Sugarcane Railways

If you live in a large country, a ‘developed’ country, or in a country with continental connections, then you probably take the idea of having rail service at least somewhere in your homeland around as a given. There are quite a few countries, however, that don’t have rail service. Most of these are SIDS (Small…

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Svalbard: Google Street View, Pyramiden, and the Global Seed Vault

Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Source: HylgeriaK, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Longyearbyen_panorama_july2011.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. This week saw the latest TBG article for Google Sightseeing commemorate the newly-released Google Street View imagery for the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard; the northernmost such imagery released to date (you can view the article here). The imagery begins in the picturesque world’s northernmost…

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DVD and Blu-ray Region Codes

Have you ever been travelling abroad and purchased a DVD of a foreign film to bring back home as a souvenir, only to find that it won’t work in your DVD player? That’s because many to most mass-market DVDs and DVD players are equipped with DVD region codes, a digital rights management feature designed to…

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Selling Telephones to Penguins: How a Website Glitch Created a New Antarctic Economy

For anyone wanting to obtain visual representation of international import/export data, whether for research or just for their casual interest, The Observatory of Economic Complexity is a fantastic tool for both researchers and the general public. Developed by Alexander Simoes and emanating from the MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in association…

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Flags of Convenience

Have you ever looked closely at an advertisement for a cruise ship line and noticed that the ports of registry are always the same handful of countries no matter where the cruise is located?  How, for example, can the entire fleet of Carnival Cruise lines be registered in Panama if most of the ships are…

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Isla Aves (Bird Island)

Source: Veronidae, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isla_de_Aves_Venezuela_000.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Isla Aves (Spanish for ‘Island of the Birds’; commonly Bird Island or Aves Island in English) is a tiny speck of sand in the east Caribbean Sea, barely large enough and high enough to support a small field of grass, seabirds, and…

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The Kola Superdeep Borehole and the Deepest Manmade Holes

The Mohorovičić discontinuity, or simply the Moho, is the transitional boundary between the crust of the Earth and the underlying mantle located 5-10 km (3-6 mi) beneath the ocean floor and 20-90 km (10-60 mi) beneath the surface of continents.  The Moho marks a transition from the basaltic rocks of the crust above it to…

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