Nature's Stone Giants

Stonehenge is impressive, but pales in comparison to the massive stone pillars Mother Nature gave us. The real stories of how they came to be are as fascinating as the legends that people use to explain unusual rock formations.

England: Brimham Rocks

The Brimham Rocks near Nidderdale, Yorkshire Dales, England are said to have been carved by druids, but they date back to around 320 million years ago when the Yorkshire area formed from sand and other materials washed down from Norway and Scotland, leaving an area known as the Millstone Grit. Later glaciers carved the land down, leaving the strangely-shaped stones exposed, in the period from roughly 73,000 BC to 10,000 BC. The rocks now stand at a little less than 30 meters tall. Some rocks resemble animals or human faces, and have been named for their appearance or for the local legends that grew up around them. The Brimham Rocks area is owned by the National Trust and is open daily for visitors. Image by Flickr user floato.

Canada: Flowerpot Island


Flowerpot Island, Ontario gets its name from two rock formations on its eastern shore. A local legend says that two lovers from warring tribes eloped to the island and were somehow turned to stone. A profile of a face is visible on one of the stones if you view it at the right angle. The island is part of The Fathom Five National Marine Park and is a popular tourist destination. Image by Thesofa.

Madagascar: Tsingy de Bemaraha


Tsingy de Bemaraha national park in Madagascar has a forest of limestone pillars. The word tsingy means "where one cannot walk barefoot." Water eroded caves and passages through the land, the roofs of which eventually collapsed and left the pillars standing up to 70 meters tall. The tops of the rocks have a vastly different ecosystem from the valleys, and from the surrounding savannahs. The stone forest is home to thousands of species not seen outside of Madagascar. Image by Stephen Alvarez for National Geographic.

Russia: Man-Pupu-Nyor


Seven rock formations called Man-Pupu-Nyor (little mountain of the gods) stand in the Komi Republic, a part of the Ural Mountain area of Russia. The seven pillars range from 30 to 42 meters tall! They formed when erosion washed away the mountain that once surrounded them over a period of 200 million years. Legend says the stones are evil giants who had a spell cast upon them. The remote location of the pillars makes tourism difficult, but you can get there by helicopter or snowmobile if you are determined.

Northern Ireland: The Giant's Causeway


The Giant's Causeway is on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland. Legend says that the giant Finn McCool built the causeway so he could fight his enemy Benandonner in Scotland. The rock formation looks like a set of mostly hexagonal man made stepping stones, but this is a natural formation of basalt laid down by volcanic activity. During the Tertiary period some 65 million years ago, this piece of land was near the equator. Lava tubes pressed up through a chalk layer to form the pillars. The geometric shapes were caused by crystallization of the basalt as it cooled and cracked. The causeway is open to the public and can be reached by a shuttle bus. Devil's Postpile is a similar formation in California. Image by Flickr user Jimbofin.

Faroe Islands: Drangarnir


Two sea stacks situated between the Faroe islands of Vagar and Tindhólmur are collectively called Drangarnir. The two rocks are called Stóri Drangur (large cliff) and Lítli Drangur (small cliff). You'll find them halfway between Scotland and Iceland. They, along with the rest of the islands, were formed by eruptions of volcanic basalt. The best view of the stones are from the mountain on Vagar, which has tourist facilities. Image by Erik Christensen.

See also: Rocks that Rock: 8 Stone Giant Sites

Courtesy of Airpod
New Nap Pods—Complete with Alarm Clocks and Netflix—Set for A Trial Run at Airports This Summer
Courtesy of Airpod
Courtesy of Airpod

Sleepy travelers in Europe can soon be on the lookout for Airpods, self-contained capsules designed to help passengers relax in privacy.

For 15 euros per hour (roughly $18), travelers can charge their phones, store their luggage, and, yes, nap on a chair that reclines into a bed. The Airpods are also equipped with television screens and free streaming on Netflix, Travel + Leisure reports.

To keep things clean between uses, each Airpod uses LED lights to disinfect the space and a scent machine to manage any unfortunate odors.

The company's two Slovenian founders, Mihael Meolic and Grega Mrgole, expect to conduct a trial run of the service by placing 10 pods in EU airports late this summer. By early 2019, they expect to have 100 Airpods installed in airports around the world, though the company hasn't yet announced which EU airports will receive the first Airpods.

The company eventually plans to introduce an element of cryptocurrency to its service. Once 1000 Airpods are installed (which the company expects to happen by late 2019), customers can opt in to a "Partnership Program." With this program, participants can become sponsors of one specific Airpod unit and earn up to 80 percent of the profits it generates each month. The company's cryptocurrency—called an APOD token—is already on sale through the Airpod website.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists

Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]


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