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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 »

10 of the best cities offering quality life measured by traffic congestion, air quality, and personal safety

Zurich, Switzerland

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Zurich, Switzerland
Mercer score: 108
GDP: $300.9 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 7,581,520 (total country); 347,517 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.74 years

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
Mercer score: 107.9
GDP: $319.7 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 8,205,533 (total country); 1,825,287 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.36 years

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, Canada
Mercer score: 107.6
GDP: $1.274 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 33,212,696 (total country); 560,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 81.16 years

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand
Mercer score: 107.3
GDP: $112.6 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 4,173,460 (total country); 1.18 million (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.24 years

Munich, Germany

Munich, Germany
Mercer score: 107
GDP: $2.833 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 82,369,548 (total country); 1,332,650 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.1 years

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia
Mercer score: 106.3
GDP: $766.8 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 20,600,856 (total country); 4,297,100 (total city)  read more »

"Land of Cheese" Asturias, Spain: thousands of caves hidden in hills used by residents for centuries to age cheese

Raquel Viejo in her cheese cave, where she stores Cabrales, a blue cow's cheese named after the town in Asturias where it was first made

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We were in Asturias, a sliver of northern Spain that rests on the Bay of Biscay, and I had been drawn there by the region’s tagline: “The Land of Cheese.”

My pilgrimage had led me to the bat cave last September where I was following Raquel Viejo, a local woman whose family has lived in Asturias for generations. The specialty of the region — and what was stored on those shelves — is Cabrales, a blue cow’s cheese named after the town in Asturias where it was first made.

Asturias, a sliver of northern Spain that rests on the Bay of Biscay, calls itself The Land of Cheese. There are thousands of caves hidden in the hills of this rugged region, and for centuries residents have been using them to age cheese

There are thousands of caves hidden in the hills here, and for centuries residents have been using them to age cheese. The specifics of each brand of cheese in various regions of Spain are regulated by a denomination of origin, or D.O., and Cabrales’s says it must be stored in cavelike conditions for at least two months so the good bacteria can kill off the bad.  read more »

Inaugural 2008 Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia promote sports & culture: 6000 athletes, 71 events, 19 sports

Eddy Ratno Haji Abu Bakar and Mohd Khairul Bahri at Double Men's Final of the beach pencak silat, 2008 Asian Beach Games

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About a month ago in Bali, Indonesia, the inaugural 2008 Asian Beach Games came to its conclusion. Intended to promote sports and culture, the games (held every two years) encourage tourism, support local economies and allow host countries like Indonesia to present a more global face to the world. The 2008 games brought 6,000 athletes to compete in 71 events in 19 sports. Sports included well-known games like beach volleyball and triathlon, and some sports better known to asians, like sepak takraw, kabaddi and pencak silat. The next Asian Beach Games are scheduled to be hosted by Oman in the year 2010.


Dragon Boats sit at the docks before the start of the Dragon Boat Races on day two of the 2008 Asian Beach Games at West Suwung on October 19, 2008 in Bali, Indonesia.


The Indonesian team in action against Myanmar during the men's beach sepaktakraw on day six of the Asian Beach Games at Sanur Beach on October 23, 2008 in Bali, Indonesia.


Balinese dancers perform during the Opening ceremony of the first Asian Beach Games at culture in park Garuda Wisnu Kencana in Bali, Indonesia, Saturday , Oct. 18, 2008.

 read more »

Portraits of wondrous Earth: ice storm glazed tree; poetic snowflakes; ice caverns; Giant's Causeway; geysers; sea unicorns

TIME Planet Earth: An Illustrated History - Ice

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Ice
The residue of an ice storm glazes a beech tree, pushing its branches to a near-breaking point. Ice storms are formed when two layers of cold air (one near the earth's surface, another far above) sandwich between them a tier of warm air. Precipitation from the top layer starts out as snow, but when it falls into the middle, warmer belt, it melts into rain. Then, on its way through the lowest belt, it undergoes a little-understood process known as "supercooling" which causes it to chill well below the freezing point of water, yet still remain liquid. When this unnaturally cold water hits the ground, it instantaneously freezes into a translucent glaze that takes on, in intricate detail, the shape of whatever it surrounds.

TIME Planet Earth: An Illustrated History - Clouds

Clouds
Water is a shape shifter: familiar in its liquid and frozen forms, it is invisible in its third form, as a vapor, until it coalesces into clouds overhead or shrouds us in ghostly fog. One of nature's everyday wonders, clouds hide in plain sight until they are touched with the sun's glory at sunrise and sunset or pile up to form a lightning-generating, anvil-headed cumulonimbus thundercloud.

TIME Planet Earth: An Illustrated History - The Sun

The Sun  read more »

Venice hit by biggest flood in 20 years, waters rising quickly to 1.56m/5ft. Famous St Mark's Square submerged

the Italian lagoon city of Venice in the Adriatic has suffered its highest flooding in more than 20 years

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The city of Venice has suffered its highest flooding in more than 20 years. Many of Venice's streets, including the famous St Mark's Square, were submerged, before the high waters began to retreat.

The lagoon city in the Adriatic suffers some level of flooding for about 200 days every year. The authorities are planning to complete the building of an underwater dam to protect the city by 2011.

raised wooden walkways had to be installed in St Mark's Square - the lowest point in the city - which was nearly one metre under water at one point

Driven by strong winds, the sea level rose to 1.56m above normal on Monday, submerging nearly all of the city and forcing residents and tourists to wade through almost knee-high water, including St Mark's Square, officials said. It was the highest "acqua alta", or high water, since it reached 1.58m in 1986.

sirens and loudspeaker announcements reinforced the flood alert, amid fears that the sea level could rise even higher  read more »

7 Nov 921 Treaty of Bonn: East France and West France recognize each other in a "pact of friendship"

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On 7 November 921, the Treaty of Bonn, which called itself a "pact of friendship" (amicitia), was signed between Charles III of France and Henry I of Germany in a minimalist ceremony aboard a ship in the middle of the Rhine not far from Bonn. The use of the river, which was the border between their two kingdoms, as a neutral territory had extensive Carolingian precedents and was also used in classical antiquity and in contemporary Anglo-Saxon England.

The treaty, which "more than most such amicitiae, was decidedly bilateral, reciprocal and equal", recognised the border of the two realms and the authority of their respective kings. It confirmed the legitimacy of Henry's election by the German princes and of Charles's rule over Lotharingia through the election by its princes. In the treaty, Henry is titled rex Francorum orientalium (King of the East Franks) and Charles rex Francorum occidentalium (King of the West Franks) in recognition of the division it made of the former Frankish Empire. Charles and his bishops and counts signed first, both because he had been king longer and because he was of Carolingian stock.

The treaty was ineffective. In January or early February 923, Henry made a pact of amicitia with the usurper Robert I against Charles, who subsequently sent a legate to Henry with the relic of the hand of Dionysius the Areopagite, sheathed in gold and studded in gems, "as a sign of faith and truth [and] a pledge of perpetual union and mutual love" in the words of Widukind of Corvey. Charles probably intended to recall Henry to the terms of the treaty of Bonn and draw him away from Robert. In June 923, Charles was captured at the Battle of Soissons and lost his kingdom. By 925, Henry had annexed Lotharingia.

(unquote)  read more »

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