No place like abroad

Walk, talk and eat. Wendell Steavenson explains how to feel at home after a week in a foreign land Wendell Steavenson Cairo: the market “delivers an instant jolt into another culture” Let me recount the countries I have lived in by kitchens: Moscow, winter of 1994, I had a hemisphere window with a view of … Continue reading

All Zippers Be Returned to the Upright Position, Please

How are flight attendants supposed to deal with fornicating passengers? Brian Palmer A couple who spent a little too long "making out" in the bathroom of a Frontier Airlines plane set off a security alert on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. When passengers noticed they had been in the bathroom for … Continue reading

The places in between

By Paul Theroux Paul Theroux in Papagayo, Costa Rica, in 2007 … In 1972, in a blasé magazine piece of postmodernism, entitled “Project for a Trip to China”, the American writer Susan Sontag sat in her New York apartment ruminating on China. Sontag was that singular pedant, a theorist of travel rather than a traveller. … Continue reading

FAA OKs iPad for Pilots’ Charts

By Jason Paur From the earliest days of aviation, pilots have relied upon paper maps to help find their way. Even in an era of GPS and advanced avionics, you still see pilots lugging around 20 pounds or more of charts. But those days are numbered, because maps are giving way to iPads. The Federal … Continue reading

Pirates Kill U.S. Hostages

By Spencer Ackerman and Adam Rawnsley U.S. forces uncovered a gruesome scene Tuesday off the Somali coast: Four Americans who had been taken hostage by pirates aboard their yacht were shot fatally by their captors. That prompted a deadly U.S. response. A raiding team came aboard the captive vessel Quest after pirates shot at U.S. … Continue reading

Boeing Puts Another Behemoth in the Sky

By Jason Paur Boeing pulls the sheet off its biggest airliner ever this weekend, the 747-8 Intercontinental. It is an extreme makeover of the plane that ushered in the jumbo jet era, but despite its impressive tech and imposing size it won’t be a big seller. Still, it offers further evidence that Boeing has found … Continue reading

A Passage to India

by James Wolcott  Dominique Browning at the Taj Mahal–it’s like Bob Dylan at Budokan, Judy Garland at the Palace, Tammy Wynette at Twitty City, a marriage of legend and locale. I cannot take it in. It is monumental, too beautiful, an architectural divinity. To gaze fully upon it must be some sort of sacrilege. Tears … Continue reading

The World’s Most Beautiful River

The first hidden wonder of South America. By Joshua Foer SERRANIA DE LA MACARENA, Colombia—Typing from my hammock, by the light of my laptop screen, long after a day of hiking through torrential rain should have put me to sleep, two questions are scratching at me. 1: Does the "most beautiful river in the world" … Continue reading

Spinning seeds inspire single-bladed helicopters

by Jacob Aron  Video: Maple seed helicopter A mini helicopter modelled on flying tree seeds could soon be flying overhead. Evan Ulrich and colleagues at the University of Maryland in College Park turned to the biological world for inspiration to build a scaled-down helicopter that could mimic the properties of full-size aircraft. The complex design … Continue reading

Polymer Could Create Self-Healing Aircraft

By Wired UK Materials researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Kyushu University have developed a polymer that can heal itself over and over again when exposed to ultraviolet light. The substance could potentially be used to create products that repair themselves when damaged, including self-healing medical implants or parts for vehicles such as aircraft. When … Continue reading

The Coffee Republic

A dangerous drift in postwar Abkhazia. BY THOMAS DE WAAL View a slide show of postwar Abkhazia. ABKHAZIA — Post-conflict zones are eerily quiet places. Nowadays, with the border closed since the August 2008 war, the only way to cross from western Georgia into the de facto Republic of Abkhazia, a territory of 3,250 square … Continue reading

Boeing Resumes Flight Testing of 787 Dreamliner

By Jason Paur The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is back in flight-test mode with Christmas coming a few days early for the airplane maker. There have been a few 787 ferry flights between airports, mostly in the Seattle area, but there has been no flight-testing since a small fire on ZA002 on November 9. The delay … Continue reading

Dec. 27, 1831: Beagle Sets Sail With a Very Special Passenger

By Tony Long Image: HMS Beagle lies at anchor at Tierra del Fuego during its second survey voyage, 1831 to 1836. Painting by Conrad Martens/The Illustrated Origin of Species 1831: HMS Beagle, a 10-gun, Cherokee-class brig sloop of the Royal Navy’s survey service, sets sail from Plymouth, England on its second voyage as a survey … Continue reading

Next Christmas in Chernobyl

Nuclear blast zones, floating landfills, volcanic moonscapes, and other must-visit destinations for the disaster tourist. BY SUZANNE MERKELSON Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Pripyat, Ukraine April marks the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear reactor meltdown in history, at Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, Ukraine has said that at … Continue reading

In the Land of Sheba: A Pilgrimage to Ethiopia

Advice From the Guardian of the Ark of the Covenant By Eliza Griswold AXUM—In Greek, Ethiopia means "land of the burnt faces." This name predates A.D. 8, when Ovid recounts this myth in his Metamorphoses: Phaeton, Apollo the sun god’s bastard son, confronts his father and takes the reins of his chariot. The sun’s horses … Continue reading

Top five things that make air travel infuriating

By Stephen M. Walt Jet travel still strikes me as slightly miraculous, and despite having visited over forty countries, I still get a certain gee-whiz feeling whenever I’m headed for the international terminal at Logan airport (even though the terminal itself is nothing for Boston to boast about). As you’ve probably noticed, however, the Powers … Continue reading

Rolls-Royce and its A380 engine troubles

The Economist online What caused concern about this accident, however, was that bits of the engine flew out at high speed, causing some damage to the aircraft’s wing. Although tragedy was averted, the incident raises important questions, not only for Rolls-Royce but for the aircraft industry in general. From Rolls-Royce there has been an unfortunate … Continue reading

Shrinking the World

How jetliners commercialized air travel—stewardesses and all By DANIEL MICHAELS  A jetliner—no matter how uncomfortable—is arguably the closest humans have come to having a time machine. Board one in New York, go to sleep, and wake up Africa. Pretty cool, no? So it’s ironic that the term "jet age" today sounds almost quaint, suggesting a … Continue reading

Polish official: Why does the United States treat us worse than the rest of Europe?

By Josh Rogin Visitors from most EU countries can come to the United States for short stays without applying for a visa from the State Department, but Poland can’t get that special status — and it is not at all happy about it. "Maybe one day the American Congress will find a good reason to … Continue reading

SpaceShipTwo First Glide Flight Details From The Pilot

By Jason Paur After Sunday’s first glide flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, one of the first thoughts going through the head of test pilot Peter Siebold after coming to a stop on the runway was that it all went by too quickly. He and co-pilot Mike Alsbury had been released from the mother ship, Eve, … Continue reading

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Makes First Glide Flight

By Jason Paur Update: In a release from Virgin Galactic, the company said today’s first glide flight of SpaceShipTwo lasted 11 minutes after the space craft was released from its mother ship Eve at 45,000 feet. Scaled Composites test pilot and director of flight operations Pete Siebold was at the controls, with Mike Alsbury as … Continue reading

Travel Writing Is Dead

Eat, Pray, Love was just the nail in the coffin. An ardent traveler looks at an entire genre gone narcissistic and brainless. BY GRAEME WOOD Ralph Waldo Emerson, high priest of American letters and patron saint of homebodies everywhere, reserved his harshest words for the voyager. Travel, he famously wrote, "is a fool’s paradise," a … Continue reading

Making the Perfect Espresso Near the Iraq Border

By Jeremy Hart Editor’s note: contributor Jeremy Hart is making a 60-day, 15,000-mile drive around the world with a few mates in a pair of Ford Fiestas. He’s filing occasional reports from the road on gadgets he’s road-testing. I hate to rave about any gadget now. Seems the minute I like something, it goes … Continue reading

What’s It Like to Be a Tourist in North Korea?

An American business professor, Patrick Chovanec, visits fields, casinos, and kindergartens in North Korea –  and explains how the Hermit Kingdom is and is not like Mordor. INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINA LARSON On special guided trips, arranged for tourists and permitted by Pyongyang, Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in … Continue reading

Lend a Hand in Havana

How to enter embargoed Cuba to give humanitarian aid—and not just sip mojitos. By Constance Casey I’ve heard that travel to Cuba for humanitarian missions is legal and allowed by the U.S. government. My concern is that a lot of the groups calling themselves humanitarian show up and simply hand out a bottle of water … Continue reading