The Story of the Aral Sea

In 2009 in Kazakhstan, a group of fishermen met on a Sunday afternoon. They were on the beach of the North Aral Sea. They ate food. They did some sports. Afterwards, they told stories and sang songs about the Aral Sea and fishing. It was a good party.

Detroit: then and now

The American city of Detroit was like Paris, some people said. It had a big river, beautiful wide streets and important buildings. Then, in the 20th century, it was called ‘Motor City’ because of the number of car factories there. Workers in the car factories had good jobs and they earned good money. It wasn’t unusual to own a home, a boat and even a holiday home. In the 1950s, new highways were built and lots of people moved from the city centre to the suburbs. Life was good. But at the beginning of the 21st century, Detroit became America’s poorest big city.

A special meal

Milpa Alta is a region to the south of Mexico City. It has a famous volcano – Teuhtli – and twelve villages and towns. Milpa Alta is also famous for a traditional meal every Christmas, called La Rejunta. The meal is part of the Christmas celebrations and it feeds huge numbers of people. The cooks make about sixty thousand tamales. Tamales are made from corn and have different fillings. They also make about fifteen thousand litres of hot chocolate. They make all of this food and drink in less than one week.

Siberia's medical train

The famous Trans-Siberian railway line goes from Moscow to Vladivostok, but there’s another railway line about 650 kilometres north of the Trans-Siberian. This is the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM). A special train, the Matvei Mudrov medical train, travels along its 4,000 kilometres. There are usually between twelve and fifteen doctors on the train. The train stops for a day at places along the BAM. The people who live in small towns and villages come to the train for medical attention. There are no doctors or hospitals in their towns or villages.

The first year of life

A newborn baby can see, hear and feel. By the age of five, a child can talk and ride a bike. How does this development happen? We don’t really understand the way language and thinking develop in the brain. Now scientists are using new technology to help them in their studies. They are discovering new information about the way a baby’s brain develops.

Life on the Seine

We’re in Paris, on the Île de la Cité, in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame next to the River Seine. This is point zero. The distances from Paris to all parts of France are measured from here. And at the heart of Paris is the Seine. ‘For Parisians the Seine is the way to know where you are in Paris,’ says the art historian Marina Ferretti.

A long and healthy life?

How long will a baby born today live? A hundred years? A hundred and twenty years?

Scientists are studying genes that could mean long life for us all. There are already many, many people who live to more than a hundred. In fact, there are now so many healthy elderly people that there's a name for them: the wellderly. These are people over the age of eighty who have no major illnesses, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle: National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence
Sylvia Earle was called a "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine. She’s an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer.

Wild weather

What is happening to our weather?

What is ‘extreme’ weather? Why are people talking about it these days? ‘Extreme’ weather is very unusual rain, heat, storms etc. For example, in 2010, 33 centimetres of rain fell in two days on Nashville, USA. According to weather experts, that was a ‘once in 1000 years’ event. But these days, extreme weather events are more frequent. Also in 2010, 28 centimetres of rain fell on Rio de Janeiro in 24 hours, and there was record rainfall in Pakistan.

Return to River Town

From 1996 to 1998, Peter Hessler was a Peace Corps volunteer. He was an English teacher in China. He worked in a region near the Yangtze River. It is now part of the Three Gorges Dam*. Last year, he returned to the region on a visit.

The Easter Island statues

A mystery in the South Pacific Ocean

José Tuki is a 30-year-old artist from Easter Island in the South Pacific Ocean. He’s sitting on
Anakena beach and he’s looking at enormous statues of people – the moai. The statues are from four feet tall to 33 feet tall. Some of them weigh more than 80 tons. They are hundreds of years old. The moai are made of a type of stone that doesn’t exist on Anakena beach. People made the statues in a different place and then they moved them 11 miles to the beach. ‘How did they do it?’ Tuki asks.


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