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This epic colossus, half man, half mountain, was erected in the late 1500s by renowned Italian sculptor Giambologna as a symbol of Italy’s rugged Appenine mountains. This mountain god, fittingly named Appennino, stand 35 feet tall over the ground of the Villa di Pratolino in Tuscany.

The rugged, mountainous statue hides a wonderful secret – his interior hides several rooms with different functions that made this colossus come to life. The monster that his left hand holds spewed water from an underground stream, and it is rumored that space in his head was made for a fireplace which, when lit, would blow smoke out of his nostrils.

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The Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens home to Australia’s oldest and most famous hedge maze in Shoreham, Australia. In addition, a beautiful circular rose maze, and the year-round flowering Lavender Labyrinth, all set among 25 acres of world acclaimed gardens.

The traditional hedge Maze is planted with more than 1000 cypress trees and thousands of meters of pathways. Now more than three meters high and two meters thick. One of the most interesting features of the Ashcombe Hedge Maze is how it is maintained – there are no string lines or straight edges used in trim so the overall effect is very organic. The constant trimming ensures that the juvenile lime green soft foliage of the cypress features all year round. The Mazekeeper and his team of gardeners cut the hedge 3 or 4 times a year using electric hedge trimmers, ladders & stilts. You cannot cut a hedge in the rain or in the heat, and each load of hedge trimmings has to be loaded into the wheelbarrow and pushed through the maze to get out! It’s a big job — each time taking about a month to finish the task!

The challenge of the Ashcombe Hedge Maze is to find each of the four mosaic flags in the two halves of the maze. The task takes you through hundreds of meters of winding paths in the South Maze through to the Centre Garden – then you tackle the North Maze. While not overly complicated it does take a little while to make your way through. Each half of the maze has a totally different layout, so any tricks you worked out while making your way through the first part, mean absolutely nothing in the other!

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The name “solar furnace,” translates in Latin to heliocaminus. A heliocaminus was simply a glass enclosed room meant to focus and heat the room, much like a modern sunroom. The principles behind a modern solar furnace hasn’t changed much from these sun rooms and “burning lenses.”

The world’s largest solar furnace is located in Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via, a commune in the sunny Pyrenees mountains on the French-Spanish border. The furnace consists of a field of 10,000 mirrors, which bounce the sun’s rays onto a large concave mirror. The mirror focuses the enormous amount of sunlight onto an area roughly the size of a cooking pot, which reaches temperatures above 3,000 °C or 5,430 degrees Fahrenheit. The solar furnace itself isn’t exactly new. The first modern solar furnace was built in Mont Louis, in 1949 by professor Félix Trombe, and the current one was constructed in 1970. However the solar furnace continues to generate a beam of focused sunlight as powerful today as it was 3,000 years ago. At 54 m (177 ft) tall and 48 m (157 ft) wide, it is the world’s largest solar furnace.

It is used for several purposes, including melting steel, generating electricity via a steam turbine, making hydrogen fuels, testing re-entry materials for space vehicles, and performing high-temperature metallurgic experiments.

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