Wonders of the world

Dossier ~ Friday 23rd April 2010
Explorers on the Moon (1954) - Page 26

We've got a special, interactive Tintin report for the holidays. Read further to find out amazing facts about the Earth and test your general knowledge. Prepare to travel around the world !

How many miles to the centre of the Earth ?

To travel to the centre of the Earth you would need to dig a tunnel roughly 3950 miles long. Aside from the hard work involved, there are going to be other problems. The Earth's crust ranges from 2 miles thick at the mid-ocean ridges to 70 miles thick under some mountain ranges, with an overall average thickness of 27 miles. Go any deeper and you come to magma  -  molten rock  -  which has been red-hot since the formation of the Earth some 4 to 5 billion years ago. The deeper we go into the Earth, the hotter it gets. Magma varies from 1500° Celsius to 6000° Celsius in the centre ! We are literally floating on a sea of boiling lava. The Earth's crust is made up of large pieces  -  tectonic plates  -  which are forever pushing and pulling on each other. This explains why these plates sometimes violently compress together resulting in earthquakes (like the one that recently struck Haiti) and volcanic eruptions, the most famous of which was the eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883. The shock wave from this explosion reverberated around the Earth 7 times, and the amount of dust and debris ejected by the volcano actually modified the climate by lowering the average global temperature by up to 1.2° Celsius for several years.

What are the 5 longest rivers in the world ? (in the right order please!)

The Amazon is the longest river (4218 miles), followed by the Nile (4145 miles), the Yangtze (3728 miles), the Mississippi (3710 miles) and the Ob (3362 miles). The most remarkable thing about these lengths is that they are all quite similar: in some instances the difference in length between rivers is only a few dozen miles. These small differences in length have resulted in arguments about which rivers really are the longest. Bizarrely, we have never been able to establish the exact source of the Amazon. Depending on the technique used to define the precise beginning of the river, the starting point varies in location by up to several hundred miles. The disputed length of the Amazon means that technically the Nile could be the longest river in the world. In the end, it is best to leave the decision  -  and arguments  -  up to the specialists. One thing is for sure: with so many tributaries the Amazon has a total river flow greater than the next 10 largest rivers combined.

Flight 714 page 58
The Blue Lotus page 42 - 4845 km le Fleuve jaune arrive en 6ème position des cours d'eau les plus longs du monde

How long can a human being survive without water ?

Without water, life would not exist. While it is possible to stay alive for 3 weeks without eating, it only takes 3 days without a drink to die. Roughly 60% of the human body is made up of water. This figure rises to 75% for the brain. The fluid transports nourishment to the body's organs and cells. An adult needs between 2 and 3 litres of water per day to be kept properly hydrated. Dehydration begins to be felt in region of the brain, followed by the muscles and then the skin. If the body loses 10% of its weight due to dehydration, beware! Around 20% of people would not survive such a level of water loss.

When was the first computer built ?

Contrary to popular belief, the first computer was not created in England during World War II (1939-1945). It was in Berlin in 1938 that engineer Konrad Zuse completed work on an automatic calculator. The young engineer (1910-1995) took two years to perfect the Zuse Z1, a computer that weighed a tonne and was capable of executing 4 fundamental functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. To carry out a single addition, the Z1 took 3 seconds. The third prototype, the Z3, cut this time to 0.8 seconds: it could actually complete 5 separate tasks per second. A further notable detail about these computers is that the first prototype was powered by a steam engine!

Cigars of the Pharaoh page 25
The Secret of the Unicorn page 43 - Oui le boulier compteur est bien l'ancêtre de nos ordinateurs

How hot is the Sun ?

The circumference of the Sun is 2,720,991 miles. It is around 330,000 times heavier than the Earth. With the Sun, everything is superlative. The temperature of the Sun varies from 6000° Celsius on the surface to 15 million° Celsius at the core. Every second around 700 million tonnes of hydrogen are converted into helium through a process of nuclear fusion. The energy released in the core of the sun by this reaction takes roughly a million years to reach the surface. When the energy reaches the surface of the Sun it radiates into the solar system, providing light for the Earth. The Sun has been ?burning' (in reality a nuclear reaction) for around 4.6 billion years, and it should keep going for around another 5 billion years.

What does the title ?Dalai Lama' mean?

'Dalai Lama' is not the name of the leader of Tibet: it is his title. In reality, the present Dalai Lama's ordination name is Tenzin Gyatso, although he was born Lhamo Dondrup. Dalai Lama is the title given by Tibetans to the human incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, called Avalokiteshvara. The title means: 'Master (in the sense of teacher) whose wisdom is as vast as the ocean.' The two first Dalai Lamas lived during the 15th and 16th centuries. Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th reincarnation in the Dalai Lama lineage. When the 13th Dalai Lama died in 1933, his disciples searched for his reincarnation. They followed predictions to discover 2-year-old Lhamo Dondrup in the region of Amdo, Tibet. The search party tested the child by offering him old possessions of the 13th Dalai Lama mixed with other objects. The toddler chose his predecessor's possessions on every occasion, and this was deemed to be a sign that he was the next Dalai Lama.

The Crab with the Golden Claws page 29
Tintin in Tibet page 43

To finish...

Well done for making it all the way! All the information and general knowledge you have just read about can easily be illustrated by drawings from Tintin, which just goes to show that this little character  -  who first appeared on 10 January 1929  -  remains up-to-date and relevant today. As a reward for reaching the end of this report, we hope you enjoy this series of drawings created by Hergé to celebrate Easter. Long live the holidays !

Cover Tintin magazine of 1947
Cover Tintin magazine of 1950
Cover Tintin magazine of 1953 
Cover Tintin magazine of 1956 
Cover Tintin magazine of 1958 
Cover Tintin magazine of 1959
Cover Tintin magazine of 1961
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