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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

Image Credit: iStock

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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Engineers Have Figured Out How the Leaning Tower of Pisa Withstands Earthquakes
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Builders had barely finished the second floor of the Tower of Pisa when the structure started to tilt. Despite foundational issues, the project was completed, and eight centuries and at least four major earthquakes later, the precarious landmark remains standing. Now, a team of engineers from the University of Bristol and other institutions claims to have finally solved the mystery behind its endurance.

Pisa is located between the Arno and Serchio rivers, and the city's iconic tower was built on soft ground consisting largely of clay, shells, and fine sand. The unstable foundation meant the tower had been sinking little by little until 2008, when construction workers removed 70 metric tons of soil to stabilize the site. Today it leans at a 4-degree angle—about 13 feet past perfectly vertical.

Now researchers say that the dirt responsible for the tower's lean also played a vital role in its survival. Their study, which will be presented at this year's European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Greece, shows that the combination of the tall, stiff tower with the soft soil produced an effect known as dynamic soil-structure interaction, or DSSI. During an earthquake, the tower doesn't move and shake with the earth the same way it would with a firmer, more stable foundation. According to the engineers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the world's best example of the effects of DSSI.

"Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the tower to the verge of collapse can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," study co-author George Mylonakis said in a statement.

The tower's earthquake-proof foundation was an accident, but engineers are interested in intentionally incorporating the principles of DSSI into their structures—as long as they can keep them upright at the same time.

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U2’s 360-Degree Tour Stage Will Become a Utah Aquarium Attraction
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The immense stage that accompanied U2 on the band’s 360° Tour from 2009 to 2011 is getting an unexpected second life as a Utah educational attraction. It will soon be installed over a new plaza at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium outside Salt Lake City.

The Claw, a 165-foot-tall structure shaped like a large spaceship balanced on four legs—a design inspired by the space-age Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport—was built to house a massive speaker system and cylindrical video screen for the band’s performances. Underneath it, a 360° stage allowed U2 to play to audiences surrounding the structure in all directions. To make it easier to tour 30 different countries with the elaborate system, which took more than a week to put together at each concert location, the band had several versions built.

U2 and its management have been looking for a buyer for the 190-ton structures since the tour ended in 2011, and it seems they have finally found a home for one of them. One of the two remaining Claw structures is coming to the Utah aquarium, where it’s being installed as part of a plaza at the institution’s new, 9-acre Science Learning Campus.

A four-legged, industrial-looking video-and-sound-projection rig rises over a crowd at a concert
The Claw at a Dublin concert in 2009
Kristian Strøbech, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

As the only Claw in the U.S., the alien-looking feat of engineering will be "preserved and sustainably repurposed as a Utah landmark and symbol of science exploration and learning," according to the aquarium's press release. As part of the expansion project, the 2300-square-foot stage system will play host to festivals, movies, and other special events in two venues, one with 7000 seats and the other with 350.

The $25 million Science Learning Campus hasn’t been built yet—construction is starting this fall—so you’ll have to wait awhile to relive your U2 concert experience at the aquarium.

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