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Friday, 24 November 2017

INFOGRAPHIC: LI-FI TECHNOLOGY

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Li-Fi is a wireless technology that transmits high-speed data using light emitted from LED light bulbs. It is energy neutral and able to transmit data at 1 gigabit per second, which is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. How much more do we know about Li-Fi? This infographic by 4imprint explores the Li-Fi technology, its advantages and drawbacks, as well as its many applications.

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Top image: Li-Fi. Credit: Бумбаяр/Wikimedia Commons.

[Post Source: 4imprint.]

VIDEO: 15 INSANE IDEAS THAT MADE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

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There are things we can’t go without, which once made their creators seem crazy to people around. Today these bright minds have online platforms to make money by putting their inventions to life. There are websites that make fundraising a breeze, whether it's a serious project like smartwatches or an unusual one like a toilet night light. This video by Bright Side presents 15 insane, but fascinating, ideas that worked out, and shows how budding entrepreneurs gained what they wanted and way more!


[Source: Bright Side/YouTube.]

Thursday, 23 November 2017

10 REASONS WHY BITCOIN WILL FAIL

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10 Reasons Why Bitcoin Will Fail
By Elena Stark,
Listverse, 23 November 2017.

For people outside of the complex and exciting world of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin can be hard to understand. Many have brushed it off for years, saying that it was a fad that would disappear as quickly as the value of Beanie Babies. However, with the price spiking in the thousands of dollars for a single Bitcoin, naysayers are suddenly singing a different tune. Newcomers are dumping their money into Bitcoin, hoping that the price will only continue to grow.

Many old-school investors who haven’t done their research will simply say it’s in an economic bubble and call it a day. But the reasons why Bitcoin cannot succeed in the long run go so much deeper than that. Just like any other speculative asset, no one really knows what is going to happen in the future. However, when one looks at the big picture, it becomes clear that Bitcoin will struggle to survive.

10. Blockchain > Bitcoin

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The most valuable thing about Bitcoin is that it introduced blockchain technology to the world. Blockchain technology drastically improves the speed, privacy, and security of sending money. Bitcoin can be sent from one person to another without a middleman, and it encrypts everyone’s identity to a long string of letters and numbers called a “wallet.” Blockchain is a big deal. Its potential to change technology is as big as the Internet. At the moment, the world of blockchain is young and exciting, like the Wild West of the digital world.

However, even though Bitcoin was the first to introduce blockchain to the world, it’s not necessary for blockchain to exist. Sort of like if one web page goes down, the Internet still exists. Most people never saw the very first website that was ever created. It was a blank white page that was titled “World Wide Web” and a list of text links. That’s it. No one could have ever imagined that that seemingly unimpressive page would evolve into what has now become what the Internet is today. There are already bigger, better, and faster versions of blockchain that made improvements on the original Bitcoin, like Ethereum and Ripple. Both of these coins, or “cryptocurrencies,” are already available on the market.

9. Big Brother Is Watching

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One of the biggest benefits of Bitcoin it that it is supposed to be private, secure, and untraceable. Obviously, this was a huge benefit for criminals on the Dark Web. Cryptocurrency got a really bad reputation once news broke that Bitcoin was being used to send money anonymously on the drug trafficking website Silk Road.

The appeal that a lot of Americans see in Bitcoin is that they believe they can avoid paying taxes to the IRS, which is also a crime. It’s tax evasion. In 2013, 44 percent of the Bitcoin supply belonged to people who identify as Libertarian. Today, the market has way more newcomers, so the percentage of Libertarians is much smaller as more casual people join to invest in hopes of getting rich, rather than trying to start a revolution.

What casual Bitcoin users don’t seem to understand is that even though their name is protected as a string of numbers and letters on the public ledger, that doesn’t mean they are fully anonymous. Most Bitcoin exchanges like Coinbase require that new users must upload the front and back of a Photo ID as well as take a selfie to prove that it’s really them. In Coinbase’s privacy policy, they state that they will keep your name, address, phone number, and more for up to five years and will give it to law enforcement if there was ever a subpoena.

The FBI has made it very clear that they are watching Bitcoin very closely, and they are getting better and better at finding the true identities of the people who use Bitcoin for illegal activity. They are fully aware that not everyone who uses Bitcoin is a criminal. In fact, they have a public dossier of their educational materials given to law enforcement to help them understand what it is. There are plenty of ways for hackers to hide their identity, but for the casual user, they are not getting any added expectation of privacy from Bitcoin. At this point in time, the only way to truly have an anonymous and untraceable financial transaction is with cold, hard cash.

8. The Lack Of Leadership

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Bitcoin was created by the man of mystery, Satoshi Nakamoto. While there are many compelling theories about his true identity, no one knows exactly who he is. At the beginning of the Bitcoin project, Satoshi was able to guide the coders who helped create the platform any time they had a question. Once investigation agencies all over the world began searching for him, Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared. All over the world, homes of suspected Satoshis have been raided. Despite law enforcement’s best efforts, his true identity is still a mystery.

Now, coders and miners must come to a consensus every time a decision about Bitcoin’s future must be made. Unfortunately, the community cannot seem to agree on even the smallest decisions. There is no clear business plan mapping out Bitcoin’s future. In fact, the Reddit community message boards had to split into two totally separate Bitcoin groups, because opposing opinions wanted to continue to talk inside an echo chamber instead of getting along.

Other cryptocurrencies actually have leaders to guide them. Vitalik Buterin is the boy genius creator of Ethereum. Harvard-educated Brad Garlinghouse is the CEO of Ripple. Both Buterin and Garlinghouse met with central banks and the Federal Reserve in October 2017, but Bitcoin did not have a seat, because there is no leader to represent them.

7. Laws And Regulations

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In October 2017, China declared that it was illegal to create an “ICO,” which stands for “Initial Coin Offering.” Start-up companies were learning how to use blockchain to make their own spin-off coins to raise funds. The only downside was that a lot of these coins were fraudulent. A few fake coin companies took millions of dollars from desperate people who were trying to invest so they could “get rich” on these ICOs.

In New York, all businesses who want to accept Bitcoin are required to register for a “BitLicense” if they want to do business. The license promises to comply with United States taxation laws and regulations. The application costs US$5,000, and there are 500 pages of legal paperwork that would require a team of taxation lawyers to decipher. For most businesses, it’s simply not worth the money, time, and effort to accept Bitcoin when so few people will actually use it in their stores.

In 2014, the IRS released a guideline that anyone who profits from digital currency needs to pay taxes in the same way that anyone selling their stocks or bonds must pay their taxes. If the Bitcoin revolutionaries stick to their morals, they aren’t going to listen to the IRS. When there is such a huge spotlight on an activity that is known for tax evasion, it is obviously something that law enforcement takes notice to.

6. Use Cases

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Many small businesses in California’s Silicon Valley accept Bitcoin as a form of payment, but larger corporations still only accept cash and cards. Unless Bitcoin can actually buy and sell things with bigger companies, they will never actually have very much of a purpose, since blockchain technology can exist without Bitcoin. The Journal of Government Financial Management says that blockchain technology can truly help the financial system, but they need to see more successful examples of use cases, first.

At the moment, the one and only digital currency that is actually working with the US Federal Reserve is a company called Ripple. They have proven that they can work with large corporations, banks, and credit card companies. They’re even going to process the financial transactions of American Express. Ripple has their own cryptocurrency, called XRP.

All of the original ideas for possible use cases for the blockchain are actually coming true through Ripple, not Bitcoin. In October 2017, Bill Gates announced that he chose Ripple to run his project that will help alleviate poverty in developing nations, despite having promoted Bitcoin in the past.

5. Time And Mining Problems

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The longer Bitcoin exists, the more difficult it becomes to “mine,” or create new coins. Without the miners, the Bitcoin network collapses. The cost of getting started as a new miner is so far out of reach for the average person that the main miners are gigantic warehouses in China. In most countries, the cost of electricity to run these computers is actually more than what the digital currency is worth, which makes it pointless to even try.

The longer Bitcoin exists, the longer it takes for these computer systems to process the information. At the time this article was written, the official time for a Bitcoin transfer is “one hour,” but anyone who uses Bitcoin on a regular basis knows that is far from the truth. Transactions can take up to six hours at busy times of the day, because it averages 15 transactions per second. There is no guarantee that it will ever improve. In fact, it is likely to keep getting worse.

In contrast, Ripple’s coin XRP settles 1,500 transactions every second, and they have the technology and infrastructure to make sure that they’ll never slow down. In the digital age, where people want things to happen within a split second, it is simply not realistic to think that as the world slowly begins to understand and use blockchain in their everyday lives, they will choose the slower option, Bitcoin, over currencies that are faster.

4. Fear, Uncertainty, And Doubt

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The current Bitcoin market is extremely volatile. If Bitcoin is in the news, its price can fluctuate hundreds of dollars in a matter of hours. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt are talked about so often in the community that everyone just calls them “FUD.” If there was ever any reason for the public to believe that Bitcoin may become illegal, if there was a hack, a virus, or any other issue in the system, the value will drop dramatically as people panic and sell as quickly as possible. It’s very similar to the stock market in that way.

If the Great Depression and the 2008 recession were any clue about the future, people will sell without hesitation if they lose faith in Bitcoin. Without any clear vision of where Bitcoin is going, there is very little for an investor to count on or to have faith in. Many people have been rewarded for holding onto their Bitcoins for dear life, but good news can only last for so long.

3. Will The Real Bitcoin Please Stand Up?

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Since the Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto is no longer publishing his opinions, all coders have left is the documentation he left behind. One person can read the same exact paragraph in the Bitcoin White Paper and come up with a totally different interpretation of Satoshi’s words than the next person. There are a lot of people who believe that in order for Bitcoin to survive, there needs to be a mass exodus to another platform that would be faster and more reliable.

Developers have come up with a solution called a “hard fork,” which is why Bitcoin Cash was created. However, they believed that Bitcoin Cash still did not solve the problems, so there was a much-contested plan to create yet another hard fork called Bitcoin Gold. That plan, known as SegWit2x, was eventually called off, and it resulted in another sharp spike in the price of the original Bitcoin.

As of 2017, the amount of Bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto owns is now worth billions of dollars, and he has made it clear that he is done with the project. He could possibly be on a private island enjoying life while coders continue to argue over which coin gets to be the “real” Bitcoin.

2. The One Percent Hate Bitcoin

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Billionaire Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan chase, has called Bitcoin a fraud and says that it is destined to fail. He said that even if the price of one Bitcoin rises to US$100,000, it would not change his opinion that it is destined for failure some day.

Every single year, Toronto hosts a banking conference called the Swift International Banking Operations Seminar (SIBOS), where some of the most powerful people in the world meet. The major company that runs the convention is called Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). They are in charge of what the world currently uses for banking transfers. One individual bank moves billions of dollars every year. Almost all of the banks in the world use SWIFT’s now-outdated technology, and they handle quadrillions of dollars.

At the October 2017 SIBOS, SWIFT CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt said during an interview that their company is trying to come out with a technology that will improve security, anonymity, and speed. It’s easy to read between the lines and know that what he is really saying is that they want to make their own blockchain. However, he claims that it will take them over a year to actually get their technology up and running. Ripple was so confident that they can beat SWIFT that they they purposely scheduled their own conference, called SWELL, at the same time and location as SIBOS. Their party-crashing resulted in successfully adopting hundreds of new banking partners to use their technology. The one percent aren’t threatened by Ripple the way they are by Bitcoin.

1. The End Of The World As We Know It

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The most enthusiastic supporters of Bitcoin are revolutionaries. Some hope that people will rise up and choose to go with Bitcoin instead of using traditional banks. Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, was encouraged to talk to these Bitcoin revolutionaries in Silicon Valley, because it might make for good material for another book. He watched as the revolutionaries very literally sat around smoking weed and talking about their ideas of the future, and he left feeling as though Bitcoin was going to fail. He decided not to write a book on the subject.

In order for these revolutionaries to get what they want - people losing faith in banks and switching to Bitcoin- the economy of the world as we know it would have to collapse. If that actually happened, people would have to lose their jobs, their homes, and maybe even their lives. Active revolutionaries who are pushing for a collapse are in short supply.

While they’re not necessarily one and the same, a member of Anonymous told Vice News that many of the members have left and that the organization is full of distrust. Others make false promises and never act out on their plans of revolution. For the most part, it’s just kids writing on the Internet about how they want the world to change, without a real plan on how to execute it. If one revolutionary group like Anonymous can fall apart, what’s to stop Bitcoin from suffering the same fate? Even if they could change everything in an instant, would they really be prepared to push the big red button to begin the end of the world?

Top image credit: geralt/Pixabay.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

INFOGRAPHIC: TESLA’S ORIGIN STORY IN ONE GIANT INFOGRAPHIC

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The story of Elon Musk and his Tesla electric vehicles has been well documented. One thing is certain: Tesla did not have an easy ride. There were periods of time when layoffs were rampant, the company’s payroll was covered by credit cards, and Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy. This infographic by Global Energy Metals and Visual Capitalist deals with the origin story of the company, challenges faced by the first EVs, the company’s strategy and initial execution, and the Tesla Roadster’s development. It is the first part of a three-part Rise of Tesla Series, which will soon be a definitive source for everything you ever wanted to know about the company.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

INFOGRAPHIC: HOW TO LEARN ANY LANGUAGE IN RECORD TIME

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Some people may have the flair for language, while others may find learning a new language a daunting task. They have to learn all of the different grammar techniques, native twangs and complex vocabularies that will often put them off even trying to grasp the basics. But getting to grips with a new language need not be difficult or time-consuming, as this infographic by Upgraded Points shows.

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[Source: Upgraded Points.]

VIDEO: OUR LIVING PLANET VIEWED FROM SPACE

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In 1958 the US launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, which initiated a long legacy of satellites meant to take our understanding of Earth to new heights. In 1997, NASA launched a satellite that began a 20-year continuous global record of the very thing that makes Earth special: life. Life that makes Earth unique among the thousands of other planets we've discovered. While most satellite missions captured data on the physical characteristics of the planet's climate and weather, others allowed us to measure life itself. The result? The most complete view of global biology to date. More stunning is the visualization of the Earth's pulse - of the Earth that is breathing every single day. Watch this breathtaking time-lapse by NASA Goddard of a living, breathing Earth viewed from space.


Monday, 20 November 2017

10 CAR CONCEPTS FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS

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Self-Driving Mobile Living Rooms: 10 Car Concepts for the Next 50 Years
By SA Rogers,
Web Urbanist, 15 November 2017.

A couple decades from now, we’ll be able to summon autonomous shared vehicles both from our smartphones and from privately owned steering wheels that double as artificial intelligence companions in the home, clicking into place when the car arrives. In this imagined future, ride sharing and car sharing makes higher quality vehicles more accessible to a broader range of people, requiring luxury automakers to get a lot more imaginative in order to stay relevant - like creating Bentley SUVs with snow tracks. Plus, driverless tech means cars could become more comfortable, home-like environments, with cozy lighting and built-in gardens.

1. Mobuno Unit

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Designed with car sharing in mind, the Mobuno Unit by Xoio and the Institute of Urban Mobility is sort of like a train of autonomous smart cars that can group large parties together for efficiency or break off to pick up new passengers or take them to specific destinations.

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They’re extremely compact for easy urban parking, accessible via smart phone and able to squeeze tightly together. It’s not clear how the very low-riding body shape with enclosed tires would deal with inclines and bumps, and they’re certainly a bit strange looking.

2. Deep Orange 7 Mini Concept Car

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Developed and actually built by a team of students at Clemson University in South Carolina, the Deep Orange 7 Mini concept car combines all of the traits the team expect to be desirable in personal vehicles in the year 2025 and beyond.

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That includes an open design with a floating dashboard, a one-piece windshield and hood, and a personalized electronic display controlled by gesture that replaces the typical static instrument cluster.

3. ‘The Float’ Autonomous Car of the Future by Yuchen Car

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Bulbous, hovering in air and ‘non-directional,’ this autonomous car of the future is a concept designed by student Yuchen Chai at Central Saint Martins, the winning entry in a competition judged by Renault. The idea is that the car is more open to the outside environment rather than feeling like a private pod for enhanced social connection.


It’s made of transparent glass and uses magnetic levitation so it looks like a bubble while in transit. It can move in any direction without needing to turn around, and multiple units can gather together. It’s also got sliding doors, rotating seats and the ability to change the opacity of the glass when desired. Of course, this concept isn’t exactly street-ready, but the idea is to radically re-envision what cars can look like.

4. Future-Type Jaguar Concept

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Another look at a future in which anyone can summon a fully-charged autonomous electric vehicle on demand, the ‘Future-Type’ concept car by Jaguar has one particularly unusual feature: a removable steering wheel with voice-activated artificial intelligence.


It’s this steering wheel, rather than a smartphone, that you use to call a car – because that’s the only part of the car you need to own. It performs the usual Alexa-type functions like playing music, booking a reservation or integrating into smart home systems. When the car arrives, you take the steering wheel with you, plug it in and the car whisks you away.

5. Rinspeed Oasis with a Built-in Garden

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Live plants and flowers certainly cheer up interiors, but have you ever thought about keeping them in your car, too? The Rinspeed Oasis self-driving electric concept car is a highly maneuverable urban vehicle with a small garden integrated just beyond the windshield.

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Why? The idea is to make the car feel like an extension of home with a ‘living room ambiance’, including real wood floors, cozy lighting and plenty of interactive features, like tech that recommends restaurants based on what your friends have liked on social media.

6. Ride-Sharing Car Concept by IDEO

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Combining the comfort and convenience of commuting in your own car with the lower cost (and fewer traffic headaches) of taking public transit, the IDEO concept focuses on providing shared vehicles for much smaller groups.

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You can call one of the vehicles to you and use it alone, or enable ride-sharing, picking up other passengers along the way. Each seat can become its own private pod in ‘privacy mode,’ enabling a surrounding seat shell, which is something lots of us have wished for on public buses.

7. Wild Jruiter Consumer Car

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Throwing our current ideas of what a car looks like completely out the window is Jruiter’s ‘Consumer,’ a concept that might just be one of the weirdest vehicles we’ve ever featured.
The designers wanted to eliminate as many conventions of car design as possible, hiding the wheels under the bizarre rectangular body and eliminating the top half altogether to provide more of a motorcycle-like experience. Except you’re in a giant rectangle.

8, 9 & 10. Three Luxury Car Brands Reimagined by Rain Prisk

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Estonian designer Rain Prisk has created future concept cars for brands like Bentley, McLaren and Porsche, imagining new supercars that can handle conditions that typical Ferraris and other luxury vehicles aren’t quite up to.

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The Bentley SUV gets snow tracks, La Ferrari gets a raised suspension, off-road wheels and a rooftop camper, and the McLaren P1 goes off the track and onto the trails.

Top image: Rinspeed Oasis. Credit: Rinspeed.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Some links added.]

INFOGRAPHIC: WHERE POPULAR WEBSITES ARE BANNED ACROSS THE WORLD

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Which countries have blocked Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia - websites that are vital for our day-to-day communication and information-sharing? This data visualization infographic by Vodien sheds some light on where these major websites are inaccessible or have been censored in one way or another over the years and reveal what percentage of countries around the world are Internet users.

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[Post Source: Vodien.]

Saturday, 18 November 2017

INFOGRAPHIC: THE WORLD’S MOST COSTLY ENGINEERING MISTAKES

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Over the last few centuries human beings have produced some incredible examples of engineering masterpieces, from the pyramids to London's Shard. However, we haven't always got it right. This infographic by Grassform Group takes a look at some of the world's most costly engineering mistakes, both in terms of financial and human costs.

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[Source: Grassform Group.]

9 MOST BEAUTIFUL CONSERVATORIES AROUND THE GLOBE

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9 most beautiful conservatories around the globe
By Josh Lew,
Mother Nature Network, 16 November 2017.

Step inside a greenhouse and you can find tropical plants thriving in places with six-month-long winters and desert florae growing sturdily in cities where it rains every day. More-utilitarian greenhouses give farmers and gardeners a head start on growing season. That may be their most important job, but it is the ornate public conservatories, built from the Victorian era onward, that capture the imagination.

Indoor gardens from the 19th century are still popular today, and new greenhouses are being built, some with modern architecture and others that faithfully recreate the look and feel of their 1800s predecessors. As long as people still think there is something magical about stepping out of their everyday surroundings and into an exotic natural world, greenhouses will be in vogue.

Here are 9 of the most attractive public conservatories in the world.

1. Kew Gardens, London

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Photo: Jungle Rebel/Flickr

Situated in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames, the Kew Gardens boast more than 30,000 different plant types and three main conservatories. Two are from the Victorian era. The Palm House [pictured above], built in the 1840s, focuses on tropical foliage. The younger Temperate House (built between 1859 and 1898) is the largest remaining Victorian-era glasshouse in the world in terms of area.

A third, more-modern glasshouse, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, was opened by (and named for) Princess Diana in the 1980s. It features 10 computer-controlled micro-climates, each with its own species of plants. Kew also has a water lily greenhouse, one of the oldest glasshouses on the property, and a recently built alpine house where plants from higher elevations grow in tightly controlled conditions.

2. Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton

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Photo: Darren Kirby/Wikimedia Commons

Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory, located near the Canadian city’s core, is an iconic part of the city’s skyline with four pyramid-shaped glasshouses. Each of the buildings has its own theme. The Temperate Pyramid has plants from the Great Lakes region, but also from other temperate areas such as non-tropical Australia and alpine Asia. The Arid Pyramid has plants from deserts on five different continents, while the Tropical Pyramid features rainforest plants and grasses, tropical evergreens and a waterfall.

The fourth pyramid hosts seasonal exhibitions that change every few months. The glasshouses, opened in 1976, are operated by the city of Edmonton. They are a popular attraction for city residents, and are known for hosting weddings and special events (as well as offering an escape from the northern latitude weather). The entire property was renovated a decade ago to the tune of more than US$6 million.

3. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

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Photo: Allie Caulfield/Wikimedia Commons

In most of the world, conservatories are built to grow tropical plants in colder climates. In hot-and-humid Southeast Asia, tropical foliage doesn't need that protection. Instead, the two conservatories in Singapore’s futuristic Gardens by the Bay are cooled, not heated. The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are oversized glasshouses with architecture that is often likened to seashells sticking out of the sand.

The three-acre Flower Dome features seven gardens that are mostly populated with flowers from semi-arid regions such as the Mediterranean. The misty Cloud Forest [pictured above], meanwhile, mimics conditions in tropical mountains over 3,300 feet in elevation. This conservatory is smaller in area, but has different levels, each with its own set of plant species and theme. It also boasts the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

4. Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, New York Botanical Garden

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Photo: King of Hearts/Wikimedia Commons

The Victorian-style Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the largest one of its era in the country, is in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. The greenhouse was built in 1902 after Botanical Garden founders Nathaniel and Elizabeth Britton were inspired by a visit to England’s Kew Gardens. It was actually slated for demolition in the 1970s, but was saved by its current namesake, Enid Haupt, a philanthropist who contributed million of dollars for renovations and to establish a foundation for future funding.

The conservatory hosts seasonal events such as an orchid show and holiday exhibits. These happenings, along with permanent gardens, are housed in 11 pavilions arranged around a central dome-like structure called the Palm House. Aside from its themed shows, Haupt is known for its palm collection, tropical gardens, cacti exhibits, aquatic habitats and carnivorous plants.

5. Bicentennial Conservatory, Adelaide

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Photo: Amanda Slater/Flickr

The Bicentennial Conservatory is one of three greenhouses inside the Adelaide Botanical Garden in Australia. The Palm House is a Victorian-era glasshouse imported from Germany in the 19th century, while the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion was built in 2007 to house its namesake plants in modern, energy-efficient surroundings. The Bicentennial Conservatory is the headliner of the garden thanks to its size and unique curved shape. At its highest point, it is 27 meters (88.5 feet) tall. The distinctive building has earned praise for its architectural design. As its name suggests, it was built in 1988 to celebrate Australia’s 200th year.

The conservatory houses plants from regions around Oceania, some of which are endangered in their natural habitats. The garden’s administrators made major changes in 2012 when they decided to turn off the climate controls in order to reduce the budget and the conservatory's carbon footprint. Although controversial, the decision also meant that the conservatory could drop admission charges. Visitors can now enter for free.

6. Schönbrunn Palm House, Vienna

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Photo: Zairon/Wikimedia Commons

Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace used to be a summer residence for rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. The palace and gardens have been a major tourist destination since the 1950s. The Palmenhaus (Palm House) [pictured above] is one of four greenhouses on the property. Built between 1880 and 1882, the building has three separate zones, a “cold” house, a temperate zone and a tropical pavilion or hothouse. Its steel frame structure contains 45,000 windows, the largest glasshouse in Europe.

The Palm House has 4,500 different plant species, making it also one of the larger classical botanic gardens in the world. Some of the highlights (aside from the architecture itself) include a 350-year-old olive tree that was a gift from Spain, a collection of rare palms and a Coco de Mer tree that has flowers that only bloom once every few decades.

7. Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

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Photo: Helge Høifødt/Wikimedia Commons

The Copenhagen Botanical Garden is home to one of the world’s largest collections of greenhouses - 27 in all. The headliner is a 32,000-square-foot conservatory centered around a Palm House [pictured above]. The vaulted ceiling covers a variety of trees, including some that are a century old and one palm that was planted in 1824. A stairway leads to an elevated viewing platform near the top of the 14-meter (46-foot) Palm House.

The gardens, which are part of the University of Copenhagen, include glasshouses with cacti, orchids and other plant species. There is even an artificially cooled building that houses plant life from the Arctic.

8. Eden Project, Cornwall

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Photo: Ross Elliott/Flickr

The Eden Project is very different from classic glasshouses and even from other modern conservatories. Located in Cornwall, England, it consists of domed structures that contain two different biomes. Visitors sometimes compare the exterior appearance of these buildings to bubble wrap because of the raised hexagonal thermoplastic windows that cover the domes. Sculptures, including a giant bee and an “Eve” sculpture made out of local clay with a mirror-ball-like face, give the property an offbeat feel.

Despite its whimsical appearance, Eden is well designed. The Rainforest Biome features a canopy walk and habitats from tropical locations around the world. Agricultural plants like coffee, bananas, pineapple, rice, bamboo and rubber live here, while tropical birds fly overhead. The Mediterranean Biome has gardens and vineyards from its namesake region as well as plants from Australia, California and South Africa. Eden gets much of its water for irrigation by collecting rainfall.

9. Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco

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Photo: WolfmanSF/Wikimedia Commons

Most classical greenhouses have metal frames. Part of the beauty of the Conservatory of Flowers comes from its durable wood skeleton. In fact, it is considered one of the oldest remaining greenhouses of this type in the country (and it is the oldest wood-based municipal greenhouse in the United States). Though it was damaged by fires, storms and a boiler explosion during its history, the 1870s structure was able to withstand earthquakes, including the Great Quake in 1906. A major restoration project was completed in 2003.

Today the conservatory, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has a variety of rare plants, with both lowland and highland tropical exhibits and aquatic gardens. The venue also hosts seasonal events and temporary garden exhibits.

Top image: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Credit: Zexsen Xie/Flickr.

[Source: Mother Nature Network. Edited. Some images added.]