The Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has released a mesmerizing animation, Perpetual Ocean, in which 2½ years' worth of data recording the oceans' surface currents was fed into a modelling program. The result—extravagant and whimsical and truly beautiful—merits a couple of minutes viewing.
In January, Boa Mistura, a hyperactive cooperative of Spanish artists that call themselves “graffiti rockers,” completed an eye-popping public art project in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Working with residents of Vila Brasilândia, one of the city's favelas, the artists transformed the walls, stairs, and pathways of the slum’s meandering alleys with vivid paint and positive words that appear to float, suspended above the ground like massive, pleasant thought-bubbles.
What’s happening in the world of amusement parks? Phone apps, world domination, and futuristic technology are inspiring some interesting theme park ideas.
An augmented-reality, Kinect-powered theme park, Live Park, opened last December outside Seoul. The immersive experience includes 50 attractions within a 10,000-square-meter space through which the visitors—and the avatars they create—move and interact with 3D video projections, screens, touchable art installations, and live performers. The Live Park videos make the experience look simultaneously thrilling and overwhelming, sort of like the concept of an audience-participation Cirque du Soleil.
As you’ve no doubt heard, today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Besides being a great writer, Dickens was a believer in travel. He did not always put a happy spin on his voyages (On crossing the English Channel: “I am bumped rolled gurgled washed and pitched into Calais Harbour..” or on the world’s great capitals: “Naples is hot and dirty, New York feverish, Washington bilious, Genoa exciting, Paris rainy…”), but he is just as eloquent about the joy of experiencing the world around you:
He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.
And the enduring benefits of travel:
The more man knows of man, the better for the common brotherhood among us all.
Happy Dickens Day!
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo of Dickens World, a theme park in Kent, England, by Robert Bird/Alamy.
Over the cold MLK weekend, my kids and I headed south to meet some cousins in Washington, D.C. and had the chance to test-drive a Smithsonian Art Adventure mobile-phone-based scavenger hunt from Stray Boots.
On Sunday morning, bundled up and armed with instructions for the hunt (the company’s website calls them “interactive walking tours” and “urban games”), we headed to the designated starting point, the Smithsonian Castle, punched our confirmation code into the phone, and the questions started coming.
Players participate via text message or, by using a smartphone, type answers into a web interface. Points are awarded for correct answers and hints are available for incorrect ones, and additional interesting trivia is served up with each answer. The cost to play is about the same as joining a human-hosted walking tour, but the phone-delivered narrative allows for more pausing, food breaks, and general messing-around, which suited our group better.
Like the products of an architect’s fever-dreams, the buildings in Victor Enrich’s city portraits morph and strain and sprout new wings that defy logic and gravity. His 3-D illustrations transform cityscapes from familiar boxiness into something distorted and slightly giddy. Yet when one considers some of the outlandish real-world structures that have sprung from the imaginations of big-name designers like Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and Santiago Calatrava, perhaps former architecture student Enrich (with a well-connected and -caffeinated publicist and a budget, of course) could be the next urban design visionary?
Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently announced that New York City played host to a record 50 million visitors this past year. Seems like we can expect a few more in 2012: NYC & Company, the official tourism board for our fair Gotham, has rallied some extraordinary big-name luxury hotels to participate in their wintertime Third Night Promotion, where you get one free night for every three-night stay.
The list of ‘signature collection’ properties hosting this winter sale includes both elegant, storied hotels and see-and-be-seen hip newcomers. Choosing just one may be the biggest challenge of your stay:
As one who regularly watches these hotels for affordable offers, I can tell you that an opportunity to save 33% doesn’t come along very often. I can also guarantee that a visit to NYC this winter will be a memorable one. Whether you take the budget route of window-shopping, people-watching, and street food, or use those savings to indulge in some of the thrilling culture, cuisine, and commerce of the city—either way, you’ll leave already planning your next visit.
I once was a stubborn holdout on smartphones but now I’m a zealous convert. On a recent trip out of the country and out of my phone’s data network, I felt a little dazed and out of sorts without my constant handheld companion. I confess that I used some free, unsecured WiFi during the trip. While I was vigilant about the type of info I was sending and receiving, for all I knew, my smartphone (and passwords and bank info and all manner of personal data) could have been accessed during those brief, careful sessions. And when I read this chilling cybercrime report from Norton, I vowed to change my sloppy smartphone habits.
Singapore Airlines, voted our readers’ favorite international airline in this (and most every) year’s World’s Best Awards, just announced a brief but exciting sale to inaugurate its new A380 service from New York: Fly round trip from JFK to Frankfurt for $599 or to Singapore for $888, including *all* taxes and fuel surcharges!
Tickets must be booked between now and November 7 for travel between January 16 and March 31, 2012. Fares to other destinations in Southeast Asia (including Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Seoul) are also available for $999, again with no additional taxes or fees tacked on.
I was one of the lucky New Yorkers who caught a brief, colorful glimpse of Papua New Guinea recently. At an event sponsored by luxury tour operator Absolute Travel and the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, two tribesmen—a Wigman from the Huli tribe and a Mudman from the Asaro tribe—performed and mingled with the crowd to promote travel to PNG. The promotion worked. I want to go.