Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Open your mouth and listen up!

"A small frog native to the Republic of Seychelles lacks a conventional middle ear and eardrum to hear sounds made by other frogs, but new research suggests these peculiar croaker...s are not deaf, and can instead use their mouth cavities to pick up on noise.

Gardiner's frogs from the Seychelles islands are one of the smallest known types of frogs in the world. These amphibians are seemingly deaf -- having no middle ear or eardrum to help process sound waves -- but can mysteriously still make their own croaking sounds, and hear the calls of other frogs.

Click to discover how does this mouth-ear works: http://ow.ly/ovLV9"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mystery Solved: Mars Had Large Oceans

Since 1991, planetary scientists have floated the idea that Mars once harbored vast oceans that covered roughly one-third of the planet. Two long shore-like lips of rock in the planet's northern hemisphere were thought to be the best evidence, but experts argued that they were too hilly to describe the smooth edges of ancient oceans. The view just changed dramatically with a surprisingly simple breakthrough. The once-flat shorelines were disfigured by a massive toppling over of the planet, scientists announced. The warping of the Martian rock has hidden clear evidence of the oceans, which in any case have been gone for at least 2 billion years. Red more: http://bit.ly/14DYSXi
Do you think the U.S. should send a manned spaceship to Mars?

Friday, July 19, 2013

'Comet of the Century'? We'll soon find out

Space scientists are fanatically tracking a recently discovered comet that is streaking toward the sun, waiting to see if it will live up to its hype as a possible "Comet of the Century." Comet ISON began its journey about 10,000 years ago when it left our solar system and started its peril-fraught approach to the sun, according to NASA.

On Nov. 28, it will make its closest pass to the sun — within about 680,000 miles from the stellar surface, according to Zolt Levay, imaging team lead at NASA's Space Telescope Science Institute.
If the comet survives, it could emerge glowing as brightly as the moon, visible to the naked eye, creating a spectacular sky-watching show for us on Earth, NASA says.
Read more: http://on-msn.com/15Nnh9p
Are you a star gazer?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scientists describe 'remarkable' new dinosaur species

The 'big nose, horn face' Nasutoceratops is a newly-discovered dinosaur species unearthed with very unusual features, scientists say. The dinosaur, discovered in Utah, is part of the triceratops family. Scientists say they've finally analyzed dinosaur fossils found in 2006 and discovered the new species with rare, striking features.
Named the Nasutoceratops, literally meaning "big nose, horn face," the 15-foot animal is a member of the triceratops family, but stands out because of its unusually large nose and elongated horns. Read more: http://on-msn.com/12x8cH3
How do you think dinosaurs became extinct?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Top 10 travel hot spots for students in 2014

Exploring the world doesn't just teach students about traveling, it gives them a real connection to the places they read about in textbooks. It truly is a way to make the world your classroom. A recent study reveals the top 10 destinations preferred by students. And you're in luck if you would like to travel with Discovery Student Adventures. We immerse our travelers in 7 of the 10 top destinations, including Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Costa Rica, China, and Australia. Check out our 2014 trips: http://bit.ly/1522NZj
If you could make the world your classroom, where would you go?

Friday, July 12, 2013

NASA discovers 'blue planet' 63 light-years away

NASA announced Hubble Space Telescope has found a true blue planet out in the alien world. "Astronomers making visible-light observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have deduced the actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away," NASA said.  The planet — HD 189733b — is one of the closest exoplanets that can be seen crossing the face of its star. "We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue but not in the green or red. Light was missing in the blue but not in the red when it was hidden," said research team member Frederic Pont
 Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Solar plane completes cross-country ends American odyssey

The Swiss-built Solar Impulse airplane ended its two-month-long, solar-powered trip across America with a nail-biter of a flight from Washington to New York. "Maybe if I didn't have 10 cameras pointed at me, I would cry," Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, one of the pilots for the coast-to-coast journey, said just before landing at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The extra drama came from the discovery in the trip's final hours that the ultra-light airplane had suffered an 8-foot-long tear in the fabric on the lower side of the left wing. Read more: http://nbcnews.to/11rjOjH
How long do you think until commercial airliners can fly on solar power?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Countdown to Discovery Shark Week

The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week kicks off August 4. How much do you know about these infamous fish?  For starters, these creatures have roamed the Earth for more than 250 million years. And, although they are known to prey occasionally on humans, only a few of the more than 200 species of sharks are considered maneaters. Strengthen your shark knowledge with 100 fascinating facts about the world's most feared creatures as you prepare for Shark Week 2013. Just don't bite off more than you can chew! http://bit.ly/15G9gJa

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Loch Ness monster legend: It's geology's fault

The infamous Loch Ness monster often appears, according to legend, accompanied by Earth tremors and swirling bubbles from the Scottish lake of the same name. However, at least one researcher believes the shaking ground and bubbles aren't signs of a monster but rather an active fault underlying Loch Ness and other nearby lakes. Italian geologist Luigi Piccardi credits the Great Glen fault system for reported sightings of the legendary beast. Read more here:  http://nbcnews.to/12DF7fX
Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cousteau grandson will try to beat undersea record

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, will attempt to spend a record 31 days living and working underwater in a bus-sized laboratory submerged in the warm, turquoise Atlantic off the Florida Keys.
If he succeeds, he will beat the 30-day underwater living record set 50 years ago in the Red Sea by his scuba-pioneering grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. "We're doing something unprecedented," said the 45-year-old who grew up on the decks of his grandfather's ships, Calypso and Alcyone. "It's the risk of discovery, it's the curiosity, it's the adventure." While submerged, Cousteau and his five-person team plan to Skype with school children in classrooms around the world. Read more: http://on-msn.com/1cFnJsS

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The theme is extreme: Amazing amusement park rides

We know you're ready for summer thrills, and these theme rides deliver the goods. Massive roller coasters, sweet water slides and adrenaline-juicing rides await. These crazy rides will plaster a smile on your face and evoke yelps of joy (or apprehension). Sit down, buckle up, hang on, and enjoy these topsy-turvy, lightening fast, sinisterly high challenges built especially for the thrill-seeker in you. Check out the country's best in amusement adventures here: http://on-msn.com/14aa8rF

Monday, June 24, 2013

Daredevil completes tighrope walk over Grand Canyon

Aerialist Nik Wallenda completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter mile over the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona on Sunday. Wallenda, 34, performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon. He took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and crouching twice as winds whipped around him and the rope swayed. The event was televised live on the Discovery Channel.
Wallenda didn't wear a harness and stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps.
Do you think Mr. Wallenda is brave ... or crazy?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Keep your eyes on the road!

Interested in a truly stomach-flopping adventure? Take a journey over some of these bridges … the world’s highest. Warning: If you’re leery of heights, don’t look down. China boasts the lion’s share of the highest bridges, with 3 of the planet’s top 5. Tallest in the U.S. is the Royal Gorge Bride in CaƱon City, Colorado (pictured here). At nearly 1,000 feet high, the bridge is taller than it is long. What’s the tallest bridge you’ve even been on? Did you look down?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Missing document signed by Lincoln found at Pennsylvania college

A long-missing certificate with Abraham Lincoln's signature was found recently at a college in Pennsylvania by the school president. The retiring president of Lycoming College was cleaning out his closet when he found the 150-year-old document. James Douthat was pulling out what he thought was an access panel to plumbing when he discovered a framed certificate, dated 1863, which named the college’s founder, a Civil War chaplain. A similar certificate also signed by Lincoln recently sold for $11,000, according to a noted autograph dealer.
Have you ever made a surprise discovery of something valuable?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sloths: Super-slow, super-snuggly

Lightening fast they are not. In fact, a tenacious tortoise is likely to outpace a slumbering sloth in a foot race, should such an unlikely competition occur. But, oh how adorable. These cute-faced creatures unwittingly allure the attention of rainforest visitors in Central and South America with their silent charm. Huggable, to be sure. And, oh so slow.  Getting up close and personal with these delightful animals is part of the unique experience on a trip to Costa Rica with Discovery Student Adventures. Here are some cool facts you probably didn't know about sloths: http://bit.ly/Vvu2f2

Monday, June 10, 2013

2,500-year-old mummy getting a makeover

A 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy is coming out of its coffin to undergo cleaning and restoration procedures at Massachusetts General Hospital. The mummy, known as Padihershef, has been on display at the third-oldest general hospital in the United States since it received him as a gift from the city of Boston in 1823 as a medical oddity.
A conservator trained in restoring ancient artifacts will remove him from his coffin and use cotton swabs to wipe away salt deposits from his face. The salt has been slowly seeping out of his tissue, a result of the mummification process. Experts are also expected to do minor repair and stabilization work on his coffin.
The mummy and his coffin will then be moved to a special horizontal case in which they will lie next to each other in the Ether Dome, a surgical amphitheater where William T.G. Morton demonstrated the first public surgery using anesthetic, on Oct. 16, 1846.
Do mummies spook, or fascinate you?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tree houses that meet new heights

For kids growing up anywhere near trees, a time-honored summer tradition has always been to build a tree house. It's the perfect way to escape to a place you can call your own. Building the lofty getaway can also be a great bonding experience between kids and their parents. While most of us may envision shabby forts with slanted floors, walls that don't exactly align, and roofs that leak, there are many exceptions. Indeed, there exist tree houses that rival primary residences ... with grander views. Check out these amazing houses built on limbs and trunks.http://bit.ly/XaPGR3
Have you ever built a tree house?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer sizzle: Sound super? Not to everbody

Summer is knocking on the door for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. For many, it's a pleasant time of year that allows us to enjoy more time outdoors relaxing and playing under the sun. But in many parts of the world, searing heat is something that virtually never goes away. It's always hot in these climatic ovens. How do you cool off during the summer months? Check out the world's 10 hottest spots. http://huff.to/PesnEX

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Great mirages of the world

Though mirages are just optical illusions, they are very real manifestations of physics and remind us that the universe is not as linear and straightforward as we’d like to think. While the classic arid-land mirage – a “lake” shimmering in the distance in a searing desert – is what most envision, there are many types around the world. What is the coolest mirage you've ever witnessed? Check out these cool optical illusions. http://on-msn.com/15KOVVU

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mock Mars Mission Will Test Stresses of Red Planet Living

The question of how people can live and work together on a mission to Mars may turn out to be one of the biggest challenges of deep-space exploration. To simulate the experience of a crew stuck inside cramped quarters under stressful conditions, a nonprofit is planning a one-year mock Mars mission in the Arctic.
The mission, to begin in July 2014, is being planned by the Mars Society, an organization dedicated to manned exploration of the Red Planet. Six crew members will spend a full year living inside the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), a 25-foot-tall , 27-foot-wide cylindrical habitat on Devon Island in the high-latitude Canadian Arctic.
The crew will spend their time conducting field geology—in space suits, of course—and other science research, and performing maintenance on their equipment and habitat.
If given the opportunity, would you spend a year of your life to explore Mars?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fossils point to ancient ape-monkey split

The oldest known fossils of an ape and a monkey have been uncovered, providing an intriguing glimpse of a crucial time in primate evolution.

The discoveries suggest that by 25 million years ago, two major groups of primates were distinct: one that today includes apes and humans and another that encompasses Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques. Previous studies using living primates’ DNA suggested that ancient apes and Old World monkeys parted from a common ancestor between 25 million and 30 million years ago.

The new ape and monkey fossils, from Tanzania’s Rukwa Rift Basin, suggest that the evolutionary split between these primate lines must have occurred close to 30 million years ago, or perhaps even earlier, anthropologist Nancy Stevens of Ohio University in Athens and her colleagues conclude in the May 15 Nature.

Do you subscribe to the theory that apes and monkeys were once common ancestors?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Huge asteroid to zip past Earth May 31

A big asteroid will cruise by Earth at the end of the month, making its closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries. The May 31 flyby of asteroid 1998 QE2, which is about 1.7 miles long, poses no threat to Earth. The giant space rock will come within 3.6 million miles of our planet — about 15 times the distance separating Earth and the moon, researchers say. But the close approach will still be dramatic for astronomers, who plan to get a good look at 1998 QE2 using two huge radar telescopes — NASA's 230-foot Goldstone dish in California and the 1,000-foot Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Do you worry about asteroids hitting the Earth?

Read more here: http://nbcnews.to/10MlazE

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Top 10 Most Extreme Places in North America

From Death Valley to Mt. McKinley, North America is a land of extremes. Courtesy of the Discovery network, take a look at some of the weirdest, loneliest, windiest, snowiest, hottest, coldest, driest, wettest, highest and lowest places on the continent.


Weirdest Place: Fly Geyser located in the westernmost county of Nevada. This surrealistic structure got its start about a hundred years ago when well drilling opened up an underground reservoir that served as a fresh water source over several decades.
Loneliest Place: Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Yukon Alaska. Larger and more mountainous than Switzerland, this vast area includes 13 million acres that have about as many roads and people as a small town!
Windiest Place: During a wild storm in April 1934, a wind gust of 231 mph was recorded by the observatory on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. This wind speed still stands as the all-time surface wind speed recorded in North America.

Snowiest Place: The greatest annual snowfall level in North America is at Mount Rainier, Washington, where an average of 692 inches accumulates every year. The single year record was set during 1971-1972 with 1,122 inches of snow.

Coldest Place: The remote settlement of Snag in Canada’s Yukon Territory holds the title for the coldest officially-recorded spot in North America. On February 3, 1947, a government weather station at a small landing field recorded a temperature of -81.4° Fahrenheit in dry, still conditions.

For more interesting information about unique places in North America, visit this Discovery network link: http://bit.ly/11cxijl


What is the most unusual place you’ve ever visited?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grand Canyon carved by flood? Geologist says no

Could the origins of the Grand Canyon lie in an enormous flood? The answer is no, says geologist Bill Dickinson, professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Tracing the history of the Grand Canyon is controversial. The deep gorge exposes a billion years of Earth history in its candy-colored cliffs, but geologists can't agree when it formed, or exactly how. A recognized geologist hopes at least to lay to rest one hypothesis: That an ancient lake carved the canyon through a cascading series of waterfalls. A favored concept for two decades, "I don't think it's a valid story, and my main purpose is to dismantle it," the professor says. Read more here. a http://bit.ly/RCfzx3

How do you think the Grand Canyon was formed?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Give back! Celebrate National Volunteer Week April 21-27

National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate people doing extraordinary things through service. Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week focuses national attention on the impact and power of volunteers and service as an integral aspect of our civic leadership. The week draws the support and endorsement of the president and Congress, and elected officials at every level of government.
Are you donating time on any projects as part of National Volunteer Week?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrate our outstanding teachers

National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10. Tell us about a teacher who has impacted your life. We'd love to hear your story and share it with our Discovery Student Adventures family. Send your comments to keith.erickson@discoverystudentadventures.com. We may just publish your feedback in our newsletter or Facebook page!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Water on the moon? NASA is probing

NASA is developing a lunar rover to find and analyze water and other materials trapped in deep freezes at the moon's poles and to demonstrate how water can be made on site. Slated to fly in November 2017, the mission, called Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE), will have a week to accomplish its goals.
Upon landing on the moon, the rover would have about 2.5 days of sunlight to get started searching for hydrogen, then hibernate for two days of shadow. The rest of the mission would play out over the next five days of sunlight and would include drilling about 3.3 feet into the ground to extract a sample for mineral analysis.

If shuttle flights were available to the moon someday, would you buy a ticket?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Help us celebrate Earth Day

As Earth Day approaches (April 22), excitement builds at the thought of the world uniting around a day of environmental service and awareness. But one day a year is not sufficient to combat the environmental challenges we are faced with. Discovery Student Adventures is proud to offer eco-friendly service projects on every trip we take around the world. Are you involved in a community service project? We'd love to learn about it and share your story with our readers. You could even be rewarded for your project with a grant to help your efforts! Check out our Impact You Town page. http://bit.ly/YO8rOW

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Singing bugs to make rare appearance soon

They’re baaaaaack! Insect experts say that in mid-April through May, residents on the east coast will witness the emergence of billions upon billions of the singing insects called Cicadas. These odd bugs spend most of their lives underground and only make an above-ground appearance every 20 years or so--and only for a few weeks. Near the end of their lifespans they emerge to climb trees, shed their exoskeletons, sing, fly and mate. The next generation will emerge in 2030 to repeat the cycle all over again.
If you're a "buggy person," which is your favorite insect?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rock from outerspace may be from Mercury

A strange green space rock hailed as perhaps the first meteorite ever discovered from Mercury may be too old to have come from the solar system's innermost planet, some scientists say.
Last month, scientists announced that the green-hued meteorite NWA 7325 shares many chemical similarities with Mercury, suggesting it may be the first known visitor from the small, sun-scorched planet. http://yhoo.it/10Mt6lp
If spaceship rides to Mars were available, would you go?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Help us celebrate National Teachers week May 7-11

Few professionals touch as many lives as teachers. Educators contribute to communities across our country every day in so many ways. Teacher Appreciation Week is your opportunity to show your appreciation to teachers for all their efforts. We’d love to hear about your favorite teachers. Drop an email to keith.erickson@discoverystudentadventures.com   and let us know what makes them so special. We plan to share stories of outstanding teachers in our monthly Passport to Adventure newsletter. We would be privileged to honor teachers that are close to your heart.

Monday, April 1, 2013

'Impact Your Town' and help make a difference

Discovery Student Adventures is proud to give back to each global community we visit by participating in community service projects that help to keep our world green and make it a better place to live. Even if you're not traveling with us, you CAN make a difference. We're thrilled to begin our second year of "Impact Your Community" in conjunction with Earth Day, which is April 22 this year.

Are you involved in a community project to support the environment or influence your local area? We would love to hear about it! Head over to our Facebook Contest tab and share your 2-minute maximum video explaining your project or, better yet, showing you in action. Whether you’re collecting recyclables, planting trees, making improvements at a shelter, or building a greenhouse, we want to hear.

Share your story! The top three videos will be rewarded with grants of up to $250.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leapin' lemurs! New species discovered

Two new species of lemur look so similar that it's impossible to tell them apart without sequencing their genes, scientists said. The itsy-bitsy primates are both mouse lemurs, which are tiny, nocturnal lemurs that measure less than 11 inches from nose to tail. The newly discovered Madagascar natives weigh only 2.5 to 3 ounces. Researchers want to preserve lemurs not only for their own sake, but for humans' sake as well. As a primate, the mouse lemur is more closely related to humans than rats or mice, which are commonly used in medical research.
Which animal do you think is most in danger of becoming extinct?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ancient Egyptian Sundial Discovered

A sundial discovered outside a tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings may be the world's oldest ancient Egyptian sundials, say scientists.
Dating to the 19th dynasty, or the 13th century B.C., the sundial was found on the floor of a workman's hut, in the Valley of the Kings, the burial place of rulers from Egypt's New Kingdom period (around 1550 B.C. to 1070 B.C.).
"The significance of this piece is that it is roughly one thousand years older than what was generally accepted as time when this type of time measuring device was used," said researcher Susanne Bickel, of the University of Basel in Switzerland. Past sundial discoveries date to the Greco-Roman period, which lasted from about 332 B.C. to A.D. 395.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Yellowstone: Looking great at 141 years old

Happy birthday Yellowstone National Park! In March of 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law an act establishing Yellowstone. Since that time, the U.S. has created 59 protected areas as national parks. Twenty seven states have national parks, as do the American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But it all started with Yellowstone! Widely known for its geothermal springs and geysers, Yellowstone sits atop a large volcanic stratum. Many unique and once endangered species of animals make their home in the park including grizzly bears, wolves and bison. Discovery Student Adventures offers amazing educational trips to Yellowstone.
Which national park would you most like to visit?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Extreme isolation: remote tribe embraces seclusion

Perhaps no people on Earth remain more genuinely isolated than the Sentinelese. They are thought to be directly descended from the first human populations to emerge from Africa, and have probably lived in the Andaman Islands for up to 55,000 years. The fact that their language is so different even from other Andaman islanders suggests that they have had little contact with other people for thousands of years.

This does not mean, however, that they live just as they did 60,000 years ago. Commonly described, for instance, as belonging to the ‘Stone Age’, they do in fact make tools and weapons from metal, which they recover from ships wrecked on the island’s reefs.

What modern convenience would you miss most if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sharks, Manta Rays Win Global Protection

Several shark species and the manta ray recently won international trade protection in a move hailed by conservationists as a breakthrough in efforts to save them from being wiped out by overfishing.
The deal at a major wildlife conference in Bangkok marked a rare victory in the fight by environmentalists to reverse a slump in populations of sharks -- the world's oldest predator -- due to rampant demand for its fins. Rather than a complete ban, the 178-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to restrict cross-border trade in the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle, three types of hammerheads and the manta ray.

The agreement, which must still be formally approved by the CITES plenary session, delighted conservationists who warn that Asia's voracious appetite for shark fins is causing their population to plunge.

Travelers with Discovery Student Adventures cage-dives with sharks in South Africa. Would you be willing to take this plunge?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bees love caffeine buzz, study shows

Honeybees, like tired office employees, like their caffeine, suggests a new study finding that bees are more likely to remember plants containing the java ingredient. Caffeine occurs naturally in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers. Bees that fed on caffeinated nectar were three times more likely to remember a flower's scent than bees fed sugar alone. The findings, detailed Thursday in the journal Science, show how plants can manipulate animals' memories to improve their odds of pollination.
Plants produce caffeine as a defense mechanism — a bitter-tasting brew to fend off insects. Fortunately for the bees, the caffeine levels are below the threshold that they can taste, but high enough to affect their memory, according to the Science article.

The mention of bees is a reminder that summer is just around the corner. That means Discovery Student Adventures is preparing to jet away to amazing destinations around the world.

What would be your ultimate getaway this summer?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 travel season has nearly arrived

I just a few weeks, Discovery travelers will be learning kung fu alongside martial arts experts in China, rubbing elbows with executives behind the scenes at the Discovery Channel's headquarters near Washington, D.C., and learning about nature with park rangers at the Grand Canyon. The anticipation and excitement for our 2013 travel season is culminating as we get ready to kick off another exciting year of exploration. Follow the action on our Discovery Travel Blog!

Monday, January 21, 2013

U.S. observes country's 57th inaugural ceremony

With crowds spilling out into neighboring streets from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama delivered his second inaugural speech on Monday, January 21, to a throng estimated at nearly 1 million people. The official theme for the 2013 inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future,” commemorating the United States’ perseverance and unity, marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome in 1863. For some historical inauguration trivia, read on.

• JFK’s inauguration almost went up in flames when the podium caught fire as Cardinal Richard Cushing was delivering the invocation. Thank goodness his robes didn’t light up, and Kennedy even managed a smile.

• One of the most awkward moments in inauguration history occurred in 2009, when Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath during Obama’s public ceremony—putting the word “faithfully” in the wrong place. It was a small slip of the tongue, but since it raised concerns that Obama may not have been properly sworn in, they repeated the 35 words, in the right order this time, in private the next day at the White House.

• But the prize for most botched oath goes to Lyndon B. Johnson, who took the vice-presidential oath during JFK’s inauguration “without any mental reservation whatever,” instead of “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

• Jimmy Carter took his inauguration in stride when he walked from the Capitol to the White House in the ceremony parade (the only other president to do so was Thomas Jefferson).

• No one throws a party like Abraham Lincoln, whose inauguration was so wild, the police had to be called in.

Did you watch the second inauguration of President Obama?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 most extreme places in America

The United States has always been a land of extremes. Curious-minded people recently decided to dig in and explore America's highest highs, lowest lows, and a number of other extremes Here are 5 of the favorite points that embody our nation's capacity for extremes.

Coldest community: Fairbanks, Alaska

With average winter temperatures below -5 and highs only in the mid-40s, you may wonder what draws visitors to Fairbanks. Sure, the city's population is warm and welcoming and its gold rush history is still tangible in sites such as the Pioneer Museum, with its dioramas and murals. But most tourists are here to see the Aurora Borealis.

Hottest Community: Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Death Valley may be the most scorching spot in America, with temperatures that can reach 130 degrees, but Lake Havasu City in Arizona earns the gold star for the hottest place where lots of people actually live. The town is home to more than 50,000 residents, all of whom have found a way to survive summer temperatures that regularly top 100 degrees and can reach as high as the 120s.
Highest point: Mount McKinley, Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park would be an extraordinary destination even if weren't home to the tallest peak in North America, 20,320-foot Mount McKinley. The park comprises 6 million acres that most visitors navigate via 92-mile-long Park Road, which parallels the stunning Alaska Range and allows access to a number of visitors' centers and six campgrounds
Lowest place: Death Valley, Calif. and Nev.

Death Valley is not only the lowest point in the United States—its Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level—but also the hottest and the driest. This stretch of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts in California and Nevada is known for temperatures in the 100s for five months out of the year (the record high was 134 degrees, in 1913), unexpected deluges that bring fields of wildflowers, and, in winter, snow that can be seen dusting the higher peaks surrounding the valley.
Smallest town: Buford, Wyo.
It doesn't get any smaller than Buford. Why? Because the town has only one resident, Don Simmons, the proprietor of The Buford Trading Post, a gas station and convenience store. If you're making a cross-country road trip on Interstate 80, it's worth stopping in Buford (between Cheyenne and Laramie) just to say hi, and to tell the folks back home that you've seen it. And since the town was purchased in an auction in September, it's not clear how long it will hold its title.

Which of these places would you most like to visit?

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