Day: December 18, 2018

Alien Landscapes: Places on Earth You Should Totally See

Planet Earth has more than its share of magnificent spectacles, many of which tourists queue to see. Earthly wonders like the Niagara Falls and spectacular man-made miracles such as Egypt’s pyramids are fascinating for sure, but they keep our feet and imaginations planted firmly on the familiar ground. Postcards, textbooks, and holiday brochures make us feel we’ve seen these sights before even when we haven’t.

But we needn’t venture too far off the beaten track to encounter some truly alien landscapes right here on Earth. Our planet is home to bizarre and magical sights which would seem perfectly at home in a sci-fi movie or gothic fairy tale. Jagged mountain ranges shrouded in fog, gaping holes churning with molten lava — these are mysterious places that can stir your soul.

Marble Caves, Chile

via The Times

The hypnotic swirling patterns which adorn the walls of the Marble Caves have been formed over thousands of years as wind and water chiseled away at the rock face.

Known locally as ‘The Marble Cathedral’, its space has an ethereal quality caused by the plunging shards of rock, which looks like it’s been painted with a cosmic paintbrush. Experience the glorious cavern on a boat trip with winds beneath the voluptuous blue rock.

The Singing Sands of Liwa, UAE

via Expedia

As wind and heat combine, the desolate sand dunes of Liwa in the United Arab Emirates vibrate. And with their frantic movement, it creates a haunting song. The low-pitched wail seems to emanate from the entire desert.

To be surrounded by this choral hum is to be transported to another place and time. With the dunes undulating before you in shades of peach and gold, the roar of the sands is a rousing soundscape that will make the scorching desert impossible to forget.

Abraham Lake, Canada

via Feel The Planet

Nestled snugly in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Abraham Lake might look stunning, but it can be as dangerous as it is bewitching. With frozen bubbles suspended just below the water’s surface, the Lake appears like a scene from Alice in Wonderland.

The icy orbs, however, are actually pockets of trapped methane gas which is highly flammable. At a distance, these bubbles resemble frosty lily pads or jellyfish frozen in time beneath the lake’s glassy surface.

Tianzi Mountain, China

via World Atlas

These ragged peaks of rock are often wrapped in a dense grey fog, so the shards stick up like cacti on some faraway misty planet. Sedimentary rock was eroded over millions of years, leaving craggy formations of quartz sandstone towering in the gloom.

It created an alien landscape that was otherworldly enough to inspire the floating Hallelujah mountains on the planet ‘Pandora’ in James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, Avatar. The giant mountains reach a peak of more than 1,200 metres and are considered sacred by local communities.

The ‘Gates of Hell’, Turkmenistan

via The Times

The churning Darvaza gas crater, found in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, is a fiery field of natural gas. A Soviet drilling operation opened an underground cavern in the 1970s. It has been known locally as the ‘Gates of Hell’ ever since.

When the rig collapsed, engineers set fire to the gas lake. They hoped that it would burn off in a few months. Almost 50 years later and it’s still going strong. Filled with scalding gases and glowing orange embers, the crater certainly looks like the fiery entrance to Hades and must be seen to be believed.

Grand Prismatic Springs, USA

via Independent

The third largest hot spring in the world has rainbow-striped layers of color. It’s caused by layers of microbial organisms around the edges of the mineral-rich pool.

Ranging from a spellbinding turquoise to a deep, hypnotic green, the central pool is wrapped in rings of yellow and red, depending on what time of year you visit. Surrounded by lush alpine forests, the spring is an unexpected drop of otherworldly color against a picture postcard backdrop.

Cappadocia, Turkey

via Wikipedia

The pastel skies and peculiar clusters of rock in Turkey’s Cappadocia make it a mesmerizing spot like no other. With tall spires of rock known to locals as the ‘Chimneys of Fairies’, the landscape will set your imagination free and you can see how the area has inspired myths and folklore passed from one generation to the next.

If the unfamiliar landscapes weren’t enough, a gentle shoal of hot-air balloons floating across the sky at sunset should do the trick. The mounds of autumnal colored earth and stone are actually home to a huge community of around 10,000 people. They have built underground dwellings in this magical terrain.

The post Alien Landscapes: Places on Earth You Should Totally See appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Ola, Uber’s India rival, invests $100M in scooter rental startup Vogo

We’re familiar with Uber cozying up to scooter startups — it has bought one and invested in another — but over in India, the U.S. firm’s key rival is hatching a major alliance of its own it invested $100 million in scooter rental startup Vogo.

Ola first invested back in August when Vogo raised an undisclosed Series A round from Ola, Matrix Partners and other investors, but now Ola is doubling down with this follow-on deal. It isn’t saying how much equity it has captured with this investment, nor the valuation that it gives Vogo but you can well imagine it is high for a company that has only just done its Series A.

As you’d expect, this is a strategic investment and it’ll mean that Vogo scooters will appear within the Ola app, from where they can be booked by the company’s 150 million registered users, “soon.” Bangalore and Hyderabad are the two cities where Vogo operates, but you’d imagine that it will lean on Ola to expand into other parts of tier-one India where Ola already has a strong presence.

Ola’s money is going directly into supply, with Vogo planning to buy 100,000 more scooters for its platform. The company’s scooters, for those who don’t know them, are unlocked using a one-time password generated from the company’s Android app. Scooter are either dropped off at a designated station, or the rider specifies that they are taking a round trip and then returns it to the station where they started.

Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal — pictured in the top image alongside Vogo CEO and founder Anand Ayyadurai — said he hopes that the deal and integration will improve last-mile transportation options across India.

“Our investment in Vogo will help build a smart multi-modal network for first-last mile connectivity in the country. Vogo’s automated scooter-sharing platform, backed by Ola’s expertise in this space can help transform our cities. Together, we are thrilled to be at the forefront of India’s rapidly growing micro-mobility market,” he said in a prepared statement.

Ola previously invested in its own bike rental service last year, although that category has struggled in India as Chinese imports like Ofo have fled the country after struggling to develop a sustainable business in the country, and others outside of China. Ola and also Uber have offered motorbike taxis in India since 2016, but scooters offer a more individual approach.

Uber, for its part, doesn’t offer scooters in India at this point. But with India its second-largest market — it has reportedly crossed $1,6 billion in annualized bookings — you’d imagine that it is near the top of the company’s thoughts… although there is the business of that upcoming U.S. IPO to deal with.

Ford comes up with a prototype noise-cancelling kennel to shelter dogs from fireworks

Dogs have a much wider range of hearing than humans do and noises that don’t bother us can give them a very ruff time. Fireworks are especially tough on many pups and also hard on owners who have to calm their panicking pets. To potentially help them, Ford has developed a noise-cancelling kennel prototype that it says was inspired by the noise control technology introduced used in its Edge SUV to soften engine and transmission noises.

When microphones inside the kennel detect the sound of fireworks, a built-in audio system sends out opposing frequencies that Ford claims significantly reduces or cancels the cacophony. The kennel is also built with high-density cork to further mute outside noises.

The noise-cancelling kennel is not currently for sale, but Ford says it “is the first in a series of initiatives—called interventions—that applies automotive know-how to help solve everyday problems.”

You might remember, especially if you have a small child, that last year Ford developed a cot called Max Motor Dreams to calm babies who only fall asleep in moving vehicles, a situation many exhausted parents (with high-mileage cars) are familiar with. The cot had small motors underneath that stimulated the feel of a moving vehicle, played actual road noise and even had built-in LED lighting to mimic the glow of streetlights.

At the time, Ford said the cot might be produced for sale if there was enough interest, but even though it went viral, Max Motor Dreams never did make it to the market. That’s not an encouraging sign for people who want to buy the noise-cancelling kennel, but in the meantime, here are some ways you can prepare your dogs for holiday fireworks. There is also a product called the ThunderShirt that is supposed to help alleviate anxiety in dogs, but of course results will vary from canine to canine.