Monday, January 21, 2008

Huge Grotto Found Under Norwegian Glacier

Large quantities of water from melting ice have created what researchers are calling a "sensational" grotto under one of Norway's major glaciers.

The researchers discovered the grotto last fall under the Nigard Glacier, an arm of the famed Jostedal Glacier in Luster, in the western county of Sogn og Fjordane.

Its opening is around five meters high and inside is the grotto which measures about eight meters high, 20-30 meters deep and around 20 meters wide.

The grotto is believed to have been created by rising temperatures.

The Wave, Arizona

The Wave is a spectacular sandstone formation on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the beautiful and rugged Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, located in northern portion of the U.S. state of Arizona. When one visits the Wave after a recent rain storm, numerous pools - in which one can actually bathe, and which can contain hundreds of tadpoles - can be present for several days.

A Cracked Jug Sold For $440,000

A cracked 19th-century French claret jug that was expected to sell at auction for £200 fetched more than a thousand times its guide price. Two buyers became locked in a bidding war at Lawrence’s auction house in Somerset, pushing the price to £220,000. The jug was presented in a fitted box of Morel รก Sevres, and one auctioneer suggested that this could be the mark of the French goldsmith and lapidary Jean-Valentin Morel. Some people think the auction was actually of two items. Collectors realised the box was worth a lot more than the jug.

World's Oldest Guitar

I really must admit that European instruments are not my strongest suit, so I won't try to embellish this little photo gallery.

Last week when I was visiting with the folks at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix, we had a surprise visit from Frank Koonce. Frank is an instructor at Arizona State, and is the proud owner of what may well be the world's oldest surviving full size guitar. Believe it or not, this thing is over 400 years old!

The guitar has been attributed to Belchior Diaz, a Portugese builder who probably made the instrument around 1590.

Frank was gratious and allowed us to handle the guitar, and answered all our questions as we checked out this amazing instrument:

That's s head instructor, John Reuter, standing in the background.

Instead of regular metal frets, it has tied ligatures like those on a lute:

The instrument has been through a lot of restoration over the years, including a top replacement:

It seems hard to believe, but this may be the original parchement rose:

The multi-ribbed back and the neck are ebony with ivory inlay and the top is spruce.