Since South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, there are now 195 independent sovereign nations in the world (not including the disputed but de facto independent Taiwan), plus some 60 dependent areas, and several disputed territories, like Kosovo.
Senryū (川柳, literally ‘river willow’) is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 morae (or “on”, often translated as syllables). Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. It is unrhymed Japanese verse consisting of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables (5, 7, 5) or 17 syllables in all. Senryu is usually written in the present tense and only references to some aspect of human nature or emotions.
When visitors stumbled upon scores of heavy stones that appeared to have moved across the dried lake bed of Racetrack Playa in California’s Death Valley National Park, leaving a tell-tale trail in their wake, scientists were baffled. How had so many boulders, some weighing 300kg, moved as much as 250m across this remote part of the valley, asks Quora user Farhana Khanum?
Adding to the mystery, some trails were gracefully curved, while others were straight with sudden shifts to the left or right. Who, or what, had moved the stones? A slew of theories emerged, from magnetic fields to alien intervention to dust devils to pranksters.
It took a NASA scientist to crack the case. In 2006, Ralph Lorenz developed a kitchen table model using a small rock frozen in an inch of water in a Tupperware container to demonstrate ice shove, the phenomenon behind the mysterious sailing stones.
In winter, Racetrack Playa fills with water and the lakebed’s stones become encased in ice. Thanks to ice’s buoyancy, even a light breeze can send those frozen boulders sailing across the muddy bottom of the lakebed. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight tracks, while those with smooth bottoms drift and digress. Warmer months melt the ice and evaporate the water, leaving only the stones and their mysterious trails.
People can see these sailing stones in a few locations, including Little Bonne Claire Playa in Nevada and most famously, Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa.
In Hinduism the universe is millions of years old. In line with the Hindu belief in reincarnation, the universe we live in is not the first or indeed the last universe.
For Hindus the universe was created by Brahma, the creator who made the universe out of himself.
After Brahma created the world, it is the power of Vishnu which preserves the world and human beings.
As part of the cycle of birth, life and death it is Shiva who will ultimately destroy the universe. This is not necessarily as bad as it might sound because it allows Brahma to start the process of creation all over again.
Examples of how the origins of the universe are explained in Hinduism include:
~A lotus flower grew from Lord Vishnu’s navel with Brahma sitting on it. Brahma separated the flower into three parts – the heavens, the Earth and the sky.
~Out of loneliness, Brahma split himself into two to create a male and a female. From this male and female all beings were created.
~Another story makes reference to life coming from the cracking of an enormous egg, which is the life from which the universe is born.
~The Hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda concludes that nobody knows how the universe came into being and even questions whether Brahman knows.
~Some Hindu texts offer a more scientific explanation based on the evolution of primary elements from a single source.
These accounts, and others, were written many centuries ago in or around what we now know as India. They were not necessarily intended to be taken as literal scientific truth, but are indicators of the complexity and infinite nature of the universe.