Stand by to launch: The world’s 1st orbiting solar-powered spacecraft

An elegant, 400-year-old means of navigating the stars takes flight.

Image source: Planetary Society
  • The Planetary Society is about to launch LightSail 2, a crowdfunded light sail craft.
  • LightSail 2 uses photons from the sun as fuel.
  • Space X's Falcom Heavy rocket will carry LightSail 2 aloft, 720 kilometers up.
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Technology & Innovation

Thumbs up? Map shows Europe’s hitchhiking landscape

Average waiting time for hitchhikers in Ireland: Less than 30 minutes. In southern Spain: More than 90 minutes.

Image: Abel Suyok
  • A popular means of transportation from the 1920s to the 1980s, hitchhiking has since fallen in disrepute.
  • However, as this map shows, thumbing a ride still occupies a thriving niche – if at great geographic variance.
  • In some countries and areas, you'll be off the street in no time. In other places, it's much harder to thumb your way from A to B.
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Strange Maps

Hypersonic passenger jet aims to fly from New York to London in 90 minutes

The Hermeus Corporation recently received seed funding to begin building a hypersonic jet that would travel twice the speed of the now-retired Concorde.

Hermeus Corporation
  • The Hermeus Corporation, an Atlanta-based startup, said it'd take about 10 years to build its hypersonic jet.
  • The era of commercial supersonic transport came to an end in 2003 when the Concorde was retired.
  • Recently, many companies and nations have started investing in supersonic research, possibly signaling the return of the technology in commercial flight.
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Surprising Science

A new study claims Australians don't see cyclists as fully human

Unfortunately, this means that drivers act more aggressively on the road when spotting cyclists.

The peleton passes a kangaroo sign during the men's event at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Bicycle race in Geelong. (Photo by Mal Fairclough / AFP)
  • A new study in Australia shows that half of drivers don't rate cyclists as humans—this includes cyclists themselves.
  • This research follows up on previous studies that show drivers act more aggressively toward cyclists after dehumanizing them.
  • Cycling accidents in the US account for nearly 3 percent of all deaths on the roads.
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Culture & Religion

Herodotus’ mystery vessel turns out to have been real

Archeologists had been doubtful since no such ship had ever been found.

(Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation)
  • In 450 BCE, Greek historian Herodotus described a barge that's never been found.
  • When the ancient port of Thonis-Heracleion was discovered, some 70 sunken ships were found resting in its waters.
  • One boat, Ship 17, uncannily matches the Herodotus' description.
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Surprising Science