Winter may be on its way out (and we’re OK with that), but snowflakes are a source of perennial inspiration. Take a microscopic look at how they’re formed.
Browsing ATI By nature
Sand. For some, it conjures images of tropical beverages and pristine waters. For others, it’s little more than a ubiquitous pest. Either way, we seldom think of those little granules unless we’re surrounded by them.
Wildlife photographers and filmmakers have brought no-holds barred natural sights to audiences for decades, but presenting the complex movements of Earth’s avian friends in a memorable way has often eluded even the most skilled documentary makers. That is, at least until now.
Tucked away in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province is Sơn Đoòng (or “Mountain River”) Cave, which currently boasts the title of the world’s largest cave. The cave existed unbeknownst to man for millennia, and it wasn’t until 1991 that a local–overcoming his fear of the whistling sound it produced–laid eyes on Sơn Đoòng for the first time. The cave measures an astounding 490 feet deep and 30,000 feet long, and houses a fast-flowing river within it. Commercial tourism is just heating up, but it will cost you: as of August 2013, visitors paid $3,000 each to step foot into the cave.
Once home to Portuguese, Dutch, French, British and Asian people alike, Mauritius’ rich history is matched only by its staggering biodiversity. The Indian Ocean island is home to some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna. As it becomes a more popular tourist destination, that biodiversity–much like the livelihood of the now extinct dodo bird, another Mauritius denizen–is threatened.
Resting against the coast of Northern Ireland’s County Antrim is a grove of 40,000 stone pillars known as the Giant’s Causeway. What’s most remarkable about the feature is the regularity of the stone columns, which seem to have organized themselves into neat, hexagonal blocks that huddle together as if they were cells in a honeycomb.
The columns are so regular that it was difficult for the area’s residents to imagine that the feature was anything but an artifact of some massive building project. Before people had a modern understanding of geologic processes and how they work to shape the land, it was easy to assume that anything pattern this regular must have been the work of some higher intelligence.