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.
Browsing ATI By nature
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.
While higher-order human thinking naturally places humans at the top of the food chain, in the end, nothing can stand in weather’s way. Wind, precipitation, sunshine, temperature and clouds all comprise the term weather, the state of the atmosphere. Over time, scientists have developed a deeper understanding of weather patterns and can predict when certain weather phenomena will occur. Before science shaped our understanding of the weather, however, ancient cultures used stories, folklore and mythology to explain the world’s craziest weather occurrences.
Craziest Weather Phenomenon No. 1: Tornadoes
Thunderstorms are behind much of the world’s craziest weather, including tornadoes. These deadly twisters arise when a horizontally rotating column of air forms from wind blowing at different speeds and altitudes. Eventually that air column gets caught in a supercell updraft, where its spin tightens and speeds up, eventually forming a funnel cloud. These funnel clouds are easily visible in the sky.