Here is a moderately surprising list of the 25 least visited countries in the world. North Korea doesn’t even make the list (because of a mostly Chinese tourist base). Why some countries are less visited than others varies, but location, travel related logistics, costs, visa availability, degree of war and governments or lack thereof all matter. Here is the top ten with their approximate annual number of tourist visitors:
10. Turkmenistan: 8,697
9. Guinea-Bissau: 7,500
8. Libya: 6,250
7. Kiribati: 6,000
6. Equatorial Guinea: 5,700
5. South Sudan: 5,500
4. Marshall Islands: 4,600
3. Tuvalu: 1,200
2. Somalia: 400 visitor
1. Nauru: 160 visitors
That would make on heck of a bucket list. The author Gunnar Garfors has visited 198 countries and shares some of his experiences in traveling to these far-flung and rarely visited countries.
This is a photo taken from above a lightning storm over West Africa by André Kuipers during an extended stay aboard the International Space Station. Lightning storms are a common sight for those on the space station. There are many millions of lightning flashes on Earth everyday. Considering that the ISS orbits Earth 16 times a day you can bet the IIS crew gets quite a show.
Visualizing an entire day on a single photo, photographer Chris Kotsiopoloulos captured this amazing stereographic projection in Sounio, Greece. The photo consists of hundreds of photos, taken during a mammoth 30-hour photo shoot, digitally stitched together to represent an entire rotation of the Earth. Images taken at night compose the bottom half of the picture, with star trails lasting as long as 11 hours. Contrasting, images taken during the day compose the top of the image, with the Sun being captured once every 15 minutes.
Below is a list of events, given present scientific understanding and models, that are expected to occur in the far future. Entities affected include humans, the Earth, the galaxy and the known Universe. Predictions include the fields of biology, geology, astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics. It should be noted that several alternate future events are listed to account for questions still unresolved.
- 10,000 years from now – The end of humanity, according to Brandon Carter’s Doomsday Argument, which assumes that half of the humans who will ever have lived have already been born.
- 10,000 years from now – The Earth’s axial tilt reaches a minimum of 22.5 degrees. The Gregorian calendar will be roughly 10 days out of sync with the Sun’s position in the sky.
- 25,000 years from now – The Arecibo Message, a collection of radio data transmitted on 16 November 1974, reaches its destination, the globular cluster Messier 13. This is the only interstellar radio message sent to such a distant region of the galaxy.
- 50,000 years from now – Niagara Falls erodes away the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie and ceases to exist.
- 100,000 years from now – Proper motion (the movement of stars through the galaxy) will make today’s constellations unrecognizable.
- 500,000 years from now – By this time Earth will have likely been impacted by a meteorite of roughly 1 km in diameter.
- 1 Million years from now – Highest estimated time until the red supergiant star Betelgeuse explodes in a supernova. The explosion is expected to be easily visible in daylight.
- 10 Million years from now – The widening East African Rift valley is flooded by the Red Sea, causing a new ocean basin to divide the continent of Africa.
- 230 Million years from now – The solar system reaches Lyapunov time and the orbits of the planets become impossible to predict.
- 240 Million years from now – From its present position, the Solar System will have completed one full orbit of the Galactic center.
- 250 Million years from now – All the continents on Earth fuse into a possible new supercontinent.
- 600 Million years from now – Tidal acceleration moves the Moon far enough from Earth that total solar eclipses are no longer possible. Carbon dioxide levels in its atmosphere decrease to the point at which C3 photosynthesis is no longer possible. 99% of all plants will die.
- 1 Billion years from now – The Sun’s luminosity increases by 10%, causing Earth’s surface temperatures to reach an average of 47°C and the oceans to boil away.
- 5.4 Billion years from now – The Sun becomes a red giant. Mercury, Venus and possibly Earth are destroyed. During these times, it is possible that Saturn’s moon Titan could achieve surface temperatures necessary to support life.
- 7 Billion years from now – The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy collide.
- 14.4 Billion years from now – Sun becomes a black dwarf as its luminosity falls below three trillionths its current level making it invisible to human eyes.
- 20 Billion years from now – The end of the Universe in the Big Rip scenario.
- 50 Billion years from now – Assuming both survive the Sun’s expansion, by this time the Earth and the Moon become tidelocked, with each showing only one face to the other.
- 100 Billion years from now – The Universe’s expansion causes all evidence of the Big Bang to disappear beyond the practical observational limit, rendering cosmology impossible.
- 1 Trillion years from now – Low estimate for the time star formation ends in galaxies as they are depleted of the gas clouds needed to create stars. Once star formation ends and the least massive red dwarfs exhaust their fuel, the only stellar-mass objects remaining are stellar remnants (white dwarfs, brown dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes).
- 2 Trillion years from now – All galaxies outside the Local Supercluster are no longer detectable in any way, assuming that dark energy continues to make the Universe expand at an accelerating rate.
- 1015 (1 Quadrillion) years from now – Estimated time until stellar close encounters detach all planets in the Solar System from their orbits. The Solar System will no longer exist.
- 3×1043 years from now – If protons decay, this is the estimated time for all nucleons in the observable Universe to decay. The Black Hole Era, in which black holes are the only remaining celestial objects begins.
- 1065 years from now – If protons don’t decay this is the estimated time for rigid objects like rocks to rearrange their atoms and molecules via quantum tunneling. On this timescale all matter is liquid.
- 101050 years from now – Estimated time for a Boltzmann brain to appear in the vacuum via a spontaneous entropy decrease.
- 101056 years from now – Estimated time for random quantum fluctuations to generate a new Big Bang.
- 101076 years from now – All matter collapses into black holes, again.
Current theories suggest that the Universe is open, and thus will not collapse in on itself after a finite time. However, the infinite future potentially allows for the occurrence of a number of massively improbable events, such as the formation of a Boltzmann brain. A more complete list from which the ones included here were taken can be found on Wikipedia.
NASA has recently published highest resolution image of the Earth from space ever. The 64-megapixel image of Earth was captured by the VIIRS instrument on NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, the Suomi NPP. You can read more about the Suomi NPP at its official website.
Make sure to see this sucker full size to really appreciate the details and download it for your desktop. We all live in a beautiful place.
The data from the GOCE satellite reveals a potato-shaped earth defined by varying gravity. The globe seen below is a highly exaggerated rendering that neatly illustrates how the tug we feel from the mass of rock under our feet is not the same in every location. In fact, it varies widely. In this model gravity is strongest in yellow areas; it is weakest in blue ones.
The BBC says,
Technically speaking, the model is what researchers refer to as a geoid. It is not the easiest of concepts to grasp, but essentially it describes the “level” surface on an idealised world.
It is the shape the oceans would adopt if there were no winds, no currents and no tides. The differences have been magnified nearly 10,000 times to show up as they do in the new model.
Even so, a boat off the coast of Europe (bright yellow) can sit 180m “higher” than a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean (deep blue) and still be on the same level plane. This is the trick gravity plays on Earth because the space rock on which we live is not a perfect sphere and its interior mass is not evenly distributed.