Indonesian Volcano Spews Hauntingly Beautiful Blue Lava

There are plenty of natural treasures hidden away in the most unsuspecting places on Earth. One of them is an Indonesian sulfur mine, Kawah Ijen, that produces stunning, spectral blue lava. The images of this mine are so breathtaking, I could just stare at them for hours.

Kawah Ijen is a part of the Ijen volcano complex – a group of stratovolcanoes in East Java, Indonesia – with an active crater that’s 200 meters deep. The complex is also home to the world’s largest turquoise-colored acidic lake, full of sulfuric acid. The lake is a sulfur mining site; miners carry sulfur-laden baskets by hand from the crater floor.

The miners work at night to double their meagre income, but they don’t have to worry about the dark. Kawah Ijen, an ordinary rocky crater by day, transforms into a stunning display of electric blue light at night.

blue-lava

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Crazy Aerosol Challenge Has Teens Burning Themselves with Sprays Just for Kicks

There’s always some weird teenage trend or the other doing the rounds online. The latest one has kids spraying aerosol deodorant on to their skin at an extremely close range. They film themselves performing the ridiculous stunt, to see who can endure it the longest.

Teenagers all over the world have been taking part in the bizarre aerosol challenge. They’ve been putting up the videos on YouTube and other social networking sites. In some extreme videos, kids spray each other until angry red blisters appear on their skin. In worst cases, severe scarring could cause permanent damage.

As with all other teenage trends, experts are expressing their outrage against the aerosol challenge. According to a spokesperson from the British Skin Foundation, the craze could be both painful and damaging. “The British Skin Foundation would never encourage the use of any aerosol product in close proximity to the skin for a prolonged period. These products should be used appropriately and responsibly as extended use can lead to the freezing action producing a cryogenic burn,” the spokesperson said.

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Belgian Artist Steps into His Own Incredible 3D Drawings

Ben Heine, a 30-year-old Belgian artist, creates amazing life-size 3D sketches. He then takes pictures of himself stepping into his own drawings. So he creates incredible images of his real-life self walking a black-and-white tiger, being held at gunpoint, and staring at a hand-drawn self-portrait.

Ben makes use of a very interesting technique called anamorphosis. It requires the viewer to look at the sketches from a very specific angle, to see the complete effect. From a different perspective, these ‘illusions’ look slightly distorted. “It was very exciting to create these works because I like new challenges and I like to surprise,” Ben said. What’s amazing is that he sketches freehand, in just a single take, using a mixture of charcoal sticks and graphite pencils. The works are re-touched in post-production. It takes him a week to complete each drawing.

The sketches begin as pencil drawings and the shading is added using charcoal sticks. For large dark areas in the composition, Ben uses as many as 15 pencils and three charcoal sticks. “I’m actually using a mix of charcoal sticks for the large shadows and thick dark lines and graphite pencils for the smallest details and soft shadows,” he said. “Both materials are carbon based so they still belong to the same medium.

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Science Teacher Eats Only McDonald’s Fast Food for 90 Days, Loses 37 Pounds

Now this is what I call a dream diet. John Cisna, a school teacher from Iowa, ate only at McDonald’s for three whole months and managed to lose 37 pounds (16 kilograms)! He even made a short documentary on his experiences.

John’s project was inspired by the 2004 documentary film, Supersize Me. It featured an American filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock, who also ate only McDonald’s food for 30 days. At the end of that period, Spurlock reported a drastic deterioration of his physical and psychological health. Which is why John’s findings are almost unbelievable. In spite of eating for a longer period of time at the fast food chain, he reported better health and weight loss. In fact, there has been a large improvement in his blood cholesterol after the three-month period.

How could it be that two experiments, so similar to each other, reported such different results? Simple. John followed a much smarter plan that Spurlock did. John and his team of students formulated a plan that would allow him to eat fast food and still stay healthy. “I can eat any food at McDonald’s I want as long as I’m smart for the rest of the day with what I balance it out with,” he said.

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Functional Truck Made of Ice Blocks Is the Coolest Car Ever

A Canadian automotive products company recently built a pretty cool truck, quite literally. It was made of ice!

Canadian Tire, in Zurich, Ontario, wanted to advertise the MotoMaster Eliminator Ultra battery that works at subzero temperatures. So they built a frozen truck using 14,000 pounds of ice. They also froze the battery to -40 degrees Celsius before using it to start the vehicle. During the test drive, the ice truck actually moved at a speed of 12 miles per hour for about a mile.

To create the Canadian Tire Ice Truck (as they call it), a team of professionals completely stripped the body off of a 2005 GMC Silverado. They fitted it with a steel frame, and ice sculptors were called in to chisel out the frozen vehicle around the frame of a regular chassis. “It was probably one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever done,” said Heidi Bayley, from Iceculture (the company that sculpted the truck).

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Elderly Couple Run a Marathon a Day for a Whole Year, Set New World Record

Most people forget their New Year resolutions within a few weeks, some can’t even make it a day. But a Melbourne couple in their 60s have completed what they set out to do, every day of last year. For the whole of 2013, Janette Murray-Wakelin, 64, and Alan Murray, 68, ran marathons every single day across Australia. They completed their 366th marathon on January 1, running 44 kilometers down the Yarra Trail to their home at Warrandyte. The couple ran a total of 15,000 kilometers last year.

The Murrays wanted to set a positive example of being responsible for one’s own health. “We wanted to share as much, with as many people, for as long as we could, a really positive message of hope and just to show people anything is possible if you put your mind to it and set a goal to achieve,” said Janette.

Janette and Alan followed a strictly vegan diet for the whole year, to help them achieve their goal. At 4 a.m., they would eat 10 bananas, a grapefruit and a date smoothie, before hitting the road. At 8 a.m. they had 10 more bananas, and a green smoothie at 9 a.m. Once they hit 31 kilometers, they would stop to snack on a fruit salad. At the 37-kilometer mark they would have three oranges. They would finish running by 4 p.m. and settle down to a scrumptious dinner of an avocado, vegetable juice and salad.

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14-Year-Old Can Lift Twice His Body Weight, Is Probably the World’s Strongest Kid

To be the ‘strongest kid in the world’ is a childhood dream that never translates into reality for most kids. But Jake Schellenschlager has managed to come very, very close to this goal. Inspiration hit him when he was 12 years old – when he saw his dad working out one day. Jake hasn’t looked back ever since. The 14-year-old American is now a weightlifter who can lift more than twice his own body weight.

At 5 foot 3 inches and 119 pounds, Jake has been setting world records for his weight class (under 123 pounds). Last June, he broke the world record for the squat for his age and weight at the Powerlifting Bench Press Championships in York, Pennsylvania. He lifted 136 kilograms (that’s 300 pounds – more than twice his body weight). Jake has been training for the past two-and-a-half years, without missing a single day. He gets the courage to keep going from his father. “My dad is super strong,” he says. “When I see him, it gives me motivation.” Jake and his dad work out together at their gym in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

According to Jake’s trainer, Mike Sarni, the teenager has displayed astounding mental strength. “He doesn’t feel he can be defeated,” said Sarni. “It is that inner strength that tells him, ‘I can do this.’ Usually, you get that in older, more mature people.” While his face is still that of a sweet little boy, his body is completely the opposite. Jake’s muscles are ripped and you can see the determination etched on his face in his weight lifting pictures.

Jake-Schellenschlager

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The Atlantic Road – Norway’s Amazing Island-Linking Scenic Route

In 2005, the Atlantic Road was honored as Norway’s Construction of the Year. The National Tourist Route runs between two Norwegian towns – Kristiansund and Molde – that are the main population centers in the county of More og Romsdal in Western Norway.

The Atlantic Road (Atlantic Ocean Road) is an 8.3 kilometer long section of County Road 64, running through an archipelago and passing by Hustadvika, an unsheltered part of the Norwegian Sea. The structure is built on several small islands and skerries that are connected by causeways, viaducts and eight bridges. The longest and most prominent of the bridges is the 260 meter long Storseisundet Bridge.

But mere facts about the Atlantic Road do no justice to its magnificence. You need to see pictures to realize just how breathtaking it is. An aerial view of this long structure snaking through the sea is simply breathtaking. It’s hard for me to believe these pictures are real; they seem like someone’s imagination manifested on my screen. Better still, you could visit the road yourself and drive across it to experience its complete beauty. In fact, the Atlantic Road has been declared the world’s best road trip and is a popular site for automotive commercials.

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Romantic Bowerbird Builds Intricate Structures to Seduce Females

The concept of bachelor pads isn’t unique to humans. Male bowerbirds are amazing architects, but they reserve theirs skills for just one purpose – finding a mate. They construct such elaborate and dazzling nests to impress females, perhaps they could teach our men a thing or two about home décor.

Male bowerbirds use embellishments such as coins, nails, leaves, shells, seeds, flowers and live insects to weave their nests, called bowers. Bowers are U-shaped nests built with twigs and grass, and carpeted with moss. Each bower is an architectural marvel that stretches out 5 or 6 yards across, complete with a thatched roof and supporting pillars.

Blue is a very important color in the construction process. Male bowerbirds use several blue objects – berries, flowers, bottle caps and string – to attract prospective mates. Research has proven that females are attracted to bowers with the most number of blue decorations. Because blue objects are rare in a bowerbird’s environment, a male who is able to acquire them and protect them is deemed superior.

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Mystery Surrounds Colombian Cemetery That Turns Buried Bodies into Mummies

The ancient Egyptians spent centuries developing their mummifying techniques, but at a cemetery in San Bernardo, a small Colombian town, corpses somehow become naturally mummified in their coffins.

The phenomenon was first noticed 15 years ago, by grave digger Eduardo Cifuentes. “The burial pit was full of bodies,” he said. “I didn’t like stepping on them because they were humans like us so I started organizing them.” It’s only because of Eduardo’s efforts that the mummies are being talked about. He said that the mummified bodies have been around since about 1957, but no one paid any attention to them. “I liked the idea of keeping them for posterity,” he said. With the passage of time, the mummies’ clothes and skin have turned brown. Their skins look pasty and wrinkled.

Scientists have no idea why this is happening. The only other site in Latin America where natural mummification takes place is the Guanajuato, a town in central Mexico, where underground gas and soil conditions are the secret. But the same cannot be said for San Bernardo, because bodies are buried in chambers above the ground (as is customary in Colombia) so they do not come into contact with the earth.

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Arbol de Navidad – Mexico’s Unique Christmas Tree-Shaped Waterfall

The Sumidero Canyon, located in the Mexican state of Chaiapas, is home to one of the most unique waterfalls in the world. This breathtaking natural formation, locally called Arbol de Navidad, is shaped like a Christmas tree.

Sumidero Canyon is dotted with several waterfalls, many of which aren’t even visible from ground level. But you can’t miss the enormous Christmas tree. A photograph of the waterfall with a boat below it gives an idea of just how huge it is. The moss-layered green rocks seem to erupt out of nowhere on the mountain-side. They are shaped a lot like the branches of a tree, and the moss completes the effect. Water spills from a hole above this formation, adding to the beauty of the scenery.

According to Sergio Lopez Mendoza, a professor at the School of Biological Sciences in a Chaiapas University, the Christmas tree has formed over 1000s of years. It is a result of the natural hydrological cycle, and the physical and chemical characteristics of the rocks. Unfortunately, the Arbol de Navidad is under threat of being destroyed. Professor Sergio says that the alterations caused by humans to the environment has caused the hydrological cycle to break. There are long periods without any water supply, so the Christmas tree is weakening and breaking.

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Beautiful Film Noir “Paintings” Made with Packaging Tape

Something as mundane as packing tape, in the right hands, can be transformed into beautiful art. In this case, the ‘right hands’ belong to Ukrainian-born artist Mark Khaisman, who now lives in Philadelphia.

Mark uses nothing but packing tape and light to create his incredible artworks. He is a ‘painter of light’, as he puts it. Indeed, it is the play of light that brings out the true beauty of his ‘paintings’.

His process is simple – he sets Plexiglass sheets on a backlit panel that’s sort of like an architect’s box-light. This is the ‘canvas’ on which he uses the tape to construct images. He places strip after strip of packing tape on the glass, building up the image in layers. As he adds on the layers, less light shines through the glass, creating depth, shadow and definition in the pictures.

Mark-Khaisman

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UAE Hold Annual Camel Beauty Pageant

The Arabs appreciate their camels rather deeply. They call these beautiful creatures ‘God’s gift to the Bedouin’. In fact, they love camels so much that they get together once a year to pick out the most beautiful ones of them all.

The Al Dhafra Festival is held annually at Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. The camel beauty pageant is the highlight of this festival, featuring 30,000 camels from all over the Gulf region. It’s something like a dog-show, with the animals being paraded around and given marks on their appearance.

How does one judge the beauty of a camel? According to Ali Al Mansouri, a camel owner and member of the Al Dhafra organizing committee, “The judges are looking for camels with big heads, wide necks, firm ears, broad cheeks and big whiskers.” He also said that the body should be long, the hump and the back should be big, and the color and posture of the camel are important.

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Take a Look inside a $11.5 Million Doomsday-Proof House

If I had a house like this, maybe I wouldn’t mind an end-of-the-world type scenario at all. I’m talking about a 4,200 sq. ft. mansion located in Yellow Jacket, a deserted town in Colorado, U.S. I call it a mansion only for its interiors. From the outside, it looks every bit like the disaster-ready, Armageddon-proof house that it’s supposed to be.

The walls of this house are made of reinforced concrete and are lined with thick steel. This makes the structure so strong that it has been declared ‘nuclear rated’ by its online listing on Curbed.com. From the outside, it seems like a desolate and boring building in the middle of nowhere, but on the inside it’s a luxury home, complete with designer furniture and beautiful interiors. The only proof that the house is a ‘luxury survival bunker’ are the overhead metal air ducts that traverse almost every room. The ducts are meant to close off in the case of emergencies, like if the air gets contaminated from a gas leak.

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Woman Runs 500 Kilometers in 86 Hours without Any Sleep

Kim Allen, a 47-year-old ultra-distance runner from New Zealand, recently broke the world record for running the longest distance without sleep. She surpassed the previous record of 486 km (set by American Pam Reed in 2005) by running a whopping 500 km. It took her 86 hours, 11 minutes and 9 seconds of non-stop running to complete the challenge.

Kim began at 6 am on the 19th of December, in Auckland, and kept at it for four long days. She ran initially, but slowed down to a walk in the final laps. The mother-of-four called her achievement “Sleepless in Auckland.” “It’s all a bit surreal at the moment,” she said, shortly after completing the feat.

This wasn’t her first attempt; Kim tried to beat Reed’s record last year, but she could only manage 370 km before she had to stop. This time, she reached her goal with blistered feet and swollen ankles. But Kim was so ecstatic about her achievement that she referred to her state as “just a bit weary.” She also said that she was overwhelmed and could not believe her quest was over.

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