The latest trend in computing is wearable computers. Essentially, common computer applications (e-mail, database, multimedia, calendar/scheduler) are integrated into watches, cell phones, visors and even clothing. For more information see these articles on computer clothing, smart watches and fabric PCs.
This type of computer usually costs hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Although some supercomputers are single computer systems, most are comprised of multiple high performance computers working in parallel as a single system. The best known supercomputers are built by Cray Supercomputers.
In the early days of computing, mainframes were huge computers that could fill an entire room or even a whole floor! As the size of computers has diminished while the power has increased, the term mainframe has fallen out of use in favor of enterprise server. You'll still hear the term used, particularly in large companies to describe the huge machines processing millions of transactions every day.
A computer that has been optimized to provide services to other computers over a network. Servers usually have powerful processors, lots of memory and large hard drives. The next type of computer can fill an entire room.
Another type of computer is a workstation. A workstation is simply a desktop computer that has a more powerful processor, additional memory and enhanced capabilities for performing a special group of task, such as 3D Graphics or game development.
The personal computer (PC) defines a computer designed for general use by a single person. While a Mac is a PC, most people relate the term with systems that run the Windows operating system. PCs were first known as microcomputers because they were a complete computer but built on a smaller scale than the huge systems in use by most businesses.
A PC that is not designed for portability is a desktop computer. The expectation with desktop systems are that you will set the computer up in a permanent location. Most desktops offer more power, storage and versatility for less cost than their portable brethren.
Also called notebooks, laptops are portable computers that integrate the display, keyboard, a pointing device or trackball, processor, memory and hard drive all in a battery-operated package slightly larger than an average hardcover book.
Netbooks are ultra-portable computers that are even smaller than traditional laptops. The extreme cost-effectiveness of netbooks (roughly $300 to $500) means they're cheaper than almost any brand-new laptop you'll find at retail outlets. However, netbooks' internal components are less powerful than those in regular laptops.
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are tightly integrated computers that often use flash memory instead of a hard drive for storage. These computers usually do not have keyboards but rely on touchscreen technology for user input. PDAs are typically smaller than a paperback novel, very lightweight with a reasonable battery life. A slightly larger and heavier version of the PDA is the handheld computer.
Shilin translates to “stone forest,” and this set of karst formations in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province really does look like a forest of stone. The stone pinnacles, some of which reach nearly 100 feet toward the sky, are believed to be more than 270 million years old.
Baobab Trees, Madagascar
Madagascar's baobab trees look as if they prefer to sprout their roots out the top, especially during the dry season, when they shed their leaves. The trees put those thick, cylindrical trunks to good use storing precious water.
Mud Volcanoes, Azerbaijan
Along the coast of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan are more than 300 mud volcanoes which are basically mini-volcanoes made of mud. The bizarre geological phenomena usually belch mud and gases fairly peaceably, but they can turn violent: In 2001, a mud volcano a few miles from the capital, Baku, spit fire nearly 50 feet in the air.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole in the coast of Belize is a giant sinkhole nearly 1,000 feet across and more than 400 feet deep that almost looks like it wants to drag victims to the center of the Earth. But this hole is a gentle giant; divers visit daily to swim among fish and ancient stalactites.
Chocolate Hills, Philippines
The island of Bohol is home to hundreds and hundreds of closely clustered limestone domes called the Chocolate Hills because of their carpet of grass, which turns brown in the dry season.
The island of Socotra, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, has been called the most alien-looking place on Earth. The most bizarre of the bunch is the dragon’s blood tree, which looks like a big stalk of broccoli and has red blood — dark red resin, that is.
Split Apple Rock, New Zealand
Interesting rock formations are abundant in Abel Tasman National Park on New Zealand's South Island, but none is weirder than Split Apple Rock, rising from the water of Tasman Bay. The giant boulder has been broken in two pieces so cleanly that it’s almost as if a giant hit it with an axe.
White Desert, Egypt
Western Egypt's White Desert gets its name from the chalk that whitewashes the place. The chalk stands tall in formations that have been eroded by sandstorms into fantastic shapes — mushrooms, spires, pinnacles and anvils.
The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
It just doesn’t look like something nature would have created on its own. But that’s exactly what it is — a field of thousands and thousands of basalt columns formed by ancient volcanic activity. Follow in the giant’s footsteps with a trek down the causeway to the sea.
Devils Tower, Wyoming
It seems almost inevitable that a natural feature as unearthly as Devils Tower might be considered supernatural. Scientists aren’t sure how the monolith was formed, but they agree the rock came from within the Earth, not from another planet.
Asian crested ibis
The Asian crested ibis once thrived in Russia, Japan, and China, but its population has shrunk to about 250.
In the spring and summer, the Red-crowned Crane breeds in Siberia and occasionally in northeastern Mongolia. Normally the crane lays 2 eggs, with only one surviving. Later, in the fall, it migrates in flocks to Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and other countries in East Asia to spend the winter.
Peru's marvelous spatuletail. A stunning hummingbird restricted to just two sites, the bird's population is estimated to be less than a thousand.
Orange-bellied parrots breeds only in southwestern Tasmania and migrates to southeastern Australia in the winter, where agriculture and development are crowding out its habitat. Probably fewer than 150 animals remain in the wild, according to BirdLife International.
One of the rarest birds of all is New Zealand's kakapo. Only 124 animals remain in the wild—the species has been largely wiped out by introduced predatory mammals such as feral cats.
The Bawabet Dimashq, also known as the Damascus Gate restaurant, in Damascus, Syria, is the largest in the world, with 6,014 seats. What’s on the menu? Just about everything. The huge restaurant complex has six culinary themed sections for Indian, Chinese, Arab, Iranian, Middle Eastern and Syrian cuisine. Local specialties include lamb with thyme, steak with yogurt and beans, tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush. During busy summer months, the restaurant employs up to 1,800 people in the dining area and kitchen.
Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. The train climbs to 456 feet and can accelerate to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds. The thrill ride travels 3,118 feet and lasts 59 seconds.
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which opened in 2005, is the world’s largest, with 8 million gallons of water. It contains the largest collection of giant groupers, potato groupers, humphead wrasses, tarpons, giant trevallies, batfish, sawfish, blacktip reef sharks, giant hammerhead sharks and wobbegong sharks in an aquarium. It’s also the only aquarium outside of Asia to house whale sharks, the world’s largest fish.
Mount Everest, 29,029 feet, is the world’s highest mountain and is in Nepal. In 1953, New Zealand’s Edmund Hillary and Nepal’s Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit.
The world’s biggest tree is General Sherman, a giant sequoia that’s 275 feet high with a trunk volume of about 1,487 cubic meters. You’ll find it in Giant Forest within Sequoia National Park east of Visalia, Calif. General Sherman is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.
The world’s largest swimming pool is the San Alfonso del Mar seawater pool in Algarrobo, Chile. It is 3,324 feet long, longer than 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools laid end to end. Water from the neighboring Pacific Ocean is heated to a comfortable 79 degrees Fahrenheit for swimming. Sports enthusiasts can sign up for classes in swimming, sailing, kayaking and scuba diving.
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas debuted in December 2009 as the world’s largest cruise ship. It’s nearly five times the gross tonnage of the Titanic, 1½ times longer than the U.S. Capitol building, has 16 decks and has a capacity for 6,296 guests. At 1,187 feet long, 208 feet wide and 213 feet in air draft, it’s too long, too wide and too tall to fit through the Panama Canal.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, opened the world’s tallest skyscraper in January 2010, and superlatives have poured in ever since. If you stuck the Eiffel Tower on top of the Empire State Building, you still wouldn’t have a structure as tall as the Burj Khalifa. It rises 2,717 feet from the desert and provides views of the Persian Gulf, the sail-shaped Burj al-Arab hotel and the manmade Palm Jumeirah island.
Blue whales, on average, weigh 176 tons. Their tongues alone are as heavy as an elephant. They reach these behemoth proportions on a diet of tiny shrimplike animals called krill.
The largest ancient castle in the world is Prague Castle in Prague. Built in the ninth century, it is an oblong irregular polygon with an average diameter of 420 feet and a total surface area of 18 acres. At times, it has housed the kings of Bohemia as well as Holy Roman emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia. After Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, the castle became the seat of the head of state of the new Czech Republic.