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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Mysterious Places of the World

Machu Picchu

In 1911 or 1912 (accounts differ) the American explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled across a Peruvian city almost completely overgrown in the high Andes 2500 km above sea level. Excavaton revealed it to be in almost perfect condition.

The city, or rather town for its population was probably never more than 500, was cunningly built into the towering contours, with buildings shaped to fit the mountain or actually built into it. The stone is granite, and the buildings are mortarless. Outside the city the land is terraced for agriculture, and there are innumerable flights of steps as well as grand buildings and the houses of the peasants who worked the terraces.

Tombs were found containing 100 people of whom 90 were women, giving rise to the theory tat they had been sacrificed in some obscure religious rite. The peasant houses had no windows and were grass-thatched, but other buildings, such as the Temple with Three Windows were more substantial. Pottery was found of some delicacy, but despite its sophistication the Inca culture had not succeeded in making the wheel and the main means of transport was the llama. The building stones were hauled on rollers or on sleds, ans stone tools were used to fashion the building blocks.

The Inca civilization had exists in some form since 3000 BC, but it reached its peak in the fifteenth century, and Machu Picchu existed from approximately 1438 for about 100 years. The city has a large piazza which served as a market where goods were bartered (money was not in use). As remarcable were the Inca roads, paved were water would wash them away, which ran the full length of their empire along the Andes. They were wide, not because they had any transport, but for the wuick movement of troops, advantageous for the Spanish invaders, and for royal messengers, who transmitted messages using a code of knots tied in rope. The Incas are among the least known of people; elsewhere in Peru is the Mazea Desert with mysterious sand drawings on a gigantic scale, so vast that can only be interpreted from the air.

The present-day Peruvians are equally inscrutable – the wonem in their bowler hats, the men with large chests and lungs (to be able to survive at high altitude).

Were these the people who sailed to Easter Island and erected the stone figures?  Who knows?

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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Lighthouse of Alexandria

The great lighthouse was designed during the reign of Ptolemy I of Egypt and  it was finished around 280 BCE on the Pharos island, near Alexandria, Egypt. Its light was visible up to 150 km away. It was so famous that it had become the model of many lighthouses built later. There were accommodation and storage rooms inside it. In 796 CE, the lighthouse was damaged by an earthquake, but its foundation is still visible today.

Light House Alexandria

 

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

The tomb of the Persian king, Mausol, was built in Halicarnassus in the nowadays Turkey in  the 4th century BCE. It was famous for its size and its rich decorations. The mausoleum has been damaged in an earthquake in the 13 century and later, it was demolished.

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What was the initial purpose of the internet?

The computer network, called ARPANET at the beginning, was created in 1969 in the U.S. for military reasons.  In case of an atomic war, it was to provide the link between the central points of great power control. Firstly, it was put at the disposal of scientists, then it became a global computer network accessible to all.

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Who was the first man to exceed the speed of sound?

U.S. Air Force pilot Charles Elwood Yaeger, on October 14, 1947, with a jet Bell-X-1.

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Can diamonds burn?

Although they belong to the group of gems, diamonds can burn because they are made of pure carbon.

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