December 12, 2018

Travel

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Will robots take over airports?

Travel
(CNN) — Would you tip a robotic waiter?That'll be the question vexing travelers eating 3D-printed meals prepared and served by robots, if one restaurant boss gets his way.Hong Kong restaurant group Maxim's wants to open a smart restaurant at the city's international airport to make the facility even more efficient.The proposal, which was floated earlier this year, will "improve travelers' culinary experience," says George Mew, Maxim's director of manufacturing. "Raw materials will be freshly prepared in the smart kitchen by robotic arms and automatic machines." It might not be as strange as it sounds. Robots are staffing airports around the world. At Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, for example, robots escort late or lost travelers to their departure gates. At New York City's LaGuardia Airport, robots are equipped with cameras and act as "another set of eyes to supplement existing security," according to airport operator LaGuardia Gateway Partners. Meanwhile, at Singapore Changi Airport robots clean the floors for 10 hours a day. ...
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10 natural wonders of Australia

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(CNN) — Even though The Great Barrier Reef and Uluru missed out on being crowned one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Oz has arguably some of the world's most stunning landscapes. We've chosen 10 of the country's most awe-inspiring natural wonders. 1. Great Barrier ReefThe only living thing on Earth visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef was born 25 million years ago. The world's largest reef system that stretches for 3,000 kilometers off the Queensland coast has 400 different types of coral and 1,500 species of tropical fish. Beautiful but precious, pollution and increased tourism threaten its future. 2. UluruUluru is a sacred site to the indigenous Anangu people, who request individuals not to climb the sandstone monolith 450 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Once known as Ayers Rock, it's 348 meters high (1,142 feet) with a circumference of 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles). It's famed for the different hues that bathe it, particularly at sunrise and sunset....
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22 Places That Brought Atlas Obscura Readers to Tears

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I'm not crying—it's raining. Or... uh... I've got something in my eye. Yeah! Sure! It's definitely not from reading hundreds of amazing stories about real-world places that are so astonishing they've actually made people weep.Okay, fine. So a few weeks back, we asked Atlas Obscura readers to tell us about the last place they visited that brought them to tears. We received stories of wild elephants, a military battlefield, a tower, an eclipse, and so many more moments of happiness and overwhelming emotion. Many of them are touching, some are a little sad, but all of them will transport you.We've compiled some of our favorite responses below—fair warning as you read them, it may be difficult to avoid a tear or two coming to your eye. And if you've got more crying places you'd like to share, head over to our brand new community forum and add your own!...
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For Sale: A Boot That Almost Went to the Moon

Travel
History’s most famous footstep may well be Neil Armstrong’s, from the Eagle module to the surface of the Moon. “One small step,” to be sure, but it was the result of big engineering from countless dedicated people—including the ones who designed the historic shoe on his foot, one more precise in its specifications than Cinderella’s slipper.This need for the boots, and indeed all parts of the spacesuits, to be perfect means that there were rejects, models deemed unfit, even for the smallest reasons. RR Auction in Boston has one such prototype up for sale. (At press time, the bid is about $8,000.)...
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Top 7 reasons to snorkel the Galapagos Islands

Travel
Are you planning to go to the Galapagos Islands soon or is it in your bucket list? If so, we would like to share with you 7 reasons for snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. What a great experience it is snorkeling the turquoise water of this volcanic archipelago.Ecuador created the Galapagos Marine Reserve in March 1998 as a way to preserve the South Pacific Ocean surrounding the Islands. It is 590 feet deep and encompasses 2,587 square miles. As one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, the Galapagos is home to 400 species of fish, of which more than 10% are endemic to the archipelago making the designation as one of the largest protected areas in the world.The Galapagos marine life is still being researched according to the Charles Darwin Foundation; so, the species count is always growing. Even though new discoveries are being made all the time, the species count is very high when compared to other Pacific Islands....
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Southern Butter Rolls

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Some natives of the American South have fond memories of waking up to the smell of butter rolls on cold winter mornings. And yet, few people outside the South have ever heard of this sweet, cinnamon roll–like treat, and even in their native region, they have largely disappeared from breakfast and dessert spreads.Southern butter rolls are essentially spiraled pastries that bake while swimming in a sauce of milk, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes cinnamon. Recipes vary by family but often involve covering buttermilk biscuit dough in butter, sugar, and spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, then rolling it into a log. After cutting this sweet, buttery log in half or into discs, bakers place everything in a pan and bathe it in the sweet sauce. ...
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The True Story Behind America's Most 'Metal' Cemetery

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Atlas Obscura recently collaborated with Caitlin Doughty, the mortician and activist behind Ask a Mortician, to explore the Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The cemetery is unique because of its metal headstones, originally installed as an attempt to blur class distinctions. Painted grey to resemble traditional granite grave markers, these monuments were deceptive for a time. Over the past 165 years though, the materials have fallen victim to the elements. In the video above, Atlas Obscura Senior Editor Ella Morton joins Doughty at the cemetery for a discussion of the origins and consequences of this unusual headstone technique....
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Basilica of St. John in Selçuk, Turkey

Travel
The early Christian community in the ancient port city of Ephesus traced its origins to the apostle and evangelist St. John, the so-called Beloved Disciple. According to church tradition, John wrote his gospel in Ephesus, and, after a period of exile on the island of Patmos during which time he wrote the Book of Revelation, returned there and died.An apocryphal tale claims that John's prayers shattered Ephesus' Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ironically, the 6th-century basilica dedicated to St. John, built in Ephesus by the Emperor Justinian, would become one of the wonders of the medieval world. Built on the supposed site of the saint's tomb, the church formed part of a building program that included the massive Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna....
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Cancoillotte

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Cancoillotte is a very creamy cow's milk cheese that’s almost liquid when hot. Native to the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, it has a reputation as a cheap, but restorative food.Historically, it was an affordable cheese for farmers to make, as it was produced using leftover skim milk from the butter-making process. After draining and pounding skim milk–based curds and leaving them to dry, cheesemakers then cooked the mixture over a fire with saltwater and lots of butter until it became smooth.At the beginning of the 20th century, cancoillotte also featured prominently in a frugal dish known as le poulet de l'horloger ("the watchmaker's chicken"). The dish is actually vegetarian. As the story goes, watchmakers were poor and couldn't afford meat, so the "chicken" was actually boiled potatoes covered in warm cancoillotte....
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Ancient land where stones can sing

Travel
(CNN) — They call it "the land of the dry riverbed," but 40,000 years ago Gobustan, in eastern Azerbaijan, was rich, green and densely wooded. In the period after the last Ice Age, cave-dwelling people hunted deer and goats, harvested food from the savannah grasslands and sailed in the Caspian Sea. At this early seat of human civilization, travelers from East and West met and settled in a series of limestone caves and, for generation after generation -- right up until the 20th century -- left their marks on the shelter walls. Today, these rocky enclaves -- around 20 in the total, spread across three hills -- are at the heart of Gobustan State Reserve, a unique outdoors museum across 537 hectares, accompanied by a state-of-the-art visitor center. ...
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Venilale Tunnels in Venilale, East Timor

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Venilale is a sleepy town in inland East Timor known for its cool weather, comparatively speaking. In its colonial past, this town was a prime destination for Portuguese settlers wishing to escape the heat. At the outskirts of Venilale are a set of tunnels that are steeped in World War II history, from when the eastern part of Timor was controlled by Portugal, and the western part by the Dutch. In 1942, Australia deployed troops on the island as a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. This was designed as a precautionary move, not really expecting Japan to launch a full-on attack on Timor. But East Timor was particularly vulnerable, as the Portuguese were counting on their declaration of neutrality as a deterrent against Japan. (In hindsight, this was an obvious miscalculation.)...
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Hidden FC Barcelona Coat of Arms in Barcelona, Spain

Travel
Santa María del Mar is one of the many iconic churches found in Barcelona. It dates back to the 14th century and was named after St. Mary, the patron saint of sailors, probably because of its location close to the sea. The church has lived through a lot over the years: earthquakes, occupation by Napoleonic forces, bombings, and Francoism, to mention a few. In 1936, however, Santa María del Mar was damaged by fire after being set on fire by anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. More or less the whole interior of the church was destroyed, and still today stones blackened by fire bear witness to what happened....
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Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio

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The Plum Brook Station is part of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. Here, highly specialized facilities allow NASA and the international space community to carry out complex and innovative ground tests.Plum Brook Station is located on 6,400 acres of land near Sandusky, Ohio, about 50 miles west of the main Glenn Research Center campus. It has served a number of functions over the years, and some facilities have been decommissioned, including the Plum Brook Nuclear Reactor, which NASA once used for space-related nuclear energy research and development.Today, a handful of test facilities are currently operational at Plum Brook, all of which rank among the largest and most powerful space environment simulation facilities in the world....
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How Mumbai’s Dabbawalas Deliver 200,000 Homemade Meals a Day

Travel
At 9:10 a.m., Nilesh Shankar Bachche picks up the dabba (lunchbox) labeled “B 5 W 6N2” from an apartment building in Borivali West, a neighborhood in Mumbai, India. Inside the dabba, or tiffin, lies three to four stackable cylindrical compartments. One compartment will typically contain rice or rotis. Another might hold dal or a curry, then vegetables, yogurt, or dessert. In this one, there are four compartments: one with a yellow dal, one with long-grain Basmati rice, another with bhindi masala (Indian spiced okra), and the last with fluffy rotis and a tiny box of jaggery—an unprocessed precipitate from sugar cane juice—for dessert....
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The Glendale Steps in Akron, Ohio

Travel
During the Great Depression, under the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, the Works Progress Administration was created by the federal government to put people back to work building infrastructure in hopes of stimulating the economy. Many examples of those projects still exist throughout the U.S., and one of the grandest examples is preserved in the heart of downtown Akron, Ohio.The "Glendale Steps" were constructed as a WPA project during a time when Akron, which was especially hard-hit among American cities, was trying to rebound from massive layoffs in the rubber industry as auto sales plunged during the 1930s. The 242 sandstone steps cover a 200-foot slope between South Walnut Street above and Glendale Avenue below, acting as a connector between two neighborhoods in Akron....
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Kaibab Lookout Trees in Grand Canyon Village, Arizona

Travel
In the early 20th century, some members of the U.S. Congress, pressured by lobbyists, feared that setting aside land for National Forests would starve the timber industry. As such, funding was minimal and the nascent U.S. Forest Service was forced to find creative solutions to complete their directive.In the Kaibab National Forest, a large area spreading across both sides of the Grand Canyon, the Forest Service lacked the budget to build towers to spot the smoke of early fires. So it used the tall structures that were already there, the massive Ponderosa pine trees.Forest Service employees would hike up to the highest vista in an area and from there would find the tallest tree. They would then construct a ladder against the side of the tree and saw off the top, building a platform on the flattened trunk....

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