Fin whale songs can reveal hidden features of the ocean floor

The sounds can penetrate Earth’s crust as seismic waves, illuminating its structure

The fin whale’s call is among the loudest in the ocean: It can even penetrate into Earth’s crust, a new study finds. Echoes in whale songs recorded by seismic instruments on the ocean floor reveal that the sound waves pass through layers of sediment and underlying rock. These songs can help probe the structure of the crust when more conventional survey methods are not available, researchers report in the Feb. 12 Science.

Black, Hispanic and female police use force less often than white male officers

A case study of Chicago police suggests diversification may improve treatment of civilians

Black and Hispanic police officers tend to stop, arrest and use force against civilians less often than white officers do, and female officers of all races use less force than their male colleagues, a new case study of the Chicago Police Department suggests.

Stonehenge may have had roots in a Welsh stone circle

Population movements may explain how certain stones at the iconic site came from far away

At an ancient site situated among the hills of western Wales, researchers suspect they have uncovered the remnants of a stone circle that contained initial building blocks of Stonehenge.

The number of Milky Way nova explosions per year has been pinned down

Every year, about four dozen of these stellar eruptions occur in our galaxy

Each year, astronomers discover nova explosions in the Milky Way that cause dim stars to flare up and emit far more light than the sun before they fade again. But our galaxy is so big and dusty that no one knows how many of these eruptions occur throughout its vast domain, where they fling newly minted chemical elements into space.

A Few Hours in Dubrovnik

Last May, during my cruise on Norwegian Jade, I got to visit Croatia for the first time, and I absolutely fell in love with it. What a beautiful country! Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik, one of two very popular cruise ports (the other being Split) on the coast. We arrived in the mid-afternoon and only had a few hours there. It wasn't long enough to thoroughly explore the city, but I had to make do. I focused my limited time on The Old Town of Dubrovnik, a World Heritage site with cobblestone streets surrounded by high stone walls overlooking the orange rooftops of the city and the Adriatic Sea. First, I'd advise that if you are arriving by cruise ship and considering purchasing the Dubrovnik (tourist discount) Card online before your trip (which means you'll have to print your...

A Visit to The Library of Congress

In fact, I may have to give back my diplomas as an English Lit major, because I wasn't at all interested in the book collections at the Library of Congress–I was there purely for the architecture. I'd heard rumors it was the most beautiful building in Washington, DC. After visiting, I'd have to agree–and go one further: It might just be the most beautiful building in the country. If I...

Corvin Castle and more of Sibiu

Our last full day in Romania and from photo spot scouting yesterday in Sibiu, half a day is enough so we decided to take a day trip to Corvin Castle, around 1.5 hours away. The castle opens at 9 AM so we left at 7:30 AM and got there just before it opens. We took the A1 motorway to get there and that is a truly "highway" instead of passing through the residential areas. From looking at photos online, the castle gave me an impression of nesting within mountains and forests. When we got off the highway and then through an industrial looking town, according to Google Maps, the castle is only...

Isola Bella – The Gem in Lake Maggiore

The best time for photos of Isola San Giulio is morning till noon when the island is light up by sunlight. When we arrived at Orta San Giulio in the afternoon the day before, the island was covered in shadow which made a big difference for photos. Our hotel's breakfast room faced directly toward the island so it gave a beautiful view. On the other hand, breakfast was a bare minimum. There was no hot food, only croissants, dried fruits, cereal, and very sour yogurt. I wasn't too thrilled about breakfast. Then to the back street because it was so early that only two of us were on the street...

Plaza de Cibeles, The Prettiest Plaza in Madrid

If you visit Madrid, Plaza de Cibeles (metro: Banco de Espana) should be a stop on your itinerary. It is by far the prettiest and most interesting intersection I found in Madrid. It is located at the intersection of Calle de Alcala, Paseo del Prado, and Paseo de Recoletos. There, you will see the Fountain of Cibeles, with a statue of the goddess Ceres (aka Cibele) being pulled in a chariot by two lions. You'll also see the magnificent Cibeles Palace (aka the Communications Palace)-and if you love architecture, you'll want to study this one awhile from several different angles. Formerly the site of the headquarters of the postal service, it is now city hall. But truly, it looks like it should be a royal palace, not a government office building. Continue on down Calle de Alcala and you...

Romania - Castles and Dracula

The time worked nicely too! At that point, I really don't know much about Romania besides the beautiful Peles Castle that I have seen over the internet. I did further research and found many more beautiful castles and old towns; both are my favorite types of things to see. After we collected our bags, we walked out and the signage was pretty poor to the rental car counter. We walked back up the stairs and then saw a sign to the rental car counter. Once we got there, we saw all the rental car company's counters except ours - Payless, OMG! I walked to the Avis counter and ask the lady...

Siena and San Gimignano

It was a long travel day to make our journey back to Italy... a 5 hours drive from Menton, France to Siena, Italy. The ride wasn't smooth at all as it was pouring so made traffic worst! There was a car accident near Genoa so we wasted half an hour sitting on traffic. We made a lunch break at Deng at Prato, Italy just before Florence. Once we got off the highway and into this little town, we were surprised how many Chinese signs and businesses are there; it looked like there's a big population of Chinese reside in that town. The restaurant is family-run, only a few tables, and cozy. After...

The Honolulu Surfing Museum

If you are a cultural tourist like me, you probably scour the web for lists of museums in whatever city you're next planning to visit. Pretty much every city has its "must sees"-places like the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madrid or the British Museum in London. And no matter how crowded they are, or how over-hyped, they generally are must-sees. But sometimes, those little, off-beat, hole-in-the-wall museums that nobody really talks about wind up being memorable and interesting, too. I spent some time at one of those little museums when I was in Waikiki: The Honolulu Surfing Museum. The...

The Island of Fuerteventura

Be a beach bum at Jandia Natural Park Lying on the southwest of the island and sharing the same name as the peninsula which it calls home, El Parque Natural de Jandia plays home to some of the island's most striking landscapes. Most notable is La Playa de Cofete, a first-rate beach that stretches 12 kilometers with striking mountains serving as an immediate background. Wander through Betancuria Fans of charming small towns will find just that in the old capital of Fuerteventura. Betancuria is located near the center of the island, filled with white buildings framed by bronze windows and...

Tips for Solo Cruises

Readers of this blog already know that there are many good reasons to travel solo, including doing the activities you want to do and when you want to do them, waking up and going to sleep on your schedule and meeting new people. These reasons work really well if you are backpacking through Europe, but do they translate to cruises? Well, yes they do. A cruise is like being on a floating city that visits other cities. It offers the ability to form a real sense of community and form real friendships with others as you share the journey. On a cruise, you can travel by yourself, but never have to be alone. Look for ships that don't charge a single supplement. The supplement typically doubles the quoted fare since the cabin is made for double occupancy. A few cruise ships have set aside...

Weekend Trip to Nantucket

Planning a trip to Nantucket? Great, you're already doing something right! This tiny island in Massachusetts off the East Coast of the U.S. is a summer vacation paradise. In the winter, or "off-season", Nantucket is your quintessential New England seaside town. Whether you're a nature-lover, partier, or just in search of some high-end retail therapy, Nantucket has something to offer. First and foremost, you come here for the beaches—Nantucket is iconic for its coastline! Check out Nobadeer Beach on the Southside of the island - popular amongst surfers and locals. If waves aren't your thing, stick to the Northside of the island where you'll find calm water and the best sandbars. The nightlife is universal, whether you're looking for a wild night at the bars in town or an acoustic...

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