The world's biggest building is in Mecca, Arabia. The Abraj Al-Bait complex has a 1,500,000-square-metre floor area (the biggest of any building in the world), and is 595 metres high (second highest in the world). The building also has the world's highest and biggest clock, and a 7-star hotel.

Abraj Al-Bait dwarfs the nearby Grand Mosque annually visited by millions of Hajj pilgrims.

Mecca is undergoing $100 billion of redevelopment. But you can't go and see for yourself unless you're a Muslim since the city is forbidden to non-Muslims.

If Mecca has the biggest, Dubai has the highest. The Burj Khalifa skyscraper, costing $US1500 million, rises 820 metres above the desert and was opened on January 5 amidst blazing fireworks.

Despite its oil wealth and because Dubai property prices collapsed 50% in 2009, Dubai lacked finances to complete the building and the President of the United Arab Imirates helped out

Perhaps Dubai rulers should recall that the construction of the Empire State Building coincided with the Great Depression, the Sears Tower in Chicago with the 1974 oil crisis, Hitler's vision for Berlin as the world's capital with Berlin's virtual destruction in World War II, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (1997) with the Asian financial crisis, and the alleged Tower of Babel with mankind's dispersal.

The Burj Khalifa's cooling system could freeze 13,000 tons of ice a day. (The Weekend Australian 2010, January 2-3, p19)


According to news reports in April, Noah's Ark has again been found in Turkey.

A 15-member team of Chinese and Turkish Christians of Noah's Ark Ministries International claimed they had recovered wood (carbon dated 4800 years old) from a wooden structure 4000 metres up Mount Ararat.

Team-member and Hong Kong documentary maker Yeung Wing-cheung said it is 99.9 per cent certain that it's Noah's Ark. He claimed the wooden structure had compartments with wooden beams. (The Australian, April 28, 2010, p. 9)

The discoverers are Christians from "Noah's Ark Ministries".

Hong Hong has a replica of Noah's Ark which functions as a hotel, restaurant and museum. (Investigator #130, p12) At 450 feet in length it's the world's biggest Noah's Ark, bigger than replicas in various Creation museums.


Did you know that Allah shakes the ground to express displeasure over female immodesty?

Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi claimed in April 2010 that scantily clad women cause earthquakes and that in Tehran the failure to cover up from foot to head risks the lives of the city's 12 million inhabitants.

In his sermon on the topic he asked, "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?'' and answered "Take refuge in religion and adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes.''

This teaching was dubbed "Boobquake" on the Internet and generated intense Internet comment.

One woman decided to prove that breasts don't cause quakes. Jennifer McCreight started a Boobquake Facebook page to urge women to defy the cleric. She wrote: "If the world doesn't then disappear into an apocalyptic fiery chasm, then Sedighi will have no option but to admit he was wrong. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts."

100,000 agreed to show more cleavage on April 26. An earthquake occurred in Taiwan but not serious enough for major headlines.


Australian centenarians numbered 3154 (0.16% of the population) in the 2006 census of whom 200 were interviewed in the first Australian study of centenarians.

The Australian reported that genes accounted for 20-30 per cent of longevity. Other factors are: Maintenance of a constant but non-extreme weight, avoiding heavy smoking and drinking, optimism, regular family contact, and participation in organised group activities. (2010, May 4)


Acupuncture is little used in mainstream Western medicine due to the absence of a scientific rationale but this may soon change.

Morry Silberstein of Curtin University (Western Australia) suggests that pricking the skin at certain places with a needle disrupts the branching point of nerves — contradicting the common belief that the needle stimulates the nerves.

He suggests that this is how acupuncture works: "It's like disrupting the nerves and numbing them so the sensation of pain goes away." Dr Silberstein conducted his research using electrical circuits to replicate nerve systems and plans to proceed further by using animals. (The Australian 2009, October 6, p3)

For a sceptical discussion about acupuncture (by Harry Edwards) see Investigator 66.


Despite rumours to the contrary Australia is statistically still a Christian country. Claimed religious affiliation in 2006 was:

Christianity 63.9%
No religion 18.7%
Not stated 11.9%
Buddhism 2.1%
Islam 1.7%
Hinduism 0.8%
Judaism 0.5%

Imprinted on the Shroud of Turin is a faint, brown negative image of a 176cm-tall, beared, apparently crucified man with blood flowing from hands and feet.

In 1988 the 4-metre by 1-metre linen shroud was radiocarbon dated to the 14th century. This refuted the popular belief that the shroud is 2000 years old and that the image was miraculously imprinted at the resurrection of Jesus.

Believers responded that 14th century methods could not have produced the negative image 500 years before the invention of photography; therefore the radiocarbon dating must have given the wrong date.

A team led by Luigi Garlaschelli, professor of biochemistry at the University of Pavla, has now used 14th century methods to duplicate the Shroud and image. They heated a linen cloth in an oven and washed it in water to age it artificially. The Australian continues: "The cloth was then placed on a student, who wore a mask to reproduce the face, and rubbed with red ochre, a well-known pigment at the time." (2009, October 7, p9)

The result was a ghostly image of the student imprinted on the linen cloth.

A 2009 TV documentary argued that the 1988 carbon-dating used a piece of the Shroud that was added in Medieval times to repair the Shroud which had been damaged. In other words the Shroud-proper was not carbon-dated and may be much older.

However, a linen cloth definitely dated to the 1st century was discovered in a cave in Israel recently. Its simple two-way weave differs to the Shroud's twill weave which came into vogue about 1000CE.  

Investigator #3 and #13 examined claims of religionists regarding the Shroud, and dismissed them.


The popular practice of making decisions according to the outcome of a coin-toss may not be fair.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that only a few minutes training allowed coin-tossers to achieve significantly more heads or tails as desired. Thirteen Vancouver residents received training and each brought up more heads than tails in 300 coin flips — the best score was 68%.

Success was related to the speed and height of the toss, how often the coin spun, and how caught. (The Australian 2009, December 11, p11)

Whether we can avoid bias when making decisions by switching from coins to dice or cards, remains unanswered.


The remains of interconnected villages, pottery, geoglyphs on the landscape, and Google Earth images give evidence of a pre-Columbian civilization in the Amazon region.

The geoglyphs are shapes 90 to 300 metres wide seen from air, formed by ditches up to 2 metres wide and 11 metres deep.

The evidence is written up in Antiquity (Volume 83) and summarized in other journals such as New Scientist (2009, December 12, p. 11)