Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bird's Nest - The Beijing 2008 Olympic Stadium


In 2002, Government officials engaged architects worldwide in a design competition. Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron collaborated with ArupSport and China Architecture Design & Research Group to win the competition. Contemporary Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, is the Artistic Consultant for design. The ground was broken on Christmas Eve December 2003, and construction started in March 2004, but was halted by the high construction cost in August 2004 and continued again. In January 2008, concerns about construction working conditions arose when it was revealed that at least 10 workers had died during the stadium's construction. Controversy also surrounded the alleged forced evictions of many residents so the construction could go ahead.


The stadium can seat as many as 91,000 spectators during the Olympics. The capacity will then be reduced to 80,000 after the Games. It has replaced the original intended venue of the Guangdong Olympic Stadium The stadium is 330 meters long by 220 meters wide, and is 69.2 meters tall. The stadium uses 258,000 square meters of space and has a usable area of 204,000 square meters. It was built with 36 km of unwrapped steel, with a combined weight of 45,000 tons. The stadium has some 11,000 square meters of underground rooms with waterproof walls. The stadium will cost up to 3.5 billion Yuan.


Space Party

This weekend sees the celebration of Cosmonautics Day in Russia and the 8th Annual ‘Yuri’s Night’, which celebrates the anniversary of both the first time a human was launched into space (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961) and the first Space Shuttle Launch (in 1981). ‘Yuri’s Night’ aims to raise global public interest in space exploration and inspire a new generation of space explorers all over the world. Space travel and exploration has come a long way in the past 47 years and here are some records to show this:

Longest solo spaceflight
The longest duration spaceflight with a single person on board was the flight of Vostok 5, piloted by Soviet cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky. It was launched on 14 June 1963 and landed on 19 June 1963 with a total mission elapsed time of 4 days 23 hr 7 min.

Longest mission by a space suit
On 3 February 2006 Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and U.S. astronaut Bill McArthur jettisoned an old Russian Orlan M spacesuit from the International Space Station. Equipped with a transmitter, 'SuitSat-1' broadcasted nearly 3,500 radio messages and data on the temperature inside the suit which were picked up by amateur radio operators on Earth. The last transmission from SuitSat-1 was received on 18 February 2006, shortly before its onboard battery became depleted.

Most spacewalks by one person
The greatest number of spacewalks is ten, totalling 31h 37m by Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov (b. 15 Feb 1944) during Soyuz TM-8 (launched 5 Sept 1989 - the five spacewalks took place in Jan/Feb 1990) and Soyuz TM-17 (launched 1 July 1993 - the five spacewalks took place in Sept/Oct 1993).

Most time spent in space
The most time spent in space by an individual is 803 days 9 hours and 39 minutes, by Sergei Krikalev (Russia). He was selected as a cosmonaut in 1985 and has since completed six spaceflights. His most recent flight, as commander of the International Space Station, began on 14 April 2005 and ended on 10 October 2005.

Earliest commercial filmed in space
An advertising campaign for Tnuva Milk, showing cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev drinking milk aboard the Russian Mir space station, was broadcast on 22 August 1997.

source: Guinness World Record

World Health Day

World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7th April - the anniversary of the first World Health Assembly in 1948, which also saw the formation of the World Health Organisation. The WHO is the authority on international public health and here are some of their findings:

Deadliest disease
Based on estimates from the United Nations Health Report 2004, a total of 57 million people died of numerous causes in 2002. Of this total, the disease which killed the most people was ischaemic heart disease with an estimated 7.2 million deaths (or 12.6% of the total). Amongst communicable diseases, HIV/AIDs caused the highest with 2.8 million deaths (4.9% of the total).

Commonest disease (non-contagious)
Periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) are the most prevalent of all non-contagious diseases, affecting approximately 75% of the US population, for example. Although the distribution and severity varies regionally around the world, according to the World Health Organisation 60-90% of school children and the majority of adults in industrialised countries are affected by dental diseases.

Highest budget for health care (country)
According to a World Health Organization report, the United States government spent $5,274 (then £3,480) per citizen on health care in 2002.

Most common cause of death
According to the latest World Health Organization figures, the most common cause of death, globally, is cardiovascular disease, which in 2005 caused the deaths of approximately 17.5 million people (equivalent to 30 per cent of all deaths). Of this figure, 7.6 million were due to heart attacks and 5.7 million were caused by strokes; 80 per cent of the deaths occured in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Unless improvements are made, cardiovascular disease is set to remain the leading cause of death, with projections of 20 million deaths occurring annually, by 2015.

Most successful immunization
The World Health Organization declared the world free of smallpox from 1 January 1980. Formerly one of the worlds deadliest plagues (it caused an estimated 2 million deaths per annum in the mid-1960s), smallpox was eradicated by the availability of one type of vaccine that was effective against all forms of smallpox. The eradication project involved following up all contacts of every individual and vaccinating them.
Source: Guinness World Record