WHAT IS ACID RAIN?





However, acid rain is certainly not a new phenomenon brought on by modern industrialization as all rainfall has a certain amount of natural acidity. It is just that pollutants released from industrialization increases this acidity a thousand fold! And don't think it's just rain you need to worry about as acidity can also be present - and be just as damaging - in snow hail, cloud, fog, mist and even air borne dust!

What causes acid rain? 

Approximately 300 million years ago, huge areas of the Earth were forested. Over time, tress came to the end of their natural life and died. Where they fell, they were gradually transformed into seams of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

 Today we mine and burn fossil fuels in enormous quantities to generate electricity, heat our homes and power our factories. Unfortunately, burning fossil fuels releases releases huge amounts of pollutants - notably sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons - into the atmosphere.

Once they are in the atmosphere, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and the hydrocarbons react with sunlight to produce a selection of secondary pollutants such as ozone.

These secondary pollutants react with the sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide to form sulphuric-acid and nitric acid in the tiny droplets of water that go to make up our clouds. In this form the acids are carried on the wind to fall as 'acid rain' , often great distances away. Today, in spite of growing environmental awareness all around the world - and so is the damage caused by acid rain., large scale industrialization is still increasing.

The damage caused by acid rain

Over 1,000,000 square kilometres of Europe's forests have suffered the effects of acid rain, with conifers being damaged the most. The sulphur dioxide from burning fossil fuels may damage and kill many trees, but this is compounded as acid rain reacts with vital plant nutrients, preventing their uptake through root systems.

Even slight damage to a mature tree caused by pollution can be enough to kill it because it reduces the trees frost hardiness and its resistance to fungal and pest attack.

American studies have indicated that even where forests are showing none of the easily visible external signs of acid rain damage, pollution is nevertheless limiting their growth.

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Based on an article by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainforest
Photo care of http://article.wn.com/view/2009/02/13/Government_to_tap_Brazils_agriculture_expertise/  and
Images care of http://aml0839.edu.glogster.com/environmental-effects/ and http://conservationreport.com/2010/06/21/acid-rain-is-increasing/

BATH: Roman baths




For two thousand years, Bath in England has been a spa town built around Britain's only hot mineral springs. For centuries this natural phenomenon has attracted visitors to Bath, and has led to a unique and historic urban environment around the springs.

In the 1st Century AD , the Romans built a stone-walled reservoir to contain the spring and supply water to the adjacent baths. No-one swam in the spring itself as it was regarded as a sacred site, but worshippers threw into the water offerings to the patron deity Sulis Minerva. The sacred spring was covered by a rectangular vaulted building between the temple and baths.

The Geological Source

Bath spa water fell as rain up to 10,000 years ago on the nearby Mendip hills. Driven down through carboniferous limestone cave systems by pressure from the high water table on the Mendips, the water has reached depths of 2 - 3 kilometres.

The water penetrates overlying strata of impermeable Lias clay through fissures and a fault to rise at three points in the City of Bath. The greatest source is the Kings Spring where the flow is 13 litres per second or 1,106,400 (c.250,000 gallons) per day. The water temperature is a constant 46 degrees Celsius.

The Mineral Content

There are 43 minerals in the hot spa water. calcium and sulphate are the main dissolved ions followed by sodium and chloride.

The water is low in dissolved metals except for iron which gives the characteristic iron staining around the baths and contributes to the waters distinctive flavour. The mineral content of this water is 2.18 grammes per litre.

Curative Properties

In medieval times, a cure for conditions such as paralysis, colic, palsy and gout was sought from bathing in hot spa waters. Lead poisoning was a cause of many of these afflictions, as in these days many occupations involved working with or exposure to lead.

Alcohol, especially port, was adulterated with lead to act as a sweetener and as a fungicide. 18th century records from Bath Mineral Water Hospital show that patients benefited from the treatment. Today, it is fashionable to be sceptical about the curative properties of hot spa water although hot spas in Europe remain popular.

Taking the Waters

The fashion for drinking spar water arose from new medicinal ideas in the later 17th century. the pump room was opened in 1706 to provide a place to drink the waters.

the water was taken in the morning. For most visitors a pint or two was sufficient, but as much as a gallon a day could be prescribed!

It is hardly surprising that the new Pump Room, opened in 1795, was criticised as lacking facilities for '...when the waters begin to operate...!'

The Pumper

There has been a charge for taking the waters since the opening of the first Pump Room in 1706.

The position of Pumper was released by the Corporation and followed the opening of the present Pump Room the lease cost £800 per annum.

Visitors could take out a subscription to the Pump Room which entitled them to take the waters. In subsequent years the value of the lease fell and for a period the spa water was distributed free of charge.

The Kings Bath is the name given to a private bathing area situated within the Roman baths complex in the city of Bath, Great Britain. From the Roman period to the present day, this ancient building has been the very heart and soul of Bath as within it rises the hot mineral spa water that has given the city its name.

In the 1st Century AD , the Romans built a stone-walled reservoir to contain the spring and supply water to the adjacent baths. No-one swam in the spring itself as it was regarded as a sacred site, but worshippers threw into the water offerings to the patron deity Sulis Minerva. The sacred spring was covered by a rectangular vaulted building between the temple and baths.

By the 6th Century, the temple and baths had fallen into disuse and the reservoir ceiling had into the spring. However, the spring waters continued to flow inside the ruined building and it is believed that the nearby Saxon monastery still used the site for bathing.

In the 12th century, the Kings bath - named after Henry I, was built within the remains of the Roman building. It was used as a curative bath and was fed directly from the hot spring below. In its day, the kings bath was actually within the precinct of the medieval monastery.

After the dissolution of the monastery in 1539, the Kings bath eventually came into the hands of the City Corporation. In the 16th Century the Queens Bath was constructed on the south side.

Throughout the 17th Century, Baths popularity as a spa town increased. The brass rings visible in the walls are engraved with testimonials from grateful bathers who were cured by these ancient waters.

The far reaching history of these baths can still be seen to this day. The rectangular form of the existing building reflects the original Roman footprint. In fact, parts of the supporting walls below the balustrade are the Roman walls built for the original bathing complex. Furthermore some of the medieval bathing niches are still visible on the far side of the bath.

In 1704-6 the first Pump Room was built on the north side of the Kings Bath. Spar water for drinking was pumped up to it from the spring below. The present, larger building was erected in 1790-95, partly covering the north side of the Kings bath. The statue of Prince Bladud, legendry founder of bath, is still seen today.

The bath was used regularly for bathing until 1939. In 1979, its floor was removed for structural reasons and the water level naturally dropped and held at its present level. The orange stain seen around the bath indicates the baths former water level.

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Images care of http://www.historvius.com/roman-baths-bath-330/ and information boards at the Roman Baths in Bath 

WHO WAS JULIUS CAESAR?




Gaius Julius Caesar July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. He also greatly extended the Roman empire before seizing power and making himself dictator of Rome, paving the way for the imperial system.

Julius Caesar was born in Rome on 12 or 13 July 100 BC into the prestigious Julian clan. His family were closely connected with the Marian faction in Roman politics. Caesar himself progressed within the Roman political system, becoming in succession quaestor (69 BC), aedile (65 BC) and praetor (62 BC). In 61-60 BC he served as governor of the Roman province of Spain.

Back in Rome in 60 BC, Caesar made a pact with Pompey and Crassus, who helped him to get elected as consul for 59 BC. The following year he was appointed governor of Roman Gaul where he stayed for eight years, adding the whole of modern France and Belgium to the Roman empire, and making Rome safe from the possibility of Gallic invasions. He made two expeditions to Britain, in 55 BC and 54 BC.

Julius Caesar, in his famous account of the Gallic Wars of the 50s BC, provided readers at home with a blood-curdling description of the Germanic tribes he encountered in battle:

'...The various tribes regard it as their greatest glory to lay waste as much as possible of the land around them and to keep it uninhabited. They hold it a proof of a people's valour to drive their neighbours from their homes, so that no-one dare settle near them. No discredit attaches to plundering raids outside tribal frontiers. The Germans say that they serve to keep young men in training and prevent them from getting lazy...'

Caesar then returned to Italy, disregarding the authority of the senate and famously crossing the Rubicon river without disbanding his army. In the ensuing civil war Caesar defeated the republican forces. Pompey fled to the Egyptian capital Alexandria, where he was murdered on the orders of Ptolemy. Caesar followed and he and Cleopatra became lovers. Cleopatra, who had been exiled by her brother, was reinstalled as queen with Roman military support. Ptolemy was killed in the fighting and another brother was created Ptolemy XIII. In 47 BC, Cleopatra bore Caesar a child - Caesarion - though Caesar never publicly acknowledged him as his son. Cleopatra followed Caesar back to Rome where he made himself consul and dictator and therefore master of Rome.

He used his power to carry out much-needed reform, relieving debt, enlarging the senate, building the Forum Iulium and revising the calendar. Dictatorship was always regarded a temporary position but in 44 BC, Caesar took it for life. His success and ambition alienated strongly republican senators. A group of these, led by Cassius and Brutus, assassinated Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC. This sparked the final round of civil wars that ended the Republic and brought about the elevation of Caesar's great nephew and designated heir, Octavian, as Augustus, the first emperor.

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Images care of http://juliuscaesarsjohnson1.blogspot.co.uk/ and http://www.cosmiq.de/qa/show/450507/warum-waren-caesars-letzte-worte-auch-du-brutus-der-legende-nach-in-griechisch-und-nicht-latein/ and http://thedorkfishexpress.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/all-roads-lead-to-chicago.html

GIRAFFE FACTS




The giraffe is one of the iconic and spectacular land mammals of the African plains, but how much do we know about them? To find out more, try digesting my overly-long list of giraffe facts:

1. The giraffe is the tallest living terrestrial animal and the worlds largest ruminant. Fully grown giraffes stand 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall, with males taller than females. The average weight is 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) for an adult male and 830 kg (1,800 lb) for an adult female

2. The giraffes specific name - Giraffa camelopardalis refers to its camel-like face and the patches of color on its fur, which bear a vague resemblance to a leopard's spots.

3. The giraffe is noted for its extremely long neck and legs, as well as its horn-like ossicones.

4. The giraffes closest living relative is the okapi.

5. There are nine subspecies of giraffe which are distinguished by their coat patterns.

6. The giraffe's scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands.

7. The primary food source for giraffes are acacia leaves, which they can browse at heights that most other herbivores cannot reach.

8. Giraffes are preyed on by lions, and calves are also targeted by leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs.

9. Adult giraffes do not have strong social bonds, though they do gather in loose aggregations if they happen to be moving in the same general direction.

10. Males establish social hierarchies through "necking", which are combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, who bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.

11. The gifaffe family was once much more extensive, with over 10 fossil genera described. Giraffids first arose 8 million years ago (mya) in south-central Europe during the Miocene epoch.

12. The giraffe was one of the many species first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. He gave it the binomial name Cervus camelopardalis. Morten Thrane BrĂ¼nnich classified the genus Giraffa in 1772.

13. Giraffe subspecies are distinguished by their coat patterns.

14. Despite its long neck and legs, the giraffe's body is relatively short. Located at both sides of the head, the giraffe's large, bulging eyes give it good all-round vision from its great height.

15. Giraffes see in colour and their senses of hearing and smell are also sharp.

16. Giraffes can close its muscular nostrils to protect against sandstorms and ants.

17. The giraffe's prehensile tongue is about 50 cm (20 in) long. It is purplish-black in colour, perhaps to protect against sunburn, and is useful for grasping foliage as well as for grooming and cleaning the animal's nose.

18. The upper lip of the giraffe is also prehensile and useful when foraging. The lips, tongue and inside of the mouth are covered in papillae to protect against thorns.

19. The coat has dark blotches or patches (which can be orange, chestnut, brown or nearly black on colour) separated by light hair (usually white or cream in colour). Each individual giraffe has a unique coat pattern. The coat pattern serves as camouflage, allowing it to blend in the light and shade patterns of savannah woodlands. The skin underneath the dark areas may serve as windows for thermoregulation, being sites for complex blood vessel systems and large sweat glands.

20. The skin of a giraffe is mostly gray. It is also thick and allows them to run through thorn bush without being punctured. Their fur may serve as a chemical defence, as it is full of parasite repellents that give the animal a characteristic scent. There are at least eleven main aromatic chemicals in the fur, although indole and 3-methylindole are responsible for most of the smell. Because the males have a stronger odour than the females, it is suspected that it also has a sexual function.

21. Along the animal's neck is a mane made of short, erect hairs.

22. The giraffes 1 m (3.3 ft) tail ends in a long, dark tuft of hair and is used as a defense against insects.

23. A giraffe's skull is lightened by multiple sinuses. However, as male giraffes age, their skulls become heavier and more club-like, helping them become more dominant in combat.

24. The front legs of a giraffe are slightly longer than its hind legs.

25. A giraffe has only two gaits: walking and galloping. Walking is done by moving the legs on one side of the body at the same time, then doing the same on the other side. When galloping, the hind legs move around the front legs before the latter move forward, and the tail will curl up. The animal relies on the forward and backward motions of its head and neck to maintain balance and the counter momentum while galloping.

26. The giraffe can reach a sprint speed of up to 60 km/h (37 mph), and can sustain 50 km/h (31 mph) for several kilometres.

27. A giraffe rests by lying with its body on top of its folded legs. In order to lie down, the animal kneels on its front legs and then lowers the rest of its body. To get back up, it first gets on its knees and spreads its hind legs to raise its hindquarters. It then straightens its front legs.

28. The giraffe sleeps intermittently around 4.6 hours per day, mostly at night. It usually sleeps lying down, however, standing sleeps have been recorded, particularly in older individuals. Intermittent short "deep sleep" phases while lying are characterized by the giraffe bending its neck backwards and resting its head on the hip or thigh, a position believed to indicate paradoxical sleep.

29. If the giraffe wants to bend down to drink, it either spreads its front legs or bends its knees.

30. Giraffes would probably not be competent swimmers as their long legs would be highly cumbersome in the water, although they could possibly float. When swimming, the thorax would be weighed down by the front legs, making it difficult for the animal to move its neck and legs in harmony or keep its head above the surface.

31. The circulatory system of the giraffe has several adaptations for its great height. Its heart, which can weigh more than 25 lb (11 kg) and measures about 2 ft (61 cm) long, must generate approximately double the blood pressure required for a human to maintain blood flow to the brain.

32. Giraffes have usually high heart rates for their size, at 150 beats per minute.

33. Giraffes have oesophageal muscles that are unusually strong to allow regurgitation of food from the stomach up the neck and into the mouth for rumination. They have four chambered stomachs, as in all ruminants, and the first chamber has adapted to their specialized diet.

34. Female giraffes give birth standing up. Their young endure a rather rude welcome into the world by falling more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the ground at birth. These infants can stand in half an hour and run with their mothers an incredible ten hours after birth.

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Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giraffe
Images care of http://my.opera.com/ausblonde/albums/showpic.dml?album=11107762&picture=153284722 and http://thompsontravel.smugmug.com/keyword/tanzania/1/800364374_aeKYN#!i=800364374&k=aeKYN and http://www.mysweeetworld.com/2011/01/did-you-know_17.html and http://davids-pics.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/giraffe-neck-hairs-close-up.html and http://animals-ofworld.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/giraffe-rarely-sleep.html

WHY DO GIRAFFES HAVE LONG NECKS?




Not only are giraffes the tallest land animal on earth, they also possess the longest neck of any living creature. So long is the giraffes neck that if it want to take a drink it can't simply lower its head, it has to give itself a fighting chance by either spreading its front legs, bend its knees, or kneel on the ground - a risky move by a water hole no matter how big you are!

There are two main hypotheses regarding the evolutionary origin and maintenance of elongation in giraffe necks. The 'competing browsers hypothesis' was originally suggested by Charles Darwin and only challenged recently.

It suggests that competitive pressure from smaller browsers, such as kudu, steenbok and impala, encouraged the elongation of the neck, as it enabled giraffes to reach food that competitors could not.

This advantage is real, as giraffes can and do feed up to 4.5 m (15 ft) high, while even quite large competitors, such as kudu, can only feed up to about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high.

There is also research suggesting that browsing competition is intense at lower levels, and giraffes feed more efficiently (gaining more leaf biomass with each mouthful) high in the canopy.

However, scientists disagree about just how much time giraffes spend feeding at levels beyond the reach of other browsers.

The other main theory, the sexual selection hypothesis, proposes that the long necks evolved as a secondary sexual characteristic, giving males an advantage in "necking" contests -see above film clip - to establish dominance and obtain access to sexually receptive females.

 In support of this theory, necks are longer and heavier for males than females of the same age, and the former do not employ other forms of combat.

However, one objection is that it fails to explain why female giraffes also have long necks. However, this ridiculous objection is as intelligent as questioning the need for the male nipple. If human males did not have the genetic information for nipples then Mendelian theory would dictate that you would have a selection of human offspring displaying one nipple, two nipples, or no nipples at all!

Therefore, if female giraffes had short necks then you would end up with progeny with a selection of neck sizes. This is isn't going to be very helpful when it come to impressing your future giraffe 'wife' in the next neck bashing competition!

The circulatory system of the giraffe has several adaptations for its great height. Its heart, which can weigh more than 25 lb (11 kg) and measures about 2 ft (61 cm) long, must generate approximately double the blood pressure required for a human to maintain blood flow to the brain.

In order to cope with pumping blood up to such a great height, giraffes have usually high heart rates for their size, at 150 beats per minute.

Giraffes have oesophageal muscles that are unusually strong to allow regurgitation of food from the stomach up the neck and into the mouth for rumination.

 They have four chambered stomachs, as in all ruminants, and the first chamber has adapted to their specialized diet.


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Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giraffe
Images care of http://www.timelessafrica.com/index.php?L1=destinations&L2=botswana&L3=linyanti and http://rankabut.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/design-in-nature-8.html