From the nearest port in South Africa, it takes six days on a fishing boat to reach the small island of Tristan da Cunha. Fifteen hundred miles out into the South Atlantic, simple white homes with bright colored roofs sit in rows on green fields. A sign reads “Welcome to the remotest island,” and behind it Queen Mary’s Peak towers nearly 7,000 feet high.
The most remote inhabited island stayed mostly under the radar for two hundred years.
Super Nintendo changed the gaming world, but not always for the better.
The 16-bit gaming boom took over the early nineties. It gave us classics like Super Mario World, but it also emboldened marketers to dream up spin-offs. In these crossovers, the best parts about pop stars, TV shows, and movies were often abandoned. The result was a string of glitchy maps and questionable plot.
California’s San Andreas fault is slowly shifting LA away from the mainland. But we don’t have to look to the future to imagine a disjointed coastline. Instead we can look to the past, to the maps of the 17th and 18th centuries that share a strange discrepancy: the inclusion of the Island of California.
Back in the seventies, Sesame Street’s Ernie sang to us about his favorite bath time buddy. But the rubber ducky has seen adventures far beyond the tub.
In 1992, three cargo containers leaving Hong Kong spilled into the Pacific Ocean. This released a shipment of 29,000 ducks, leaving them to bob along the open waters. But they didn’t sit idly by for long.
The pioneer duckies set out on separate paths, aimed at far-flung shores. Ten months and 2,000 miles later, they first made landfall in Alaska. Next, they washed onto the coasts of Australia and South America.
The lesser water boatman is an insect usually found feeding on ponds and lakes across Europe. Only a few millimeters long, they look a bit like a sunflower seed with big black eyes and paddling arms.
They're not known for their good looks, but rather the male's mating call, which brings them the status of the loudest animal alive, relative to body size. The call is nearly 100 decibels, equivalent to standing a stone's throw away from a roaring freight train.
A year before cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth, American Joe Kittenger took a lift below a two-hundred-foot helium balloon. The ride took an hour and a half in a tiny open-air basket that took him 102,000 feet above New Mexico.
When he jumped from nineteen miles up, the free-fall lasted four and half minutes. Kittenger's space dive began a long and costly race. After Russian Eugene Andreyev set an official free-fall record, an American Nick Piantanida spent the mid-sixties trying to bring the record back to the United States.
Christmas celebrations are not all light and warm as we travel around the world.
Christmas in America is warm and fuzzy, stuffed with Santa, reindeer and helpful elves. We get little exposure to the more sinister, old-world European characters, a host of demonic bogeymen that have been adopted into the Christian tradition over time.