King Herod Revealed Light Pollution Crystal Giants Moscow at Night Siberian Oil

King Herod Revealed

King Herod Revealed
The Holy Land's visionary builder.
By Tom Mueller Photograph by Michael Melford  Eight miles south of Jerusalem, where the last stunted olive trees and stony cornfields fade into the naked badlands of the Judaean desert, a hill rises abruptly, a steep cone sliced off at the top like a small volcano. This is Herodium, one of the grand architectural creations of Herod the Great, King of Judaea, who raised a low knoll into a towering memorial of snowy stonework and surrounded it with pleasure palaces, splashing pools, and terraced gardens. An astute and generous ruler, a brilliant general, and one of the most imaginative and energetic builders of the ancient world, Herod guided his kingdom to new prosperity and power. Yet today he is best known as the sly and murderous monarch of Matthew's Gospel, who slaughtered every male infant in Bethlehem in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the newborn Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews. During the Middle Ages he became an image of the Antichrist: Illuminated manuscripts and Gothic gargoyles show him tearing his beard in mad fury and brandishing his sword at the luckless infants, with Satan whispering in his ear. Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew's account. But children he certainly slew, including three of his own sons, along with his wife, his mother-in-law, and numerous other members of his court. Throughout his life, he blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination. Israeli archaeologist Ehud Netzer has spent the past half century searching for the real Herod, as he is portrayed not in words but in stone. He has excavated many of Herod's major building sites throughout

the Holy Land, exploring the palaces where the king lived, the fortresses where he fought, the landscapes where he felt most at home. Of Herod's many imaginative building projects, Herodium was the only one that bore his name, and was perhaps the closest to his heart. It was here, at the end of his daring and bloodstained career, that he was laid to rest in a noble mausoleum. The precise location of Herod's tomb remained a mystery for nearly two millennia, until April 2007, when Netzer and his colleagues at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem unearthed it on the upper slopes of Herodium. The discovery provided new insights into one of the most enigmatic minds of the ancient world—and fresh evidence of the hatred that Herod excited among his contemporaries. It also became a political incident, with Palestinians arguing that the artifacts at the site belonged to them, and Jewish settlers saying that the tomb's presence strengthened their claim to the West Bank. To Netzer, whose work at various Herodian sites has for decades been interrupted by war, invasion, and uprisings, the controversy was hardly surprising. In the Holy Land, archaeology can be as political as kingship. Herod was born in 73 B.C. and grew up in Judaea, a kingdom in the heart of ancient Palestine that was torn by civil war and caught between powerful enemies. The Hasmonaean monarchy that had ruled Judaea for 70 years was split by a vicious fight for the throne between two princely brothers, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The kingdom was in turn caught in a larger geopolitical struggle between the Roman legions to the north and west, and the Parthians, historic enemies of Rome, to the east. Herod's father, the chief adviser to Hyrcanus and a gifted general, threw in his lot with the Romans, who banished Aristobulus and made Hyrcanus king of Judaea. From boyhood, Herod saw the benefits of entente with the Roman overlords—a stance that has long been judged a betrayal of the Jewish people—and it was the Romans who would eventually make Herod king. Throughout his career he strove to reconcile their demands with those of his Jewish subjects, who jealously guarded their political and religious independence. Maintaining this delicate balance was all the more difficult because of Herod's background; his mother was an ethnic Arab, and his father was an Edomite, and though Herod was raised as a Jew, he lacked the social status of the powerful old families in Jerusalem who were eligible to serve as high priest, as the Hasmonaean kings had traditionally done. Many of his subjects considered Herod an outsider—a "half Jew," as his early biographer, the Jewish soldier and aristocrat Flavius Josephus later wrote—and continued to fight for a Hasmonaean theocracy. In 43 B.C., Herod's father was poisoned by a Hasmonaean agent. Three years later, when the Parthians suddenly invaded Judaea, a rival Hasmonaean faction allied themselves with the invaders, deposed and mutilated Hyrcanus, and turned on Herod.

Light Pollution
By Brad Scriber ver. 2 - Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 12:05:46 PM

Photograph by Jim Richardson National Geographic November 2008
     Ecological Light Pollution » Got Milky Way? » Getting Back in the Black » Nightlight Savings Time » Lights and Safety »

Light pollution in the broad sense refers to any nighttime artificial light that shines where it's not needed. This nocturnal brightness can disorient humans and a host of other animals, confounding eyes and biological rhythms that evolved in a world without such light. One way stray rays pollute is sky glow, the scattering of light by clouds and atmospheric particles that makes it difficult to see stars and other features of the night sky—an increasing problem. These maps show the global extent of sky glow. More than just snapshots of the Earth at night, they account for the light-scattering effects of clouds and dust, and show how bright the sky is above a given point on the ground—revealing that most of the world's population lives under night skies fuzzy with the haze of reflected light. Sky glow doesn't stop at city limits or even international borders. But a close look at this upward escaping luminosity can reveal cultural clues about the polluters. This video, which shows the view from the International Space Station, provides a tour of the light we send spaceward—and of the striking social and geographical signatures it carries with it, from the incandescent spiderwebs emanating from European cities to the rigid grids illuminating the western United States to the pinpoints sprinkled around the remote corners of Australia. Bibliography Klinkenborg, Verlyn. "Our Vanishing Night." National Geographic (November 2008), 102-123.

Cinzano, Pierantonio. The World Atlas of the Artificial Night Sky Brightness. National Geophysical Data Center. "Nighttime Lights From the International Space Station." Other Resources Bower, Joe. "The Dark Side of Light." Audubon (March-April 2000). Owen, David. "The Dark Side. Making War on Light Pollution." New Yorker (August 2007). Nightscape. International Dark-Sky Association. International Dark-Sky Association. International Year of Astronomy 2009.

Ecological Light Pollution
By Brad Scriber ver. 3 - Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 1:36:26 PM Humans have been aggressively lighting up the night for just over a hundred years, and though scientists have spent only a fraction of that time exploring the impact of the unintended peripheral glow on the natural world, observational and experimental data show that it affects how animals move about, communicate, find food, and even select mates. The most famous example is newly hatched sea turtles that become disoriented by the light from brightly illuminated beach communities and have difficulty finding the ocean. But behavioral changes have been documented in a wide range of species, including birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Not all species respond to light in the same way. Many nocturnally migrating birds are drawn to the source and can wind up circling round and round lighted towers, often colliding with other birds or dropping from exhaustion. Some animals, such as mountain lions, avoid lighted areas at night; other species are able to exploit such areas—foraging longer or targeting prey that congregate near lights, as some bat species do. But the increase in foraging hours can have its downside, putting animals on the prowl at risk for predation. The overall effect on complex ecological relationships is not yet fully understood. There's also evidence that our grand transformation of the night might have serious implications for our own health. The contrast between dark and light allows our bodies to calibrate our circadian rhythms, such as hormone levels and sleep schedules. Disrupting these can have a dramatic impact. Researchers think this phenomenon may help explain higher breast cancer rates in societies with brighter nights. Studies on shift workers exposed to nearly constant light during the night hours reveal a higher risk for the disease, perhaps because of altered levels of melatonin. Other research shows that blind women have a lower occurrence of breast cancer. One study that looked at a general population also found a correlation between neighborhood nighttime light levels and breast cancer incidence. Bibliography Longcore, Travis, and Catherine Rich. "Ecological Light Pollution." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Vol. 2 , no. 4 (2004), 191-98. Kloog, Itai, and others. "Light at Night Co-Distributes With Incident Breast But Not Lung Cancer in the Female Population of Israel." Chronobiology International (January 2008), 65-81. Rich, Catherine, and Travis Longcore, eds. Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting. Island Press, 2006.

Got Milky Way?
By Brad Scriber ver. 1 - Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:29:01 PM A glance at the night sky might make you think the Milky Way has dried up. The glow of light pollution has hidden one of the night's most striking features from one-fifth of humanity. The phenomenon is worst in the U.S., where about two-thirds of residents can't see the galaxy, and in Europe, where about half are shut out. One of the regions with the worst light pollution is the northeastern U.S. But a midsummer power outage in 2003 granted a short reprieve from the widespread light pollution. The contrast was stunning, as Canadian skygazer Todd Carlson illustrates with this pair of before and after images. There are a few ways to figure out how your backyard measures up. Find your home on this map of the night sky created by the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute in Italy, which uses satellite data and calculations of how particles in the air scatter the light, or this one from the International Dark-Sky Association. You can also count the stars in Orion to help the Globe at Night project build a new database of sky brightness estimates from amateur astronomers around the world. To rate the nighttime luminescence of your neighborhood, compare the view from it to these star-magnitude charts. Bibliography Cinzano, Pierantonio. The World Atlas of the Artificial Night Sky Brightness.
Globe at Night. International Dark-Sky Association Dark-Sky Finder.

Getting Back in the Black
By Brad Scriber ver. 1 - Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:33:34 PM To make dark-sky-friendly changes to their outdoor lights, homeowners, businesses, and communities can update existing fixtures using designs that minimize disorienting glare and focus light on the ground. The International Dark-Sky Association has created a light-fixture seal of approval to simplify the process. For help finding fixtures with the IDA seal, check out their online guide. Ensuring that a building is lit with minimal ecological impact can help building owners secure LEED certification, an environmental seal of approval offered by the U.S. Green Building Council for both new and existing construction. Bibliography U.S. Green Building Council. LEED Rating Systems.
International Dark-Sky Association.

Nightlight Savings Time
By Brad Scriber ver. 1 - Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:39:01 PM Wasted light is wasted money, and the switch to more conscientious lighting can put not just the night sky overhead in the black but also balance sheets. The International Dark-Sky Association figures that about a third of outdoor lighting is wasted because of poorly designed and inefficient fixtures. It estimates that in the U.S. alone, the annual price tag for the misdirected light is $10 billion.

Keeping the lights on in public spaces is a large expense for local governments, and dark-sky-friendly fixtures can lessen the strain on municipal coffers. Between 2002 and 2005 the Canadian city of Calgary replaced its older, drop-lens streetlights with flat-lens night-sky-friendly fixtures. With 37,500 lights to retrofit, the project was a major investment, but the estimated $1.7 million in annual energy savings means the project is expected to pay for itself by 2012. The scale of its upgrade made Calgary a trailblazer, but scores of communities have mandated specific lighting designs, curfews, and other measures to preserve darkness. To find out what you might be missing, check out this ordinance-protected night sky over Flagstaff. For more inspiration, if you"re willing to grab a tent and sleeping bag for a dark-sky vacation, you can start with this study by NOAA scientist Steve Albers, which includes an index of the darkest national parks. You can also find tools and suggestions for a dark-sky vacation on the IDA website. Bibliography Albers, Steve, and Dan Duriscoe. "Modeling Light Pollution From Population Data and Implications for National Park Service Lands." National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"Astronomy Picture of the Day: A Protected Night Sky Over Flagstaff." "EnviroSmart Streetlight Retrofit."

NASA, April 16, 2008.

City of Calgary. International Dark-Sky Association.

"Dark Sky Observing Sites & Destinations." "Lighting Ordinances."

International Dark-Sky Association.

Lights and Safety
By Brad Scriber ver. 1 - Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:45:28 PM In terms of public safety and crime deterrence, experts say that more light is not necessarily better. Fixtures that reduce light pollution can actually make lighting safer, by reducing what's known as disability glare. This type of glare occurs when bright light scatters within the eye, making it harder to detect contrast—and harder to see people lurking in the shadows. Everyone can experience this effect, but older eyes can take three times longer than younger ones to readjust after being exposed to intense light. Motion-activated lights can also help reduce both light pollution and criminal activity. They're off when no one's around, reducing wasted light and energy, but turn on when someone moves past, alerting others to the activity. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is a movement looking at ways that well-designed spaces—including thoughtfully lit ones—can assist in public safety. These principles are being adopted as part of official crime-prevention plans, such as the "National Guidelines for Crime Prevention
through Environmental Design in New Zealand."

Bibliography Schieber, Frank. ""Age and Glare Recovery Time for Low-Contrast Stimuli."" In Designing for an Aging Population, ed. W. A. Rogers. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 1997.
"National Guidelines for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in New Zealand."


Zealand Ministry of Justice, November 2005.
International Clearinghouse on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.

Other National Geographic Resources "Earth at Night." National Geographic map supplement (November 2004). Guynup, Sharon. "Light Pollution Taking Toll on Wildlife, Eco-Groups Say." National Geographic News, April 17, 2003. Roach, John. "Dark Skies Initiatives Aim to Boost Stargazing." National Geographic News, May 16, 2006. Tourtellot, Jonathan. "Travel Column: Hotels Cut Light Pollution, See Stars." National Geographic News, March 19, 2004. Last saved: October 2, 2008

Crystal Giants
By Taryn Salinas ver. 3 - Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 12:03:18 PM

Photograph by Carsten Peter, Speleoresearch & Films National Geographic November 2008
  Crystal Giants » The Mohs' Scale of Hardness »

The largest known gypsum crystals in the world are found in a cavern deep below northern Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert. Made of selenite, a transparent, colorless form of gypsum, these giants have grown to astonishing proportions—several exceed 30 feet (10 meters) in length. The longest, the Crystal Cin, measures 37.4 feet (11.4 meters)! The dazzling discovery of the Cave of Crystals, as it's called, was made by two miners excavating an exploratory tunnel inside the Naica mine, almost a thousand feet below the surface (300 meters). Owned by the Peñoles company, Naica is Mexico's most productive lead mine. Other caves, with smaller crystals, have been found in the mine, beginning in 1910, when the Cave of Swords was discovered at a depth of 394 feet (120 meters). Upon learning of the cave, scientists around the world wanted to know how the crystals had grown so large. The answer lies in the unusual environmental conditions in which they developed. For about 600,000 years mineral-rich water filtered through the cave, depositing molecules of calcium sulfate like stacked bricks. At first an intrusion of magma deep below the surface superheated the water. Then around half a million years ago the water temperature cooled to roughly 136 degrees Fahrenheit, the right temperature for the calcium sulfate in the water to form selenite crystals. Conditions in the water-filled cave remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years, allowing the crystals to reach astounding sizes.

Around 1985 miners unknowingly drained the water from the cave as they lowered the water table in the mine with pumps. No longer immersed, the crystals stopped growing, although they would start growing again if water were allowed to return. For now the cave is secured by the company with a heavy steel door to protect against looters and environmental damage from the mine's ventilation system. Few people are allowed into the cave for two important reasons. First, it's exceedingly hot and humid, and people who enter without special cooling suits risk dying of heatstroke. Second, because gypsum is so soft (it has a hardness of 2 on the Mohs' scale), it can be easily scratched and damaged by tools, boots—even a fingernail. Bibliography Shea, Neil. "Crystal Giants." National Geographic (November 2008), 64-77. Shea, Neil. "Crystalline Chapel." National Geographic (October 2007). "Naica Peñoles Project." La Venta. Speleoresearch Proyecto Naica. Other Resources García-Ruiz, Juan Manuel, and others. "Formation of Natural Gypsum Megacrystals in Naica, Mexico." Geology (April 2007). Lovgren, Stefan. "Giant Crystal Caves' Mystery Solved." National Geographic News, April 7, 2007. Carr, Michelle. "Colossal Crystal Caves Uncovered." Cosmos Online, April 13, 2007. Holden, Constance. "Life in Crystal." Science (January 25, 2008). "Naica Crystal Caves." Colorado School of Mines.

The Mohs' Scale of Hardness
By Taryn Salinas ver. 1 - Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 2:34:38 PM Minerals are classified by hardness according to the Mohs' scale—a ranking developed in 1812 by Friedrich Mohs, a German mineralogist. Somewhat arbitrarily, he put ten common minerals in order of hardness based on how easily they scratched. 1. Talc 2. Gypsum 3. Calcite 4. Fluorite 5. Apatite 6. Feldspar 7. Quartz 8. Topaz 9. Corundum 10. Diamond The Mohs' scale is often used in the field to identify a mineral, by testing an unknown substance against one of these ten standards. If one makes a visible scratch on the other, then it's harder. For example, if a

piece of quartz is scraped against a piece of fluorite, the softer fluorite will be scratched, but not the quartz, meaning the quartz is harder (as we already know from the scale). Gypsum, of which the Naica crystals are made, is a 2 on the Mohs' scale—it's so soft it can be scratched by something as slight as a fingernail. (A fingernail ranks 2.5 on the scale.) The scale is an imperfect guideline. To accurately identify a mineral, one would need to look at other properties such as luster, cleavage, crystalline form, color, and rock type. Bibliography "The Mohs Scale of Relative Mineral Hardness." "Mohs Hardness." Encyclopedia Britannica. Last updated: September 17, 2008

Moscow at Night
Moscow Never Sleeps
By Emily Krieger ver. 6 - Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 3:39:29 PM

Photograph by Gerd Ludwig National Geographic August 2008 Muscovites love their nightlife. The city of 10.5 million people boasts hundreds of packed clubs and bars that on the weekends don't close until other establishments are opening for brunch. The wealthy longtime patrons of expensive entertainment can easily spend more than a thousand dollars a night, but the growing middle class has helped democratize the club scene—real disposable incomes in Russia have doubled since 1999, and the middle class now makes up as much as a third of the population. Doormen enforce an elitist "face control" policy that keeps the ugly and aggressively drunk out while letting the beautiful and well connected in. Visitors accustomed to Soviet-era aesthetics are struck by how attractive and well-dressed Muscovites have become. The fall of communism allowed a precious few, those derisively christened "New Russians," to conspicuously consume, and the practice has trickled down into the general population. Other businesses are booming as well. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has been on a 16-year quest to revitalize the capital with new buildings and monuments, and to maintain the progress but avoid causing daytime crunches, the city's innumerable construction sites hum through the wee hours. Five million cars also stress the city's concentric network of roads. But support is dwindling for one industry: gambling. Many government officials, notably Luzhkov and Premier Vladimir Putin, back a proposed law to relocate gambling out of cities and into four special zones at the Federation's far corners by 2009. Luzhkov is a longtime critic of gambling and has intermittently closed gaming sites, and Putin famously publicly lamented that gambling has become as serious a national problem as alcoholism. But many people suspect (or hope) that some loophole will allow gambling to remain in the capital.

Moscow after dark is also packed with big-city clichés: drunkenness, homelessness, prostitution, murder. Many of the homeless suffer from alcoholism and frostbite—every year 100 to 350 people die of hypothermia on the streets. Although prostitution is illegal, it's usually tolerated, thanks to high-end customers who patronize the city's brothels and a police force with a tradition of looking the other way. Gangs and con artists also prey on easy targets such as foreigners, drunks, and the homeless. Still, street crime is rare compared with homicides—the number of murders is legendary, though in recent years its been on the decline. Bibliography Smith, Martin Cruz. "Moscow Never Sleeps." National Geographic (August 2008), 106-133.
"Background Note: Russia." "Population data."

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Population Reference Bureau. Economist (August 24, 2006). President of Russia, October 18, 2007.

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Yasmann, Victor. "Russia: Kremlin Sets Its Sights on Gambling." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 19, 2006. Bush, Jason. "What's Behind Russia's Crime Wave." Business Week (October 19, 2006). Other Resources Moscow. Singer, Natasha. "Not Down and Out in Moscow." New York Times, November 29, 2007.
"Moscow: Rich in Russia."

Frontline/World, October 2003.

Wines, Michael. "Moscow Journal; As the Streets Clog Up, Cars Hit the Sidewalks." New York Times, July 25, 1998.
"The World's Billionaires.", March 5, 2008.

Last updated: July 15 2008

Siberian Oil
By Karen Font ver. 6 - Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 4:53:30 PM

Photograph by: Gerd Ludwig, National Geographic June 2008 Under communist rule, the U.S.S.R. was a major oil producer, with western Siberia providing most of the supply. Soviet production peaked in 1988 at around 12.5 million barrels per day (bbd), two-thirds of which came from western Siberia. Just before communism collapsed in 1991, oil production began falling, bottoming out in the mid-1990s at a little over six million bbd. Not until the late 1990s did production take off again. Today western Siberia still produces about 70 percent of Russia's oil, and the province of Khanty-Mansi lies at the heart of the boom. All of Russia is reaping the benefits, but nowhere are the effects of the bonanza more obvious than in Khanty-Mansi cities like Surgut, Nefteyugansk, and Khanty-Mansiysk, the province's capital—all of which have been transformed by new investments in housing, commerce, arts, and science, among other areas. Current Russian oil production, about ten million bbd, hasn't reached the levels of the late 1980s, but oil prices have increased tenfold over the past decade, giving the Russian government, which seized control of a number of oil fields from various oligarchs in the mid-2000s, a steady flow of revenue. And despite its lower production rate, Russia is now the world's top producer of crude oil and the second largest exporter of total oil products (behind Saudi Arabia). But the Russian government's tactics in managing its oil fields have made foreign investors wary and could pose a problem for the future of Russia’s oil economy. Bibliography Considine, Jennifer I., and William A. Kerr. The Russian Oil Economy. Edward Elgar, 2002.
"Russia Energy Profile."

Energy Information Administration.

Ellman, Michael, ed. Russia's Oil and Natural Gas: Bonanza or Curse? Anthem Press, 2006. Fortescue, Stephen. Russia's Oil Barons and Metal Magnates: Oligarchs and the State in Transition. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Grace, John D. Russian Oil Supply: Performance and Prospects. Oxford University Press, 2005.
Grace, John D., interviewed by CERA.

Lincoln, W. Bruce. The Conquest of a Continent: Siberia and the Russians. Random House, 1994.
Khanty-Mansiysk Province.

Other Resources Banjanovic, Adisa. "Russia's New Immigration Policy Will Boost the Population." Euromonitor International, June 14, 2007.
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Energy Information Administration.

Gaidar, Yegor. Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia. Brookings Institution Press, 2007. Grace, John D. "Russia Oil: Up or Down? State or Market?" 2006 Horn Lecture on Energy. "