Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of 344,400 square kilometres. The reef is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia; the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps, it supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world; the Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, dumping of dredging sludge and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish.

According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985. The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is an important part of local groups' cultures and spirituality; the reef is a popular destination for tourists in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating over AUD$3 billion per year. In November 2014, Google launched Google Underwater Street View in 3D of the Great Barrier Reef. A March 2016 report stated that coral bleaching was more widespread than thought affecting the northern parts of the reef as a result of warming ocean temperatures. In October 2016, Outside published an obituary for the reef. In March 2017, the journal Nature published a paper showing that huge sections of an 800-kilometre stretch in the northern part of the reef had died in the course of 2016 due to high water temperatures, an event that the authors put down to the effects of global climate change.

The percentage of baby corals being born on the Great Barrier Reef dropped drastically in 2018 and scientists are describing it as the early stage of a "huge natural selection event unfolding". Many of the mature breeding adults died in the bleaching events of 2016–17 leading to low coral birth rates; the types of corals that reproduced changed, leading to a "long-term reorganisation of the reef ecosystem if the trend continues."The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 demands every five years an Outlook Report on the Reef's health and future. The last report was published in 2019; the Great Barrier Reef is a distinct feature of the East Australian Cordillera division. It reaches from Torres Strait in the north to the unnamed passage between Lady Elliot Island and Fraser Island in the south. Lady Elliot Island is located 1,915 km southeast of Bramble Cay, it includes the smaller Murray Islands. The plate tectonic theory indicates Australia has moved northwards at a rate of 7 cm per year, starting during the Cenozoic.

Eastern Australia experienced a period of tectonic uplift, which moved the drainage divide in Queensland 400 km inland. During this time, Queensland experienced volcanic eruptions leading to central and shield volcanoes and basalt flows; some of these became high islands. After the Coral Sea Basin formed, coral reefs began to grow in the Basin, but until about 25 million years ago, northern Queensland was still in temperate waters south of the tropics—too cool to support coral growth; the Great Barrier Reef's development history is complex. Reefs can increase in diameter by 1 to 3 centimetres per year, grow vertically anywhere from 1 to 25 cm per year; when Queensland edged into tropical waters 24 million years ago, some coral grew, but a sedimentation regime developed with erosion of the Great Dividing Range. 10 million years ago, the sea level lowered, which further enabled sedimentation. The reef's substrate may have needed to build up from the sediment until its edge was too far away for suspended sediments to inhibit coral growth.

In addition 400,000 years ago there was a warm Interglacial period with higher sea levels and a 4 °C water temperature change. The land that formed the substrate of the current Great Barrier Reef was a coastal plain formed from the eroded sediments of the Great Dividing Range with some larger hills; the Reef Research Centre, a Cooperative Research Centre, has found coral'skeleton' deposits that date back half a million years. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority considers the earliest evidence of complete reef structures to have been 600,000 years ago. According to the GBRMPA, the current, living reef structure is believed to have begun growing on the older platform about 20,000 years ago; the Australian Institute of Marine Science agrees, placin

Monastery of Saint Elijah

Dair Mar Elia known as Saint Elijah's Monastery, was a Christian monastery located just south of Mosul, in the Nineveh Governorate, Iraq. It was founded in the late 6th century, it was one of the oldest monasteries in Iraq, it belonged to the Church of the East, an ancient branch of Eastern Christianity, to the Chaldean Catholic Church. The monastery closed in 1743, its ruins were damaged during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, was demolished by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2014. The monastery was founded around 595 AD by Mar Elia, a monk who had studied at al-Hirah and in the great monastery at Izla mountain in modern Turkey, it belonged to the Church of the East. The monastery was the center of the regional Christian community and for centuries thousands of Christians would visit the monastery to observe the Mar Elia Holiday, which falls on the last Wednesday of November; the main sanctuary of the monastery was built in the 11th century, it was renovated by Hurmizd Alqushnaya in the 17th century.

In 1743, the Persian leader Tahmaz Nadir Shah damaged the monastery and killed the 150 monks who lived there, after they refused to convert to Islam. The monastery lay in ruins until the beginning of the 20th century, when some restoration was completed on a few halls and rooms. During the First World War, Dair Mar Elia was a place of refuge which led to the rebuilding of part of the site; the structure, along with its neighboring reservoir and natural mineral water springs, were cared for by the Chaldean Catholic Church, Christian pilgrims continued to visit the ruins. In the 1970s, the monastery became a base for the Iraqi Republican Guard. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the monastery was damaged by Iraqi tank units, which trashed rooms and filled a cistern with garbage. One of its walls was destroyed after being hit by a T-72 tank turret. After the 101st Airborne Division took control of the area, the site lay within Forward Operating Base Marez. American soldiers vandalized the monastery by inscribing graffiti on the walls and by whitewashing the chapel, destroying its 600-year-old murals in the process.

The structure was further damaged by looters. However, a military chaplain saw the importance of the site, a commander ordered troops to vacate the monastery. US military chaplains began taking care of the structure, gave tours of the ruins to soldiers. In May 2008, Iraqi archaeologists were able to visit the areas for the first time since the invasion; that year, the US military's efforts to restore Dair Mar Elia were reported in the international media. The journalist James Foley, beheaded by ISIL, wrote that the site was being saved "for future generations of Iraqis who will soon have the security to appreciate it." Prior to the withdrawal of U. S. troops from Iraq, army engineers from the 94th Corps of Engineers of Fort Leonard Wood drew up plans of the monastery. In June 2014, Mosul was taken over by the Islamic State of the Levant; the militant group destroyed the monastery sometime between 27 August and 28 September 2014, along with a number of other cultural sites. The destruction of the monastery was not publicized by ISIL, it was only confirmed by satellite imagery released in January 2016.

The fact that its destruction went unreported for about 16 months led to fears that many other Christian sites in Iraq might have been destroyed secretly. The monastery consisted of a fortress-like complex of buildings, having an area of around 27,000 square feet. Before its destruction, it had 26 rooms built around a courtyard, including a chapel and a sanctuary. New York Times Article about restoration efforts of Dair Mar Elia Photo slideshow on the New York Times website of restoration efforts at Dair Mar Elia Article about restoration efforts from the Smithsonian Magazine

The Planet of Youth

The Planet of Youth is a science fiction novella by American writer Stanton A. Coblentz, it was first published in book form in 1952 by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in an edition of 600 copies, of which 300 were hardback. The novel appeared in the October 1932 issue of the magazine Wonder Stories; the novel concerns the first real estate boom on the planet Venus. Boucher and McComas found the novel to have dated badly, "pleasing in period for its irony and economy, but pretty slight today." Chalker, Jack L.. The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. pp. 271–272. Tuck, Donald H.. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. P. 106. ISBN 0-911682-20-1