Book of Miracles

The recently discovered Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs reveals a 16th Century society gripped by anxieties that we can relate to today, The illustrated manuscript is now available, edited by T. Borchert and J.P. Waterman.

Danger! White Light

Between the River Crouch and the River Thames in Essex a footpath leaves the land at a place called Wakering Stairs and heads due east, straight out to sea.

p04p1fl9.jpgSeveral hundred metres offshore it curls northeast and runs in this direction for around 5kms, still offshore, before cutting back to make landfall at Fisherman’s Head, the uppermost tip of a large, low-lying and little-known marshy island called Foulness.

p04p1g0t.jpgThis is the Broomway, allegedly “the deadliest” path in Britain,

p04p1dr7.jpgand certainly the unearthliest path. It gets covered by the tide twice a day and usually these rise and fall more quickly than most human explorers. The Broomway is thought to have killed more than 100 people over the centuries; it seems likely that there were other victims whose fates went unrecorded. Sixty-six of its dead are buried in the little Foulness churchyard; the other bodies were not recovered.

p04p1cj8.jpgEdwardian newspapers, alert to the path’s reputation, rechristened it “The Doomway”.

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The Broomway is known as the most perilous path in Britain – and is a favourite walk of writer Robert Macfarlane, who describes it in his book The Old Ways.

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The path leads towards a white light.

Clouds Over Islands

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What really happens in this picture is this: land heats up faster than water. When the sun comes out, the land heats quickly, forming an area of low pressure directly on the island. This results in an area of higher pressure offshore.

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Since air moves from high to low pressure, the marine moisture as well as moisture from the island gets drawn into the low pressure over the island. Low pressure creates upward vertical movement, causing the warm moist air to rise, cool and condense into a cloud directly over each island.

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Vertical Forests

Nanjing Vertical Forest, which is scheduled to be fully built by 2018, and will bring thousands of trees and shrubs into the highly populated Pukou District of the city, absorbing tons of CO2 and producing a wealth of oxygen at the same time.

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The structure will have 1,100 large and medium-sized trees on its facades, along with 2,500 other plants and shrubs. The plants are expected to provide 60kg of oxygen per day while absorbing over 25 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The architect M. Boeri has also designed and built similar forests in Milan, a pair of adjacent towers.

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The New York Times reports that construction began in 2009 and was completed in 2014. The Nanjing project is much larger in scale and ambition, more than doubling the number of plants as well as increasing the total height of the towers themselves.

The Guardian‘s artist has a bigger fantasy:

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Impressions Down Under

London’s National Gallery’s Australia’s Impressionists exhibition last until 26 Mar 2017. The exhibition shows the global scope of impressionism in the late nineteenth century and its leading picture (below, left) is Arthur Streeton’s  Ariadne. Is there some hidden characteristic in these pictures that means they can only be landscapes of Australia?

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Above, right, is A Holiday at Mentone by Charles Conder, 1888.

Australia is the lowest, flattest, and oldest continental landmass on Earth, with a relatively stable geological history. It is situated in the middle of the tectonic plate, and therefore currently has no active volcanism.

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The terrain is mostly a low plateau with deserts, rangelands and a fertile plain in the southeast. Tasmania and the Australian Alps do not contain any permanent icefields or glaciers, although they may have existed in the past.

 

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Below is John Peter Russell’s Les Terrasses de Monte Cassino. Geological forces such as tectonic uplift of mountain ranges or clashes between tectonic plates occurred mainly in Australia’s early history, when it was still a part of Gondwanaland. Its highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft), which is relatively low in comparison to the highest mountains on other continents. Erosion has heavily weathered Australia’s surface.  1043875.jpg

 

 

Fairy Circles

Myths and fairy-stories have explained the occurrence of circular patterns of vegetation that are found on the ground of the Namibian desert.th-12.jpeg     th-11.jpeg

CE Tarnita et al give evidence for a scientific explanation in today’s Nature (volume 541, 398-401). They say the fairy circles are due to an intra-specific competition between territorial animals. They show the patterns of the circles’ occurrence are shaped by dynamic interactions between groups of animals that generate a self-organised distribution.

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It seems that ecosystems can generate their own kind of order.

Elphie – Hamburg

Rising more than 100 metres above Hamburg’s harbour like a great glass galleon marooned atop an old brick warehouse, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall

4000.jpg, The Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have never looked so relieved.

The project began as the unlikely dream of Alexander Gérard, a private developer and former classmate of Herzog and De Meuron, who had hoped to finance the scheme with the 45 luxury flats and 250-room hotel that are also housed in the big glass mountain. He commissioned the architects to come up with a dazzling alternative to a dreary plan for a 90-metre media office tower on the site, which died away with the end of the dotcom boom. The Swiss starchitects’ thrilling images quickly caught the public imagination and the project was adopted by the city in 2003 and prioritised as a plan of national importance.

The grand hall, itself hung from the 700-tonne roof like a dangling cocoon, features 1,000 hand-blown glass lamps and 10,000 uniquely carved acoustic panels, while the facade incorporates 600 curved panes of 48mm-thick glass. It has been compared to Kaiser Wilhelm’s megalomania,

5376.jpgThe escalator is gently curved in a hump-backed profile, so you can’t see where you’re going, adding to the camp drama of it all, before you emerge at a big picture window punched into the brick wall, affording the first great view across the harbour.
Hamburg’s completed ‘Elphie’ concert hall shines triumphant

5472-1.jpgIntricacy and complexity … the white ceiling1593.jpgOur role is to connect the old city with the new city beyond,” says De Mueron, referring to the HafenCity quarter, an emerging district slated to house 12,000 people in the former docklands, in which the “Elphie”, as locals have nicknamed the concert hall, stands as a shining beacon.

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