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What Engineers Find in This Diamond Mine Still Can’t Be Explained

Renee Yates

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The exploitation of earth’s natural resources has been one of the drivers of economic growth since time immemorial. This is despite the negative effects the extraction of rare minerals has on the planet. When it comes down to preserving the environment or over exploiting it in pursuit of economic growth, mankind will always choose the latter.

But sometimes Mother Nature fights back, and several Russian engineers came to learn this the hard way when a hole they were swallowed by one of the biggest diamond mines in the world, sad that not one of them lived to tell the tale. The engineers were digging in the mine in search for diamonds when it happened. No one really knows what happened in that mine up to this day.

 

The Jackpot

Many European economies were hit hard by the World War II. The Soviet Union was heavily invested in the conflict its economy was in a sorry state when the war ended, the union was on the verge of collapse. In a bid to save the country from what seemed like an imminent collapse, the government embarked for the search of gold and diamonds in the Siberian wilderness.

Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina, and Viktor Avdeenko were the three geologists sent to explore the vast wilderness in search of deposits of the rare metals. It was a long journey in the harsh weather, but it proved worthy as they discovered a kimberlite pipe — kimberlite pipes deliver deposits to the earth’s surface. The Soviets had hit the jackpot! They sent more engineers to dig the mine.

 

Harsh Climate

After the discovery, it didn’t take long for the digging to begin. The geologists were hoping to find more precious metals in the ground but it was during winter, which can be pretty harsh in that part of the world. There were layers and layers of permafrost, even with dynamite and jet engines, they could not break it to access the precious stones.

Well, the minerals weren’t going anywhere and they weren’t getting anywhere in the cold weather so they figured they’d wait for warm weather. The geologists were right to wait as the warm weather came and melted the permafrost. They could access the metals in the ground easily in the warm weather but boy, were they wrong.

Stranger Things

The warm weather wasn’t helpful either. As the permafrost melted in the sun, the hole they were digging became deeper. They started noticing bizarre occurrences. For instance, the hole created by the melted permafrost started sucking in everything in the vicinity, like a black hole but on the ground. The geologists exploring diamond deposits as well as their machinery disappeared, too.

The hole would finally stop getting deeper but the Soviet government had already lost its engineers and their equipment. Lives were lost in the expedition. The mine, known as Mir Mine today, opened in the 60s and is one of the biggest in the world. The expedition turned out to be a success as the mine produces 10 million carats of diamonds per year, but was it worth it?

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Culture

A Florida High School First: Dissecting Synthetic Frogs

Renee Yates

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Dissecting frogs has been part of the curriculum for high school students in the United States since the 1920’s. It’s an essential part of a Biology requirement because it offers a hands-on learning experience for students in animal anatomy. J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida has just tapped into a new synthetic option that might just save students from the dubious and grossly controversial dissecting practice. 

Why Dissecting is Controversial?  

Dissecting animals in the classroom is controversial for a number of reasons, but the education validity of this practice is what is being called into question more than anything else. If it is really important for educational purposes, why have so many schools already chosen to rely on alternative methods to fulfill the requirements?  

Here’s an overview of the key points to consider.  

Unethical.  

Dissecting frogs and other animals is controversial because of animal welfare concerns. Students are uncomfortable with the requirement, but the process has caused concerns that it encourages callousness toward animals. An estimated 20 million animals are used for dissection every year in the United States. Those are animals that are used once in a classroom setting and then discarded as waste.  

Alternatives.  

Eighteen states now allow students to choose dissection alternatives without penalty. The earliest forms of alternative legislation date to 2000 with the Illinois’ Dissection Alternatives Act, but there are other laws on the books that allow alternatives. Dissecting alternatives now include computer programs, life-life models, and high-quality videos. So, it’s no longer strictly essential for students to dissect animals.  

Cost.  

The cost of dissecting “real” animal cadavers is much higher than alternative options. The cost for animal dissection has been estimated at $6,850 over five years, compared with the $900 for a site license for Digital Frog 2.5. For those schools and teachers who still prefer a more “real-life” experience for students, there’s now the SynFrog, a synthetic frog that was designed by SynDaver as an alternative to dissecting “real” animals.  

What About the SynFrog?  

The SynFrog is the latest synthetic alternative to frog dissection, spearheaded by PETA in partnership with SynDaver. These synthetic frogs are priced at $150 per frog, and they are reusable. The students at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida became the first students to use the synthetic frogs as a viable solution to the gross and controversial “real” frogs.  The high school students have been offered this opportunity through a partnership with SynDaver

Education is always important, but the SynFrog demonstrates that there are ways to accomplish the goals of education without unnecessary destruction and cruelty to animals. These synthetic frogs are designed to be as “life-like” as possible, with a synthetic skeleton, organs, skin, muscles, and even a reproductive system to mimic the real deal—minus the gore, guts, and discarded critters at the end of the lesson.  

Perhaps instead, teachers can reiterate the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm,” as they offer alternatives for learning with synthetic learning options.   

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Culture

Stunning Snow Art Created By 60-Year-Old During Nature Walks.

Renee Yates

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Looking at the world from an aerial view can unveil some amazing scenery. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, it is possible to get a birds-eye view of just about everything in life. So when 60-year-old Simon Beck began performing as a snowshoe artist, the world began to take notice. Now, we know what you are probably thinking. What in the heck is a snowshoe artist? Who is Simon Beck? How can any of this actually be any cooler? Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to all of your questions.

Simon Beck hadn’t dreamed of becoming a snowshoe artist when he was a child, it was just something that happened. Beck is actually a former cartographer, a profession dedicated to drawing and producing maps. Beck had earned his degree in the field while attending Oxford for engineering. Working as a cartographer would give Beck the training and attention to detail that he would need to shock the world as a snowshoe artist. 

For the better part of the past decade, Beck has been using his elaborate technical skills to create mind-blowing snowshoe art.  These images can be seen from the air, as well as all over the internet, and Beck’s results are simply staggering. To accomplish some of the more intricate patterns that he develops, Beck can spend up to 12 hours carefully walking through the snow. Beck will end up taking nearly 40,000 steps to create the perfect piece of snowshoe artwork.  The job is as intense as it sounds, and we have to imagine that Beck is physically exhausted by the time that he is done working on his art. While the output speaks for itself, we have to imagine that there is something bittersweet about watching the wind blow it away.

There are many challenges that Beck has to overcome while attending to his snowshoe art. For starters, the elements are always a factor for the duration of the project. As snow and sand can blow away at the slightest breeze, Beck spends much of his time re-working older segments of his art. Other obstacles include the grueling physical work, the massive time sink, and even destruction caused by visitors who don’t realize that Beck is working on something.

Even though Beck has been making a name for himself for years, his work is finally getting even more exposure. Beck as interviewed for a column on Artsy, and he was able to unveil some of his thoughts regarding the art form. Beck admitted during the interview that his work was fleeting, but he countered the idea by pointing to the longevity of a photograph. Beck made the insightful point that the vast majority of people will never see the Mona Lisa in person, but almost everyone has seen a photograph. Beck says, “Most people will only ever see (…) artwork as photographs.” For Beck, the fame is clearly not what he is after. Instead, it seems like Beck just wants to share his passion with the world.

Simon Beck has created more than 300 drawings across Europe. He has used his special shoes to craft artwork in the sand, in the snow, and in countries throughout the world. Each piece of artwork presents a unique challenge to Beck, thus always keeping his craft fresh.

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Culture

Photos are Used to Capture the Struggles and Rewards of Being a Caregiver

Kelly Taylor

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It is important for everyone to spend time with the members of their family because they may not know just how much time they have. A caregiver who, about ten years ago, realized that time with her ather was coming to an end, learned how to value every moment she has with her family. First, she noticed that something was strange about her father. She says that her face wasn’t as reactive as it used to be. Her father came from Egypt and moved from the United States in search of a better life. He got a job as a successful professor of mechanical engineering. This allowed him to provide for his family. His daughter realized that it was time for her to give something back to her dad who had given her such a great life in America.

At the same time, this young woman also appreciated his smile and laughter as well. She noticed that this was changing. His personality had changed. His vibrant laugh was gone. She was worried that her father had suffered a stroke. She took him to see a doctor and then, about two years after the first event, she finally got the answer. He had Parkinson’s Disease. Initially, the symptoms were relatively manageable. He was stiff from time to time. His emotions were flat. At the same time, he was still himself on the inside. Unfortunately, this was not meant to last. Things started to get worse about two years later.

She learned that she was going to have to take care of her father full-time. The roles of parent and child had been flipped. She would have to bathe him, calm him, and make sure that all of his daily needs were taken care of. This took a toll on her because she saw the person that she had known her entire life was starting to evaporate before her very eyes. At the same time, she still had to take care of herself as well. That is why she developed a few rules that can help her, and others, serve as caregivers for members of their family.

First, caregivers need to take breaks. This is a necessity. Just because she is the primary caregiver for her father doesn’t mean that she isn’t allowed to take breaks. Parents take breaks when raising their children and caregivers can take breaks as well. Research has shown that caregivers can get stressed. When this happens, they also tend to make bad decisions. Therefore, take breaks and time for self-care. This will make someone into a better caregiver because they are going to feel more rested.

Next, remember that there is an age difference. Try to bridge this difference using love. Take pictures. Bring up old memories. Try to find a way to help a parent who is aging. By reminiscing about the good times, those who are being taken care of are more likely to have positive moments and interactions that will make everything else worth it. Try to focus on the positives.

Finally, remember that the disease and the person are not the same thing. The two are different things. By remembering that the person and the disease are different, caregivers are going to avoid placing blame on the person or resenting them. In order to remember that the person and the disease are different, remember the good times that were shared. This is going to help the caregiver fight through the bad times by remembering that their loved one is still in there somewhere.

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A Hug Between Father and Son on the Ice is a Shining Example for us All

Kevin Wells

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Without a doubt, dads are known for being a bit stingy with their affection. Their sons often take after this, thinking that it is somehow less manly to show affection. Fortunately, all of this changed in one shining moment on the hockey ice. There was an older journeyman hockey player, one who had spent time with a variety of teams and had never been seen as a star, who had a dream to play for the United States Olympic Hockey Team. Typically, these spots are reserved for the top stars in the National Hockey League or the NHL; however, the team decided to go a different route. They announced that they would not allow players who are currently rostered on an NHL team to compete for spots on the Olympic Team. This allowed other people, like the young man in this story, to have a shot at his dream.

While this player had played in the NHL in the past, he was not currently on an NHL roster. He was frequently signed only when other players were cut or traded. Right now, he plays in the American Hockley League, often shortened to the AHL, which is similar to the minor leagues of the AHL. While he had represented the USA in the World Championships in the past, he knew that making the Olympic Team would be a much bigger leap. He had this opportunity to make his dreams come true and he wanted to take full advantage of it.

He was invited to try out for the team and underwent an intense evaluation filled with numerous tests, competitions, and other evaluations as the team managers tried to figure out how to make the best team they possibly could out of the people who were placed in front of them. In the end, when the managers selected the Olympic Team, this man found that his name was on the list. He was beside himself. He was shocked. He couldn’t believe that his dream had finally come true. At the same time, there was one other person who was going to be able to understand the flurry of emotions that were going to rise to the surface. That person was his father. 

There were cameras nearby that filmed the moment when this person’s dad got the news that his son was going to be on the US Men’s Hockey Team. The dad was seen visibly swelling with pride for his son and he wrapped his son in a giant hug. All of the other teammates could be seen cheering. This was a rare moment when a dad showed unbridled pride and enthusiasm for his son’s accomplishments. It serves as a reminder to us all that dads can show emotions in front of, and for, their sons as well. While society has taught men to be “manly” and hold in their emotions, this is a sign that something needs to change. Studies have shown that kids of all ages can benefit from love and affection from their parents, including when it is displayed outwardly as it was in this case. It is perfectly fine for fathers to hug and kiss their sons. It is even fine in hockey, where the sport has a reputation for being very physical and, at times, openly violent. If a father can show affection for his son in this arena, then it should be fine anywhere else as well. Everyone can benefit from the lessons taught in this heartwarming video between father and son.

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Culture

Voicemail from Grandmother is Memorialized in a Tattoo

Renee Yates

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Recently, a story was published about a person who got a tattoo of a voicemail. This young woman received a voicemail from her grandmother about three years ago. This voicemail was left to wish this young lady a happy birthday. Even though this took place three years ago, this lady decided that she wanted to hang onto the voicemail. While most of us simply forget to clear out our old voicemails, this person made an active decision to keep this voicemail. It turns out, she is very happy that she decided to do so. Sadly, about a month after the voicemail was left, the grandmother who left the message ended up passing away.

Similar to how most of us feel when losing a member of the family, this woman was absolutely devastated. She said that she simply couldn’t find the words to describe how bad she felt or how much she missed her. Even though her grandma has passed on to a better place, she still missed her grandmother terribly. At the time, she was still in high school and didn’t have a lot of experience processing loss, grief, and tragedy. Furthermore, she decided to listen to the voicemail over and over again. She could still hear the voice of her grandmother in the voicemail and this brought her some solace and peace during an otherwise difficult time. She wanted to do something more to make sure that her grandmother was never forgotten and that her memory would live in. She eventually found a great way to do exactly that.

She decided that the best way to do this was to get a tattoo; however, while plenty of people have tattoos, this one was a little bit unique. The ink in this tattoo actually allows this person to hear the voice of her grandmother, wishing her a happy birthday via voicemail, whenever she wants. She actually found a tattoo artist who was able to look at the voicemail recording, develop the waveform, and then get apply that tattoo to the skin of the person in that exact shape. She even posted a video on Twitter showing how the tattoo works. Furthermore, it turns out this tattoo artist did a great job with the waveform. By taking the camera of a phone and holding it over the tattoo, the phone can actually place the voicemail recording. The technology, and the video that she posted, are absolutely unbelievable.

Even though the technology may seem unbelievable to many, it is actually a relatively straightforward design. The app that this lay used for her tattoo is able to scan an image wherever it might be, including on the human skin. Then, the app will take the image and translate it into an audio file that matches the video. While the app isn’t reading the sound waves on the skin, it is recognizing the graphic of the tattoo itself. After this, the app plays the audio that is tied to the graphic. Think of this as a phone reading a QR code.

Regardless of how the technology works, this lady now has a powerful way to keep the memory of her grandmother alive. She wants her grandmother to know how much of a difference she has made in her life. This tattoo is a great way to do that. She knows that her grandmother is still looking down on her from above and is blessing her every day. She wants to continue to make her grandmother proud with the long life she still has in front of her.

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