This is a scene of the mighty Niesen supervolcano, lying dormant in Winter.
There are many scientists who believe that the next eruption of this supervolcano will extinguish all life in Europe.
For a country where murders almost never happen, it was a bit strange that Moriarty tried to kill Sherlock Holmes here, of all places. The nearest village to the famous Reichenbach Falls (site of the deed) sits the city of Meiringen, that has fully capitalized on Sherlock fame:
OK, I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t, but here’s a snap I took with my mobile phone in Bern, pointed east towards Geneva and France:
What you can see in the center are tiny bits of contrails – in fact, there were many more of them but they started to disappear by the time I could get out my mobile phone and take the snap.
These “doughnuts on a rope” are the tell-tale signature of something called a scramjet engine. And the only suspected vehicle thought to sport a scramjet engine is the top secret Aurora hypersonic spy plane. Did I find one in the skies over Switzerland?
Interestingly, although the existance of the Aurora hypersonic spy plane has never been confirmed by the U.S. government, in fact scramjet engines are very well known. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a top program for aviation engineering, and a good friend of mine told me a story about them testing a scramjet engine in a large hangar – in which a dog was accidentally locked into the hangar. After the test they discovered the dog, dead – but the amazing part is that all his bones were liquified by the intense sonic pressure waves of the scramjet engine.
Here is it, a tunnel steeped in great mystery and known to extremely few people, located at the train station in Winterthur, Switzerland:
Even many residents who’ve grown up in Winterthur and have spent their whole lives here do not know that this incredible place exists!
You may ask, what is it?
The platforms at the main train station in Winterthur all have exactly two access and egress points – except for Platform 6/7. Platform 6/7 also has the usual two exits – but in addition, at the very far end of Platform 6/7 there is an exit that is only known to people willing to walk the hundreds of meters to this end of the platform. It is not visible from the platform – and it is not documented anywhere. In fact, its existence is very conspicuously hidden!
When was it built? I don’t know – but I expect very few people know.
Why was it built? I don’t know – but I expect even fewer people know.
How many people use it? I don’t know – but I expect very few people use it. It is otherwise invisible and totally hidden to the public.
But . . . inside the tunnel there are AMAZING WONDERS that I have photographed and will be sharing in upcoming blogs!
These look like ants. But if you look really closely you will see they are not ants – they are people of the Swiss city of Basel:
You might ask how I came to photograph these ant-like people of Basel. During the Basel Herbstmesse there is a big tower that has a big elevatable platform. You board the platform when it is at the bottom:
This is the platform en route to the top:
And here’s what it looks like when the platform is at the top. To the people in the platform, their fellow citizens below look like ants – but remember, they are not ants, they are the people of Basel!
This is the famous Italian explorer Marco Polo,
I have not researched this personally, but I read somewhere that at one point he stayed in the Swiss city of Bern, in the area known as the Matte:
This is the area where farmers would bring their produce in the middle ages to be sold in the city of Bern, so interestingly the merchants of this area developed their own language, Mattenenglisch, that was not understandble outside of their community, so they could keep their negotiations a secret. There are many such examples of dialects created for this purpose around the world.
Continuing the series, I found a few things really attractive about this market, not the least of which I did not see the typical German Christmas market vendors that tend to get boring after a while. There were a surprising number of stands belonging to volunteer organizations, many of them selling products made by their members.
Recently I saw a paper taped to a signpost in Winterthur:
I was surprised to see this was not just a note to someone, but in fact a MANIFESTO!
Bravo to whoever wrote it – it really gives one pause to stop and think!
Continuing the series, the Basel Herbstmesse is so huge, there are market stands and attractions sprawled out all across the city:
Also known as Thun Castle, it was built in the twelfth century
What is very surprising about the Basel Herbstmesse, or Basel Autumn Fair, is not that it is Switzerland’s oldest street market – over 600 years old! And it is not that it is Switzerland’s largest street market, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
What is amazing is that so few Swiss people seem to know that this market exists or have even heard of it.
If you have ever been to the train station in Basel, and if you have a sharp and discerning set of peepers, then this view might drive you crazy:
Why? As you can see, there are train tracks 11, 12 . . . and 14 and 15 – but there is no track 13!
For a long time, I pondered this mystery. Was track 13 removed to avoid bad luck? Other train stations have track 13, so I don’t think so. Was track 13 removed for satanic pagan reasons? Basel has one of the largest pagan celebrations in the free world – so this could be likely – but I never was able to connect this pagan ritual to the number 13. Was track 13 removed because the Swiss are sloppy guys that made a mistake and never bothered to correct it? Hardly!
So then I got busy: I hit the rails and asked train conductors – lots and lots of them. Sadly, none of them knew the answer. I hit the Basel train station office and asked the counter staff – lots and lots of them. Sadly, none of them knew the answer.
Fast forward about THREE YEARS! Recently, I finally got lucky – while talking to a train conductor a train driver happened to overhear my question, and he jumped in and told me there was in fact a track 13. Turns out, he knew the track very well and drives on it regularly!
You see, the key to the mystery was, there is a track 13, but no platform 13.
And to their great credit, the Swiss Federal Railways did not lie or mislead about this. In German, the term used is “Gleis 13” which – translated – means “Track 13” and not “Platform 13.”
After three years of hard work – the great mystery of the Basel Bahnhof has been solved!
Storks. I’ve written about transformer storks, house storks, monument storks, and Bodensee storks. And now to add to my collection of storks, train storks!
This fellow set up shop at the Basel Bahnhof, and as you can see from this snap he looks rather proud of himself:
Technically, he is geolocated in Switzerland – but legally, he is residing in the French area of the Bahnhof.
Continuing the series,
Continuing the series, this snap somehow reminds me of a dystopian, futuristic landscape:
It’s the year 2042. The outside temperature during the summer in Switzerland can be in excess of 60 C, so it‘s not possible to spend time outdoors unless in a chill-suit. Winterthur is a small industrial outpost with a population of less than 100. Here you can see the sun rising above the nuclear powered carbon extraction plant. In a network of nearly 1000 stations like this circling the globe at strategic points, carbon is extracted directly from the atmosphere, converted to a solid, and transported by computer controlled railways to Spain – a long dead country in the uninhabitable zone of Europe, where the average yearly temperature is above 60 C, and the peak summer temperatures approach the boiling point of water.
Climate scientists are in unanimous agreement that these decarbonification activities must continue unabated for another forty years before the year-over-year rise of the Earth‘s temperature will be stopped, and another century before the pre-2000 temperatures will be restored. With Earth‘s population currently hovering at a little over 250 Million, it will be a tough challenge to keep this system in operation that long.
Continuing the series, this is a magnificent view of the Munot Fortress overlooking the Rhein River in north central Switzerland:
This is looking up at the Munot, from the old city of Schaffhausen:
And this is looking down from the Munot, towards the old city of Schaffhausen:
Yesterday I spotted a muster of storks (sometimes, at least according to Wikipedia, called a phalanx of storks) overflying the Zurich airport in Switzerland, at an altitude that made them nearly impossible to see:
In fact, I could not see whether they were in fact storks. Fortunately, I had my camera with me, and it has a terrific photographic lens:
I mentioned in an earlier blog that when storks are juveniles in Europe they are taught flying skills by their immediate peers, and there are in fact two groups of storks: those with lessor flying skills that overwinter in Spain, and those with better flying skills that overwinter in Africa. Interestingly, scientists have attached accelerometers to storks, and they can determine within seconds to which group of flyers the storks belong.
They don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes in Alsace- never have, likely never will. So in a recent blog I observed was quite odd for the French to take time from their favorite hobby (namely, wrapping historical buildings in atrocious glass bubbles) to build a nuclear-war-proof bird house, complete with high strength structural steel and (I assume) titanium bolts attached to a deep rebar-reinforced concrete piling:
To me, this was an oddity but no more than that.
But . . . something amazing happened this week. The situation has now suddenly turned from French oddity to international mystery!
For this week I spotted exactly the same type of bird bunker, in a completely different country!
This high strength bird bunker is located near the Zurich airport in Switzerland – and unlike France, outside of the European Union!
So it is now truly an international mystery: who designed this bunker? Who decided where and when it would be used? Who paid for it? Who maintains it? And especially, when someone decided this was needed, how did they go about sourcing it? I haven’t checked, but I am pretty sure the local do-it-yourself stores don’t stock massive bird bunkers!