Heavy Duty Sinkholes

A ver big sinkhole appeared in Naples today:


In the last few years, news of unexpected sinkholes swallowing cars, houses and people have made headlines with disturbingly high frequency. These reports are mainly coming from Florida, the U.S., where almost the entire state is karst terrain (made of limestone), which means it has the potential for sinkholes. Mexico, Belize and parts of Italy and China are also karst area, but the phenomenon of sinkholes suddenly appearing in apparently stable grounds is mostly American. Experts estimate thousands of sinkholes form every year in Florida alone.

Sinkholes form when water flowing underground has dissolved rock, mostly limestone and sometimes clay, below the surface, leading to the formation of underground voids. When the surface layer can no longer take the weight of whatever that’s above, it collapses into the void forming sinkholes. These sinkholes can be dramatic, because the surface land usually stays intact until there is not enough support. Then, a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur.



A giant sinkhole caused by the rains of Tropical Storm Agatha is seen in Guatemala City on May 31, 2010. More than 94,000 people were evacuated as the storm buried homes under mud, swept away a highway bridge near Guatemala City and opened up sinkholes in the capital. (Casa Presidencial / Handout / Reuters)



An aerial view of the damaged Gran Marical de Ayacucho highway in the state of Miranda outside Caracas December 1, 2010. Thousands of Venezuelans fled their homes after landslides and swollen rivers killed at least 21 people and threatened to cause more damage. (Photo by Miranda Government/Reuters)



A construction vehicle lies where it was swallowed by a sinkhole on Saint-Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, August 5, 2013. (Photo by Christinne Muschi/Reuters)



Pamela Knox waits for rescue after a massive sinkhole opened up underneath her car in Toledo, Ohio in this July 3, 2013 handout photo provided by Toledo Fire and Rescue. Toledo firefighters later rescued Knox without major injuries. Fire officials told a local TV station that a water main break caused the large hole. Picture taken July 3, 2013. (Photo by Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld/Toledo Fire and Rescue/Handout via Reuters)



A stranded car is hoisted from a collapsed road surface in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, September 7, 2008. The road collapsed on Sunday afternoon and trapped the car in a hole, which measured 5 meters (16.4 feet) in depth and 15 meters (49.2 feet) in diameter, local media reported. Further investigation is underway. Picture taken September 7, 2008. (Photo by Reuters/China Daily)



An aerial view shows the debris of a residential building and a destroyed road in the village of Nachterstedt, July 18, 2009. Three residents were missing in the eastern German village of Nachterstedt after their lakeside home and another building suddenly collapsed early Saturday into the water. A 350-metre stretch of shoreline gave way next to an old open-cast coalmine converted to a lake, about 170 kilometres south-west of Berlin. (Photo by Reuters/Gemeindeverwaltung Nachterstedt)



Rescue workers remove a bus with a crane from a Lisbon street hole November 25, 2003. The bus was parked on a Lisbon street when the ground began to open up and gobble it. No casualties were reported. (Photo by Jose Manuel/Reuters)



A truck is seen in a hole after part of the structure of a bridge collapsed into a river in Changchun, Jilin province May 29, 2011. Two truck passengers were injured, while the cause of the accident is still under investigation, local media reported. (Photo by Reuters/China Daily)



Cars lie in a sinkhole, caused when a road collapsed into an underground cave system, in the southern Italian town of Gallipoli March 30, 2007. There were no injuries in the overnight incident, according to local police. (Photo by Fabio Serino/Reuters)



A giant sinkhole that swallowed several homes is seen in Guatemala City February 23, 2007. At least three people have been confirmed missing, officials said. (Photo by Reuters/Stringer)



A large sinkhole opened on East Monument Street in Baltimore in summer 2012. The sinkhole appeared above a 120-year-old drainage culvert after heavy rains, causing evacuations and closing the road. (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun Photo)

Canada’s National Animal and National Sport Come Together

The beaver was given official status as an emblem of Canada when “An Act to provide for the recognition of the Beaver (Castor canadensis) as a symbol of the sovereignty of Canada” received royal assent on March 24, 1975.

Actually lacrosse and hockey are the official sports of Canada. But the sport of curling is so widespread and can be played by people of any age, Markozen is declaring it a national sport.

The Cone of Silence

The Cone of Silence is one of many recurring joke devices from Get Smart, a 1960s American comedy television series about an inept spy. The essence of the joke is that the apparatus, designed for secret conversations, makes it impossible for those inside the device – and easy for those outside the device – to hear the conversation.

The portable Cone of Silence.

Atomic Bomb Tourism

Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site. Of those, 828 were underground.  (Sixty-two of the underground tests included multiple, simultaneous nuclear detonations, adding 93 detonations and bringing the total number of NTS nuclear detonations to 1,021, of which 921 were underground.)  The site is covered with subsidence craters from the testing. The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 126 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands).

During the 1950s, the mushroom clouds from these tests could be seen for almost 100 mi (160 km) in either direction, including the city of Las Vegas, where the tests became tourist attractions. Americans headed for Las Vegas to witness the distant mushroom clouds that could be seen from the downtown hotels.





The World’s Top Ten Supercomputers

According to a quote with several origins, science advances on the shoulders of giants. In our time, these words have taken on a special meaning thanks to a new class of giants—supercomputers—which nowadays are pushing the boundaries of science to levels that the human intellect would be incapable of reaching on its own.

In a few decades, the strength of these giants has multiplied dramatically: in 1985 the world’s most powerful supercomputer, Cray-2, could process 1.9 billion floating point operations per second (FLOPS), or 1.9 gigaflops, the parameter used to measure the power of these machines. By comparison, a current PlayStation 4 game console reaches 1.84 teraflops, almost a thousand times more. Today, there are at least 500 supercomputers in the world that can exceed a petaflop, or one billion flops, according to the TOP500 list drawn up by experts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the universities of Mannheim (Germany) and Tennessee (USA).

Below we present what are currently the ten most powerful supercomputers in the world and some of their contributions to knowledge.



The world’s most powerful supercomputer today is Summit, built by IBM for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It occupies the equivalent of two basketball courts and achieves an impressive 148.6 petaflops thanks to its 2.41 million cores.

El supercomputador Summit es el más potente del mundo en la actualidad. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL
The Summit is the world’s most powerful supercomputer today. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL

In addition to its large capacity, Summit is also the most energy-efficient machine in the top 10 of the world’s supercomputers. Its mission is civil scientific research, and since it came into operation in 2018 it has already participated in projects such as the search for genetic variants in the population related to diseases, the simulation of earthquakes in urban environments, the study of extreme climatic phenomena, the study of materials on an atomic scale and the explosion of supernovae, among others.



IBM is also responsible for the second most powerful supercomputer on the list, Sierra, located in California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Based on Summit-like hardware, Sierra manages 94.6 petaflops.

The Sierra supercomputer  is dedicated to military research. Crédito: LLNL
The Sierra supercomputer is dedicated to military research. Crédito: LLNL

Unlike its older brother, Sierra is dedicated to military research, more specifically to the simulation of nuclear weapons in place of underground tests, so its studies are classified material.



Until Summit and Sierra came into service in 2018, China was at the forefront of global supercomputing with TaihuLight, a machine built by the National Centre for Engineering Research and Parallel Computing Technology and installed at the National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi. Unlike other machines of its calibre, it lacks accelerator chips, so its 93 petaflops depend on its more than 10 million Chinese Sunway processors.

TaihuLight is installed in the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi. Credit: Nsccwx
TaihuLight is installed in the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi. Credit: Nsccwx

TaihuLight is in a way a product of the trade war between China and the US, since its construction has completely dispensed with US technology, in response to the restrictions imposed by the US. This supercomputer has participated in research such as the simulation of the birth and expansion of the universe using 10 billion digital particles.



China also retains fourth place in the ranking with Tianhe-2A, or Milky Way 2A, developed by the National University of Defence Technology and equipped with Intel Xeon processors that allow it to reach 61.4 petaflops. According to its operators, the machine is use for computing related to government security, among others.

Tianhe-2, in National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou. Credit: O01326
Tianhe-2, in National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou. Credit: O01326


The Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin has entered the top 10 in global supercomputing thanks to Frontera, a new system built by Dell and equipped by Intel. Frontera was unveiled to the world in September 2019 as the world’s fastest supercomputer located in a university. Since June, it has been collaborating with three dozen scientific teams in research related to the physics of black holes, quantum mechanics, drug design and climate models. Its 23.5 petaflops will be available to the scientific community, which will benefit from its computational capacity especially in the areas of astrophysics, materials science, energy, genomics and the modelling of natural disasters.

The Frontera supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Crédit: TACC
The Frontera supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Credit: TACC


Europe’s most powerful system ranks sixth on the list. Piz Daint is a supercomputer named after an alpine mountain—whose image is displayed on its housing—located at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in Lugano. It is an upgrade of a system built by the American company Cray, founded by the father of supercomputing Seymour Cray and responsible for several of the world’s most powerful machines. Its Intel and NVIDIA processors give it a speed of 21.2 petaflops. Piz Daint is involved in extensive research in materials science, physics, geophysics, life sciences, climatology and data science.

Piz Daint is the most powerful system in Europe. Credit: CSCS
Piz Daint is the most powerful system in Europe. Credit: CSCS


Also a product of the Cray company is Trinity, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory system that is able to reach nearly 20.2 petaflops. This machine, which inherited its name from the first U.S. nuclear test in 1945, is mainly devoted to nuclear weapons-related calculations.

Trinity inherited its name from the first U.S. nuclear test. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory
Trinity inherited its name from the first U.S. nuclear test. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory


The 19.9 petaflops of ABCI, a system built by Fujitsu and belonging to Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, place this machine in eighth place in the ranking. One of its most striking features is its energy efficiency, a parameter in which it scores just below Summit. ABCI’s goal is to serve as a cloud-based Artificial Intelligence resource available to Japanese companies and research groups.

ABCI's goal is to serve as a cloud-based Artificial Intelligence resource. Credit: ABCI
ABCI’s goal is to serve as a cloud-based Artificial Intelligence resource. Credit: ABCI


In 2018, the new generation SuperMUC supercomputer officially came into service at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Garching, near Munich (Germany). Built by Lenovo with technology from the company and Intel, the most powerful supercomputer in the European Union achieves a processing speed of 19.5 petaflops.

The new generation of the SuperMUC supercomputer came into service in 2018. Credit: lrz
The new generation of the SuperMUC supercomputer came into service in 2018. Credit: lrz


The top 10 closes with Lassen, Sierra’s little brother at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, built by IBM with the same architecture. Its recent improvements have increased its speed to 18.2 petaflops. Unlike its brother, Lassen is dedicated to unclassified research.

Lassen is dedicated to unclassified research. Credit: LLN

Source: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/

Luxury Doomsday bunker condos for millionaires

During these strange days and “uncertain times” the popularity of the doomsday bunker is booming.

The ‘Doomsday shelter’ being built below Kansas prairie where millionaires will be able to sit out the Apocalypse in style

  • Four buyers have already invested in condos below the ground
  • Fears range from pandemics, terrorism and solar flares
  • Indoor farm to provide fish and veg for 70 people for as long as necessary

When you buy a house, you end up feeling like you will be paying it off until the world ends.

Well, how about one of these luxurious condos, which come with all the mod-cons, as well as a pool, a movie theater and a library – oh, and a guarantee that it will survive Doomsday if and when that fateful day comes.

For these luxury flats, deep below the Kansas prairie in the shaft of an abandoned missile silo, are meant to withstand everything from economic collapse and solar flares to terrorist attacks and pandemics.



Naturally, there will be no one around to phone if the guarantee fails – but at that point, the insurance will probably be the least of your worries.

So far, four buyers have thrown down a total of about $7million (£4.4m) for havens to flee to when disaster happens or the end is nigh. And developer Larry Hall has options to retro-fit three more Cold War-era silos when this one fills up.

Hall said: ‘They worry about events ranging from solar flares, to economic collapse, to pandemics to terrorism to food shortages.’


Inside: The circular designs provide a luxurious and attractive setting to watch the world end


So far four buyers have thrown down a total of about $7million (£4.4m) for a haven under the prairie



Instead of simply setting up shop in the old living quarters provided for missile operators, Hall is building condos right up the missile shaft.

Seven of the 14 underground floors will be condo space selling for $2 million a floor or $1 million a half floor. Three and a half units have been sold, two contracts are pending and only two more full units are available, Hall said.

For now, metal stairs stretch down to connect each floor but an elevator will later replace them. The units are within a steel and concrete core inside the original thick concrete, which makes them better able to withstand earthquakes.

Hall is also installing an indoor farm to grow enough fish and vegetables to feed 70 people for as long as they need to stay inside and also stockpiling enough dry goods to feed them for five years.

The top floor and an outside building above it will be for elaborate security.

Other floors will be for a pool, a movie theater and a library, and when in lockdown mode there will be floors for a medical center and a school.

Complex life support systems provide energy supplies from sources of conventional power, as well as windmill power and generators.

Giant underground water tanks will hold water pre-filtered through carbon and sand. And, of course, an elaborate security system and staff will keep marauding hordes out.


The silos as the were in the early 1960s: Developer Larry Hall is converting four of the 72 Atlas “F” Missile Bases into luxury doomsday shelters.

The condo elevator will only operate if a person’s fingerprint matches its system, Hall said. Cameras will monitor a barbed-wire topped fence and give plenty of warning of possible intruders. Responses can range from a warning to lethal force.