A few weeks back a team of researchers shared interesting new evidence that they believe reveals the location of Amelia Earhart's missing plane. The team, who are all members of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), showed sonar readings that indicate a man-made object had been found off the coast of a remote island in the South Pacific that is believed to be a possible final resting place for the famous aviator and her co-pilot. Since then, the sonar readings have been examined in greater detail and the results are even more compelling than previously thought.
While the early sonar readings seemed promising the data was incomplete due to what are known as "ping drops." Ping drops occur when the sonar receiver fails to pick up all of the returned signals due to environmental issues or equipment error. This results in missing data that can be lacking in detail. To get a more complete look at the object they had found, the TIGHAR team turned over their data to Honolulu-based Oceanic Imaging Consultants. OIC took that information and processed it on their own specialized systems, filling in the missing "pings" where they could. When the data was further analyzed they discovered that the object in question looks surprisingly like the fuselage of a Lockheed Electra aircraft, the very plane that Earhart was piloting when she went missing.
This past Sunday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) kicked off its annual conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Over the next ten days, the 1300 delegates in attendance will discuss which new locations from around the globe deserve possible inclusion on its exclusive list of World Heritage Sites. Some of the candidates include Japan's Mt. Fuji, the Namib Desert in southern Africa and a series of wooden Orthodox churches located in the Carpathian mountains of Poland and the Ukraine.
Attendees at the conference will also consider adding the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Australia, to its list of endangered places. The organization routinely reviews the World Heritage Sites and will sometimes call attention to those that it sees as being under threat. This is done in an effort to raise awareness of the possible issues facing those place in the hopes that something will be done to preserve the site before it suffer irreparable damage. Studies have shown that tropical storms, climate change and increased shipping traffic have all had an impact on the health of the reef, bring its future into question. UNESCO is hoping that their discussion of those threats will send a message to Australians that they need to take action to preserve this amazing place.
As a gear reviewer for Gadling I see a lot of different products come and go across my desk. Everything from high-tech gadgets to travel apparel and footwear are sent my way for evaluation. After awhile, much of that gear can start to look alike and while I seldom come across an item that is completely without merit, it is also rare to find an item that surprises you with how well it performs. That happens to be the case with the new BirkSun Atlas, a backpack whose main selling point is its ability to charge your small electronics via a built in solar panel. But to focus too much on that one feature alone runs the risk of dismissing everything else this high quality pack brings to the table.
When I first took the Atlas out of the box it was shipped to me in, I was immediately struck by the high quality materials that it is made from. It uses soft, yet durable, fabrics that are resistant to the wear and tear that comes along with travel. In fact, after using this bag as a daily commuter pack for several weeks, it hasn't shown a hint of fraying, abrasions or any other typical blemishes that you would normally expect to come with regular use. Those same materials provide a level of water resistance as well, helping to protect the important items you carry inside. The entire package feels solid, well built and more than ready to hit the road.
Speaking of the interior of the pack, it is absolutely cavernous. BirkSun has designed this bag to allow you to carry all of your important equipment with you wherever you go. It includes a large laptop sleeve capable of safely holding up to a 17-inch notebook, while still giving you plenty of room in the main pocket for an iPad or other tablet, not to mention any other miscellaneous items that you want to bring along such as a camera, book, snacks and so on. A smaller secondary pocket houses the Atlas' battery pack (more on that later) and some organizational sub-pockets that come in handy for keeping track of smaller items like pens and business cards. An elastic water bottle holder along one side is a welcome touch too.
We've seen some truly amazing time-lapse videos in recent months but it is difficult to top this one. It was shot on Mt. Everest this spring and delivers a true sense of the scale of that mountain. Many of the images were captured at various campsites along the route up to the summit and feature some stunning shots of the night sky above the tallest mountain in the world. It is a short, but beautiful film that will leave you in awe of our planet.
Remember when we were kids and summer camp meant hiking in Yosemite, whitewater rafting and camping under the stars? Yeah, me neither! My summer camp wasn't nearly half as cool as that! Those are exactly the kinds of activities that Mammoth Mountain will offer kids this summer at their annual Mammoth Kids Summer Camp, however, providing six days filled with fun and adventure that will make them the envy of all their friends.
Mammoth will offer two sessions of their summer camp this year, the first running July 7-12 and the other running July 28 - August 2. Participants are broken down into two age groups, 8-12 and 13-16 allowing all campers to interact with kids their own age and form lasting friendships. Over the course of the six days, they'll go hiking and rafting in nearby Yosemite National Park, learn how to fly-fish and take an excursion into the mountains on horseback that includes overnight camping. Other activities include mountain biking on Mammoth's beginner trails, rock climbing on the climbing wall and stand-up paddleboarding on June Lake. What more could a budding adventurer ask for?
For more details on this great kid-centric opportunity click here.
And while parents aren't allowed at summer camp, that doesn't mean Mammoth doesn't have plenty to offer them as well. Many of the same activities are available for those who stay at the lodge, including full access to the mountain bike trails, fly-fishing spots, golf course and hiking paths. So while your little one is off on his or her own adventure, you can mix in a little of your own. Parents staying at Mammoth while their kids are in summer camp can receive up to a 20 percent discount on lodging, as well as some great deals on other activities as well.
Three crew members who were aboard an aircraft that went down in the Antarctic this past January were officially declared dead by a coroner in New Zealand this week as the inquiry into the accident got underway. The small Twin Otter airplane was en route from the South Pole to an Italian research station near Terra Nova Bay when it crashed into the side of a mountain. Pilot Bob Heath, as well as crew members Mike Denton and Perry Anderson, all lost their lives in the crash.
The fatal accident is under investigation by the Canadian Transport Board but since the plane went down in an area of Antarctica that is under the jurisdiction of New Zealand, a coroner from that country had to make the official pronunciation of the death of the crew. During the inquiry, it was revealed that the plane took off on schedule and that the pilot was checking in every hour of the flight as expected. There were no indications of any problems at all right up until the moment that the emergency beacon went off.
While the report hasn't been able to reveal any mechanical issues with the aircraft, the judge overhearing the investigation stopped short of saying pilot error was the cause of the plane crash. Instead, he seemed to place the blame on the harsh conditions in Antarctica, which could pose problems even for very experienced pilots.
Augmented Reality apps on our smartphones and tablets can do some pretty amazing things. The basic premise is that these apps use our device's camera to show us the world around us while also overlaying information that may be of interest. For example, AR apps can give directions, complete with on-screen arrows showing us where to go, or they can display info about hotels, restaurants and bars that include Yelp scores, hours of operation, menus and more. The potential for augmented reality is so great that Google is even incorporating it directly into their Glass project.
But a company called AR-media is truly taking augmented reality to the next level with a new app in development that will let travelers see some of their favorite historical sites restored to how they looked when they were first built. In the case of the demo video below, that means using an iPad to catch a glimpse of the Roman Colosseum as it looked when it was newly constructed.
The software uses special programming to determine where you are in relation to the structure and uses 3D modeling to fill in sections of the building. The results are pretty amazing and show the possibilities of how AR can be used to educate and entertain, particularly in the travel industry.
Now, I wouldn't recommend staring at some of our more magnificent monuments through the screen of any device. After all, you're there to see it in person. But if a smartphone or tablet can enhance the experience, then I think that is technology that is working to make our lives better. In this case, the AR app practically allows us to step back in time and see the Colosseum in all of its glory.
Standing 20,320 feet in height, Mt. McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America and one of the most challenging climbs in the entire world. While it doesn't rival the big Himalayan peaks in terms of altitude, it more than makes up for it with a number of technical climbing challenges and notoriously fickle weather that can even be bad during the peak climbing season of May and June.
Last week marked the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of McKinley, which is generally referred to by its native Koyukon name of Denali in mountaineering circles. On June 7, 1913, Walter Harper, Harry Karstens, Hudson Stuck and Robert Tatum became the first men to stand on the summit of this imposing peak. A century later the route to the top remains nearly as elusive as it was when they first made the journey.
To celebrate this impressive milestone, the National Park Service released the following video that not only commemorates the accomplishment of the first ascent but also attempts to answer the age old question of why we climb. It is an inspiring and thought provoking short film, to say the least.
Thanks to an incredibly thick layer of snow and ice, the topographical layout of the Antarctic continent has always remained shrouded in mystery, leaving geographers to ponder what exactly it looks like. Back in 2001, an extensive survey using modern technologies gave us our first real glimpse at Antarctica without the ice. That project resulted in a map called "Bedrock" that provided the most detailed view of the Antarctic surface ever seen, showing mountains, valleys and other hidden features.
Since then, NASA, along with the British Antarctic Survey, has been using satellites and specially equipped planes with laser-powered terrain sensors to fill in even more detail. Last week they released "Bedrock2" to truly show us how Antarctica would appear if all of the ice were removed. Judging from the images shown in the video below, the frozen continent is a wild, mountainous place that would remain rugged and demanding even if it weren't buried under a mile of snow and ice.
Remember the days before smartphones and tablets? Back when our mobile entertainment options were limited to whatever books and magazines we could cram into our carry-on bag and that one movie that was shown three times on a single flight across the Pacific? It may seem like it was a lifetime ago, but it really hasn't been that long at all.
Now days when we hit the road, we can carry our entire music collection, multiple movies and TV shows, a library full of books and thousands of photos with us. The options are nearly endless, limited only by the storage capacity of your mobile devices. But when the memory on those devices begins to get full, you have to start making compromises in order to fit everything you want in the limited storage available. In order to make room for the latest episodes of "Downton Abbey" for example, that digital copy of "The Hobbit" may have to go.
But what if you didn't have to make those kinds of compromises? What if you could carry a tiny portablemedia server with you that would not only add storage capacity to your device but also allow you to wirelessly share those files with your traveling companions? A few years ago that would have seemed like something out of a science fiction movie but today it's a reality with both HP and Kingston delivering excellent and affordable options to the consumer.