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TRAVELLING IN TIME
If the modern world fails to tempt you, there's the option to traverse the world, as it was around 200 CE, during the Roman Empire. A cross-disciplinary team from Stanford recently launched ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. Users can interact with the layout of places in the Roman Empire on ORBIS to calculate how long it would take to travel from one place to another, the cost and modes of transport etc. The interactive online atlas has been built with a host of data including weather and tide information, size of roads, main cities and ports, vehicle speed, in that era. The system maps a road network of over 50, 000 miles, consisting of desert tracks, rivers and canals. The novelty of ORBIS lies in approaching history as a system, instead of a static collection of facts, which gives users insight into how the world functioned then. It is being used by teachers and researchers to understand and convey historical concepts better. ORBIS, a Google Map of the past, makes possible the recreation and appreciation of a world long gone.
A VACATION ON STEROIDS
Thailand has become one of the most popular destinations for all kinds of passions - from beaches to shopping or food. But now, there is a new subculture of amateur bodybuilders who arrive in Thailand to take advantage of the easy availability of steroids. Anabolic steroids and growth hormones are illegal in some countries, such as Australia, for their potentially dangerous side effects. But in Thailand they are available over-the-counter in pharmacies, often for a tenth of the cost back in the tourists' home countries. Further, possession or usage of these steroids in those countries can incur a five-year sentence for the users. A recent Fairfax Media investigation has found that rather than risk prosecution in Australia, everyday gym users are travelling to Asia and stocking up on a dangerous cocktail of steroids that include powerful veterinary drugs and fertility medicine. While thousands of people are caught every year importing these drugs into Australia, many go uncaught because they restrict their usage within countries like Thailand where rules are lax.
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