October, 2011 Archives

Monster Mash: Halloween ‘Lego’ Edition

October 30th, 2011 Permalink

Some folks believe toys have a secret life that few are lucky enough to glimpse. So in a tongue-in-cheek, haunted Lego-esque Halloween edition, think “Monster Mash” private party full of Lego abominations, CClone, and Minifig guests. Some folks imagine these mini-figures dressing up in Halloween costumes to go trick-or-treating, to parties, or to haunted houses. These are some of the same people and photographers who dared to step outside the box and probably colored out of the lines as kids . . so in most cases the captions for their monster Lego creations are their own. We’re very grateful for these creative artists and photographers for their Dracula, werewolf, Frankenstein, mad scientist, headless horseman, mummies, zombies, witches, Grim Reapers, ninjas, executioners, Star Wars clones and skeletons. Welcome to the Lego Halloween Party . . . do the Monster Mash! [56 Cool 'Lego' Pics and 1 Lego Monster Mash Video]

Lego Halloween's Private Party

Halloween’s Private Party. Photo #1 by Pedro Vezini

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Beyond Gorgeous: Great Barrier Reef (46 PICS)

October 27th, 2011 Permalink

This is the planet’s largest coral reef system and it can be seen as far away as outer space! The gorgeous Great Barrier Reef is off the coast of Australia, in the Coral Sea, and stretches for 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers); it’s made up of about 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is the single biggest structure created by billions of tiny living organisms. The reef supports an extremely rich diversity of life and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The beautiful Great Barrier Reef is also one of the very popular finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. Although a large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit human impact like fishing and tourists, tourism still generates around a whopping $1 billion per year. With the spectacular seascapes, landscapes, some of the most stunning marine scenery in the world, it’s not hard to understand why. It’s definitely on our bucket-list to see and dive before we die. Visitors often scuba dive and snorkel to photograph the remarkable and natural underwater beauty of the reef. [46 Photos]

You Can Help Conserve Coral Reefs

You can help conserve this gorgeous Great Barrier Reef, a consistently popular choice among the 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. According to NOAA, “Even if you don’t live near a coral reef, you can still have an impact on them. Awareness is a big step towards changing behaviors that threaten reefs, and ensuring your impact on reefs is a positive one. Therefore, we all need to be aware of the importance of, and threats to, coral reefs.” Photo #1 by NOAA’s National Ocean Service

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Infamous Mount Vesuvius: One of the World’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes (41 PICS)

October 22nd, 2011 Permalink

East of Naples, Italy, looms the volcano Mount Vesuvius with an elevation of 4,203 feet (1,281 meters). It is a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition; voting trends show it becoming more popular and perhaps one of the winners from the 28 natural wonders. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous and infamous volcanoes in the world. [41 Photos]

Ancient Ruins of Pompeii

Mount Vesuvius looms in the distance from the ancient ruins of Pompeii. This volcano is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that buried and destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The towns were forgotten until their accidental rediscovery in the 18th century. Photo #1 by Glen Scarborough

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Amazing Amazonia: Amazon Rainforest [46 Pics]

October 19th, 2011 Permalink

The “lungs of our planet” have been attributed to the Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazonia. This Amazon jungle, or the Amazon basin in South America, covers over 1.7 billion acres acres (7,000,000 square kilometers); the actual tropical rainforest is spread over 1.4 billion acres and 9 countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. 60% of the Amazon jungle is contained within Brazil. The Amazon represents over half the remaining rainforests worldwide and contains the largest and most species-rich tropical forest system on our planet. Amazonia grew around the Amazon River which is the longest river, the largest river, and the basin has the largest area in the world. The Amazon River has total flow greater than the top ten world’s rivers combined. The biodiversity of this wet tropical forest could boggle the brain; one in ten animal species lives here and it is the largest collection of living plants on the globe . . . and much of the Amazon is still unexplored. It definitely should be protected for the tropical jungle paradise may hold the keys, yet to be discovered, to cure countless diseases.The amazing Amazon rainforest is one of the 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. We love these pics! [46 Photos]

Red-and-Green Macaws DO grow on trees in the Amazon

The biodiversity in these wet tropical forests is mind-blowing. It is home to the largest collection of living plant and animal species in the world. One in ten known species on this planet lives in the Amazon Rainforest. Amazonia is home to around 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and more than 2,000 birds and mammals. So far, at least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fishes, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified within this region. One in five of all bird and fish species live here. The Scarlet Macaws above are indigenous to the American tropics. The photographer wrote, “Red-and-Green Macaws DO grow on trees in the Amazon.” Photo #1 by Billtacular

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Dazzling Dead Sea Delights: Bob like a Cork, Smear on Salt and Mud [45 PICS]

October 16th, 2011 Permalink

The Dead Sea is one of the 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. It is a salt lake between Palestine and Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. At almost 1,378 feet (420 meters) below sea level, its shores are the lowest point on Earth that are on dry land. In the deepest part, at the very bottom of the sea, it is over 2,300 feet below sea level. The ‘Salt Sea’ has 30% salinity which is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean and people can float in it with no effort required. In fact, people don’t ‘swim’ in the water; instead they tend to bob like a cork and may be inclined to kick back and read while they float. It’s also a place where people delight in smearing on mud and salt for health and beauty reasons. The Dead Sea is 1,237 ft (377 m) deep, making it the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. It has attracted visitors for thousands of years . . . including being a place of refuge for the King David from the Bible. [45 Photos]

A rough Dead Sea, with salt deposits on cliffs

A rough Dead Sea, with salt deposits on cliffs. Although the sea is called “dead” due to its high salinity which prevents fish and aquatic plants from living in it, the same salinity can treat several health conditions. The Dead Sea is also known by many other names such as ‘Sea of Salt’ and ‘Sea of Death’; and in Arabic ‘Sea of Lot’ and ‘Sea of Zoʼar.’ The Greeks called it ‘Lake Asphaltites’ and ‘the Asphaltite Sea.’ The Bible also refers to it as ‘the Eastern sea’ and ‘Sea of the Arabah.’ Photo #1 by Disdero

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A Lost World Where Angel Falls Plunges off Devil’s Mountain [38 PICS]

October 15th, 2011 Permalink

Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall, is on the table-top mountain of Auyantepui which means “Mountain of Evil” or “Devil’s Mountain” in the native Pemon people’s language. This amazing waterfall is 3,212 feet high and plunges 2,648 ft over the edge of the Auyantepui mountain in the Canaima National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Angel Falls is 19 times higher than Niagria Falls and is one of the 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition — in fact it is considered to be a highly probable winner. Although this famous waterfall is one of Venezuela’s top tourist attractions, it’s not so easy for the faint of heart to reach. Traversing through the jungle is a surreal adventure in itself and has been compared to traveling through a “Lost World.” There is an isolated jungle to trek, a flight to reach Canaima camp, and then a river trip to reach the base of the falls. Some adrenaline junkies make this journey for one reason, adventurous ‘angels’ come to fall off Devil’s Mountain. [38 Photos & 2 Videos]

Angel Falls world's highest free-falling waterfall

Angel Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall, is located deep within the Canaima National Park in Venezuela. The trek through the jungle is a surreal adventure in itself and has been compared to traveling through a “Lost World.” Photo #1 by My[confined]Space

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Kaleidoscope of Autumn Colors is Heaven on Earth [46 PICS]

October 7th, 2011 Permalink

There is no doubt that ISS astronauts have enviable and breathtaking views of Earth, but when the fall season transforms foliage into a kaleidoscope of colors–rich hues of reds, yellows, oranges and browns, autumn is heaven as seen on Earth. As fall bursts upon the forests, changing them from green to vivid autumn colors, the tantalizing seasonal change can be seen from space. Yet astronauts may envy us for our beautiful view. Here’s a look autumn as seen from high above Earth, then zooming down to enjoy Indian Summer and the kaleidoscope of autumn colors that make our great planet a bedazzling fall spectacular. [46 Photos]

Autumn Waterfall at Sunset

Waterfall during an autumn sunset. When scenes are as beautiful as this, it makes us want to dive right into the picture to live in that captured moment. Photo #1 by Forest Wander

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ISS Envy: Breathtaking Views of Earth

October 1st, 2011 Permalink

We envy the International Space Station astronauts with their window on the world offering breathtaking views of the Earth and of the universe as a whole. Outer space may become the next frontier for vacations. If that becomes a reality, and we can book a space hotel with an eye in the sky overlooking Earth . . . wow, talk about a room with a view! Who would not want to go? We love to stargaze the majestic Milky Way, but crews from the ISS can also planet-gaze down at Earth. We also love NASA images and have looked at the space-walkers and photos captured from the ISS during Endeavor’s last-ever space walk. Granted there are many countries with space programs and spacecraft taking awe-inspiring photos of Earth—so these images were not entirely captured by the ISS—but they made us dream of taking a space vacation. When we see any of these out-of-this-world pictures, we get ISS envy because those space station expedition crews get to live with those magnificent views for extended ‘vacations.’ Here’s a very small but wowza collection of 34 breathtaking pictures of Earth, and of spacecraft approaching the ISS, as well as two incredible videos.

View of Aurora from ISS

Normally, we look up at amazing auroras, but the ISS crew is fortunate enough to have and captures auroras like this to give us an entirely different perspective of the phenomena. Photo #1 by NASA

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