Dec 5, 2008Public
Photo: Security at Denver Airport 2005
Photo: Facing Hilo from Subaru HQ at night.  Cloudy again.
Photo: The inner courtyard of the British Museum has been glassed over in a very spectacular fashion.
Photo: Giant plaster ceiling panel (about 20 ft across) in the Enlightenment Room at the British Museum, just one cool detail in an incredible room.
Photo: The LAX rotating restaurant with heavy scaffolding, May 2008, from the United terminal.
Photo: Screw-in lighthouse, Baltimore Harbor.  This was mounted on 8 posts screwed into the sand, in shallow sea about 12 miles off-shore.  A family lived in the red section.  Beneath, just above the waves, is a small platform for animals and a toilet.
Photo: Very nice building near the Apple Store, Beijing.  Beautiful in color, proportion and shape.  I like this one.
Photo: This is a watch-tower on the original Great Wall near Jiuquan, Gansu, about 2000 yrs old.  Note the resemblance to the Uniqlo building: I think they copied it.
Photo: OK, I messed around with this one.  But not much.
Photo: Apartment construction, Gansu 2008 August.  Can you say 'Cristo'?
Photo: Beijing Olympic Bird's Nest stadium, in construction.  A  building unreasonably criticized by many Beijingers as 'not having Chinese characteristics'. What they presumably mean is that it's not an ugly copy of some Stalinist monstrosity from Moscow or a boring concrete tower from New York.  In fact, it is inventive, spectacular, world-class and the most unique building in China, and inspired by a Chinese person, Ai Weiwei.  

Photo: Salisbury Cathedral, entirely built in a 40 year period starting 1220.   The bend in the support stone columns is real, not a distortion, caused by insufficient buttressing on the right side of the pointed arch but maybe also by misaligned stress from the ceiling, which the columns support.  They built the cathedrals until they broke - this one almost did.  Salisbury is an awesome place: it even contains a Magna Carta.  And the way they present that MC is fantastic; there's no fuss over it, no signs or advertising.  You just walk into a room and it's there in a glass case.  Not even a guard.
Photo: Detail of the corner of the upper roof on the South-East gate tower of the (mostly now demolished) Beijing city wall.
Photo: The complicated wooden structure used to hold the roof on the building (see previous image).  Done without nails or screws.
Photo: Taipei 101, about 1500 ft tall.
Photo: Steel ball suspended from the top of Taipei 101.  The ball is 5 meters in diameter and weighs about 600 tons.  At the bottom are damped pistons to suppress building oscillations.
Photo: Side view of the ball showing four of the eight damping pistons and steel wrap-around supporting cables.  The largest reported amplitudes are 1.5 meters relative to the building.
Photo: Wrapped in Rio.
Photo: Office buildings and palm trees.  Irvine California.
Photo: Ornate but dilapidated building surrounded by ugly modern block houses.  Rio de Janeiro.
Photo: Corner shop, colorful, well located and well-used. Rio de Janeiro.
Photo: St. Paul's cathedral from the whispering gallery, where "no photos are allowed".  An unpleasant guard on the other side of the dome harassed me after I took this one; I later realized that she heard the camera shutter from so far away because of the excellent sound qualities of this (so-called) whispering gallery.
Photo: Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London, beautifully built, nicely cleaned.
Photo: Silbury Hill burial mound on Salisbury Plain, about 5000 yrs old.  An English pyramid. I guess the volume is about 1/2 x 100 x 100 x 30 m = 1e5 m^3. Then mass = 3e8 kg.  Assume one person carries 30 kg per trip and can make 2 trips up-and-down per hour.  Then, 3e8/30/2 = 5e6 hrs.  A person work-year is 2000 hrs (40 hr/wk x 50 wks), so this represents about 2500 person years, just to carry the dirt up the hill.  If it was built for an individual, it probably took <25 yrs to create, because people didn't get very old back then.  100 people working solidly for 25 yrs could have done it.  Maybe double the number to account for digging up the dirt and bringing it to the site.  If you did this now, manually, 1 person yr would be about 100k$, so 2500 x 0.1M$ = 250M$, or double that for the people to bring the dirt in.  This is a half-billion dollar pile of dirt.  Very few people in the country could afford this, explaining why Silbury Hill is unique in scale.  It was a power display, amongst other things.