with a prime focus on automobiles. It features a museum, feature pavilions for the principal automobile brands in the Volkswagen Group, a customer centre where customers can pick up new cars, and take a tour through the enormous factory, a guide to the evolution of roads, and cinema in a large sphere. It is also home to the largest glass doors in the world and the longest printed line. The line starts from outside Wolfsburg and travels through Autostadt to a point on a farm. It is about 4 miles (6.4 km) long.

There are two 60 meter/200 ft tall glass silos used as storage for new Volkswagens. The two towers are connected to the Volkswagen factory by a 700 metre underground tunnel. When cars arrive at the towers they are carried up at a speed of 1.5 metres per second. The render for the Autostadt shows 6 towers. When purchasing a car from Volkswagen (the main brand only, not the sub-brands) in select European countries, it is optional if the customer wants it delivered to the dealership where it was bought or if the customer wants to travel to Autostadt to pick it up. If the latter is chosen, the Autostadt supplies the customer with free entrance, meal tickets and a variety of events building up to the point where the customer can follow on screen as the automatic elevator picks up the selected car in one of the silos. The car is then transported out to the customer without having driven a single meter, and the odometer is thus on “0″.


12 Beautiful Pictures of Lava Tubes Around the World

Lava tubes are natural conduits through which lava travels beneath the surface of a lava flow. Typically they are expelled by a volcano during an eruption and can be actively draining lava from a source; or they can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased and the rock has cooled and left a long, cave-like channel.

Lava tubes are a type of lava cave, formed when an active low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous and hard crust, which thickens and forms a roof above the still-flowing lava stream. Tubes form in one of two ways: by the crusting over of lava channels, and from pahoehoe (lava) flows where the lava is moving under the surface.

Lava tubes can be up to 14–15 metres (46–49 ft) wide, though are often narrower, and run anywhere from 1–15 metres (3 ft 3 in–49 ft 3 in) below the surface. Lava tubes can also be extremely long; one tube from the Mauna Loa 1859 flow enters the ocean about 50 kilometers (31 mi) from its eruption point, and the Cueva del Viento – Sobrado system on Teide, Tenerife island, is over 18 kilometers (11 mi) long, due to extensive braided maze areas at the upper zones of the system.

Below you will find a gallery of beautiful lava tubes around the world along with some interesting images of various formations within lava tubes such as lavacicles and lava pillars. When viewing, try to imagine a time when lava was flowing through these remarkable tubes. Enjoy!

1. Manjanggul Lava Tube – Jeju Island, South Korea

2. Undara Lava Tubes – Queensland, Australia

3. Thurston Lava Tube – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawaii

4. Lava Tube in Lava Beds National Monument – California, USA

5. Manjanggul Lava Tube – Jeju Island, South Korea

6. Valentine Cave Lava Tube – Lava Beds National Monument, California

7. Lavacicles in Mushpot Cave Lava Tube – California, USA

8. Shark Tooth Stalactites – Big Island of Hawaii, USA

9. Lava Pillar at Manjanggul – Jeju Island, South Korea

10. Manjanggul Lava Tube – Jeju Island, South Korea

11. Lava Tube at Mojave National Preserve – San Bernardino County, California

12. Manjanggul Lava Tube – Jeju Island, South Korea


Transfagarasan Road, Romania

The Transfagarasan mountain road or national road 7C is the second-highest paved road in Romania, and considered by some to be the most dramatic in Europe. Built as a strategic military route, the 90 km of twists and turns run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu. The Transfagarasan starts at Bascov, near Piteçti. It follows the valley of the river Argea and after mounting to the highest point, it descends to Cartisoara in the Olt valley, where the road ends.

The road climbs to an altitude 2,034 meters and has sharp hairpin turns that are both a challenge and source of excitement for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. The most spectacular route is from the North where it’s the most winding dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. The road is usually closed from late October until late June because of snow. Depending on the weather, it may remain open until as late as November. Travellers can find food and lodging at several hotels or chalets (cabane) along the way.

Among the attractions along the southern section of the road, near the village of Arefu, is the Poienari fortress. The castle served as the residence of Vlad III the Impaler, the prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character. The northern section is used as a part of yearly cyclist competitions Tour of Romania. The difficulty of this section is considered to be very similar to Hors Categorie climbs in the Tour de France.

The Transfagarasan was constructed between 1970 and 1974 by the military forces. It came as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Nicolae Ceaușescu, the president of Romania, wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in the event the Soviets attempted a similar move into Romania. Consequently, the road was built at a high cost both financially and from a human standpoint—roughly 6 million kilograms of dynamite were used on the northern face, and the official records mention that about 40 soldiers lost their lives in building accidents.


Zama's Sunflower Festival

Zama is a city located in central Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, famous for its extensive sunflower fields. Every year in summer the flowers bloom and during this time the annual Sunflower Festival or Himawari Matsuri is organized. From late July through August more than half a million sunflowers are displayed at various locations around Zama.

During the festival, visitors can enjoy music and entertainment, great food and buy farm fresh produce. An array of sunflower products, from Sunflower seeds to Sunflower beer and sunflower pasta are sold at the festival. The plants grow pretty tall - over 5 feet. A raised platform is built at the edge of the field enabling visitors to take elevated pictures of the entire sunflower field.

The sunflower, which is indigenous to America, were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Sunflower leaves aren’t wasted, either, being used for cattle feed and the fibrous stems for paper production. Sunflowers also has a peculiar ability to extract toxic ingredients from soil, such as lead, arsenic and uranium. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, volunteers and campaigners in Japan grew sunflowers to decontaminate the radioactive soil. A similar campaign was mounted in response to the Chernobyl disaster in Russia.


Fire Rainbow

No, it’s not the first of April, the phenomenon known as a “fire rainbow” does exist. Here, read the science behind it and marvel at some amazing photography of this rare beauty, the Circumhorizon Arc, known to its friends as a CHA.

If you are very lucky you may see a fire rainbow once or twice in your life. It sounds like it could be one of a series of children’s books – “Harry Potter and the Fire Rainbow” has a certain ring to it, but this phenomenon is not fiction. If you are in the right place and at the right time then a fire rainbow is something that you will remember witnessing forever.

To name it properly, a fire rainbow is a circumhorizontal arc. It is also known as a circumhorizon arc but whichever you chose, scientists (and aficionados) call it a CHA. It is given its name because it looks as if a rainbow has spontaneously combusted as it made its way across the sky. It could even be suspected, perhaps, that some malign fairy or goblin has blown the rainbow up to stop some errant human discovering that elusive pot of gold at its end!

The real explanation behind a fire rainbow lies more in science text books than in a Brothers Grimm tale. A CHA is a kind of halo – which is an optical phenomenon. These appear around the moon – or in this case the Sun. You have probably seen a halo yourself around a strong light source – take a look at street lights in the fog for example.

Although there are many different types of optical halos, a CHA is caused by the refraction though ice crystals in cirrus clouds of light from the sun. Refraction happens when the speed of light is reduced inside a particular medium. This particular refraction happens when light goes from air without cloud to air containing cloud. In this case it is vital that the cloud is cirrus in shape.

A cirrus cloud is one of those thin, wispy ones, often with tufts sticking out like disheveled hair! They can be huge – covering so much of the sky that you cannot see where one ends and another begins. When they are a massive sheet they are called cirrostratus. They are formed at enormous heights – over eight thousand meters. There is very little moisture at those heights and that’s why they are so skinny!

So, what happens when light hits a cirrus cloud and what special conditions are needed to form a fire rainbow? The refraction of the light causes it to separate from its “white” form to its different components (which people call wavelengths). The person on the street would say that the light is bent out of shape and split up in to all the different colors that make it up. In other words, a rainbow – or in our case, a fire rainbow!

So, why don’t we see fire rainbows as often as (its now more mundane!) cousin, the rainbow? For a start the sun has to be at least fifty eight degrees above the horizon for one to occur – and you have to be lucky enough to have cirrus clouds around at the same time! Because of the necessary height of the sun you will not see a fire rainbow north of fifty five degrees – and likewise further south of the magic fifty five degrees. You may occasionally see one if you are high up on a mountain further south or north, but it is not likely!

It is vital that the crystal is aligned just so as otherwise the light will not separate in to the rainbow like colors we expect. If the alignment is correct then the whole cirrus cloud will “explode” in to a flaming, fire rainbow! The sight is almost as if someone has sprayed the sky with gasoline, thrown a lit match at it and then leant back, arms folded, to take in their handiwork!

So, if you are lucky enough to see this phenomenon, perhaps it is a good idea to make a wish! The conditions for a fire rainbow are so exact that it means that to see one is a rare sight indeed. When nature does us this sort of favor by giving us a gift such as this, then perhaps it is only right that we make a wish when we encounter it! It may not be very scientific, but to be honest, would you care?