Millennium Falcon Found?

Sceptics expected that a deep-water dive would debunk the slew of extra-terrestrial theories surrounding an unidentified object sitting at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

But the Swedish expedition team that took the plunge surfaced with more questions than answers and certainly no solution to its origins.

The divers found that the object, which some have likened to the Millennium Falcon because of its unusual round outline, was raised about 10 to 13ft above the seabed and curved in at the sides, giving it a mushroom shape.

They added that the object has ’rounded sides and rugged edges’

‘First we thought this was only stone, but this is something else,’ diver Peter Lindberg said in a press release.

At the center of the object, which has a 60-meter (197 feet) diameter, it has an “egg shaped hole leading into it from the top”.

Surrounding the hole, they found a strange, unexplained rock formation. Adding fuel to the speculative fire, they said that the rocks looked “like small fireplaces” and the “stones were covered in something resembling soot”.

“Since no volcanic activity has ever been reported in the Baltic Sea the find becomes even stranger”, Mr Lindberg continued.

“As laymen we can only speculate how this is made by nature, but this is the strangest thing I have ever experienced as a professional diver.”

The soot also proved cause for concern for Mr Lindberg’s colleague on the Ocean X explorer team, Stefan Hogeborn.

“During my 20-year diving career, including 6,000 dives, I have never seen anything like this. Normally stones don’t burn”, Mr Hogeborn said in the release.

“I can’t explain what we saw, and I went down there to answer questions, but I came up with even more.”

Another find that they saw in person for the first time was the 985-foot trail that they described “as a runway or a downhill path that is flattened at the seabed with the object at the end of it”.

The object was first found in June last year, but because of a lack of funding and bad timing, they have were not able to pull a team together to see for themselves – just the strange, metallic outline, and a similar disk-shaped object about 650 feet away.

As it was before the recent dive, the story behind the object is anyone’s guess.

“We’ve heard lots of different kinds of explanations, from George Lucas’s spaceship – the Millennium Falcon – to ‘it’s some kind of plug to the inner world,’ like it should be hell down there or something”, Mr Lindberg said.

Speaking to Fox News, he said: “We don’t know whether it is a natural phenomenon, or an object. We saw it on sonar when we were searching for a wreck from World War I. This circular object just turned up on the monitor.”

While the Ocean Explorer team is understandably excited about their potentially earth-shattering find, others are slightly more sceptical and are questioning the accuracy of the sonar technology.

In the past, such technology has confused foreign objects with unusual- but natural- rock formations.

Part of the trouble they face, however, is that they have no way of telling what is inside the supposed cylinder- whether it is filled with gold and riches or simply aged sediment particles.

They’re hoping for the former, and history seems to be in their favor.

The Baltic Sea is a treasure trove for shipwreck hunters, as an estimated 100,000 objects are thought to line the cold sea’s floor.

The company have created a submarine that they hope will appeal to tourists and wannabe shipwreck hunters who will pay to take a trip down to the bottom of the Baltic Sea to see for themselves.

Attribution: Mail Online

Simply Incredible

These are the breathtaking underwater pictures captured by marine life photographer David Doubilet on the wildest parts of the planet.

The vibrant photographs range from cute Australian sea lions peering inquisitively into the lens to a terrifying Great White Shark opening its jaws in South Africa.

Attribution: Mail Online

Simply Breathtaking

These incredible pictures capture the stunning moment waves roll on to a tropical beach.

The breath-taking images show the split-second in which each one breaks and crashes on to the sand, and are the work of two photographers who wish to remind people just how beautiful Mother Nature can be.

Photographers Nick Selway, 28, and CJ Kale, 35, position themselves in the clear Hawaiian surf and wait for the waves to roll over them.

Their only equipment are standard cameras – but a waterproof case means they do not need to sacrifice their cameras for their art.

Enjoy!

Attribution: Mail Online

Full Body Exposure

The enduring image in the public’s mind of the mysterious heads on Easter Island is simply that – heads.

So it comes as quite a shock to see the heads from another angle – and discover that they have full bodies, extending down many, many feet into the ground of the island.

The Easter Island Statue Project (EISP) has been carefully excavating two of 1,000-plus statues on the islands – doing their best to uncover the secrets of the mysterious stones, and the people who built them.

Project director Jo Anne Van Tilburg said: “Our EISP excavations recently exposed the torsos of two 7meter (23 feet) tall statues.”

“Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors to the island have been astonished to see that, indeed, Easter Island statues have bodies!”

“More important, however, we discovered a great deal about the Rapa Nui techniques of ancient engineering.”

Among their discoveries, the team have discovered:

  • The dirt and detritus partially burying the statues was washed down from above and not deliberately placed there to bury, protect, or support the statues
  • The statues were erected in place and stand on stone pavements
  • Post holes were cut into bedrock to support upright tree trunks
  • Rope guides were cut into bedrock around the post holes
  • Posts, ropes, stones, and different types of stone tools were all used to carve and raise the statues upright

The remote island – one of the remotest in the world, tucked away in the South Pacific Ocean – was once home to a Polynesian population, whose history remains mysterious.

They likely sailed to the islands in canoes – a 1,500-mile journey over the open waters, and then, once they landed, they began relentessly carving the stone statues.

This led to their own downfall: By the time Europeans discovered the island in the 1700s, the population had decimated nearly all the trees in the island to help with the statue construction, and the effect on the island’s ecology led to their decline.

The team also discovered that ceremonies were certainly associated with the statues.

On the project website, Van Tilburg said: “We found large quantities of red pigment, some of which may have been used to paint the statues.”

“Finally, and perhaps most poignantly, we found in the pavement under one statue a single stone carved with a crescent symbol said to represent a canoe, or vaka.”

“The backs of both statues are covered with petroglyphs, many of which are also vaka. A direct connection between the vaka symbol and the identity of the artist or group owning the statue is strongly suggested.”
Attribution: Mail Online

Miracle Find

He was hundreds of miles from civilization, lost in the burning heat of the desert.

Second World War Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping took what little he could from the RAF Kittyhawk he had just crash-landed, then wandered into the emptiness.

From that day in June 1942 the mystery of what happened to the dentist’s son from Southend was lost, in every sense, in the sands of time.

But 70 years later, the ghostly remains of his battered but almost perfectly preserved plane has been discovered.

Like a time capsule that could provide the key to his disappearance, it has laid intact alongside a makeshift shelter Dennis appears to have made as he waited, hopelessly, for rescue.

Now a search is to begin for the airman’s remains – as aviation experts and historians begin an operation to recover and display the P-40 aircraft in his memory.

The chance find was made by an oil worker exploring a remote region of the Western Desert in Egypt. It is more than 200 miles from the nearest town in a vast expanse of largely featureless terrain.

Flight Sergeant Copping, part of a fighter unit based in Egypt during the North Africa campaign against Rommel, is believed to have lost his bearings while flying the damaged Kittyhawk to another airbase for repair. All that is known is that he went off course and was never seen again.

Remarkably, the plane remained almost untouched for the next seven decades – right down to the guns and ammunition found with it. Most of the cockpit instruments are intact, and the twisted propeller lies a few feet from the fuselage.

Crucially, the P-40’s identification plates are untouched – allowing researchers to track its provenance and service history.

There is flak damage in the fuselage, which is consistent with documents on the aircraft. Historian Andy Saunders said: ‘It is a quite incredible time capsule. It’s the aviation equivalent of Tutankhamun’s tomb. This plane has been lying in the same spot where it crashed 70 years ago. It hasn’t been hidden in the sand, it has just sat there.’

‘He must have survived the crash because one photo shows a parachute around the frame of the plane and my guess is the poor bloke used it to shelter from the sun. The radio and batteries were out of the plane and it looks like he tried to get it working.’

‘If he died at the side of the plane his remains would have been found. Once he had crashed there, nobody was going to come and get him. It is more likely he tried to walk out of the desert but ended up walking to his death. It is too hideous to contemplate.’

The RAF Museum in Hendon, North London, has been made aware of the find and plans are already under way to recover it before anyone tries to strip it for scrap or souvenirs. Efforts have also been made to trace any immediate members of Flight Sergeant Copping’s family in the UK, but it is believed that there are none.

Captain Paul Collins, British defense attaché to Egypt, confirmed a search would be mounted for the airman’s remains but admitted it was ‘extremely unlikely’ it would be successful. The spot could be marked as a war grave after the aircraft is recovered.

Captain Collins added: ‘The scene is close to a smuggling line from Sudan and Libya.

‘We will need to go there with the Egyptian army because it is a dangerous area.’

Ian Thirsk, of the RAF Museum, confirmed staff are working with the MoD to recover the plane.

The P-40 was a US-made fighter and ground attack aircraft. It was outclassed by later German fighters and saw little combat in Europe but performed a key role in North Africa and Asia where high-altitude performance was less critical. Around 20 are still airworthy.

Attribution: Mail Online

The Groundscraper

For most hotels the key selling point is a room with a view, particularly if it towers over a bustling cityscape or sprawling countryside.

But designers behind this new luxury resort have gone in the completely opposite direction to attract customers – by creating a ‘groundscraper’ hotel built 16 floors beneath the earth’s surface.

The hugely ambitious underground hotel project will see a 19-storey, 380-room structure chiselled out of a giant quarry in Songjiang, near Shanghai.

Designers have set aside a site about 30 miles from the city of Shanghai, in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Tianmashan Mountain.

While towering skyscrapers boast of rooftop restaurants and penthouse luxury, the InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland’s bottom two floors will include an underwater restaurant, athletic complex for water sports and 10-meter deep aquarium.

Surrounding the unique hotel will be a 428,000 square-meter theme park, complete with room for bungee jumping and rock climbing overlooking the descending 16 floors.

Project developers Shimao Property Group worked with British engineering firm Atkins to design the imaginative hotel, which they hope to complete in late 2014 or early 2015.

It is thought the vast project will cost at least $555 million, with nightly rooms starting at around $320.

Attribution: Mail Online

Battleship Island

Deserted, decaying and crumbling into the sea. Visitors to this abandoned settlement could be forgiven for thinking they had entered a long-forgotten war zone.

However, this is Gunkanjima – Japan’s rotting metropolis. And it has been described as the most desolate place on Earth.

Gunkanjima is a deserted island of concrete that is slowly crumbling away on Japan’s west coast.

Meaning ‘Battleship Island’ in English, Gunkanjima’s real name is Hashima and it is one of 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture (territory), about 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) from Nagasaki itself. It earned its nickname due to its resemblance to the military warship.

Despite being off-limits to travellers, the island has become an irresistible magnet for urban explorers who go to extraordinary lengths to investigate and photograph the island’s abandoned buildings.

Gunkanjima was once just a small reef but, following the discovery of coal in 1810, was turned into mining facility during the industrialisation of Japan. It gave rise to its own population of workers and inhabitants who were all densely-packed into a self-contained metropolis.

The 15-acre island was populated between 1887 and 1974, reaching its peak in 1959 with 5,259 inhabitants. However, as petroleum replaced coal during the 1960s, Japan’s mines were hit by closures which eventually reached Gunkanjima.

Within a matter of days of the mines closing in 1974, the workers and their families deserted the island, leaving their possessions, which still lay where they were left.

After 35 years of closure, the landing ban was lifted on Gunkanjima in 2009, meaning it was no longer illegal for boats to dock at the island. However, it still remains illegal to venture inside the city’s walls, meaning urban explorers must go to great lengths to covertly trespass the island.

Attribution: Japan Guide, Daily Mail

I Can Fly

The nation’s first ever zip-line roller coaster, the Rattlesnake, sends dangling riders flying off a 65 foot tower over treetops on a 1,000 feet long rail of sharp curves and plunging dips.

The eco-tourism ride, which lasts for about a minute, is set on the 4,700-acre Forever Florida conservation area in Osceola County.

The attraction is part of a $1.5 million expansion at Florida EcoSafaris in St. Cloud and opened Friday.

‘It’s inspired by zip lining, but it’s gone way past that,’ Matt Duda, sales and marketing director at Florida EcoSafaris, which opened the state’s first zip line in 2009, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Unlike the traditional zip lines the Rattlesnake does not follow a straight course.

‘It’s the evolution of zip line toward high-volume, high-capacity thrill rides. This is one of many ways that zip rides are going — further, faster and articulated turns.’

 ‘That’s the amusement-park ride aspect of this.’ Michael Smith, adventure-course consultant and operator told the Sentinel.

The Rattlesnake is only the second of its kind in the world, the first is similar ride at a park in Tulum, Mexico.

Emily Kaufman, a California-based travel expert known as the Travel Mom, who previewed the ride last month gave it her approval

‘It married a couple of things that I really love: The-zip line experience – the fantasy of feeling like you’re really flying – and a roller coaster. It wasn’t too intense, but intense enough,’ she told the Sentinel.

Zip Lines which began as a form of transportation have become more and more popular in the country.

‘Every single day I’m learning about a new tour. We’re seeing a boom simply because the population is desperate for activities that evoke imagination and inspiration.’

‘And you pair that with the green movement that’s going on – the connecting with the natural world – you have a product that sells itself on so many levels.’ Mr Smith said, reports the Sentinel.

The park’s expansion also saw several other rides opening today, including the Panther Pounce, a 68-foot freefall from an observation tower; Swooping Crane, where guests drop themselves from a height of 55 feet, creating a giant, swinging motion; and Peregrine Plunge, side-by-side, 1,300-foot straight zip lines.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

A man went to the confessional. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”

“What is your sin, my son?” the priest asked.

“Well,” the man started, “I used some horrible language this week, and I feel absolutely terrible.”

“When did you use this awful language?” asked the priest.

“I was golfing and hit an incredible drive that looked like it was going to go over 250 yards, but it struck a power line that was hanging over the fairway and fell straight down to the ground after going only about a hundred yards.”

“Is that when you swore?”

“No, Father. After that, a squirrel ran out of the bushes and grabbed my ball in his mouth and began to run away.”

“Is that when you swore?”

“Well, no. You see, as the squirrel was running, an eagle came down out of the sky, grabbed the squirrel in his talons, and flew away!”

“Is that when you swore?” asked the amazed priest.

“No, not yet. As the eagle carried the squirrel away in his claws, it flew toward the green. And as it passed over a bit of forest near the green, the squirrel dropped my ball.”

“Did you swear then?”

“No, because as the ball felt it struck a tree, bounced through some bushes, careened off a big rock, and rolled through a sand trap onto the green and stopped within six inches of the hole.”

The priest signed, “You missed the putt, didn’t you?”

Joke of the Day

A cocky State Highway inspector stopped at a farm and talked with an old farmer. He told the farmer, “I need to inspect your farm for a possible new road.”

The old farmer said, “OK, but don’t go in that field.” The arrogant Highway employee said, “I have the authority of the State Government to go where I want. See this card? I am allowed to go wherever I wish.”

So the old farmer went about his farm chores.

Later, he heard loud screams and saw the State Highway employee running for the fence and close behind was the farmer’s prize bull. The bull was madder than a nest full of hornets and the was gaining on the employee at every step!!

The Inspector, running at break-neck speed, shouted to the farmer, “Help, what do I do?”.
The old farmer shouted back, “Show him your card!!”