Nature has a job to do: provide for and nurture the fragile ecosystem of life. And she does a pretty dang good job at it, too. But still, fuck her. Mankind is pretty sure we're better than nature in every way, and for some reason we feel the need to prove it in increasingly extravagant, overcompensating ways.
Everybody knows there are some shady goings-on going on in the American Southwest: What with all the nuclear testing and the inter-dimensional warfare, New Mexico is essentially a haven for mad scientists trying to choke the universe into submission. And they've succeeded, with pretty much the most Metal-with-a-capital-"M" thing science has done since the invention of the guitar shredding robot (patent pending): Man-made lightning.
But it's not some far-fetched weapon of death from the sketchiest division of DARPA, this is very real, and it was called forth by a group of scientists from Europe, using a frickin' laser beam. Sure, triggering lightning isn't new. People have been doing it for decades using a copper filament attached to a rocket which, while awesome, is sadly never going to be used to strike down your enemies, because it's all about altitude. That method cannot cause ground-strikes. On the other hand, doing it with a laser requires nothing more than a cloud to shoot it at and either a reckless disregard for the unsinged flesh of your team, or a burning hatred of everybody in your immediate vicinity.
While this clearly seems to be the stuff of world domination schemes, the scientists say they're just studying the effects of lightning in a more realistic setting. And that's probably true -- with their results, airplanes and buildings could be better built to resist errant lightning strikes. After all, it's not like you could build some kind of lightning laser cannon that basically shoots Force lightning at people over long distances by making the electricity travel down a beam of plasma. Oh, wait, you totally can.
Spoiler alert: On a list of building humongous, insane (some would argue unnecessary) crap, Japan is going to show up twice. That's OK: You can faint from surprise if you want. We're ready to catch you.
They've built an entire beach. Indoors. Which... kind of defeats the point of a beach, right?
OK, so it seems baffling at first, but we can see some upsides to an indoor beach: First, nothing sucks more than packing up the family for an ocean-side trip just to find out that it's rainy or windy. Second: If you're in a landlocked area, that ride to and from the beach can be a killer. Building a beach close to home could save you the frustrating, impatient-child-infested drive over and the sunburnt, dehydrated, dangerously intoxicated drive home.
But then, what if that beach was a constantly packed tourist attraction, it cost $50 to enter and was located within walking distance of a real beach? You know, the kind of beach that's generally an entire coastline larger a building, and that you can go to for something in the range of 5,000 pennies less than $50?
"Whatever. Nature is gay anyway." - Japan
When you can see the real beach from your artificial beach, you officially give up any pretense that you've built your bizarre techno-marvel for any utilitarian purpose: It's pretty much just a big fat middle finger to the natural world. Which, coming from the land of giant robots, is probably nature getting off light.
And while we're in Japan...
Back in the '60s, the people of Osaka Prefecture in Japan were getting a bit pissed that nearby Tokyo was taking all of their business. They wanted to expand their existing airport to encourage more trade, but it was surrounded by buildings and the demolition firm of Godzilla, Godzilla and Mecha Godzilla was booked full.
Plus, the locals were annoyed at all the noise it was creating already. So they figured they would just build it in Kobe. Aaaand Kobe promptly told them to get fucked (Kobe's working through some issues right now).
So they decided to simply build an entire island in Osaka Bay, and put it on that. Because you know what they say: If at first you don't succeed... just play God.
Construction started in 1987 and work was finished in 1990. It took 10,000 people, 80 ships, three mountains and presumably Ultra-Man to build the 98-foot tall island from the sea floor, along with a sea wall of over 48,000 tetrahedral concrete blocks. They also built a three kilometer long highway out into Osaka Bay so that people could actually access the island. In the end, Japan managed to hand-build not only their most successful and busiest airport, but also a man-made construct visible from space (suck it, Great Wall).
And the island stands up pretty well to its natural counterparts, too. Unlike regular islands, this one was specifically designed to withstand earthquakes. In case you didn't know, Japan sits in what scientists like to refer to as a "tectonic clusterfuck," meaning it is a volcanic hell hole wracked with earthquakes and tsunamis (and soul-scarring pornography, but that's probably unrelated). While in some cases, Japan has not taken all the measures necessary to prevent catastrophes resulting from quakes, this is one case where they got it right, in spades.
In 1995, the Kobe earthquake hit and the devastation was extreme, however, the nearby Kansai Airport and its island were so well manufactured that not even a single pane of glass was broken in the quake that killed over 6,000 on the mainland. Which is seriously impressive and all, but man... Kobe's been having a rough time of it lately. The rest of Japan should take it out to a titty bar or something; take it's mind off of things.