Carmo Convent Ruins - Lisbon, Portugal
One of the deadliest earthquakes in history struck Lisbon on All-Saint’s day, November 1, 1755. The city was all but destroyed, and the ancient Carmo convent and church lay in ruins, its library of 5000 books destroyed.
Today the ruined arches stand in the middle of the rebuilt city as a reminder of the worst day in Lisbon’s history.
The magnitude 9 earthquake struck at about 9:30 am on the Saturday morning, tearing wide gashes in the earth. The tremor was followed by a series of devastating tsunamis and five days of raging fires which devoured the buildings left standing. It was one of the deadliest quakes in history, leaving an unknown total number dead (usually named as about 60,000 people though estimates range from 10,000 - 100,000), and 85% of the city in total ruins.
The earthquake inspired a frenzy of philosophical and religious soul searching, and some famous battles of wits. Voltaire, horrified by the tragedy and annoyed by religious accusations that Lisbon had been leveled in an act of divine retribution for the lewd lifestyles of its citizens, wrote his “Poem on the Disaster in Lisbon” in 1756. The poem reads, in part:
"What crime, what sin, had those young hearts conceived That lie, bleeding and torn, on mother’s breast? Did fallen Lisbon deeper drink of vice Than London, Paris, or sunlit Madrid?"
For more of Voltaire’s vitriol, keep reading the Carmo Convent Ruins on Atlas Obscura!
Kawah Putih Lake (x)
"The Kawah Putih site was opened to visitors in 1987. The lake is 2,430m (7970 ft) above sea level, so the local climate is often quite chilly (temperatures are frequently around 10 degrees celsius). This makes a brisk change from the humidity of the north Java plain and the capital city of Jakarta. Kawah Putih is a sizeable highly acid lake (pH 0.5-1.3) which changes colour from bluish to whitish green, or brown, depending on the concentration of sulfur and the temperature or the oxidation state. The sand and rocks surrounding the lake have been also leached into whitish colours through interaction with the acidic lake waters (with possible mineral precipitation as well)."
This brass astrolabic quadrant, a Quadrans Novus or astrolabe/almucantar quadrant, was made for latitude 33 degrees 30 minutes (i.e. Damascus) from 1333-1334 by Muhammad Bin Ahmad al-Mizzi. An inscription on the front says that the quadrant was made for the ‘muwaqqit’ (literally: the timekeeper) of the Great Umayyad Mosque of Damascus. The earliest known description of an astrolabe reduced to a quadrant with no moving parts was in 1288 by the Jewish man Jacob ben Mahir ibn Tibbon (1236-1304), more widely known by his Latin name of Prophatius Judaeus or Profeit Tibbon from Montpellier. Tibbon’s treatise was quickly improved by Peter Nightingale whose account received wide distribution. The instrument was quickly named the quadrans novus (new quadrant) to differentiate it from the traditional quadrant or quadrans vetus (old quadrant). The basic idea behind the idea of the quadrans novus is that the stereographic projection that defines the components of a planispheric astrolabe is just as valid if the astrolabe parts are folded into a single quadrant. The result is an instrument that can perform many of the functions of a standard astrolabe at much lower cost, but without the intuitive representation of the sky provided by the rotating rete. It is not clear how popular the astrolabe quadrant became as few examples survive. The arcs reproduce the ecliptic and horizons of a circular astrolabe folded over the East-West line and then folded again about the meridian. Additional arcs are provided to determine the unequal hours and to find the sines and cosines of angles. The astrolabe quadrant is equipped with a thread (usually of silk) with one end attached at the north pole and a weight on the other end. A bead or pearl can be slid up and down the thread to mark positions on the face of the instrument. The thread can be moved to any position on the face of the quadrant to simulate the rotation of the astrolabe rete.
[Brass Astrolabic Quadrant, Muhammad Bin Ahmad al-Mizzi, British Museum, London]