kavir desert

Kavir Desert, Iran
Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-47388 was acquired on February 14, 2014, with a Nikon D3 digital camera using a 200 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 38 crew. (via NASA Visible Earth)

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For a few days in October, a ziggurat of mirrored boxes stood in Dasht-e Kavir, a desert in central Iran. The sculpture contained sensors, gears, and an Arduino processor that sensed changes in the temperature and the light, which caused the tower’s nine tiers to spin independently. This being the desert, a place of extremes, the sculpture did a lot of spinning. From any angle, at any time, looking at it was like gazing into a kaleidoscope of the surrounding landscape.

The Babel Tower is the work of Italian designer Gugo Torelli, who programmed the electronics, and Iranian artist Shirin Abedinirad, who handled the mirrors.

Check out more photos and read about the Babel Tower project.

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A textbook anticline

Iran is being slowly compressed as Arabia is pushed into it by the Red Sea, an ocean basin in the early stages of infancy. As a result the Elbruz and Zagros mountains are being pushed out of the buckling crust, and the surrounding Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert) is also affected by the huge tectonic forces. As rocks get compressed they often fold into rolling hills like a tablecloth being pushed along a table, and the terms syncline and anticline are used by geologists to describe them.

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