Thursday, April 22, 2010

Top 10: Misconceptions About The Bible

It is almost impossible to mention religion without some debate issuing forth. Fundamentalist Christians like to use the Bible as their sole source of “revelation” and will argue for hours from its pages. Over history, people have developed strange misconceptions about the Bible and the tales it tells. This list hopes to put down some of the more obvious misconceptions people have about the Bible.

#10 - Adam and Eve’s Fruit


Contrary to popular belief, Adam and Eve did not eat an Apple in the book of Genesis. The fruit is not actually named at all – it is referred to only as the fruit of “the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. The reason this misconception has come about is most likely due to the fact that in Middle English, the word “apple” was used to refer to all fruit and nuts (except berries). Over the centuries, this word has stuck in reference to the Genesis fruit. [Genesis 2:17]        





#9 - Devilish Serpent


The serpent that convinced Eve to take the fruit from the tree of Knowledge and Evil is not referred to as Satan in Genesis. He is known only as the serpent who was “more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth”. Additionally, the term “Lucifer” used in reference to Satan comes from the Vulgate translation of Isaiah 14:12 – at no point in the Bible is Satan directly referred to by the name Lucifer. [Genesis 3]

#8 - Noah’s Ark


We all know that the “animals went in two by two”… right? Wrong! In fact, all clean animals went in in groups of seven, and unclean animals in groups of two. According to Jewish dietary law, there are far more clean animals than unclean, so the majority of creatures entering the ark went in as a group of 7. [Genesis 7:2-3]


#7 - The Ten Commandments


Considering the importance of the ten commandments to so many people, you would think they would have a clear idea of how they are defined, but most people do not. The Bible does not list a consistent set of 10 commandments at all. In Exodus, the list includes 14 or 15 “statements”. Though the Bible does refer to a set of “10″ rules, it does not mention them in the same sections as the list commonly known as the ten commandments. Different Christian sects have divided the list of commandments up differently. The Catholic Church combines the first 3 statements in to one commandment, and the Protestants combine the final two in to one statement. You can see a complete list of the differences here. To add to the confusion, there is also another set of 10 commandments called the Ritual Decalogue which includes laws such as “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk”. [Exodus 20]

#6 - The Immaculate Conception


The immaculate conception is not a reference to Jesus being born without sin, but to his mother Mary. Most Christians believe that all people are conceived with original sin (the sin inherited from Adam and Eve) but that Jesus was not. Additionally, the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was also conceived without sin and this is where the term “Immaculate Conception” has come from. [Luke 1:28]


The Immaculate Conception is the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus without any stain of original sin, in her mother’s womb: the dogma thus says that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace.

You can read more about this on Wikipedia.


#5 - The Three Kings


No doubt most of us have heard the Christmas Carol “We three kings of Orient are;” but in fact, the three “kings” are never referred to as Kings in the Bible. Additionally, they are not referred to as a group of three. The only reference to the number ‘3′ is the number of gifts they carried. [Matthew 2:7-11]



#4 - Mary Magdalene’s Career


Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. In fact, she is barely mentioned at all. Aside from her presence at the ressurection, the only other thing that the Bible does say is that she was possessed by seven demons. [Luke 8:2]



#3 - The Prodigal Son


Contrary to popular belief, “Prodigal” means “characterized by a profuse or wasteful expenditure” – it is not a reference to leaving or returning. [Luke 15:11-32]




#2 - Emperor Constantine and the Bible


The Emperor Constantine did not define the canon of the New Testament at the first Council of Nicaea in 325AD – in fact, the Council did not even make mention of the Biblical canon. It was already defined by common use by the early 2nd century in the form in which it is still found in Catholic Bibles. Another little known fact is the Emperor Constantine had no voting power at the council – he was there merely as an observer. [Canons of the Council of Nicaea]

#1 - Changing Text

Some people believe that over the centuries, the Bible text has been altered to suit the ideologies of the editors. In fact, there are only a very small number of textual alterations that modern philologists and critics consider intentional Misconceptions_About_The_Bible_1changes; most are simply errors in spelling or copying. Bart D. Ehrman (a New Testament textual critic) says:

“It would be a mistake. . .to assume that the only changes being made were by copyists with a personal stake in the wording of the text. In fact, most of the changes found in our early Christian manuscripts have nothing to do with theology or ideology. Far and and away the [sic] most changes are the result of mistakes, pure and simple—slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another.”

Aside from the removal of a number of books in the 16th Century, the text of the books that now comprise the full canon of the Bible, is essentially the same now as it was in the 2nd century.

The Old Testament was decided by the apostles and Jesus as they both used the Septuagint (LXX):

“Though the Early Church used the Old Testament according to the canon of the Septuagint (LXX), the apostles did not otherwise leave a defined set of new scriptures; instead the New Testament developed over time.” [Wikipedia]

The New Testament as it is found today in the Catholic Bible (not the Protestant bible – such as the King James Version – as they removed books in the 16th century):

“Thus, while there was a good measure of debate in the Early Church over the New Testament canon, the major writings were accepted by almost all Christians by the middle of the second century.” Ibid.

For those who doubt the fact that changes have not been substantially made, I would suggest a comparison of the Vulgate (5th Century) with the Douay Rheims – Challoner edition (18th Century) which is the official English version of the Catholic Bible. You can find the Vulgate here, and the Douay Rheims here.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The 10 Worst Jobs in Science


#10 - Bad Dance Observer


It’s no chore to watch supermodels shake it in a nightclub. But Peter J. Lovatt, a former professional dancer and a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England, must examine the often unflattering gyrations of everyone from preteens to the elderly in search of the influences and motivations behind human dancing. Lovatt and his team record videos of the dancers and then quantify their groove thang using a special movement-analysis technique and software. Other times, observers rate traits such as the overall attractiveness of the dancers’ movements on video, or the observers wear a visor that tracks what elements of the dancer they are looking at. Findings suggest that young women rate the dancing of middle-aged men as less attractive than the dance moves of younger men, perhaps an evolutionary trait that discourages women from choosing older mates—middle-aged men tend to use big, uncoordinated movements, and women typically find complex movement most attractive. But don’t lose hope. Above age 60, men dance with more complexity. They also exhibit their highest dance confidence at that age. No wonder grandpa thinks he works it so good.

#9 - Oceanic-Snot Diver


Every so often, the Mediterranean hocks up a loogie. The balls of mucus, known as “marine mucilage,” are enormous, gelatinous masses of organic material emitted by stressed-out plankton. They harbor everything from dead shrimp to bacteria known to infect humans. Fishermen have encountered the mare sporco (“dirty sea”) off Italy’s eastern coast for centuries. But the snotballs now appear more frequently, last several months, and sometimes reach over 120 miles in length. Antonio Pusceddu of the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy and other scientists don scuba gear and jump right in with the foul globs, using large syringes to collect jugs of the material to study in the lab. Pusceddu’s findings indicate that global warming could be putting slime production into overdrive; other scientists worry that overfishing and pollution in the region may contribute to the mucus by disrupting the local ecosystem. Whatever’s causing it, it’s nasty. “The smell of mucilage can vary depending on the age of these aggregates. At the very beginning, these smell like seafood,” Pusceddu says, “but with time, the smell shifts to the one typically associated with decomposing eggs.”

#8 - Dung Curator


In the 1970s, Jim Mead started collecting dung from Ice Age critters and modern beasts during his paleological research. By the time he signed on with Northern Arizona University in 1985, he was already hoarding a lot of poo. Now at East Tennessee State University, Mead hosts what’s believed to be the largest collection of excrement in the world, around 13,000 specimens pinched off by extinct ground sloths, porcupines, you name it. The dung, collected from digs, zoos and various hikes around the world, is dried out and stored in archival-quality cardboard boxes. When scientists need to identify a piece of dung, they will often send it to Mead for identification. But the collection is more than just a dookie archive; researchers from around the world can pull DNA fragments from the material, use plant matter stuck in the poo to re-create ancient diets (“Look! Corn!”), gather indicators of past climate conditions, and use biochemical markers to determine the gender and health of the animals that left them behind.

#7 - Sneeze Modeler


Someone sick sneezes near you, and then you get ill. Obvious, right? But the work done by University of California at Berkeley researcher Mark Nicas and others modeling infection pathways shows that we barely understand how infection works. The size of the particles coughed onto you matters, as does where they land. That’s why Nicas, under a joint grant from the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency, has begun a hunt for better data on bursts of mucus and saliva. A volunteer swishes a salt solution before coughing on a plastic face. Using a chloride-ion detector, Nicas and his assistants can determine how much spittle hits the vulnerable parts of the face. “For 100 years, no one has tried in a good way to measure what fraction of cough fluid would strike the eyes, nose and lips,” he explains. “Information like this currently doesn’t exist.”

#6 - Armpit Detective


Your fingerprints, retina and even your voice are now forms of ID. But you have an identifier no one’s using yet: your smell. Groups at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and at Florida International University hope to isolate the compounds that give us each a unique aroma. The problem is that our diet, medications, toiletries and other factors make it difficult to discern natural scent from manufactured odorants. And so, since 1973, George Preti of Monell has collected human odors, recently focusing on the underarm, the mouth and urine. For example, using solvents or a technique called solid-phase micro-extraction, Preti pulls odorants from an underarm pad fitted to a subject. The samples go to the lab for storage in a freezer that is legendary for its overpowering musk. Despite fits and starts of government interest and funding (Darpa has bankrolled research since 2008 as part of its chemical-detecting RealNose project), the elements of an odor print have been elusive. But collecting the smells has led to other discoveries. Preti is using his work, for instance, to develop ways of sniffing out certain cancers, like melanomas and ovarian carcinoma, which release volatile, detectable biomarkers.

#5 - Tissue Reaper


Lungs, hearts and kidneys are the diamonds of the transplant world, but the rest of the human body can be recycled for later use as well. After a donor’s death, a team of tissue technologists shows up at the hospital. Out come the bags and scalpels. Skin on the back of the legs goes to skin grafts. Technicians remove arm and leg bones and later grind them into a paste to patch holes in bones during other surgeries. Even a damaged heart can be stripped of useful valves. For a full tissue recovery, the team is on the job for as long as 10 hours at a time, triple-bagging the bits and putting them on ice. The tissue is then taken to a processing center, where the materials are given a thorough cleaning and techs slice off excess pieces of muscle or bone before they cryopreserve them, which keeps the remains usable in living patients for up to five years. “You definitely have to be quirky to do this job,” admits one technician from the Pacific Northwest who preferred to remain unnamed. “But one organ or tissue donor can enhance up to 50 lives. That’s what I focus on.”

#4 - Doomsday Factchecker


Imagine an inbox full of questions from sleepless, apocalypse-obsessed teenagers. That’s what Mayan archaeologists and other meso-American researchers are up against since the release of the movie 2012 and the accompanying boom in end-of-the-world media. Three years ago, a distraught message from a teen to Anthony Aveni, an astronomer at Colgate University who specializes in meso-American culture, led him to write The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012, a book that investigates and discredits the 2012 scenarios. Nonetheless, he and his colleagues still get 2012 questions at cocktail parties. “The apocalypse comes from a pop-culture way of thinking based on Christian philosophy,” Aveni says. “Some of my colleagues are getting irritated by it and brush it off, but I see it as a special teaching moment.” He hopes the hoopla might pique interest in the Maya. And the world-ending myths? “If the American public believes in crazy theories,” he says, “we’re not doing our jobs.”

#3 - Whale Slasher


Michelle Berman, an associate curator of vertebrate zoology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in California, is wary of whale organs in general, but blue-whale kidneys top the list. “They fill the entire bucket of an excavator and weigh hundreds of pounds,” she explains. “You have to make sure it doesn’t fall on you when you cut it free.” When a whale or dolphin washes ashore nearby, Berman and her colleagues study the remains. Smaller animals can be taken back to the lab, but whales—like a huge blue whale that washed up dead in 2007—have to be processed on-site. The crew, wearing yellow rain slickers and using long-handled knives, cuts the blubber off in yards-long strips before diving into the thoracic cavity. Berman then systematically cuts through the innards organ by organ, collecting samples before the organs are lifted carefully out of the way—sometimes using heavy machinery—to reveal the next layer. Besides researchers wading knee-deep in blood, the whale’s fatty oils stick to skin and hair, and the smell can last for years. “[A fresh corpse] has a metallic smell to it, because the myoglobin has lots of iron in it,” Berman says. “As the whale decomposes, it gets that rotting smell.” Gases in a decomposing whale can build up and launch guts all over the beach if you make a wrong cut. (Luckily, Berman has only had a dolphin explode on her.) Her samples have helped determine that a killer whale had died of salmonella and that parasites were causing mass beachings of pilot whales. The more she cuts, the more she learns. “If I’m stinking up the place, that’s how you know I’m working,” she says. “Once we get enough samples, it benefits the species as a whole.”

#2 - Bean Counter


After 10,000 years of intensive agriculture, we still don’t understand key things, like the best moment to plant soybeans. So Andrew Robinson, at the time a master’s candidate in agriculture, and his research assistants took on a very boring task. They planted 72 plots of soybeans at different times near Indiana’s Purdue University campus. Robinson and his crew then harvested 10 plants from each plot for study and counted each plant’s reproductive and nonreproductive nodes and seedpods and beans per pod. From there, they weighed the beans 300 at a time. After 72 plots, “when you’re just counting plant after plant after plant,” Robinson says, “your head goes spinning.” To keep his assistants from nodding off, Robinson let them periodically do protein or oil analysis (“Really? Can I?”) before putting them back to hand-counting beans. Results showed that planting beans in April or early May can lead to higher yields, and the work earned Robinson his master’s degree. Now, as he pursues a Ph.D. at Purdue, he’ll spend the next few years hand-counting beans from about 750 plots—more than 10 times the size of his first experiment.

#1 - Feces Piper


The rise of superbugs means that antibiotics, humanity’s weapon against microbes, are no longer getting the job done. Clostridium difficile, for instance, infects as many as half a million Americans a year, causing diarrhea, blood poisoning and kidney failure, and leads to 5,000 to 20,000 deaths annually. A potential cure? Introducing healthy poo into an infected patient’s gut to help recolonize the body with good, microbe-fighting bugs. The procedure, called a fecal transplant, typically involves collecting and processing stool from a healthy relative and feeding it through a nasal tube into the patient’s small intestine. The procedure, performed at just a handful of hospitals in the U.S., is controversial. Only observational evidence—no controlled studies—suggests that the procedure is effective, and doctors worry that shared poo could transmit hard-to-detect nasties. But the big challenge is the stigma of the procedure: It takes a strong stomach to offer a patient the chance to have poo up his nose.

Best Job:

Multispecies Baby Tickler


We know that apes are ticklish. But does ape and human laughter mean the same thing? Marina Davila-Ross, a neuroscientist at the University of Portsmouth in England, sought an answer in what is perhaps science’s most enjoyable research project: tickling human and ape babies to compare their laughter. After tickling the babies of several colleagues and recording their giggles, Davila-Ross traveled the world, recording the laughter of baby chimps, bonobos, gorillas and even a siamang, a gibbon found in Southeast Asia. In most cases, she held the mic as the apes’ handlers tickled the little ones. (“Apes are like us—many won’t be tickled by a stranger,” she explains.) But after three months in an orangutan rehab center in Borneo, she got to do her own tickling on half a dozen furry orange babies. Her research suggests that tickle-induced laughter developed in a common ancestor 10 to 16 million years ago. “It was fun,” Davila-Ross admits. “It’s play behavior, and everybody—apes and humans—enjoys that.”


Friday, April 9, 2010

12 Exotic Treehouse Eco-Vacations

Treehouses appeal to the kid in us. How would you like to combine that urge to play in the trees with a vacation? Some treehouse vacations are rustic while others are more like plush resorts. Most are labeled as an eco-vacation. Whether you want to take it easy on the environment or want to play Tarzan and Jane, step off the grid and climb a tree. These 12 treehouse eco-vacations are fun yet exotic, some of the best in the world.


Green Magic Nature Resort



If you are interested in a remote “jungle” eco-vacation, where you stay in a treehouse, then Vythiri, India, might have what you want. Green Magic Nature Resort is a dedicated eco-lodge built in the trees and located on 500 acres of private secondary forest. The first treehouse is at 100 feet with its second double bedroom directly above it. Access to this treehouse is by wooden steps and hanging bridges. The second treehouse is 90 feet up, accessed by an indigenous crane lift that hoists you with a unique water counterweight. Food comes from an organic farm and energy is solar-powered. Great bio-diversity can been seen when trekking rainforest trails or cooling off in a natural swimming pool. The treehouses offer panoramic views and attached bathroom facilities.


Post Ranch Inn



Along the ruggedly beautiful Big Sur Coast, the Post Ranch Inn has triangular treehouses. They are single standing structures on stilts, built nine feet off the forest floor. Besides a big bed, each has a fireplace and windows which offer spectacular views on all sides. If this ritzy treehouse is too much roughing it for you, then the Post Ranch Inn has a luxurious spa.


River of Life Farm Treehouse



The River of Life Farm is 350 acres located in the Missouri Ozarks. The secluded treehouse overlooks the North Fork River from a private deck. The Mark Twain National Forest is next door, making this a great getaway for hiking, trout fishing, canoeing, or escaping your busy life to commune with nature. The romantic treehouse cabin can sleep up to six, with a master bedroom and a loft bedroom, but is often rented out by honeymooners.


Out ‘n’ About



Out ‘n’ About Treesort is located in Cave Junction, Oregon. This place is all about treehouses, claiming to have lots of activitrees, but requiring a treeposit to hold your treeservation. If there is no bathroom in your treehouse, you are welcome to use the main facilitrees. While you are out ‘n’ about, tree fairies clean your perch. They have a wide array of treehouses, varying in sizes, prices, and amenities. These include: The Suite, Swiss Family, Peacock Perch, Cavaltree Fort, Treeloon, Treepee Yurtree, Serendipitree, Treezebo, Forestree, Pleasantree, Elementree, and Majestree.


The Bamboo Treehouse



The Bamboo Treehouse is located on 12 acres of bamboo and tropical hardwood forest in Rincon, Puerto Rico. It offers three types of treehouses, all having 12 volt power provided by solar panels. The Master bedroom Hooch is a separate bamboo treehouse with bridge access to a full bathroom. The Sunset Hooch has a kitchenette on the lower level and a separate hoochette serves as the bathroom. The Luna Hooch is a self-sufficient separate residence, bathroom included, located on a private ridge with spectacular views of the valley and the Caribbean beyond. The Bamboo Treehouse is a tremendous place to be one with nature.


Camp Twin Lakes Treehouse


This eco-friendly treehouse is located on a secluded part of Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Georgia. It’s not for adults, but for special kids. It “provides places and paths for children with serious illnesses and life challenges to experience the joys of childhood and grow in their confidence and capabilities.” Inside this wheelchair accessible treehouse, kids can learn about green living and sustainability. It also has twisty slides, a zip line, trap doors, and climbing nets in a rustic nature setting.


Treehouse Village Resort



The TreeHouse Village EcoResort in Papua New Guinea is suited to experienced island travelers, divers, environmentalists, and adventure sporting enthusiasts. The first floor of the Treehouse is 6 meters up, held securely within large knurled limbs of a 200 year old native hardwood tree. There is a large balcony, dining area and a bar. Sleeping accommodations, however, are in beach-front bungalows with private bathrooms. Activities include scuba diving, fishing, snorkeling, surfing, canoeing, jungle walks, rainforest treks, cycling, bird watching, culture tours, and exclusive expeditions.


Parrot Nest



Parrot Nest in San Ignacio, Belize, consists of two treehouses, four cabins, and two bathhouses. The thatched treehouses are on stilts under a 100 foot guanacaste tree. As its name suggests, there are plenty of pretty parrots which, thankfully, also eat the mosquitoes. Parrot Nest has many types of explorations: river, waterfalls, cascades, caves, archeological sites, jungle walks, medicine trails, butterfly farms, and more eco-adventures. Breakfast and dinner are served on the veranda of the main house.


Nahiku Treehouse



Welcome to Maui and the Nahiku. The treehouse deck is 750 square feet, located 30 feet about the ground in a 75-foot Mango tree. However, the treehouse is for relaxing, staring at the ocean, or whatever appeals to you, but it is not where you sleep at night. Sleeping takes place in the Banana Cabana. The treehouse has a resident house cat to keep varmints at bay. The owners also advise, “Make no mistake, this is camping. Rainforest camping to be exact. Do not expect a ‘mint on your pillow’ at night.” Sounds fun to have a treehouse involved in camping.


Ngong Treehouses



When you think of a treehouse vacation, you may not necessarily think it will be a posh place offering a cushy stay. Ngong House in Nairobi, Kenya, manages to offer luxury and a getaway treehouse vacation. Of the six very different styled treehouses, the rooms offer four poster beds, great comfort, and gourmet food. Some of the units have two levels with a bedroom upstairs. Living areas are raised 15 feet off the ground to offer unspoiled views of the Ngong Hills. At night there is a campfire, but during the day there is access to a swimming pool. A stay at Ngong House is an “experience in extreme comfort.”


Cedar Creek Treehouse




Cedar Creek Treehouse in Ashford, Washington, is only ten miles from Mount Ranier National Park. Unlike most private bed and breakfast establishments, this cabin is 50 feet up in a giant cedar tree. From the treehouse, there are views of Mt. Rainier, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Treehouse Observatory which is 100 feet above the forest floor. The wild spiral “Stairway to Heaven” should be put on your to-do list. Inside the treehouse, there is a skylight for sun or stars as well as a mammoth tree trunk growing straight up through the kitchen floor and disappearing through the ceiling.


Ariau Amazon Towers



The Ariau Amazon Towers in Brazil are located in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest. It is the largest treetop hotel in the world and this eco-resort is considered a must-see before you die. The treetop accommodations are connected by over 5 miles of wooden catwalks, meandering through the thick Amazon rainforest canopy. Eco-adventures are widely varied, ranging from swimming with rare pink dolphins, walking on rope bridges, to relaxing at treetop swimming pools. Private balconies offer breathtaking natural wonders, from the Amazon River to the lush tropical forest. Be prepared for little monkeys to visit with you.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

The World's Best Waterfalls

It's a given that each of the locales is stunning -- there aren't many ugly waterfalls around. Those that made the final cut did so by being pleasing to the senses and unique, whether by virtue of some naturally occurring aspect or because they struck me as a reflection of an equally unique surrounding region. In spite of their ranking, each of these ten waterfalls could rival one another in terms of the adventure and atmosphere they afford their visitors..

#10 - Gullfoss – Iceland

Gullfoss is the largest waterfall in Europe, and widely acknowledged as the most beautiful in Iceland. In contrast to many North American cascades, Gullfoss remains to this day untouched by man, and allowing visitors to actually walk right up to the edge and run one's hand in the water. The falls evoke a mythical aura, and the locale is steeped in folklore; one legend maintains that an ancient treasure lies hidden in a cave behind the wall of water, prompting more than a few explorations over the years.

#9 - Nachi Falls – Japan

48 separate waterfalls are scattered across Japan's Mount Nachi, but the one referred to as Nachi Falls is clearly distinguishable, standing at more than 400 feet tall (making it the country's largest) and cutting a swath through a forest thick with cypress trees and cedars. Sets of stone steps descend on either side of the cascade, and from its summit the Pacific Ocean is visible in the distance. As was the case with a host of natural elements, waterfalls enjoyed sacred status in ancient Japan, and this particular one was considered a divine entity.

#8 - Giessbach Waterfalls – Switzerland

The Giessbach Falls lie in the midst of a landscape filled with Swiss postcard clichйs -- crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped peaks, cable cars, and cuckoo clocks (well, there's bound to be at least one cuckoo clock in one of the local farmhouses). The name of the locale might ring a bell as it was in the news in the summer of 1999, when some canyoning tourists were killed in a flash flood. The tragedy hasn't affected tourism in the region, and people continue to flock to Giessbach to indulge in river rafting and paragliding, or to simply soak up the Swiss atmosphere.

#7 - Upside Down Falls - Oahu, Hawaii

The name says it all. Stemming from the summit of Mount Konahuanui, the water of the Upside Down Falls doesn't fall for more than a few feet before prevailing trade winds blows it back upwards. This unique sight alone merits the voyage, but upon arrival, one will discover why Oahu, boasting the renowned Waikiki Beach and world famous scuba diving, is the most visited of the Hawaiian islands. For history buffs, nearby Pearl Harbor is an added attraction.

#6 - Angel Falls – Venezuela

At nearly 2700 feet, Angel Falls is the world's tallest and, located in the midst of the Venezuela's wild Gran Sabana region, perhaps the most remote. Getting to the falls alone is an experience in itself: inaccessible by road, visitors are left to choose between a multiple day hiking/boating trip through the tepid jungle or hiring a pilot to maneuver an old DC3 plane through the mountains. Upon arrival, you may find yourself in an adventurous mood and decide to take advantage of the fact that BASE jumping (skydiving) off of the falls' summit was recently legalized.

#5 -  Niagara Falls - Canada/USA

Spanning the Canadian/American border, Niagara Falls is neither the world's tallest nor broadest cascade, but it is among the most impressive and certainly the single most powerful. Every minute, 35 million gallons of water rush over the edge of the falls, half of which is diverted towards the power plants that make Niagara Falls the largest source of hydroelectric power on the globe. Not only is Niagara Falls one of the hottest tourist spots on Earth, but the notion of tourism in itself practically originated here. People have been flocking to the "Honeymoon Capital of the World" since the mid-19th century, and the end result is a surrounding region filled with wax museums, amusement parks, and a host of other one-day attractions. Some find this aspect of the area tacky, others entertaining; either way, it provides a stark contrast that accentuates the majesty of the falls themselves.

#4 - Ahuii Waterfall - Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia

Nuku Hiva is the largest island on the Marquesas archipelago, a region so unblemished by human hands that it once attracted the studious eye of Charles Darwin. Well, ever since the suits at CBS made the area the setting for another Survivor series, this natural oasis has become progressively less natural, so there's no time like the present to visit before it changes irreparably. And there's no better excuse to make the trip than to check out the Ahuii waterfall. At just over 1,000 feet, it is one of the world's tallest, and the refreshing base pool and lush tropical surroundings make it the island's top tourist stop.

#3 - Apsat River – Russia

Not far from the river Apsat lie the remains of one of Stalin's prison camps, and while those on their way to the GULAG probably had other things on their mind besides the beauty of the surrounding region, today's traveler will find the Alpine relief of the Kodar region breathtaking. The falls themselves are located in the Marble Ravine, dropping roughly 32 feet into a deep canyon and within seeing distance of ancient glaciers. Be sure to bundle up and brace yourself for some rugged terrain on the way -- after all, there's a reason why this site was chosen for a prison camp.

#2 - Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe/Zambia

Its mile-long breadth makes Victoria Falls is Africa's biggest tourist attraction. Towering over spray-soaked rainforests that conceal all manners of African wildlife, Victoria Falls is truly an awe-inspiring sight, and with whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, safari tours, and scenic flights to choose from, it's difficult to find time to sleep when visiting.

#1 - Iguazu Falls - Argentina/Brazil

Iguazu Falls is comprised of not one, but an array of 275 separate cascades and waterfalls, spanning a total of 2.5 miles and plunging up to 269 feet into the Iguazu river. Surrounded by bamboo, palm and fern trees, populated by parrots and macaws, and decorated with the ruins of an 18th century Jesuit mission, Iguazu Falls seems suspended from time, making it an ideal location for the filming of the 1986 period movie, The Mission.