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Friday, April 29, 2016

Floating Markets of Southeast Asia












Robot Monk in China’s Buddhist Temple

A new monk has joined services at a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing. He moves around the temple, chanting Buddhist mantras, and talks to anyone who is eager to engage him in a conversation. Although, visitors have to stoop real low to talk to him, because he is only two feet tall, and made of metal and plastic.

Named Xian'er, the robot monk, resembles a cartoon-like novice monk in yellow robes with a shaven head, holding a touch screen on his chest. Xian'er can hold a conversation by answering about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and daily life, listed on his screen, and perform seven types of motions on his wheels. Master Xianfan, Xian’er’s creator, said the robot monk was the perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China, through the fusion of science and Buddhism.










Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Parthenon of Nashville

In the late 19th century, the city of Nashville, in Tennessee, the United States, was known to be one of the most refined and educated cities of the south. It was the first Southern City to establish a public school system, and was home to at least half a dozen universities and colleges, that earned the city the moniker of "Athens of the South". So when it was announced that Nashville will hold the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the state’s admission into the Union, the city decided that it should be appropriately represented.

Nineteen states participated in the Expo including sixteen foreign nations. A very impressive array of buildings was constructed to house the exhibits, but the most favorite building at the Expo was Nashville’s full-scale replica of the Parthenon, the ancient Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.









The Forgotten Era of Moonlight Towers

Back in the early 19th century, the invention of the dynamo brought promises of an exciting new world ahead, but the most urgent need of the day, or rather the night, was lighting. Edison's revolutionary incandescent light bulbs had not been invented yet, but Sir Humphry Davy, who can be considered the true founder of electric lighting, had demonstrated at the very beginning of the century a method to produce light by bringing two metal electrodes very close together to produce a sustained spark. Known as arc lamps, these became the first practical electric lights.

A carbon arc lamp consist of two carbon rod electrodes in free air, and connected to a source of electric current. The electric arc is struck by touching the rods together and then slowly drawing them apart to create an arc across the gap. The heat vaporizes the tips of the carbon rods and the highly luminous carbon vapor produces an intense bright light.








Friday, April 22, 2016

The Pyramid of Austerlitz

At the highest point of the Utrecht Ridge, in the Dutch village of Woudenberg, stands Europe’s only pyramid. The 36-meter-tall earthen hill was built in 1804 by Napoleon’s soldiers, under the direction of General Marmont as a tribute to his friend and example Napolean Bonaparte (although Marmont betrayed Napolean later). Marmont called it "Mont Marmont". But in 1806, despite protest from General Marmont, Louis Napoleon, the new king of Holland, renamed the hill the Pyramid of Austerlitz in memory of the Battle of Austerlitz in which Napoleon decisively defeated the Russians and Austrians.





The Defence Line of Amsterdam

The immense firepower of modern artillery witnessed during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 caused great concern among the Dutch, because their centuries-old fortification of walls and earthwork were crumbling and offered poor defense. They were afraid that if the Germans were to attack, Amsterdam could fall under their superior army. So immediately after the war ended, the Netherland passed the Fortress Law in 1874, in which it was decided that a Defence Line of Amsterdam (or Stelling van Amsterdam) would be built.

Work commenced in 1883 and continued until 1920, at the end of which Amsterdam was surrounded by a 135-kilometer-long ring of fortification consisting of a series of 46 armed forts, barracks and batteries connected by a network of lowlands that could be flooded with water to prevent the enemy from advancing. A water defence line was chosen because water was abundant in the Netherland and the Dutch were genius at hydraulic engineering. Water defence line offered another advantage in that a large area can be defended with relatively little manpower.