Friday, January 22, 2010
Creeping closer inch by inch, 900 feet above the mighty Colorado River, the two sides of
a $160 million bridge at the Hoover Dam slowly take shape. The bridge will carry a new
section of US Route 93 past the bottleneck of the old road which can be seen twisting and
winding around and across the dam itself.
When complete, it will provide a new link between the states of Nevada and Arizona .
In an incredible feat of engineering, the road will be supported on the two massive
concrete arches which jut out of the rock face.
The arches are made up of 53 individual sections each 24 feet long which have been
cast on-site and are being lifted into place using an improvised high-wire crane strung
between temporary steel pylons.
The arches will eventually measure more than 1,000 feet across.
At the moment, the structure looks like a traditional .
But once the arches are complete, the suspending cables on each side will be removed.
Extra vertical columns will then be installed on the arches to carry the road.
The bridge has become known as the Hoover Dam bypass, although it is officially called
the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, after a former governor of Nevada
and an American Football player from Arizona who joined the US Army and was killed
Work on the bridge started in 2005 and should finish next year. An estimated 17,000
cars and trucks will cross it every day.
The dam was started in 1931 and used enough concrete to build a road from New York
to . The stretch of water it created, Lake Mead, is 110 miles long and
took six years to fill. The original road was opened at the same time as the famous dam in 1936.
An extra note: The top of the white band of rock in Lake Mead is the old waterline prior
to the drought and development in the Las Vegas area. It is over 100 feet above the
current water level.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Resort planned for East Sooke
B.C. helps band find investors
The Beecher Bay First Nation wants to break ground by the end of the year on a new destination resort on its waterfront East Sooke property.
The band is also looking at expanding and upgrading its existing 365-berth Cheanuh Marina and adjacent 125-site RV park in a bid to become more economically self-sufficient, said Aaaron Reith, Beecher Bay economic development spokesman.
The band's 307 hectares of reserve land is adjacent to East Sooke Regional Park and overlooks Juan de Fuca Strait.
"It's an incredible situation and it's one of the last untouched marine basins on the south coast of Vancouver Island," Reith said.
However, like many First Nations hoping to start tourism businesses, the band needs help finding private investors and funding agencies. Beecher Bay has signed a memorandum of understanding with the province to steer it in the right direction.
The agreement won't provide money, but it will provide support, Reith said.
"It is very hard for First Nations to take on a large project like this without provincial help."
Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger said the pilot program, which started last year, is helping seven First Nations, including Beecher Bay, expand tourism and develop resort properties on Crown and reserve land.
"We would like to see First Nations people be able to capitalize economically on the demand and opportunities," he said
The market for aboriginal-run tourism is growing among domestic and international tourists partially because of First Nations' unique connection with the land and wildlife, Krueger said.
"There are lots of people eager to invest with First Nations and we will partner with them in any way that can be helpful," he said.
The provincial program connects First Nations with banks and lending institutes and is linked to federal and provincial programs that help with seed money, marketing and training for band members.
Beecher Bay Chief Russell Chipps said decisions on tourism development will be made by the entire band, not just chief and council, adding that the project is bringing band members together in an unprecedented way.
"We want jobs for our community members so they can have a sense of belonging to something. Not just a reserve in the middle of nowhere," he said. "We really need something for the young people. That's the whole purpose of this."
The resort would not include a casino and would have the highest environmental standards, Chipps said.
The aim is to appeal to tourists drawn by walking trails, fishing, horseback riding, canoeing and diving, he said.
Neighbouring Metchosin has signed an agreement with Beecher Bay, ensuring matters of mutual interest are discussed, and Mayor John Ranns said a resort development could be beneficial to both communities.
Metchosin's rural lifestyle offers interesting food and art destinations, which would mesh well with a Beecher Bay eco-resort, Ranns said.
"They are looking at ecotourism and that fits in with what Metchosin is trying to do. I think their objective and our objective could complement each other," he said.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Turning wood into bones
By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome
A novel - and natural - way of creating new bones for humans could be just a few years away.
Scientists in Italy have developed a way of turning rattan wood into bone that is almost identical to the human tissue.
At the Istec laboratory of bioceramics in Faenza near Bologna, a herd of sheep have already been implanted with the bones.
The process starts by cutting the long tubular rattan wood up into manageable pieces.
It is then snipped into even smaller chunks, ready for the complex chemical process to begin.
The pieces are put in a furnace and heated.
In simple terms, carbon and calcium are added.
The wood is then further heated under intense pressure in another oven-like machine and a phosphate solution is introduced.
After about 10 days, the rattan wood has been transformed into the bone-like material.
The team is lead by Dr Anna Tampieri.
An X-ray of the new bone fusing with the old
Within months, the real and artificial bone will have fused
"It's proving very promising," she says. "This new bone material is strong, so it can take heavy loads that bodies will put on it.
"It is also durable, so, unlike existing bone substitutes, it won't need replacing."
Several types of wood were tested before they found rattan works best.
That is because of its structure and porous properties, which enable blood, nerves and other compounds to travel through it.
Dr Tampieri says it is the closest scientists have ever come to replicating the human bone because, she says: "It eventually fuses with real bone, so in time, you don't even see the join."
The new wood bone is being closely studied at the nearby Bologna University hospital.
That is where orthopaedic surgeons like Maurillo Marcacci are monitoring the sheep tests.
The X-rays of the sheep's legs show the progress they are making.
Surgeon Mr Marcacci
A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients
Particles from the sheep's own bones are migrating to the bone made from wood.
Within a few months, the real and the artificial bone will be like one continuous bone.
Mr Marcacci says that existing bone substitutes, like metal or ceramic, or bones from dead bodies, all have their drawbacks.
He says for people with major trauma accidents or cancer, the current range of alternatives can be weak and do not fuse with the existing bone.
The new wood bones, he says, could be a major step forward.
"A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients," he says.
The new bone-from-wood programme is being funded by the European Union.
Implants into humans are about five years away.
But with no signs of rejection or infection in the sheep, there is real hope here that a natural, cheap and effective replacement for bones is now possible.
Bones from wood could soon be opening up a new branch of medical science.