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Most visitors to Britain won’t immediately associate the country with rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, majestic mountains or glorious caves. However, since the Olympic Torch Relay is now taking place around Britain and touching down on its less well known but readily available National Parks and natural wonders, I thought I’d take this opportunity to shine the limelight on some of these lesser known regions.
Day 1: Cornwall
The Torch Relay starts at ‘Land’s End’—the most westerly tip of England in the county of Cornwall. With a long Atlantic coastline, Cornwall is famous for its numerous golden sandy beaches, surfing hotspots and jaw dropping cliffs. This exquisite area is also home to the Eden Project, an educational and research facility that looks like an extraterrestrial habitation! Covered by six gigantic transparent bubble-like domes are two ecosystems: the Tropical Biome and the Mediterranean Biome. These are the largest greenhouses on the planet and showcase plants collected from all around the world. You have to see it to believe it!
While in Cornwall, why not indulge in Cornish ice-cream, scones with Cornish clotted cream, or a take a big bite of Cornish pasty?
Day 10-11: Snowdonia, Wales
After a week of travelling through Cornwall, the torch arrives in the country of Wales on Day 7, and continues into the Snowdonia National Park on Day 10 and 11. Snowdonia is a nature lover’s dream. It boasts the biggest mountains in England and Wales, gorgeous lakes, a long coastline of sandy beaches, spectacular cliffs and wonderful estuaries. The Torch Relay route through Snowdonia takes us on board the Aberystwyth cliff railway, the Ffestiniog highland railway, the Llandudno cable car and the Snowdon Mountain Railway to arrive at the summit of the Snowdon Mountain at an elevation of 3,560 feet.
Day 16-20: Northern Ireland
After Cornwall and Wales, it is now Northern Ireland’s turn to receive the Olympic Torch. The Torch travels past the small island of Isle of Man and arrives in Belfast on Day 16. At Carrick-a-rede, two Torchbearers transfer the Olympic flame in the middle of the area’s famous Rope Bridge—a bridge which links the cliff faces of the mainland to the island of Carrick-a-rede. A visit is paid to the Giant’s Causeway, a magnificent built-up structure comprised of some forty thousand interlocking basalt columns along the rugged north coast. Legend has it that it was built by the Irish giant Finn McCool to cross the Irish Sea to fight his Scottish rival, Benandonner. Giant’s Causeway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. As if there is not enough adventure, the Torchbearer also gets to take in the grandeur of the Marble Arch Caves, travelling via boat on the subterranean Cladagh River inside the cave. The torch route even includes passing the border to touchdown briefly in Dublin, the Republic of Ireland!
Day 22: Scottish Highlands
Day 22 of the Torch Relay is a storied one, as Torchbearers make their way north from Glasgow onto the Scottish Highlands, passing through two major cities: Fort William (the outdoor capital of the UK) and Inverness. The Scottish Highlands are dominated by mountain ranges. 283 of them are over 3,000 feet and are commonly known as “Munro” by locals. Mountain lovers engage in “Munro Bagging” challenges with the aim of climbing all of the listed Munros. Ben Nevis is the highest peak with its summit at 4,409 feet. But wait—there’s even more to see for naturalists! Lakes in Scotland are called Lochs (a Gaelic word). There are some thirty-one thousand lochs in Scotland, most of them located within the Scottish Highlands. The most famous one, of course, has to be Loch Ness near the city of Inverness, best known for sightings of the Loch Ness sea monster affectionately named “Nessie”!
Day 34: Lake District
The flame passes from Scotland into England on Day 27, and continues along the east coast of England for a few days before cutting across the inland into the Lake District National Park, located on the North West coast of England on Day 34. Lake District is the largest National Park in England and Wales, and the second largest in the UK after the Cairngorms in Scotland. A popular holiday destination, it has many beautiful mountains, valleys and lakes, and boasts a wide variety of wildlife, including some that are uniquely British. English poet William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes published in 1810 has helped to popularize this region.
Day 42: Peak District
It wouldn’t be fair if the Olympic Torch graced the Lake District without also paying a visit to the Peak District. Unlike the Lake District that borders the Irish Sea, the Peak District is an inland National Park near Manchester. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock-climbing, caving in the limestone quarry, sailing and hang gliding are just some of the activities you can take up in the park.
Day 55-57: Dorset (south coast of England)
On Day 55, the Olympic Flame visits Stonehenge, a world-renowned heritage site and prehistoric monument which is veiled in mystery. It continues its way south until it reaches the county of Dorset on the south coast of England. Weymouth, Poole and Bournemouth are major tourist seaside resorts. One of the must-see natural wonders here is the Jurassic Coast. This 95 mile dramatic coastline consists of a near-continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliff exposure, spanning some 184 million years of the Earth’s history! The Durdle Door is another awe-inspiring rock formation that will surely capture any visitor’s imagination. On Day 57, The Olympic Torch arrives in Southampton, where the legendary Titanic set sail in 1912.
Day 61: Dover (east coast of England)
The wonderful White Cliffs of Dover, home to a breathtaking white chalk cliff face that rises up to 350 feet! For hundreds of years, the formidable cut boldly guarded the land and scared away England’s enemies from Continental Europe. The Strait of Dover is the narrowest crossing of the English Channel to France, and this is where the ferry service operates and also where the underwater Channel Tunnel, one of the world’s greatest architectural feats, is located.
An Easter Egg Hunt may not be the sensible excuse for one to travel to London, but for those who lives there or happens to be in London for whatever reason from 25 February to 9 April, you are treated to possibly the world’s biggest Easter Egg Hunt! Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let us show you a few of the 210 eggs created by leading artists, designers architects and jewelers, all hidden across the capital of Great Britain.
Do you remember visiting a planetarium for the first time and barely being able to contain your excitement? Do you also remember laying your eyes on the curiously wonderful spherical structure and thinking that it’s unlike any other building on Earth?
In fact, I remember all these moments, as well as the ecstatic feeling of half lying on the planetarium dome’s tilted seats, watching the star-ball projector blazing images of the planets and constellations on to the gigantic concave screen, completed by a powerful surround sound system that appeared to come from outer space. I remember the sense of wonder and awe being face to face with the profoundly colorful pictures of deep space objects on display along the planetarium’s long spiraling corridor: galaxies shaped like a giant Mexican hat; dark nebula resembling a horse’s head backed by dazzlingly bright pink and blue gas, and a star cluster that looked curiously like a beehive.
Planetariums around the world are built to trigger our senses of awe and ignite our wildest imaginations. To kids, it is a Disneyland from outer space. To adults, it is a treasure hunt for those who are humble enough to learn something new and young enough to still imagine.
In this issue, we whisk you off to a few interesting planetariums around the world, each with their unique personalities and charms. Some boast the most advanced equipment (The Rose Center for Earth and Space, New York, USA), some radiate impossible aesthetic beauty (Hemesferic, Valencia, Spain) while some claim a fascinating history (The Planetarium Science Center, Alexandria, Egypt). Others possess an ideal location for capturing the dazzling southern night sky while raving about their unique collection of exotic space rocks (The Galileo Galilei planetarium, Buenos Aires, Argentina). Sit tight and here we go!
Fly through space with feet on the earth
If you would like to take part in a guided observation of the dazzling southern night sky, marvel at a lunar rock and a 850kg meteorite; the Galileo Galilei planetarium in Buenos Aires is the planetarium for you.
The Galileo Galilei planetarium (also known intimately as the Planetario) is a giant sphere supported by three large, low arches. This giant UFO-shaped structure boasts a 100 projectors strong theatre, with dedicated projector for each of the Moon, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn!
The ‘star’ of the planetarium exhibits is the three ‘humble’ meteorites. Humble and insignificant compared to any celestial objects in space, they are no ordinary Joe on Earth! Ranging from 1.53kg to 850kg, the space rocks were thought to originate from a 800 tons asteroid that exploded and broken up upon entering the Earth some 4,000 years ago. Other exhibitions and activities are also plenty, but however are only offered in Spanish.
The planetarium is currently closed for renovation and will be opened in March 2012.
Galileo Galilei 天文館（當地人俗稱「Planetario」）是由三個龐大的低弧底座構成的大型球體，形態就如飛碟。館內劇院裝有100個放映機，而且特設鏡頭放映月球、太陽、水星、金星、火星、木星和土星的形態﹗
All that the world of science has to offer
If you were to build a planetarium in the Big Apple, it better be impressive in its appearance as well as in its substance! Situated on premium Manhattan land, New York’s The Rose Center for Earth and Space is no disappointment! Designed by the James Polshek and opened in 2000, it was a $210 million replacement of its 1935 predecessor. Described by the architect himself as the “cosmic cathedral”, it consists of a six-story high glass cube, which encloses a 27m illuminated Hayden Planetarium sphere that appears to float!
Worth a special mention is the ambitious show ‘Journey to the Stars’. It combines pictures and simulations by NASA and scientists around the world, utilizes the biggest data-based model of the universe ever projected, and transmitted by the largest and most powerful virtual reality simulator in the world! This is a show not to be missed!
The center also houses the Big Bang – a story on the evolution of our universe packed with visual-audio effects, as well as other world-class exhibits. It even hosts a team of academic researchers that made up its Department of Astrophysics!
如果要在紐約市這個「大蘋果」興建一座天文館，其貌及其內容都一定要相當矚目﹗位於重要地段紐約邁克頓的玫瑰地球及太空中心絕對不會令你失望﹗中心於2000年開幕，由James Polshek設計，是當局斥資210萬美元興建以取代1935年前館的大型項目。被設計師稱為「宇宙大教堂」的新館是一幢六層高的玻璃方盒，內含一個27米高並呈浮動球體狀、燈光閃閃的Hayden Planetarium﹗
特別值得一提的是中心的壓軸節目「Journey to the Stars」（闖星之旅），內容包括從美國太空總署和世界各地多位科學家搜羅所得的圖片和模型，放映著最大的宇宙數據庫，投射出全球最大、最震憾的模擬星空﹗絕對不容錯過﹗
Explore the Universe with the naked eye
Blessed with the Spanish sun, Mediterranean Sea and the best Paella in the world, Valencia is the jewel of the Iberia peninsula. Valencia no doubt has its fair share of historical monuments, however, the City of Arts and Sciences – an entertainment, educational and cultural complex is proven to be its most popular modern tourist destinations. Among the eight exquisitely designed space-age structures by Santiago Calatrava, all showing off their curves and fighting for your attention, is the breathtaking Hemesferic. Surrounded by a 24,000m2 manmade lake and shaped like a giant eye completed with eye-lid and eyeball, is possibly the most eye-catching building of all (no pun intended!).
Located inside the ‘eyeball’ of the Hemesferic is its IMAX cinema, Planetarium and Laserium. Equipped with a 180 degrees concave screen with a surface area of 900m2 and a diameter of 24m, it shows a daily schedule of varies IMAX movies. Besides the Hemesferic, it wouldn’t do the ‘city’ justice without also mentioning the Oceanografic – Europe’s largest aquarium, and the Prince Felipe Museum of Science – which looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton from the outside. A visit to the City of Arts and Sciences could easily occupy a day or more.
Hemesferic的「眼球」位置是一個IMAX電影院「Planetarium and Laserium」。內裡有一個直徑24米、面積達900平方米的180度拱形屏幕，每日放映多部還IMAX電影。另外，「城中」最不容錯過的還有全歐洲最大的水族館「Oceanografic」、外觀活像史前暴龍的菲利普王子科學館（Prince Felipe Museum of Science）。遊覽藝術科學城大概要花上一天或更多。
Live through the experiences of the other
When modern day Astronomers observe the sky, they think of solving the great problem on the creation of the universe. Grandiose a question it may be, it seems to be a far cry from our daily life. However, believe it or not, astronomy used to be quite down to earth! When ancient Egyptian astronomers looked at the rising and setting of stars, they used it to guide their agricultural activities, to predict the Nile’s annual flooding, for fixing the dates of their religious calendar, and to determine the orientation of their pyramids and temples.
Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, is the Mecca of Egyptian Astronomy, owing to the greatest astronomer of antiquity – Ptolemy. In 2002, a New Library of Alexandria was opened at a location close to where the Ancient Library of Alexandria used to be. The Planetarium Science Center, a part of this new library complex, houses the Planetarium – which features a variety of IMAX and Panorama shows, the ALEXploratorium – filled with interactive exhibits, and History of Science Museum – which explores science in Egypt throughout the ages. It is a place that is worthy of a pilgrimage!
翻譯 REN WAN