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World Habitat Day


World-Habitat-DayThe United Nations’ (UN) World Habitat Day is annually celebrated on the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of human settlements and people’s right to sufficient shelter. It also aims to remind people that they are responsible for the habitat of future next generations.

World Habitat Day reflects on the state of human settlements and promotes the right to sufficient shelter.

What do people do?

World Habitat Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, including in places such as Angola, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Uganda and the United States. Various activities around the world are organized to examine the problems of rapid urbanization and its impact on the environment and human poverty.  Activities may include awards ceremonies, including the “Habitat Scroll of Honour” award.

Public life

World Habitat Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


The UN’s World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”. Nairobi was allocated as the host city for the observance that year. This annual event is held on the first Monday of October with a new theme each year. Previous themes included: “Shelter for the Homeless” (1987); “Our Neighbourhood” (1995); “Future Cities” (1997); “Safer Cities” (1998); “Women in Urban Governance” (2000); “Cities without Slums” (2001) and “Water and Sanitation for Cities” (2003).

An important highlight of the day is the “Habitat Scroll of Honour” award, which was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHSP) in 1989. It is believed to be the world’s most prestigious human settlements award and aims to acknowledge initiatives that make outstanding contributions in areas such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of the homeless, leadership in post conflict reconstruction, and developing and improving the human settlements and the quality of urban life.


The UNHSP logo and slogan are often associated with World Habitat Day. The logo features The logo features a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of an olive tree encapsulating a circle. Within the circle is a figure of a person with his/her arms stretched out. The figure appears to be standing in front of a triangle. Underneath the image are the words “UN-HABITAT”. The slogan: “Shelter For All” is written in capital letters and sometimes appears next to the logo.

Nanotechnology Helping to Restore Pompeii


Pompeii_Garden_of_the_Fugitives_It is not a big surprise that modern buildings are designed to have a lifespan of a few decades. However, we would like archeological sites like Pompeii, to stand the test of time and be preserved for future generations. With the greatest number of UNESCO world heritage sites, Italy has long worried about how to protect its heritage sites from ruin and now the country is going to rely on the latest technology.

Italy has now started a  €105 mil wide-ranging rescue project in February which is also jointly funded by the European Union and a new director general for the “Great Pompeii project” has been appointed. The goal is to carry out sweeping restoration works and boost visitor numbers by 300,000 to 2.6 million a year by 2017.

The researchers participating in the Pompeii Sustainable Preservation Project intend to concentrate on one of Pompeii’s apartment buildings, known as an insula. From 2014, they will embark on an ambitious conservation program, taking in everything from elaborate murals to the smallest wall. The researchers will use nanotechnology to make the lime more fluid, thus stabilizing the frescos through backfilling. The experts intend to conserve the topmost layer of the paintings using lime and silicon compounds.  Researchers from various disciplines will be working alongside restoration experts and archeologists in the Pompeii Sustainable Preservation Project. The ancient city will be accurately surveyed both on the ground and through aerial photographs.

The key partners in the Pompeii Sustainable Preservation Project are Technische Universität München (Chair of Restoration, Art Technology and Science of Conservation), Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics), and the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), which is attached to UNESCO. These institutions will be assisted by the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei and the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro, which is a body of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage. The University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment, the Department of Ancient History at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, the German Archeological Institute (DAI) in Rome, the University of Pisa and the Istituto per i Beni Archeologici e Monumentali of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) are supporting the project as research partners.


Nanotechnology Helping Cultural Heritage


Helping and Promoting Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Education: From Centre for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology, NanoScience Center, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

A nanometer is 1000 million (one billion) times smaller than the world of meters. To put this in perspective, a stack of one billion Dollars bills would reach over 63 miles high. For comparison, a Boeing 747 airliner typically operates at an altitude of 35,000 feet or approximately 6 miles. Now imagine, you are sitting 63 miles high above and looking for a Dollar bill on the ground. The one Dollar bill is the nanometer scale.

By zooming into the nanoscale, we can study how the matter actually works. By understanding the science of nano we can make objects at this incredibly small scale and solve many problems; this is called nanotechnology. Interesting things happen at the nanoscale. Materials and substances behave differently and show strange chemical and physical properties compared with their larger-particle kin. This incredibly low scale allows for unique interactions among atoms and their constituent parts and opening the path for the materials of the future. For example, carbon, as in graphite, is soft and brittle, but becomes very hard and shows many other unique properties at nanoscale in an arrangement called a nanotube with many applications spanning electronics, textile industry, construction industry and medicine. Another example is gold, an unreactive metal, which becomes chemically reactive at nanoscale.

It is not surprising that nanotechnology is radically transforming every part of our daily lives and world economies. One is being the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage and treasures. Cleaning and preservation of artworks is a complex and challenging task since a wide range of materials has been used to construct an art piece. Accordingly, applied methodologies must ensure maximum durability, chemical inertness, and compatibility with artefacts’ materials. Indeed, nanotechnology has offered unprecedented solutions for restoration of Renaissance masterpieces, old books, wall paintings and frescoes and other objects. Examples include Masaccio’s wall paintings in Cappella Brancacci, Beato Angelico’s wall paintings in San Marco Abbey, cave murals of the Basilica of Annunciation in Nazareth, and consolidation of the murals of the archaeological site of Calakmul, Mayapan and other regions of Mexico. So how does the nanoscience of art restoration work?


Consolidation and protection of the wall paintings and limestone

Slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) was often used as a binder in wall paintings and frescoes. The size of ordinary calcium hydroxide particles is very large and when applied to artefacts it leaves a white glaze over. Instead, calcium hydroxide nanoparticles are now being used as effective agents in wall painting restoration. Because of their very small size, these nanoparticles penetrate the painted surface layers better and have superior optical properties over ordinary large-sized calcium hydroxide particles. Indeed, calcium hydroxide nanoparticles do not leave visual residues on wall paintings and frescoes after application.


Wall paintings of Masaccio’s in Cappella Brancacci (left column) and Beato Angelico in San Marco Abbey (right column), Florence, Italy, before and after nanoparticle technology treatment


Preservation of paper and wood artefacts

Acidity causes degradation of the artefact. Nanoparticles are also helping to de-acidify paper and wood artefacts and diminish acid formation. For example, the wood in the Swedish Vasa Warship, sank during its maiden voyage in 1628, shows high acidity, due to oxidation of sulfur inside cellulose fibers. This generates sulfuric acid, which threatens the preservation of Vasa. Magnesium and calcium hydroxide nanoparticles have offered simple and cost-effective ways to fight sulphuric acid in the wood, which can be applied by either brushing, spraying or immersing the object in the nanoparticle suspension. The nanoscale size improves material spreading and penetration, and enhances reactivity (deacidification). Here, magnesium hydroxide generates magnesium carbonates on exposure to the carbon dioxide in air. Similarly, same type of treatments, and the generated magnesium carbonate, reduces the rate of oxidative degradation of cellulose in paper, caused by light irradiation, thereby enhancing preservation of old paper documents.


Cleaning of art-work

Since 1960’s polymeric resins have been used for coating and protection of canvas paintings. Unfortunately, these coatings generated a yellow tinge to artefacts. Also, once the polymer resins aged, they lost their chemical and mechanical properties resulting in further damage to the paintings. One such example is a coating material called Paraloid B37, which has been very difficult to remove from the surface of treated artefacts. Here, nanotechnology has offered another remarkable solution. Scientists have designed a lightweight nano-magnetic sponge/gel, which can be loaded with safe chemicals that can draw the material to be removed from the artefact surface. Since nanomagnetic particles have superior magnetic properties compared with its bulk material, the gel can easily be removed at distance with a permanent magnet without touching. The ‘magnetic sponge’ can also be cut and shaped for application to sculptures, thus offering flexibility in the cleaning and preservation processes of many artefacts.


Ongoing advances

Silver nanoparticles embedded in polymeric resins exhibit antibacterial and optical properties, which are also receiving attention for preservation and protection of cultural heritage.


Another interesting approach is ‘atomic layer deposition’, which creates a transparent metal oxide films that can be applied to an artefact (such as silverware) and reduce the rate of corrosion.




Scholarly readings:

P. Baglioni, G. Rodorico (2006) Soft and hard nanomaterials for restoration and conservation of cultural heritage. Soft Matter 2, 293–303.

M. Baglioni, D. Rengstl, D. Berti, M. Bonini, R. Giorgi, P. Baglioni (2010) Removal of acrylic coatings from works of art by means of nanofluids: understanding the mechanism at the nanoscale. Nanoscale 2, 1723–1732.

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Thousands of Persian Cultural Heritage Documents Missing



Forty-seven thousand books, documents and maps relating to ancient monuments, along with thousands of pieces of historic photographs, documents and handmade historical artifacts from the Center of Cultural Heritage have disappeared as one of the former employees of the center has reported to WCHV.  


Reportedly, the missing documents were ordered to be transferred to Shiraz, a city in Fars Province, Iran.  According to the reports, only one of the center’s staff actually traveled with the documents to Shiraz.In addition (as reported), it looks like that the irresponsible mishandling of the situation by the staff of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization has resulted in worsening the situation.  


What is most disturbing is that many of the missing books and documents were not even digitally recorded and did not contain barcodes, therefore making it impossible to determine which books and documents have now been lost.

International Day of Peace


The International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21, 2014. It is also known as the World Peace Day and occurs annually on September 21. The day is dedicated to peace, and specifically the absence of war, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone. The World Peace Day was declared by the United Nations (UN) in 1981. Since then it is observed by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples.


To inaugurate the International Day of Peace, the “Peace Bell” is rung at UN Headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the United Nations Association of Japan, and is referred to as “a reminder of the human cost of war.” The inscription on its side reads: “Long live absolute world peace.” Individuals can also wear White Peace Doves on this day to commemorate the International Day of Peace, which are badges in the shape of a dove produced by anon-profit in Canada.


Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the establishment of equality, and a working political order that serves the true interests of all. In international relations, peacetime is not only the absence of war or conflict, but also the presence of cultural and economic understanding and unity