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.
Since the Apollo missions of the sixties, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been home to an odd couple: a pair of crawler-transporters. Weighing in at six million pounds, their gargantuan metal slab is reminiscent of an oil rig carted around atop four military tanks.
Every space voyage begins its journey on the back of a crawler. From the towering Saturn V rockets to the line of relatively compact shuttles that followed, the odd ritual looks like this: