The 5 Ballsiest Ways Man Has Replaced Nature
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.
Japan's Ocean Dome
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...
Japan Builds a Better Island
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.
Dubai Controls the Weather
Dubai is in a crazy footrace against Japan for the title of Craziest Tiny Nation on Earth (the prize is "more crazy,") but in this case, we aren't talking about any crazy buildings, or more crazy buildings, but the weather.
But let's not forget, Dubai has some crazy-ass buildings.
In Dubai, as in other parts of the Middle East, it is very dry. This is what scientists call a "desert" and they also note that it is dry because "there is not much rain." But rather than merely accepting defeat by the natural cycles of Earth and either adapting to their environment or just moving somewhere else, Dubai decided that even the weather was something that money could be thrown at if you didn't like it. The technique they used is called cloud seeding and it's a process where either silver iodide or dry ice are dispersed into the air by airplane or rocket which then provokes rainfall.
Shoot nature in the face; she bleeds rain.
This only works if the water in the rain clouds is super-cooled, of course. As long time Cracked readers might recall, supercooled water is water that is below freezing, but still liquid, and needs a "seed" to form crystals. This principle is not only useful for mildly impressing inter-nerds, but also makes heavily laden clouds release that precious precipitation. In Dubai, they flew over the counter-intuitively super-cooled desert rainclouds and dumped dry ice into the sky. Sure enough, they got their rain--possibly at the expense of the wrath of a spurned Earth goddess, but it was rain nonetheless.
Considering Dubai is in a desert, it stands to reason that they don't typically get a great deal of rainfall. But things are slowly changing. The cloud seeding seems to be having a lasting effect, because the amount of annual rainfall has been increasing over the past few years. Incidentally, all the rain has not done a damn thing to stop Dubai from being a desert, but it has increased the number of shrubs in the area, and also scrubs the pollution out of the air. Which is a fine stop-measure for now, until Dubai finally buckles down and just builds themselves a new sky.
Inuvik, Canada - Morning
The Northwest Territories in Canada suffer the same dim fate every year when the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun and plunges the area into prolonged darkness. The kind of bullshit you have to put up with is staggering: depression, cabin fever, cold...
Vampires that seem awesome at first until they start talking...
So what's a good Canadian to do? Blockade the windows, turn on all the lights and drink until you forget what warmth feels like? See if you can watch all the pornography on the Internet? Move to somewhere that doesn't remind you of the impending oblivion awaiting you at the end of life? Nope! Build a motherfucking sun.
Tropicana doesn't just make orange juice; they apparently also make the source of all life as well. As anyone who lives in a part of the world that experiences winter can attest to, the shorter days and cold can have a profound negative effect on people, and most of those people typically get at least some sun. But in Inuvik, they get none and the psychological effects of not seeing a giant orb of light in the air for months on end can lead to seasonal depression or even an upswing in appreciation for Morrissey. So Tropicana stepped up with a giant helium balloon covered in lights - which sounds like kind of a sad replacement until you consider the scale of the thing: The artificial sun was 36-feet across and was roughly 70,000 watts.
The raising of the fake sun was done on the eve of Inuvik's annual Sunrise Festival, which celebrates the return of the sun after weeks of hiding behind the rest of Earth. Wait a second... the "return of the sun" was happening the next day? Tropicana gave Inuvik a sun to fight off the month of darkness on the night before the sun comes back? Way to step up, guys. Vitamin C may improve your immune system and protect against cardiovascular disease, but it apparently doesn't do a fucking thing to help with your sense of timing.
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To see how else mankind flips Mother Nature the bird, check out Man's 6 Most Ridiculous Attempts To Take On Mother Nature and 7 Insane Military Attempts To Weaponize Animals.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 05.28.10) to see Seanbaby having his way with Mother Nature.