Stories tagged tallest


The owner probably drives a big, fast car.
The owner probably drives a big, fast car.Courtesy Poco a poco
Have you ever played that little mental game where you pretend that you won the lottery a few dozen times, or that your eleven billionaire uncles all died in a Thunderdome-style cage match, and left all their money to you? How you get the money isn’t that important in the game. That you have more money than you could possibly know what to do with is a given, and your feeble attempts at finding something to do with it is the game. New robot servants every day, all of which will be forced to tear each other to scraps each evening. Stradivari-smoked barbeque every weekend. A private mountain with guard dragons. A solid gold ocean. That sort of thing.

It’s a fun game, especially if you’re one of the elite of the United Arab Emirates, because then the game is pretty much real. I don’t think anyone has made his own solid gold ocean yet, but, at least when it comes to architecture, pretty much everything else is fair game. The UAE, see, is a federation of very small political territories on the Arabian Peninsula, and thanks to oil and some favorable trade-laws (or lack of them?) some people there have lots and lots and lots of money. And that money goes into things like building fake islands shaped like the world and palm trees large enough for hundreds of thousands of people to live on, or hotels shaped like thousand-foot-tall sailboats.

Supposedly there has been some sort of global economic issue recently (I don’t really read the news, seeing as how it takes time away from my fancy rat hobby), and that has put the brakes on a few of the UAE’s more shark-jumping projects… but not before they finished building the tallest freakin’ building in the world, the Burj Dubai! Today was the building’s grand opening, and it turns out that it’s super tall. Like, two Sears Towers tall. Like, half a mile tall. Like, really, very tall. Like, 2,717 feet tall.

When dealing with something that tall, sciency things are unavoidable. A lot of it is physics and engineering, and therefore the details are beyond me. Seriously, it took all I’ve got to wrote “details” instead of “deets,” so the deets of what it takes to erect something that tall, and keep it erected are a little more than I can reasonably be expected to reproduce. But consider the following: temperatures in Dubai, the emirate the Burj Dubai building is in, can reach 122 degrees, and concrete that cures in the heat isn’t as strong as concrete that cures in cooler temperatures, so the concrete had to be mixed at night, or with ice; the temperature at the top of the structure is 11 degrees cooler than at the base (or as much as 20 degrees cooler, according to this article); heat from the sun can cause one side of the building to expand more than the other, making the top of the building lean 3 feet in one direction; the structure had to be designed to cope with high winds, and can sway up to 6 feet at the top; the structure will use about 250,000 gallons of water a day (and, because we’re sort of in the desert here, it’ll be desalinated ocean water); captured condensation on the building’s exterior is expected to supply about 3500 gallons of water a year, to be used to help irrigate the building’s landscaping; to cool the building, it will need cooling facilities “equivalent to 10,000 tons of melting ice”; the foundations needed to keep the 2,717-foot structure up are 150 feet deep; the building has already sunk an additional 2.5 inches into the ground; and… everything else. How bizarre. If the building every catches fire, the 25,000 people who could be in it at any one time won’t necessarily have to run down half a mile of steps—supposedly there are pressurized, air-conditioned rooms throughout the building where people can “huddle to await rescue.” Huddling in a hopefully fireproof room a thousand feet up a burning building sounds awesome.

Anyway, look into it, Buzzketeers. Whatever your science preferences are, the Burj Dubai probably has something for you. (Including social sciences—you don’t building the tallest man-made structure in the history of the world without involving lots of people. You astrophysicists might be out of luck, though.)


Prepared for the extremely xtreme: This man lives, breathes, and urinates xtreme. He is ready for the Extravaganza.
Prepared for the extremely xtreme: This man lives, breathes, and urinates xtreme. He is ready for the Extravaganza.Courtesy compujeramey
It seems to me… yes, it seems to me that several Fridays have gone by without a single Extravaganza. Who is to blame for this? And what were those missing Extravaganzas about?

As for who to blame, well let’s just stick with the previous administration. But what about the content of the misplaced Extravaganzas? That’s a lot of knowledge to lose, you know?

While the full text of those Extravaganzas must remain hidden until the release of National Treasure 3: Secret Book, I can at least reveal their topics. They were (in the order they should have appeared in) Laser Guns, Celebrity Body Parts, and “Bear” Naked. Shame to have missed them, huh?

But here we are, camping on the beach of the future, once again at the most xtreme of days. Friday. And so, fittingly, today we have an Extravaganza of Xtremes. An Xtravaganza, if you will.

Our first subject fits well into the sky diving, snowboarding, bungee jumping, Mountain Dew drinking tradition: a little old lady. She is Xtremely old. In fact, she may be the oldest old lady ever (the oldest on record, anyway).

Unfortunately, the neighborhood of time and space in which Sakhan Dosova was born (the late 19th century in central Kazakhstan, to be specific) wasn’t very good about issuing birth certificates, so authorities can’t be certain about her exact age. Other records, however, like her Soviet era passport and state ID, seem to indicate that Dosova is 130 years old. Yowza. 1926 Soviet census data states that she was 46 years old that year.

What’s her secret? In an interview with Radio Free Europe, Dosova let the world know that her long life is thanks to lots of cottage cheese and no sweets. She also let the world know that her state pension is unsatisfactory. Oh, Sahkan, you may be the same age as the electric light bulb, but you still speak the same language of old ladies everywhere.

And so we move from the xtremely old to the xtremely tall—we may have a new winner in the category of “World’s Tallest Man.”

Since 2005, Bao Xishun of China has been officially recognized as the world’s tallest man. At 7 feet, 8.9 inches, Xishun is indeed taller than everyone I know. (Put together.) But there’s a new contender in town now. While he’s never been measured officially (“officially” here meaning “by Guinness”), doctors have recently measured 27-year-old Zhao Liang—also of China—at 8 feet 0.8 inches. That’s like… like… like 8 foot long subway sandwiches stacked on end. Except I wouldn’t be scared if 8 subway sandwiches walked into the room. I’d be happy.

How is this possible? Well, it probably has something to do with an overactive pituitary gland (we talked about those in one of the Friday Relationship Extravaganzas). But why does China have all these way-tall guys? Do they have some sort of secret genetics program aimed at dominating Olympic basketball, and controlling the world market (by putting everything on really high shelves)?

Perhaps. Another possibility is that because China has about 1.3 billion people living in it—a huge chunk of the world’s population—it’s likely that they’d have a similarly dominating portion of the world’s super tall people. Sorry if that’s not a very exciting explanation.

The final item in the Xtravaganza is something that I find both xtremely upsetting and xtremely dubious: a Russian man just had a live tree removed from one of his lungs. If you’re cool with graphic, bloody images, you can take a look at the tree and its lung . Otherwise don’t click on “here” or you will be xtremely, or even ztremely bothered. Trust me.

A 28-year-old Russian man checked into the hospital recently on account of severe chest pain, and some blood-coughing. (These are reasonable excuses to go to the hospital, I suppose.) An x-ray showed a tumor in one of his lungs, but a biopsy revealed, along with the abnormal tissue, some green needles. How about that. Surgeons then removed a piece of lung containing what turned out to be an inch-long fir tree. A one-inch tree isn’t exactly big enough to put presents under, but it’s too big for someone to swallow or inhale. The doctors suggest that the guy may have inhaled a bud from a tree, and the bud grew in his lung.

This theory gives me the willies. I have nightmares about things growing on me and in me. I hope I never get pregnant.

However, this theory also seems really stupid. Fir tree enthusiasts out there—is this even possible? What about photosynthesis? What’s going on here?

My own theory, which is even worse than the doctors’ theory, is that this man is half plant, and that the tumor in his lung was what is called a “teratoma.” Teratomas are tumors that sometimes have teeth, hair, or assorted organs growing in them. They are… a little gross. Naturally the teratoma of a half plant man would contain tree limbs and needles. Duh. What are they even teaching in those Russian medical schools?

That's it. Go take a cold shower now.

Sorry, dudes, I had a mental error. The lung tree was, in fact, 5 cm. So it was 2 inches not 1 inch.


New tallest tree: photo by Art Oglesby
New tallest tree: photo by Art Oglesby

New record tallest tree

Not one, but three giant redwood trees have been found in Redwood National Forest that are taller than former "tallest tree in the world". An expansion of the Redwood National Park's boundary just 30 years ago saved these trees from being harvested.

The tallest of the three new finds, a redwood named Hyperion, measures 378.1 feet.(edit:379.1 feet) Next in line, Helios, stands at 376.3 feet; Icarus, the third, reaches 371.2 feet. San Francisco Chronicle

Stratosphere Giant, found in August 2000 in nearby Humboldt Redwoods State Park, was the previous champion at 370 feet.

The largest tree is a sequoia

Genral Sherman is the largest tree in the world. It, too, is in California in Giants Forest in Sequoia National Park.

In January of 2006 the largest branch on the tree, seen most commonly in older photos as an "L" or "golf club" shape protruding from about 1/4th down the trunk, broke off. No one was present for the incident, but the branch, which had a diameter of over 2 m (6 feet) and a length of over 30 m (100 feet), bigger than most trees, smashed part of the enclosing fence and cratered the walkway pavement surrounding the sequoia.

The oldest tree is a bristlecone pine

Methuselah is the name of the world's oldest living tree. It is located in the Inyo National Forest in California. Methuselah is over 4750 years old. An older living tree known as the martyr tree was tragically cut down by a researcher before laws protecting trees existed.