Celebrity Eclipse Squeezes through Papenberg Lock

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Anyone who’s ever squeezed into the tightest of car parking spaces at the supermarket might have some inkling of how the captain of new cruise liner Celebrity Eclipse was feeling yesterday as he negotiated the Papenberg lock in Germany with just a couple of feet to spare on either side of the vessel.

The mammoth ship, which measures 1,040 feet in length and weighs a whopping 122,000 tonnes, was making its way from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg to start on her maiden voyage.

At one point it was such a narrow fit the 121-foot wide ocean liner had as few as two feet on either side of her as she eased through, during a rite of passage known as the conveyance.

What’s more the depth of the river and the draft of the ship allowed for mere inches – or even less – beneath her.

With such a narrow margin for error the makers of the ship and the shipyard owners had to carefully monitor the position of the moon and tidal conditions to identify the precise time when the depth of the river would be sufficient for the ship to pass through.

Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis said: ‘Although I am accustomed to docking in tight ports, I prefer to be chasing sunshine in the open sea.

Celebrity Eclipse is only a few feet slimmer than the narrowest lock we have to navigate, which isn’t much room.

But we’ve done this twice before and I am entirely confident of another smooth and successful passage.

The ship is the third of five from Celebrity Cruises’ $3.7billion Solstice Class fleet and features a ten restaurants and even a glass blowing studio.

The company’s fleet sail in Alaska, California, Canada/ New England, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America and the Caribbean.

Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Longest Bridge in the World

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Construction on what would become the world’s longest marine causeway, connecting Qatar and Bahrain, is due to begin next year, and what a project it is: We’re talking about a bridge more than 13 miles long, costing around $3 billion.

Somewhat adorably named the Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Causeway, this massive bridge is expected to take around 4.5 years to complete and cost somewhere between $2.3 and $3 billion, but should be a great help for travel between Qatar and Bahrain. The trip currently takes more than four hours and will be reduced to 30 minutes on the bridge, and those in charge expect 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day to use it.

For a sense of scale, here’s a chart that compares the bridge to other very large things. Of course, I need a scale chart to tell how big a blue whale is, which sort of defeats the purpose of measuring this bridge in blue whales, but still: This is one large bridge.

Shanghai Corporate Pavilion Made From Used CD Cases

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Preparations for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 are heating up and many countries are getting in on the action by designing structures for the space. We couldn’t help but be dazzled by the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion by Atelier Feichang Jianzhu, but we were even more impressed to learn that the fascinating building is composed of thousands of plastic tubes made from used CD cases! Read on to find out what other green features the pavilion is incorporating besides the extensive use of recycled materials.

The impressive exterior structure is composed of hundreds of polycarbonate transparent recycled plastic tubes formed into a grid-like matrix. Recycled from used CD cases, the polycarbonate tubes will be able to be recycled again at the end of the building’s life. Multi-colored LED lights will be built into the exterior structure and be computer controlled to change the appearance of the exterior on a whim or based on a computer program.

Energy will be collected through a 1,600 sq meter solar thermal energy system of heat collecting tubes on the roof. This system will heat water up to 95ºF and will be used to generate electricity through ultra-low temperature power generation, which is similar to power generation from low-temperature geothermal reservoirs. This energy will be used for the both the exposition as well as every day power needs.

A misting system will also add to the structures appearance and help give it a dream like feel. It can be sprayed in various patterns under the entrance ceiling to give the building a fresh and elegant appearance. The mist will also help lower the temperature, purify the air and create a comfortable climate in pavilion. Mist and some water use inside the building will come from collected rainwater, which will be treated for sedimentation and then filtered and stored.

Next year’s World Expo in Shanghai should be an exciting event showcasing many sustainable buildings, technologies and ideas. The Shanghai Corporate Pavilion looks like an intriguing and original addition.

Bavaria Moscow City Racing 2009 Event

Motorsport, World News 1 Comment

On July 19, more than a hundred cars raced along the banks of the Moskva River and around the Kremlin in downtown Moscow during the Formula One Bavaria Moscow City Racing 2009 event. The race started an hour late because of an accident involving a Bugatti car that crashed into a fence.

Venice Under Water

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The recent “acqua alta” (high water) in Venice, Italy reached a depth of 1.56 meters (5 ft, 1 in.) on Monday – the deepest flood in 22 years, and the fourth highest flood level in recent history, claimed Venice’s Tide Center. The water began to subside on Tuesday, while residents and tourists made their way through the city, hip-waders or not – one man even took the opportunity to ride his wakeboard through Piazza San Marco (until police stepped in). Although this flood was severe enough for the mayor to ask tourists to temporarily stay home, Venetian floods are fairly routine, several occurring every year, and residents usually take it all in stride.

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Shopkeepers block the entrance of their shop with a wood panel as water rises in the streets of Venice.

Venice

A man wades through the Piazza San Marco during floods.

Venice under water

A view of a flooded dock area of Venice.

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Tourists wade through flood waters in a shopping district of Venice.

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Women sit on a table while water rises in their shoe shop during floods.

MS Windows Vista SP2 RTMs in April ‘09

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The Malaysian website Tech ARP, which previously figured out the release schedule for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3, has looked into its crystal ball again and predicts Vista SP2 will be released to manufacturing in April 2009. First, though, a release candidate (RC) will be released in February.

Vista SP2

So, what will be the big attractions in Vista SP2? 

  • Windows Search 4.0
  • Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack
  • Native Blu-Ray recording
  • Windows Connect Now support for easier Wi-Fi connections
  • UTC timestamp support in the exFAT file system to enable correct file synchronization across timezones

Keep in mind that Vista SP2 will only install on systems running Vista SP1.

So, how does the Vista SP2 release schedule jibe with previous service pack releases? ZDNet’s Ed Bott (whom I assisted many moons ago on the book Special Edition Using Windows Me) has run the numbers on the typical timespan between service packs, and finds that the space between Vista SP1 and the predicted release of Vista SP2 is on par with most Microsoft service pack releases other than those for Windows XP: about a year after the previous service pack.

Why is Windows XP an exception? Bott notes that Windows XP broke the pattern established by Windows NT4 and Windows 2000. It took almost two years to release XP SP2 after XP SP1, and almost four years elapsed between XP’s SP2 and SP3. Thus, Vista SP2, if it comes out as predicted, will mark a return to normal.

So, what do you think? Does the projected release date for Vista SP2 make sense, or does it still seem “rushed” as some have suggested? Hit Comment and tell us your thoughts.

Phillip Toledano: “Bankrupt”

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Maybe it’s part of our own human arrogance, but there’s something fascinating about imagining the world with us no longer in it. Not a world where we never existed, but the world as it would go on if at this very moment, today, rapture-like, we all of a sudden disappeared. Not vacated and had time to clean-up what we thought shouldn’t be left behind, but just vanished with little warning.

bankrupt

With “Bankrupt”, acclaimed NYC-based photographer Phillip Toledano gives us perfect snapshots of something that equates our abolition about as closely as it can while we’re still hanging around. In another facet of his study of those sort of sterile, factory, monolithic modern offices he examined in his series “Cubelife”, here he looks at offices that are no longer because they went under. The interesting this is that, as is part of the risk of the modern Western economy, businesses now can almost literally disappear – bankrupt and shut down and finished in a day. These aren’t places where everyone was notified and packed up and left everything spotless for their predecessors. These are buildings where people quite literally grabbed what they cared about and then just disappeared.

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Phillip Toledano

bankrupt Toledano

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The detritus speaks volumes. And raises questions – “why is there a single white gym sock on the office floor?”. With nobody remaining there to answer our queries, we’ll simply never get to know…

“As I started shooting bankrupt offices I found it to be more archaeology than photography. Everywhere I went I found signs of life, interrupted.”

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Below is my favourite shot: the two errant pencils thrown into one of those awful, generic, cheap-ass flatboard ceilings found in faceless offices from coast to coast:

Phillip Toledano: “Bankrupt”

Toledano is super well known and much blogged about for his disturbing body-morphic series “Hope & Fear” (check out the “baby suit”…) but he’s also got some of the most innovative, interesting editorial work around. His entire site is definitely worth a full scope out, but here are just a few of my favourites:

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Testing The Big Bang Theory – For Real

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Finally the day came, 10th September 2008 the big day in everyone’s life.

300 feet below Meyrin Switzerland, scientist are set to turn on the one most expensive machine ever built. Meet the world’s largest particle accelerator named The Large Hadron Collider.

collider

At CERN, the Large Hadron Collider could recreate conditions that last prevailed when the universe was less than a trillionth of a second old. Above is one of the collider’s massive particle detectors, called the Compact Muon Solenoid.

The Large Hadron Collider was built to look at how the Universe was created by analyzing particle collisions. This has quit a lot of people a little nervous since no one knows what could happen if things go wrong. Either way it’s still a very interesting project which deserves more reading. If you are interested, click on this link for the full New York Times story.

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the large hadron collider

This picture shows how big the tunnel is, 17 miles in which scientist will attempt to circulate a beam of protons…

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Scientists and technicians working day and night, monitoring each and everything twice and thrice to making sure they do not put an end to our Universe by trying to figure out how it started…

underground collider

 A technician assembles the tracker of the magnet core of the Compact Muon Solenoid, a 1920-tonne element at CERN, March 22, 2007. CMS is part of five experiments which will study what happens when beams of particles collide in the 27 km-long underground Large Hadron Collider.

big bang theory

The “Big Bang” is a theory first postulated by physicist and astronomer Georges Lemaître based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity to cosmology. It states that the universe was created approximately 15 billion years ago when it was little more than a tightly woven packet of small atomic mass that exploded and has been expanding from its primordial hot and dense initial condition to the continous expanse of universe that we know today.

CERN will try to recreate a mini-version of the “Big Bang” deep underground by using its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle smasher. Early preliminary testing has been successful and now the agency is ready test or “re-stage” what science believe was the actual birth of our universe, only on a much, much smaller scale.

LHC

Evans and his LHC team will send a full particle beam all the way around the collider pipe in one direction before sending beams in both directions, traveling at the speed of light, and smashing them together later in the year. The resulting collision will be monitored on computers at CERN and laboratories around the world by scientists looking for the ultimate proof to the theory, a, or the, particle (called “Higgs boson”)that made life possible. The Higgs boson is thought to be the particle of glue that holds all matter together, thus creating the universe and all life in it.

The particle is named after 79-year old Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, who will be on hand in Switzerland for the experiment. He believes that his “Higgs boson” should appear quite quickly once the two beams collide. Others are not so sure.

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