The Monkey Island

By Anupum Pant

Off the coast of South Carolina is an island, the Morgan island, which is home to about 4000 monkeys. Locals call it the monkey island. Approximately 750 new baby monkeys join the monkey army on Morgan island every year. However, all the monkeys living in that island  are there for a reason. These monkeys are medical test subjects – used by researchers for medical testing – for vaccine testing (Polio, AIDS etc..). That is the reason about 500 monkeys are taken away from the island every year.

No humans live on this 4000 acre remote island. Also the Monkey island is a protected area and no unauthorised people are allowed to enter it. Only authorised monkey caretakers can go in. Others who try to enter will be greeted with a monkey-shit storm – Yes, monkeys of the Monkey island pelt feces at strangers.

Thankfully, the research isn’t done at the island itself. The island is like a store for all the monkeys. So you can rest assured that you won’t run across any mutant monkeys on this island, if you some how end up there.

Where did they come from?

They were all put there by us humans. Back in the 70s the monkey colony was at La Parguera in Puerto Rico. When there were reports of infected monkeys escaping and reaching human settlements, the locals were stirred. As a result, the monkeys were all collected and had to be shifted to a remote island where no one lived – Morgan Island.


World’s Most Powerful Sound Systems Can Kill You

By Anupum Pant

In the past we’ve seen sound systems that used plasma instead of magnets to produce sound. Well, those plasma sound systems were pretty well equipped to kill you, but they would do it in a different manner – by electrocuting you. This one we are talking about today, literally kills you with sound.


European Space Agency uses an extra-large speaker that throws extra-big sound at test objects. It is known to recreate the sound that a launcher produces while taking off and travelling through atmosphere. This speaker, known as, the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) in Netherlands, is used by the European Space Agency to test satellite parts.

The Glory: They say that if any person listens to sound playing on this speaker, he/she won’t survive. This is the reason, the most powerful sound system in Europe, is enclosed in a facility that has walls that 17 meters in height, are half a meter thick and are overlaid with a resin on the inner walls that reflects sound & does not let it escape. Also, it has a safety mechanism that doesn’t allow anyone to power it on, if the doors are not shut properly.

Nitrogen is pumped in great amounts through the huge ear-canal-like thing which enables it to produce sounds up to 154 decibel! If you are wondering how loud 154 decibel is, you should check this out – How Loud Can it Get. In short, it is loud enough to rupture your eardrums and probably kill you too.

I came across this equipment first at [PopSci] More information at [ESA]

So I wondered, if this is the most powerful sound system in Europe, are there more powerful ones elsewhere in the world?
Duh! Yeah. And as expected, it is in USA.

Reverberant Acoustic Test Facility (RATF)

Orion-Integrated-Environmental-TestingThe Orion Integrated Environmental Testing at the NASA Space Power Facility (SPF), a huge facility which looks pretty much like a nuclear power plant from afar, houses several other testing facilities, and the world’s largest space environment simulation chamber, also has the worlds most powerful sound system – The Reverberant Acoustic Test Facility. [Image]

The horns that produce sound here, are also powered by Nitrogen and there are 36 of them. It is able to produce a total sound pressure of 163 dB, which is a lot more than what LEAF can produce (because dB scale is not linear) – About seven times more powerful than standing next to a jet engine or a Formula 1 race car. In here, it is far too easy to kill a full grown man.

Yakhchal – An Ancient Cold Storage Marvel

By Anupum Pant

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During a period when electricity was only a thing for the Gods, around 400 B.C.E., in the hot-arid deserts of Iran where temperatures touched 40 degree centigrade, ancient engineers had found a way to keep their ice from melting. Two thousand years back, a cold storage facility was being used. The impressive thing about it – it was clean and sustainable technology.

What are these?

Yakhchals, or ice pits of ancient Persia were the huge mounds (buildings hollow from the inside), which made it possible for Persians to store away the ice for summers, meat, dairy products, other food items and chilled frozen Faloodeh for the palace. Beside treats for the palace, the method of preserving ice was so professional yet simple that even the poor could afford it.

Structure and Working

The structure of these buildings above the ground is a large mud brick dome, often rising to about 60 feet in height. Below it are large underground empty spaces, up to 5000 cubic meter in volume. This space had access to wind catch and often contained a system of wind-catchers that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels in summer days. The structures were built so well that many still remain standing.

Working: The massive insulation built into the walls (due to the use of a special mixture of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash) and the continuous cooling waters that spiralled down its side kept the ice frozen throughout the summer by evaporative cooling (just like those mist fans). They also had a trench at the bottom to catch water from the molten ice and to refreeze it during the cold desert nights. The ice was then broken up and moved to rooms deep in the ground. As more water ran into the trench the process was repeated.

Geography: These were built in the areas that had suitable condition for producing natural ice or places where there was feasibility of water freezing during the cold nights.

Major architectural elements

  • Shading wall – To avoid direct exposure to sunlight and to let the structure remain cool in the shade.
  • Provisional pool – To supply water for evaporative cooling to take place.
  • and Ice reservoir – To keep the cycle going. Freeze > Melt > Refreeze at night and so on…

The end of Yakhchal (reasons)

  • Since the advent of electricity-guzzling freezers and air conditioners, unfortunately, the use of these architectural wonders has been considered as foolishness. This is probably the reason no Yakhchals are being used for cold storage anymore.
  • Desert storms, caused a lot of erosion to these structures, especially to the ones that were isolated in the desert regions.
  • Since Yakhchal’s ice formed in the open it was prone to combining with dust and resulted in contamination. That was another reason it wasn’t considered as a choice useful enough for modern purposes.

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