Craig Breedlove, the “Spirit of America”, and the Land Speed Record

Since the earliest days of the 20th century, the United States has been a car culture. And one of the primary reasons for the American love affair with automobiles has been speed.

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The Spirit of America, on display at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.

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Wild Florida–Lubber Grasshopper

The Lubber Grasshopper is likely to be the biggest grasshopper you will ever see–and it certainly is the largest grasshopper in the United States. At a length of over three inches and with bright splashes of orange, yellow, red and green, Lubbers are certainly eye-catching. They are also extraordinarily bold, walking around in plain sight in open areas like lawns, parks, or sidewalks.

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Oslo: The Fram Museum

By the first years of the 1900’s, most of the earth had been explored.  One exception, however, were the polar regions. In the equivalent of the Apollo moonshots, large organized expeditions raced each other to be the first at the poles, and these adventures were breathlessly reported by the press of the day to an eager public.

One of these explorers was Roald Amundsen, from Norway.

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The Fram, on display in Oslo, Norway.

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Erich Hartmann: The Real Top Gun

The highest-scoring American ace in history was Richard Bong, who had 40 air victories flying P-38 Lightnings in the Pacific Theater during World War Two. The most famous of the  air aces, the “Red Baron” Manfred von Richthofen, had 80 air victories during the First World War. But the highest-scoring air ace of all time remains largely unknown to most Americans, perhaps because he flew for the Nazis. Erich Hartmann, flying a Messerschmitt Bf-109 on the Russian Front in the Second World War, scored an incredible 352 air victories, making him the most successful fighter pilot in history.

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Wild Florida–The Manatee

Probably the animal that tourists in Florida most want to see is the West Indian Manatee, also sometimes known as the “sea cow”. Vaguely humanlike in appearance (they may have helped give rise to the legends of the mermaid) the Manatee’s calm slow manner, big oven-mitt flippers, gentle black eyes, and roly-poly body, give them enormous “hug-appeal” to adults and kids alike.

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Forgotten mysteries, oddities and unknown stories from history, nature and science.