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“The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects /making it possible... to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.”

Susan Sontag


Taken from a moving car ( through the window) in N. Virginia ... May 2007

all rights reserved


The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) has been called "the most spectacular bird in the New World"and is found only in the cloud-forests in the highlands of Central America including southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.


The Quetzal was the most sacred symbol of the Aztecs and Mayas. Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, is seen wearing the long tail plumes of the male Quetzal, which only the royalty of these societies were allowed to wear. The name quetzal is an ancient Indian term for tail feather and the bird itself represents liberty. An ancient and cherished belief held that a Quetzal would not survive in captivity, it would rather die than be held prisoner. So rather than killing these birds for their precious feathers the Maya would pluck them and set the birds free to grow new feathers. Unfortunately this has since proved false and Quetzals can be viewed in zoos throughout the world.


The adult Quetzal is about 14 inches in length and the male has tail feathers that can grow to 30 inches or longer. The female Quetzal, as other birds, has a more subdued plumage than the male and lacks the long tail plume that gives rise to notion that male Quetzals in flight look like green lighting.


The Quetzal is listed as an Appendix 1 species in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means that it is threatened with extinction that may be accelerated by illegal trade of the species. The primary threats to its existence are habitat destruction, clear cutting forests eliminates seed trees and accelerates erosion, and poaching .


The Quetzal is also the national symbol of Guatemala, appearing on its flag and being the name of its monetary unit.


From this morning, it was around minus 10 Celsius. And I ran as fast as I dared on the snow when the clouds suddenly accelerated in this direction. There could be spots of ice covered by the white carpet, and I was terrified of ruining my camera and lenses. It didn't exactly relieve the stress that my glasses were full of mist and my Lee lenses began to frost, and finding a foothold for my tripod turned out not so easy - not least because my fingers were numb from the cold. It was quite a spectacle. Edited in Lightroom, Color Efex Pro (tonal contrast, detail extractor, color contrast) and Photoshop. Detail extractor masked in in Photoshop. "Lighten center" effect created with the help of the Radial Tool in Lightroom. The location is a lake nearby, one of my favorite locations. One single exposure. via 500px

Press L to view larger on black


A few months ago David called and said, “Hey, I’m coming your way and you better bring the color and clouds!” My response was, "don’t worry, they’ll be here." Fast forward three months to this past weekend. David and Aaron came into town and I wanted to make sure they went home with lots of goodies. We were worried about the weather and had decided in advance that we would chase the light no matter where it took us in Northern California. After stressing the whole time, I have to say this weekend was one of the most successful shooting weekends in a long time. The light and clouds cooperated almost every time. I could not believe how lucky we got at every scene.


Although, the weather conditions were almost perfect every time, we didn’t have much time to scout for potential comps. When you’re traveling to all these places and getting pulled over for speeding that’s just how it goes. With only minutes to spare at every scene it wasn’t easy trying to find a composition.


This particular location was AMAZING. It was by far one of my favorites from the trip. We left San Jose at 2:00 AM and drove 5 hours to this location. When we arrived we were dressed according to San Jose weather conditions. It was a freezing 20 degrees here at Lake Tioga and the light was already rising. With no time to add layers of clothing or hiking boots, I ran in my Vans and ended up here with this rock in front of me. I could barely feel my fingers as I pressed the shutter release. As I sat here shooting, I could hear the others vocalizing their emotions in different ways like cursing, yelling, crying the "double rainbow" and all sorts of other things.


It was really great hanging with Joshua, James, Jared, Aaron and David. Shooting by yourself is great but a group setting is so much fun especially on a trip. The great conversations helped as they kept me awake as I drove in the middle of the night. Jumping ideas off one an other is another great benefit in the fact that the learning process is accelerated by 100%. A big thanks to all the guys who made this trip so much fun. This is what it's all about, hanging with good people, having lots of fun, learning a thing or two and catching some nice light! In summary:


1. We drove close to 1,000 miles in 3 days.

2. We drove an estimated 17 hours on the road.

3. We visited 10 spots including Davenport, CA, Yosemite Nat’l Park and Lake Tahoe, NV.

4. We slept almost hardly at all.

5. We ate enough junk food to hold us over for a year.


Be sure to check these guys' streams as they have already uploaded some images from the trip. Thanks in advance for your constant support and visits. Have a great week ahead and may the light be with you wherever you are. Jave

In glorious evening light the immaculate former Finsbury Park racehorse accelerates away from Wellingborough returning on a Bristol Temple Meads to York charter. The rain and cloud had just cleared with perfect timing for once!

The lack of headboard and matching stock all combine for a near perfect image.

許茹芸 - 獨角戲


I remember when i first knew her

she was standing at the edge of the water

staring deep into the eyes of mr sun

I could feel the pain in her heart

I could sense the coldness of it despite the warmth from the sun

I saw her stare at me with so much sadness in her eyes


She drove around a lot

she came to the waters every other day to look at me, while chasing mr sun

sometimes she took pictures of us

sometimes she just stared blankly at us

There were some times I saw sparkles of tears on her face while she watched me change into different colours under the shine of mr sun

Many times I wanted to ask her to go home because Mr Rain was throwing tantrums at me...

so many times she drove to the water and Mr Sun was not there for her

But I was always there to feel her...

Sometimes, when I am lucky, I catch her smiling as she embraced the beautiful scent of Mr Breeze carrying the scent of fresh grass as he went pass her...


One evening, been a while since I found her

She was jogging alone along the long path

She had a strong, determined expression on her face

She was staring up at us and she had a smile on her face

She looked as if she found a new life

First time I saw her running so fast and far!

I chuckled together with her as she ran and stretched out her arms


But there were still some nights when I noticed her

Looking tired as she was pacing quickly along the path

she seemed to be healing the aching joints

she revealed a lonely expression on her face

she seemed to be listening to a sad piece of music

i sensed her breathing accelerate as the music built into a sad emotion

I sensed her digging deep into her heart as she listened to that piece of dreadfully beautiful but sad music

Searching so deep into her past

i saw her intense expression as she ran

I saw her tears form in her eyes while she ran thru the slides of the past

i felt the pain she was experiencing as those sad music stung her heart

I saw her strong determination to tell herself those days have passed

I applauded her for gathering the courage to face the past and fought against the negative thoughts

I saw her swallowing those sourness into her throat and carried on running

I saw her lift up her down hung head and stared high up at us again.


Many afternoons I saw her peeking at us as she drove

And there were some evenings when I am looking my best

I get so worry that she is not looking at the road at all


I clearly remembered this evening when I watched her while she went for a drive

Many thoughts seemed to be running through her head

She was disappointed on some cruel facts of life

She became really tired of being on her own

She sobbed as she drove

She was blaming herself for having such a life

I saw her trying to convince herself she was special

I saw her convincing herself someone will appreciate her truly someday.

when she was crying that night

I cried with her...


There was also an evening when Mr Rain was dancing

I saw her running as she faced the sky

A smile emerged as she ran

I could feel her filling her lungs with the scent of the cool rainy breeze

i could sense the happiness within her as she enjoyed that connection with all even who are faraway

she smiled at the thought that she was running like a free soul

she found what truly made her feel herself

I could hear her thanking god for giving her this new her

I could sense her becoming a strong person who will overcome everything


Recently, during this late afternoon, i saw her driving pass the same route

she stared at me and praised me in her heart on how beautiful i looked in the arms of the sunset

i wanted to tell her so much

i like that she is this person who smiled at the little things in life

I like the "her" who realized that it is such a great gift simply that she is breathing

I like this her who stopped and played with stray cats and admired the wild flowers without a care about troubles coming tomorrow.

I wanted to tell her how proud of her I am,

So proud to see that she knows it is ok to cry very hard when she thinks about the past...

but to always remember to laugh doubly hard when she thinks about the future . :)


I am Mr Cloud

looking proudly at my girl, my Sunchaser.


Written by Nictay_27

The Bangui Wind Mills were built by the NorthWind Power Development Corporation to take its share in reducing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) causing global warming and to accelerate the rural electrification of the goverment.

Location: Bangui, Ilocos Norte


The modernization of scientific training at Oberlin accelerated in 1901. That fall Professor Frank Jewett led his chemistry students, each with an armload of apparatus, in a jubilant march from the cramped rooms of old Cabinet Hall (which stood in decay just south of Peters Hall) to the new Severance Laboratory. Jewett recalled it as a trip from captivity to the promised land. He had spent a sabbatical year examining the latest facilities at universities at home and abroad, and worked closely with young Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in planning Severance. Money for the new building came from trustee Louis Henry Severance, treasurer of the Standard Oil Company, whose son had studied chemistry under Jewet.


Shaw was just beginning a distinguished career in architecture. He took pride in the exacting craftsmanship and fine detail of his work. His design fitted the tight dimensions of the site and anchored the northwest corner of Tappan Square with a crisp and pleasing sandstone facade. Midway through construction Jewett discovered that some of the interior walls were being lined with overbaked brick. Alarmed, he mailed one of the offending bricks to Shaw, who wired back, "Stop work until I arrive." Shaw came from Chicago by the next train, inspected the scene, and order the defective lining rebuilt from scratch. Those were the days.


By the late 1950s the attitudes of Oberlin's chemists toward Severance began to echo Jewett's feelings about Cabinet Hall. In 1962 they moved into the new Kettering Hall next door, and Severance was refitted for geology and psychology. The momentum of scientific technology makes it unlikely that the mesh between Severance and its users will ever be as satisfying as it once was for Jewett and his students.

Portage Lake, Chugach National Forest, Alaska. 17-5-2003.


Portage Lake and its namesake glacier are Alaska's most visited attractions.The glacier filled the lake in 1880, only to begin retreating in 1890. With the current retreat rate of around 100 meters per year, it is expected to reach the end of the lake by 2020. Global warming may be accelerating the process. I visited the lake many times on my way to/from the Kenai Peninsula. This was the only instance when it was filled with so much ice.


Please click here for more from Alaska.

Maarten Memorial 2010


Dutch Pride: the new Spyker C8 Aileron.


Due to the futuristic looks of this car, I decided to create a bit of a apocalyptic feeling in the shot. I guess it fits the orange supercar very well but I'm curious of what you guys think of it.


The Spyker C8 Aileron is powered by an Audi 4.2 Liter V8 that produces 400 HP and is available with the choice of two differnet transmissions. The first being a 6 speed Getrag manual gearbox, with ratios perfectly matched to the engine’s output, as well as a ZF 6 speed automatic gearbox, which comes standard with paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel allowing the driver to swap cogs smoothly and accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 187 MPH.


The C8 Aileron’s design is heavily inspired by Spyker’s aviation heritage, as is the case with all of their models, and is named after the flaps on the wings that are used to control the plane’s rolling and banking movements. Compared to previous models, the C8 Aileron features a larger grille that provides additional cooling to the radiator elements as well as a rear diffuser that redesigned for improved functionality. Meanwhile an additional spoiler has been placed under the rear diffuser, providing additional down force in order to aide the ground effects package and keep the special C8 glued to the road.

source: topspeed


Explore, Highest position: #327 on Thursday, August 26, 2010

Abandoned and desolate.




On March 31, 1998, the last coal was extracted from the mine and the last permanent resident left by October 10.


Pyramiden is accessible by boat or snowmobile from Longyearbyen, either as part of a guided tour or independently. There are no restrictions on visiting Pyramiden, still owned by Trust Arktikugol, but visitors are not allowed to enter any buildings without permission even if they are open. While most buildings are now locked, breaking into the buildings, vandalism and theft of "souvenirs" have become a serious threat to Pyramiden as it contributes to the accelerating deterioration of the buildings.


As of 2013, the Tulip hotel has been reopened and it is possible to stay overnight in Pyramiden. In addition, there is a small hotel built of old shipping containers near the harbour. However, there are no plans to renovate and reopen the whole settlement.

The moment the 37's could be heard.....the cloud came !

37259+37607 accelerate after joining the ECML at Monktonhall Jcn with 6S43. This is the Kingmoor to Torness Nuclear Flask train. 19/2/15 at 0939

Sending a cloud of blue smoke into the atmosphere 37010 accelerates away from a signal check at Hatlepool. The background reveals just how close to the port the railway is with large cargo vessels being loaded. Another family holiday slide....21/08/1980.

37010 was built at Vucan Foundry as D6710 24/02/1961, it was withdrawn 30/06/2005 and cut 26/07/2007 at C.F. Booth (Rotherham)

© All Rights Reserved, Krebs Sebastien





From my youngest age, almost 30 years ago, I remember being told that the Amazonian forest, lung of the Earth, is being cut at dangerous rate, and that for the sake of everyone, it shouldn't been done.


Today, it is much worse, it's accelerating and nothing has or is being done!


So if we can't count on governments or international organisations, as they profit from it, and people and associations are powerless against heavily armed lumbers, who's going to stop it? Are we going to wait it's all gone to start to understand it was wrong?


And it's not even like it was vital and essential to cut all these trees... but... they are free! So why one would bother with not so profitable but much more sustainable cultures and techniques?


- 1/200s, f/8, ISO200, 72mm

- 1 RAW processed in ACR

- Post-processing in Photoshop

Exhaust visible against the light cloud, English Electric Type 3 37 402 'Stephen Middlemore' accelerates away from Kirkby-in-Furness station. The DRS veteran, assisted from the rear by sister locomotive 37 418, heads 2C40, the 08.42 Carlisle-Barrow working. @11.07

back to the usual summer weather --clouds and rain

a4 pacific 60009 union of south africa accelerates away from the stop at frodsham with the north wales coast express for holyhead

A brief, fantastic timelapse video featuring WindLight! Watch, enjoy, comment!


very very nice

I focus on the present, concentrate on what I find.

Accelerate the vision high beyond the curse of time.

Bring light to my attention, the walls of vacuum fall.

This force increases and tells me where to go.

- Gojira




Each year the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope releases a brand new image to celebrate its birthday. This year, the subject of its 24th celebratory snap is part of the Monkey Head Nebula, last viewed by Hubble in 2001, creating a stunning image released in 2011.


Otherwise known as NGC 2174, this cloud of gas and dust lies about 6400 light-years away in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Nebulas like this one are popular targets for Hubble – their colourful plumes of gas and fiery bright stars create ethereally beautiful pictures, such as the telescope’s 22nd and 23rd anniversary images of the Tarantula and Horsehead nebulas.


This region is filled with young stars embedded within bright wisps of cosmic gas and dust. Dark dust clouds billow outwards, framed against a background of bright blue gas. These striking hues were formed by combining several Hubble images taken through different coloured filters, revealing a broad range of colours not normally visible to our eyes.


These vivid clouds are actually a violent stellar nursery packed with the ingredients needed for building stars. The recipe for cooking up new stars is quite inefficient, and most of the ingredients are wasted as the cloud of gas and dust disperses. This process is accelerated by the presence of fiercely hot young stars, which triggers high-speed winds that help to blow the gas outwards.


This image marks 24 years of Hubble since April 1990, a milestone that will be celebrated at a conference held in Rome, Italy, this week. The “Science with the Hubble Space Telescope IV” conference will highlight and celebrate the scientific breakthroughs of Hubble over the last two decades, and look to the future at the topics and key questions that will shape the field of astrophysics in the next decade.


Credit: NASA/ESA

Low cloud streams across the fells as Class 8F 48151 accelerates past Blea Moor with the first Fellsman train of the summer, 11th June 2014.

With the clouds hot on its heels 7X23 Derby Litchurch Lane - Old Dalby accelerates through Castle Gresley on 27th February 2015. Leading were 20118 'Saltburn By Sea' and 20132 'Barrow Hill Depot'. The rear was 20096 and 20107

A bank of cloud chases 66025 as it accelerates towards Portway with 6Z65 Earles - Walsall cement tanks.

These old, wooden grrain elevators are two out of the three that still stand at Mossleigh, SE of Calgary. The third is just off to the left of my photo. They were seen on 14 April 2014, when my youngest daughter and I spent the day driving some of the backroads SE of Calgary.


From Alberta Prime Time - Talk of the Town: Mossleigh Grain Elevator Trio. Original Air Date: Thursday, April 05, 2012:


"A farm family in the Mossleigh area of Southern Alberta is doing all it can to keep their local grain elevators towering over the prairies.


Eric Donovan and his cousin purchased two of the three aging structures when the original owner had no more use for them. Now they're being restored to working condition."


Link to an interesting article from, from March 2012:


"There were 1,651 elevators in Alberta in 1951, but by 1982 a total of 979 elevators remained. The 1990s spelled the death of the wooden “country” or “primary” elevator. At the end of the 1990s, as the full impact of both of the ending of the Crow Rate in 1995 and further impending rail abandonment was felt, the pace of demolition accelerated at an unprecedented rate. At the end of the 1996-1997 crop year, there were only 327 elevators left. Alberta’s largest cooperative grain companies, the Alberta Wheat Pool (which amalgamated with Manitoba Pool Elevators in 1998 as Agricore) and United Grain Growers, ultimately formed a new corporate entity known as Agricore United in 2001, issuing issued public shares. Demolition of country elevators has continued, and in 2005 there were only 156 wooden elevators of any kind still standing, only a handful of which are used by the grain trade.


The Government of Alberta has recognised the significance of the traditional wood grain elevators, and has designated 12 as Provincial Historic Resources. They are located in the following communities: Andrew, Castor, Leduc, Meeting Creek, Paradise Valley, Radway, Rowley (3 elevators), Scandia and St. Albert (2 elevators)."

I don't even know what time it was

disbelieving, even now, of the cause

denial seems an affront to instinct -

a world can change so in just one blink

the turn of the year is nothing compared to that of human emotion

which can gamble on life, turning the world into one pitiless dungeon

bottomless, selfless in it's adverse demoralising torment

people seem the be all and end all of our evolutionary descent

stuck in reverse and seemingly accelerating backwards through memory

halting at a time displaying freedom of spirit which I recall vaguely

uncomplicated, dignity intact, pride not an issue, life the centre of all

survival was Winter withstanding, before neoteric slights could befall

under blankets of cloud, rainfall totting up, focusing becomes crystal

thus able to marvel in the clarity of nature's due; a cloudbreaking angel

the howling wind is now a paen of reason, a true self-motivator

filtering the sound in light of love unfound: desire in nature's angelic answer.


by anglia24

13h40: 14/01/2008

© 2008anglia24

Tower Bridge (built 1886-1894) is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London.


The bridge consists of two towers tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. The bridge's present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee. Originally it was painted a chocolate brown colour.[2]


Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge,[3] which is the next bridge upstream.


The nearest London Underground station is Tower Hill on the Circle and District lines, and the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Tower Gateway.[4]



[edit] Background

Elevation, with dimensions


In the second half of the 19th century, increased commercial development in the East End of London led to a requirement for a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge. A traditional fixed bridge could not be built because it would cut off access by tall-masted ships to the port facilities in the Pool of London, between London Bridge and the Tower of London.


A Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in 1876, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman, to find a solution to the river crossing problem. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were submitted, including one from civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The evaluation of the designs was surrounded by controversy, and it was not until 1884 that a design submitted by Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect (who was also one of the judges),[5] was approved.


Jones' engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry, devised the idea of a bascule bridge with two towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways.

[edit] Construction

Tower Bridge under construction, 1892


Construction started in 1886 and took eight years with five major contractors – Sir John Jackson (foundations), Baron Armstrong (hydraulics), William Webster, Sir H.H. Bartlett, and Sir William Arrol & Co.[6] – and employed 432 construction workers. E W Crutwell was the resident engineer for the construction.[7]


Two massive piers, containing over 70,000 tons of concrete,[5] were sunk into the riverbed to support the construction. Over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the towers and walkways.[5] This was then clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone, both to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the bridge a pleasing appearance.


Jones died in 1887 and George D. Stevenson took over the project.[5] Stevenson replaced Jones's original brick façade with the more ornate Victorian Gothic style, which makes the bridge a distinctive landmark, and was intended to harmonise the bridge with the nearby Tower of London.[7] The total cost of construction was £1,184,000[7] (£100 million as of 2012).[8]

[edit] Opening


The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and his wife, The Princess of Wales (Alexandra of Denmark).[9]


The bridge connected Iron Gate, on the north bank of the river, with Horselydown Lane, on the south – now known as Tower Bridge Approach and Tower Bridge Road, respectively.[7] Until the bridge was opened, the Tower Subway – 400 m to the west – was the shortest way to cross the river from Tower Hill to Tooley Street in Southwark. Opened in 1870, Tower Subway was the world's first underground ('tube') railway, but closed after just three months and was re-opened as a pedestrian foot tunnel. Once Tower Bridge was open, the majority of foot traffic transferred to using the bridge, there being no toll to pay to use it. Having lost most of its income, the tunnel was closed in 1898.[10]


Tower Bridge is one of five London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. It is the only one of the Trust's bridges not to connect the City of London to the Southwark bank, the northern landfall being in Tower Hamlets.

[edit] Design

Tower Bridge viewed from the top of London City Hall.

Oblique view of north tower from Tower Bridge Road.


The bridge is 800 feet (244 m) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, built on piers. The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 83 degrees to allow river traffic to pass. The bascules, weighing over 1,000 tons each, are counterbalanced to minimise the force required and allow raising in five minutes.


The two side-spans are suspension bridges, each 270 feet (82 m) long, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways. The pedestrian walkways are 143 feet (44 m) above the river at high tide.[7]

[edit] Hydraulic system

One of the original steam engines: a 360 hp horizontal twin-tandem compound engine, fitted with Meyer expansion slide valves


The original raising mechanism was powered by pressurised water stored in several hydraulic accumulators.[11] The system was designed and installed by the self-effacing Hamilton Owen Rendel (born 1843)[12] while working for Sir W. G. Armstrong Mitchell & Company of Newcastle upon Tyne. Water, at a pressure of 750 psi, was pumped into the accumulators by two 360 hp stationary steam engines, each driving a force pump from its piston tail rod. The accumulators each comprise a 20-inch ram on which sits a very heavy weight to maintain the desired pressure.


In 1974, the original operating mechanism was largely replaced by a new electro-hydraulic drive system, designed by BHA Cromwell House. The only components of the original system still in use are the final pinions, which engage with the racks fitted to the bascules. These are driven by modern hydraulic motors and gearing, using oil rather than water as the hydraulic fluid.[13] Some of the original hydraulic machinery has been retained, although it is no longer in use. It is open to the public and forms the basis for the bridge's museum, which resides in the old engine rooms on the south side of the bridge. The museum includes the steam engines, two of the accumulators and one of the hydraulic engines that moved the bascules, along with other related artefacts.

[edit] Third steam engine

The third engine in working order,

at Forncett Industrial Steam Museum


During World War II, as a precaution against the existing engines being damaged by enemy action, a third engine was installed in 1942:[14] a 150 hp horizontal cross-compound engine, built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd. at their Elswick works in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was fitted with a flywheel having a 9-foot (2.7 m) diameter and weighing 9 tons, and was governed to a speed of 30 rpm.[14] The engine became redundant when the rest of the system was modernised in 1974, and was donated to the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum by the Corporation of the City of London.[14]

[edit] Navigation control


To control the passage of river traffic through the bridge, a number of different rules and signals were employed. Daytime control was provided by red semaphore signals, mounted on small control cabins on either end of both bridge piers. At night, coloured lights were used, in either direction, on both piers: two red lights to show that the bridge was closed, and two green to show that it was open. In foggy weather, a gong was sounded as well.[7]


Vessels passing through the bridge had to display signals too: by day, a black ball at least 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter was to be mounted high up where it could be seen; by night, two red lights in the same position. Foggy weather required repeated blasts from the ship's steam whistle.[7]


If a black ball was suspended from the middle of each walkway (or a red light at night) this indicated that the bridge could not be opened. These signals were repeated about 1,000 yards (910 m) downstream, at Cherry Garden Pier, where boats needing to pass through the bridge had to hoist their signals/lights and sound their horn, as appropriate, to alert the Bridge Master.[7]


Some of the control mechanism for the signalling equipment has been preserved and may be seen working in the bridge's museum.

[edit] Reaction


Although the bridge is an undoubted landmark, professional commentators in the early 20th century were critical of its aesthetics. "It represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness, and of falsification of the actual facts of the structure", wrote H. H. Statham,[15] while Frank Brangwyn stated that "A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river".[16]


Architectural historian Dan Cruickshank selected the bridge as one of his four choices for the 2002 BBC television documentary series Britain's Best Buildings.[17]

[edit] Mistaken identity


Tower Bridge is sometimes mistaken for London Bridge,[3] the next bridge upstream. A popular urban legend is that in 1968, Robert McCulloch, the purchaser of the old London Bridge that was later shipped to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, believed that he was in fact buying Tower Bridge. This was denied by McCulloch himself and has been debunked by Ivan Luckin, the vendor of the bridge.[18]

[edit] Traffic

Bridge open to admit a boat with a tall mast

Interior of high-level walkway (used as an exhibition space)




Tower Bridge is still a busy and vital crossing of the Thames: it is crossed by over 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) every day.[19] The bridge is on the London Inner Ring Road, and is on the eastern boundary of the London congestion charge zone. (Drivers do not incur a charge by crossing the bridge.)


In order to maintain the integrity of the historic structure, the City of London Corporation have imposed a 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) speed restriction, and an 18 tonne weight limit on vehicles using the bridge. A sophisticated camera system measures the speed of traffic crossing the bridge, utilising a number plate recognition system to send fixed penalty charges to speeding drivers.[20]


A second system monitors other vehicle parameters. Induction e.loops and piezoelectric detectors are used to measure the weight, the height of the chassis above ground level, and the number of axles for each vehicle.[20]




The bascules are raised around 1000 times a year.[21] River traffic is now much reduced, but it still takes priority over road traffic. Today, 24 hours' notice is required before opening the bridge. There is no charge for vessels.


A computer system was installed in 2000 to control the raising and lowering of the bascules remotely. It proved unreliable, resulting in the bridge being stuck in the open or closed positions on several occasions during 2005 until its sensors were replaced.[19]

[edit] Tower Bridge Exhibition and the tower walkways


The high-level open air walkways between the towers gained an unpleasant reputation as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets; they were seldom used by regular pedestrians, as they were only accessible by flights of stairs and were closed in 1910. In 1982 they were reopened as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, an exhibition now housed in the bridge's twin towers, the high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. The exhibition charges an admissions fee. The walkways, which are now enclosed, boast stunning views of the River Thames and many famous London sites, serving as viewing galleries for over 380,000 tourists[citation needed] who visit each year. The exhibition also uses films, photos and interactive displays to explain why and how Tower Bridge was built. Visitors can access the original steam engines that once powered the bridge bascules, housed in a building close to the south end of the bridge.

[edit] 2008–2012 facelift


In April 2008 it was announced that the bridge would undergo a 'facelift' costing £4 million, and taking four years to complete. The work entailed stripping off the existing paint down to bare metal and repainting in blue and white. Each section was enshrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting to prevent the old paint from falling into the Thames and causing pollution. Starting in mid-2008, contractors worked on a quarter of the bridge at a time to minimise disruption, but some road closures were inevitable. It is intended that the completed work will stand for 25 years.[22]


The renovation of the walkway interior was completed in mid 2009. Within the walkways a versatile new lighting system has been installed, designed by Eleni Shiarlis, for when the walkways are in use for exhibitions or functions. The new system provides for both feature and atmospheric lighting, the latter using bespoke RGB LED luminares, designed to be concealed within the bridge superstructure and fixed without the need for drilling (these requirements as a result of the bridge's Grade I status).[23]


The renovation of the four suspension chains was completed in March 2010 using a state-of-the-art coating system requiring up to six different layers of 'paint'.[24]

[edit] Incidents

A Short Sunderland of No. 201 Squadron RAF moored at Tower Bridge during the 1956 commemoration of the Battle of Britain


In December 1952, the bridge opened while a number 78 double-decker bus (stock number RT 793, registration plate JXC 156) was crossing from the south bank. At that time, the gateman would ring a warning bell and close the gates when the bridge was clear before the watchman ordered the lift. The process failed while a relief watchman was on duty. The bus was near the edge of the south bascule when it started to rise; driver Albert Gunter (possibly Gunton) made a split-second decision to accelerate, clearing a 3 ft gap to drop 6 ft onto the north bascule, which had not yet started to rise. There were no serious injuries.[25][26]


The Hawker Hunter Tower Bridge incident occurred on 5 April 1968 when a Royal Air Force Hawker Hunter FGA.9 jet fighter from No. 1 Squadron, flown by Flt Lt Alan Pollock, flew through Tower Bridge. Unimpressed that senior staff were not going to celebrate the RAF's 50th birthday with a fly-past, Pollock decided to do something himself. Without authorisation, Pollock flew the Hunter at low altitude down the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament, and continued on toward Tower Bridge. He flew the Hunter beneath the bridge's walkway, remarking afterwards that it was an afterthought when he saw the bridge looming ahead of him. Pollock was placed under arrest upon landing, and discharged from the RAF on medical grounds without the chance to defend himself at a court martial.[27][28]


In summer 1973 a single-engined Beagle Pup was twice flown under the pedestrian walkway of Tower Bridge by 29-year-old stockbroker's clerk Paul Martin. Martin was on bail following accusations of stockmarket fraud. He then 'buzzed' buildings in The City, before flying north towards the Lake District where he died when his aircraft crashed some two hours later.[29]


In May 1997,[30] the motorcade of United States President Bill Clinton was divided by the opening of the bridge. The Thames sailing barge Gladys, on her way to a gathering at St Katharine Docks, arrived on schedule and the bridge was duly opened for her. Returning from a Thames-side lunch at Le Pont de la Tour restaurant, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Clinton was less punctual, and arrived just as the bridge was rising. The bridge opening split the motorcade in two, much to the consternation of security staff. A spokesman for Tower Bridge is quoted as saying, "We tried to contact the American Embassy, but they wouldn't answer the phone."[31]


On 19 August 1999, Jef Smith, a Freeman of the City of London, drove a "herd" of two sheep across the bridge. He was exercising a claimed ancient permission, granted as a right to Freemen, to make a point about the powers of older citizens and the way in which their rights were being eroded.[32]


Before dawn on 31 October 2003, David Crick, a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner, climbed a 100 ft (30 m) tower crane near Tower Bridge at the start of a six-day protest dressed as Spider-Man.[33] Fearing for his safety, and that of motorists should he fall, police cordoned off the area, closing the bridge and surrounding roads and causing widespread traffic congestion across the City and east London. At the time, the building contractor Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd. was in the midst of constructing a new office tower known as 'K2'. The Metropolitan Police were later criticised for maintaining the closure for five days when this was not strictly necessary in the eyes of some citizens.[34][35]


On 11 May 2009, six people were trapped and injured after a lift fell 10 ft (3 m) inside the north tower.[36][37]

[edit] Popular culture

Tower Bridge model, Legoland Windsor

External videos

Lego retail model kit of Tower Bridge: the designer describes the near-scale model (over 1m long with 4287 pieces).[38]


Tower Bridge is featured – still under construction, using CGI – in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes. One of the final scenes is played out on the bridge in the movie's climax. The bridge is also the centre of a large action sequence in the film The Mummy Returns. Despite the bridge having been opened in 1894, it also appears in the 2010 film The Wolfman (which was set in 1891).[citation needed] Also, the bridge under construction appears in many episodes of anime Black Butler and it is featured as a place for final battle between angel Ash and a demon Sebastian.


The bridge is also featured as the home of Air Commodore Colonel William Raymond, played by Peter Cushing, in the film Biggles Adventures in Time (1986).


In the 1975 film Brannigan, John Wayne drives a car over the partially opened bridge during a car chase scene. The Spice Girls perform a similar stunt, with a bus, in the 1997 film Spiceworld. The video game, Midtown Madness 2 allows the player to perform the stunt themselves. In the 2004 film Thunderbirds, when The Hood flies the captured Thunderbird 2 to London, he navigates the craft between the bridge's towers, the bridge operators having lifted the bascules just in time.



The 6E51 1218 Peak Forest CEMEX - Selby headed by 60017 leaves its usual calling card as it accelerates through Rotherham Masborough.


16 4 15

My thoughts go out to everyone in the Buffalo area right now, and as beautiful as a single snowflake is, trillions of them can certainly be deadly. Buffalo, NY and the surrounding area is currently under a state of emergency, so this one’s for you guys, digging out from 1.2 meters of snow!


I was supposed to teach a Lightroom class this evening, but we’re getting some nasty lake-effect snow here too and classes were cancelled. This kind of snow is not beautiful – it’s swirling broken pieces of ice. For this snowflake, I went into the archives and found a beauty from March of this year that I hadn’t had the chance to process. Four hours later, and you can enjoy the results. :)


Snowflakes are rarely symmetrical clean crystals in weather like we’re currently seeing. I think I spotted one amidst the blizzard, but they are very hard to admire in these conditions. Calm weather produces the best snowflakes for photography – calm wind, low clouds and cold temperatures. We haven’t seen these conditions yet this season, but they are fast approaching… and so is this year’s Snowflake-a-Day project!


Photographically, this image is 44 separate frames combined and shot handheld with a high magnification macro lens and ring flash. It’s not an easy task, but one I encourage everyone to try this year. If you’re curious about how I make these images, check out Sky Crystals: - roughly 100 pages of the 304 page hardcover book is dedicated to the photographic workflow, from shooting to editing in exhaustive detail. A third of the book is dedicated to the science of these airborne gems too, and it’s worth checking out!


See the little hexagonal gem in the center of this crystal? That’s the remnants of another “plate” type crystal that formed in conjunction with the branches. Earlier in this snowflake’s life, it was a “capped column” which resembles a column with two tiny plates on either end. If conditions allow for one plate to grow slightly faster than the other, the growth of one side will accelerate and steal the water vapour away from the other side. This results on one plate growing branches, while the other plate remains small. You can tell the history of a snowflake simply by identifying features like this, and there are quite a few in each crystal!


Are we ready for winter yet? I don’t suppose it matters – it seems like it’s here to stay!


For those in Canada, be sure to check out the CBC documentary “Chasing Snowflakes”, part of The Nature of Things. I’m profile in the episode and I’m at the beginning and end. Link:

Running two hours late, 37425 accelerates through the cutting adjacent to St Mark's Road with the 3Z85 Longsight to Blackpool North. With all the cloud around I was lucky to get this in the sun!

It is the 3rd week in 2012 and I was blessed to witnessed one of the most extraordinary and rare sunsets to ever happen in Seattle City. Last week was a special week in Seattle, we had a weird weather system that came in and came out like it would rain 1 day, sun break 1 day and rain the next day. In between those days some of my buddies (Dene, Aaron Reed and David Irons) have captured beautiful sunrises and sunsets but unfortunately I was stuck.


Last Friday I brought my camera to work with no expectation to use it since I figured all of the crazy lights were probably gone by now. As I got off at 4pm I ran straight to Kerry Park and did not see anyone with a camera and the sky looked like it’s about to rain. I was discouraged and decided to go visit my parents instead.


On the way to my parent’s house the sky started to lid up bright orange. I stepped on the gas and raced as fast as I could to 12th Avenue, Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge. Within 3 blocks to this bridge I was stuck behind a Toyota Prius that was going 15mphr like the car was looking for an address on a 1 lane street!!! I looked out the window to see if the light was still there and I looked back the Prius is still in front of me. Right when we both turned into a 2 lands street I accelerated, parked and ran to the middle section of the bridge and there it was. The entire sky was bright red, orange, purple and pink. Even the grass and the ground were reflected with the same colors as the sky. Not only that the textures and the ripple effect in the clouds were quite nice. That was definitely a humble experience for me to capture this rare unexpected light from this location.


Seattle is now blanketed in white snow. Yesterday I came out for a model photoshoot in the snow and as the sun came down my friend Dene called so I met her at same location again to capture Seattle’s blizzard.


I hope everyone had a great weekend too. Thanks so much for the critiques and comments as always. Stay warm and dry my friends.



Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Lee FDK holder

Hitech 3 stops Soft GND

No CPL (I left it in the car that time)


© Hai Nguyen Photography | All Rights Reserved | Please do not use without my permission, thank you.

The two Black 5s are nearing the end of their run from Newport to Shrewsbury, via the Central Wales line, with the "Heart of Wales". Having cleared the junction at Craven Arms, they accelerate their train northwards on the climb to Church Stretton. Unlike last week (we gave up when, as the rain clouds gathered, we heard it was running two hours late), the train was four minutes early. Didn't hear any complaints...

47312 emits a cloud of 'clag' as she accelerates through Wandsworth Road on 28th August 1998 with the 6O95 Longbridge - Dollands Moor Rover car train. The road that curves away at the foot of the arches was used during filming for an episode of that great Cops & Robbers series of the Mid 1970s, 'The Sweeney'

Agora o día remata, o sol esmorece e o tempo conxélase.


As nubes pasan, a choiva acércase e o mar desperta.


As vidas descansan, o vento acelera.




Now the day ends, sun vanishes and time gets frozen.


Clouds pass by, rain gets closer and sea wakes up.


Lives rest, wind accelerates.

An unplanned and different take on the Flickr-popular 'The Potholes' in La Jolla, California. Truly one of the joys of photography for me is coming away with an image that was completely unexpected from what was pre-visualized. With my tripod set up for landscapes, a surfer popped into the scene and immediately became my mid ground and main subjects.


While in La Jolla and hanging out on this shelf, I also had the unexpected pleasure of meeting the very talented Wil Shieh (Lightvision). If you have the chance, check out his excellent work on his photostream.


Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF 17-40 L @ 17mm | 0.3 sec | ISO 1250 | f/4

A tortoise at the Galapagos Giant Tortoise Centre on Isabella


Galapagos Giant Tortoise

The Galápagos tortoise or Galápagos giant tortoise (Geochelone nigra) is the largest living tortoise, native to seven islands of the Galápagos archipelago. The Galápagos tortoise is unique to the Galápagos Islands. Fully grown adults can weigh over 300 kilograms (661 lb) and measure 1.2 meters (4 ft) long. They are long-lived with a life expectancy in the wild estimated to be 100-150 years. Populations fell dramatically because of hunting and the introduction of predators and grazers by humans since the seventeenth century. Now only ten subspecies of the original twelve exist in the wild. However, conservation efforts since the establishment of the Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation have met with success, and hundreds of captive-bred juveniles have been released back onto their home islands. They have become one of the most symbolic animals of the fauna of the Galápagos Islands. The tortoises have very large shells (carapace) made of bone. The bony plates of the shell are integral to the skeleton, fused with the ribs in a rigid protective structure. Naturalist Charles Darwin remarked "These animals grow to an immense size ... several so large that it required six or eight men to lift them from the ground.". This is due to the phenomenon of island gigantism whereby in the absence of natural predation, the largest tortoises had a survival advantage and no disadvantage in fleeing or fending off predators. When threatened, it can withdraw its head, neck and all forelimbs into its shell for protection, presenting a protected shield to a would-be predator. The legs have hard scales that also provide armour when withdrawn. Tortoises keep a characteristic scute pattern on their shell throughout life. These have annual growth bands but are not useful for aging as the outer layers are worn off. There is little variation in the dull-brown colour of the shell or scales. Physical features (including shape of the shell) relate to the habitat of each of the subspecies. These differences were noted by Captain Porter even before Charles Darwin. Larger islands with more wet highlands such as Santa Cruz and the Alcedo Volcano on Isabela have lush vegetation near the ground. Tortoises here tend to have 'dome-back' shells. These animals have restricted upward head movement due to shorter necks, and also have shorter limbs. These are the heaviest and largest of the subspecies.Smaller, drier islands such as Española and Pinta are inhabited by tortoises with 'saddleback' shells comprising a flatter carapace which is elevated above the neck and flared above the hind feet. Along with longer neck and limbs, this allows them to browse taller vegetation. On these drier islands the Galápagos Opuntia cactus (a major source of their fluids) has evolved a taller, tree-like form. This is evidence of an evolutionary arms race between progressively taller tortoises and correspondingly taller cacti. Saddlebacks are smaller in size than domebacks. They tend to have a yellowish color on lower mandible and throat. At one extreme, the Sierra Negra volcano population that inhabits southern Isabela Island has a very flattened "tabletop" shell. However, there is no saddleback/domeback dualism; tortoises can also be of 'intermediate' type with characteristics of both. The tortoises are slow-moving reptiles with an average long-distance walking speed of 0.3 km/h (0.18 mph). Although feeding giant tortoises browse with no apparent direction, when moving to water-holes or nesting grounds, they can move at surprising speeds for their size. Marked individuals have been reported to have traveled 13 km in two days. Being cold-blooded, the tortoises bask for two hours after dawn, absorbing the energy through their shells, then becoming active for 8–9 hours a day. They may sleep for about sixteen hours in a mud wallow partially or submerged in rain-formed pools (sometimes dew ponds formed by garua-moisture dripping off trees). This may be both a thermoregulatory response and a protection from parasites such as mosquitoes and ticks. Some rest in a 'pallet'- a snug depression in soft ground or dense brush- which probably helps to conserve heat and may aid digestion. On the Alcedo Volcano, repeated use of the same sites by the large resident population has resulted in the formation of small sandy pits. Darwin observed that: "The inhabitants believe that these animals are absolutely deaf; certainly they do not overhear a person walking near behind them. I was always amused, when overtaking one of these great monsters as it was quietly pacing along, to see how suddenly, the instant I passed, it would draw in its head and legs, and uttering a deep hiss fall to the ground with a heavy sound, as if struck dead." The tortoises can vocalise in aggressive encounters, whilst righting themselves if turned upside down and, in males, during mating. The latter is described as "rhythmic groans". The tortoises are herbivorous animals with a diet comprising cactus, grasses, leaves, vines, and fruit. Fresh young grass is a favorite food of the tortoises, and others are the 'poison apple' (Hippomane mancinella) (toxic to humans), the endemic guava (Psidium galapageium), the water fern (Azolla microphylla), and the bromeliad (Tillandsia insularis). Tortoises eat a large quantity of food when it is available at the expense of incomplete digestion. Its favorite food is grasses. The tortoise normally eat an average of 70 to 80 pounds a day. Tortoises have a classic example of a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with some species of Galápagos finch. The finch hops in front of the tortoise to show that it is ready and the tortoise then raises itself up high on its legs and stretches out its neck so that the bird can pick off ticks that are hidden in the folds of the skin (especially on the rear legs, cloacal opening, neck, and skin between plastron and carapace), thus freeing the tortoise from harmful parasites and providing the finch with an easy meal. Other birds, including Galápagos Hawk and flycatchers, use tortoises as observation posts from which to sight their prey. Mating occurs at any time of the year, although it does have seasonal peaks between January and August. When two mature males meet in the mating season they will face each other, rise up on their legs and stretch up their necks with their mouths open to assess dominance. Occasionally, head-biting occurs, but usually the shorter loser tortoise will back off, leaving the other to mate with the female. In groups of tortoises from mixed island populations, saddleback males have an advantage over domebacks. Frustrated non-dominant males have been observed attempting to mate with other males and boulders. The male sniffs the air when seeking a female, bellows loudly, and bobs his head. The male then rams the female with the front of his shell and bites her exposed legs until she withdraws them, immobilizing her. Copulation can last several hours with roaring vocalisations from the males. Their concave shell base allows males to mount the females from behind. It brings its tail which houses the penis into the female's cloaca. After mating (June-December), the females journey up to several kilometres to reach nesting areas of dry, sandy ground (often near the coast). Nest digging can last from hours to days and is elaborate and exhausting. It is carried out blindly using only the hind legs to dig a 30 cm deep hole, into which she lays up to sixteen hard-shelled eggs the size of tennis balls. The female makes a muddy plug for the nest hole out of soil mixed with urine and leaves the eggs to incubate. In rocky areas, the eggs are deposited randomly into cracks. The young emerge from the nest after 120 to 140 days gestation later (December-April) and may weigh only 80 grams (2.8 oz) and measure 6 centimetres (2.4 in). Temperature plays a role in the sex of the hatchling: if the nest temperature is lower, more males will hatch; if it is high, more females will hatch. When the young tortoises emerge from their shells, they must dig their way to the surface, which can take up to a month. All have domed carapaces, and subspecies are indistinguishable. Galápagos Hawk used to be the only native predator of the tortoise hatchlings, as Darwin remarked: "The young tortoises, as soon as they are hatched, fall prey in great numbers to buzzards". Sex can be determined only when the tortoise is 15 years old, and sexual maturity is reached at 20 to 25 years old. The tortoises grow slowly for about 40 years until they reach their full size. Reproductive prime is considered to be from the ages of 60–90. The shape of the carapace of some subspecies of the tortoises is said to have reminded the early Spanish explorers of a kind of saddle they called a "galápago," and for these saddle-shaped tortoises they named the archipelago. Up to 250,000 tortoises inhabited the islands when they were discovered. Today only about 15,000 are left.


The inhabitants...state that they can distinguish the tortoise from different islands; and that they differ not only in size, but in other characters. Captain Porter has described those from Charles and from the nearest island to it, namely Hood Island, as having their shells in front thick and turned up like a Spanish saddle, whilst the tortoises from James Island are rounder, blacker, and have a better taste when cooked.---Charles Darwin 1845


There were probably twelve subspecies of Geochelone nigra in the Galápagos Islands, although some recognise up to 15 subspecies. Now only 11 subspecies remain, five on Isabela Island, and the other six on Santiago, Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Pinzón, Española and Pinta. Of these, the Pinta Island subspecies is extinct in the wild and is represented by a single individual (Lonesome George). In the past, zoos took animals without knowing their island of origin. Production of fertile offspring from various pairings of tortoises largely confirmed that they are subspecies and not different species. All the subspecies of giant tortoise evolved in Galápagos from a common ancestor that arrived from the mainland, floating on the ocean currents (the tortoises can drift for long periods of time as they are buoyant and can stretch head upwards to breathe). Only a single pregnant female or breeding pair needed to arrive in this way, and then survive, for Galápagos to be colonised. In the seventeenth century, pirates started to use the Galápagos islands as a base for resupply, restocking on food, water and repairing vessels before attacking Spanish colonies on the South American mainland. The tortoises were collected and stored live on board ships where they could survive for at least a year without food or water, providing valuable fresh meat, whilst their diluted urine and water stored in their neck bags could also be used as drinking water. Of the meat, Darwin wrote: "the breast-plate roasted (as the Gauchos do 'carne con cuero'), with the flesh on it, is very good; and the young tortoises make excellent soup; but otherwise the meat to my taste is indifferent." In the nineteenth century, whaling ships and fur-sealers collected tortoises for food and many more were killed for high grade 'turtle oil' from the late 1800s onward. Darwin described this process thus: "beautifully clear oil is prepared from the fat. When a tortoise is caught, the man makes a slit in the skin near its tail, so as to see inside its body, whether the fat under the dorsal plate is thick. If it is not, the animal is liberated and it is said to recover soon from this strange operation." A total of over 15,000 tortoises is recorded in the logs of 105 whaling ships between 1811 and 1844. As hunters found it easiest to collect the tortoises living round the coastal zones, the least decimated populations tended to be those in the highlands. Population decline accelerated with the early settlement of the islands, when they were hunted for meat, their habitat was cleared for agriculture and alien mammal species were introduced. Feral pigs, dogs, cats and black rats are effective predators of eggs and young tortoises, whilst goats, donkeys and cattle compete for grazing. In the twentieth century, increasing human settlement and urbanisation and collection of tortoises for zoo and museum specimens depleted numbers even more. The Galápagos giant tortoise is now strictly protected. Young tortoises are raised in a programme by the Charles Darwin Research Station in order to bolster the numbers of the extant subspecies. Eggs are collected from places on the islands where they are threatened and when the tortoises hatch they are kept in captivity until they have reached a size that ensures a good chance of survival and are returned to their original ranges. The Galápagos National Park Service systematically culls feral predators and competitors where necessary such as the complete eradication of goats from Pinta. The conservation project begun in the 1970s successfully brought 10 of the 11 endangered subspecies up to guarded population levels. The most significant recovery was that of the Española Tortoise, whose breeding stock comprised 2 males and 11 females brought to the Darwin Station. Fortuitously, a third male was discovered at the San Diego Zoo and joined the others in a captive breeding program. These 13 tortoises gave rise to over 1000 tortoises now released into their home island. In all, 2500 individuals of all breeds have been reintroduced to the islands. However, persecution still continues on a much smaller scale; more than 120 tortoises have been killed by poachers since 1990 and they have been taken hostage as political leverage by local fishermen.



Shaped like a sea horse, Isabela is the largest of the the islands in the Galapagos, more than 4 times larger than Santa Cruz the next largest. Isabela is 80 miles (100 km) in length and though it is remarkably beautiful it is not one of the most visited islands in the chain. Its visitor sites are far apart making them accessible only to faster boats or those with longer itineraries. One of the youngest islands, Isabela is located on the western edge of the archipelago near the Galapagos hot spot. At approximately 1 million years old, the island was formed by the merger of 6 shield volcanoes - Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf. Five of the six volcanoes are still active (the exception is Ecuador) making it one of the most volcanically active places on earth. Visitors cruising past Elizabeth Bay on the west coast can see evidence of this activity in the fumaroles rising from Volcan Chico on Sierra Negra. Two of Isabela's volcanoes lie directly on the equator - Ecuador and Volcan Wolf. Volcan Wolf is the youngest of Isabela's volcanoes and at 5,600ft (1707 m) the highest point in the Galapagos. Isabela is known for its geology, providing visitors with excellent examples of the geologic occurrences that have created the Galapagos Islands including uplifts at Urbina Bay and the Bolivar Channel, Tuft cones at Tagus Cove, and Pulmace on Alcedo. Isabela is also interesting for its flora and fauna. The young island does not follow the vegetation zones of the other islands. The relatively new lava fields and surrounding soils have not developed the sufficient nutrients required to support the varied life zones found on other islands. Another obvious difference occurs on Volcan Wolf and Cerro Azul, these volcanoes loft above the cloud cover and are arid on top. Isabela's rich animal, bird, and marine life is beyond compare. Isabela is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands. Isabela's large size and notable topography created barriers for the slow moving tortoises; apparently the creatures were unable to cross lava flows and other obstacles, causing several different sub-species of tortoise to develop. Today tortoises roam free in the calderas of Alcedo, Wolf, Cerro Azul, Darwin and Sierra Negra. Alcedo Tortoises spend most of their life wallowing in the mud at the volcano crater. The mud offers moisture, insulation and protects their exposed flesh from mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. The giant tortoises have a mediocre heat control system requiring them to seek the coolness of the mud during the heat of the day and the extra insulation during the cool of the night. On the west coast of Isabela the nutrient rich Cromwell Current upwelling creating a feeding ground for fish, whales, dolphin and birds. These waters have long been known as the best place to see whales in the Galapagos. Some 16 species of whales have been identified in the area including humpbacks, sperms, sei, minkes and orcas. During the 19th century whalers hunted in these waters until the giant creatures were near extinction. The steep cliffs of Tagus Cove bare the names of many of the whaling ships and whalers which hunted in these waters. Birders will be delighted with the offerings of Isabela. Galapagos Penguins and flightless cormorants also feed from the Cromwell Current upwelling. These endemic birds nest along the coast of Isabela and neighboring Fernandina. The mangrove finch, Galapagos Hawk, brown pelican, pink flamingo and blue heron are among the birds who make their home on Isabela. A colorful part to any tour located on the western shore of Isabela, Punta Moreno is often the first or last stopping point on the island (depending on the direction the boat is heading). Punta Moreno is a place where the forces of the Galapagos have joined to create a work of art. The tour starts with a panga ride along the beautiful rocky shores where Galapagos penguins and shore birds are frequently seen. After a dry landing the path traverses through jagged black lava rock. As the swirling black lava flow gave way to form craters, crystal tide pools formed-some surrounded by mangroves. This is a magnet for small blue lagoons, pink flamingos, blue herons, and Bahama pintail ducks. Brown pelican can be seen nesting in the green leaves of the mangroves. You can walk to the edge of the lava to look straight down on these pools including the occasional green sea turtle, white-tipped shark and puffer fish. This idyllic setting has suffered from the presence of introduced species. Feral dogs in the area are known to attack sea Lions and marine iguanas.


Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, some 900 km west of Ecuador. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site: wildlife is its most notable feature. Because of the only very recent arrival of man the majority of the wildlife has no fear of humans and will allow visitors to walk right up them, often having to step over Iguanas or Sea Lions.The Galápagos islands and its surrounding waters are part of a province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of around 40,000, which is a 40-fold expansion in 50 years. The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on

the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.

downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,

talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues

shout blind on the phonograph

the rhythm the rhythm--and your memory in my head three years after--

And read Adonais' last triumphant stanzas aloud--wept, realizing

how we suffer--

And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember,

prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of An-

swers--and my own imagination of a withered leaf--at dawn--

Dreaming back thru life, Your time--and mine accelerating toward Apoca-


the final moment--the flower burning in the Day--and what comes after,

looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city

a flash away, and the great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom

Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed--

like a poem in the dark--escaped back to Oblivion--

No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream,

trapped in its disappearance,

sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom, worship-

ping each other,

worshipping the God included in it all--longing or inevitability?--while it

lasts, a Vision--anything more?

It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder,

Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings shoul-

dering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant--and

the sky above--an old blue place.

or down the Avenue to the south, to--as I walk toward the Lower East Side

--where you walked 50 years ago, little girl--from Russia, eating the

first poisonous tomatoes of America frightened on the dock

then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what?--toward


toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned ice

cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards--

Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school,

and learning to be mad, in a dream--what is this life?

Toward the Key in the window--and the great Key lays its head of light

on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the

sidewalk--in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward

the Yiddish Theater--and the place of poverty

you knew, and I know, but without caring now--Strange to have moved

thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,

with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstops doors and dark boys on

the street, firs escapes old as you

--Tho you're not old now, that's left here with me--

Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe--and I guess that dies with

us--enough to cancel all that comes--What came is gone forever

every time--

That's good!That leaves it open for no regret--no fear radiators, lacklove,

torture even toothache in the end--

Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul--and the lamb, the soul,

in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change's fierce hunger--hair

and teeth--and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin,

braintricked Implacability.

Ai! ai!we do worse! We are in a fix!And you're out, Death let you out,

Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with

God, done with the path thru it--Done with yourself at last--Pure

--Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all--before the


There, rest.No more suffering for you.I know where you've gone, it's good.

No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more

fear of Louis,

and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts,

loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands--

No more of sister Elanor,--she gone before you--we kept it secret you

killed her--or she killed herself to bear with you--an arthritic heart

--But Death's killed you both--No matter--

Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and

weeks--forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address human-

ity, Chaplin dance in youth,

or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin's at the Met, halling his voice of a weeping Czar

--by standing room with Elanor & Max--watching also the Capital

ists take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,

with the YPSL's hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts

pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and

laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920

all girls grown old, or dead now, and that long hair in the grave--lucky to

have husbands later--


Allen Ginsberg


Matter creation is the process inverse to particle annihilation. It is the conversion of massless particles into one or more massive particles. This process is the time reversal of annihilation. Since all known massless particles are bosons and the most familiar massive particles are fermions, usually what is considered is the process which converts two bosons (e.g. photons) into two fermions (e.g., an electron–positron pair). This process is known as pair production.



Because of momentum conservation laws, the creation of a pair of fermions (matter particles) out of a single photon cannot occur. However, matter creation is allowed by these laws when in the presence of another particle (another boson, or even a fermion) which can share the primary photon's momentum. Thus, matter can be created out of two photons.


The law of conservation of energy sets a minimum photon energy required for creation of a pair of fermions: this threshold energy must be greater than the total rest energy of the fermions created. To create an electron-positron pair the total energy of the photons must be at least 2mec2 = 2 × 0.511 MeV = 1.022 MeV (me is the mass of one electron and c is the speed of light in a vacuum), an energy value that corresponds to soft gamma ray photons. The creation of a much more massive pair, like a proton and antiproton, requires photons with energy of more than 1.88 GeV (hard gamma ray photons).


The first published calculations of the rate of e+–e− pair production in photon-photon collisions were done by Lev Landau in 1934. It was predicted that the process of e+–e− pair creation (via collisions of photons) dominates in collision of ultra-relativistic charged particles—because those photons are radiated in narrow cones along the direction of motion of original particle greatly increasing photon flux.


In high-energy particle colliders, matter creation events have yielded a wide variety of exotic heavy particles precipitating out of colliding photon jets called two-photon physics. Currently, two-photon physics studies creation of various fermion pairs both theoretically and experimentally (using particle accelerators, air showers, radioactive isotopes, etc.).


As shown above, to produce ordinary baryonic matter out of a photon gas, this gas must not only have a very high photon density, but also be very hot – the energy (temperature) of photons must obviously exceed the rest mass energy of the given matter particle pair. The threshold temperature for production of electrons is about 1010 K, 1013 K for protons and neutrons, etc. According to the Big Bang theory, in the early universe, photons and fermions (massive particles of matter) would inter-convert freely. As photon gas expanded and cooled, some fermions would be left over (in extremely small amounts ~10−10) because low energy photons could no longer break them apart. Those left-over fermions would have become the matter we see today in the universe around us.


Pair production is the creation of an elementary particle and its antiparticle, for example creating an electron and positron, a muon and antimuon, or a proton and antiproton. Pair production often refers specifically to a photon creating an electron-positron pair near a nucleus but can more generally refer to any neutral boson creating a particle-antiparticle pair. In order for pair production to occur, the incoming energy of the interaction must be above a threshold in order to create the pair – at least the total rest mass energy of the two particles – and that the situation allows both energy and momentum to be conserved. However, all other conserved quantum numbers (angular momentum, electric charge, lepton number) of the produced particles must sum to zero – thus the created particles shall have opposite values of each other. For instance, if one particle has electric charge of +1 the other must have electric charge of −1, or if one particle has strangeness of +1 then another one must have strangeness of −1. The probability of pair production in photon-matter interactions increases with photon energy and also increases approximately as the square of atomic number of the nearby atom.


Photon to electron and positron

For photons at high-energy, (MeV scale and higher) pair production is the dominant mode of photon interaction with matter. These interactions were first observed in Patrick Blackett's counter-controlled cloud chamber, leading to the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physics. If the photon is near an atomic nucleus, the energy of a photon can be converted into an electron-positron pair:


γ → e− + e+


The photon's energy is converted to particle's mass through Einstein’s equation, E=mc2; where E is energy, m is mass and c is the speed of light. The photon must have higher energy than the sum of the rest mass energies of an electron and positron (2 * 0.511 MeV = 1.022 MeV) for the production to occur. The photon must be near a nucleus in order to satisfy conservation of momentum, as an electron-positron pair producing in free space cannot both satisfy conservation of energy and momentum.[1] Because of this, when pair production occurs, the atomic nucleus receives some recoil. The reverse of this process is electron positron annihilation.



Pair production is invoked to predict the existence of hypothetical Hawking radiation. According to quantum mechanics, particle pairs are constantly appearing and disappearing as a quantum foam. In a region of strong gravitational tidal forces, the two particles in a pair may sometimes be wrenched apart before they have a chance to mutually annihilate. When this happens in the region around a black hole, one particle may escape while its antiparticle partner is captured by the black hole.


Pair production is also the mechanism behind the hypothesized pair instability supernova type of stellar explosion, where pair production suddenly lowers the pressure inside a supergiant star, leading to a partial implosion, and then explosive thermonuclear burning. Supernova SN 2006gy is hypothesized to have been a pair production type supernova.


Cross section

In Feynman Diagram of electron-positron pair production. One can calculate multiple diagrams to get the cross section


The exact analytic form for the cross section of pair production must be calculated through quantum electrodynamics in the form of Feynman diagrams and results in an extremely complicated function. To simplify, the cross section can be written as:


\sigma = \alpha r_e^2 Z^2 P(E,Z)


Where \alpha is the fine structure constant, r_e is the classical electron radius, Z is the atomic number of the material and P(E,Z) is some complex function that depends on the energy and atomic number. Cross sections are tabulated for different materials and energies.


In 2008 the Titan laser aimed at a 1-millimeter-thick gold target was used to generate positron–electron pairs in large numbers.


Standard Model

The Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, as well as classifying all the subatomic particles known. It was developed throughout the latter half of the 20th century, as a collaborative effort of scientists around the world. The current formulation was finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks. Since then, discoveries of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and more recently the Higgs boson (2012), have given further credence to the Standard Model. Because of its success in explaining a wide variety of experimental results, the Standard Model is sometimes regarded as the "theory of almost everything".


Although the Standard Model is believed to be theoretically self-consistent and has demonstrated huge and continued successes in providing experimental predictions, it does leave some phenomena unexplained and it falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions. It does not incorporate the full theory of gravitation as described by general relativity, or account for the accelerating expansion of the universe (as possibly described by dark energy and of SAKURAI extra dimensions). The model does not contain any viable dark matter particle that possesses all of the required properties deduced from observational cosmology. It also does not incorporate neutrino oscillations (and their non-zero masses, as observed in the SAKURAI graviton).


The development of the Standard Model was driven by theoretical and experimental particle physicists alike. For theorists, the Standard Model is a paradigm of a quantum field theory, which exhibits a wide range of physics including spontaneous symmetry breaking, anomalies and non-perturbative behavior. It is used as a basis for building more exotic models that incorporate hypothetical particles, extra dimensions, and elaborate symmetries (such as supersymmetry) in an attempt to explain experimental results at variance with the Standard Model, such as the existence of dark matter and neutrino oscillations.


Fundamental forces

The Standard Model classified all four fundamental forces in nature. In the Standard Model, a force is described as an exchange of bosons between the objects affected, such as a photon for the electromagnetic force and a gluon for the strong interaction. Those particles are called force carriers.


Tests and predictions

The Standard Model (SM) predicted the existence of the W and Z bosons, gluon, and the top and charm quarks before these particles were observed. Their predicted properties were experimentally confirmed with good precision. To give an idea of the success of the SM, the following table compares the measured masses of the W and Z bosons with the masses predicted by the SM:

Quantity Measured (GeV) SM prediction (GeV)

Mass of W boson 80.387 ± 0.019 80.390 ± 0.018

Mass of Z boson 91.1876 ± 0.0021 91.1874 ± 0.0021


The SM also makes several predictions about the decay of Z bosons, which have been experimentally confirmed by the Large Electron-Positron Collider at CERN.


In May 2012 BaBar Collaboration reported that their recently analyzed data may suggest possible flaws in the Standard Model of particle physics. These data show that a particular type of particle decay called "B to D-star-tau-nu" happens more often than the Standard Model says it should. In this type of decay, a particle called the B-bar meson decays into a D meson, an antineutrino and a tau-lepton. While the level of certainty of the excess (3.4 sigma) is not enough to claim a break from the Standard Model, the results are a potential sign of something amiss and are likely to impact existing theories, including those attempting to deduce the properties of Higgs bosons.



Self-consistency of the Standard Model (currently formulated as a non-abelian gauge theory quantized through path-integrals) has not been mathematically proven. While regularized versions useful for approximate computations (for example lattice gauge theory) exist, it is not known whether they converge (in the sense of S-matrix elements) in the limit that the regulator is removed. A key question related to the consistency is the Yang–Mills existence and mass gap problem.


Experiments indicate that neutrinos have mass, which the classic Standard Model did not allow. To accommodate this finding, the classic Standard Model can be modified to include neutrino mass.


If one insists on using only Standard Model particles, this can be achieved by adding a non-renormalizable interaction of leptons with the Higgs boson. On a fundamental level, such an interaction emerges in the seesaw mechanism where heavy right-handed neutrinos are added to the theory. This is natural in the left-right symmetric extension of the Standard Model and in certain grand unified theories. As long as new physics appears below or around 1014 GeV, the neutrino masses can be of the right order of magnitude.


Theoretical and experimental research has attempted to extend the Standard Model into a Unified field theory or a Theory of everything, a complete theory explaining all physical phenomena including constants. Inadequacies of the Standard Model that motivate such research include:


*The model does not explain gravitation, although physical confirmation of a theoretical particle known as a graviton would account for it to a degree. Though it addresses strong and electroweak interactions, the Standard Model does not consistently explain the canonical theory of gravitation, general relativity, in terms of quantum field theory. The reason for this is, among other things, that quantum field theories of gravity generally break down before reaching the Planck scale. As a consequence, we have no reliable theory for the very early universe.


*Some physicists consider it to be ad hoc and inelegant, requiring 19 numerical constants whose values are unrelated and arbitrary. Although the Standard Model, as it now stands, can explain why neutrinos have masses, the specifics of neutrino mass are still unclear. It is believed that explaining neutrino mass will require an additional 7 or 8 constants, which are also arbitrary parameters.


*The Higgs mechanism gives rise to the hierarchy problem if some new physics (coupled to the Higgs) is present at high energy scales. In these cases, in order for the weak scale to be much smaller than the Planck scale, severe fine tuning of the parameters is required; there are, however, other scenarios that include quantum gravity in which such fine tuning can be avoided. There are also issues of Quantum triviality, which suggests that it may not be possible to create a consistent quantum field theory involving elementary scalar particles.


*The model is inconsistent with the emerging "Standard Model of cosmology." More common contentions include the absence of an explanation in the Standard Model for the observed amount of cold dark matter (CDM) and its contributions to dark energy, which are many orders of magnitude too large. It is also difficult to accommodate the observed predominance of matter over antimatter (matter/antimatter asymmetry). The isotropy and homogeneity of the visible universe over large distances seems to require a mechanism like cosmic inflation, which would also constitute an extension of the Standard Model.


*The existence of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays are difficult to explain under the Standard Model.


Today SAKURAI laser technique particle bombardment produces a bevy of matter, as well as antimatter and the application for bombarding double M-BOSONS have shown to produce the existence of MBZ and MBZ-V-ZBM that reveals parallel V symmetry. This breakthrough precision technique also produced measurable gravitational waves of waves that can be theoretically calculated to have been produced at an earlier time in the past. The results remain astounding, yet unverified and debatable and have not yet been publicly announced. - SAKURAI 2016

A glimmer of sunlight pierces the clouds as the train swings round the Astrop curve in deepest Oxfordshire. Both locos are immaculate with the leading one sporting white handrails and pipework.


Southampton Dock-Edinburgh Cruise Saver and on time to within a minute, the train is accelerating (with trademark 47 smoke) through several yellows because of a slightly late Turbo ahead of it. 47805+47818 on the front and, not quite so immaculate, 47802 "Pride of Cumbria" on the rear.


© Copyright Steve Banks, no unauthorised use.


Clouds glowing with subtle pinks and red-oranges during late sunset. Nature's sunset skies never cease to amaze me! Pic taken from around San Jose, CA. (Tuesday around late sunset, April 28, 2015; 8:07 p.m.)


Weather update:

For our area, temperatures this day were slightly cooler. High pressure was rebuilding along the coast. Temps were forecast to be above normal in the coming days. By Thursday through early next week, high pressure was to dominate. The north state was to have sunny to mostly sunny skies with temperatures way above normal. The longer range forecasts (unluckily) show high pressure holding along the coast for the next 10 to 14 days... California's ticking time before its water supply dries out seems to be accelerating at this point...

During a day of cloud and squalls it had been difficult trying to get shots of the shareholder's special service on the Churnet Valley line. The sun finally made a fleeting appearance late in the afternoon as I waited at the traditional position where the railway crosses the Caldon Canal at Consal Forge. I could hear the train in the station and could see the clouds scudding towards the sun. Would the train come in time? As it was, 80072 accelerated across the bridge, I got my shot, and a few seconds later the sun disappeared for good.


Result! :-))






The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c, is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its precise value is 299,792,458 metres per second (approximately 3.00×108 m/s), since the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time. According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all matter and hence information in the universe can travel. It is the speed at which all massless particles and changes of the associated fields (including electromagnetic radiation such as electrons, light, and gravitational waves, travel in a vacuum. Such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial reference frame of the observer. In the theory of relativity, c interrelates space and time, and also appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2.


The speed at which light propagates through transparent materials, such as glass or air, is less than c; similarly, the speed of radio waves in wire cables is slower than c. To slow the speed of light even further, especially for image capture, shown, SAKURAI has redefined the way electrons and light may travel by the use of a medium called S1A3 (see also SAKURAI S1A3) and a process called Initial Boundary Reduction (reducing the electron orbital diameter). The ratio between c and the speed v at which light travels in a material is called the refractive index n of the material (n = c / v). For example, for visible light the refractive index of glass is typically around 1.5, meaning that light in glass travels at c / 1.5 ≈ 200000 km/s; the refractive index of air for visible light is about 1.0003, so the speed of light in air is about 299700 km/s (about 90 km/s slower than c). In a medium such as with S1A3, the velocity of an electron can now be reduced to c / 99.2 without having any boundary effects such as atomic instability or driving reactions such as nuclear fission and / or fusion. For this to happen, a containment field was provided using CERN Alpha facility and provided for an environment that may be described similar to that of the core of the Sun, but sustained for only short periods. CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research.


Further, cryogenics attachment and stochastic cooling provided for low temperatures and high performance / results.


For many practical purposes, electrons, light, and other electromagnetic waves will appear to propagate instantaneously, but for long distances and very sensitive measurements, their finite speed has noticeable effects. In communicating with distant space probes, it can take minutes to hours for a message to get from Earth to the spacecraft, or vice versa. The light seen from stars left them many years ago, allowing the study of the history of the universe by looking at distant objects. The finite speed of light also limits the theoretical maximum speed of computers, since information must be sent within the computer from chip to chip. The speed of light can be used with time of flight measurements to measure large distances to high precision. Likewise, and currently, short distances, such as with the the orbital of an electron, are also made with precision, With this technological breakthrough and method and with still further refinements using the Antiproton Decelerator and dense electron gas orbital vacuum, we at SAKURAI produced this image.


Ole Rømer first demonstrated in 1676 that light travels at a finite speed (as opposed to instantaneously) by studying the apparent motion of Jupiter's moon Io. In 1865, James Clerk Maxwell proposed that light was an electromagnetic wave, and therefore traveled at the speed c appearing in his theory of electromagnetism. In 1905, Albert Einstein postulated that the speed of light c with respect to any inertial frame is a constant and is independent of the motion of the light source. He explored the consequences of that postulate by deriving the special theory of relativity and in doing so showed that the parameter c had relevance outside of the context of light and electromagnetism.


After centuries of increasingly precise measurements, in 1975 the speed of light was known to be 299792458 m/s with a measurement uncertainty of 4 parts per billion. In 1983, the metre was redefined in the International System of Units (SI) as the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299792458 of a second. As a result, the numerical value of c in metres per second is now fixed exactly by the definition of the metre.


The next significant step forward

In 1931 the physicist Paul Dirac proposed that every particle of matter should have an antimatter counterpart. But shortly after the big bang, most of the antimatter disappeared, leaving behind the tiny portion of matter that constitutes the universe we live in today. What happened to swing the balance away from antimatter is one of the greatest puzzles in physics.


Astronomers search for antimatter in space, but was hard to come by on Earth. In order to study it, physicists had to make it themselves. And because antimatter annihilates in a flash of energy when it interacts with regular matter, storing it presented a challenge.


Creating Antihydrogen and Antihelium


The antimatter counterpart to the simplest atoms, hydrogen and helium, is a neutral antihydrogen and antihelium atom, which consists of a positively charged positron orbiting a negatively charged antiproton and double that for helium.


In 1995, physicists of the CERN and associate specialists at SAKURAI announced that they had successfully created the first atoms of antihydrogen and antihelium. The antiparticles were highly energetic; each one travelled at nearly the speed of light over a path of 10 metres and then annihilated with ordinary matter after about forty billionths of a second. While creating the antihydrogen / helium was a major achievement, the atoms were too energetic —too “hot”— and did not lend themselves to easy study.


In order to understand antimatter atoms, CERN / SAKURAI physicists needed more time to interact with them. So they developed techniques to capture and trap anti hydrogen / helium for longer periods. The Antiproton Decelerator established at CERN in the late 1990s began providing slower moving, lower-energy antiprotons for antimatter experiments such as ATHENA, ATRAP and ALPHA.


In these experiments, electric and magnetic fields hold the antiprotons separate from positrons in a near-perfect vacuum that keeps them away from regular matter. The antiprotons pass through a dense electron gas, which slows them down further.


When the energy is low enough, ALPHA physicists use the electric potential to nudge the antiprotons into a cloud of positrons suspended within the vacuum. The two types of charged antiparticles combine into low-energy antihydrogen atoms. Since antihydrogen atoms do not have an electric charge, the electric field can no longer hold them in place. So instead, two superconducting magnets generate a strong magnetic field that takes advantage of the antihydrogen’s magnetic properties. If the antihydrogen atoms have a low enough energy, they can stay in this magnetic “bottle” for a long time.


Currently the only way to know whether antimatter was actually trapped is to let it annihilate with regular matter. When the magnets are switched off, the antihydrogen atoms escape their trap and quickly annihilate with the sides of the trap. Silicon detectors pick up the energetic flare to pinpoint the antiatom’s position. Only then can the physicists be sure that they had trapped antihydrogen / helium.


Trapping Antimatter at CERN / SAKURAI


In MAY 2007, ALPHA reported that it had succeeded in trapping antimatter atoms for over 16 minutes. On the scale of atomic lifetimes, this was a very long time — long enough to begin to study their properties in detail. By precise comparisons of hydrogen / helium and anti hydrogen / helium, several experimental groups hope to study the properties of anti hydrogen / helium and see if it has the same spectral lines as hydrogen / helium. One group, AEGIS, will even attempt to measure g, the gravitational acceleration constant, as experienced by anti hydrogen / helium atoms. Side-by-side SAKURAI imaging comparisons / results, once-and- for-all, have shown EXACT LIKENESS OF ANTIMATTER AND MATTER EVENTS. DISCREPANCIES WERE THAT THEY WOULD AND MUST HAVE BEEN TAKEN PLACE IN THE SAME LOCATION AT THE SAME TIME EXPERIENCE. QUANTUM FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF TIME AND SPACE PREDICATE THIS. HERE THE PREDECESSOR HAD A BIT MORE TIME IN COMPARISON.


The longer these experiments can trap antihydrogren, the more accurately they can measure it, and physicist will be closer to demystifying antimatter.


Accelerating Quantum Science for The World of Tomorrow - SAKURAI -


This content is archived on the CERN Document Server

Current updates related to engineering and repairs ongoing on electrical installations at CERN


2 May 2016 – The LHC went into standby on Friday last week following an electrical perturbation at point 8, caused by a small animal

Vibration tests for High-Luminosity LHC project begin


17 Dec 2015 – In preparation for civil engineering work for the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider, vibration measurements have been carried out near the LHC

Engineers refine protection system for LHC magnets


3 Sep 2015 – During this week's planned technical stop, engineers modify the electrical system that protects magnet components from high current

A superconducting shield for astronauts


5 Aug 2015 – Magnetic shielding technology developed at CERN could protect astronauts from cosmic radiation in space

First technical stop for the LHC


11 Jun 2015 – The first planned technical stop of the LHC started Monday, with five days of maintenance work scheduled for the accelerator and its experiments.




Cryogenics: Low temperatures, high performance

Pulling together: Superconducting electromagnets

Powering CERN

A vacuum as empty as interstellar space

Radiofrequency cavities

Stochastic cooling


Storing antimatter

Restarting the LHC: Why 13 Tev?

About CERN

How a detector works




:copyright: Copyright CERN / SAKURAI 2016


INTRODUCTION and The Bohr Model

The most important properties of atomic and molecular structure may be exemplified using a simplified picture of an atom that is called the Bohr Model. This model was proposed by Niels Bohr in 1915; it is not completely correct, but it has many features that are approximately correct and it is sufficient for much of our discussion. The correct theory of the atom is called quantum mechanics; the Bohr Model is an approximation to quantum mechanics that has the virtue of being much simpler.


A Planetary Model of the Atom

The Bohr Model is probably familar as the "planetary model" of the atom illustrated in the adjacent figure that, for example, is used as a symbol for atomic energy (a bit of a misnomer, since the energy in "atomic energy" is actually the energy of the nucleus, rather than the entire atom). In the Bohr Model the neutrons and protons (symbolized by red and blue balls in the adjacent image) occupy a dense central region called the nucleus, and the electrons orbit the nucleus much like planets orbiting the Sun (but the orbits are not confined to a plane as is approximately true in the Solar System). The adjacent image is not to scale since in the realistic case the radius of the nucleus is about 100,000 times smaller than the radius of the entire atom, and as far as we can tell electrons are point particles without a physical extent.


This similarity between a planetary model and the Bohr Model of the atom ultimately arises because the attractive gravitational force in a solar system and the attractive Coulomb (electrical) force between the positively charged nucleus and the negatively charged electrons in an atom are mathematically of the same form. (The form is the same, but the intrinsic strength of the Coulomb interaction is much larger than that of the gravitational interaction; in addition, there are positive and negative electrical charges so the Coulomb interaction can be either attractive or repulsive, but gravitation is always attractive in our present Universe.)


The Orbits Are Quantized

The basic feature of quantum mechanics that is incorporated in the Bohr Model and that is completely different from the analogous planetary model is that the energy of the particles in the Bohr atom is restricted to certain discrete values. One says that the energy is quantized. This means that only certain orbits with certain radii are allowed; orbits in between simply don't exist.


Take, for example such, quantized energy levels for the hydrogen atom; these levels are labeled by an integer n that is called a quantum number. The lowest energy state is generally termed the ground state. The states with successively more energy than the ground state are called the first excited state, the second excited state, and so on. Beyond an energy called the ionization potential the single electron of the hydrogen atom is no longer bound to the atom. Then the energy levels form a continuum. In the case of hydrogen, this continuum starts at 13.6 eV above the ground state ("eV" stands for "electron-Volt", a common unit of energy in atomic physics).


Although this behavior may seem strange to our minds that are trained from birth by watching phenomena in the macroscopic world, this is the way things behave in the strange world of the quantum that holds sway at the atomic level.


One of the implications of these quantized energy states is that only certain photon energies are allowed when electrons jump down from higher levels to lower levels, producing the hydrogen spectrum. The Bohr model successfully predicted the energies for the hydrogen atom, but had significant failures that were corrected by solving the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom


Atomic Excitation and De-excitation

Atoms can make transitions between the orbits allowed by quantum mechanics by absorbing or emitting exactly the energy difference between the orbits. SAKURAI captures for the first time the spectrum of an atomic excitation state caused by absorption of a photon and an atomic de-excitation caused by emission of a photon.


Excitation by absorption of light and de-excitation by emission of light

In each case the wavelength of the emitted or absorbed light is exactly such that the photon carries the energy difference between the two orbits. This energy may be calculated by dividing the product of the Planck constant and the speed of light hc by the wavelength of the light. Thus, an atom can absorb or emit only certain discrete wavelengths (or equivalently, frequencies or energies. - SAKURAI


On a very dark and misty day at the end of 1963, the sun momentarily breaks through the cloud catching a B1 4-6-0 as it heads a northbound goods on the former Midland main line at Wingerworth just south of Chesterfield. The train has been put onto the down fast line at Clay Cross and is accelerating vigourously towards Chesterfield.

"therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every encumberance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus"


hebrews 12 v 1,2

Most images in this series will be square, but there are always a few exceptions. This crystal has a vertical design, and the most unique crystals typically catch my attention.


Does this resemble something to you? A seahorse, a Christmas tree, or an Oak leaf? Maybe something else? This type of symmetry is not common in snowflakes, but the uncommon examples catch my attention!


The top and bottom branches are growing on a higher level than the other four branches, which is likely the cause of the different features you see. Slight changes can create drastic differences in a snowflake; humidity and access to water vapour, temperature, wind speed, and other factors all play a part on the “uniqueness” of each crystal. As these variables change from branch to branch, you’ll see some interesting characteristics emerge. In the case of the top branches, they would have a greater access to water vapour and would expand outward at a more rapid pace.


You’ll also notice a number of water dark specks on the crystal, greater in number as you look further away from the center. This supports the above idea about access to water vapour, and the cause is slightly similar. These specks are caused by super-cooled water droplets, which freeze on impact with anything solid. As this snowflake began its descent to earth, it fell through another layer of cloud that contained these droplets. Their impact appears almost crater-like on the surface of the crystal, but notice that very few of them hit the center.


The areas that stick out the furthest have collected the greatest number of these droplets. This is a great way to visualize how a snowflake grows its own crystalline structure – the areas that stick out the furthest will collect the greatest number of water molecules and thereby grow faster, accelerating the growth in these regions.


Fun photography and physics all rolled into one subject! If you want more scientific ramblings (or photographic techniques!) be sure to check out Sky Crystals:

During the last photography session a unidentifiable black flying object crossed my field of view in direction to this 6000ft-abyss. I managed to see it because it occulted the stars behind it. I had no idea what this could have been.


Thursday, 29th of December 2011



We decided to go sleeping at around 11P.M. We took photos from all around and we expected no light change until the morning. But already an hour later the weather changed dramatically. At witching hour the temperature dropped by nearly 2°F per hour and the wind accelerated up to uncomfortable 40-50mph. Somewhen in the middle of the night it started to snow. It crossed Balz's mind that his two cameras (Canon 5DII & 1DIII) were still outside taking time-lapses. He had to go out during this snow storm to take them inside the tent. He brought two ice chunks. He wasn't in better shape either because of his altitude sickness. He had head ache, illness and shivered. We changed our sleeping bads so he could warm up in my Mammut Ajungilak Tyin 5-season 200. I beared the snow storm in his lighter sleeping bag until the daybreak.

The tent shaked in all directions. We prepared us for the emergency situation when the tent would break down and we would have to walk down to the cable car station by night. It continued like this the whole night.

The peak level of the storm was just at the daybreak. But we had to go out nevertheless because we didn't want to get stuck in the snow. We put our clothes on and packed our backpacks within the tent. At 8:30A.M. we leaved the tent for the first time. It didn't snow much but the snow blew nearly horizontally. Our snow shoes and sticks weren't completely covered by snow so we didn't lose much time by searching them. Temperature was at about 5°F. We quickly packed the tent. Unfortunately the tent bag was blown away by the wind so we had to roll the tent into the undersurface.

The sight was about 30-60ft so we had a whiteout. Right before our descent I saw through the fog this "unidentifiable black object" again flitting over the snowy surface. I still had no idea what this could have been. Nevertheless we started the descent. Our tracks from the ascension weren't visible anymore, but we found the ski lift station still. At this time we saw our first fata morgana. We believed to see a snow cat thourgh the fog. But it was just a piece of rock. But after we found the ski lift it wasn't hard to find the way back to the cable car station. We appreciated the fact that the ski lift was operating. We worried about the fact, that the snow storm could avoid any operation of the cable car. That would mean we would have to spend much more time in the snow than expected. But until then, no other people were up there. In about half of the distance to the cable-car station we saw again that "black thing". Balz immediately thougth it could be his lost tent bag. And he was right. We were able to catch the tent bag before it continued it's journey through the Alps. It's hard to believe that this little bag flew all along the night around the environment just to land before our feet on the next morning. Wow, I guess this bag made many miles during the night. But our enjoyment ended abruptly as we noticed that the ski lift stopped again. It seemed that this was only a test run to avoid any kind of freezing. Well, we had enough supplies to stay another night, but I didn't like the idea of spending another night up here. We continued our way down to the station with excruciation uncertainty. After about half an hour the cable car station appeared out of the fog. And we hear some human voices. This time it wasn't a fata morgana. We met two Austrian skiers. We nevere before were so happy to see other people. With great appreciation we noticed, that the cable car was operating. The lineman was already expecting us. The ski slope controller that asked us about our plans the day before seemed to have told about us to everyone up here. The lineman said he expected two "star photographers" coming down this morning.

With great satisfaction we enjoyed the way back to Laax. We just were surprised to see that much skiers at Crap Sogn Gion. Unbelieveable how they still want to ski despite that bad weather. We continued our way home and are now looking back to the most crazy trip of our lives (yet).



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Obama Gives Biofuels a Presidential Jumpstart


By "Environment News Service",


To spur biofuels research and commercialization, President Barack Obama signed last Tuesday a Presidential Directive establishing a Biofuels Interagency Working Group. He announced his administration's notice of a proposed rulemaking on a national Renewable Fuels Standard and announced $786.5 million in additional Recovery Act funds for renewable fuel projects.


"We must invest in a clean energy economy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said President Obama. "The steps I am announcing today help bring us closer to that goal. If we are to be a leader in the 21st century global economy, then we must lead the world in clean energy technology. Through American ingenuity and determination, we can and will succeed."


The Biofuels Interagency Working Group will be co-chaired by the secretaries of agriculture and energy and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and will operate in cooperation with the National Science and Technology Council's Biomass Research and Development Board.


The Working Group is tasked with developing the nation's first comprehensive biofuel market development program. It will use existing authorities and identify new policies to support the development of next-generation biofuels, increase flexible fuel vehicle use, and assist in retail marketing efforts.


The Working Group will coordinate infrastructure policies that affect the supply, secure transport, and distribution of biofuels.


And the Working Group will identify new policy options to promote the environmental sustainability of biofuels feedstock production, taking into consideration land use, habitat conservation, crop management practices, water efficiency and water quality, as well as lifecycle assessments of greenhouse gas emissions.


In his directive, the President called on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to immediately begin restructuring existing investments in renewable fuels as needed to preserve industry employment; and develop a comprehensive approach to accelerating the investment in and production of American biofuels and reducing the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.


Secretary Vilsack told reporters on a conference call this morning that the President's directive creates an "exciting opportunity for USDA."


"USDA must stimulate investment, persuade existing biorefineries to convert away from petroleum fuel to biofuels, and it's an opportunity for communities to convert as well," Vilsack said.


"The directive reflects Obama's commitment to rural America, he said. "It will create clean jobs, provide additional income opportunities for farmers and ranchers, energy security for every single American."


"Our responsibility is crafted, directed and shaped not just by this Presidential memo," said Vilsack, "but also by the energy title of the Farm Bill. Resources are available to farmers to audit their operations on the farm. Steps can be taken to convert to biofuels and away from fossil fuels. Once the audits are finished they can apply to USDA for additional resources to convert their operations to renewable energy. We are a financing mechanism for these changes. First doing the audit, then encouraging farms to move away from dependence on fossil fuel will impact footprint of agriculture generally."


To create advanced biofuels like green gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels, the Department of Energy will oversee the $786.5 million commercial biorefinery effort. The biomass program will leverage DOE's national laboratories, universities, and the private sector to help improve biofuels reliability and overcome technical challenges.


The $786.5 million in Recovery Act funding is a mix of new funding opportunities and additional funding for existing projects. More than half the money, $480 million, will fund integrated pilot-scale and demonstration-scale biorefineries, and an additional $176.5 million will fund commercial-scale biorefinery projects.


Fundamental research in key program areas will get $110 million and $20 million will be spent for ethanol research.


"Developing the next generation of biofuels is key to our effort to end our dependence on foriegn oil and address the climate crisis - while creating millions of new jobs that can't be outsourced," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "With American investment and ingenuity, and resources grown right here at home, we can lead the way toward a new green energy economy."


Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab have been working on developing biofuels made from nonedible plants like prairie grasses, wood chips and harvested corn and wheat leftovers. They are close to achieving a U.S. Department of Energy goal - producing by 2012 cellulosic ethanol cheap enough to compete with conventional gasoline.


The President also announced the EPA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the nation's first Renewable Fuel Standard. This proposal outlines the EPA's strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.


Four categories of renewable fuels will be established: cellulosic biofuels; biomass-based diesel; advanced biofuels; and total renewable fuel.


In 2022, the proposal would require 36 billion gallons annually of renewable fuels, of which 16 billion gallons must be cellulosic biofuels; and 1 billion gallons must be of biomass-based diesel. At most 15 billion gallons of the renewable fuel mandate can be met with conventional biofuels, including corn-based ethanol.


Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence on foreign oil by more than 297 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 160 million tons a year when fully phased in by 2022, the administration estimates.


For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Refiners must meet the requirements to receive credit toward meeting the new standards.


EPA also will conduct peer reviews on the lifecycle-analysis methodology and the results for various fuels and feed-source combinations. Lifecycle refers to the greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the fuels.


"As we work towards energy independence, using more homegrown biofuels reduces our vulnerability to oil price spikes that everyone feels at the pump," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "Energy independence also puts billions of dollars back into our economy, creates green jobs, and protects the planet from climate change in the bargain."


Nathanael Greene, director of Renewable Energy Policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, "The opportunity to review EPA's proposal will help ensure that developing biofuels won't mean using our most fragile forests for fuel and that biofuels provide real benefits. We plan to submit comments on what EPA has gotten right and what must be improved to make sure the outcome serves our environmental and energy needs."


"We must develop biofuels the smart way, and we are encouraged that EPA Administrator Jackson has offered a science-based proposal to get this done," said Greene. "If we get the rules of the road right through policies such as this one, we can harness the ingenuity of America's farmers, foresters, and entrepreneurs to create a new generation of biofuels that will help create jobs and reduce our dependence on oil."


Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association, said, "President Obama is making clear once and for all that biofuels are critical to the nation's economic, environmental and energy strength. Investments in biofuels, like ethanol, are creating green jobs here at home, reducing America's foreign oil dependence, and helping to meet our environmental goals."


"America's ethanol industry faces an unprecedented set of opportunities as well as challenges," Dinneen said. "Revolutionary new technologies that turn once thought of waste materials into renewable fuel are very close at hand. These technologies will create the kind of economic and green job opportunities, as well as provide cleaner solutions to petroleum use, that President Obama desires."


"Yet, uncertainty remains for many of these technologies as unproven science and questionable logic are being used to penalize existing biofuel producers for carbon emissions occurring halfway around the globe for reasons that may have little, or nothing, to do with U.S. biofuel production," he said.


The ethanol industry is concerned that EPA has attempted to calculate indirect emissions that occur as a result of indirect land use changes from rainforest to biofuels crops, for instance, in the United States as well as internationally.


"The controversial notion of indirect land use changes impacts, including those happening outside the United States, are thought to greatly reduce ethanol's greenhouse gas benefit," said Dinneen.


"We welcome an open and robust science-based discussion of the indirect impacts of all fuels," said Dinneen. "The science of market-mediated, secondary impacts is very young and needs more reliance on verifiable data, and less reliance on unproven assumptions. Done correctly, such an analysis will demonstrate a significant carbon benefit is achieved through the use of ethanol from all sources."

Over the last few years Fiona and I have explored some of Scotland’s more accessible islands. Shetland however has always seemed like a different world or, at least, with its curious Nordic sounding place names, a different country. Shetland guide books are fond of pointing out that Lerwick (Shetland’s only town of any size) is nearer to Oslo than Edinburgh. Because of the oil Shetland has a big place in the Scottish consciousness however, beyond the name "Sullom Voe", I found I didn't really know much about it. Most of my knowledge of Shetland (and most of my impetus for a visit) had been imparted to me by Jimmy Perez.....


To get to Shetland I decided to brave the stomach churning 14 hour ferry trip from Aberdeen partly so I could take my car and, if I am honest, mostly because I rather liked the romance of an overnight sailing. Fiona still suffers from PTSD after a rambunctious ferry crossing from Orkney a few years ago and decided romance could take a back seat to the prospect of spending 14 hours staring at the words “Armitage Shanks”, and elected to follow me up the next day on an hour long flight from Aberdeen.


As the ferry nudged out of Aberdeen at 3pm I felt like I was embarking on an adventure. I found myself on deck having promised (rather grudgingly) to make an appearance so I could be waved off by my nieces accompanied by Granny and Grampa. As the ferry cleared Aberdeen harbour I could make out four figures jumping up down on the dock and, incredibly, shrieks of “Uuuuunnnnncle Aaaaalaaan” were plainly heard over the cacophony of accelerating marine diesels. One of my fellow passengers gave me a “whats that all about?” look, I gave him a “no idea mate” look in return.


After a wander around the ship I retreated to my cabin and amused myself for a few hours trying in vain to connect to the free wifi. By 8pm I reasoned that any signs of sea sickness would already have manifested themselves and went in search of dinner. My late arrival in the restaurant meant options easier on the stomach had already been taken and I was left with a choice between chilli con carne or some exhausted looking sandwiches. I figured "in for a penny" and plumped for the chilli, washing it down with some Irn Bru on the assumption that its legendary status as a hangover cure would also include some antiemetic properties.


With my chilli showing encouraging signs of staying put, I decided to eschew the heady delights of another wifi connecting session and head up on deck. Disappointingly the panoramic upper deck from where I had waved Aberdeen goodbye was now closed off and any fresh air seeking passengers were confined to a 50ft gangway at the rear of the ferry.


It was a perfect evening; calm, warm and with just a hint of hazy cloud around the horizon and I whiled away the evening amongst the smokers and chronically nauseous, content to watch the coast of the Scottish mainland slip away to stern before finally dropping out of sight in the haze. Around 10:30, with the sun only just ducking below the horizon we entered the Orkney archipelago and I realised, with some surprise, that my journey was barely halfway over. Shetland really is out of the way.


Normally when I am out and about with my camera I will move position, look for different angles, swap lenses and generally fuss around trying different kinds of shots. It’s a bad habit, restless and unsatisfying, and I am trying to train myself to pre-visualise shots more often, working out the shot in my head, even anticipating the conditions that will make the shot, rather than relentlessly snapping away while I try to home in on something that works. One of the advantages of having limited options (I had one lens – albeit a flexible one - and just 50 ft of open space) is that it does tend to focus the mind along those lines.


Gliding up the eastern side of the Orkney islands, the gold’s and oranges of sunset gave way to the blue and purple gloaming of dusk. Muckle Skerry, with its lighthouse, is an uninhabited southern outlier of the islands and, from my 50 ft vantage point, pretty much the only feature in view. The moon was bright and low and there were limited components to juggle in my head – sea, sky, island, moon to arrive at a pleasing composition. That done, I only had to make the camera ready, choose my focal length and other settings, then wait for the alignment I was hoping for. Fortunately it came as the ferry began a turn, heading from the open sea into the midst of archipelago for a midnight rendezvous with Kirkwall where supplies would be offloaded before pushing on towards Shetland.


Skerry and moon came into alignment for only a few moments, but I got the shot I had seen in my head. After a couple more for luck, I figured it was time to head back to my cabin and lull myself to sleep trying, in vain, to connect to the free wifi. The ferry continued to forge onwards, into the night, towards the ends of the earth.

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