Perseid Meteor Shower Promises Stellar Show

Skywatchers around the world are preparing for the annual Perseids meteor shower which is set to hit its peak activity tonight, Wednesday August 12th.

Viewing is weather dependent of course and clouds could crash the party for viewers in some parts of the world, however the shower will coincide with a New Moon -meaning unusually favorable conditions and darker skies.

Just how does this phenomenon occur? Well, the particles are actually remnants from Comet Swift-Tuttle which left this material long ago, and each August the earth passes through this stream of debris as it orbits the sun. As the particles enter the atmosphere, they heat the air around them causing the characteristic streak of light.

Tonight’s shower should be viewable from most of the Northern hemisphere and from as far as subtropical latitudes south of the Equator. The time to watch will range from Aug 12th 23:00 local time wherever you are, until early morning on August 13th. Experts say that the prime viewing hours will be after midnight and into the early hours of the morning, so for the best show, be prepared to stay up late.

meteor shower

Is a Giant Ball Pit For Grown-Ups Worth Traveling For This Summer?

If you’re answer is “YES!”, you’ll want to head to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. between now and Labor Day, September 7, 2015.

This adult version of the favorite childhood attraction  is actually an architectural instillation that’s a part of the museums annual ‘Summer Block Party’. Titled ‘The BEACH’, this all-white wonderland was designed by Snarkitecture and seeks to bring the beach experience indoors -no sunscreen required of course.

Photo by: Curbed DC
Photo by: Curbed DC

The transformation sees the museum’s Great Hall transformed into a 10,000 square foot ‘ocean’ filled with nearly 1 million translucent plastic balls. Beach chairs and umbrellas will dot the 50-foot wide shoreline and guests are encouraged to take a swim in the ocean, relax in a chair with a good book, play beach-themed activities or ‘cool off’ with a drink from the snack bar. The ocean will end at a fully mirrored wall which creates the illusion of a never-ending horizon.

Photo by: Snarkitecture
Photo by: Snarkitecture

Tickets are required for entry and are sold on a first come first served basis. Adult admission is $16, while youth/students are $13. The museum will also extend their hours every Wednesday during The BEACH’s run to be open until 9pm.

Photo by: CityLab
Photo by: CityLab

The Statue of Liberty Turns 130 Today

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the arrival of Lady Liberty in the New York harbor, and she doesn’t look a day past 129!

On June 17th, 1885 the statue arrived as a gift of friendship from France in celebration of the ideals shared by the two countries. She didn’t come as a whole however, and had to be assembled over the course of several months from over 300 individual pieces, according to the National Park Service. The final dedication ceremony was held on October 28, 1886 and from then on the colossal copper statue has served as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.

Congratulations Lady Liberty!

statue of liberty

Amazing Time Lapse Videos Made From Tourist Photos Online

A research team from the University of Washington has done something very cool with all of your tourist shots.

The team has created a program that scans the web (called mining in geek speak) and collects tourist shots of landmarks, city-capes, natural attractions, and common viewpoints over a number of years. If you watch a regular time-lapse video you’ll notice the flicker that results from changing lighting, background, etc…but these researchers have found a way to stabilize the images so that changes such as buildings being constructed, waterfalls changing course, and glaciers shrinking become the focus of these amazing videos.

Check out the short video here, which shows some very cool examples of the process and results using well known landmarks including Lombard Street in San Francisco, Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica, Taughannock Falls in New York, and building construction on the Las Vegas Strip.

Are FAA Regulations to Blame for Man’s Suicide?

Southwest Airlines is at the center of some negative media attention and very unfortunate circumstances after one Wisconsin woman claims she may have been able to save her husbands life, had airline staff not intervened.

Fox News reports that in April, the woman was flying from from New Orleans to her home of Milwaukee after a girls vacation when she received a text message from her husband just prior to takeoff. The message read “Karen, please forgive me for what I am about to do, I am going to kill myself…”. The woman says she panicked and was in shock after reading the text message and “didn’t know what to do”, so all she was able to reply was “No” and tried to call her husband when an airline crew member intervened and asked her to turn off her phone. 

The steward slapped the phone down and said you need to go on airplane mode now,” claims the woman and said she was told it was “FAA Regulations”. The woman waited until airborne and tried to get help from another crew member who advised that nothing could be done. The woman says she spent the 2 hour flight sobbing in her seat, anxiously awaiting their arrival. After landing in Milwaukee she immediately called the police but when she arrived home she was already greeted by officers who regrettably informed her that her husband had taken his own life. 

Southwest has kept fairly tight lipped about the incident but did provide this statement to the local Milwaukee news station WTJM: “Our hearts go out to the Evers family during this difficult time. Our flight attendants are trained to notify the Captain if there is an emergency that poses a hazard to the aircraft or to the passengers on-board. In this situation, the pilots were not notified.”

These words came as little comfort to the widow who believes more could have been done to save her husband’s life.

China Opens World’s Longest Skywalk

There’s a new glass walkway in town, offering breathtaking panoramic views -and it just opened at China’s Longgang National Geological Park.

The new horseshoe shaped glass skywalk named ‘Yuanduan’ which means ‘at the edge of the clouds’, has eclipsed Arizona’s Skywalk at the Grand Canyon which was the previous record holder for world’s longest glass walkway. The horseshoe shaped Yuanduan measures 85 1/2 feet off the side of a vertigo-enducing cliff -that’s 16 feet longer than the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk. Not only is the new walkway’s length commendable, but the height is just plain scary as you look down to the valley floor over 2,300 feet below! 

The cantilever bridge was reportedly built to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake or level 14 typhoon, and also capable of handling up to 200 people at a time on its glass floor -quite a feat of engineering if you ask us. The opening of the new walkway was celebrated with base jumpers and models dressed in traditional Chinese attire.

A 30 minute walk on the Yuanduan will set you back about $10.

Photo by:
Photo by:

Angry Passenger Slaps Airline Employee

Most airline freak-outs seem to happen in the air, but one passenger hadn’t even boarded the plane before losing her temper and throwing a fit.

A woman at Tan Son Nhat International airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam was heading to her gate to board a plane for Hanoi when she was stopped by a VietJet employee who requested she have her bags weighed. 


The airline’s requirements for carry-on luggage is a weight of 7kg (about 15.5 pounds) or less, with a size of 56x36x23. When the employee looked at the woman’s two bags he suspected they were over the limit. After weighing them, he confirmed that they indeed exceeded the weight limits set by the airline. 

The woman disagreed with the scale’s results and instead of negotiating with the airline employee, she wound up and slapped him right in the face. According to reports, officials responded to the incident quickly and the woman was made to sign a statement about the incident and also fined VND7.5 million, or approximately $345 USD. Ironically, this is more than it would have cost her had she just paid the overweight baggage charges.

Bye Bye Legroom: Airplanes Only Getting Smaller

If you didn’t already feel like a heard of cattle when boarding an airplane you’re about to.

Airplane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus are set to produce 2 new models of aircraft which are more fuel efficient (yay!) but squeeze more seats into the same amount of space as previous planes (boo!). More seats in the same space = less room per passenger…as if we didn’t already feel cramped while flying in economy class.

The new Boeing 737 MAX should be ready in 2017 and will have 189 (in comparison to the current 737-800 model which has 160 seats). European low-cost carrier Ryanair has even put in a special request with Boeing to create a Boeing 737 MAX 200 just for them, which packs in 200 seats! The Airbus version will be out ever earlier withe a reported release date of late 2016 and was planned to feature 180 seats. Last month however, the European Aviation Safety Agency gave approval to add another 15 seats increasing the total to 195.

InsectWorld /
InsectWorld /

The actual loss of space looks like it will be about 1-2 inches in the Boeing 737 MAX and around 3-5 inches in the Airbus. You might not notice a loss of an inch or 2, but at the higher end we’re talking about almost half a foot of lost space!

Many airlines are lining up to purchase these new fuel and space efficient aircraft and while we hate the thought of even less room on-board,  more efficiency should translate to lower costs for airlines and more friendly competition between carries -which all translates to savings on fares.

Like this? Check out: How to be Productive on an Airplane

Airline Promises Luggage in ’20 Minutes or Less’

In February Delta airlines ran a pilot project ensuring that customers on domestic flights would receive their checked luggage in 20 minutes or less.

While this was done on a trail basis, the airline has just announced that the 20 minute luggage guarantee will become a permanent feature.

Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant says “Customer response was positive and our employees are rallying to achieve the 20-minute mark, so it’s here to stay,”  when he spoke to USA Today. The guarantee covers all itineraries where a traveler’s last leg is a domestic Delta flight – including those operated by Delta’s regional Delta Connection affiliates.

Chris Parypa Photography /
Chris Parypa Photography /

The consolation for those whose luggage takes longer than 20 minutes to reach the carousel is 2,500 bonus SkyMiles, however the guarantee comes with a fair amount of fine print:

-Customers must be traveling on a domestic U.S. flight. International flights are not included. However, a passenger traveling from Paris to Chicago via New York would be eligible since the passenger’s last leg would be a U.S. domestic flight.

-Customers must be a Delta SkyMiles member in good standing at the time of travel.

-The offer is limited to one request per passenger per outbound or return travel. Fliers will be eligible only for 2,500 miles, regardless of number of bags they’ve checked.

-Lost, mishandled, and damaged bags are excluded. Oversize and overweight baggage and special items also are not eligible.

Alaska Airlines has long been offering a similar 20 minute luggage guarantee where customers are given 2,500 bonus miles, but unlike Delta, Alaska Airlines offers an alternate choice of a $25 travel voucher instead of the miles. We think it’s nice to see some positive press on airline customer service as of late!

Celebrate #MuseumWeek Around the World

If you’ve been craving some culture your prayers have been answered; because this week is #MuseumWeek all around the world.

From March 23-29, museums all around the world are coming together in a global celebration of arts, culture, and history that can only be achieved through today’s modern technology. Using the hashtag ‘#MuseumWeek’, museums big and small, from far and wide are coming together to celebrate culture on Twitter. How exactly are they doing this? By using the hashtag, an online conversation has begun where people can share stories, experiences, photos and fun…and what’s even cooler, is how you can connect with people from so many other countries.

Anton_Ivanov /
Anton_Ivanov /

Each of the 7 days of #MuseumWeek has a special theme and a special hashtag just for that day, so lets take a look:

Monday, Mar 23-        #secretsMW
Go behind the scenes of many popular museums and cultural establishments from all over the globe as they share unique photos and even some secrets about popular pieces of art.

Tuesday, Mar 24-       #souvenirsMW
It’s nearly impossible to visit a museum and leave without a single souvenir! Share some of your favorites with the world, photos, mugs, books, whatever!

Wednesday, Mar 25- #architectureMW
Many museums boast unique history and incredible architecture, explore all this plus the gardens and surroundings of museums.

Thursday, Mar 26-     #inspirationMW
Every great piece of art started somewhere…share the world around you, what inspires you and gets those creative juices flowing?

Friday, Mar 27-           #familyMW
Friday is family day! Get all the advice you need for planning a family visit to the museum. Just Tweet your museum of choice and all your questions will be answered.

Saturday, Mar 28-      #favMW
Hooray for the weekend! Share all your special favorites from the past week, videos, photos, locations…anything you loved.

Sunday, Mar 29-          #poseMW
The last day of #MuseumWeek 2015 is all about creativity! Poses, memes or selfies… it’s up to you. The sky’s the limit!

Excited about #MuseumWeek but not sure where to start?
Check out this list of some of our favorite museums in some major cities around the world: 15 Favorite Museums from Around the World