Loron Knowlen - E Euro artwork
Posted in the Willis Forum
#12 Nov 4, 2010
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Romanians' vivid imagination and intense spirituality have always been expressed through their architecture. Fortunately, they also have strong preservation instincts, resulting in village museums that display bygone ways of life through found and restored peasant houses, elaborately carved gates, barns and other architectural elements. The best and most comprehensive of these is the Village Museum (Muzeul Satului) in Bucharest. Constructed by a visionary during the 1930s on a large tract within the city, this is a fascinating collection of more than 300 houses and other structures from every region of Romania. It also has a small museum and shop of fine Romanian crafts. Other such village museums well worth visiting are Museum of Wood (Muzeul Lemnului) in Campulung Moldovenesc and Museum of Peasant Techniques (Muzeul Tehnicii Populare) in Sibiu. Both have collections of early farm tools and household implements.
Monasteries, churches, synagogues, castles and palaces throughout the country, some dating from the 12th Century, depict the country's tumultuous history. Even its Communist era is expressed through Ceausescu's master planning and rebuilding of Bucharest. The best example of his testament to secularity is the Palace of Parliament — the world's second largest building after the U.S. Pentagon — whose 1,000 rooms reflect the country's best architects, artisans and building materials. Among the best examples of Romanian's Orthodox religion are the painted monasteries of Southern Bucovina, acclaimed as masterpieces of art and architecture, "perfectly in harmony with their surroundings and unique in the world for their painted exteriors." They hold UNESCO's Prix d'Or for "artistic, spiritual and cultural value." Of the five best known, the most famous is Voronet, also called the "Sistine Chapel of the East" whose blue exterior background lent its name to the color "Voronet Blue." These are essential sights for anyone interested in religious architecture, but they are only a few of Romania's architectural treasures.
#14 Nov 5, 2010
A star is a massive, luminous ball of plasma held together by gravity. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth. Other stars are visible from Earth during the night when they are not outshone by the Sun or blocked by atmospheric phenomena. Historically, the most prominent stars on the celestial sphere were grouped together into constellations and asterisms, and the brightest stars gained proper names. Extensive catalogues of stars have been assembled by astronomers, which provide standardized star designations.
For at least a portion of its life, a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen in its core releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and then radiates into outer space. Almost all naturally occurring elements heavier than helium were created by stars, either via stellar nucleosynthesis during their lifetimes or by supernova nucleosynthesis when stars explode. Astronomers can determine the mass, age, chemical composition and many other properties of a star by observing its spectrum, luminosity and motion through space. The total mass of a star is the principal determinant in its evolution and eventual fate. Other characteristics of a star are determined by its evolutionary history, including diameter, rotation, movement and temperature. A plot of the temperature of many stars against their luminosities, known as a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (H–R diagram), allows the age and evolutionary state of a star to be determined.
A star begins as a collapsing cloud of material composed primarily of hydrogen, along with helium and trace amounts of heavier elements. Once the stellar core is sufficiently dense, some of the hydrogen is steadily converted into helium through the process of nuclear fusion. The remainder of the star's interior carries energy away from the core through a combination of radiative and convective processes. The star's internal pressure prevents it from collapsing further under its own gravity. Once the hydrogen fuel at the core is exhausted, those stars having at least 0.4 times the mass of the Sun expand to become a red giant, in some cases fusing heavier elements at the core or in shells around the core. The star then evolves into a degenerate form, recycling a portion of the matter into the interstellar environment, where it will form a new generation of stars with a higher proportion of heavy elements.
Binary and multi-star systems consist of two or more stars that are gravitationally bound, and generally move around each other in stable orbits. When two such stars have a relatively close orbit, their gravitational interaction can have a significant impact on their evolution. Stars can form part of a much larger gravitationally bound structure, such as a cluster or a galaxy.
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