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9 of the Longest Journeys You Can Take Around the World

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Sometimes, you just want to stretch your journey out as long as possible. So try putting some of the world’s longest journeys on your bucket list. Whether it’s a 17-hour flight or a 740-step escalator, here are nine extra-long rides you can take to make your vacation superlative.

1. THE WORLD’S LONGEST BRIDGE

China’s Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, part of the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, stretches more than 102 miles long over the Yangtze River Delta. However, only a little over 5 miles is over open water. 

2. THE WORLD’S LONGEST BRIDGE OVER WATER 

If bridges over land seem a little passé, China also hosts the world’s longest bridge over open water. The 26.4-mile-long Jiaozhou Bay bridge took the title from the longtime record holder, Louisiana’s Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, in 2011. But after complaints from Louisiana that the Jiaozhou Bay bridge cheated by using curves to increase the length, Guinness deemed Lake Ponchartrain Causeway the “Longest Bridge over Water (Continuous)."

3. THE WORLD’S LONGEST ESCALATOR

Image Credit: A.Savin via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

While there are several competing claimants to tallest, one of the best is the escalator in Moscow’s almost 30-story deep Park Pobedy station: It has more than 410 feet of moving stairs, with 740 steps. The ride is about three minutes long. In the Western Hemisphere, travelers have to settle for the D.C. Metro’s Wheaton Station escalator, which stretches 230 feet [PDF]. 

4. THE WORLD’S LONGEST NONSTOP FLIGHT

The Australian airline Qantas currently runs a nonstop flight between Sydney and Dallas-Fort Worth. It traverses almost 8570 miles and takes nearly 17 hours on the westbound flight. But Emirates might be poised to take the title away, with a planned nonstop route between Dubai and Panama City that will cover 8580 miles and take as long as 17.5 hours. Service starts in February

5. THE WORLD’S LONGEST SUBWAY SYSTEM

Image Credit: Shanghai Metro

Shanghai’s metro system is just over 340 miles long, the longest city subway network in the world. However, Beijing plans to expand its subway system to about 406 miles by the end of 2016. (At 600 miles, Seoul’s system is considerably longer, but it’s run by multiple operators over a large area.)

6. THE LONGEST POSSIBLE NEW YORK SUBWAY RIDE ON ONE SWIPE

New York City-based public radio station WNYC pegs the longest possible subway ride on one swipe as a 155-mile journey underground between the Bronx and the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. Going from Wakefield-241st Street to Far Rockaway requires 54 transfers, and only the most intense subway lover would ever want to complete it. (For reference, you could travel between the same points with one transfer over the course of two hours, but brevity is not the point here.) 

7. THE WORLD’S TALLEST ELEVATOR RIDE

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One of the biggest issues facing architects trying to build mile-high skyscrapers: current elevator technology can only go so high. The world’s tallest conventional elevator ride right now is inside Dubai’s 2717-foot Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. To get to the tower’s highest floor, you have to take an elevator almost 1655 feet straight up, reaching top speeds of about 22 miles per hour. The building’s emergency elevator is even longer—it travels nearly 1900 feet. 

8. THE WORLD’S LONGEST STRAIGHT ROAD

The longest dead-straight road in the world is Highway 10 in Saudi Arabia, at 162 miles long. In second place is Australia’s Eyre Highway, a 90-mile stretch without a curve in sight. Bring a few particularly gripping podcasts to listen to, because there won’t be much else to pay attention to. 

9. THE WORLD’S LONGEST TRAIN RIDE

According to Guinness, the longest train journey is the 6346 mile semi-regular Moscow, Russia to Pyongyang, North Korea route that takes almost eight days. This route is not currently approved for Westerners to enter North Korea through, though, so most people have to make do with the nearly 5780 mile Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

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Design
Lovely Vintage Manuals Show How to Design for the Human Body
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IA Collaborative

If you're designing something for people to hold and use, you probably want to make sure that it will fit a normal human. You don't want to make a cell phone that people can't hold in their hands (mostly) or a vacuum that will have you throwing out your back every time you clean the house. Ergonomics isn't just for your office desk setup; it's for every product you physically touch.

In the mid-1970s, the office of legendary industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss created a series of manuals for designers working on products that involved the human body. And now, the rare Humanscale manuals from Henry Dreyfuss Associates are about to come back into print with the help of a Kickstarter campaign from a contemporary design firm. Using the work of original Henry Dreyfuss Associates designers Niels Diffrient and Alvin R. Tilley, the guides are getting another life with the help of the Chicago-based design consultancy IA Collaborative.

A Humanscale page illustrates human strength statistics.

The three Humanscale Manuals, published between 1974 and 1981 but long out-of-print, covered 18 different types of human-centric design categories, like typical body measurements, how people stand in public spaces, how hand and foot controls should work, and how to design for wheelchair users within legal requirements. In the mid-20th century, the ergonomics expertise of Dreyfuss and his partners was used in the development of landmark products like the modern telephones made by Bell Labs, the Polaroid camera, Honeywell's round thermostat, and the Hoover vacuum.

IA Collaborative is looking to reissue all three Humanscale manuals which you can currently only find in their printed form as historic documents in places like the Cooper Hewitt design museum in New York. IA Collaborative's Luke Westra and Nathan Ritter worked with some of the original designers to make the guides widely available again. Their goal was to reprint them at a reasonable price for designers. They're not exactly cheap, but the guides are more than just pretty decor for the office. The 60,000-data-point guides, IA Collaborative points out, "include metrics for every facet of human existence."

The manuals come in the form of booklets with wheels inside the page that you spin to reveal standards for different categories of people (strong, tall, short, able-bodied, men, women, children, etc.). There are three booklets, each with three double-sided pages, one for each category. For instance, Humanscale 1/2/3 covers body measurements, link measurements, seating guide, seat/table guide, wheelchair users, and the handicapped and elderly.

A product image of the pages from Humanscale Manual 1/2/3 stacked in a row.

"All products––from office chairs to medical devices—require designs that 'fit' the end user," according to Luke Westra, IA Collective's engineering director. "Finding the human factors data one needs to achieve these ‘fits' can be extremely challenging as it is often scattered across countless sources," he explains in a press release, "unless you've been lucky enough to get your hands on the Humanscale manuals."

Even setting aside the importance of the information they convey, the manuals are beautiful. Before infographics were all over the web, Henry Dreyfuss Associates were creating a huge compendium of visual data by hand. Whether you ever plan to design a desk chair or not, the manuals are worthy collectors' items.

The Kickstarter campaign runs from July 25 to August 24. The three booklets can be purchased individually ($79) or as a full set ($199).

All images courtesy IA Collaborative

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History
Winston Churchill’s Audacious Plan to Build an Aircraft Carrier Out of Ice
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Winston Churchill was enjoying a steamy bath when he discovered the secret to winning World War II floating in his tub. It was 1942, and Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Chief of Combined Operations and Britain’s head honcho for unconventional warfare, had stormed into the Prime Minister’s bathroom with unexpected news. (It’s not as strange as it sounds. Churchill regularly conducted meetings from his tub.)

“I have a block of new material that I want to put in your bath,” Mountbatten explained. He dropped a hunk of ice between Churchill’s legs. The two watched in awe as the ice refused to melt.

At the time, Churchill was in a pickle. The Soviets were fighting Germany on the eastern front, but the UK, which had yet to successfully invade Europe from the west, sat in limbo. Knowing that Britain was utterly dependent on imports, German U-boats routinely targeted merchant ships bound for the UK, sending the food and goods intended for citizens and soldiers to the bottom of the ocean.

Those ships needed protection badly, but aircraft based on shore didn’t have the range to offer cover, leaving vessels to navigate a perilous 300-mile stretch of undefended ocean on their own. Experts called this vulnerable territory the "mid-Atlantic gap." Others simply called it "The Black Pit."

Mindful of the gap, Churchill believed a series of floating airfields in the Atlantic could close the distance between his air force and enemy submarines. With aircraft carriers in short supply, he wanted to establish a string of unsinkable floating islands that could serve as hangars and refueling depots. The catch? These buoyant land strips had to be constructed out of a material other than steel; the Allies needed every ounce of the metal for weapons, tanks, and battleships.

Churchill was convinced the solution was bobbing in his bathwater.

For a time, the British seriously considered using ice as a construction material for their floating airfields. Ice, after all, doesn’t sink. Repairs would be easy: just add water. Churchill naively believed it was as simple as chiseling off a slice of the Arctic ice shelf and tugging it back to Cornwall.

There were obstacles, of course. Ice melts, and nobody wanted to send a fleet of floating islands into the Atlantic just to watch them disappear. Ice is also brittle, and Churchill's men knew that if an airfield were too thin, a bomb could split it in two. Icebergs have also been known to violently flip over, and the same went for Churchill’s airfields, which were one well-placed strike away from dumping hundreds of flyboys into the drink.

Geoffrey Pyke, the scientist who cooked up the idea of ice-based airfields in 1942, directed the researchers of Britain's Combined Operations to find a way to make strong, unmeltable ice. He focused his attention on a little-known report by Herman Mark, a Vienna-based professor of chemistry who had fled the Nazis, which explained how a simple mixture of wood pulp, sawdust, or cotton could reinforce ice in the same way that steel wires bolster concrete.

The report was no joke. Pyke's men found that even a small addition of wood pulp worked miracles: It insulated the ice, prevented most melting, and resulted in blocks of building material that were as resilient as concrete. Pyke's men named it “Pykrete,” and when the Prime Minister saw it floating in his bathtub, he was sold.

“It would be of ship-like construction, displacing a million tons, self-propelled at slow speed,” Churchill wrote in his 1951 book Closing the Ring, “with its own anti-aircraft defense, with workshops and repair facilities, and with a surprisingly small refrigerating plant for preserving its own existence.” It would be called Project Habakkuk, named after the Hebrew prophet who wrote, “Look at the nations, and see! Be astonished! Be astounded! For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe if you were told.”

The code name was apropos. The proposed aircraft carrier was destined to be 2000 feet long and 100 feet thick. (Ten times thicker than the average sheet of Arctic ice, by the way.) It would have a cruising range of 7000 miles, requiring 26 electric motors and a 15-story rudder. It would displace 26 times more water than the largest ship in the world.

The carrier's awesomeness didn't end at its massive size. Max Perutz, a scientist who worked on the project, wrote in The New Yorker that the “bergships were to carry enormous tanks full of supercooled water—liquid water cooled below its normal freezing point—which could be sprayed at the enemy to solidify on contact.”

In other words, freeze rays.

In 1943, the British presented the idea to American commanders during a secret meeting. Accounts vary, but as Perutz told it, Lieutenant Commander Douglas Grant brought two blocks of ice—one regular, one Pykrete—whipped out a pistol, and fired two shots. The first bullet shattered the ice. The second bullet hit the Pykrete, ricocheted, and tore into a high-ranking officer’s shoulder. The Pykrete, however, was unharmed.

The Americans signed on.

That summer, the military built a prototype in Alberta, Canada. Local mills supplied the pulped wood, while laborers at a 200-acre refrigeration plant froze water into monolithic cubes. Within months, a 60-foot-long ice boat rested on a nearby lake. It weighed as much as five blue whales.

But the project went no further. By late 1943, Allied factories had built new fleets of aircraft carriers. With the flying range of new military airplanes (aptly named very-long-range aircraft) improving and the pace of manufacturing gaining steam, the mid-Atlantic gap had already closed. Improvements to radar and an increase in destroyer escorts spelled trouble for Germany's U-Bootwaffe, which would lose a quarter of its submarines that year. Officials poring over production numbers concluded that constructing a fleet of berg-boats was an unnecessary money trap. They scuttled the mission, and the Pykrete barge was abandoned to slowly melt.

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