Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

February 22, 2018 by  
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According to the ancient Romans, the Mediterranean is riddled with places where mortals can access the underworld. These “gates to hell” (or Plutoniums) are marked by stone structures, and some of them, like a cave in Hierapolis (now modern-day Turkey ) seem to have supernatural powers. Ancient Romans would bring animals into the mysterious haze inside the cave, where they would swiftly die. Now, scientists have answered the mystery of what is killing these animals and how humans could escape seemingly unscathed. According to the ancient Romans, humans would enter the grotto as part of a ritualistic sacrifice and leave unharmed, while animals would quickly die. The Greek geographer Strabo once said, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” Some believed that the vapor was the breath of the hellhound Kerberos. Legend also has it that even birds flying by would drop out of the air. Related: Egyptians discover three sunken ships full of 2,000-year-old treasure Scientists have found that the cause of this deadly mist is actually carbon dioxide from a volcanic fissure in the earth underneath the cave. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are stronger towards the ground, which helps explain why animals were impacted more than humans. The time of day also impacts its concentration, with wind and sunlight dispersing the vapor. That means that nighttime, and particularly right before dawn, are the deadliest times to enter the cave. At dawn, concentrations are strong enough to kill a human within a minute. Researchers believe that priests participating in the rituals understood that the higher you were from the ground, the longer you could stand in the cave, making them to appear to have supernatural powers. They may have also adjusted the time that they entered the cave to coincide with lower concentrations. The cave was actually forgotten until just seven years ago, but the mystery around it has remained. Brave researchers, led by Hardy Pfanz at the University of Duisburg-Essen , wanted to understand the enigma, so they examined the grotto in detail. Pfanz’s method could be used to help solve the mysteries of other Plutoniums as well. Via IFL Science Images via Chris Parfitt and Carole Raddato

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Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

Scientists find surprising methane-based ecosystem in underwater Yucatan caves

December 12, 2017 by  
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Underwater caves have been described as one of Earth’s final unexplored frontiers. An international team recently delved into the flooded caves of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and found methane and dissolved organic carbon sustain the food web in these caves, with an ecosystem similar to that of deep ocean cold seeps. Mayan lore described the underwater caves in Mexico as a fantastical underworld. While the caves aren’t mythical, they did hold surprises for the 10 scientists who recently conducted what the United States Geological Survey (USGS) described as “the most detailed ecological study ever for a coastal cave ecosystem that is always underwater.” These researchers found methane and the bacteria that eat it serve as the linchpin for the ecosystem. Study lead author David Brankovits of Texas A&M University at Galveston said in a statement, “Finding that methane and other forms of mostly invisible dissolved organic matter are the foundation of the food web in these caves explains why cave-adapted animals are able to thrive in the water column in a habitat without visible evidence of food.” Related: Hundreds of massive seafloor craters are leaking methane They researched the Ox Bel Ha cave network, a subterranean estuary complex about the same size as Galveston Bay. Naturally-forming methane in these caves migrates downward, instead of upward as it normally would when formed in soils, so bacteria and microbes can feed on the methane. Prior studies posited that vegetation and detritus comprised the majority of organic material for microbe food in the caves, according to USGS, so the scientists were surprised to discover just how important methane is to the caves’ food web. There’s little surface debris to serve as food deep in the caves, so microbes depend on methane as well as other dissolved organics that filter down from the caves’ ceiling. One cave-adapted shrimp species receives around 21 percent of its nutrition via methane. The journal Nature Communications published the research online in late November. Scientists from institutions in the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Mexico contributed to the work. Via the United States Geological Survey Images via © HP Hartmann and the United States Geological Survey

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Light-filled extension camouflages itself into a hillside

December 12, 2017 by  
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Ellena Mehl Architects skillfully disguised a modern new extension inside the terraced gardens of a traditional Provencal farmhouse in southeast France. Located in an old hamlet dating back to before the 19th century, the new addition, named SPE House, is undeniably contemporary yet complements the historic landscape with its use of stone, a nod to the nearby retaining walls. Wild grass covers the terraced roof and minimizes the building’s visual impact on the landscape. The 120-square-meter SPE House comprises two levels: a ground floor for the living areas and a basement, connected to the kitchen of the main house, that contains two cellars, a boiler, and solar heating room. Built of concrete, the extension features an asymmetric roof that follows the site’s topography. “The extension is set within the existing terraced planes, between the main house and the stone walls, redefining new intersection lines in the landscape,” wrote the architects. “The main level is connected at half level to the house using reshaped existing stairs.” Related: Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbourne’s summers with smart passive design The main level consists of a bedroom, dressing room, and bathroom. The bedroom, extruded into the landscape, is faced with a double glazed wall with a 10-millimeter-thick pane of toughened glass as the external wall and an inner curtain glass wall . Both glazed walls are operable. The double-glazing, along with a roller blind, help mitigate unwanted solar gain. + Ellena Mehl Architects Photo credit: Hervé ELLENA

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Wild grasses grow atop an Icelandic homes folded roof

December 12, 2017 by  
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Wild grasses and heather temper the hard lines of this striking modern home in Iceland . Reykjavik-based Studio Granda designed B14, a villa partially built from the recycled remains of the clients’ former dwelling. The undulating landscaped roof appears to mimic the nearby Bláfjöll mountain ridge, while the roofline’s valleys and folds help collect rainwater that tricks down the walls in open copper channels. B14’s unusual fan-like roof takes inspiration from the site’s trapezoidal shape that widens on the south side. The 592-square-meter abode tucks the smaller rooms of the home, including the bedrooms, bathrooms, and laundry room, towards the north beneath sharply pitched roofs. The roof gently ripples out towards the south side where the spacious open-plan dining room, kitchen, and living area overlook the lava field through floor-to-ceiling windows. Related: Red Mountain Retreat captures the essence of the rugged Icelandic landscape In-situ concrete is the main material seen from the outside. In contrast, the interior predominately features rich kampala timber with exposed steel beams, and a host of other luxury surfaces like polished black granite and calacatta marble. A stairway built of sawn basalt and illuminated by a skylight leads down to a small basement workshop and storage space. + Studio Granda

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Vast Ice Age cave system discovered underneath Montreal

December 7, 2017 by  
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Walking the streets of Montreal , Canada, you’d probably never guess a cave system lurked 10 meters below. But that’s exactly what two speleologists, or cave experts, recently discovered. Daniel Caron and Luc Le Blanc found a 15,000-year-old network of caverns that might have formed as glaciers receded during Earth’s last Ice Age . They think it’s possible that no person had ever set foot inside these caves until now. Back in 1812, the Saint Léonard cave beneath Pie-XII Park was discovered. But cave experts wondered if there was more. Caron and Le Blanc, both amateur explorers, found a vast network in October after drilling through the limestone walls of the existing cave to expose a spacious chamber which branches off into several passages winding beneath the Saint-Leonard borough. Related: Magical New Zealand cave is illuminated by luminescent glowworms The cave system could have formed as pressure from colossal glaciers split the rock . The explorers uncovered between 250 and 500 meters (820 to 1,640 feet) of caves, according to The Canadian Press , although they think the actual dimensions are even longer. The furthest reaches extend to the Montreal water table, Caron said. Rock climbing equipment is necessary to explore some passages, and some may need more rock-breaking for a team to go inside. The team was stopped by water and could only partially explore one of the passages via an inflatable raft, but they aim to explore more in the dry season when the water level hopefully lowers. As the explorers only reached the system by drilling, they think it’s likely no other human beings have ever walked inside these caves. Caron said every caver’s dream is to find a place no one’s been before. He told The Canadian Press, “Normally you have to go to the moon to find that kind of thing.” Via National Geographic and The Canadian Press

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Vast Ice Age cave system discovered underneath Montreal

Creative DIY gifts you can make yourself

December 7, 2017 by  
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Making your own DIY gifts this holiday season is a smart way to ensure that your present will be one-of-a-kind, and it doesn’t hurt that it’ll probably save you some cash too. We’ve rounded up a list of cool and creative homemade presents for the holiday season from tricked out terrariums to make-it-yourself lip balm to custom cat pillows . Check out our DIY Gift Guide to see them all! + DIY GIFT IDEAS

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Cave-digging artist hand-carves sandstone into extraordinary subterranean homes

February 18, 2016 by  
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Shockingly, authorities arrest activists, instead of people responsible for the Aliso Canyon methane gas leak

February 18, 2016 by  
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The California State Patrol has arrested two people in connection with the massive methane leak in Southern California’s Aliso Canyon , but many residents who had to leave their homes near the leaking underground gas storage site think the wrong people are in custody. Instead of busting company executives and engineers who are responsible for the massive methane gas leak, the CSP arrested two protesters who draped banners on the headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission. The protesters draped banners to highlight the lax regulatory environment that enabled the spill — similar to the political culture that enabled the water poisoning in Flint . But unbelievably, the activists are now the ones going to jail. Read the rest of Shockingly, authorities arrest activists, instead of people responsible for the Aliso Canyon methane gas leak

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Homo sapiens and Neanderthals lived together 55,000 years ago

February 2, 2015 by  
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Amateur speleologists stumbled upon an ancient partial skull  that indicates Homo sapiens were living alongside Neanderthals in the Middle East. The 55,000-year-old incomplete cranium was found deep in a cave in Israel . This find fills a missing part of the story about how Homo sapiens evolved and traveled from Africa to Europe. Read the rest of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals lived together 55,000 years ago Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ancient , archaeologists , archaeology , artifact , bones , cave , cranium , early man , fossil , homo sapiens , human , interbreeding , Israel , neanderthals , skull

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Homo sapiens and Neanderthals lived together 55,000 years ago

This Amazing Cave Home in France Cost Just One Euro

September 30, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of This Amazing Cave Home in France Cost Just One Euro Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Alexis Lamoureux , Amboise , cave , cave home , Chez Hélène-Amboise Troglodyte , france , French cave home , grotto , Loire Valley , Lotte van Riel , renovations , stone , troglodyte

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