Size of the Observable Universe in Perspective

The age of the universe is about 13.75 billion years. The diameter of the observable universe is estimated at about 28 billion parsecs (93 billion light-years). As a reminder, a light-year is a unit of length equal to just under 10 trillion kilometres (or about 6 trillion miles).

The Observable Universe consists of the galaxies and other matter that we can, in principle, observe from Earth in the present day—because light (or other signals) from those objects has had time to reach the Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion.

The word observable used in this sense does not depend on whether modern technology actually permits detection of radiation from an object in this region (or indeed on whether there is any radiation to detect). It simply indicates that it is possible in principle for light or other signals from the object to reach an observer on Earth.

The numbers are pretty hard to comprehend even when you know what each unit represents. To even think of how long 10 trillion kilometers might be, let alone 93 billion times that distance, can cause your brain to hurt. Andrew Z. Colvin has attempted to put some of this incomprehensible size into perspective by starting with our own planet and zooming out from there.

1. Earth

2. Solar System

3. Solar Interstellar Neighborhood

4. Milky Way Galaxy

5. Local Galactic Group

6. Virgo Superclusters

7. Local Superclusters

8. The Observable Universe

9. Pale Blue Dot


Ancient Indonesian Gold Sculptures

Like much of Southeast Asia, the island of Java (today a part of the archipelago nation of Indonesia) has historically been highly influenced by Indian civilization. The religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, both originating from the subcontinent, were the vehicles through which Indian culture spread across Java and the greater archipelago region. However, due to its location near the strategic Straights of Malacca, one of the most important maritime routes in the world, Java was also exposed to many other cultural influences. As Buddhism began to spread in China, Chinese pilgrims would often stop in Java en route to the holy sites in India. Like other cultures exposed to foreign influences, the Javanese did not practice wholesale assimilation, but instead opted to pick and choose certain elements that appealed to their tastes, incorporating them into their own culture, while altogether ignoring other aspects.

Before the spread of Islam into the archipelago beginning in the 13th century and the rise of various Muslim states in the following centuries, Hinduism and Buddhism flourished in Java and beyond. Even after the majority of Java converted to Islam, certain Hindu customs and beliefs persisted among the greater population. While Hinduism and Buddhism share several similarities, the type practiced in Java was syncretic, combining certain features with native traditions. Hindu and Buddhist maritime kingdoms began to emerge on the archipelago at the end of the first millennium. Srivijaya was perhaps the most dominant. Although based in Sumatra, the Srivijaya Kingdom was allied with the Buddhist Saliendra Dynasty (the builders of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist structure in the world) who controlled Java. As the power of the Saliendras began to wane, a rival Indianized kingdom began to take over. Known as the Matarams, from their base in Central Java, this kingdom quickly rose to prominence, becoming a serious rival to Srivijaya hegemony.

Data Museum :
Sculpture of Bhairava
Date: ca. 13th–14th century
Culture: Indonesia (East Java)
Medium: Gold
Dimensions: H. 3 1/2 in. (9 cm)
Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line:
The Samuel Eilenberg-Jonathan P. Rosen Collection of Indonesian Gold, Bequest of Samuel Eilenberg and Gift of Jonathan P. Rosen, 1998

Accession Number: 1998.544.38
This artwork is not on display

Indonesian Gold Sculpture of a Deity – CK.0165
Origin: Indonesia
Circa: 900 AD to 1300 AD
Dimensions: 7.25″ (18.4cm) high x 2″ (5.1cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Gold

Indonesian Gold Sculpture of a Deity – CK.0159
Origin: Indonesia
Circa: 900 AD to 1300 AD
Dimensions: 4.125″ (10.5cm) high x 2″ (5.1cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Gold

Some of the other Solley properties in the auction are much more diminutive but no less stunning. Lot 290, for example, is a rare gold figure of Durga that is only 3 1/4 inches high. The very finely cast statue from Central Java in Indonesia, circa 8th/9th Century, is standing on a buffalo holding a dagger and backed by a delicate ovoid nimbus. The lot has a modest estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $26,400.

Indonesian Gold Sculpture of a Deity – CK.0160

Origin: Indonesia
Circa: 900 AD to 1300 AD
Dimensions: 4″ (10.2cm) high x 2.25″ (5.7cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Gold
Location: United States

Indonesian Gold Sculpture of Shiva – CK.0158
Origin: Indonesia
Circa: 900 AD to 1300 AD
Dimensions: 8.75″ (22.2cm) high x 2.5″ (6.4cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Gold
Location: United States

Indonesian Gold Sculpture of Buddha with a Bronze Base – CK.0110
Origin: Indonesia
Circa: 11 th Century AD to 14 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13.25″ (33.7cm) high x 5.25″ (13.3cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Gold, Bronze, Ruby
Location: United States

The historical figure, Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni is the Buddha of compassion who, having achieved the highest evolutionary perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all living beings. Born around 560 B.C. somewhere between the hills of south Nepal and the Rapti river, his father was a Raja who ruled over the northeastern province of India, the district including the holy Ganges River. The young prince was married to Yashoda when he was about 17 years old and together they had a son named Rahula. At the age of 29, he left his life of luxury, as he felt compelled to purify his body and make it an instrument of the mind by ridding himself of earthly impulses and temptations. – (CK.0110)

Type : Gold Sculpture
Circa : 14 Century AD, Majapahit Kingdom
Origin : East Java, Indonesia
Material : Gold

Circa : 14 Century AD, Majapahit Kingdom
Origin : East Java, Indonesia
Material : Gold
Linnaeusstraat 2, 1092 CK Amsterdam


Top 10 Bloodiest Student Protests

Throughout history, countless students have taken to the streets demanding changes to the status quo. They have been a voice and a banner-carrier for populations oppressed by strict or repressive government regimes. They have gathered together to demand better and fairer education for all. And they have set themselves up against senseless wars and violence. Bloodshed, injury and death did not deter them. They shook entire countries to the core, brought about much-needed reforms and re-shaped the fabric of entire societies. Here’s a look at 10 of the bloodiest student protests in history.

10. May 1968 Protests, France

On May 3, 1968, a student protest at the Sorbonne University nearly sparked a revolution. Protesting against the closure of the University of Paris at Nanterre and the planned expulsion of a number of Nanterre students, Sorbonne University students took to the streets en masse. The students, teachers and supporters were also fed up with France’s outdated educational system and the lack of job opportunities for graduates.

Over a period of several days, hundreds of students battled it out with police in Paris’s Latin Quarter, setting up barricades, throwing rocks and braving tear gas. Discontentment with the political and economic conditions in France boiled to the surface, and what started out as a few student protests escalated into a month and a half of utter chaos, during which several people died and hundreds were injured.

Twenty-two percent of the entire working population went on strike, demanding concessions for their working conditions and bringing the capitalist government to the verge of collapse. Despite the injuries and bloodshed, the strikes led to a major educational reform bill, better working conditions and higher wages for workers.

9. German Student Movement, 1968

Global unrest was rampant in 1968, and West Germany was no exception. Communist undercurrents were growing, universities were overcrowded, and a faction of the leftist party, under their anarchist-leaning leader Rudi Dutschke, was persuading the majority to take radical action.

More and more students began to go on strike. And things came to a head on April 11, when Dutschke was shot in the head three times by fascist Josef Bachmann, who called Dutschke a “dirty communist pig.” Dutschke sustained serious brain damage that eventually led to his death in 1979.

Enraged by the shooting and the Bild newspaper’s message to “eliminate the troublemakers,” 50,000 young people took to the streets and prevented the delivery of the newspaper. Police fought back with water cannons and officers on horseback, arresting over 180 students.

8. Student Strike of 1970, USA

On May 4, 1970, a group of students at Kent State University in Ohio gathered to protest President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. Tensions were high, and the Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds into the unarmed crowd. Four students died, one was paralyzed and eight others were injured. The deaths left the nation stunned, leading to both violent and peaceful protests across the country.

Over 450 educational institutions, from high schools to universities, were closed when a staggering four million students got involved. Mass havoc ensued, with protesters targeting ROTC (Reserve Training Officer Corp) buildings and burning or bombing them.

Protesters turned Washington into an armed camp, slashing tires, breaking windows and pulling cars into intersections. One student described the scenes as a more of “civil war” than a student protest.

Later, even more people were injured when incensed Vietnam War supporters retaliated against the protests.

7. 2011-2012 Chilean Student Protests

On August 4, 2011, after months of protests, Chilean students rejected President SebastiĆ”n PiƱera’s proposed education reforms, and the center of Santiago, Chile’s capital city, was declared “a state of siege.” In August alone, 90 military police were injured, 874 protesters were arrested, and an entire department store was burned down.

The blasts of water cannons, empty tear-gas canisters and thousands of furious students characterized the demonstration. Previous protests ran the gamut from pillow-fights and kiss-ins, to throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at police.

The main goal of these massive strikes was to increase funding for public education: no new public universities have been built in the country since 1990, and these are swamped with a growing number of students seeking higher education.

Deep discontent over these social inequalities has led up to 200,000 students to demonstrate at a time. What’s more, over 500 police have been injured, one student has died, and approximately 1,800 students have been arrested since May 2011. The protests are ongoing.

6. Iran Student Protests, 1999

After a long day protesting against the closure of reformist newspaper Salam, students from Iran’s Tehran University fell asleep in their dormitories. It was July 8, 1999, and social unrest was at an all time high – but things were about to get a lot worse.

A few hours after midnight, the students woke to an unprecedented attack. Plainclothes policemen and a paramilitary faction violently broke into the dorm. They shattered windows, set students’ beds and belongings on fire, and virtually destroyed the dorm. They left many students injured. One student, a visitor to the campus, was killed in the attack.

In the aftermath, the protests, which had previously been limited to college campuses, spilled out into the public arena and garnered the support of many ordinary citizens. The focus shifted to protecting student rights and protesting the dormitory attack. Police and vigilantes employed brutal force to crush the demonstrations, beating people with sticks and batons, detaining others and killing at least five.

Some of those who were detained were interrogated and tortured. The protests were crushed after five days. Yet, although they seemed to end in failure, these events laid the foundation for Iran’s independent student movement, which has been active in the country ever since.

5. The Trisakti Shootings, Indonesia, 1998

Four students were shot dead and dozens more were injured by security forces at Trisakti University in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 12, 1998.

Earlier in the day, 6,000 students, lecturers and staff had gathered to demand that President Suharto resign. The economy in Indonesia was at an all-time low. But although the protest was peaceful, police blocked the demonstrators’ march, forced them back onto the university campus and indiscriminately fired on groups of students.

It may have even been live bullets that were used, although rubber bullets can still be fatal at close range. When the public learned of the killings, they rioted, burning people alive in buildings, looting stores and tearing up lampposts.

Although they’d turned out in protest of the killings, the riots soon turned far more sinister. Rioters began to deliberately target Chinese-Indonesians, resulting in a gut-wrenching 1,200 deaths. President Suharto resigned on May 21, 1998. Although investigation into the shootings remains open, the case has been stalled.

4. Athens Polytechnic Uprising, Greece, 1973

When their strike on November 14, 1973 elicited no response, students from Athens Polytechnic barricaded themselves inside the university, building a radio station using supplies from a laboratory. They broadcast across Athens, urging the people of Greece to join them in their stand against the military junta and dictatorship.

Thousands answered the call, gathering inside and around the university, in open counter-government revolt. They paid a high price. In the morning of November 17, 25 tanks rolled onto the streets and set themselves up in front of the University. Students requested permission to evacuate, but before the allotted time was up, one of the tanks crashed right through the front gates.

Others tried to flee and were taken out by nervous military snipers on the rooftops. The death toll came to at least 24, with hundreds more suffering injuries, and as many as 1,000 people were arrested. Within a year, the military junta had toppled and Greece celebrated free elections.

3. Tiananmen Square Protests, China, 1989

The Tiananmen Square Massacre is one of the most well-known and iconic student protests in history. On April 21, 1989, as many as 100,000 Chinese students poured into Tiananmen Square. And when an April 26 government editorial denounced their protests as “rioting,” students demanded that the editorial be retracted.

Students insisted their protests were patriotic and were afraid that the term “rioting” would result in government repercussions. Next, students organized hunger strikes and soon won the sympathy and support of thousands of students from the provinces, as well as other citizen groups. And at the peak of the gatherings, 500,000 protestors gathered in the square.

Meanwhile, the government leaders were in turmoil. They believed that to back down would be “a fatal show of weakness.” Seven weeks later, matters were getting desperate, martial law was instated and the People’s Liberation Army was ordered to clear the square.

On June 3, 1989, the 27th and 38th divisions of the PLA (brought in from the surrounding provinces) moved in and fired tear gas to break up the crowds. Troops were told not to shoot at the demonstrators, and most of them didn’t even carry guns.

The protestors, however, dug in and set up barricades. They threw rocks and, according to one source, “burned tank crews inside their tanks.” That night, the army returned, this time fully armed, shooting live weapons and famously crushing civilians under their tank treads. Fatality estimates range from the hundreds to the thousands.

2. Tlatelolco Massacre, Mexico, 1968

October 2, 1968 was a tragic day for Mexico. The country was gearing up to host the 1968 Summer Olympics, and protestors, most of them students, had been using the months leading up to the games to attract the world’s attention to their repressive government. Their demands included the sacking of the police chief, independence for universities and the freeing of political prisoners.

As many as 10,000 students gathered in Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco district for another day of planned peaceful protest. And although the rally was initially peaceful, the government immediately stationed military vehicles in the plaza.

Flares were fired into the sky and troops began to fire on the crowd. They may have even employed snipers to shoot the unarmed students and civilians below, at least 44 of whom were killed – although some estimates range between 200 and 300. It’s believed that as many as 1,345 people were arrested.

People fled into nearby houses and apartments, but the military searched house by house for survivors. Tragically, not all of the victims of the massacre were even protestors. A lot of people were just passing through, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

1. Soweto Uprising, South Africa, 1976

In 1974, the South African Department of Education decreed that Afrikaans was to be used in schools. It was given equal standing with English and placed over the native Bantu languages of the black population. Many African teachers couldn’t even speak Afrikaans, and students found their grades declining. Worse still, Afrikaans was closely tied to Apartheid and was considered the “language of the oppressor.”

On June 16, 1976, thousands of students walked out of their classrooms and headed for the Orlando Stadium, to take part in a rally planned by the Soweto Students’ Representative Council’s (SSRC) Action Committee. They were unarmed and mostly peaceful, although a few threw rocks.

When one policeman fired his gun, everyone panicked. Police set their dogs on the children, who reacted by stoning the attacking dogs to death. So, the police began firing directly into the crowd, killing at least two students and injuring hundreds more, stirring the crowd into a frenzy of destruction.

On June 17, 1,500 heavily armed police rolled in and patrolled the streets of Soweto on foot, in armored vehicles and from helicopters. The South African army was put on standby, as a show of military force.

The official death toll is generally believed to be 176, but some estimates put the figure as high as 600. Although it would be another 14 years before Nelson Mandela was released from prison, these protests strengthened black resistance, helping pave the way for change.


Top 10 Most Beautiful National Birds

Forests, deserts, plains all have distinct forms of wildlife, which play an important role in our eco-system. Birds, fish, plants, land animals; without these creatures, there would be no life on Earth. Let us meet some of nature's most beautiful and colorful birds, which have been honored as state-birds or national-birds.

1. Peacock, India

Peacocks are an ancient symbol of glory and immortality. A graceful bird, it has been honored by being made the national bird of India and is most famous for its iridescent tail pattern. These feathers have a series of colourful ‘eye’ markings of red, gold, blue and other hues and are said to carry spiritual healing powers. Males are more beautiful than females. In Hinduism, peacocks are associated with Laxmi, the goddess of luck, kindness and benevolence. It’s a great experience to watch this beautiful bird when it flares its feathers.

2. Blue Jay, Canada

A very curious blue bird with a U-shaped black collar around its neck, the Blue Jay is famous as an intelligent bird. It can also make a variety of sounds. Native to North America, the Blue Jay is easy prey for predators as it is a slow flier. The Blue Jay is the provincial bird of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

3. East African Crowned Crane, Uganda

A 3.3 ft tall bird with a crown of stiff golden feathers, the East African Crowned Crane is honoured as the national bird of Uganda. It is the most primitive of the living Gruidae. The bird is well known for its colourful display, which includes head bobbing and beautiful dancing. A resident of eastern and southern Africa, it is currently facing the loss of any suitable wetland habitat.

4. Crimson Sunbird, Singapore

The Crimson Sunbird is an tiny, eye-catching bird with a yellow rump, crimson breast, maroon back and olive belly. This cute little bird is the national bird of Singapore. Very similar to the hummingbird, it is only four inches long.

5. Flamingo, Bahamas

Also known as the Caribbean flamingo, the American flamingo is found mainly in Central America, Southern Mexico and the Caribbean. One very interesting fact about flamingos is that their chicks are born whitish-grey in color and their bright pink coloration comes from consuming algae. The Caribbean flamingo is the only flamingo that naturally inhabits North America. West Indian Flamingos are the national bird of the Bahamas.

6. Hoatzin, Guyana

Hoatzin is the national bird of Guyana. It is an attractive bird with a striking, colourful pattern all over its body, but an unusual body shape with a long neck, small head and blue face and maroon eyes. Because of its manure-like odour, it is known as the stinkbird. It is also a noisy bird that grunts, croaks and hisses.

7. Cardinal Bird, USA

Honoured as a state bird of seven states of the US, this bird is easily recognizable from the vibrant shades of warm red all over its body. This song bird also has a reddish bill and a unique crest atop its head. Though some of its species are approaching a threatened status, it can still often be seen in parks and backyards.

8. Magnificent Frigate Bird, Antigua and Barbuda

Also known as the weather bird or Man o’War, the magnificent Frigate bird is the national bird of the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. A large bird with a wingspan of about seven feet, the bird is stunning; the male actually inflates its red throat pouches to attract females. Wandering in oceanic coasts, the Frigate bird is the only species of sea bird in which the male and females have strikingly different appearances.

9. Himalayan Monal, Nepal and Uttrakhand, India

A 2-2.5 feet long bird, the Himalayan Monal is the national bird of Nepal, as well as the state bird of Uttrakhand, India. The bird is amazingly attractive as it has a bright blue orbital skin with a glossy green breast. Himalayan Monals also have bluish circles around the eyes. The males have spoon-shaped feathers and a metallic-green head-crest whereas females have dark brown feathers.

10. Baltimore Oriole, Maryland, USA

The Baltimore Oriole is the state bird of Maryland. This beautiful bird, with a mixed flame of yellow and black colours, is a sign of spring and summer in Canada and the United States. The bird is also known for its well-woven nest, which it builds in tall trees.

Though we have tried to include some colorful and beautiful birds, there are still many birds out there that are much more magnificent. Some are flying freely in the wild, while some are spending each day filled with pain and sorrow in a cage. We should not domesticate wild birds. It is our duty to protect them before they too disappear because of our encroachment upon their territory. It is necessary to take action and preserve wildlife; instead we are continuously interrupting the habitats of nature’s most beautiful creatures.


Mass Whale Hunting Tradition

The sea of Faroe Islands in north of Europe turned red with the blood of hundreds of whales killed by the inhabitants on November 22,2011, as a part of their annual whale hunting culture. Every year the islanders catch and slaughter pilot whales (Globicephala melaena) during the traditional whale hunt known as 'Grindadrap'. The mass hunting is non-commercial - the whale meat cannot be sold but is divided evenly between members of the local community. The hunters crowd the whales into a bay and then cut their spines leaving the animals bleed to death slowly, while the surrounding sea turns bloody red. These images of a blood-red sea can often have a shocking effect on bystanders.

Being an autonomous province of Denmark, where whaling is banned, the Faroe Islands’ laws allow the mass slaughter of pilot whales, beaked whales and dolphins to observe the annual tradition. Whaling in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic has been practiced since about the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. The meat and blubber of pilot whales have long been a part of the islanders' national diet.

Despite criticism from animal rights groups and International Whaling Commission, the whale hunting custom continues to kill thousands of whales year after year. Around 950 Long-finned Pilot Whales are killed annually, mainly during the summer.

The American Cetacean Society says that pilot whales are not considered to be endangered, but that there has been a noticeable decrease in their numbers around the Faroe Islands.