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30 November 2011

America's Incredible Weapons PART III

Manufactured by: Remington
Release date: 2010-2011
The product of a long string of modifications to the 22 year-old M24 sniper rifle, the XM2010 is designed specifically to be effective in the high altitude long distance fighting in Afghanistan.
To provide quiet, pinpoint accuracy at up to 1200 meters the XM2010 carries more gun powder in the bullets it fires, has a flash suppressor, sound suppressor, and a thermal sleeve to hide the warm barrel from FLIR.
When U.S. Snipers graduate from the five-week school at Fort Benning, Ga. they are capable of hitting a man-sized target nine out of ten times at 600 meters — over a third of a mile away.

The Taser Shockwave

Manufactured by: TASER
Release date: 2008
The Taser model will electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button.
Creating an "area of denial" the Taser can be stacked up and strung together almost indefinitely. It will also mount to any vehicle.
The Shockwave has an effective distance of 25 feet and can be seen in action on this company video at Gizmodo.

Manufactured by: Heckler & Koch
Release date: 2014
Dubbed "The Punisher" by American forces in Afghanistan, the XM25 accurately shoots a next-generation, 25mm, grenade up to 500 meters.
But, the distance isn't what impressed soldiers involved in the live trial of the weapon — it was the grenade programming.
A targets distance is transmitted by a rangefinder in the XM25 to the grenade in the firing chamber. When the grenade leaves the barrel it is spiraling, like a football, and measures the distance it's traveled by the number of spirals it completes.
The detonation can be manually programmed within 10 meters to hit enemy in bunkers or behind barriers.
A platoon leader commented in an Army Times article: "Engagements that typically take 15 to 20 minutes were over in a matter of minutes.”

22 November 2011

America's Incredible Weapons PART II

The Laser Avenger

Manufactured by: Boeing (BA)
Release date: 2009
Only a few centimeters in diameter and invisible to the naked eye, the Avenger's laser is 20 times hotter than an electric stove top and will cut through artillery shells with ease.
The Avenger was designed with the hope of effectively detonating the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that inflict more damage on American forces than any other weapon.
Current disposal methods involve a version of the MAARS robot that insurgents will bomb to take out of action.
The Avenger is also being tested to take down aerial vehicles.

Manufactured by: Raytheon (RTN)
Release date: 2008
Dubbed America's Ray Gun, by 60 Minutes, the Active Denial System is really more a combination radar array and microwave.
The ADS shoots a stream of electromagnetic waves, shorter than microwaves, which are instantly absorbed by the top layer of skin.
The pain is so intense, the reaction to run from the beams so overpowering, the military calls it the "Goodbye Weapon."
The ADS has been used domestically, both on test subjects and prison inmates. It was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, only to be recalled, inexplicably, months later.
The military claims there are no lingering effects from exposure.

The Black Knight

Manufactured by: BAE Systems (BA.L)
Release date: 2008
The Black Knight is a combination remote controlled tank and forward scouting vehicle, designed for situations too risky for manned vehicles.
To keep costs low, the Black Knight shares a weapons systems and engine parts with the manned Bradley Fighting vehicle. Including a 30mm cannon, machine gun and 300 horsepower engine.
The vehicle is also fitted with autonomous navigation software and can design and follow its own routes without input from an outside source.

14 November 2011

America's Incredible Weapons


Manufactured by: the Department of Defense (DOD)
Release date: 2007
The Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response (PHASR) rifle is a handheld laser array, called a dazzler, capable of blinding and disorienting anyone caught in its sights.
While weapons to cause blindness were sagely restricted by the 1995 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (a ruling the U.S. didn't agree to until 2009) the PHASR causes only temporary blindness, thus escaping the ban.
Dazzlers were originally mounted devices to U.S. soldiers rifles as a non-lethal way to halt Iraqis who failed to stop at checkpoints.
The PHASR uses a green laser array to calculate its targets distance and ensure its non-blinding intensity.

Manufactured by: Maxwell Atchisson
Release date: 2005
The AA12 can fire five 12-gauge shells per second and because the recoil is engineered at just 10 percent a normal shotgun, it can be fired from the hip with only one hand.
The Atchisson also fires a high explosive or fragmentation grenade called a FRAG-12 round to 175 meters with equal efficiency.
Designed for long-term combat use, tests have shown the AA12 can fire up to 9,000 rounds without being cleaned or jamming.
All the user needs to do is hold the trigger down for four seconds to empty the 20 round drum at a target.

Manufactured by: QinetiQ - QQ
Release date: 2009
The MAARS Robot is a modified remote control, bomb disposal robot.
Customizable to various needs, the MAARS can be configured with either an MB240 machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher, or a loudspeaker and eye dazzling laser, or bean bag guns, smoke, and pepper spray.
To date, no shots have been fired in combat by a remote device like the MAARS.

MQ9 Reaper Drone

Manufactured by: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)
Release date: 2001
The Reaper has been around for over 10 years, but was used largely for intelligence and reconnaissance until recently. 
Today, squadrons of F-16's are being transitioned into fully unmanned drone fleets.
The Reaper is the largest of the UAV's in the U.S. arsenal with a wingspan of 84 feet, a takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds, a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds and a flight time of 36 hours.
The drone climbs up to 52,000 feet, and reads a license plate from over two miles away. Capable of carrying 500 pound bombs, air-to-ground, and air-to-air missiles the UAV fleet is poised to perform the lion's share of American air support.
As of March 2011 the Air Force has more personnel training to operate its burgeoning drone fleet than for any other weapon system in its arsenal.

03 October 2011

A Professional Cyclist's Leg

George Hincapie, a professional bicyclist, has competed in fifteen Tour de France races. That kind of consistent athletic effort will produce an impact on the human body, as this photograph shows.

30 September 2011

Hotel Bedroom Under the Sea

Walkways in aquariums are impressive, but they've got nothing on this underwater hotel bedroom in the Maldives. Can you imagine waking up with the Indian Ocean and its sea life floating around you?

The Maldives, a chain of atolls located about 250 miles south of India, are notable for being strikingly beautiful and also being the lowest country in the world. On average, the land is only about two feet above sea level — meaning that the country is in a particularly perilous position due to climate change and rising seas. While the hotel room is novel, beautiful, and luxurious, the threat the nation faces is very real. To hammer home the reality, the president has even held a meeting of his cabinet underwater.

25 September 2011

India reveals massive uranium discovery

A new mine in south India could contain the largest reserves of uranium in the world, a government official said in remarks reported Tuesday, signalling a major boost for the energy-hungry nation.
The Tumalapalli mine in Andhra Pradesh state could provide up to 150,000 tonnes of uranium, Srikumar Banerjee, secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy, told reporters after a four-year survey of the site was completed.
"It's confirmed that the mine has 49,000 tonnes of ore, and there are indications that the total quantity could be three times that amount," Banerjee was quoted as saying in The Times of India.
"If that be the case, it will become the largest uranium mine in the world," he said.
Previous estimates suggested that only about 15,000 tonnes of uranium would be produced at the mine, which is due to start operating by the end of the year. No details were released on the quality of the material in Tumalapalli, a key factor as other uranium mined in India has been inferior to imports being procured from France, Kazakhstan, Russia and elsewhere.
"The new findings would only augment the indigenous supply of uranium. There would still be a significant gap. We would still have to import," Banerjee was quoted as saying in The Hindu newspaper.
India gets less than three percent of its energy from atomic power and it hopes to raise the figure to 25 percent by 2050.

19 September 2011

Pasta Is Not Originally from Italy

Myth: Pasta originally comes from Italy.
Worldwide, pasta has become synonymous with Italian cuisine. Italian immigrants themselves brought pasta everywhere they went. While it is true that the most famous varieties and recipes of cooking pasta really do come from Italy, surprisingly, the actual origin of pasta lies elsewhere!
So how did pasta make its way to Italy? One of the more popular theories was published in the ‘Macaroni Journal’ by the Association of Food Industries. It states that pasta was brought to Italy by Marco Polo via China.  Polo ventured to China in the time of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the Chinese had been consuming noodles as early as 3000 B.C. in the Qinghai province. There is even some evidence there of 4,000-year-old noodles made from foxtail and broomcorn millet.
Unfortunately, there are problems with this theory, least of which is that the noodles they were making in China aren’t technically considered pasta.  Polo also described Chinese noodles as being like “lagana”, which implies he was possibly already familiar with a pasta-like food before going to China.  Further, in 1279, there was a Genoese soldier that listed in the inventory of his estate a basket of dried pasta.  Polo didn’t come back from China until 1295.  For those who don’t know, Genoa is a sea port in Italy.  Further, the modern pasta like we know it was first described in 1154 by an Arab geographer, Idrisi, as being common in Sicily. So Marco Polo could not have brought pasta to Italy via China.  It was already in Italy at that time.
So how did it get there?  Most food historians believe that Arabs (specifically from Libya) are to be credited for bringing pasta, along with spinach, eggplant and sugar cane, to the Mediterranean basin. In the Talmud, written in Aramaic in the 5th century AD, there is a reference to pasta being cooked by boiling. It is thought, then, that pasta was introduced to Italy during the Arab conquests of Sicily in the 9th century AD, which had the interesting side effect of drastically influencing the region’s cuisine. It also known that by the 12th century, the Italians had learned from the Arabs methods for drying pasta to preserve it while traveling. Further support for this theory can be found by the fact that, in many old Sicilian pasta recipes, there are Arab gastronomic introductions.

17 September 2011

Chinese village bites into snake business

Residents stand next to cobras at a snake farm in Zisiqiao village, Zhejiang Province.

This sleepy village nestled in the heart of vast farmland in China's eastern Zhejiang province hides a deadly secret.

A step into the homes of any of the farming families here brings visitors eye-to-eye with thousands of some of the world's most feared creatures - snakes, many of them poisonous.
Cobras, vipers and pythons are everywhere in Zisiqiao, aptly known as the snake village, where the reptiles are deliberately raised for use as food and in traditional medicine, bringing in millions of dollars to a village that otherwise would rely solely on farming.

"As the number one snake village in China, it's impossible for us to raise only one kind of snake," said Yang Hongchang, the 60-year-old farmer who introduced snake breeding to the village decades ago.
"We are researching many kinds of snakes and the methods of breeding them."
In 1985, Yang started selling snakes he caught around the area to animal vendors. He soon began to worry that the wild snakes would run out and thus began researching on how to breed snakes at home.
Within three years, he had made a fortune - and many other villagers decided to emulate his success.
Today, more than three million snakes are bred in the village every year by the 160 farming families.
Snakes are renowned for their medicinal properties in traditional Chinese medicine and are commonly drunk as soup or wine to boost the person's immunity.

Yang has now started his own company to make his business more formal and build a brand, and also to conduct research and development for his products, which range from dried snake to snake wine and snake powder.
"Our original breeding method has been approved and recognised by the province and the county. They see us as the corporation working with the farming families," Yang said.
"So the company researches on the snakes and they hand them over to the farms for breeding. They said this model was working very well."

The original breeding method was simply putting males and females together, but now meticulous research is done on how the snakes breed, how to select good females, investigation into their diet, and how to incubate eggs so survival rates rise.

13 September 2011

Study Says: 7.5 million Facebook users are under 13

WASHINGTON — Some 7.5 million of the 20 million minors who used Facebook in the past year were younger than 13, and a million of them were bullied, harassed or threatened on the site, says a study released Tuesday.

Even more troubling, more than five million Facebook users were 10 years old or younger, and they were allowed to use Facebook largely without parental supervision leaving them vulnerable to threats ranging from malware to sexual predators, the State of the Net survey by Consumer Reports found.

Facebook's terms of service require users to be at least 13 years old but many children, or their parents, get around that rule by giving a false birth date when they sign up for the social networking site.

Parents of kids 10 and younger who use Facebook "seem to be largely unconcerned" by their children's use of the site, possibly because they think a young child is less vulnerable to Internet risks, the study says.

But while a 10-year-old might not download pornography on the Internet, he or she does "need protection from other hazards that might lurk on the Internet, such as links that infect their computer with malware and invitations from strangers, not to mention bullies," the study says.

More than five million US households have been exposed in the past year to "some type of abuse" via Facebook, including virus infections, identity theft and bullying, says the study, for which 2,089 US households were interviewed earlier this year.

Consumer Reports urged parents to delete their pre-teens' Facebook accounts -- or ask Facebook to do so by using the site's "report an underage child" form -- and to monitor teenage kids' accounts by friending them or keeping an eye on their activity via siblings' or friends' Facebook pages.

It also called on Facebook to "beef up its screening to drastically reduce the number of underage members."

23 August 2011

Chacaltaya, Bolivia

The snow-covered peaks of Chacaltaya Mountain tower over the Bolivian capital, La Paz, rising 17,800 feet above sea level. The Chacaltaya glacier is more than 18,000 years old, and its meltwater is an important resource for the inhabitants of La Paz. In the last 20 years, however, the glacier has shrunk 80 percent in volume. With temperatures expected to continue to rise, the glacier could eventually disappear completely.

20 August 2011

The Battery, NYC, U.S.A

The southern shoreline of Manhattan, known as the Battery, has been a popular promenade since the 17th century. About every 100 years the area experiences extreme flooding that reaches heights of up to 10 feet. These floods could worsen and become much more common over the next few decades as a result of increasingly frequent storms and rising sea levels.

17 August 2011

Big Sur, California, U.S.A

This famed 90-mile stretch of coastline, located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the United States. Like much of California, Big Sur has been hard hit over the past few decades by drought and rising temperatures. This change in climate is leading to more frequent wildfires, which could devastate the region’s ecosystems.

14 August 2011


More than 4 million people live in Caracas—2 million of them in barrios on the slopes that surround the city. Landslides caused by heavy rain are a chronic problem. In 1999, in one of the Americas’ worst natural disasters, 30,000 people were killed in flash floods triggered by several days of rainstorms. Such extreme weather is projected to hit Caracas more frequently and with increasing force.

11 August 2011

Columbia River, U.S.A.

Forming much of the border between the states of Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River is the largest North American river, by volume, that flows into the Pacific Ocean. Salmon hatch in its waters, migrate downstream to the Pacific Ocean, and return against the current to breed. The fish are threatened by efforts to dam the river for electricity generation. Rising temperatures will add to their troubles.

08 August 2011

Veracruz, Mexico

Small farmers in east-central Mexico produce organic shade coffee, an essential export. For years these farmers have suffered from low coffee prices. In the near future, however, the odd combination of drought and flooding during the summer months and unusually harsh winters is expected to take its toll on the land.

05 August 2011

Western Hudson Bay, Canada

For much of the year, polar bears roam the frozen Hudson Bay, hunting for seals. In the western portion of the bay, the ice begins to melt in late spring. The polar bears then go into hibernation, living off reserves of body fat until the sea freezes again. The ice now breaks up three weeks earlier than it did in the early 1970s, limiting the endangered bears’ access to food.

02 August 2011

Charlevoix, Quebec

Dominated by conifers and broad-leaved trees such as birch, aspen, rowan, and poplar, Quebec’s Charlevoix region is a breeding ground for more than 200 bird species and home to caribou, lynx, black bear, moose, coyote, timber wolf, wood bison, grizzly bear, beaver, and other mammals. For the rest of the century, rising temperatures are expected to threaten Canada’s boreal forest and its diverse wildlife.

30 July 2011

Rio de la Plata, Uruguay

Fresh water from the Paran· and Uruguay rivers collides with salt water from the South Atlantic Ocean in the muddy estuary of RÌo de la Plata. The estuary keeps the surrounding land rich and fertile and provides a natural habitat for a number of threatened species, including the rare La Plata dolphin. Changes in climate may lead to flooding of the coastal area.

27 July 2011

Recife, Brazil

This commercial center of northeastern Brazil is also a prime destination for tourists, who come for the pleasant weather and white beaches. Due to its dense coastal development, Recife—like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos
—is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels, hurricanes, and storm surges. The degradation of its coral reefs could also expose the city to flooding.

24 July 2011

Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru

It’s an awe-inspiring sight: massive ice fields and blue-white glaciers span 27 square miles of the Cordillera Oriental mountain range. The Quelccaya Ice Cap, the largest body of ice in the tropics, feeds the streams and rivers of the valleys below. It has lost 20 percent of its surface area since 1978 and could disappear entirely by the end of the century.

21 July 2011

Caribbean Sea

Four types of endangered sea turtles feed and mate among the corals of the Caribbean. Rising sea levels and temperatures, acidification of the oceans, and extreme storms could erode the beaches where the females nest and could threaten the coral reefs upon which the turtles depend. Since temperature affects the gender of turtle hatchlings, scientists fear a decline in male turtles, which could threaten the survival of the species.

18 July 2011

Kauai, Hawaii, U.S.A

The fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is one of the wettest spots on earth. Large parts of the mountainous island are swathed in cloud. These lush and mossy forests are home to the colorful Hawaiian honeycreeper, an endangered bird species. Even small shifts in rainfall patterns could cause major local changes, putting the islands’ distinct ecosystem under severe stress.

03 July 2011

Unusual Hotels in World: The Salt Hotel

Such hotels now appear in different countries around the world. But the Salt Hotel is the only hotel in the world built completely out of salt (salt bricks, salt roof, salt floor, etc.). It is located on the east coast of the famous Salt Flats in Bolivia.

01 July 2011

Unusual Hotels in World: Pavillon Des Lettres Hotel

This is the world’s first hotel designed for art and literature lovers. It is located in France. The walls of each hotel room provide good sound insulation for guests to read books in complete silence.

29 June 2011

27 June 2011

Unusual Hotels in World: Nhow Berlin

The ceiling and walls of this hotel are decorated with guitars and other musical instuments and equipment. The designers assure that the whole building is supposed to remind musical abstraction.

25 June 2011

Unusual Hotels in World: Corona Save the Beach Hotel

This hotel designed by German architect HA Schult is located in Italy. It is made out of 12 tons of garbage found on European beaches. It features five rooms and reception.

23 June 2011

Unusual Hotels in World: Tianzi Hotel

This Chinese style 10-story hotel was built in 2001. It looks more like giant sculptures. No wonder this hotel is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the “biggest image building”.