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Mastery of Winter. Onto ice are skaters, swan, crabapple tree, children & sculptures at International Ice & Snow Show

Harbin, China: the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

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People visit ice sculptures for the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China on December 23, 2008.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, in Harbin, China, opened on Jan. 5, 2009. The festival lasts for one month, and features large ice and snow sculptures, ice lanterns, swimming in the icy Songhua River and more. The northern hemisphere is a hospitable place for ice festivals these days, so in that spirit, here is a collection of recent photographs of all things frozen, and some of the ways we live and play with ice.

Castleford, northern England: swan trying to land

A swan attempts to land on a frozen lake near Castleford northern England Monday Jan. 5, 2009. Freezing temperatures and snow have struck large areas of Britain.

visitors sliding down ice slides at 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

Visitors slide on tracks at an ice sculpture during a preview for the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at a park in Harbin, China on December 23, 2008.  read more »

World's tallest buildings (part i): Cheops Pyramid, Lincoln Cathedral, St. Olav, Strasbourg Cathedral, St. Nikolai

Cheops Pyramid – Egypt, finished in 2,600 BC (481 ft - 146 m)

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Cheops Pyramid – Egypt, finished in 2,600 BC (481 ft - 146 m)

The Cheops Pyramid at Giza, Egypt, was finished in the year (approx) 2,600 BC and reigned as the world's tallest building / structure for another 4,000 years. How the Great Pyramid was built is a question that may never be answered. This pyramid is thought to have been built between 2589 - 2566 BC. It would have taken over 2,300,000 blocks of stone with an average weight of 2.5 tons each. These stones were brought from Aswan and Tura and the water would have brought the stones right to the pyramid. The total weight would have been 6,000,000 tons and a height of 482 feet (140m). The Great Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu) is the largest and the oldest of the Pyramids of Giza. It wasn't until the 13th Century that Egypt lost the title to a cathedral that was constructed in the U.K. at Lincoln.

Lincoln Cathedral, U.K. (525 ft - 160 m)

Lincoln Cathedral, U.K., completed in 1311 AD (525 ft - 160 m)

Construction of the Cathedral finished in the year 1311 AD, and the Cathedral maintained the title of the world's tallest building for 238 years until 1549 AD, when the central spire was destroyed in a storm. The central spire was never re-built.

St. Olav, Tallinn, Estonia (522 ft - 159 m)  read more »

Travel: Berlin in Pictures. Potsdamer Platz, Bode Museum(Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum), Reichstag iconic glass dome, Brandenburg Gate

Potsdamer Platz: the centerpiece of Berlin

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Berlin is the capital city and one of sixteen states of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million within its city limits, Berlin is the country's largest city. It is the second most populous city and the ninth most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprising 5 million people from over 190 nations.

Potsdamer Platz, the centerpiece of Berlin, is a collection of futuristic high-rise office buildings and a pedestrianised forum with shops, cinemas, cafes and restaurants designed by some of the world's most celebrated architects.

Bode Museum and Fernsehturm

The Bode Museum belongs to the group of museums on Museum Island in Berlin and is a historically preserved building. The museum was designed by architect Ernst von Ihne and completed in 1904. Originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum after Emperor Frederick III, the museum was renamed in honor of its first curator, Wilhelm von Bode, in 1956.

inside the Reichstag dome, designed by Norman Foster

The current Reichstag dome is an iconic glass dome constructed on top of the rebuilt Reichstag building in Berlin. It was designed by architect Norman Foster and built to symbolize the reunification of Germany. The distinctive appearance of the dome has made it a prominent landmark in Berlin.  read more »

Work of art: house with natural light. Intensely green: sunflower husk wall panels, solar heating, recycled water for garden

the house fulfills the owners' ambition to create a work of art that is intensely green: it relies on cross-ventilation for cooling, passive solar energy for heating and recycled water for irrigating the garden

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Thomas Small is an accomplished cook, so it’s important for him to try new and exotic ingredients every now and then. When it came to the construction of his eco-friendly house, that’s exactly what his architects gave him. After all, crushed sunflower husks and shredded blue jeans don’t sound like typical building blocks. But in the world of green design, such ingredients are not rare. So now, Mr. Small and his wife, Joanna Brody, along with their two very young children and a pair of large French Briard dogs, share a prefabricated urban building that has become an example for others looking for creative ways to go green.

shredded jeans encased in wire mesh insulate the ceiling and walls of the living room. Red-lacquered Ikea cabinets, topped with the same black-stained concrete as the floor, define the open kitchen  read more »

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