Articles by Dattatreya Mandal

citytree-urban-purifies-air-forest_7

CityTree: An urban ‘organism’ that purifies as much air as a small forest

According to a startling statistical figure from WHO, in 2012, some 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths - resulting from various types of exposure to air pollution. Considering the sheer scale of this global health predicament, solutions are more than welcome - and one of the latter potentially comes…



world-map-ranks-countries-toxicity-level_1

Innovative new world map ranks the countries according to toxicity level

Like cancer eating at healthy cells, pollution is slowly engulfing the entire world, turning it toxic for humans and animals alike. An innovative new map, developed by the folks at The Eco Experts, showcases the toxicity level of each country. In addition to air pollution, the map takes into consideration carbon emissions, power consumption as…


world-oldest-known-fossils-discovered_1

World’s oldest known fossils possibly discovered – and they are 3.7 billion years old

A team of Australian researchers from the University of Wollongong have possibly identified 3.7-billion-year old stromatolite fossils in Greenland, and they might pertain to the earliest signs of life on Earth. Found along sedimentary rocks in the Isua Greenstone Belt (along Greenland's icecap), these stromatolite fossils predate the previously oldest known stromatolite fossils (originally found…


Maya Royal Tomb Found In Belize Points To Little-Known 'Snake Dynasty'-1

Maya royal tomb discovered in Belize points to little-known ‘snake dynasty’

Archaeologists have recently discovered what seems to be one of the largest royal Maya tombs found so far. Unearthed in Belize, the ancient tomb housed animal bone fragments, several pieces of obsidian as well as a male skeleton. According to the researchers, hieroglyphs along the walls of the royal tomb could help uncover valuable information…


Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-1

Architects to build modular house by stacking structures like Tetris blocks

We've all heard of modular kitchens, furniture and even pop-up tents that can be zipped up into larger spaces. As  part of their latest project, the team at Netherlands-based Universe Architecture has brought the convenience of modular designs to the time-consuming process of home construction. The Tretris House, as its name suggests, is an incredibly…


TimSamuelInstagram_1024

Amazing photo shows fish trapped inside a jellyfish

A fascinating natural phenomenon that has not yet been fully understood by scientists has been captured on camera for the first time last year. Taken somewhere off the coast of Australia's Byron Bay, the amazing photograph shows an entire fish trapped inside a jellyfish. (more…)


Stunning Geodesic Planters Levitate To Create Amazing Air Gardens-1

LYFE: Stunning geodesic planters that levitate to create amazing air gardens

Instead of relying on soil like normal greenery, Tillandsia, also called air plants, are known to absorb nutrients from air through their leaves, rendering their roots useless. A team of Swedish designers have come up with a new and innovative vessel for these unusual plants. Known as LYFE, the levitating vessels keep the plants floating…


Majesty_Ancient_Babylon_Superb_3D_Animations_1

Brilliant 3D animations show the sheer majesty of ancient Babylon

When it comes to the historically rich region of Mesopotamia, Babylon is arguably the most renowned of all cities. An ancient settlement that harks back to the dominions of Sargon of Akkad (circa 24th century BC), Babylon possibly started out as a small town in the backdrop of mighty cities like Ur, Uruk and Nippur.…



ps_menu_class_0
ps_menu_class_1
ps_menu_class_2
ps_menu_class_3
ps_menu_class_4
ps_menu_class_5
ps_menu_class_6

CityTree: An urban ‘organism’ that purifies as much air as a small forest

citytree-urban-purifies-air-forest_7

According to a startling statistical figure from WHO, in 2012, some 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – resulting from various types of exposure to air pollution. Considering the sheer scale of this global health predicament, solutions are more than welcome – and one of the latter potentially comes forth in the form of the aptly named CityTree. Contrived by Green City Solutions, the engineered ‘organism’ in question is touted to have the air-purifying capacity of 275 actual trees.

(more…)

Japanese scientists gearing up to be the first to drill into the Earth’s untouched mantle

Japanese Scientists Gearing Up To Be The First To Drill Into The Earth's Mantle-4

Despite momentous advances in science and technology in the last several decades, less than 0.4-percent of Earth’s total mass has been explored so far. All that is about to change, thanks to an international team of scientists that will attempt to drill into our planet’s mantle in the hopes of discovering important information about its composition as well as formation. The findings, the researchers believe, could also pave the way for more efficient techniques to predict and prevent earthquakes. (more…)

Innovative new world map ranks the countries according to toxicity level

world-map-ranks-countries-toxicity-level_1

Like cancer eating at healthy cells, pollution is slowly engulfing the entire world, turning it toxic for humans and animals alike. An innovative new map, developed by the folks at The Eco Experts, showcases the toxicity level of each country. In addition to air pollution, the map takes into consideration carbon emissions, power consumption as well as renewable energy production of 135 nations across the globe.

(more…)

World’s oldest known fossils possibly discovered – and they are 3.7 billion years old

world-oldest-known-fossils-discovered_1

A team of Australian researchers from the University of Wollongong have possibly identified 3.7-billion-year old stromatolite fossils in Greenland, and they might pertain to the earliest signs of life on Earth. Found along sedimentary rocks in the Isua Greenstone Belt (along Greenland’s icecap), these stromatolite fossils predate the previously oldest known stromatolite fossils (originally found in Western Australia) by a significant 220 million years. In other words, the potential discovery could push back the fossil record, and thus the emergence of life on Earth, near the start of our planet’s own geological record.

(more…)

Maya royal tomb discovered in Belize points to little-known ‘snake dynasty’

Archaeologists have recently discovered what seems to be one of the largest royal Maya tombs found so far. Unearthed in Belize, the ancient tomb housed animal bone fragments, several pieces of obsidian as well as a male skeleton. According to the researchers, hieroglyphs along the walls of the royal tomb could help uncover valuable information about the history of the so-called ‘snake dynasty’.

Located below the stairway of a temple, the ancient tomb was found in the archaeological site of Xunantunich, a region in the western part of Belize that once served as a major ceremonial center of the Maya civilization. Speaking about the incredible discovery, Jaime Awe, a researcher from the Northern Arizona University and the team’s leader, said:

In other words, it appears that the temple was purposely erected for the primary purpose of enclosing the tomb. Except for a very few rare cases, this is not very typical in ancient Maya architecture.

Maya Royal Tomb Found In Belize Points To Little-Known 'Snake Dynasty'-3

Analysis of the site has revealed that the tomb was originally constructed for a young muscular man, aged somewhere between 20 to 30 years. Based on their observations, the archaeologists point out that the corpse might have belonged to a person of some importance. In addition to the skeleton, the team uncovered bone fragments of different animals, including a deer and a jaguar.

Among the artifacts found at the site were jade beads that were likely once part of a necklace, as many as 13 blades fashioned from obsidian and 36 ceramic vessels. Towards one corner of the royal tomb, the researchers also came across two “offering caches”, comprising 28 figurines made of flint as well as 9 obsidian knives.

The figurines, according to the team, contained a variety of symbols including animal figures. Measuring over 4.5 meter (around 14.7 feet) in length and 2.4 meters (approx. 7.9 feet) in breadth, the newly-found tomb is believed to be one of the biggest Maya royal tombs ever discovered.  Awe added:

What’s amazing about the discovery of this tomb is that we know that archaeologists have been working at Xunantunich since the 1890s. That’s more than a century of continuous archaeological work at the site. And, never before have we found a tomb. Well, this tomb is also remarkable in other ways, it is one of the largest burial chambers we have ever found.

While not much is currently known about the buried person, the archaeologists believe that the hieroglyphic panels inscribed along the royal tomb’s walls could provide valuable insights regarding the historical period. The hieroglyphs, for instance, appear to be related to the Maya ‘snake dynasty’, which reigned nearly 1,300 years ago.

Maya Royal Tomb Found In Belize Points To Little-Known 'Snake Dynasty'-2

As explained by the researchers, the family was called so because of the snake-head emblem that they used as their symbol.  According to Christophe Helmke, an epigrapher from the University of Copenhagen, the hieroglyphic panels quite possibly talk of Lord K’an II, who ruled the ancient city of Caracol situated about 41 km (or 26 mi) from the tomb. However, it is also possible that the inscriptions deal with Waxaklajuun Ubaah K’an, another ruler of the snake dynasty who was alive during 635 AD.

A third possibility could be that there were two princes, both brothers, who were fighting for the throne. Talking about the find, which was recently published in the Journal of Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, Helmke went on to say:

This means that there were two contenders to the throne, both carrying the same dynastic title, which appears to have been read Kanu’l Ajaw, ‘King of the place where snakes abound.

Via: The Guardian

Architects to build modular house by stacking structures like Tetris blocks

We’ve all heard of modular kitchens, furniture and even pop-up tents that can be zipped up into larger spaces. As  part of their latest project, the team at Netherlands-based Universe Architecture has brought the convenience of modular designs to the time-consuming process of home construction. The Tretris House, as its name suggests, is an incredibly innovative dwelling, built by stacking multiple housing units like Tretris blocks.

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-2

According to architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars, the ingenious project provides flexibility to developers, allowing them to easily modify a building’s configuration by adding extra housing blocks and other elements, including shutters and balconies. Each of these modular structures features a strengthened steel frame, with stunning Meccano-like facade giving residents the option of seamlessly expanding their living spaces.

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-4

What’s more, enormous floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors offer spectacular 360-degree-view of the surrounding area, while also ensuring the optimal availability of natural lighting. As pointed out by the team, the brilliant design can be licensed to individual developers looking to construct dwellings similar to the Tetris-shaped home.

The team at Universe Architecture is currently working alongside Dutch interior design firm i29 to erect the first Tetris House in Netherlands. If everything goes according to  plan, the modular home concept will soon make its way to different countries across the globe.

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-3

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-5

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-6

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-7Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-8

Architects Build Modular House By Stacking Structures Like Tetris Blocks-9

To know more about the Tetris House, head over to the project’s official website.

Source: Universe Architecture 

LYFE: Stunning geodesic planters that levitate to create amazing air gardens

Instead of relying on soil like normal greenery, Tillandsia, also called air plants, are known to absorb nutrients from air through their leaves, rendering their roots useless. A team of Swedish designers have come up with a new and innovative vessel for these unusual plants. Known as LYFE, the levitating vessels keep the plants floating around in the air, against gravity.

Stunning Geodesic Planters Levitate To Create Amazing Air Gardens-2

The system, according to the developers, comprises of two parts: a six-by-six-inch base built using reclaimed wood, and a stunning 12-sided geodesic container that is made entirely out of silicone. The container, as the team points out, is equipped with an inner reservoir for drainage. Powerful magnets are present in both the parts, which repel each other to generate the spectacular levitating effect.

Stunning Geodesic Planters Levitate To Create Amazing Air Gardens-9

Allowing the owner to grow a levitating air garden, the LYFE system uses advanced Maglev technology to keep the suspended container rotating in the air. This, the developers believe, ensures that all the parts of the plant receive sufficient sunlight. This is especially necessary in Swedish climate, where sunlight is rarely available in the winters.

Stunning Geodesic Planters Levitate To Create Amazing Air Gardens-8

Stunning Geodesic Planters Levitate To Create Amazing Air Gardens-6

Stunning Geodesic Planters Levitate To Create Amazing Air Gardens-4

The product is currently undergoing a crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter, where it has already crossed $80,000. To know more , click here.

Brilliant 3D animations show the sheer majesty of ancient Babylon

When it comes to the historically rich region of Mesopotamia, Babylon is arguably the most renowned of all cities. An ancient settlement that harks back to the dominions of Sargon of Akkad (circa 24th century BC), Babylon possibly started out as a small town in the backdrop of mighty cities like Ur, Uruk and Nippur. However by the time of the ascension of Hammurabi the Great (the sixth king of the Amorite dynasty) in 1792 BC, Babylon became the major capital of the city-state of ‘Babylonia’, known as Mât Akkadî or ‘the country of Akkad’ in contemporary Akkadian. The very term ‘Babylon’ is of Greek origin and it is possibly a rough translation of Babillu – which in Semitic pertains to the conjunction of two words Bâb (gate) and ili (gods), thus suggesting the location of Babylon as the ‘gate of the Gods’.

As for Hammurabi, while the ruler is known for his famous law-code in our present-times, the king in his contemporary prime was renowned as an exalted conqueror whose empire stretched across the entire region of Mesopotamia. That was a seriously impressive feat considering his initial city-state around Babylon was only around 50 sq km. Consequently, the expansion of the realm heralded the grandeur of Babylon, a city paradoxically admired and despised by different sets of people and cultures.

An overview of the scale of Babylon. Copyright: Reza Tayebi.

An overview of the scale of Babylon. Copyright: Reza Tayebi.

Now from the perspective of history it should be noted that Babylonia as an empire was soon eclipsed after the death of Hammurabi, with the empire being consequently annexed by the Hittites (who even sacked the city of Babylon in 1595 BC) and then Kassites. Finally the war-hardened Assyrians came to the fore and claimed the city by early 8th century BC. All of these conquests targeted towards the city do however prove the importance of Babylon to the proximate invaders of the region, a pattern aptly demonstrated by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal of Nineveh, who besieged and took the settlement (after a rebellion) and yet left it unharmed. The king even took the trouble to personally ‘purify’ Babylon from the evil spirits, thus justifying the royal city’s status as a place of culture and learning. Subsequently many Assyrian rulers treated Babylon as a ‘cultural’ capital, and advocated their inclination towards Babylonian civilization, institutions, and science. That was until king Sennacherib unceremoniously sacked the city in 689 BC, an act that was criticized by many contemporary people, including nobles of his own court.

But like a phoenix rising from its ashes, it was a native soldier named Nabopolassar who was destined to expel his Assyrian overlords and restore the glory of the royal city of Babylon in 626 BC. Thus the Neo-Babylonian empire was founded, and the city reached its architectural peak under Nabopolassar’s son – Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned from 605-562 BC. Forever attracting the ire of Biblical writers for his alleged role in destroying Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (see the 3D reconstruction here), Nebuchadnezzar was also responsible (quite antithetically) for undertaking and renovating massive infrastructural and monumental projects inside the city of Babylon. The capital by then covered 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of land and boasted some the most imposing and majestic structures in all of Mesopotamia.

The view from behind Etemenanki, across the cityscape.

The view from behind Etemenanki, across the cityscape.

The architectural list included the completion of the royal palace (supposedly inlaid with ‘bronze, gold, silver, rare and precious stones’), an entire stone bridge that connected the two major parts of the city over Euphrates, the famed blue Ištar Gate, and the possible restoration of Etemenanki – a towering ziggurat dedicated to the Babylonian god Marduk (that has often been likened to the Biblical Tower of Babel). In fact, the fully refurbished Etemenanki would have been one of the tallest man-made structures from the ancient times, with its imposing height reaching around 298 ft or 91 m. Intriguing enough, a few ancient authors had also ascribed the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, to Nebuchadnezzar. However recent studies have revealed how this landscaped masterpiece was perhaps located in the city of Nineveh or just a figment of imaginative writing.

The video below presumably showcases the royal city of Babylon in its architectural peak during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar circa 6th century BC. And while the animation does flaunt a bevy of gorgeous 3D rendering techniques, it SHOULD BE NOTED that the creators have taken some artistic license to demonstrate the grandeur of Babylon. Few of these ‘anachronistic’ examples would relate to the dressing style of the inhabitants (which seems more akin to later Arab styles) and the portraiture of Achaemenid Persian motifs on some walls.

This fascinating animation (below) with some authentic depictions was made for the Mesopotamia exhibition of the Royal Ontario Museum, by the folks over at kadingirra.com


The article was originally published in our sister site RealmofHistory.

Top-down plans of the fictional residences showcased in 15 famous TV shows and movies

Top_Plans_Fictional_Residences_Famous_TV_Shows_6

The ‘Ted Mosby’ inside some of us has probably wondered about the architectural plan of our favorite TV character’s apartment (or if at all do they follow any plan). And while some like Seinfield’s New York apartment actually conforms to a simplistic overview, the complexity increases when it comes to some shows – unsurprisingly like that of Fraser. And oddly enough, most of these plans actually make sense, thus providing that practical spatial value that rather complements the movement of the characters and the progression of the shows (and movies). So without further ado let us take a gander at the overview architectural plans of famous fictional residences showcased in 15 famous TV shows and movies.

(more…)