Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MIND-BLOWING MUSHROOMS: 10 Unique mushrooms from around the world

1. Take a drag from the devil’s cigar

Unique Characteristics:
• The Devils Cigar is said to be the world's rarest fungi.
It has only been discoverd in less than five sites in the world.
• It produces a distinct whistle sound when releasing it’s spores.

A star-shaped mushroom, called the Devil’s Cigar (Chorioactis geaster) is one of the worlds rarest fungi. This fungi had been detected only in central Texas, two remote locations in Japan, and most recently in the mountains of Nara.

The Devil’s Cigar is a dark brown cigar-shaped capsule that transforms into a tan-coloured star when it splits open to release its spores. It is also one of only a few known fungi that produce a distinct whistle sound when releasing it’s spores.

In October 2006 Masakuni Kimura, curator of a natural history museum in the town of Kawakami, first encountered twelve Devil’s Cigars growing from a dead oak tree near a mountain stream at an elevation of 470 meters. Nearly a year later he discovered four more mushrooms when he and a colleague returned to the site. At all the sites where the Devil’s Cigar was founded, they were observed growing on dead oak trees near a stream. The fungus is included on the red list of threatened species published by Japan’s Environment Ministry.


2. Shrooms that squiggle and stinks

This is a very interesting fungi, called the Octopus stinkhorn (Clathrus columnatus). They all have a foul-smelling slime covering part of the fruiting body. With the odor of fresh dog feces, the stinkhorn attracts green bottle flies to dispers. The octopus stinkhorn with its branched fingers belongs to the Clathraceae family. The dark colored slime clings to the inside of the structure and smells like something died.

They are indigenous to Australia and Tasmania and an introduced species in Europe and North America. The young fungus erupts from a suberumpent egg by forming into four to seven elongated slender arms initially erect and attached at the top. The arms then unfold to reveal a pinkish-red interiour covered with a dark-olive spore-containing gleba.


3. The Sea Anemone fungus

Aseroë rubra, commonly known as the Anemone Stinkhorn or Sea Anemone fungus, is a widespread Australian fungus. Just like the octopus stinkhorn it is recognizable for its foul odour of carrion and its unique anemone shape. Found in gardens on mulch and in grassy areas, it resembles a red star-shaped structure covered in brownish slime on a white stalk. It attracts flies, which spread its spores.


4. Bird's Nest fungi

Unique Characteristics:
Bird's Nest fungi look like small bird's nests complete with eggs.
The Bird's Nest fungi use the hydraulic pressure of water to disperse their peridioles: the cup is the right shape and size that when the water hits the bottom of the cup it splashes out with enough force to disperse the peridioles up to a meter away.

Bird's Nest fungi
belong to the family Nidulariaceae with the most common genera in New Zealand are Nidula, Cyathus, and Crucibulum. As bird's nest fungi are decomposers of organic material, they are found most often in New Zealand on decaying wood, small twigs, tree fern debris and sometimes on animal dung. In urban environments they often be found in sawdust, woodchip, or well enriched soil, and landscaping timber.

As their common name suggests they look like small bird's nests complete with eggs. The nest is a splash cup which is light to dark brown or white on the outside and white, grey or brown on the inside, this depending on species. With smooth flaring sides between 4 to 10 mm in diameter and 6 to 20 mm in height, again depending on species Immature Bird Nest have a cap over the top of the splash cup to protect the eggs, which brakes away at maturity.

The Bird's Nest fungi use the hydraulic pressure of water to disperse their peridioles. This is achieved by rainwater or water dripping off foliage above, dripping into the splash cup. This cup is the right shape and size that when the water hits the bottom of the cup it splashes out with enough force to disperse the peridioles up to a meter away. When the peridioles land on a solid object, like a leaf or twig they stick to it by one of two ways depending on the species.


5. Fungi with flare

The mushrooms are part of the genus Mycena, a group that includes about 500 species worldwide. Of these only 33 are known to be bioluminescent—capable of producing light through a chemical reaction. Ten bioluminescent fungi species—four of which are new to science—was discovered in Brazil's tropical forests.


6. The Bleeding Tooth fungus

Hydnellum peckii is a common, inedible fungus, also known as bleeding tooth fungus, often found beneath conifers. It possesses a funnel-shaped cap, and is best known for "bleeding" a red liquid. This liquid contains a mushroom pigment called atromentin, which has anticoagulant properties similar to heparin. Its normal cap diameter is between 5 and 15 cm (2-6 in).


7. The Earthstar

The Geastrum saccatum or Earthstar is a small but beautiful mushroom that features a round spore case sitting atop a star with 4-9 arms. These odd mushrooms resemble cookies, laying scattered on the dark forest floor. Like the puffball, when ripe, the center sac gives off a puff of spores when poked. They grow gregariously under hardwoods or conifers; often appearing around stumps; spring through fall. These are widespread throughout North America.


8. The Black Trumphet

Unique Characteristics:
Black Trumpet (Craterllus Cornucopioides), is considered a great delicacy, being one of the most eagerly sought-after choice wild edible mushrooms.
• The mushroom has a fruity taste simular to the taste of apricots
• In France the Black Trumpet is sometimes referred to as "la viande des pauvres" meaning "poor people's meat", because of its plenitude in difficult economic times and is much favored there.

The fragrent and often abundent Black Chanterelle or Black Trumpet (Craterellus fallax) is a popular mushroom in French cusine because of it's unique flavor and texture. Its habitat is throughout the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere as well as southeastern Australia. This mushroom does not typically grow on wood.


9. The Cedar-apple Rust fungus

The cedar-apple rust fungus (G. juniperi-virginianae) forms light brown to reddish or chocolate brown galls in the leaf axils of infected Juniperus species. These galls are not very noticeable until wet weather occurs in the spring, when they produce orange gelatinous "horns", turning the galls into slimy, spiky balls. Spores produced in the slime travel by wind to infect the apple or hawthorn host.

The fungus infects the apple or hawthorn plant in the spring, producing bright orange spots on the tops of leaves, hence the name "rust". The spots enlarge, and by the end of the summer the underside of each spot contains long, spiny eruptions from which spores are produced. Spores from these eruptions do not re-infect the apple or hawthorn, but rather infect the cedar host, completing the life cycle.


10 . A brain on a stem

This weird-looking but beautifully colored species of mushroom resembles a human brain. False Morels as it is popularly known, is widely distributed across Europe and North America. It normally grows in sandy soils under coniferous trees, in spring and early summer. Although potentially fatal if eaten raw, it is a popular delicacy in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and the upper Great lakes region of North America.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BIZARRE BARS: 5 Very cool places to have a drink at

1. The World-famous Skeleton Bar

Museum HR Giger Bar: Gruyères, Switzerland

This odd-looking establishment was designed by Hans Rudi Giger, who worked as a designer on the Alien movies. It must feel like you’re somewhere in the Alien universe or inside the skeleton of a monster. In any case it’s very original and refreshing.


2. The World's Only Bar Inside a Tree

Big Boabab Pub, Modjadjiskloof, South Africa

Fancy a drink at the world’s only bar inside a tree? Than the The Big Baobab Pub in Modjadjiskloof, in the Limpopo Province of South Africa is just the place to go. it is world renowned for being the widest of its species and because it attracts more than 7000 tourists year.

The baobab is 20 metres high, 45 metres in circumference, sits 15 people comfortably, and is said to be older than the Egyptian pyramids.
Shortly after Heather and Doug van Heerden bought the farm, in the late 1980’s, they discovered that the massive baobab tree was hollow inside. When a Baobab reaches 1000 years it starts to hollow naturally. This gave them the bright idea of building a bar inside of it.

3. London's Coolest Bar

Absolut Icebar

Step into an environment where the walls, bar, tables and even your own personal glass is made of the purest ice. Absolut Ice Bar London is the UK's only permanent bar made of ice and is kept at minus 5 degress all year round. Everything inside is made out of crystal clear ice harvested especially from the frozen Torne River in Jukkasjarvi, Northern Sweden.

Absolut Icebar is operated in 40 minute time slots and you will be given a designer thermal cape with a hood to keep you warm during your visit. Every six months the bar is completely re-designed with a brand new theme to keep the ice and the design looking fresh.

4. The Highest Bar in the World

Cloud 9, Singapore

Cloud 9 is located on the 87th floor of the world's tallest hotel, the ultra-modern Grand Hyatt – making it the highest bar in the world. Cloud 9 is not easy to find - some obscure interior design law of the hotel means that they don't mark out how to get to it. Use the lift and let the discreet waiters at the top show you the rest of the way.


5. The Best Underwater Bar

Red Sea Star Underwater Restaurant, Bar and Observatory

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DOME SWEET DOME: 8 Cool Dome Homes

We live in such an interesting era, why must our homes be boring? Take s step into the next generation, consider a dome home.

1. Dome house, Hawthorn, Australia

A man's dome is his castle

This project is a home in Hawthorn, Australia, designed to accommodate a large family. The design concept of this home was to take a perfect shape, the copper sphere, and to remove parts. By selectively removing parts of the sphere, there is the sense internally of being in and surrounded by garden. The spherical shell also provides beautiful internal spaces on the first floor.


2. Solaleya rotating dome homes

Dome free

As distributors of environmentally conscious products, we are proud to exclusively represent Domespace Homes in the U.S.

Our all wood dome shaped homes allow you to live in an exceptionally pleasant setting of warmth and balance while preserving the beauty of our Planet.

The rotation system allows your home to turn towards or away from the sun to balance inside temperature and reduce energy consumption while allowing you to have a change of scenery from your windows any time you wish.

Proven to resist against extreme high winds and earthquakes in many occurrences, our dome shaped homes provide you with the comfort and safety of an outstanding and luxurious habitat all at once.


3. Styrofoam dome homes, Aso Farm Land Resort, Japan

Home is where the dome is

I always wondered how it will feel like to live like a smurf...

I came upon pics of these odd-looking houses. What made them even more peculiar is that they are made out of styrofoam, typically something the Japanese would come up with.The Aso Farm Land Resort village in Kyushu uses about 480 styrofoam domes as lodging, recreational facilities and retail shops.

While Styrofoam may be most commonly associated with disposable coffee cups, meat trays and packaging, prefab home manufacturer Japan Dome House Co., Ltd. uses it to construct easy-to-assemble modular homes.Dubbed the “habitat for the 21st century,” the dome house is an igloo-shaped structure built from snap-together wall sections made of 100% expanded styrofoam. It might seem like an odd choice of material for a house, but the company lists a number of advantages that styrofoam has over traditional materials.

Unlike wood and metal structures, the styrofoam dome house does not rust, rot or attract termites. It is also highly resistant to earthquakes and typhoons. In addition, the walls, which are treated with a flame retardant, emit no toxic fumes in a fire.
The houses are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. They also have good insulation properties and can reduce energy bills by 90%. The styrofoam used in the dome house’s 175 mm thick walls is significantly denser and stronger than ordinary packing foam.


4. Dome home, Pensacola Beach, Florida

The Indestructible dome

This fabulous Monolithic dome home in Pensacola Beach, Florida has successfully survived more than one hurricane. In 2004, the owners and an
NBC News crew had permission to stay in this dome during Hurricane Dennis.


5. Dome Home, Winconstin, USA

The Disappearing Dome

Barbara and Paul Stitt, owns this dream-come-true monolithic dome home. On a slightly foggy day, the house just about disappears, and that is just what they wanted. The Stitts achieved that effect by choosing just the right shade of blue paint for the outside of their dome home. Besides the ability to almost disappear, this dome is unique in other ways. It’s Wisconsin’s first and, as such, it created quite a stir in Manitowoc, a city populated by about 35,000. Located on a 1.7-acre site, this home’s three stories provide 4000 square feet of living space. Robert Bissett began the design of the house in December of 1998. To absorb echoes, the Stitts installed seamless acoustic ceiling tiles and acoustic wallpaper.


6. Dome home in Moscow, Russia

The pink dome home

Sviet Raikov, a native Russian, built this Monolithic Dome home, 36′ × 18′, after learning the technology in a Monolithic Workshop. An American flag flies from the dome’s top. This pink dome home is quite striking in a neighborhood of conventional homes.


7. Eco-Dome (Sandbag DIY dome home)

The Moon Cacoon

The Eco-Dome is a small home (made of sandbag technology) of approximately 400 square feetinterior space. It consists of a large central dome, surrounded by four smaller niches and a wind-scoop, in a clover leaf pattern. The finished house is self-contained and can become a small guest house, studio apartment, or be the first step in a clustered design for community use in an Eco-Village of vaults and domes. It is built from local earth-filled Superadobe coils.

Maximum use of space through alternative options
. The Eco-Dome plan is a part of the Cal-Earth educational and research program. It is an educational construction document developed to be used in conjuction with the Cal-Earth apprenticeship course. Superadobe/sandbag technology has been patented in the United States and overseas, to protect the innovator’s right to make it freely available to the needy of the world and to the owner-builder, and to license it for commercial use.


8. Wooden dome cabin in Lopburi-Province, Thailand