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World’s Best Street Food

ideas streetfood 001p Worlds Best Street Food

Street cooks are magicians: With little more than a cart and a griddle, mortar, or deep-fryer, they conjure up not just a delicious snack or meal but the very essence of a place. Bite into a banh mi—the classic Vietnamese sandwich of grilled pork and pickled vegetables encased in a French baguette—and you taste Saigon: traditional Asia tinged with European colonialism. What better proves the culinary genius of Tuscany than the elevation of a humble ingredient like tripe into a swoon-worthy snack? To sample merguez sausage in Marrakesh’s central square is to join a daily ritual that has persisted for centuries.

Sadly, street food has acquired a reputation as a potential trip-wrecker, which means too many travelers leave, say, Singapore without having a steaming bowl of fish head curry or a few skewers of saté. No one wants to get sick, but avoiding street food means denying yourself an essential part of the travel experience. So peruse our list of some of the world’s best street food vendors, and don’t be afraid to try something new. But pack a little Pepto—just in case.

streetfood 010 banh mi Worlds Best Street FoodThe dish: Banh mi

Where to find the best: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Word on the street: It takes almost no time for the peddler who sets up her tiny cart and knee-high charcoal brazier every weekday at 5 pm at 37 Nguyen Trai Street (in District 1) to turn you into a banh mi lover. As soon as you order, she swiftly assembles a sandwich that, despite its colonial French exterior (a stubby baguettelike loaf), is Vietnamese through and through. Peel back the newspaper wrapper and bite: Your teeth crash through the bread (a touch of rice flour makes it exceptionally crispy) and into still-warm morsels of grilled pork, a crunchy spear of cucumber, sweet-tangy shreds of pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, and a smear of Vietnamese mayo. Add a squirt of hot sauce, and this might be the best sandwich you’ve ever had. Or at least the best one you’ve ever had for 30 cents.

streetfood 011 tacos Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Tacos

Where to find the best: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Word on the street: The taco is made for snackers on the move, the invention, supposedly, of itinerant Mexican cowboys who relished the convenience of an edible plate. Given its modest origins, it’s no surprise that when connoisseurs nominate their favorite taco spots, they’re more likely to name street corners than proper restaurants. This is especially true in San Miguel de Allende, an artsy colonial city about four hours north of the capital. At night, when the expats and tourists are headed home from their fancy dinners, street vendors are just warming up their griddles. The best taco peddler sets up on the corner of Calle de Mesones and Pepe Llanos, just a short walk from the main square (look for the floodlights illuminating a mass of happy people gathered around a cart). Order up a few tacos al pastor, and watch as one of the cooks carves off some hunks from a block of red-tinged pork cooking on a vertical spit, presses them into a double layer of delicate corn tortillas—each no larger than a CD—and splashes it with an exhilaratingly tart and salty pineapple salsa. Just a few bites obliterate each taco, leaving behind a slick of sauce and grease on your hands and lips. Pity the sleeping gringos.

streetfood 006 tripe sandwiches Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Tripe sandwiches

Where to find the best: Florence, Italy

Word on the street: Florentines adore their traditional peasant dishes, shining examples of how Tuscan ingenuity can transform even the humblest ingredients into the sublime. Take tripe, for instance: Even if you’re not an avid consumer of cow stomach, when you’re in Florence we urge you to close your eyes, take a bite, and become a convert. Florentines stew their tripe with garlic and aromatics until meltingly tender, then tuck it into a crusty roll and enliven it with either chile-laced red sauce or a zippy salsa verde made with capers, parsley, and anchovies. Everyone has a favorite spot, such as Civiltà della Trippa, a stand in the northwest part of Florence, or the cart in the Piazzale di Porta Romana run by a seasonally inclined fellow who adds artichokes to his sandwiches during the spring. Before you know it, you’ll be ordering yours bagnato—dipped in the tripe’s cooking liquid—as many locals do.

streetfood 002 green papaya salad Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Green papaya salad

Where to find the best: Bangkok, Thailand

Word on the street: It’s a siren song for most Thais, the pop-pop-pop of shredded green papaya being bruised by a stone pestle. The sound signals the presence of som tam, a salad that showcases the quartet of flavors—salty, sweet, sour, and spicy—that epitomize Thai cuisine. Som tam is a tangle of crisp, unripe papaya, peanuts, and dried shrimp, tossed in a lip-tingling dressing of fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice, then crammed, to-go style, into a plastic bag. You’ll find it all over Bangkok, but the quintessential version is found just off Phaholyothin Soi 7, a busy street in the Soi Ari neighborhood packed with vendors—seek out the cart whose window flaunts stacks of shredded papaya and tomatoes, plus a coiling bunch of long beans. More daring chowhounds should seek out the style of som tam popular in Isaan, Thailand’s Northeastern region, where many think the dish originated. Stop by the open-air haunt called Foon Talop, in the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where the salad is made with pla ra, a supremely funky, murky fish sauce whose flavor you won’t soon forget.

streetfood 003 currywurst Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Currywurst

Where to find the best: Berlin, Germany

Word on the street: Germany has perhaps as many sausages as France has cheeses, so naturally, Berlin’s favorite street treat involves Wurst. But currywurst is no New York–style hot dog: A dense, juicy 13″ sausage cut into chunks, it lounges in a puddle of ketchup spiked with curry powder and paprika. The lovably odd, decidedly local snack was the creation, legend has it, of a clumsy Wurst peddler who dropped the containers of ketchup and curry powder that she was carrying and licked the fortuitously tasty spillage from her fingers. In any case, the snack mirrors modern Berlin: traditional yet cosmopolitan, and perfect for a long night of carousing. The best of the Wurst spots make their own sauce, including the exalted Krasselt’s in the Steglitz area and Konnopke’s in Prenzlauer Berg. But wherever you end up ordering it, wash it down with a cold pint of Warsteiner.

streetfood 012 asian food 300x236 Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Just about any Asian food you can imagine

Where to find the best: Singapore

Word on the street: Singapore is Asia’s melting pot, populated by Chinese, Indonesians, Indians, and Malays—a culinary dream team that makes Singaporean street food the most diverse and celebrated on earth. And the safest: All sidewalk chefs here work in “hawker centers,” little open-air venues where the government enforces its strict health codes. At the Old Airport Road Food Centre, you’ll find Indian-style fish head curry bubbling away at one stand and Hainanese chicken rice—stuffed with scallions and ginger, poached, and served with sticky rice—at the next. The Matter Road Seafood Barbecue stall specializes in Singapore’s celebrated chile crabs, which come slathered in a garlicky, fiery, prepare-to-get-messy paste. Toa Payoh Rojak deals only in rojak, an inspired salad of pineapple, cucumber, and other fruits and vegetables dressed in a bracing syrup made with tamarind and shrimp paste. Naturally, the plethora of options has inspired some serious connoisseurs, most famously K.F. Seetoh, whose Makansutra site is a well-respected guide to Singapore’s best vendors.

streetfood 009 bhel puri Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Bhel puri

Where to find the best: Mumbai, India

Word on the street: It only makes sense that India, a continent-size country with five major religions and 16 official languages, would have countless beloved snacks. But the chaat (as they’re known) of choice in the food-crazy city of Mumbai is bhel puri, a deceptively simple jumble of puffed rice, sev (tiny fried noodles), potato, red onion, and cilantro. Just before serving, the puri is ignited by a spicy tamarind chutney that not only rouses the palate but moistens the rice and sev to a texture that teeters between crunchy and soft. Chowpatty Beach, in Back Bay, is Mumbai’s street food mecca and where you’ll spoon up the city’s best bhel puri to the soundtrack of wallahs loudly advertising their edible wares. They may tempt you to also try pav bhaji (Portuguese-style bread served with a butter-bombed mash of vegetables cooked in tomato paste) or kulfi, India’s famous dense ice cream. Go for it—but be aware that Chowpatty is also known for being one of the less pristine spots in Mumbai. So for a taste of chaat with less risk of gastrointestinal distress, head about a mile north to the well-loved restaurant Swati Snacks, opposite Bhatia Hospital, which uses filtered water.

streetfood 004 frites Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Frites

Where to find the best: Brussels, Belgium

Word on the street: Don’t blame us when Brussels destroys your tolerance for soggy, limp, or otherwise lacking French fries. Fried potatoes here are no sidekick to a burger—they’re the main event, sold in paper cones with a dollop of mayonnaise at little kiosks all over the city. Belgium claims—much to the frustration of the French—to have invented what we know as the French fry. The best frites stands, such as Frit’ Flagey (in Place Flagey) or Maison Friterie Antoine (in Place Jourdan), use only Bintje potatoes—a local variety that seems born for the deep-fryer—and cook them twice in clean peanut oil or beef fat (horse fat, thankfully, is no longer used). The result is a batch of impossibly airy, crisp, surprisingly greaseless fries that—whether crowned with mayo, tartar sauce, pineapple-spiked ketchup, or any of the other ten or so sauces offered—will ruin you for the inadequate kind waiting for you back home.

streetfood 005 arepas Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Arepas

Where to find the best: Cartagena, Colombia

Word on the street: Colombia might be the only Latin American country where rice is more important than corn. But Colombians have a special place in their heart for the cornmeal cakes they call arepas. If you’ve never had the pleasure, imagine corn bread with a more delicate crumb that’s been flattened into a pancake, filled with cheese or egg, and griddled or fried to form a brown, crispy crust. Each bite sends butter streaking down your chin and, for Colombians, inspires memories of abuela at the stove. For the best, fly down to Cartegena and seek out the Restaurante Club De Pesca in the Manga neighborhood. But you won’t find them on the menu there—it’s one of the fanciest places in town. Instead, head to the nearby soccer field, where a gaggle of ladies sell carimañolas (yuca fritters filled with ground beef), empanadas, and most importantly, those fabulous arepas.

streetfood 007 jerk pork jerk chicken Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Jerk pork and jerk chicken

Where to find the best: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Word on the street: Jerk has changed quite a bit since its invention in the 17th century by the escaped slaves known as Maroons. These freedom fighters (and early gourmets) subsisted on wild boar while they were fighting the British, and to preserve the meat they rubbed it with a mixture of spices. Today, the aromatic blend has developed to include allspice, nutmeg, thyme, and Scotch bonnet chiles. But you see chicken more often than pork, and grills made from oil drums instead of traditional wood fires. That’s why anyone visiting the North Coast resort town of Ocho Rios should take the quick 12-mile trip to the valley of Faith’s Pen (about 12 miles south on Highway A3, just past the little town of St. Faith). Dozens of roadside stalls here serve perfect renditions of jerk pork loin (and chicken, if you insist). Smoke from the pimento wood intensifies the already-energetic spices and creates a tasty crust surrounding the juicy flesh. And you thought you’d find heaven on Jamaica’s beaches!

streetfood 008 sheeps head Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Sheep’s head

Where to find the best: Marrakesh, Morocco

Word on the street: During the day, Jemaa el-Fna, the main square of Marrakesh’s medina, is flanked by juice carts and filled with covered stalls selling lamps, bags, and other crafts. But as the sun begins to set and the oppressive Saharan heat abates, these wares give way to edibles. Almost 100 open kitchens take over, their proprietors setting up lights and tables, and a haze of smoke hangs above the vast square. What’s on the menu? Grilled merguez sausage, meat and vegetable brochettes of every variety, and pots of harira, the hearty lentil, chickpea, and vegetable soup that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan. But the street-food-lover’s holy grail is the luscious meat scraped from a whole sheep’s head and served with crusty Moroccan bread and sprinkled with a mixture of cumin and salt. It’s a dish almost as thrilling as the surrounding scene, a stage crowded with busy cooks and happy diners as well as acrobats, snake charmers, and mystical musicians.

from: concierge.com

What’s Inside Rome’s Ancient Catacombs

Corridor in the famous catacombs of Rome

inside catacombs Whats Inside Romes Ancient Catacombs

Catacombs such as these were carved over hundreds of years, beginning in the second century A.D., from soft rock beneath the outskirts of Rome. The labyrinthine corridors of these underground cemeteries cover hundreds of acres and house the remains of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews.

Rome’s famous catacombs were built mainly by Christians who could not afford aboveground burial plots. Christian landowners outside the city allowed access to their property for underground burials, and over several centuries, the catacombs spread through miles of subterranean passages like these.

A cross inlaid in the floor of a library marks the spot where Indiana Jones has to dig to access the ancient catacombs of Venice in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The catacombs, a network of dark and narrow underground tunnels and tombs, hold the secret that eventually leads Indy to the hideout of the Holy Grail.
Unfortunately, the dramatic scene is a narrative license. “There are no catacombs in Venice, as the town rises on wood piles in the middle of the saltwater Venetian Lagoon. There is no room for underground chambers or passages, and only a few buildings have a basement,” says Luigi Fozzati, head of the Archaeological Superintendence of Veneto.

In fact, Venice’s cemetery is located on a small island outside the town, and the oldest tombs of nobles and heads of state lie aboveground in churches.

Double gallery in the catacombs of Rome

rome ancient catacombs Whats Inside Romes Ancient Catacombs To find catacombs, go to Rome, home of some of the oldest and longest burial underground tunnels in the world. “Hundreds of kilometers of catacombs run underneath the town and its outskirts,” says Adriano Morabito, president of the association Roma Sotterranea (Underground Rome). “Some of the networks are well known and open to visitors, while others are still scarcely explored. Probably there are a number of lost catacombs, too.”

The oldest tunnels date back to the first century. “The Jewish community in Rome built them as cemeteries. Christian catacombs came a century later. They were not secret meeting places to survive persecutions, as historians thought in the past, but burial tunnels, like the Jewish ones,” Morabito explains. “They used to grow larger and larger around the tombs of saints because people asked to be buried near their religious leaders.”

All Christian catacombs in Rome are property of the Catholic Church, and no one is allowed to explore them without special permission from the Vatican. “It’s not so easy to get the permission. That’s one of the reasons there have been very few archaeological expeditions to less known tunnels in the last decades,” Morabito says.

The Legend of the Holy Grail

The aura of mystery surrounding the catacombs has fed legends for centuries. Recently, Alfredo Barbagallo, an amateur archaeologist, claimed that the Holy Grail could be hidden in Rome, in the catacomb underneath the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, near the tomb of St. Lawrence, a deacon martyred in A.D. 258.

According to a legend, Pope Sixtus II entrusted the Holy Grail to Lawrence to save it from the persecution of Emperor Valerian. The deacon put the chalice in a safe place—and perhaps even sent it to Spain—before being killed. Barbagallo thinks the Grail never left Rome and is currently buried in a tunnel under the basilica dedicated to St. Lawrence.

Vatican authorities denied permission to open the catacomb and look for the chalice. “There isn’t any solid evidence behind Barbagallo’s claims,” says Vincenzo Fiocchi Nicolai, rector of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology.

Adriano Morabito agrees. “We don’t expect any great discovery from Roman catacombs. Early Christians didn’t use to bury objects with the dead. As for now we only found inscriptions and human remains.”

Coulrophobia: Are You Afraid of Clowns?

Did you find Heath Ledger as The Joker scary? Then perhaps you suffer from coulrophobia, the abnormal fear of clowns. Join a self-confessed coulrophobic for a look at these guys and see if you are too. Like you don’t already know.

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Why do so many people find clowns scary?  Only last year the Bestival Festival on the Isle of Wight in the UK had to rethink its plans.  Each year there is a theme and they thought they would follow up their successful cowboy theme with one based around clowns.  They had so many phone calls from adult ticket holders complaining that they would no longer be able to come because of their fear of clowns that the organizers had to rethink the theme.

So why is it that so many people are afraid of clowns?  I am certainly no exception.  One of my earliest memories is a visit to the circus where – sat on the ringside row, I watched the clowns make their entrance.  They circled around the ring, laughing and jolly and one made a beeline for me, eager it seemed to shake my hands.  The resulting hysteria almost, so my mother maintained for years, brought the house down.  It seems that I was pretty much the most entertaining feature of the show.

Maternal lack of sympathy aside – as well as a lasting embarrassment throughout my childhood and teen years – why did I as a toddler find clowning about so terrifying?  Was it that my burgeoning ability to process the facial features of others was put in to a form of panic-struck overdrive by the sight of so many exaggerated and colorful beings? Was it that the skin tone and facial appearance of the clowns threw me off kilter and – at some primal level at least – made me do the only thing I could which was, of course, to scream my head off?

Bring in the clowns?  Blame the buggers!  Even before psychology was an ‘ology’ people instinctively knew what made others tick.  The clowning tradition did not evolve purely with entertainment in mind and so it might not be any surprise that a lot of adults as well as children find the distorted features of clowns more than a little disturbing.  Many people even form an early fear of that arch-clown, Santa Claus.  The thrill of fear can leave lasting memories and performers have been quick to use this through the centuries.  However, when does a simple aversion become a phobia?

Why fear these harmless entertainers?  I wasn’t a particularly sensitive child (unless it suited me, so I am told).  Was it because I saw myself in their anarchic actions?  Did they represent, however subconsciously, unreason and out of control nature which I somehow recognized?  Was I afraid of their casual violence towards each other and fearful that it would extend to me? Were they a mirror to my soul?  Or was I just a wee wuss?

However you look at it, by the nineteen eighties the condition was so widespread that a word had to be coined for it – and what an odd word it is.  Like all phobias it has its origins in Greek and the ‘coul’ part comes from the Greek for limb.  It is a rather odd choice of words but the Greeks themselves had no equivalent to a clown so the real origin of the word comes from kolobathristes which is a stilt walker.  Strange, but true.

When something is taken out of its usual context it can sometimes create a reaction that others may feel is disproportionate?  I was lucky in many ways that McDonalds did not open one of its ‘restaurants’ in my home town until I was in my mid-teens.  With all the rationality associated with teenage boys I found the presence of a certain Ronald McDonald completely unnerving.  My mother had always told me not to talk to strange men and this man was, indeed, most peculiar.

Seeing the clown outside of a circus could have been what predicated by pubescent panic.  Lon Chaney, famous for his portrayal of The Phantom of The Opera among others said ‘There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight’ and I for one am inclined to agree with that sentiment.  So, when a clown is seen where it simply doesn’t belong it is, perhaps, quite human to have a negative reaction.  After all, if Lon Chaney was spooked by them, who can blame me?

Significantly, a study at a UK hospital has gone some way to prove this theory.  Around two hundred and fifty children were polled and all of them said that they found the visual representations of clowns around the hospital were scary.  Yes, that’s right; every single respondent said that they were unhappy with the presence of clown images in the institution.  Rather than encouraging a happy space the clowns were actually frightening the children.

So, what do we do about the clowns?  Do we send them away?  Most psychologists will tell you that the occasional scare can be good for the system.  A great deal of the population will not even believe that coulrophobia is a real condition.  If you are not convinced that people are truly scared of clowns, take a look at this clip.

VIA

Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World

(click on image to enlarge)

Denver International Airport

1 denver international airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Denver International AirportAt first glance Denver looks like a modern architecture version of a bedouin encampment, something that you might see at an airport in the Arab Emirates. But the Teflon coated pyramid shaped tent canopies are references to the white capped mountains behind. The effect is great.

There are several conspiracy theories relating to the airport’s design and construction. Murals painted in the baggage claim area have been claimed to contain themes referring to future military oppression and a one-world government.

In the mid-1990s, Philip Schneider gave lectures about highly secretive government information concerning “deep underground military bases” that were constructed by the United States government, and said that one of these bases exists about two miles underneath the Denver International Airport.

Author Alex Christopher claimed to have worked in the tunnels under the airport, and described what appeared to be vast holding areas for prisoners, strange nausea-inducing electromagnetic forces, and caverns big enough to drive trucks through, presumably to be filled with helpless political prisoners.

2 madrid barajas international airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Madrid’s Barajas International Airport Terminal 4

Madrid’s Barajas International Airport Terminal 4 is the main international airport serving Madrid, Spain. It is the country’s largest and busiest airport, the world’s tenth busiest airport and Europe’s fourth. It opened in 1928, and has grown to be one of the most important aviation centres of Europe. The airport derives its name from the adjacent town of Barajas, which has its own metro station on the same rail line serving the airport.

The Madrid-Barcelona air shuttle service, known as the “Puente Aéreo”, is the world’s busiest route, with the highest number of flight operations (971 per week) in 2007. The schedule has been reduced since February 2008, when a Madrid-Barcelona high-speed rail line was opened, covering the distance in 2½ hours, and quickly became popular. Barajas serves as the gateway to the Iberian peninsula from the rest of Europe and the world, and is a particularly key link between Europe and Latin America. The airport is the primary hub and maintenance base for Iberia Airlines. Consequently, Iberia Airlines is responsible for more than 60 percent of Barajas’ traffic.

The airport was first constructed in 1927, opening to national and international air traffic on April 22, 1931 and is the most important international and domestic gateway in Spain.

Terminal 4, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers (winning them the 2006 Stirling Prize) was inaugurated on February 5, 2006. Barajas has the world’s largest single terminal area, with an area of more than one million square meters (11 million square feet). Consisting of a main building (T4) and satellite building (T4S), which are separated by approximately 2.5 km, the new terminal is meant to give passengers a stress-free start to their journey.

This is managed through careful use of illumination, available by glass panes instead of walls and numerous domes in the roof which allow natural light to pass through

3 incheon international airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airportis the largest airport in South Korea, and one of the largest and busiest in Asia. Since 2006, it has been consecutively rated as the best airport in the world and received the full 5-star ranking by Skytrax, the prestigious recognition shared only by Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport.

Located 70 km (43 mi) from Seoul, the capital and largest city of South Korea, Incheon International Airport is the main hub for Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Polar Air Cargo.

The airport opened for business in early 2001, replacing the older Gimpo International Airport, which now serves only domestic destinations plus shuttle flights to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, and Kansai International Airport.

The airport serves as a hub for international civilian air transportation and cargo traffic in East Asia. Security facilities are state-of-the-art and medical inspection equipment is also very advanced, in response to terrorist threats and various epidemics in southwestern Asia. As a result, Incheon International Airport is considered Asia’s most technologically facilitated airport.

Incheon International Airport is also currently Asia’s eighth busiest airport in terms of passengers, the world’s fifth busiest airport in terms of cargo and freight, and the world’s eleventh busiest airport in terms of international passengers.

4 saarinen twa terminal Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World The TWA Flight Center

The TWA Flight Center was the original name for Terminal 5 at New York City’s Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport), designed by Eero Saarinen for Trans World Airlines. Under rehabilitation since December 2005, it will be known as the JetBlue Flight Center after its new occupant, JetBlue Airways. It was designated a historic landmark by the City of New York in 1994 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 7, 2005.

The terminal had a futuristic air. The interior had wide glass windows that opened onto parked TWA jets; departing passengers would walk to planes through round, red-carpeted tubes. It was a far different structure and form than Saarinen’s design for the current main terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport, which utilized mobile lounges to take passengers to airplanes.

Design of the terminal was awarded to Detroit-based Eero Saarinen and Associates. It was completed in 1962 and became the airport’s most famous landmark. Gates in the terminal were close to the street and this made it difficult to create centralized ticketing and security checkpoints. This building was the first airline terminal to have closed circuit television, a central public address system, baggage carousels, an electronic schedule board and precursors to the now ubiquitous baggage weigh-in scales. JFK was rare in the airport industry for having company owned and designed terminals; other airline terminals were built by Eastern Airlines and American Airlines. Individually branded terminals included the Worldport of Pan American World Airways and the Sundrome of National Airlines.

5 kuala lumpur international airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Kuala Lumpur International Airport commonly known as KLIA is one of Asia’s major aviation hubs, along with Tokyo’s Narita Airport, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport. It is also Malaysia’s main international airport. It is situated in the Sepang district, in the south of the state of Selangor, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. KLIA was built at a cost of some US$3.5 billion.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is capable of handling 35 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo a year in its current phase. It is currently ranked as the 13th busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic in 2007, and is the 7th busiest international airport in Asia. The complex handled 26,938,970 passengers in 2007, a 13.0% increase over 2005. Also in 2007, Kuala Lumpur International Airport handled 677,446 metric tonnes of cargo, which was a 3.6% increase in volume from 2005. The increase in cargo volume made Kuala Lumpur International Airport one of the busiest airports by cargo traffic, ranking KLIA 30th among all other airports.

6 singapore changi airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Singapore Changi Airport’s Terminal 3

Singapore Changi Airport is a major aviation hub in Asia, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, and is the main airport in Singapore. Located in Changi on a site of 13 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi), it is about 17.2 kilometres (10.7 mi) north-east from the commercial centre.

The airport is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and is the home base of Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo, SilkAir, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia Airways, Valuair, and Jett8 Airlines Cargo. It is a hub for Garuda Indonesia and a secondary hub for Qantas, which uses Singapore as the main stopover point for flights on the Kangaroo Route between Australia and Europe, the latter being the largest foreign airline to operate from the airport with over two million passengers handled annually As of April 2008, there are about 4,340 weekly flights operated by 80 airlines to over 116 cities in 59 countries. An important contributor to the Singapore economy, 13,000 people are employed at the airport. The airport accounts for over S$4.5 billion in output.

7 bilbaoairport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Bilbao Airport

is a public airport located 5 km north of Bilbao, in the municipality of Loiu, in Spain. It is the most important airport of the Basque Country and northern Spain, with 4,277,610 passengers on 2007. It is famous for its new main terminal opened in 2000 and designed by Santiago Calatrava.

The airport has seen a constant increase in its traffic numbers, the old terminal was already saturated and obsolete in 1990, although it had been renewed only a few years earlier. At the present day Bilbao is the most important hub in northern Spain and the number of passengers using the new terminal continues to rise, especially after the increased tourist interest in the city since the opening of the Guggenheim museum. With the current increase of traffic, the terminal will become saturated again in a year because it is designed to handle about 4.5 million passengers per year, in 2007 it went nearly to its maximum capacity.

8 san francisco international Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World San Francisco International (SFO)

San Francisco International Airport n is a major international airport located 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco, California, United States, adjacent to the cities of Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. It is often referred to as SFO. The airport has flights to destinations throughout North America and is a major gateway to Europe, Asia, and Australasia.

San Francisco International Airport is the largest airport in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is the second busiest airport in the state of California after Los Angeles International Airport. As of 2006, San Francisco International Airport is the thirteenth largest in the United States and the twenty-third largest airport in the world, in terms of passengers. It is a major hub of United Airlines and is Virgin America’s principal base of operations. It is the sole maintenance hub of United Airlines. SFO is also a focus city for Alaska Airlines.

SFO has numerous passenger amenities, including a wide range of food and drink establishments, shopping, baggage storage, public showers, a medical clinic, and assistance for lost or stranded travelers and military personnel. The airport hosts the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library, and both permanent and temporary art exhibitions in several places in the terminals. Public Wi-Fi is available throughout most of the terminal area, provided by T-Mobile for a fee.

9 kansai international airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport is an international airport located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, off the shore of the cities of Sennan and Izumisano and the town of Tajiri in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. (It should not be confused with Osaka International Airport, which is closer to the city and now handles only domestic flights.) It was ranked 4th overall in the Airport of the Year 2006 awards named by Skytrax, next to Singapore Changi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Munich International Airport.

It is colloquially known as 関空 (Kankū?) in Japanese. During FY 2006, KIX, which serves the city of Osaka, had 116,475 aircraft movements, of which 73,860 were international (31 countries, 71 cities), and 42,615 were domestic (19 cities). The total number of passengers was 16,689,658 of which 11,229,444 were international, and 5,460,214 were domestic, sixth in Japan and second in Osaka area. Freight volume was at 802,162 tonnes total, of which 757,414 t were international (18th in the world), and 44,748 t were domestic. The 4,000 meter runway 2 was opened on August 2, 2007. Kansai Airport has become an Asian hub, with 499 weekly flights to Asia, 66 weekly flights to Europe and the Middle East, and 35 weekly flights to North America.

10 beijing airport Breathtaking Airport Terminals Around the World Beijing Airport Terminal 3

Construction of Terminal 3 started on March 28, 2004, and was opened in two stages. Trial operations commenced on February 29, 2008, when seven airlines, namely British Airways, El Al Israel Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Shandong Airlines and Sichuan Airlines moved into the terminal. 20 other airlines moved into the terminal when it became fully operational on March 26, 2008. Currently, it mainly houses Air China, Oneworld, Star Alliance, and other domestic and international flights.

It was designed by a consortium of NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants B.V), UK Architect Foster and Partners and ARUP. The budget of the expansion is US$3.5 billion. Far grander in size and scale than the existing terminals, it was the largest airport terminal-building complex built in a single phase with 986,000 square meters in total floor area at its opening. It features a main passenger terminal (Terminal 3C), two satellite concourses (Terminal 3D and Terminal 3E) and five floors above ground and two underground, with the letters “A and B” omitted to avoid confusions with the existing Terminals 1 and 2. Terminal 3C is dedicated for domestic flights, Terminal 3E for international flights, and Terminal 3D, called the “Olympics Hall”, was used for charter flights during the Beijing Olympics, before its use by international flights.

Terminal 3 is larger than London Heathrow Airport’s 5 terminals combined with another 17% to spare.

Terminal 3 of the BCIA is currently the second largest airport passenger terminal building of the world. Its title as the world’s largest was surrendered to Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 (over 1,500,000 m²) on October 14, 2008.]

Top 5 Funnest Ways to Ruin Your Life

If you pay attention to the news, you may have noticed that a lot of people’s lives are getting ruined right now. People are losing their jobs, their life savings, and in places like Palestine, their lives. And you know what? Odds are that at least a few of you will have your lives ruined in a somewhat similar fashion, maybe pretty soon. Sucks to say, but it’s true. With this being the case, we suggest getting a jump on things and ruining your life in a really awesome way before fate has a chance to come along and ruin it for you. Here are some suggested methods.

1 win lottery Top 5 Funnest Ways to Ruin Your Life
Win the Lottery
Want a one way ticket to fun, followed by a one way ticket to misery and poverty? Win the lottery! There is nothing more rewarding than spending dump trucks full of money you never worked for on worthless shit you’ve always wanted, but never been dumb enough to pay for. Gold plated snow machines? Private sky diving lessons? Lamborghinis? They can all be yours for about four months! Then get ready for it to all disappear when everyone you ever loved calls in a favor/stabs you in the back/tries to have you killed. Seriously. And all of this is if you’re fortunate enough to not have a predisposition to drugs and/or gambling. If that’s the case, your first purchase should be a good lawyer and a tombstone, because you’ll be needing them both (not necessarily in that order). Success!

2 get hooked Top 5 Funnest Ways to Ruin Your Life
Get Hooked on High-End Hookers
Porn is cool and all, but let’s get real. You’re young, you’re trying to ruin your life, and getting caught surfing YouPorn by your girlfriend isn’t really going to deliver the the satisfaction you’re looking for. So what do you do? Empty what’s left of your savings, sell your car, get all your credit cards together, and get on the phone. Within minutes you can have any number of eager, 21-year-old party girls ready to do the nastiest sexy stuff you’ve only secretly dreamed of! Depending on how ruined your life is already, you may not be able to afford very much of this (these girls are expensive, like $5,000-an-hour expensive), but that shouldn’t dissuade you in the least. Set up a hidden video camera, tape you escapades, and when the luster of expensive love has worn off, put it up on the Internet! That way, your life is guaranteed to be ruined for years to come.

3 drugs Top 5 Funnest Ways to Ruin Your Life
Drugs
There is no better way to ruin your life in a hurry than getting hooked on a hard drug. Meth, blow, heroin… take your pick. They all pack a sadistic punch, are extremely addictive, and once you’re hooked you only have about a five percent chance of ever coming back. Life ruining achieved. So where does the ‘funnest’ factor come into this life ruining equation? For one thing, all of those drugs are incredible, and everything you’ve heard is true. Second, nothing makes sketchy friends faster than a well publicized drug binge. Third, have you seen the first half of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Forget the consequences, this is all about the experience. If you’re trying to ruin your life, there are few better way to go. Just ask River Phoenix.

4 reality tv Top 5 Funnest Ways to Ruin Your Life
Put Your Family on Reality TV
You have to be a bit of a dark sense of humor to choose this route. You also have to be kind of famous already. If you’ve got both of those things going for you, congrats, you can ruin your life and your family’s life in one quick season of garbage TV. Ozzy Osbourne started this trend in the early ’00s, and it’s been kept alive by everyone from Hulk Hogan to Danny Bonaduce . Just look how totally ruined their lives got! Both of Ozzy’s kids went to rehab, Hulk’s wife divorced him and his son went to jail, Bonaduce’s penis shrunk to the size of a pencil eraser because of his HGH addiction, and then his wife divorced him… The list goes on. Sadly, this method is reserved solely for the rich and has-been.

5 las vegas Top 5 Funnest Ways to Ruin Your Life
Move to Las Vegas
Vegas is the ultimate life ruining destination for countless reasons. Not only can it combine methods two and three in one convenient location, but add gluttonous weight gain, free booze, fast cars, easy money and hot sun to that already amazing combination, all within a four-mile radius. Ever been arrested for taking a shit off a 50-story balcony? Ever lost an entire year’s salary in less than thirty seconds? Ever overdosed on all-you-can-eat shrimp and strawberry cheesecake? Now’s your chance! Plus, once you’ve finished crapping on your life, you’ll find yourself in excellent company in Vegas. Why? Because everyone who lives there’s life has already been ruined!

36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV

Television has always had its share of out-there plots, weird characters and completely unbelievable moments. I got to thinking, what would it be like if someone my age had never gone to school, but instead had been raised by watching TV. Here are a few of the ways he might believe the world works.

1 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV The A-Team

36. I learned that it is possible to fire millions of rounds of ammo and throw several thousand grenades over the course of several years and never actually hit anybody with a bullet or wound anyone with flying shrapnel.

35. I learned that it is possible to afford said ammo and grenades without holding down a regular job and without charging half of the people who hire you for your mercenary services because they are too poor to pay you for it.

34. I learned that if you are a bad guy it is never a good idea to lock the A-Team into a garage well stocked with sheet metal and acetylene torches.

33. I learned that you can turn your regular old cargo van into an assault van (non-lethal, of course) with a ceiling fan, some plywood and a couple of wood screws.

32. I learned that being certifiably insane doesn’t necessarily preclude you from getting a helicopter pilot’s license.

31. I learned that large, scary men who are afraid of flying can be easily (and repeatedly) tricked into drinking drugged milk so that you can get them on an airplane.

2 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV MacGyver

30. I learned that guns don’t solve anything, but that highly explosive bombs made out of light bulbs, duct tape and various household cleaners do.

29. I learned that Richard Dean Anderson is about the only person in the world who looks cool wearing a mullet.

28. I learned that being an environmental activist and driving a gas-guzzling Jeep are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

3 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV The Dukes of Hazzard

27. I learned that hot women in short shorts can make boys as young as 6 feel a little funny in their nether regions.

26. I learned that Deputy Enos’ parents hated him. Why else would they have named him Enos?

25. I learned that mayoral corruption is a lucrative business as evidenced by the vast number of squad cars Boss Hogg had to buy over the years.

24. I learned that they make really heavy duty shock absorbers and car frames down in Hazzard County for every vehicle except police cars.

23. I learned that Uncle Jesse must have had a ton of brothers seeing as how Bo, Luke, Daisy and the two guys who filled in for Bo and Luke for awhile were all cousins to each other, none of them were Uncle Jesse’s kids and all of them had the last name of Duke.

22. I learned that apparently, all of Uncle Jesse’s brothers (and their wives) were either short-lived or they (and their wives) were deadbeat parents because none of them ever made an appearance in Hazzard County.

21. I learned that distilling and smuggling moonshine is a good, clean way to bond with your relatives.

Knight Rider

20. I learned that it is socially acceptable for a straight man to wear eye makeup as long as he drives a talking Trans Am.

19. I learned that if you ever own a talking car, never buy one with a British accent because no matter what it says it will always sound condescending.

5 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV Star Trek: The Next Generation

18. I learned that in the future no one will ever need to use the bathroom.

17. I learned that at some point between the time of Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean Luc Picard the Klingons experienced some sort of horrible accident which caused their entire race to develop large ridges in their noses and foreheads.

Happy Days

16. I learned that it is never a good idea to jump a shark on waterskis, even if you are wearing a leather jacket at the time. It’s not about safety people, it’s about ludicrousness.

15. I learned that it isn’t creepy at all (or illegal for that matter) for a man in his thirties to have sex with numerous high school girls as long as he is able to start up a jukebox by snapping his fingers.

14. I learned that Mr. Miyagi’s first name is actually Arnold and that before he taught martial arts to a certain baby-faced 30-year old who still lived with his mother, he was a restaurant owner/short-order cook.

Magnum P.I.

13. I learned that it is possible for a man to effectively fight crime while wearing extremely small (some might say testicle-endangeringly small) shorts, flip-flops and a baseball cap.

12. I learned that it is possible to have a mustache and leave your shirt unbuttoned to the navel, exposing your hairy chest in all its Selleck-y glory and not look like a washed up, 70’s era porno actor.

8 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV The Cosby Show

11. I learned that if you make enough money, you can wear whatever ugly sweaters you want to without being mocked by anyone.

10. I learned that it is possible for previously unmentioned Huxtable children to suddenly show up after several seasons without any kind of credible explanation of where they’ve been nor any indication of some kind of past family squabbles that would have kept them away for so long.

9. I learned that it is possible, though rare, for really young sitcom children to be funny and cute without crossing over into sickly sweet and annoying…although that got screwed up when they brought Raven-Symone onto the show.

8. I learned that hilarity will ensue if you have dangerously high cholesterol, but you ignore it and frequently sneak massive hoagies and potato chips when your wife isn’t around.

9 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV Little House On The Prairie

7. I learned what the word “bastard” means. Absolutely true story: Having heard “bastard” used on “Little House On The Prairie” I figured it wasn’t a bad word so I jokingly called my little brother that at the dinner table in front of my mother and she almost fainted. When she had composed herself she grilled me about where I had heard that word and then explained to me what it meant. Darn you Michael Landon for getting me in trouble and making me learn something in the process!

6. I learned that I should avoid any and all blonde girls named Nellie, as well as their mothers.

5. I learned that, over time, Half-Pints can eventually grow into Gallon Jugs. Giggidy.

10 36 Educational Tips From 70s and 80s TV Cheers

4. I learned that it is possible to sit at the end of a bar for ten years while drinking copious amounts of beer and never have to pay your tab. [JFrater would like anyone who knows where this bar really exists to email him the street address]

3. I learned that owning/operating a bar is the best thing a recovering alcoholic can do on his road to sobriety.

2. I learned that Woody probably wasn’t as dumb as he seemed; he was just stoned out of his mind most of the time.

1. I learned that leaving one of the all-time greatest, most popular and most critically acclaimed sitcoms in television history to star in “Troop Beverly Hills” is not the smartest of career moves.

Creationism

creationism2 Creationism

God created the Earth in seven days, literally and exactly seven 24-hour days. And if you don’t like it, you can go to hell. That is, you can literally go to hell.

In all the world’s rich panoply of religious and spiritual pursuits, there’s nothing quite so inspiring as watching people desperately tie their entire view of the moral universe to an idea that’s obviously wrong. Creationism is a particularly entertaining variant on an age-old theme. (Remember when Galileo was excommunicated for the ludicrous idea that the Earth goes ’round the sun and not the other way around?)

Creationism is pretty much summed up in the first sentence of this article. Creationists like to call their belief system “creation science” and would like to have it taught in school alongside the theory of evolution.

Now, it’s certainly possible that some God or other created the world in seven 24-hour days. Any sentence that contains the word “God” is pretty much wide open to debate. But is it science?

Oh, wait, that sounded like a rhetorical question. It actually has an answer. No, it’s not science. It’s religion. Nothing wrong with religion, lots of people have it. Often very smart and well-educated people.

But beliefs based solely on the text of the Bible aren’t science. Science is the “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” There is no scientific test which will show that Adam and Eve existed. At least, not according to the commonly accepted definition of science. However, if creationism is about anything, it’s about language.

creationism3 Creationism Western civilization has believed the seven-day theory for about 6,000 years longer than it’s believed in evolution. The weight of that history is great indeed. Although Genesis was originally a Jewish scripture, the Christians were responsible for institutionalizing its contents as the undisputed truth about the world’s origins.

The original notion of evolution dates back to the ancient Greeks, but early thinking on the subject was crushed by the Church of Rome. By the 17th century, however, the Protestant revolution and the whole Galileo fiasco had given the public reason to think that the Vatican was not necessarily the best source for scientific information.

Nevertheless, the idea that people had somehow evolved from a lower life form was abhorrent to most people, right up through the Victorian era. “Man” (and specifically the white male) was considered the highest possible form of life on earth, elevated above all others.

When Charles Darwin came along in the middle of the 19th century, all hell broke loose. Although Darwin outlined a progression of primitive man through modern man, the average joe looked at his chart and made the immediate mental leap that men essentially came from monkeys. The Victorians were not amused.

A violent religious backlash arose in Creationism response to the theory. Nearly 150 years later, depressingly, the backlash continues.

The theory of evolution quickly gained traction in scientific circles, but the common man held out for a lot longer. As it does with virtually all issues of any importance in the world, the United States responded to the controversy with litigation.

The state of Tennessee passed a law in 1925 banning schools from teaching any theory of human origin that conflicted with the Biblical account. A biology teacher named John Scopes defied the ban and was brought up on charges. A legal battle of historic proportions resulted, as Clarence Darrow stepped up as attorney for the defense; William Jennings Bryan came to the assistance of the state.

The “Scopes monkey trial” wrapped up with Darrow calling Bryan and staging a virtual debate over the issue of evolution vs. creation under the guise of cross-examination. It would have been great television, had there been television at the time.

DARROW: I will read it to you from the Bible: "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." Do you think that is why the serpent is compelled to crawl upon its belly? BRYAN: I believe that.

DARROW: Have you any idea how the snake went before that time?

BRYAN: No, sir.

DARROW: Do you know whether he walked on his tail or not?

BRYAN: No, sir. I have no way to know. (Laughter in audience).

DARROW: Now, you refer to the cloud that was put in heaven after the flood, the rainbow. Do you believe in that?

BRYAN: Read it.

DARROW: All right, Mr. Bryan, I will read it for you.

BRYAN: Your Honor, I think I can shorten this testimony. The only purpose Mr. Darrow has is to slur at the Bible, but I will answer his question. I will answer it all at once, and I have no objection in the world, I want the world to know that this man, who does not believe in a God, is trying to use a court in Tennessee...

DARROW: I object to that.

BRYAN: (...) to slur at it, and while it will require time, I am willing to take it.

DARROW: I object to your statement. I am exempting you on your fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes.

creationism darwin CreationismIn his closing remarks, Darrow conceded that his client was guilty and that he couldn’t in good conscience plead otherwise, but that a higher court would have to decide the issue. These inspirational remarks led to the expected guilty verdict, which was later overturned on appeal for a technicality. Aside from the high drama, the trial accomplished pretty much nothing, since the technicality superseded the constitutional issue. The law remained on the books until 1967.

The bad publicity that came out of the trial left other states unenthusiastic about mandating creationism in the schools, but that didn’t stop Protestant fundamentalists from rallying around the issue for the next 80 years.

Weirdly, although the whole issue had stemmed from an overly literal intepretation of the Bible, the second wave of creationists began madly embellishing the Biblical accounts of early man in an effort to get around some of the more undeniable evidence, such as dinosaur fossils.

The dwindling pool of modern creationists now tries to paint a picture of a Fred Flintstone-style Garden of Eden in which cheerful velociraptors traipse around with Adam and Eve like oversized puppies. According to these revisionist-literalists, pretty much any reference to a generic animal in the Bible is inclusive of dinosaurs.

The modern crop of creationists is Creationism often perceived as a bunch of harmless cranks, like Jerry Falwell and the Attorney General of the United States. Sure, harmless! They run wacky organizations like the “Institute for Creation Research” and the “Center for Scientific Creation,” which contain arguments like “Evolutionists raise several objections. Some say, ‘Even though evidence may imply a sudden creation, creation is supernatural, not natural, and cannot be entertained as a scientific explanation'” and “Teaching scientific evidence for creation has always been legal in public schools. Nevertheless, many teachers wonder how to do this.”

If you’re thinking that you don’t know a lot of evolutionists who say evidence implies a sudden creation, or teachers who are wondering how to teach said evidence, welcome to the club. But then, it takes a special kind of thinking to keep ancient anachronisms alive and kicking.

A special kind of thinking of the sort perpetuated by the aforementioned Attorney General John Ashcroft, who launched a Justice Department investigation of a Texas professor for demanding that future medical students truthfully tell their opinions about the origins of human life before he would agree to write recommendation letters for them. But hey, who wouldn’t want a doctor that believes women can be extracted from your ribs?

Nuclear weapons

Fission weapons
A few words about nuclear weapons technology..

Nuclear weapons exploit two principle physical, or more specifically nuclear, properties of certain substances: fission and fusion.

Fission is possible in a number of heavy elements, but in weapons it is principally confined to what is termed slow neutron fission in just two particular isotopes: 235U and 239Pu. These are termed fissile, and are the source of energy in atomic weapons. An explosive chain reaction can be started with relatively slight energy input (so-called slow neutrons) in such material.

Pu239Ga11111111 Nuclear weapons
An actual 239Pu ingot, alloyed with gallium for improved physical properties

Isotopes are ‘varieties’ of an element which differ only in their number of neutrons. For example, hydrogen exists as 1H 2H and 3H — different isotopes of the same chemical element, with no, one, and two neutrons respectively. All the chemical properties, and most of the physical properties, are the same between isotopes. Nuclear properties may differ significantly, however.

The fission, or ‘splitting’ of an atom, releases a very large amount of energy per unit volume — but a single atom is very small indeed. The key to an uncontrolled or explosive release of this energy in a mass of fissile material large enough to constitute a weapon is the establishment of a chain reaction with a short time period and high growth rate. This is surprisingly easy to do.

Fission of 235U (uranium) or 239Pu (plutonium) starts in most weapons with an incident source of neutrons. These strike atoms of the fissile material, which (in most cases) fissions, and each atom in so doing releases, on average, somewhat more than 2 neutrons. These then strike other atoms in the mass of material, and so on.

If the mass is too small, or has too large a surface area, too many neutrons escape and a chain reaction is not possible; such a mass is termed subcritical. If the neutrons generated exactly equal the number consumed in subsequent fissions, the mass is said to be critical. If the mass is in excess of this, it is termed supercritical.

Fission (atomic) weapons are simply based on assembling a supercritical mass of fissile material quickly enough to counter disassembly forces.

The majority of the energy release is nearly instantaneous, the mean time from neutron release to fission can be of the order of 10 nanoseconds, and the chain reaction builds exponentially. The result is that greater than 99% of the very considerable energy released in an atomic explosion is generated in the last few (typically 4-5) generations of fission — less than a tenth of a microsecond.*

This tremendous energy release in a small space over fantastically short periods of time creates some unusual phenomena — physical conditions that have no equal on earth, no matter how much TNT is stacked up.

Plutonium (239Pu) is the principal fissile material used in today’s nuclear weapons. The actual amount of this fissile material required for a nuclear weapon is shockingly small.

Below is a scale model of the amount of 239Pu required in a weapon with the force that destroyed the city of Nagasaki in 1945:

Pu32inch Nuclear weapons

In the Fat Man (Nagasaki) weapon design an excess of Pu was provided. Most of the remaining bulk of the weapon was comprised of two concentric shells of high explosives. Each of these was carefully fashioned from two types of explosives with differing burn rates. These, when detonated symmetrically on the outermost layer, caused an implosion or inward-moving explosion.

The two explosive types were shaped to create a roughly spherical convergent shockwave which, when it reached the Pu ‘pit’ in the center of the device, caused it to collapse.

The Pu pit became denser, underwent a phase change, and became supercritical.

A small neutron source, the initiator, placed in the very center of this Pu pit, provided an initial burst of neutrons — final generations of which, less than a microsecond later, saw the destruction of an entire city and more than 30,000 people..

Nearly all the design information for weapons such as these is now in the public domain; in fact, considering the fact that fission weapons exploit such a simple and fundamental physical (nuclear) property, it is no surprise that this is so. It is more surprising that so much stayed secret for so long, at least from the general public.

A neutron reflector, often made of beryllium, is placed outside the central pit to reflect neutrons back into the pit. A tamper, often made of depleted uranium or 238U helps control premature disassembly. Modern fission devices use a technique called ‘boosting’ (referred to in the next section), to control and enhance the yield of the device.

Today’s nuclear threat lies mostly in preventing this fissile special nuclear material (often referred to as SNM) from falling into the wrong hands: once there, it is a very short step to construct a working weapon.

What we do now to keep these devices out of the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda is vital to civilized peoples.

abomb Nuclear weapons

A schematic of a hypothetical ‘boosted’ fission weapon (showing unnecessary 235U)

trinity Nuclear weapons The gadget device used in the Trinity test: the world’s first nuclear weapon test. Note spherical geometry and the HE detonator arrangement. New Mexico, 21KT, 1945.

grable Nuclear weapons Typical fission weapon, shortly after detonation at the Nevada test site, with roughly the same yield as the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima. Reddish vapor surrounding the plasma toroid includes intensely radioactive fission fragments and ionized nitrogen oxides from the atmosphere. (Grable, 15KT, 1953)

Fusion Weapon

Fission weapons discussed above are ultimately limited in their destructive capability by the sheer size a subcritical mass can assume — and be imploded quickly enough by high explosives to form a supercritical assembly. The largest known pure fission weapon tested had a 500 kiloton yield. This is some thirty-eight times the release which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. Not satisfied that this was powerful enough, designers developed thermonuclear (fusion) weapons.

Fusion exploits the energy released in the fusing of two atoms to form a new element; e.g. deuterium atoms fusing to form helium, 2H + 2H = 4He2 , as occurs on the sun. For atoms to fuse, very high temperatures and pressures are required. Only fusion of the lightest element, hydrogen, has proven practical. And only the heavy isotopes of hydrogen, 2H (deuterium) and 3H (tritium), have a low enough threshold for fusion to have been used in weapons successfully thus far.

The first method tried (boosting) involved simply placing 3H in a void within the center of a fission weapon, where tremendous temperatures and high pressures were attendant to the fission explosion. This worked; contributing energy to the overall explosion, and boosting the efficiency of the Pu fissioning as well (fusion reactions also release neutrons, but with much higher energy).

Because 3H is a gas at room temperature, it can be easily ‘bled’ into the central cavity from a storage bottle prior to an explosion, and impact the final yield of the device. This is still used today, and allows for what is termed ‘dial-a-yield’ capability on many stockpiled weapons.

Multistage thermonuclear weapons — the main component of today’s strategic nuclear forces — are more complex. These employ a ‘primary’ fission weapon to serve merely as a trigger. As mentioned above, the fission weapon is characterized by a tremendous energy release in a small space over a short period of time. As a result, a very large fraction of the initial energy release is in the form of thermal X-rays.

These X-rays are channeled to a ‘secondary’ fusion package. The X-rays travel into a cavity within a b28.jpg (8660 bytes)cylindrical radiation container.

b28 Nuclear weaponsThe radiation pressure from these X-rays either directly, or through an intermediate material often cited as a polystyrene foam, ablates a cylindrical enclosure containing thermonuclear fuel (shown in blue at left); this can be Li2H (lithium deuteride).

Running along the central axis of this fuel is a rod of fissile material, termed a ‘sparkplug’.

The contracting fuel package becomes denser, the sparkplug begins to fission, neutrons from this transmute the Li2H into 3H that can readily fuse with 2H (the fusion reaction 3H + 2H has a very high cross-section, or probability, in typical secondary designs), heat increases greatly, and fusion continues through the fuel mass.

A final ‘tertiary’ stage can be added to this in the form of an exterior blanket of 238U, wrapping the outer surface of the radiation case or the fuel package. 238U is not fissionable by the slower neutrons which dominate the fission weapon environment, but fusion releases copious high energy neutrons and this can fast fission the ordinary uranium.

This is a cheap (and radiologically very dirty) way to greatly increase yield. The largest weapon ever detonated — the Soviet Union’s ‘super bomb’, was some 60 MT in yield, and would have been nearer 100MT had this technique been used in its tertiary. Again, to control the yield precisely, 3H may be bled from a separate tank into the core of the primary, as shown in the hypothetical diagram on the left of a modern thermonuclear weapon.

This primary/secondary/tertiary or multistage arrangement can be increased — unlike the fission weapon — to provide insane governments with any arbitrarily large yield.

bravo Nuclear weapons

Rare photo of the actual shrimp device used in Castle Bravo. Note the cylindrical geometry, and the emergent spherical fission trigger on the right. Light pipes leading to ceiling are visible near the fission trigger and at two points along the secondary for transmitting early diagnostic information to remote collection points, before they themselves are destroyed. Note the ‘danger, no smoking’ sign at lower left. 15MT, 1954.

Fusion, or thermonuclear weapons, are not simple to design nor are they likely targets of construction for would-be terrorists today.

Many aspects of the relevant radiation transport, X-ray opacities, and ultra-high T and D equations-of-state (EOS) for relevant materials are still classified to this day (though increasing dissemination of weapons-adaptable information from the inertially-confined fusion (ICF) area may change this in time). Keeping such information classified makes good sense.

romeo Nuclear weaponsTypical appearance of a thermonuclear weapon detonation — from many miles away.
(Castle Romeo, 7MT, 1954)

Special techniques were required to record the fleeting moments of a weapon’s initial detonation. One such method was the Rapatronic camera, developed by Dr. Harold Edgerton. The images it created are bizarre. Check out our collection of Rapatronic photographs.

Moscow Air Pollution

For the second year in a row Moscow has been the world’s most expensive city. After calculating the cost of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment Moscow is 34.4 percent more expensive than New York. The Russian capital is choked with luxury cars, upscale construction projects and a new financial self-esteem. If Lenin had ever been buried he’d be rolling in his grave now.

Moscow Life by Alexander Petrenko Moscow Air Pollution

But all of the economic progress is coming at what cost? Over the past two years escalating numbers of vehicles on the roads put a stifling strain on the environment. Today Moscow has nearly 3,000,000 cars. Gray-brown noxious haze of smog covers the streets filled with jam-packed traffic, which blows out tons of unhealthy exhaust fumes of carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals. Additionally there are 12 huge heat power stations, 53 district heating stations and 3,000 industrial enterprises still operating within the city borders. As a result concentrations of harmful substances often exceed maximum allowable by 10-20 times.

The level of air pollution varies from one neighborhood of the city to another. This accounts for the variability of child health levels. In the most severely polluted areas the prevalence of childhood bronchial asthma is much higher, and the cases of disharmonious physical development among children are more frequent.

Several government programs were designed to combat air pollution with a target to bring Moscow back down to EU standards by 2010. But those are just optimistic plans considering the severe present conditions


pupupu pupupu