EIN GEDI, Israel – Eli Raz was peering into a narrow hole in the Dead Sea shore when the earth opened up and swallowed him. Fearing he would never be found alive in the 30-foot- deep pit, he scribbled his will on an old postcard.
After 14 hours a search party pulled him from the hole unhurt, and five years later the 69-year-old geologist is working to save others from a similar fate, leading an effort to map the sinkholes that are spreading on the banks of the fabled saltwater lake.
These underground craters can open up in an instant, sucking in whatever lies above and leaving the surrounding area looking like an earthquake zone.
The phenomenon, Raz said, stems from a dire water shortage, compounded in recent years by tourism and chemical industries as well as a growing population. "This is the most remarkable evidence of the brutal interference of humans in the Dead Sea," he said.
interesting... i have some pictures of these sinkholes, i'll try to post some later.
ROME, APRIL 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Rome may have celebrated its 2,782 year anniversary on April 21, but another important birthday is in the offing. On May 13, the Pantheon will celebrate its 1,400th year as a Christian church.
The jewel of Rome's historical center, the Pantheon was the most ambitious building project undertaken in Roman history. The giant hemispherical dome resting on the cylindrical drum drew on every lesson the Romans had learned in 800 years of conquest and construction.
The engineering mastery displayed in the Pantheon surpassed any country in the Empire. The concrete dome spanned 143 feet in diameter, twice as large as the next runner up -- a bath complex in Baiae. The sophisticated employment of pozzolana cement, instead of lime mortar, the structural arches countering the lateral stress, and the gradation of the density of the cement from foundation to dome testified to a people who had outstripped even the Egyptians and their pyramids.
This monument to man's ingenuity was intended to symbolize the Roman fixation with deification. The first temple on the site, built in 25 B.C. by Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, featured Mars and Venus, the divine ancestors of Julius Caesar and by extension, Augustus himself. The new building constructed by Hadrian in 125 at the zenith of the Roman empire went even further.
see link for remainder
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Building a state
It's funny to think that an institution as old as the papacy resides in a state that is only 80 years old. The 500-year-old basilica, and the tomb of St. Peter, now advancing towards its 2,000th anniversary, indicate a long history, but Vatican City State, the proper name of the sovereign state of the Holy Father, celebrated its 80th anniversary last Feb. 11.
An interesting exhibit on the Charlemagne wing of St. Peter’s square sheds light on the circumstances and events surrounding the birth of this new nation.
The five-part show brings together documents, photographs, maps, models and medals to illustrate the salient moments of the unification of Italy, the negotiations of the concordat and the resulting entity that we know today.