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Amazing Art of Ancient Calendars

Amazing Art of Ancient Calendars

These ancient calendars are brilliant works of art, check them out and be amazed! 
The human race has a long way from living in caves in the strong age to planning to settle on different planets in this technologically advanced age. All this has become possible because of the curiosity of few intelligent individuals in the movement of astral bodies in the sky. They observed the movements of various planets in space night and day and chartered their path, speed and locations in the sky at different times for the posterity.  Over a period of time, such individuals came together, formed an association and started publishing their results for the knowledge of general public. It was because of the royal patronage that different types of “ephemeris” ( detailed day-to-day movements of the planets in the sky) based on either the sun or moon came into existence. Over a period of time these were refined further. A variety of such calendars existed all over the world, some of which are given below.  
calendar collage
1) Mayan-Aztec
The Mayan calendar is of remarkable accuracy and complexity.  It is an arrangement of calendars used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and in many modern communities in highland Guatemala and in Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico.  Along with those of the Aztecs, these calendars are the most completely understood.  The Mayan calendar uses three different dating systems in parallel. These are the Long Count, the Tzolkin (divine calendar) and the Haab (civil calendar). Out of these, only the Haab has a direct relationship to the length of the year.  Contrary to popular belief, the Mayan calendar did not predict “the end of the world” in 2012.
The Aztec calendar was an alteration of the Mayan calendar. It consisted of a 365 day agricultural calendar as well as a 260-day sacred calendar.  It is currently on display at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City, Mexico.  What’s fascinating about this calendar is that every year has a “no time” period-days “outside the calendar” to freely celebrate life. There are a total of five “nameless days” at the end of every Mayan solar year. This is supposed to be a phase of transition and prepation for the next year. 
aztec 2
2) Ancient Egyptian Calendar
The history of Egyptian astronomy dates back to 5th Millennium BC. Their calendar is one of the oldest of our time and began with the discovery of stone circles at Nabta Playa.  The ancient civil Egyptian calendar had a year that was 365 days long as was divided into 12 months of 30 days each. They also had 5 extra days at the end of each year.  The months were divided into three weeks of ten days each. The stone circles tell us that they were accomplished at marking time and probably predicting the coming of the floods. They also developed a system of constellations that appear to be of native origin and independent from the work of the Greeks and Mesopotamians.  They also had magnificent presentation, full of pictoglyphs on paper made from the papyrus plant. 
egyptian 1egyptian 2
3) Ancient Russian (Slavic-Aryan) calendars 
The Russians initially followed the Julian calendar.  It was intended to approximate the solar year. Although, the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the Russians in 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church continued to use the Julian calendar.  The Russian calendar, even today is presently in a slightly different way.
4) The Canterbury Astrolabe Quadrant
  This is a medieval astrolabe which dates back to 1388. It was found in an archeological dig at the House of Agnes, a bed and breakfast hotel in Canterbury, Kent, England in 2005. It is the first astrolabe which has been found during an archaeological dig. Astrolabes are instruments which with the help of the position of the sun and stars allow their users to tell the time and determine their geographical latitude. 
5) The Ancient Indian calendar
It is traditionally known as “panchanga”. It is based on the lunar cycle. A day is measured as the time between one sunrise and the next.  Similarly, a month is the period from one moon cycle to the next. A lunar month lasts 28 days. A year is measured from the beginning of a season until its return. A lunar year lasts 12 months or 254 solar days.  An additional month known as “adhika” is added to the calendar at five-yearly intervals as a lunar year falls short of a solar year by 12 days. Each month is divided into two cycles of the moon (new moon to full moon and back). There are 4 seasons in a year and a season is known as “rtu”. Today, there are several regional Indian calendars as well as Indian National calendar.  Some of these are the Bengali calendar, Nepali calendar, Tamil calendar  and Kannada calendar.
hindu 2hindu

Fascinating Living, Growing Architecture

Fascinating Living, Growing Architecture

Still-living plants can themselves be shaped into bridges, tables, ladders, chairs, sculptures - even buildings. Known variously as botanical architecture, tree sculpture, tree-shaping, tree-grafting, pooktre, arborsculpture, and arbortecture, the craft is, essentially, construction with living plants.
Includes pictures from the root bridges of India to living islands!
1. Root Bridges of India

In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built -- they're grown.

(images credit: Vanlal Tochhawng)

Grown from the roots of a rubber tree, the Khasis people of Cherapunjee use betel-tree trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create "root-guidance systems." When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time a sturdy, living bridge is produced.

Most Extreme Space Discoveries of 2012

Most Extreme Space Discoveries of 2012

Colored Tiers Are Safer

The Discolor Tyre is a concept where the age and durability of the car tire is indicated and communicated through its color. Basically a tire is good for around 20,000 kilometers, and then its kinds worn out. With the Discolor Tyre, the tire takes on a bright orange hue once it is worn out and requires immediate replacement. It saves you the trouble of keeping a constant check and acts as a good warning system to keep your travels safe.
The Discolor Tyre is a 2012 iF Design Talents entry.

Saving The Sinking

The Safe Guard is a life buoy to be used by people who don’t know how to swim, but need to help rescue a drowning person. Ok, so the scene may sound complicated in your mind’s eye when you read this, but the truth is that it is a plausible scenario. The main body of the buoy is anchored to the shore and the lifesaver inflates as soon as it touches water. It’s kind of a first reaction to an emergency situation kinda thing.
The Safe Guard is a 2012 Liteon Award winner.
Designers: LiuYi, Xu Wei, Meng Luhua & Li Ke

Earth at 7 billion People

Earth at 7 billion People

Earth crossed 7 billion in population on the October 31st, 2011, and growing quickly. We have had a massive impact ont he environment. Here is an amazing infographic with amazing statistics on the same!
Earth at 7 billion People 
 Estimates put the planet at 8 billion in another 14 years, which is an eye blink  compared to the 123 years it took us to go from 1 billion to 2 billion.
India is set to surpass China as the world's most populous by 2030.
That means a weighty impact on our planet. How weighty? Our friends at Masters Degree Online did the math and found that we humans account for just .00018% of the earth’s biomass, yet we use 20% of its resources.

And before you start arguing that our weight demands that kind of use, the data shows we humans collectively tip the scales at 350 million tons, while the lowly ants would crush us with their 3 billion collective tons.
Earth at 7 billion People Infographic 

10 Best Libraries in the World

  • Libraries represent man's most successful attempt in democratizing knowledge. In the modern age, these magnificent institutions have also developed into important social structures that facilitate not just the reading of books, but a meeting point of different people, different ideas, discussion and debate. Libraries, especially the ones featured on this list tend to be the epicenter of activity in neighbourhood in which they are located. Here is a list of 10 of the best libraries in the world, ones that we wished we could spend whole days in, if only they were closer home.
#10 The Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
The Library of Alexandria was the greatest library in antiquity, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The new rebuilt Library of Alexandria hopes to one day match the precedent set by its illustrious predecessor. The Library cost $220 million to build and was completed in 2002. The Library doubles as a cultural center, and contains a planetarium, a manuscript restoration lab, art galleries and exhibition space, museums, a conference center, as well as libraries for children, young adults, and the blind. While the library contains space for over 8 million books, the library growing number of available titles currently stands at around 500,000.

#9 George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland
The George Peabody Library is the research library of Johns Hopkins University. The Library was a part of the Peabody Institute from 1878 until 1967 when it became owned by the city of Baltimore, eventually passing to Johns Hopkins in 1982 where it now holds the University’s special collections. The library is well known for housing the worlds foremost collections of Don Quixote editions, and many of the other titles date back as far as the 19th century. Often described as a “cathedral of books.” - the interior features a 61 foot high atrium, a beautiful black and white marble floor, and many balconies and golden columns. The library is open to browsers.
#8 Jay Walker’s Private Library
Jay Walker is an American inventor and entrepreneur who used his wealth to develop a notable private library. Walker calls his Library “The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination.” Located in his home in Connecticut, the library contains more than 50,000 books including many early titles and books worthy of making it to the most premier museums in the world. The surreal architecture takes its inspiration from the work of M.C. Escher. Wired Magazine called the library “the most amazing library in the world”. The only reason the library is so low on this list is because it is not open to public.
Jay Walkers Library
#7 Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
The picture postcard Abbey Library of Saint Gall is the oldest library in Switzerland and boasts about 160,000 volumes. This is one of the oldest monastery libraries in the world, and holds manuscripts from as far back as the 8th century. The library is also a World Heritage site since 1983. Many of the rare manuscripts that the library holds can be accessed through an online portal, and the public is welcome to use the library, although books dating before 1900 can only be read on site.
Abbey Library
#6 New York Public Library, New York, New York
The famous New York Public Library is awe inspiring in its layout, scope and size. It is the the third largest library in North America, has over 50 million items in its collection. It consists of 87 libraries serving 3.5 million people. The Rose Main Reading Room is a treat for the eyes too. The Library special collections include the first Gutenberg Bible to come to America. One of the most recognizable libraries in the world due to its appearances in many Hollywood movies, and even a key setting in the movies “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Ghostbusters”.
New York Library
#5 Seattle Central Library, Seattle, WA
The breathtaking Seattle Central Library opened in 2004 and features a beautiful glass and steel modern design created by architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus of OMA/LMN. The goal of the design was to make an inviting open and airy space, and breaking the popularly held notion of libraries being dark and stuffy, and thus hopefully inspiring a whole new demographic of previously uninitiated library users. The library can hold up to 1.45 million books and materials, and serves over 2 million patrons a year.
Seattle Library
Inside of Seattle Library
#4 Boston Public Library
Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first publicly funded library in the US. It has since grown to its present collection size of 22 million items, making it the second largest library in the United States. The library's McKim building was built in 1895 and contains many beautiful murals, including Edward Abbey’s most famous that depicts the legend of the Holy Grail. The main room of the McKim building is Bates Hall, known for its grand coffered ceiling. The research collection at McKim is made up of over 1.7 million rarities including many medieval manuscripts, incunabula, early Shakespeare that includes a First Folio, colonial Boston records, a major Daniel Defoe collection, and the libraries of many famous men of history including John Adams, William Lloyd Garrison, and Nathaniel Bowditch.
Boston Public Library
#3 Reading Room at the British Museum, London, England
The Reading Room at the British Museum is found in the center of the Great Court of the British Museum. It features a domed roof, with the ceiling made of a variety of papier-mâché. For much of the Room’s history, access was only granted to registered researches, and during this period many notable figures studied at the Library, including Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Gandhi, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Lenin, and H.G. Wells. The Library’s collection was moved to the new British Library in 2000 and the Reading Room now houses an information center and a curated collection of books relating to history, art, travel and other subjects relevant to the collection’s of the British Museum.
Reading Room at British Museum
#2 Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK
The Bodleian Library is the library of the University of Oxford. Established in 1602 it is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The Library has over 11 million items, and many items of historical import, including four copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and Shakespeare’s First Folio (from 1623.) The Library consists of multiple buildings, perhaps the most visually interesting of which is Radcliffe Camera. It’s the earliest circular library in England, and has appeared in multiple films, including “Young Sherlock Holmes”, “The Saint”, “The Red Violin”, and “The Golden Compass”.
Bodleian Library
#1 Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
The Library of Congress is effectively the national library of the United States and the oldest federal cultural institution in the US. The library consists of three different buildings and is the largest library in the world. The library is open to the public, but only members of congress and other important government officials may check out books. The library also serves an important function as the “library of last resort” in the US, ensuring the availability of certain items to various libraries around the United States. The holdings of the library are extremely impressive, they include - over 32 million books, more than 61 million manuscripts, a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a perfect vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible (one of only four in the world), over 1 million newspapers from the last three centuries, over 5 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music, and more than 14 millions photos and prints.
Congress Reading Room


10 Top Photography Composition Rules

There are no fixed rules in photography, but there are guidelines which can often help you to enhance the impact of your photos.

It may sound clichéd, but the only rule in photography is that there are no rules. However, there are are number of established composition guidelines which can be applied in almost any situation, to enhance the impact of a scene.
These guidelines will help you take more compelling photographs, lending them a natural balance, drawing attention to the important parts of the scene, or leading the viewer's eye through the image.
Once you are familiar with these composition tips, you'll be surprised at just how universal most of them are. You'll spot them everywhere, and you'll find it easy to see why some photos "work" while others feel like simple snapshots.

Rule of Thirds

Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. Therule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.
Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use.
Lighthouse with rule of thirds grid
Notice how the building and horizon are aligned along rule-of-thirds lines. Image by Trey Ratcliff.

Balancing Elements

Placing your main subject off-centre, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the "weight" of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.
Road sign with building behind
Here, the visual "weight" of the road sign is balanced by the building on the other side of the shot. Image by Shannon Kokoska.

Leading Lines

When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey "through" the scene. There are many different types of line - straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc - and each can be used to enhance our photo's composition.
Road winding through mountains
The road in this photo draws your eye through the scene. Image by Pierre Metivier.

Symmetry and Patterns

We are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and man-made., They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.
Chapel entrance
The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner. Image by Fabio Montalto.


Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it from. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.
Man sitting on beach photographed from above
The unusual viewpoint chosen here creates an intriguing and slightly abstract photo. Image byronsho.


How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background? The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. Thankfully this problem is usually easy to overcome at the time of shooting - look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn't distract or detract from the subject.
Female violinist
The plain background in this composition ensures nothing distracts from the subject. Image byPhilipp Naderer.


Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to conveys the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.
Sheep in field will misty hills in the background
Emphasise your scene's depth by including interesting subjects at varying distances from the camera. Image by Jule Berlin.


The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.
Lake framed by hills either side
Here, the surrounding hills form a natural frame, and the piece of wood provides a focal point. Image by Sally Crossthwaite.


Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background "noise", ensuring the subject gets the viewer's undivided attention.
Ceramic ornaments of characters hugging
Cut out all unnecessary details to keep keep the viewer's attention focused on the subject. Image by Hien Nguyen.


With the dawn of the digital age in photography we no longer have to worry about film processing costs or running out of shots. As a result, experimenting with our photos' composition has become a real possibility; we can fire off tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. Take advantage of this fact and experiment with your composition - you never know whether an idea will work until you try it.
Lone tree in field illuminated with golden light
Digital photography allows us to experiment with different compositions until we find the perfect one. Image by Jule Berlin.
Composition in photography is far from a science, and as a result all of the "rules" above should be taken with a pinch of salt. If they don't work in your scene, ignore them; if you find a great composition that contradicts them, then go ahead and shoot it anyway. But they can often prove to be spot on, and are worth at least considering whenever you are out and about with your camera.