Sailing Aboard Five-Masted Royal Clipper Is Must-Sea Experience

The flap of sails in the wind. The salt sea spraying your face. The sound of the dinner bell. Sailing on a Star Clippers boat is both a modern sea lover’s dream and a return to a romantic seafaring past.

My husband and I just got back from a two-week honeymoon in France and Italy, where we spent our first week aboard the five-masted Royal Clipper. We sailed from Cannes to Civitavecchia (just outside Rome,) zigzagging across the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas, making stops in Santa Margherita, Corsica, Elba, and Sardinia along the way. 

The experience is more personal than a cruise ship, and more economical than chartering a personal yacht.

Because of its size, the Royal Clipper can enter harbors that would be inaccessible to larger cruise ships. We sailed during the night and arrived at our ports each morning — anchoring in the harbor and taking a tender or zodiac to shore, or pulling right alongside the dock so we could disembark down the gangway.

The Royal Clipper

The Royal Clipper is the largest registered tall ship in the world. It is powered off 42 sails when there is wind, and has an engine to keep moving when the breezes are calmer.  In addition to the Royal Clipper, the Star Clippers company also has two smaller ships — the Star Clipper and the Star Flyer.

And we got the full sailing experience: Climbing the masts, helping to hoist the sails, taking a tour of the engine room, and learning the lingo.

Swimming off the ship’s marina. (Sally Sorte)

Honeymoon couples enjoy extra perks like a free bottle of champagne and special desserts. Star Clippers is always running deals, so when you book, keep your eyes peeled for free cabin upgrades, included gratuities and port charges, and onboard credit.

The cruise itself is all inclusive of water sports and food, but alcoholic and specialty nonalcoholic drinks cost extra. Luckily, they don’t gouge you on prices; you can get a nice glass of wine or a beer for three to four Euros.

Shipboard Entertainment

The Royal Clipper stretches longer than a football field from bow to stern, with 19,000 square feet of teak deck punctuated by three pools (both salt and fresh water). A three-deck atrium with a sunlit center through one of the pools provides an open and airy place to spend time indoors.

Watching the sunset from the deck of the Royal Clipper (Sally Sorte)

There is no shortage of things to do onboard the ship. You can steam in the sauna, book a massage, or get a quick workout in in the small gym. We never wanted for a lounge chair with plenty of deck space to soak up the Mediterranean sun. One of our favorite features was the ship marina. During calm weather, the back of the ship opens into a swimming dock where passengers can paddle board, windsurf, kayak, or float on a raft.

The Royal Clipper Dining Room with a pool above it. (Sally Sorte)

On the rare cloudy day, we cozied up with a book in the library. Each day at 5pm, the Tropical Bar hosted snacks and the cocktail of the day.

Each night offers entertainment by both staff and passengers. We “starred” in a fashion show, danced to the YMCA and Macarena, and laughed at the silly themed contests. We even performed a rousing reenactment of Summer Nights for the Talent Show.

Star Clippers Passengers

To be sure, the clientele is mostly gray-haired retirees, sprinkled with a few honeymooners and the odd young family. Star Clippers attracts a more adventurous, accomplished, and laid back personality than perhaps its more traditional cruise line counterparts.

Dinner each night is open seating, so the Maître D’ sat us at tables that spoke English so we were able to get to know our fellow passengers. More romantic and intimate dining arrangements are also possible. Many dinners included singing and cakes to celebrate birthdays or honeymoons or anniversaries.

The last night included some extra fanfare, a farewell from the Captain, and a staff rendition of “We are the World.”

The view from the ship of Santa Marherita, Italy. (Sally Sorte)

Star Clippers Crew

Hailing from over 15 nations worldwide, our ship’s staff was highly diverse. The Royal Clipper holds just over 200 passengers and a hundred crew members. With a 1:2 ratio of crew to passengers, the customer service is excellent – from the engineers to the wait staff to the cabin crew to the masseuses to the water sports team.

If you go on the Royal Clipper, be sure to say hello to Virginia in the Sloop Shop. She and her husband have been working on the Royal Clipper for more than 20 years. Virginia will coordinate the passenger and staff Fashion Show, and will suit you up in some stylish Star Clippers apparel.

(Sally Sorte)

What to Pack for a Star Clippers Cruise

For those who appreciate the art of packing like I do, here are some pointers. There is space to store a carry-on or midsize suitcase underneath your bed, and you’ll have a small closet with a few hangers for storing your clothes. Depending on the size of your cabin, you may have a dresser, but otherwise you’ll need to rely on the closet or the cupboard above the bed for additional storage.

As such, my first recommendation is do not over pack.

That said, you’ll want to bring the following:

  • Costume flourishes – Themed nights will change depending on the captain and the location, but there will likely be a Pirate Night, a White Night, and a Captain’s Night (extra dressy) while you are on board.
  • Several dresses or button-up shirts with slacks – The dress code for dinner is casual elegance, so no shorts or t-shirts or flip-flops.
  • The Basics: Swimsuits, shorts, pants, shirts, day dresses, undergarments – You’ll likely change clothes a few times per day – one outfit to go on shore, another to play in the water off the marina deck or lay in the sun, another for dinner – but there is laundry on board so you only need a few of each.
  • A warm layer & a windproof layer – I’d bring a heavy, cozy sweater and a windbreaker for those blustery nights.
  • A Hat – Great for sun or rain protection depending on the weather.
  • Water shoes – Something that stays on your feet through a wet landing off the zodiac, like Tevas or Chacos.
  • Tennis shoes or boat shoes – Close-toed slip-on shoes to protect your feet from splinters on the decks.
  • Dinner shoes – You’ll want something a bit nicer to wear on your feet for dinner. Heels are not recommended with the presence of steps, but low wedges are fine.
  • A day bag – A lightweight day bag is handy to carry your drinking water, layers, or beach things. It’s also a great place to stash your ID card, which you will have to scan when you get on and off the boat.
  • Toiletries – The ship does not sell these on board.
  • A water bottle – there are refillable stations, including ice, by the bar and in the gym.
  • Talent Show accessories – Bring anything you need if you decide to perform.
  • Reading material and any other personal comforts – Prepare to unplug and only use your phone for pictures.

A New Ship on the Horizon

Star Clippers is currently in process of adding a fourth ship to its fleet, the largest tall ship yet. Keep an eye out for the Flying Clipper, expected sometime in 2019.

Five Real-Life Women Whose Legacies Changed History Forever

Throughout history, women have tirelessly fought alongside men in order to become leaders and change-makers. So, we took a look back at some of these inspirational women throughout history, who are all as relevant today as they were in their own time, to understand how they have impacted mythology, pop culture, and the world we live in today.

1. Joan of Arc 

Joan of Arc in Battle (Central Part of ”The Life of Joan of Arc” Triptych), 1843. Oil on canvas. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia. (PHAS/UIG via Getty Images)

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was born a peasant girl in medieval France. And though she had no military training and was still a teenager, yet she fervently believed that God had chosen her to lead France to victory in its long-running war with England. She convinced the French crown prince, Charles of Valois, to allow her to lead his army to the besieged city of Orléans by picking him out of a crowd even though he was disguised and she had never met him. She went on to break the siege and win the battle over the English and their allies, the Burgundians. Then, she and her followers escorted Charles across enemy territory to Reims and captured by force any towns that resisted. Thanks to her bold campaign, the prince was crowned King Charles VII in July 1429.

But less than a year later Joan was captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces and was tried for witchcraft and heresy. On May 30, 1431, at the age of 19, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Nearly 400 years later, on May 16, 1920,  Pope Benedict XV officially canonized Joan as a saint of the Catholic Church. And today her short, but iconic life story endures as an powerful symbol of gallantry and French unity and an inspiring model for female empowerment.

2. Sacagawea

Sacagawea (right) with Lewis and Clark at the Three Forks, mural at Montana House of Representatives (Wikipedia)
Without the key assistance of Native American woman Sacagawea, it’s likely the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of the early 1800s would have ended in failure. The Shoshone tribeswoman joined up with the explorers in North Dakota as an interpreter in November 1804, even though she was pregnant with her first child. ultimately traveled with Lewis and Clark for thousands of miles, all the way to their  Pacific Ocean. Along the way, she played a critical role in establishing cultural contacts with numerous Native American tribes, helping ensure the expedition’s safe passage across their territories. Sacagawea had been born around 1788 in what is now Idaho, but around the age of 12, she was captured by an rival tribe and sold to a French-Canadian trapper, who made Sacagawea his wife. In November 1804, she was invited as the sole woman to join the Lewis and Clark expedition as a Shoshone interpreter.
Besides just being an interpreter, Sacagawea was skilled at finding edible plants, helped save the cargo from a boat she was riding in when it capsized, including important documents and supplies, and also served as a symbol of peace, since she was traveling with her child. Since her death, which much is still unknown, she has been seen as a symbol of women’s worth and independence. In 2000, her intrepid character and invaluable assistance to Lewis and Clark was honored on U.S. currency by making her the face of the new “golden dollar” coin.

3. Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth in 1864 (Wikipedia)

Sojourner Truth was born to slave parents around 1797. She and her family, which included around 10 to 12 siblings, were kept on an estate in the town of Esopus, 95 miles north of New York City. She was sold at age nine for $100 to a new owner, John Neely, a Dutch slave owner who frequently beat her until he died in 1806. After his death, she was sold several more times before ending up in nearby West Park, New York as the property of John Dumont, whose treatment of  her was only slightly better. Sometime around 1815, Truth started a relationship with a slave named Robert on a different farm, even though courtship between slaves was specifically forbidden. When her partner’s owner, Charles Cation, caught wind of the pair, he beat Robert so badly that the slave later died from his injuries. The brutality of the incident permanently scarred Truth, who was later forced to marry a slave 20 years her senior, with whom she had four children.

Even before the state of New York officially ended slavery,Truth became restless for freedom and she left the Dumont farm and found work as a domestic servant. When she found out that one of her sons, Peter, had been sold to a slave owner in Alabama, she took her former slave owner to court with the help of her new employers, claiming that her son had been sold illegally. Remarkably, Truth won in court, and her son was brought back from Alabama.

Over time, Truth became deeply religious and felt a calling to travel around the country to speak about the barbaric realities of slavery and other injustices. She famously said, “The Spirit calls me, and I must go.” She was an incredible force in the abolition movement, and was active in supporting women’s rights, religious tolerance, pacifism and prison reform. She wrote and sold a book in 1850, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave. In May 1851, she gave a famous speech, most commonly known as Ain’t I A Woman that demanded equal rights for black people and women, which became so popular that it was published countless times. In October 1864, her tireless work on behalf of African-Americans earned her an invitation to Washington D.C., to talk with President Abraham Lincoln, marking the first time in history that a black woman met with the U.S. President in the White House as an equal. In 1981, Truth was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

4. Cleopatra

The Triumph of Cleopatra (1821), by William Etty, now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, England

Cleopatra VII ruled ancient Egypt as co-regent (first with her two younger brothers and then her son) for nearly three decades. She was the last in a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy, who was the general under Alexander the Great during his conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C. Cleopatra could speak several languages, and she was always the dominant leader during her shared reigns.

She earned an enduring place in both history and popular myth thanks to her romantic liaisons and military alliances with the likes of Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, as well has her supposed exotic beauty and powers of seduction. Her love affair with Marc Anthony was the inspiration for the famous Shakespeare play Antony and Cleopatra, which is known as one of the playwright’s best works. But she is also seen as a fierce feminist, since she stood as a lone symbol of a powerful, successful woman during a time when women were supposed to be subservient to their male counterparts. She was a capable leader, highly intelligent, a brilliant linguist and an admirable administrator, Harvard professor Mary Hamer told the New York Times.

5. Ng Mui

Ng Mui is said to be one of the Five Elders who survived the destruction of the Shaolin Temple. Shaolin Temple Pagoda Forest (Wikipedia).

Ng Mui , one of the legendary Five Elders of Shaolin, was a legendary survivor of the destruction of the Shaolin temple by the Chinese Qing Dynasty. She is credited as the founder of martial arts styles Wǔ Méi Pài (Ng Mui style), Wing Chun, Dragon style, White Crane, and Five-Pattern Hung Kuen.

Ng Mui had been a student at the Henan Shaolin Monastery when it was destroyed. She fled to the White Crane Temple and there she met a young girl who was being forced into marriage by a bandit. Ng Mui taught the girl to defend herself by distilling Shaolin martial arts knowledge into a quick lesson. Her clever, adaptable style of self defense was a great equalizer as it took away the advantages of size, weight or gender. Ng Mui’s inspiring story has since been incorporated into popular Chinese and Western culture, including martial arts star Michelle Yeoh’s 1994 movie Wing Chun. 

Out of This World: Animals Who Have Been Sent to Space

Here is a little-known fact: The United States and the U.S.S.R. started putting animals atop rockets back in 1947. On November 3, 1957, the Soviet Union stunned the world by launching Sputnik 2 with a small dog, Laika, who ended up being the first animal to orbit Earth.

But Laika was one of many animals who were used to test the safety and feasibility of launching a living being into space and bringing it back unharmed. Animals have continued to play an important role in understanding the impact of microgravity on biological functions.

Astronauts have used a variety of animals — wasps, beetles, tortoises, flies, worms, fish, snails, guinea pigs, butterflies, scorpions, cockroaches, moneys, chimps, dogs, crickets, mice, frogs and more — as specimens to study. These animals are members of the menagerie who’ve been to space.

Laika

Dog “Laika” in her cabin shortly before it was installed into Sputnik II (ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Laika was a young, mostly-Siberian husky. She was rescued from the streets of Moscow. She and two other dogs were trained for space travel by being kept in small cages and learning to eat a nutritious gel that would be their food in space. Unfortunately, Lakia never made it back to Earth. A re-entry strategy could not be worked out in time for the launch, and so it is unknown how long Laika lived in orbit, perhaps a few hours or days, until the power to her life-support system gave out.

Fruit flies

Fruit flies were actually teh first animals to reach space. The flies pictured were not sent to space. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Fruit flies were the first animals to reach space — minus any bacteria that may have hitched a ride on previous rockets. On Feb. 20, 1947, the United States put fruit flies abroad captured German V-2 rockets to study radiation exposure at high altitudes. In just three minutes and 10 seconds, the fruit flies reached a distance of 68 miles.

Bullfrogs

Bullfrogs were sent into space in 1970 to learn about space motion sickness. (The frog pictured is not one of them)

On Nov.9, 1970, two bullfrogs were launched on a one-way mission so scientists could learn more about space motion sickness.

Albert II

Albert II in preparation for his historic flight. (NASA)

The first mammal in space was Albert II, a Rhesus monkey. Albert I’s mission had been unsuccessful, but the second Albert reached a distance of 83 miles. He was anesthetized during flight and had sensors on him that measured his vital signs. Unfortunately, Albert II died upon impact at re-entry.

Able and Miss Baker

Able is extricated from the nose cone after it was recovered from the ocean. (NASA)
Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey, is tucked inside her capsule and ready to launch into space aboard a Jupiter missile. She traveled into space on May 28, 1959, along with Able, an American-born rhesus monkey. (NASA)

Able, a rhesus monkey, and Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey flew a successful mission on May 28, 1959, aboard the JUPITER AM-18. Able died while undergoing a surgery to remove an infected medical electrode because he had a reaction to the anesthesia. Baker became the first monkey to survive the stresses of spaceflight and the related medical procedures.

Tsygan and Dezik

Tsygan and Dezik were the first dogs the Soviet Union sent to space.

While the U.S. focused on monkeys, the Soviet Union was focused on dogs. The first canines launched were Tsygan and Dezik, abroad the R-1 IIIA-1. The dogs reached space July 22, 1951, but did not orbit, and were successfully recovered from spaceflight.

Belka and Strelka

Belka and Strelka were sent to space by the Soviet Union. They were the first dogs to orbit and return alive.

Belka and Strelka were the first dogs to actually orbit and return alive.  The Soviet Union sent them to space on Aug. 19, 1960.

Felicette 

Felicette is the only cat to have been sent to space.

Félicette, whose nickname was “Astro-cat” is the only cat to have been sent in space. She was a black-and-white stray cat, who was found on the streets of Paris by a pet dealer. She was purchased by the French government and was sent to space on Oct. 18, 1963 on a Véronique AGI 47 sounding rocket. It was a non-oribital flight that last 15 minutes and the cat returned safely. She was, however, euthanized three months later so scientists could conduct more testing on her brain.

Veterok and Ugolyok

Veterok and Ugolyok, who orbited for a record-breaking 22 days.

The Soviet Union sent Veterok and Ugolyok into space on Feb. 22, 1966. They orbited for a record-breaking 22 days, which humans did not surpass until 1974.

Island-Hop Indonesia in This Sailboat-Yacht Hybrid

RealClearLife has partnered with InsideHook, the essential lifestyle guide for adventurous and established men. Sign up to get the best of InsideHook’s recommendations and advice delivered to your inbox every weekday.

The shame about cruises? Their main selling point — island hopping — is almost worth all the screaming children, buffet-style meals and nighttime mixers headed by DJ Partypants.

Prana superyacht (Azaró)

But the languid luxury of island hopping shouldn’t be a cinnamon bun in a pantry of stale English muffins. It ought to be part of a wholesome, uncommon, worth-every-damn-Benjamin vacation.

Enter Prana, a superyacht by Ibizan higher-things outpost Azaró that patrols various island chains throughout the Indonesian archipelago, all while looking an absolute stunner. Blending local Pinisi shipbuildings methods (a UNESCO-recognized two-masted ship historically built by Indonesia’s Konjo tribe) with the finest yacht amenities seen in Ibiza’s party-happy waters, Azaró hath wrought one heck of a hybrid schooner. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Entourage.

Prana superyacht (Azaró)

On board you’ll find four large decks, well-appointed suites, dining options that won’t have you mumbling “This again” and a variety of opportunities for aquatic sports. Depending on your trip package, you’ll have a chance to spot Komodo dragons, go deep-sea diving, watch bats fly in front of a sunset or snorkel in the shadow of forest-draped volcanoes.

Beats another conga line, that’s for sure.

Find more information on booking your trip here.

Prana superyacht (Azaró)
Prana superyacht (Azaró)
Prana superyacht (Azaró)
Prana superyacht (Azaró)

All images from Azaró

insidehook

 

Meet the Man Behind The Stunning Space Visuals You Love

When Dana Berry was finishing up graduate school in 1987, he already had some experience making computer graphics for businesses. So when he saw a job at the Space Telescope Science Institute for someone to make science visualizations, he jumped at the opportunity, even though he wasn’t necessarily qualified.

“I realized they needed someone to give them a vision,” he told RealClearLife. Berry had grown up interested in Carl Sagan’s work, and he took astronomy classes throughout school. So he applied and pulled off a coup, as he says. He was not fluent in mathematics or science, but he had an intuitive grasp of the subject matter.

“What attracted me to it is something that has kind of always propelled me through it,” he said. “Astronomy is the one science that answers the big questions, almost to the point of the meaning of life.”

This idea, that astronomy could teach humans about who we are, where we are from, where we our going, or even our fate, sustains Berry to this day. He is one of those people whose work you have probably seen, but didn’t know it. That’s because this job that Berry talked himself into ended up leading to a career of colorizing actual telescope data — including from NASA’s Hubble Telescope — and creating artistic impressions of space.

Publicity still for “Hubble’s Amazing Universe,” a show I produced and directed for the National Geographic Channel about the science of Hubble. The image is shot by Chris Barron, who was the cinematographer for the show, in the control room at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the place where my career began. (Photo by Chris Barron)

The Hubble faced issues when it first launched in 1990. It had cost more than $2 billion to create, and it was the next big project after the Challenger, which exploded over onlookers in Florida and killed everyone on board in 1986. On top of that, Hubble had a problem with its mirror. It was quickly discovered, Berry told RCL, but the telescope became the butt of jokes around the country, which was “really painful at the time.”

Berry said that one of the most gratifying feelings of his life was “when the Hubble was fixed.” Knowing that the telescope was going to “proceed with the world class science that it was meant to — and in fact went on to — produce” gave Berry the thrill of victory.

A view of the super massive black hole at the core of our Milky Way, a black hole so large and powerful, its event horizon is larger than our whole solar system, surrounded by a disk of gasses swirling around so fast, the very light emitted by the disk exhibits the light-equivalent of a Doppler shift: the side of the disk spinning toward the viewer is literally blue shifted, while the side receding away is red shifted. It is a region of our galaxy of staggering violence on unimaginable scales. (Photo by Dana Berry)

 

Once images from Hubble started coming in, Berry and everyone else at the Institute tried to figure out the best way to utilize them. The first image Berry colorized was of a supernova exploding. He told Smithsonian Magazine that he “handled the image as gingerly as he could, as if the scientific data was holy in a way.”

“Sharing the wonders of discovery turned out to be not only a fun and edifying and altruistic thing that NASA was doing, it also turned out to be a pragmatic one,” Berry told RCL. There was more political support for science because you “brought people along for the ride,” he continued.

An earthlike moon in orbit around a ringed jovian exoplanet is on the verge of breaking up from tidal stress caused by its host planet. This would be a geologically raucous world, unlike Pandora, a world this art might have inspired. (Photo by Dana Berry)
A brown dwarf star is the smallest a star can be and still be classified as a star. This image commissioned by the National Radio Astronomical Observatory features unusually powerful magnetic field lines detected around the dwarf star, TVLM 513-46546, (35 light-years from Earth in the constellation Boötes) by ALMA, the Atacama Large Milimeter Array in Chile. (Photo by Dana Berry)

From the Space Telescope Science Institute, Berry moved to a job at Tufts University and then NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory. He worked as lead animator at Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, and even got to work on the 25th-anniversary editor of Sagan’s Cosmos, the documentary he admired when he was growing up in South Carolina. He told Smithsonian that working on Cosmos felt like he had “basically been asked to clean up the Mona Lisa.”

Berry’s current work now include more artistic impressions of space. Among many other jobs and projects, he has also had six National Geographic covers and is currently working on a new project for them as well.

This is a view of a primordial Earth early in the history of our solar system, a time when many new-born terrestrial planets inhabited the inner solar system, a region now inhabited only be Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury. (Photo by Dana Berry)
All of cosmic history is captured in this grand, wine-glass-shaped chart originally produced for NASA’s WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) Mission. Featured on the left is the Big Bang, the primordial event in which the Universe is born, its hyper inflationary period whereupon the Universe expanded at a rate much faster than it does today. Inside the wine-glass shape we see galaxies and stars form, and leading from the past on the left to the present on the right. (Photo by Dana Berry)

Looking back at his career thus far, Berry told RCL that it is interesting to take measure of how astronomy has grown, and a lot of what we’ve discovered has been because of Hubble.

“The thing about astronomy was that, we didn’t even know what some of the questions to ask were and now we do,” he said during a phone interview. “That has all changed in the course of my lifetime.”

Check out some more of Berry’s work below.

LADEE was designed for a dramatic ending, that is to crash into the lunar surface and kick up some dust, right on the limb of the Moon so that the dust plume could be observed from Earth. (Photo by Dana Berry)
LADEE is NASA’s “Lunar Atmospheric Dust Environment Explorer.” The Moon actually has an ultra thin atmosphere that fills with electrostatic dust on the daylight side. (Photo by Dana Berry)
A planemo–a “planetary mass object”–is a world adrift in space, kicked out of its home solar system. Here, a planemo drifts into our view of a super massive black hole, an object so massive that it can only reside in the central core of a galaxy. (Photo by Dana Berry)
Neutron stars are the burnt out cores of red giant stars. Unlike the Sun, which has a gaseous surface, neutron stars have a hard shell. Here, two neutron stars slam together, shattering their outer shells in an event that can produced detectable gravity waves. (Photo by Dana Berry)
A star that goes supernova, but isn’t massive enough to produce a black hole, will leave a rapidly spinning neutron star as its grave marker. Some of the original material blasted from that star can fall back toward the star into a disk from which a planet might arise. Here, we see the landscape of such a planet, with a pulsar strobing the landscape like a giant disco ball in the sky, and extraordinary locale not conducive for life. (Photo by Dana Berry)
The Martians are coming! This is a visualization of the Martian invasion, with the tripod war machines following a steampunk design, that appears in my companion book to the Discovery Channel series, “Race to Mars.” (Photo by Dana Berry)
The most famous telescope in the world never touches the ground. Hubble Space Telescope, shown passing over the Isthmus of Panama, in this set of images made in preparation for Hubble’s final servicing mission. (Photo by Dana Berry)
A potentially habitable, rocky planet 1.2 times the mass of Earth shown here orbiting a red dwarf star called “GJ 1132b.” This planet was discovered some 39 light-years away, which is, in astronomical terms, a nearby neighbor, and a distance close enough to put this planet on the target list for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope mission, due to be launched in 2021. (Photo by Dana Berry)

Look Back at Some of the World’s Most Famous Assassinations

Assassinations of famous figures now reverberate around the globe. Often, news of celebrity or politician’s death is so shocking that people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing, wearing, eating, when they found out the president, singer, or activist was murdered.

These untimely deaths can also have a significant impact on government policy and act as a catalyst for shaping world events. For example, the shooting of President John F. Kennedy permanently changed the U.S. Secret Service. Similarly, campus and civil rights protests as well as riots in cities across the country all followed of the assassinations of activists like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

Below, we take a look at some of the most infamous assassinations that changed our world, from ancient times through to today.

Julius Caesar—killed by Gaius Cassius Longinus & Marcus Junius Brutus

The death of Caesar, detail (Leemage/UIG via Getty Images)
The death of Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) stabbed by Brutus among others, the result of a conspiracy on the Ides of March religious festivities. Painting by Joseph Court, 1827. Fabre Museum, Montpellier, France (Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images)

Julius Caesar was a Roman military leader. His infamous assassination by Rome’s Senate was led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus. On the Ides of March in 44 B.C.E., Cassius urged on his fellow liberators and struck Caesar in the chest. But thanks to this act of political violence, the Roman Republic ultimately fell, as Rome’s middle and lower classes became enraged by the deadly plot and ignited another civil war.

John F. Kennedy—by Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald (center) is taken into custody by police after allegedly shooting President John F Kennedy, Dallas, Texas, 1963. (Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Polaroid by Mary Moorman taken as JFK was shot in the head. (Pascal Le Segretain/Sygma via Getty Images)
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated as his car passed through Dealey Plaza.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. His accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot Kennedy from a window on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building. Oswald used a mail-order rifle and allegedly fired three shots, two of which struck and killed President Kennedy and one  of which wounded Texas Gov. John B. Connally. After the shooting, Oswald took a bus and a taxi to his rooming house, then left, and was soon stopped by Patrolman J.D. Tippit, who believed that Oswald resembled the suspect being described on the radio. Oswald killed Tippit with a revolver and was later apprehended by police while hiding in a nearby theater. But before Oswald could even be thoroughly questioned, he was shot dead on live TV by a distraught Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, while being transferred from a jail cell to an interrogation office.

Malcolm X—by Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson

Two policemen carry stretcher bearing Nation of Islam nationalist leader Malcom X after he was downed by assassins at a rally in New York City o February 21st, 1965. (Getty Images)
Talmadge Hayer, a.k.a. Thomas Hagan, being held by a policeman in Jewish Memorial Hospital after killing of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965 in New York City. Hayer was wounded in leg after the initial shooting. (Judd Mehlman/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Civil rights activist and writer Malcolm X was one of the most influential African Americans in history. The former convict turned Nation of Islam religious leader became a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks. But critics accused him of sowing racial division and violence. He was killed by Talmadge Hayer (Thomas Hagan), Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson, who were agents of a rival Black Muslim group, while speaking at an Organization of Afro-American Unity event in New York City on February 21, 1965.

Abraham Lincoln—by John Wilkes Booth

Engraving of John Wilkes Booth escaping across the stage at Ford’s Theater after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. (Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Depiction of the assassination of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln by actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre, Washington DC, April 14, 1865. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth, a member of one of the United States’ most distinguished acting families of the 19th century. Booth was an adamant supporter of the Southern cause and was outspoken in his advocacy of slavery. His original plot involved a sensational abduction of Lincoln, but after several failed attempts, he decided to kill the president instead. He learned that Lincoln was going to attend a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., just five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox Court House. During the performance, Booth snuck into the theater box where Lincoln was seated and shot him in the back of the head with a derringer pistol. He jumped over the balustrade and yelled, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (the motto of the state of Virginia, meaning “Thus always to tyrants!”) and “The South is avenged!” Booth broke his leg during the fall, but nonetheless escaped, but was eventually captured 11 days later. Lincoln, gravely injured, finally succumbed to his wounds the next day.

Martin Luther King Jr.—by James Earl Ray

Wyatt Tee Walker
Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker (center) with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (right) and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, in Montgomery, Alabama in 1961. (Getty Images)
James Earl Ray was convicted in Memphis, Tennessee of assassinating King and sentenced to 99 years in prison. (Keystone/Getty Images)
A group of men stand on the balcony outside the door of room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., approximately where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was standing on the afternoon of April 4, 1968, when he was fatally shot. (Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and a social activist who was instrumental in the civil rights movement’s success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other parts of the United States. He was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was leader of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His efforts to win equality on behalf of African Americans won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In the spring of 1968, a small-time crook and escaped convict named James Earl Ray began stalking King, incensed by the preacher’s call for racial equality. shot King from the window of a nearby rooming house while King was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand—by Gavrilo Princip

The arrest of Gavrilo Princip after the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. (ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie one hour before they would be shot a killed by Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip as they drove through the streets of Sarajevo.

Franz Ferdinand was an Austrian archduke whose assassination reverberated through Europe and ultimately sparked World War I. Ferdinand, who was in line to inherit the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, an anarchist trained in terrorist tactics by a Serbian secret society known as the Black Hand. Princip wanted to destroy Austro-Hungarian rule in the Balkans and believed the first step toward this goal involved killing a member of the Habsburg imperial family or a government official. Princip shot Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 as the archduke and his wife were riding in a convertible car through the streets of Sarajevo.

John Lennon—by Mark David Chapman

December 1980: Crowds gathering along Central Park West outside the Dakota apartment building, home of John Lennon, after the news that he had been shot and killed. A flag flies at half-staff atop the building. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Mark David Chapman (hidden under coat) is escorted out of a New York City police station on December 9, 1980, not long after shooting former Beatle John Lennon.

John Lennon, a member of legendary rock group The Beatles, was murdered on December 8, 1980 by Mark David Chapman, who told his wife he had become obsessed with killing Lennon. Chapman stood in the archway of the Dakota, Lennon’s apartment building in Manhattan, and shot Lennon in the back five times. Immediately after, the doorman to Lennon’s building, Jose Perdomo, yelled, “Do you know what you have done?” and Chapman responded, “Yes, I just killed John Lennon.”

Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi—by Nathuram Godse

Indian Nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) at a spinning wheel during a ‘Charlea’ demonstration in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Police photo of the Indian political activist Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who killed Gandhi and was executed for his crime via hanging on May 12, 1948. (Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Gandhi is best known for his doctrine of nonviolent protest to achieve political and social progress. He was a leader of the Indian nationalist movement against the British Raj and is considered to be the father of the country. He was killed by Nathuram Godse, who believed Gandhi treated Muslims with more respect than Hindus and was critical of Gandhi’s use of power. Godse shot Gandhi three times at point blank range with a pistol.

Robert F. Kennedy—by Sirhan Sirhan 

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy sprawled semi-conscious in his own blood in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, while busboy Juan Romero tries to comfort him. Kenny was shot in the brain and neck on June 8, 1968, right after winning the 1968 Democratic primary in California. (Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Palestinian native Sirhan Sirhan, who killed Sen. Robert Kennedy and wounded five others in 1968, wipes his brow during his parole hearing at the Soladad Correctional Training Facility in California. Sirhan was sentenced to death for the shootings in 1969, but had his sentence commuted to life in prison three years later.

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was mortally wounded after getting shot at point-blank range by Palestinian immigrant Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 8, 1968. The 42-year-old senator from New York—who was the younger brother of former President John F. Kennedy, who himself had been assassinated less than five years earlier—had just been declared the winner of the Democratic presidential primaries in South Dakota and California earlier that night. Kennedy’s untimely death rocked the 1968 election, as at the time he was murdered he had looked to be closing in on the Democratic nomination. Instead, Vice President Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic candidate and ultimately lost the election to Republican Richard Nixon.

James Garfield—by Charles J. Guiteau

U.S. President James Garfield lies in the White House mortally wounded, after being shot on July 2, 1881, by disgruntled job seeker Charles J. Guiteau. (CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
James Abram Garfield, 20th President of the United States of America, was shot on July 2, 1881, but did not die of his wounds until September 19th, after only 200 days in office. (Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)

James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, had the second shortest tenure in presidential history. He was shot in the back by Charles J. Guiteau, a disgruntled job seeker, on July 2, 1881, who soon peaceably surrendered to the police. Garfield was incapacitated from the shooting and lay ill in the White House for 80 days after the attack. He only performed one official act, the signing of an extradition paper, before he died from blood poisoning on Sept. 19, 1881.

Hennessy Offers a Spirited Course in Cognac

As the summer of the Aperol Spritz comes to a close, it’s time to turn to cocktails of a darker variety, suitably enjoyed next to a fire with a good book. While there are many a bottle of beautifully aged Scotch in the running, Cognac is being widely pegged as the proverbial next big thing in the world of spirits. Distilled from wine, Cognac offers floral and citrus flavors that lend themselves well to some unexpected recipes.

(Courtesy of Hennessy)

Now, instead of just ordering it at your local watering hole, Hennessy has introduced Le Voyage, a masterclass in all things Cognac. Announced in celebration of the spirit purveyor’s 200th birthday, Le Voyage spans a succinct two hours and is available to a maximum of 25 students per session. It’s described as a “multi-sensory taste odyssey,” and from firsthand experience, we can confirm that the course does indeed live up to the hype.

Pen and paper aren’t necessary, but a good nose is essential, as you begin your Cognac exploration with a guided tasting led by one of the many talented experts enlisted for the course. Throughout, guests are encouraged to identify distinctive flavor profiles of the Hennessy suite, including two of the house’s most revered blends, Hennessy V.S.O.P and X.O.

(Courtesy of Hennessy)

The tasting is followed by a second portion that is equal parts history and mixology as a bartender gives a demonstration before turning the tools over to you. Among the many cocktails on offer, Hennessy Sazerac is the crowd-favorite. It’s comprised of more than a few ingredients not often found in your cabinets like Absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, and of course, a healthy portion of Hennessy V.S.O.P. Privilège.

In the end, you’ll leave with a rare savoir-faire of cognac flavors and recipes, and, best of all, the official title of Cognac Connoisseur. Currently available in New York and Chicago, but slated to arrive across the U.S., of-age participants can try to score one of the coveted seats at Hennessy’s Le Voyage here.

(Courtesy of Hennessy)

These Real-Life Female Vigilantes Rival Jennifer Garner In “Peppermint”

On September 7, a new Jennifer Garner movie, Peppermintwill debut in theaters. It follows the tale of a woman who loses her husband and daughter to a brutal attack. The system fails to lock up the killers and Riley North (Garner) sets out to transform herself from citizen to vigilante. She goes on a deadly quest to deliver her own form of justice.

Female vigilante movies are nothing new, just take a look at Kill Bill (volumes I and II), Mad Max: Fury Road, or Savage Streets. But lesser known are the stories about real-life female vigilantes: The women who fought — and continue to fight — back against oppressions, abuse, violence and more. Below, we take a look at women, either alone or as a group, who served justice their own way.

Boudica, Queen Of a Celtic Tribe

Boudica or Boadicea, Queen of the British Iceni tribe, a Celtic tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Caption reads: ‘Boadicea haranging the Britons.’ Boudica died circa AD 60 or 61. (Culture Club/Getty Images)

Boudica was Queen of a Celtic tribe when her husband died and Roman soldiers beat her and raped her daughters. She and her tribe fought back by  destroying several Roman settlements and temples. She went on to destroy three cities and kill nearly 80,000 people.

According to Tacitus records, Boudica addressed her army, saying, “It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters.”

India’s Red Brigade, Fighting Back Against Rape

Usha, the 26 year old leader of the grassroots Red Brigade, teaches the art of self-defense to other members of the Red Brigade. (Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

These vigilantes are mostly teenagers, who spend their time patrolling the local streets protecting women and girls from sexual harassment. Members of The Red Brigade, found in Lucknow, the capital of one of India’s poorest and most conservative states, wear matching black and red salwar kameez, the traditions garb worn by women across South Asia. Every woman in the Red Brigade has been a victim of sexual assault; some of the young girls were even raped by their own family members. Most of these crimes have gone unpunished, so the victim has been left to suffer in silence and shame. But the Red Brigade allows the women to act and to fight back.

A woman by the name of Usha Vishwakarma started the group, which now includes more than 100 members. They teach themselves self-defense and discuss topics like sexual violence towards women. And when they patrol the streets and find offending men, they either publicly humiliate them or sometimes resort to physical violence.

Kate Marsden, Explorer and Nurse

Kate Marsden (Wikipedia)

Kate was a separate kind of vigilante: She was a British missionary, explorer, writer and nursing heroine. She investigated a cure for leprosy by setting off on a journey from Moscow to Siberia, and upon her arrival, started a treatment center. While on her journey, she only took a whip, pistol and food, and faced bear attacks, malaria and robbers. She won an award from Empress Maria Fedorovna for her selflessness and devotion to others.

Diana: Hunter of Bus Drivers

A young woman heads to her job in a maquiladora in Juarez’s Industrial Park in the early morning hours of a Friday. (Michael Robinson-Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The first time she murdered someone was on August 28th, on bust route 4A in Ciudad Juarez. Diana’s second murder was just 24-hours later, on the same route. Both times, the woman boarded the bus and shot the driver. Days later, a news website in El Paso got an email that said, “We were victims of sexual violence from bus drivers working the maquila night shifts here in Juárez, and although a lot of people know about the things we’ve suffered, nobody defends us nor does anything to protect us. That’s why I am an instrument that will take revenge for many women. For we are seen as weak, but in reality we are not. We are brave. And if we don’t get respect, we will earn that respect with our own hands. We the women of Juárez are strong,” according to This American Life. It was signed “Diana, Hunter of Bus Drivers.”

Violence against women is commonplace in Juarez. But Diana, while wearing a blonde wig, decided to avenge the 800 girls and women who had been killed or went missing at the hands of the city’s bus drivers. Her identity is still unknown.

Tomoe Gozen, Fearless Warrior

Tomoe Gozen with Uchida Ieyoshi and Hatakeyama no Shigetada. (Wikipedia)

A celebrated and legendary figure in Japan, Tomoe was known for her beauty, but more impressively, she was also known as a strong archer and a fierce warrior. Women of the samurai class learned to fight and took part in battles. They fought to protect their families, their lords, their countries and their clans. They were all trained in the art of war. But Tomoe was special beyond this.

According to one historical account, “As a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.”

An old print of Tomoe shows her holding a massive tree branch and charging at her foes, knocking them off their horses. She is depicted throwing down some of the strongest generals of her enemy clan with a single hand. She is also known for beheading Samurai Honda no Morishige of Musashi and having killed Uchida Ieyoshi, a samurai warrior who was trying to capture her.

Nevin Yildirim, Who Fought Back

Nevin Yildirim (YouTube)

Nevin Yildrim’s husband left town for seasonal work in January 2012, and a man named Nurettin Gider began regularly abusing the mother of two at her home in Isparta Province, Turkey. This rape resulted in a forced pregnancy and she was barred from having an abortion.

“Sometimes he would come drunk, take out his gun and have his way. Sometimes I would manage to talk him out and send him away, but resisting was not always possible. Sometimes he would beat me,” Yildirim said, according to Kurdish Daily News. She also learned that Gider had been bragging about what he was doing to others in the village, even claiming to be taking aphrodisiac pills before his visits. “The rumors were spreading like wildfire in the village. I was ashamed to even go out, spending my days at home alone.”

She decided to take matters into her own hands. Gider came to her house one night with a gun, but Yildrim refused to let him in, so he tried to force himself in. She grabbed the hunting rifle on the wall and pulled the trigger several times. It is reported that she then beheaded Gider and threw the head into the town square, yelling “Here is the head of the one who dishonored me.” She was arrested, and had her baby in prison. The child was eventually placed with a foster family. Her case has sparked debate across Turkey about violence against women and abortion in the case of rape.

The Gulabi, India’s Women Warriors

The Gulabi gang, or “the pink gang” as in direct translation from Hindi, is a group of women who basically take justice in their own hands. (Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

These stick-wielding women are taking on real-life villains: Rapists. Known as the Gulabi Gang or the Pink Gang, the group in India fights rapists with sticks. If they catch a culprit, they thrash him “black and blue so he dare not attempt to do wrong to any girl or a woman again,” said Sampat Devi Pal, the group’s founder and head to Al Jazeera. 

The group boasts of network of 400,000 women, dressed in pink sarees and all carrying a stick. The group’s mission is to protect the powerless from abuse and fight corruption, which includes fighting violence against women, preventing child marriages, arranging weddings of couples in love despite local resistance, and ensuring delivery of basic rights for the poorest of poor.

Here Are 15 Wonders of the World You’ve Never Heard Of

In 2007, an online contest was held by a Swiss company, the New 7 Wonders Foundation. Tens of millions of people voted for the new wonders. They officially include: The Great Wall of China; The Taj Mahal; Petra; The Colosseum; Christ the Redeemer; Chichén Itzá; and Machu Picchu.

The original Seven Wonders were laid out by Philo of Byzantium in 250 B.C. They included the hanging gardens of Babylon and the pyramids of Giza. Of those ancient seven wonders—Halicarnassus, the Colossus at Rhodes, the Pharos (the Lighthouse at Alexandria), the Temple of Artemis, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus, and the Great Pyramid at Giza—only the pyramids remain.

The new seven wonders can be found on four continents and are all architectural marvels of enormous scale.

But there are a lot of natural and architectural wonders missing from the official list. RealClearLife decided to honor some of those in a gallery below.

1. Qin Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’an, China

China, Shaanxi, Xian, Tomb of Qin Shinhuang, terracotta soldiers

In 1974, workers digging a well outside Xi’an in China were surprised to come upon one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world: a life-size clay solider poised for battle. But it was even better than that. Archaeologists found not just one but thousands of clay soldiers, each with unique facial expressions and positioned according to rank. Some had horses, others were behind chariots. The statues were part of an elaborate mausoleum created to accompany the first emperor of China into the afterlife.

2. Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

Iguazu Falls (Getty Images)

The Iguazu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. Taken together, they make up the largest waterfall system in the world. It is split into 275 distinct falls and large islands.

3. Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa (Wikipedia Commons)

This flat-top mountain is not only beautiful, it has a rich biodiversity, and is home to endangered types of vegetation. It was put on the New7Wonders of Nature list in 2011.

4. The Dead Sea, Jordan, Israel and Palestine

The Dead Sea (Pixaby)

The Dead Sea is a salt lake that borders Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It is Earth’s lowest elevation on land and the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean, making it one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. Plants and animals cannot flourish in the environment, which is where it got its name.

5. Ciudad Perdida, The “Lost City,” Colombia

Ciudad Perdida, The “Lost City” Of Colombia. (Wikipedia Commons)

Colombia’s “lost city” is thought to have been founded some 650 years before Machu Picchu, most likely around 800 CE. It is believed to be the heart of a network of villages, and was probably the region’s political and manufacturing center. It could have housed 2,000 to 8,000 people.

6. Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Acropolis in Greece (Pixaby)

The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located high up above the city of Athens. It has the remains of several ancient buildings that are of great historical significance, and there is evidence that the hill was occupied as far back as the fourth millennium BC. Some of the site’s most important present remains include the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.

7. Cliffs of Moher, Clare, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher (Wikipedia Commons)

The Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking sea cliffs that run for about 14 kilometers in Ireland. At their southern end, they stand about 390 feet tall. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, and draws about 1.5 million people per year.

8. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Papua New Guinea

The Great Barrier Reef (Wikipedia)

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth, and is actually visible from outer space. The 2,300km-long ecosystem is made up of thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It is home to a nearly-endless list of sea life.

9. St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican 

View of Tiber River and Ponte Sant Angelo Bridge Saint Peter’s Basilica (Vaticane) at sunset time, Rome, Italy (Getty Images)

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and can be found in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome. It is a famous place of pilgrimage and the Pope presides over a number of liturgies throughout the year at the church. It has been described as the “greatest of all churches of Christendom.”

10. Angkor Wat, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

A lone local traveller walks on the causeway of Angkor Wat. (Roland Neveu/LightRocket via Getty Images)

This temple complex can be found in Cambodia. It served as the home for King Suryavarmar II in the early 12th century, and is the world’s largest religious building. It is surrounded by a moat and a 2.2 mile wall.

11. Beta Ghiorghis, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Beta Ghiorghis (Flickr)

The Beta Ghiorghis is a church carved out of the ground, out of volcanic rock. It was shaped from the inside out and is connected to other sunken stone churches in Ethiopia through a series of elaborate tunnels. The church is cut 40 feet down, and its roof forms the shape of a Greek cross.

12. St Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square, Moscow, Russia

The buildings located on the Red Square: Kremlin wall (at left) and Saint Basil’s Cathedral (at right), Moscow, Russia. UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Kremlin, a fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, is linked to all the important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century. The Kremlin was the residence of the Great Prince and also a religious center. St. Basil’s Basilica, meanwhile, is now a museum, and was the buildings tallest building until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600.

13. Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Siwa Oasis (Flickr)

The Siwa Oasis is about 50km from the Libyan border in Egypt and sits about 25m below sea level. In the middle of the desert, the Siwa Oasis is filled with olive trees and palms. There are also crystal-clear springs and you can see the Great Sand Sea in the horizon.

14. Teotihuacan, Outside Mexico City, Mexico

Pyramid of sun largest building in Teotihuacan and one of largest in Mesoamerica. Found along Avenue of Dead, in between Pyramid of Moon and Ciudadela, and in shadow of massive mountain Cerro Gordo, pyramid part of large complex in heart of city.

Teotihuacan, one of the first great cities of the Western Hemisphere, was massive. But its origins are a mystery. It was built by hand a thousand years before the Aztecs arrived in central Mexico (though they gave the city its name). It is located fewer than 30 miles from Mexico City and at its peak (between 100 BC and A.D. 650) it had a population of about a hundred thousand.It contains a massive central road, called the Street of the Dead, and buildings like the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. There are no military structures.

15. Atacama Desert, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. (Getty Images)

This is the world’s driest desert, and it is huge. It covers 40,000 square miles of northern Chile and includes coastal plains, high volcanoes, geysers and host springs. It also now has the state-of-the-art Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, which is an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes.

For Your Eyes Only: A Cache of Classic Bond Posters Is Up for Grabs

If you were to use an industrial laser to cut the essence of James Bond down to three crucial components, they’d have to be guns, girls, and martinis made with three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, and a half measure of Kina Lillet. (Due respect to Aston Martin and the gadget-filled DB5 … they’d be the fourth.)

Those essential 007 elements were vital in creating Bond the character, but they also were incredibly necessary for crafting Bond the film poster.

At least that seems incredibly evident when examing the 15-piece collection of Bond movie posters and concept art that RM Sotheby’s has brought to the block at its ongoing Original Film Posters Online auction.

As with every feature in a gadget Q gave Bond, everything in the posters was added for a specific reason. Be it tilting the seven in 007 so it could double as the handle of a gun in the poster for Dr. No or blurring Bond’s face on the poster of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to obscure the face of the new actor (George Lazenby) who would be playing the super spy in the new film, the elements of the posters all fulfill a specific purpose.

To make sure those elements were able to shine through and add to, not distract from the guns, Bond girls and 007 himself, renowned artists from around the world were contracted to paint the posters, in some cases on a recurring basis.

The themes they were able to depict – glamour, travel, adventure, sex (duh) – sell the franchise as well as the character, which is perhaps one of the reasons 007 has been able to endure for more than 55 years.

“As Bond is the longest-running film franchise, everybody has grown up with 007 and has their favorite film,” Nicolette Tomkinson, a poster expert from Tomkinson Churcher Art Consultants, said in a release from Sotheby’s. “The posters play an important part in illustrating how Bond has changed since the release of Dr. No in 1962. The unique combination of cultural significance and visual appeal gives the poster a special place in the eye of a collector.”

Here’s a view to some killer posters.

Dr. No

A “Dr. No” poster from 1962 drawn by David Chasman. (Sotheby’s)
The Spanish version of the “Dr. No” poster from 1962 by Macario Gomez. (Sotheby’s)
An alternative “Dr. No” poster from 1962. (Sotheby’s)

From Russia With Love

The “From Russia With Love” poster from 1963.

Goldfinger

The “Goldfinger” poster from 1964. (Sotheby’s)

Thunderball

The British “Thunderball” poster from 1965 by Robert E. McGinnis (Sotheby’s)
The American “Thunderball” poster from 1965 by Robert E. McGinnis and Frank McCarthy. (Sotheby’s)

You Only Live Twice

Artwork for the French “You Only Live Twice” poster from 1967 by Joseph Benari. (Sotheby’s)
The British “You Only Live Twice” poster from 1967 by Frank McCarthy. (Sotheby’s)
The American “You Only Live Twice” poster from 1967 by Frank McCarthy. (Sotheby’s)

Casino Royale

The “Casino Royale” poster from 1967 by Robert E. McGinnis. (Sotheby’s)

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The British “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” poster from 1969 by Robert E. McGinnis. (Sotheby’s)
The American “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” poster from 1969. (Sotheby’s)
Concept photos from 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” (Sotheby’s)

For more information or to place a bid before the auction closes on September 5, head over to RM Sotheby’s website. (The Bond art is on the fifth page of auction lots.)

NFL Cheerleader Turned Nutritionist Divulges Secret to Good Health

Late afternoon sunlight pours through the glass windows of The Ludlow New York City hotel, illuminating Kimberly Odom’s high-rise suite.

She didn’t check into such luxurious digs, with a sweeping view of the skyline of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, for interviews because of her former job as a cheerleader for the New York Jets. She got here by building a professional and personal brand called The Beauty Fox into a force in her industry.

The Beauty Fox is built on the premise that everything you put into your body can either hurt or heal you – a lesson Odom learned the hard way.

When she turned 26, she realized she needed a life change, running low on energy as she split her time working as a cheerleader and a news reporter.

“I was really burning the candle at both ends. I was up at 12 A.M. to 1 A.M. to report on stories, if I was lucky,” says Odom. “I’d burnt myself out with my lifestyle, drinking sugar free Red Bulls every single day and not sleeping.

Kimberly Odom, aka “The Beauty Fox,” at the Ludlow Hotel in Lower Manhattan. (Diana Crandall/RealClearLife)

During her burnout, she dealt with brain fog, cystic acne, hair loss, and falling asleep at the desk. The prescriptions she received from doctors weren’t helping. “It would be like, here’s that medicine for narcolepsy,” Odom describes. “Or, here’s more Adderall for more energy.’”

But her world shifted when she tried visiting an integrative medicine doctor. Using a more holistic approach, he detected her body’s imbalances and adrenal fatigue.

“Instead of looking at the problems, integrative or functional medicine looks at what was causing the problems — the underlying issues – [he focused on] the ‘mind-body-spirit’ of what was going on.” says Odom. “Versus just diagnosing you and not really getting to the bottom of what’s going on.”

Kimberly Odom, aka “The Beauty Fox,” at the Ludlow Hotel in Lower Manhattan. (Diana Crandall/RealClearLife)

Odom dove into nutrition research head on, fixing her condition through eating a plant-based diet and cleaning up her lifestyle over the course of about 6 months. She found a new invigoration and a new passion.

“Screw news, I want to let go and help people!” Odom says she thought. So, The Beauty Fox was born.

“The Beauty Fox is an extension of who I am and what I love teaching,” Odom writes on her site. On Instagram, she shares her health adventures of breaking up with coffee, drinking alkalized water, and making recipes with food that fuels her mind and body.

After spending five years honing her craft in the fields of nutrition, wellness and functional medicine, Odom shares her expertise on shows like Dr. Oz and Chris Powell. Off-camera, she treats clients ranging from country music stars, athletes, and businessmen to moms, but her promise is the same to all of them: Take her tools into your hands and she’ll transform how you look and feel.

But how do her principles hold up in the high-stress corporate world? RealClearLife put her philosophy to the test in a recent sit-down interview.

Kimberly Odom, aka “The Beauty Fox,” at the Ludlow Hotel in Lower Manhattan. (Sasha Levin/RealClearLife)

RCL: Do you see any common issues or any advice for people in rigorous office jobs?
KO: The number one thing I see is abusing coffee and stimulants. Shift the mindset from creating your energy by pouring caffeine and other stimulants into your body, to finding natural sources of energy.

RCL: How do you find natural sources of energy?
KO: So, that comes down to supplementation and carving out time in the day for exercise. Find time in the day for exercise, whether it’s taking 30 minutes during your lunch break to take a walk or taking a class before work. Working out goes back to producing those healthy neurotransmitters and endorphins. Endorphins are like a happiness drug. But the fitness aspect is only 10% of it. The piece of the puzzle that we really have to get behind is nutrition and eating to take down inflammation.

RCL: Any specific foods that you generally avoid?
KO: Whenever you start cutting out inflammatory foods like sugar, meat, and dairy, you’re immediately going to notice that you have more energy and your sleep is better. Maybe even your libido is back, because nothing dampers the fire more than steak and sugar.

Kimberly Odom, aka “The Beauty Fox,” at the Ludlow Hotel in Lower Manhattan. (Sasha Levin/RealClearLife)

RCL: When your clients are stressed, do you think they make poorer diet and wellness decisions?
KO: You can be eating completely healthy, but also be super stressed and notice that you’re still gaining weight. It’s a combination of your body not absorbing nutrients from food due to stress and storing it as fat, or from water retention. So yes, emotional eating and stress both cause problems.

RCL: What are some ways to curb stress?
KO: Meditation, prayer or exercise are the top things that are going to help balance your stress. I always chuckle when somebody says they have no time to meditate. You don’t have 10 minutes to meditate, but you have 10 minutes to watch TV or scroll on Instagram? Try meditation apps like Headspace or Calm.

Do yoga. We stare at our phones for the majority of the day, far more than we communicate and connect with people.  I think your life is going to change a hundred percent if you spend 30 to 45 minutes being in your own body with your breath, focusing on that mental clarity and doing something positive for yourself. If you can just get your booty in a workout class or do yoga, that’s going to serve you long term in much bigger broader ways than staying at work for 30 more minutes. The world’s not going to end, it will be there when you get through!

Kimberly Odom, aka “The Beauty Fox,” at the Ludlow Hotel in Lower Manhattan. (Diana Crandall/RealClearLife)

At night time, something big I do to prevent my sleep cycle from being disturbed and help with getting proper sleep is to put my phone on airplane mode to block WIFI signals and free radicals.

Also CBD oil, which I use before bed every night for anxiety that comes about after work .  Getting rid of stimulants, exercising, and using CBD oil all helps with anxiety. CBD comes in all different dosages, if any of your readers are interested in learning more they should DM me on Instagram.

What would you say your overall message is on social media?
KO: The #1 reason that I’m on social is to help educate and to help inform. There might be an occasional bikini photo on there, because yes, that’s part of my life too. I like being at the beach. But my main focus is creating content that feeds the soul, that helps people with whatever health issues they have. Expect accessible, easy to understand information when it comes to diet, exercise, and health.

8 People Who Almost Got Away With It — But Didn’t

For some reason, we humans are all obsessed with crime. We love true crime documentaries like Making of A Murderer and eat up every podcast about convicted murderers who could be innocent, like Serial.

Why is that? Scott Bonn, a criminology professor at Drew University and author of Why We Love Serial Killers, writes that “people also receive a jolt of adrenaline as a reward for witnessing terrible deeds.” In an article for Time, he continues, saying, “The euphoric effect of true crime on human emotions is similar to that of roller coasters or natural disasters.”

Since we love crime as much as you, probably because of that adrenaline rush, we at RCL decided to take a look at some criminals who almost got away with it — some of them even lived free for decades — but eventually got caught. Take a look below.

Tillie Klimek

Photo of Mrs. Tillie Klimek, Chicago’s “Lady Bluebeard,” who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of her third husband. She is the fifth woman to be convicted of murder in Illinois and the first to be sentenced to prison for life. No fewer than 28 other women in the state, who have been tried for murder, have been acquitted. Most of them had been accused of killing their husbands. (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Tillie Klimek was a serial killer in Chicago, who would tell her victims that she had precognitive dreams, accurately predicting the dates of death of her victims. But in reality, she was just scheduling their deaths. She killed several husbands, an ex-boyfriend, neighbors and even a dog with arsenic poisoning. It was only after her fourth husband became ill that people started to suspect something was up. Authorities exhumed the bodies of her late husbands and found they all contained lethal doses of arsenic. She died in prison on Nov. 20, 1936.

Adrian Prout

Adrian Prout arrives at Bristol Crown Court where he is standing trial for allegedly murdering his estranged wife, Kate Prout, 55, who disappeared from their 1.2 million, 200-acre Redhill Farm over two years ago. (Barry Batchelor/PA Images via Getty Images)

Adrian Prout, a millionaire, almost got away with murdering his wife. Prout killed his wife, Kate Prout, during an argument about their impending divorce, but police couldn’t locate her body anywhere on their 276-acre farm. But then his new girlfriend convinced Prout to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence. He failed the test. He confessed to the murder soon after, and showed authorities where his wife’s body was, almost four years after he killed her.

John List

Insurance executive John List was sought by police on suspicion of murder after the bodies of his wife, mother, and three teenaged children were found shot dead in his Westfield, New Jersey, home.

John List almost got away with killing his entire family. On Nov. 9, 1971, he murdered his wife, mother and three children in their home in New Jersey. He then disappeared and eluded justice for nearly 18 years after assuming a new identity and re-marrying.

List had planned the murders so that nearly a month passed before anyone suspected something was wrong. A nationwide manhunt was launched. But then nearly two decades later, the murders were recounted on Fox’s America’s Most Wanted, and List was located and arrested in Virginia less than two weeks after the episode was aired. He died at age 82 while in prison custody.

Genene Jones

Convicted baby killer Genene Jones, shown here after a pre-trial hearing on October 1, 1984. Jones is thought to have murdered between 11 and 46 infants in her care, between 1980 and 1982. She was convicted of killing one infant, Chelsea McClellan, and nearly killing another, Rolando Jones, earning her a 159 years total in prison.

Genene Jones was a pediatric nurse in the 1980s, who injected the children and babies in her ward with drugs such as heparin. This made her patients experience some sort of medical crisis, and Jones would swoop in and save the day. Her patients’ parents would be overjoyed, and Jones was a hero. But this plan didn’t always work out perfectly, and sometimes the patients died. She worked at the Bexar County Hospital, and at first, the large number of deaths attached to her name did not raise suspicion, she was just asked to leave because of lack of qualifications. But then a pediatrician’s clinic in Texas became worried after six children died on her watch. Among the evidence that led to Jones’ conviction were injection puncture marks found in a bottle of succinylcholine that only she and the head doctor had access to.

Klaas Faber

Klaas Faber, a convicted war criminal who escaped punishment.

Klaas Faber was a Dutch native and a Nazi collaborator. He was convicted in the killing of Jews and resistance fighters in his homeland during World War II, but this story is a little different. Because even though he didn’t fully get away with his crimes, he escaped to Germany and lived there, a free man, until he died at 90-years-old. Germany refused to extradite him on the grounds that he had German citizenship under an edict issued by Hitler in 1943 conveying it on foreigners who had aided the Nazi war cause, according to The New York Times. 

Faber and his brother, Pieter Johan , joined the German SS death squads that operated in the Netherlands when the Nazis occupied the country. They were convicted in taking part in killings at three Dutch locations. Both brothers were sentenced to death, and Pieter Johan was executed by a firing squad. But Klaas Faber got his punishment commuted to a life sentence because there was not enough proof he personally had been involved in killings. In 1952, Faber broke out of prison and made his way to Germany.

Bennie Wint

Bennie Wint, who faked his own death to avoid a jail sentence. (Waverly Police)

Bennie Wint faked his own drowning in 1989 to avoid an assumed jail sentence. He was on vacation with his fiancé and daughter in Florida when he went for a swim and never came back. But then, 20 years later, he was stopped for a traffic violation. He gave a fake name and was arrested on suspicion of driving without a license and giving false information. He eventually opened up and explained that he had been on the run for two decades. Wint explained he had been “paranoid” about his narcotics-related activity at the time of his disappearance.

Donnie Rudd

This undated photo provided by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office shows Donnie Rudd. Rudd, who prosecutors say used his upstanding reputation to convince authorities 45 years ago that the crash that killed his wife was an accident has been convicted of first-degree murder. A Cook County jury on Monday, July 2, 2018, found Rudd guilty of murder in the 1973 death of Noreen Kumeta Rudd in Barrington Hills, about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

Just a month after 31-year-old Donnie Rudd married 19-year-old Noreen Kumeta Rudd, the teenager was found dead on a country road. She left behind $120,000 in life-insurance benefits to her husband, who wasted no time in moving in with a different woman. But Donnie Rudd was not charged until he was 76. His wife’s death was initially ruled an accident in 1973, but then in 2013, it was classified as a homicide after an autopsy. Rudd was charged with first-degree murder in 2015.

Choi Gap-bok

Choi Gap-bok (YouTube)

Choi Gap-bok had practiced yoga for 23 years, so when he was arrested on suspicion of robbery, he waited until the prison guards were asleep before slathering himself with oil and slipping through a minuscule food slot at the bottom of the cell. Gap-bok had been in prison for five days before he attempted his escape. It took him just 24 seconds to slip through the gap, which was just 5.9 inches tall and 17.7 inches wide. He put blankets and pillows in his bed to make it look like he was in there sleeping. Unfortunately for him, he was found six days later and put back in prison.