If you gaze upon the Indonesian Kawah Ijen volcano at night, you’ll encounter a dangerous mix of beauty and toxicity. Pure molten sulfur that, upon making contact with air, combusts and smolders, creating a glow reminiscent of blue fire and spills down the sides of the 8,660 feet tall volcano. The substance is not lava, as some assume.It’s easy to make that mistake, though, seeing how the sulfur seeps from the mountains cracks and turns to liquid as it continues to flow. The event’s combustible nature (the gases are a forbidding 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit) and noxious gases can create flame bursts up to sixteen feet high.
Elapsing nearly a decade, the Iran-Iraq War is known as the 20th century’s longest conventional war as well as one of the most violent conflicts since World War Two. Indiscriminate ballistic missile attacks, chemical weapon use and oil tanker attacks largely shaped the war, which only ended in 1988 following an acceptance of UN Resolution 598. The protracted affair claimed over half a million lives, sent both countries spiraling into debt and, as you might imagine, failed to produce any meaningful gains for either side.
Given Iran’s pariah status, it had few means to combat Iraq’s wealth of weaponry and resources. Thus, child soldiers tragically entered the fold.
Given their popularity, it’s pretty likely that you once had a Venus Fly Trap in a tiny, plastic terrarium as a kid. So popular are the perennially hungry plants that their novelty status has made them a threatened species in some areas where it grows wild. While Dionaea muscipula, the plant pictured above, is fascinating as a carnivorous plant that feeds on flies, spiders and other small insects, there are others in the plant kingdom that are just as interesting. Though you aren’t likely to find many of them in a home garden.
Fascinating Plants: The Corpse Flower
Rafflesia arnoldii is distinguished as the largest individual flower on Earth. It grows in the rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra and can reach a diameter of 3 feet, and weigh as much as 24 pounds. But there is another distinct feature that makes this flower of interest: It smells like rotting flesh, earning it the nickname of “corpse flower.” The stench has a functional purpose, as it attracts flies, beetles and other insects for pollination.