World’s Largest Diamond Mine

August 21, 2008 at 9:31 am | Posted in entertainment, History, hotels, Information, tourism, World | 1 Comment
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This diamond mine in eastern Siberia (Mirny, to be exact) is so deep that the surrounding “air zone… is closed for helicopters” after “a few accidents when they were ‘sucked in’ by downward air flow…”

Finally, look for the tiny red arrow in the following photograph; it’s pointing to a 220-ton rock-hauling truck more than 20′ tall.

Meanwhile, something altogether different and Jules Vernian is about to occur thanks to some Japanese scientists hoping to drill down into the earth’s mantle: “Using a giant drill ship launched [in July 2005], the researchers aim to be the first to punch a hole through the rocky crust that covers our planet and to reach the mantle below.”
And then, in an oddly Borgesian, or perhaps MC Escherian, moment of nomenclatural mise-en-abîme, “The 57,500-tonne drill ship Chikyu (Japanese for Earth) is being prepared in the southern port of Nagasaki. Two-thirds the length of the Titanic, it is fitted with technology borrowed from the oil industry that will allow it to bore through 7,000 metres of crust below the seabed while floating in 2,500 metres of water – requiring a drill pipe 25 times the height of the Empire State building.”
For some sense of perspective here, the diamond mine, pictured above, is 1200 meters deep; that means that to reach the mantle, the Japanese will have to produce a drill-hole nearly seven times deeper than the mine (which sounds alarmingly easy, actually – I was expecting to be horrified).
In any case, the drill-ship is called *Earth* and it’s being drilled down into the earth… The attack of the simulacra begins.

[Note: This post originally stated that the mine was in South Africa – but I’ve corrected myself thanks to the comment, below. And apologize. It is, in fact, in Russia as this BBC slideshow – which I actually looked at a few days ago without noticing (uh…) – makes clear. This BBC link also inverts the figures I had, so who knows: I had 1200m deep and 500m wide (which I suppose is a bit unlikely); the Beeb says the opposite. If that is the case, however, then that Japanese bore-hole into the earth’s mantle will actually be at least *fourteen times* deeper than the Mirny mine…]

– Shantan Nethikar

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World War II – by Shantan Nethikar

August 18, 2008 at 11:56 am | Posted in History, Information, World | Leave a comment
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Second World War (1939–45)  International conflict principally between the Axis Powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allied Powers—France, Britain, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China. Political and economic instability in Germany, combined with bitterness over its defeat in World War I and the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, allowed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to rise to power. In the mid-1930s Hitler began secretly to rearm Germany, in violation of the treaty. He signed alliances with Italy and Japan to oppose the Soviet Union and intervened in the Spanish Civil War in the name of anticommunism.

Click to see an enlarged picture

 Capitalizing on the reluctance of other European powers to oppose him by force, he sent troops to occupy Austria in 1938 ( Anschluss) and to annex Czechoslovakia in 1939. After signing the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Two days later France and Britain declared war on Germany. Poland’s defeat was followed by a period of military inactivity on the Western Front ( Phony War). At sea Germany conducted a damaging submarine campaign by U-boat against merchant shipping bound for Britain.

By early 1940 the Soviet Union had divided Poland with Germany, occupied the Baltic states, and subdued Finland in the Russo-Finnish War. In April 1940 Germany overwhelmed Denmark and began its conquest of Norway. In May German forces swept through The Netherlands and Belgium on their blitzkrieg invasion of France, forcing it to capitulate in June and establish the Vichy France regime. Germany then launched massive bombing raids on Britain in preparation for a cross-Channel invasion, but, after losing the Battle of Britain, Hitler postponed the invasion indefinitely. By early 1941 Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria had joined the Axis, and German troops quickly overran Yugoslavia and Greece in April. In June Hitler abandoned his pact with the Soviet Union and launched a massive surprise invasion of Russia, reaching the outskirts of Moscow before Soviet counterattacks and winter weather halted the advance. In East Asia Japan expanded its war with China and seized European colonial holdings. In December 1941 Japan attacked U.S. bases at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines. The U.S. declared war on Japan, and the war became truly global when the other Axis Powers declared war on the U.S. Japan quickly invaded and occupied most of Southeast Asia, Burma, the Netherlands East Indies, and many Pacific islands. After the crucial U.S. naval victory at the Battle of Midway (1942), U.S. forces began to advance up the chains of islands toward Japan. In the North Africa Campaigns the British and Americans defeated Italian and German forces by 1943. The Allies then invaded Sicily and Italy, forcing the overthrow of the fascist government in July 1943, though fighting against the Germans continued in Italy until 1945. In the Soviet Union the Battle of Stalingrad (1943) marked the end of the German advance, and Soviet reinforcements in great numbers gradually pushed the German armies back.

The massive Allied invasion of western Europe began with the Normandy Campaign in western France (1944), and the Allies’ steady advance ended in the occupation of Germany in 1945. After Soviet troops pushed German forces out of the Soviet Union, they advanced into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania and had occupied the eastern third of Germany by the time the surrender of Germany was signed on May 8, 1945. In the Pacific an Allied invasion of the Philippines (1944) was followed by the successful Battle of Leyte Gulf and the costly Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa (1945). Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and Japan’s formal surrender on September 2 ended the war. Estimates of total military and civilian casualties varied from 35 million to 60 million killed, including about 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Millions more civilians were wounded and made homeless throughout Europe and East Asia.

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