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"Raise your eyes high up and see”
The Stars, the Galaxies

As you may know, our sun is a stat. It appears larger than we see at night because, compared with them it is quite close. How powerful is it? At its core, the sun is about 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. If you could take a pinhead-sized piece of the star’s core and put it on earth, you could not safely stand within 90 mile of that tine heat source. In other words, if you drop that tiny bit in Ikeja no one can stay in Eleyele, Ibadan. Or if you drop it in London, no one can stay in Coventry, UK. Every second, the sun emits energy equivalent to the explosion of many hundreds of millions of nuclear bombs.

The sun is so huge that over 1,300,000 of our earth could fit inside it. Is the sun an unusually large star? No, astronomers call it a yellow dwarf. The apostle wrote that "star differs from star in glory” 9Icor. 15:41). There is a star so huge that if it were placed right where the sun is, our earth would be inside it. Another giant star so placed would reach all the way out to Saturn – although that planet is so far from the earth that it took a spacecraft four years to get there, traveling over 40 times faster that a bullet fired from a powerful handgun. (A bullet fired from a powerful handgun can go as fast as 3,136 miles per hour). So that spacecraft was going at the speed of 125,440 miles. To understand this better, it would take this spacecraft less than 4 minutes to go from Lagos Nigeria to Los Angeles, USA, a distance of 7,723 miles. A distance covered in 15 hours by passenger aircrafts.

Even more awesome than the size of the stars is their number. In fact, the Bible suggests that the stars are virtually innumerable, as difficult to count as the "sands of the see.” (Jer. 33:22). What is the "number of the stars”? That is not a simple question. Astronomers estimate that there are over 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. Consider how long it would take you to count 100 billion stars. If you were able to count a new one each second – and keep at it 24 hours a day – it would take you 3,1771 years. But ours is just one many galaxies, and many of those swarm with even more stars. How many galaxies are there? Some astronomers have estimated 50 billion. Others have calculated that there may be as many as 125 billion.

Our awe can only increase when we contemplate the size of the galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy has been estimated to measure 100,000 light-years across. Picture a beam of light traveling at the tremendous speed of 186,000 miles each second. It would take that beam 100,000 years to traverse our galaxy! And some galaxies are many times the size of our galaxy. The bible says that the Grand Creator, Jehovah, is "stretching out” the vast heavens as if they were mere fabric. Psalm 104:2. What a tremendous awesomeness is packed in the stars and galaxies.

© Draw Close to Jehovah, published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2002.

The Kingfisher Bird
Courtesy Awake!

Traveling at speeds of nearly 300 kilometers an hour, the Japanese bullet train is one of the fastest in the world. In part, it owes its success to a small bird – the kingfisher. Why? Consider: in pursuit of a tasty meal, the kingfisher can dive water with very little splash. That fact intrigued Eiji Nakatsu, an engineer who directed test runs of the bullet train. He wondered how the kingfisher adapts so quickly low resistance air to high resistance water. Finding the answer was key to solving a peculiar problem with the bullet train. "When a train rushes into a narrow tunnel at high speed,” Nakatsu explains, this generates atmospheric pressure waves that gradually grow into waves like tidal waves. These reach the tunnel exit at the speed of sound, generating low frequency waves that produce a large boom and aero dynamic vibration so intense that residents 400 meters away have registered complaint.”

The decision was made to pattern the front end of the bullet train after a kingfisher’s beak. The result? The bullet train now travels 10 percent faster and consumes 25 percent less energy. In addition, the air pressure produced by the train has been reduced by the train has been reduced by 30 percent. Thus, there is no large boom as the train passes through a tunnel.

What do you think? Did the kingfisher’s beak come about by chance? Or was it designed?

by Awake! magazine

In her book in the shadow of man, zoologist Dr. Jane Goodall writes that her observations in the 1960’s of "tool-making” chimpanzees "convinced a number of scientists that it was necessary to redefine man in a more complex manner than before.”

Chimpanzee using rocks or branches to crack nuts, and twigs before sticking them into a dirt mound to fish around for termites were truly astonishing discoveries. However, in recent times it has become common knowledge that a number of animals demonstrate amazing tool making skills Dr. Barber, author of the book of The Human Nature of Birds – A Scientific Discovery With Startling Implications, states: "All thoroughly studies animals, including not only apes and dolphins but also ants and bees, have demonstrated totally unexpected basic awareness and practical intelligence.”

This does not in any way alter the fact that man is unique. As Professor David Premark writes, ”the grammar or syntax of human language is certainly unique.
Yes, the complexities of human culture, where language and speech play a crucial part, certainly separate us from the animals.

Obudu Mountain Resort - Country's Best Kept Secret
By Jimoh Babatunde Vanguard 15 October 2009

Obudu has increasingly become popular among tourists and event planners from all around Nigeria. Though, local travel companies are yet to fully respond to this phenomenon by increasing the range of services they offer, which could help Nigeria's best kept secret assume its position by attracting even more travellers.

At the moment, visitors come from Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and a few international travellers. Travellers to the ranch now christened Obudu Mountain Resort by the management company [African Sun Hotels] following the upgrade of facilities by the owner, the Cross River State Government.

Today, Obudu Mountain Resort under African Sun Hotels is working with several travel companies that are now offering virtually all types of travel services; ranging from educational and entertainment tours, conferences and eco-tourism, just to name a few.

AMBER TINAPA RESORT: Located within Nigeria's first retail free zone, Tinapa. The Amber Tinapa offers 243 well appointed bedrooms, an excellent restaurant overlooking the Tinapa Lakeside and a great location to explore. Located within a few minutes drive of central Calabar- Nigeria's oldest city. The resort is a good base from which tourists can attend events, conferences and meetings. Amber Tinapa also offers opportunities for guests to explore Cross River's tourism treasures; waterfalls , drill monkeys and the famous Obudu mountain cable car.

Obudu Mountain Resort, which had hosted prominent event such as 'Guilder Ultimate Search', is set in few weeks to also hosts' world's most enduring and famous 'Mountain Race' (Obudu Mountain Race) that has brought prominent runners from around the world.

It is quite possible that in the near future, arrivals may double with plans being worked out by African Sun Hotels, not only for local, but also tourists from abroad will increase in numbers to enjoy the fascinating aura, serenity and tranquility of the surrounding beautiful hills that seems more idea for the strong and fit alone, but the addition of the second longest cable car in the world and a world class water park on the foot of the mountain are all clear indication that the resort is for everyone.

Like a British resident in Nigeria, Ian Hunter who was returning from his first visit to the resort aptly puts it, "Obudu is Nigeria's best kept secret" Noting further, "the resort, is a true gem of Nigeria."

Since the upgrade of the accommodation facilities at the resort, Obudu is becoming increasingly recognized and respected on the national and international scene, and it is no surprise that Obudu Mountain Resort and Cross River State have been hosting a number of various regional and international meetings and symposia, just as more business and leisure tourists are visiting the resort and the state, and you may find yourself becoming one of them.

With well over a 160 accommodation categories, made up of standard rooms, executives, huts and chalets to a presidential apartment, amidst its extreme eco-tourism potentials, there's more than enough space for other activities. Admirers of eco-tourism and adventure, bored by comfort of the hotel accommodations could easily get busy with a ride down the hill on the cable car and indulge in some water sports.

One of the greatest assets of the resort is its sustainable tourism practice that gives priority to the interest of its host communities. For instance, the local communities that are largely farmers and cattle Rearers supply some of the ingredients used at the resort. This guarantees steady income for those that are not fully employed by the resort.

Managed by one of Africa's most respected hospitality chain, African Sun Hotels of Zimbabwe, the chain is obviously redefining franchising and management landscape in Nigeria. Besides, the Obudu Mountain Resort, the chain is currently running Amber Tinapa, and Utanga Safari Lodge all in Cross River State, Nike Lake Resort, Enugu and Holiday Inn Accra Airport, Ghana, the hotel that hosted the Obama's during their historic visit to Africa.

In 2009 the management skill of African Sun was be put to test again, as Amber Tinapa, Calabar and Nike Lake Resort, Enugu played host to eight teams that participated in the FIFA U17 World Cup held from October 24 to November 15, 2009.

Few months after taking over, African Sun Hotels, with the approval of the Cross River State Government showed commitment at ensuring that the resort gives lasting experience to both visitors and locals. The determination also goes with the change of name from Obudu Cattle Ranch to Obudu Mountain Resort.
The change in name only applied to the resort, whilst the rest part of the community that was hitherto in a single package remains. The cattle and honey businesses remains very much alive.

Seating on the altitude of 1,575.76 metres above sea level, the resort has a temperature of between 26°C to 32°C between November and January, and the nights are cool to cold during this period. Meanwhile, the lowest temperature ranges of 4°C to 10°C are recorded between June and September, which is the rainy season.
Warm clothes, raincoat and water boots for hiking in rainy season are important companions when visiting Obudu Mountain Resort.

The Namib Desert
Courtesy: www.worldwildlife.org

This extremely arid eco region (in the country of Namibia) comprises shifting sand dunes, gravel plains and rugged mountains. The world's oldest desert, the Namib Desert has existed for at least 55 million years, completely devoid of surface water but bisected by several dry riverbeds. These riverbeds are vegetated and are home to a few ungulates, such as Hartmann’s zebras. The south of the desert is extremely dry and even lacks dry riverbeds; gemsbok is the only large mammal to occur in this harsh environment. Thick fogs are frequent along the coast and are the life-blood of the desert, providing enough moisture for a number of interesting, highly-adapted animal species to survive. The Namib Desert is well protected in a series of National Parks, Recreation Areas and Protected Diamond Areas. The diamond areas require more formal protection when the lease on these areas expires in 2020.

Location and General Description

The Namib Desert eco-region extends along the coastal plain of western Namibia, from the Uniab River in the north to the town of Luderitz in the south. It extends inland from the Atlantic Coastline to the foot of the Namib Escarpment, a distance of between 80 and 200 km. The ecoregion can be divided into two areas: the Central Namib (from the Uniab to the Kuiseb Rivers) and the Southern Namib (from the Kuiseb River to the town of Luderitz). In the north, the Central Namib merges with the Northern Namib or Kaokoveld Desert eco-region, and in the south it merges with the Succulent Karoo eco-region, which extends up the west coast of South Africa.

A climatic transition belt crosses the coastline north of Walvis Bay in Namibia, and divides the coastal area into a northern area receiving summer rainfall, considered the Kaokoveld Desert eco-region and a southern area receiving winter rain (the Namib Desert eco-region). The narrow strip of land within this transition belt (about 50 km) is the most arid area in southern Africa and receives sporadic, unpredictable rainfall without a clear seasonal pattern (Williamson 1997).

The most important climatic feature of the Namib Desert is its sparse and highly unpredictable annual rainfall. The annual mean ranges from 5 mm in the west to about 85 mm along its eastern limits (Lovegrove 1993). There is extraordinary variation in rainfall between years, with the driest areas of the desert having the highest variation. The low rainfall of the Namib has two causes.

Firstly, the easterly trade winds emerging over the Indian Ocean lose most of their humidity when rising over the eastern escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. On their way over the continent, they lose further moisture and reach the western escarpment of Namibia warm and dry. These air masses move down onto the low-lying Namib and produce extremely hot and dry winds.

Secondly, the prevailing local southwesterly winds, cooled down by the Benguela current along the west coast of South Africa, produce an inland movement of cold air, which is overlain by the warmer, lighter air. This inversion prevents the convectional rise of the cool, humid air and thus no clouds are formed (von Willert et al. 1992). The cool air does, however, regularly form a stable layer of fog, which is blown inland as far as 50 km. This coastal fog is the life-blood in the Namib and is an important factor contributing to the remarkably high diversity of animal life in this extremely arid environment (Lovegrove 1993).

Lake Chad
Source: International Lake Environment committee www.ilec.or.jp

Being on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert in north-central Africa, Lake Chad extends over the territories of four countries: Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon. Owing to the supply of river water from the highlands to the south, it remains a freshwater lake under the prevailing arid climate. Apparently no river flows out from the lake, though some water is said to percolate along the dry bed of the Gazal River to feed the oases of the Bodele Depression about 40 km to the northeast.

The water level is variable as it is influenced by the rainfall fluctuation both seasonally and annually. The lake size was five times its present size (ca. 20,000 km2) several thousand year ago, while the drought years in the 1970's made the northern half of the lake (Northern Basin) completely dry and turned the Southern Basin into a densely vegetated area with scattered swamps and open pools.

Lake Chad is very shallow even in normal years, averaging 1.5 m in depth. It is fringed by a zone of swampy vegetation dominated by reeds (Phragmites spp.), papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) and cattail (Typha australis). These water plants often form dense thickets or floating mats even in the centre of the lake. Local inhabitants use the stems of papyrus as material for canoe making. There are many small islands formed by the invasion of moving sand dunes near the northeastern coast; some of them are inhabited and utilized as bases for fishing.

Besides the products of agriculture, livestock grazing and fishery, the drainage basin of L. Chad is known for its yield of natural soda, an activity that contributes to keeping the lake water fresh.


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