Saturday, 2 April 2016

Sepia Saturday 324/ 2.April 2016

The Gotthard a mountain with a long history.

The narrow serpentine Via Tremola leads steeply up to the Gotthard Pass. Earlier rattled and rocked  the stagecoaches along the  winding road. Today only tourists drive over the historic pass road. 

The Gotthard Pass was since the Middle Ages until the 20th century one of the most important north-south connections through the Alps. This transport axis leads in a north-south direction through the Gotthard massif. It is the direct transport link through the Alps. 

 Gotthardhospiz,  the Inn,  1785
Charles-Melchior Descourtis - Lüönd, 
 kol. Kupferstich von Descourtis nach Zeichnung von Rosenberg

At the summit a chapel  and a hospice was built  very early on. It is not known who built the chapel and the Inn to rest and get sustenance along the way. During excavations in the basement of the old hospice, they discovered  foundations, which date back at least to the Carolingian period or even earlier.

The chapel and the hospice on the pass were mentioned the first time on August 12, 1331 concluded by border disputes and a peace treaty between Urseren and Livinen. 

The Archbishop of Milan Galdinus, has consecrated the chapel in 1230 to the Holy Godehardus (according to Liber Sanctorum notitiae Mediolani).  Since then the pass is named Gotthard. Yet there is  evidence that already decades before  monks of Disentis had a chapel and  accommodation at the same spot, they  also worshiped the Holy Godehardus.In 1431/32 the hospice was enlarged to make more room for the many travellers and pilgrims on their way to Rom.

In the 17th century Archbishop Federico Borromeo  of Milan expanded the hospice again and also added  living quarters for a priest. From 1685 onwards the order of the Capuchin monks were responsible for the hospice.  They received a special permission to wear shoes due to the extremely cold weather.

Before the end of the 18th century the hospice hosted many destitute travelers, up to 4000 a year.
Each person received a piece of bread and a piece of cheese and a little sweet wine. For lunch they also received geschmalzte soup, meaning a soup made with fat. They also were allowed to sleep there and get other care if needed.

 Der Herzog von Chartres, der spätere König Louis-Philipp von Frankreich, asking for entry into the  Hospice.  Gotthard-Hospiz kol. Litho von Horace Vernet nach Zeichnung von Palheri, um 1830

Here is more to read about this famous Mountain Pass;

The Gotthard Tunnel today.

Naturally there is also a song  about this  famous Mountain.

Übere Gottard flüget Bräme 1945

.....and finely please visit 

Sepia Saturday 324 : 2 April 2016

Photos were free to use. Text Ts.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Plastic garbage and perhaps a solution for it.

Plastic has become part of our life. We are drowning in it. 311 million tons, probably more, are produced all over the world just in one year. 10 % of the plastic is recycled, a tiny amount against the ever growing plastic menace. The rest is used as landfills, ends up as litter on land and in the ocean where it stays for  decades or maybe longer.

At a plastic recycling plant  in Japan, scientists have found a bacteria that has evolved to consume the most common type of plastic.

Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 can degrade poly ethylene terephthalate), commonly called PET,  in as little as six weeks, reported in a new paper published in the journal,  Science.

Common uses of PET include polyester fibers, disposable bottles, and food containers. 
This study evaluated if the bacteria in question could degrade PET and was conducted under laboratory conditions. 
More research has to be done in order to make this a practical solution to plastic pollution.

 In the experiment, the researchers controlled the situation so the bacteria ate the plastic, but in nature, they might  have many options for food. 
This research is in its infancy there are many questions. Per example,
the trillions of tons of plastic particles amassing in the oceans might be  an other type. Also Marine organisms have evolved to withstand the saltwater and sunlight that sediment-dwelling organisms might not.

Perhaps this bacteria could be harnessed to accelerate degradation of plastics that are used for landfill. 

This study shows that the environment is evolving and  the microbes evolving along with it as well.

Scientists were  not surprised that the researchers found an organism that can consume PET. Just surprised  that it took so long. They have been waiting for it.

This is not the first time researchers have found an organism that will eat trashed plastic. Last year engineers at Stanford University found a meal worm that can eat Styrofoam. 

This does not mean that we should now double the plastic waste!

Photo/ Internet