Ancient Animals

He might be slow, but he'll outlive your grandchildren.
He might be slow, but he’ll outlive your grandchildren.

Humans have a fascination with numbers, especially large numbers. Hell, this website has largely been patterned around large things, tall things, old things… That’s a big one. People are fascinated with how long things live. Spurred on by the fear surrounding our own mortality, we seek out other living things that have proven to be exceptionally long lived.

One interesting thing I discovered while doing research for this entry is how often longevity records are questioned. Why lie about how long some creature lived, anyway? It’s not like you get some sort of special reward for finding a really old animal, outside maybe a couple paragraphs in National Geographic. Personally I’d be ripped to find out that an animal with a brain one-third the size of mine somehow managed to live for two centuries.

Whatever the reason may be, we’re always looking for the oldest something. I could have blown your mind with the oldest living sea sponge (they’re the longest living, well, anything, really) or the oldest living tree(oh yeah, I already did.) Instead of going to extremes, I decided to pick out the one land creature and the one waterborne creature that are both the longest lived and actually have spines and the ability to move.

The mighty ocean brings us the Bowhead whale. These 60-plus foot long, 75-ton behemoths hang out mostly in arctic and sub-arctic waters. They’re absolute brutes, lacking a dorsal fin, but having a thick humped back. They use their strength and size to bust through surface ice in order to breathe. Despite their brutish appearance and the fact that they have the largest mouth of any animal period(your sister’s mouth not withstanding,) they feed mainly on tiny 1 millimeter sea life.

Those teeny critters they eat must be low-fat or something, because Bowheads are incredibly long-lived… probably. The most common measure of age used for captured whales have been the age of harpoons and spearheads lodged in them. I told you they’re tough! The toughest, and possibly oldest, had the head of a harpoon embedded in its neck when it was caught in 2007. That harpoon dated to 1890. This and other research shows this species of whale could live to be 150 to 200 years old.

It’s usually pretty hard to surpass sea creatures for anything if you are a land animal, but the Aldabra Giant Tortoise has this game locked up. They come appropriately enough from the Aldabra atoll in the Indian ocean. Their exceptionally long necks and size make them excellent foragers. These immense turtles average over three feet long and around 250 pounds.

The real surprise about these tortoises is that they are actually pretty agile. They’ve been known to support themselves on their hind legs in a bid to reach foliage on a tree. They can also manage a half-run when threatened or excited and don’t appear concerned with taking risks. This led one biologist to refer to the Aldabras as the “ninjas” of the turtle world. Large ninja turtles… huh. That could make for a good kids’ show.

Okay, so how far can these large, mutant-like ninja turtles make it? Well again it can be difficult to verify ages, seeing how these turtles tend to seriously outlive their handlers. The Aldabra believed to be the oldest lived to a ripe old age of 255. Adwaita was believed to have been born circa 1750. Jonathan the tortoise is now believed to be the oldest living turtle, aged 182 and still going strong. You should be so lucky.

Massive Memorials

Crazy Horse is all like GTFO but the horse is like "Haaay!"
Crazy Horse is all like GTFO but the horse is like “Haaay!”

Death sucks. There, I said it. Controversial though the thought may be, I assure you there are lots of people that think like I do. Some of those people have lots and lots of money to demonstrate how much they think death sucks. Others just want to make a really really big point about someone’s death. Here’s a few examples.

We’ll just start with the uber-depressing memorial to get it out of the way. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the (much more PC) Holocaust Memorial, is located in Berlin, Germany and covers 4.7 acres. The site is covered in 2,711 concrete slabs the artist refers to as stelae. The artist says it’s to create an uneasy feeling and a confusing atmosphere. Yeah, it confuses people alright.

Nothing says "We're sorry" like afocal slabs of concrete.
Nothing says “We’re sorry” like afocal slabs of concrete.

One controversy (among many) surrounding the memorial is the fact that it doesn’t make any damn sense. The artist, architect Peter Eisenman, is known for creating installations that remove any connotations of familiarity with the subject matter. The concrete blocks bear no inscriptions or symbolism, making it impossible to know what you’re experiencing without being told. Some visitors say the rows of blocks make the installation look like a graveyard, so there’s that, I guess…

From Germany, we swing on down to India for a look at the Taj Mahal. There are no gray slabs of concrete to be seen. Now this looks a little more promising…

The Taj Mahal, or “Crown of Palaces”, is a mausoleum built by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. At first I was all like “What, the other two weren’t good enough?” Then I learned that she died giving birth to their fourteenth child. Okay, fine, give the woman a memorial. I think it’s safe to say she earned it!

Sorry for making you pregnant to death! We cool?
Sorry for making you pregnant to death! We cool?

Construction began in 1632 and took 19 years to complete. The bulk of the buildings consist of translucent white marble, with jade, turquoise and other precious stones sourced from places all over India and Asia.  A labor force of twenty thousand men were directed by a group of 37 artisans to construct and sculpt the elaborate memorial.

Shah Jahan didn’t get to be proud of his accomplishment for very long, though. He was deposed by his own son and placed under house arrest shortly after the memorial’s completion. Shah Jahan’s son at least allowed the deposed leader to be laid to rest next to his (most) beloved in the Taj Mahal’s tomb.

Our final destination brings us all the way to the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA. That’s where the Crazy Horse Memorial is (very, very) slowly being constructed. The monument is not just a memorial to Crazy Horse, but also a mighty middle finger to the white man.

Okay, so that’s a little harsh. The idea for the memorial started with Henry Standing Bear. He wrote to a sculptor that had worked on Mount Rushmore, saying that  “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.” It was decided to carve the memorial out of the Black Hills, which are considered sacred by the Lakota culture. Construction was begun in 1942…

…Aaannnd it’s still ongoing. Not surprisingly, the people behind the construction of the monument weren’t too keen about accepting money from the US government, so all money to build it comes from donations and entry fees to the memorial. Whenever they do manage to finish it off, the monument will be 641 feet wide and 563 feet tall. Crazy Horse’s head alone is 87 feet tall, 27 feet taller than the faces on Mount Rushmore. There’s currently no estimate of when it will be completed.

Prodigious Plant Life

Both those kids were gone and the plant was burping like, three seconds later.
Both those kids were gone and the plant was burping three seconds later.

A few months ago I wrote about how awesome plants can be. Well, recent research shows that plants can be incredibly terrifying as well. How can something that can’t even move invoke such terror in your incredibly awesome narrator? Here’s three damn good examples.

Let’s start with that comically over-sized flower up yonder. That’s an example of Rafflesia arnoldii, better known as the CORPSE FLOWER(dun, dun dunnnn!) Found primarily in the rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra, the Corpse Flower grows to an average of three feet across and weighs as much as 24 pounds. Just a big, colorful flower with an unfortunate name, right?

Wrong! It didn’t come across that name by accident. The big red flower appears when the plant is ready to reproduce, and that’s when a terrible smell starts pouring out of it. The plant releases a scent that smells like rotting flesh to attract flies to pollinate it. As a final insult, the plant can only survive by attaching to and feeding off of other plants, usually the Tetrastigma vine. First it leaches off you and then it starts stinking like crap. I’m usually for preserving rare species, but this one… Yeah, no.

At least the Corpse Flower is relatively unobtrusive(save for the wonderful odor.) Bamboo is a different story altogether. Don’t get me wrong, bamboo has many uses, ranging from culinary to construction. It’s been used to make everything from paper to musical instruments. Nowadays it’s mostly known as an ornamental plant.

They're watching... plotting...
They’re watching… plotting

Part of the reason it’s so popular is also because it’s a hardy plant. Some species can survive down to 18 degrees f. It also grows insanely fast. Some species of bamboo can grow at a rate of 35 inches a day. You can literally go to bed one night, get up in the morning, and find a new three-foot tall bamboo stalk in your garden.

Bamboo can also kill. Rumors persist that bamboo shoots have been used to torture and kill prisoners. The victim is tied to the ground over a bamboo sprout. The plants grow so strongly and swiftly in the first days of their life that it literally stabs its way through the victim in its search for life-giving sun. Bamboo ain’t nothing to mess with, yo.

This final plant makes bamboo look like your slobby stoner college roommate. You know, the one who had the lazy eye? Yeah, that one. Anyway… Let me introduce you to Kudzu, the creeping menace.

That's kudzu... It ate a HOUSE.
That’s kudzu… It ate a HOUSE.

Kudzu was introduced in the United States from Japan as an ornamental bush that could double as a shade plant. It was also marketed as a handy way to stop soil erosion. It stops a lot more than soil erosion, as it turns out. It also stops all native plants from existing. The plant covers and essentially suffocates other plant life, thus killing it. It also grows like your uncle at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Across the US, it’s been growing at an estimated 150,000 acres per year.

Much like a zombie, the key to killing kudzu is to go for the head. Called the crown, it’s the ball of hatred immediately above the roots, and from which the vines of much evil grow. Unlike zombies, the destruction of the crown must be complete. If even a tiny bit of the crown remains, the plant will rise from the dead like a… you know. Maybe it’s time for another Walking Dead spin-off…

Amazing Medical Centers

Not all hospitals have to resemble correctional facilities.
Not all hospitals have to resemble correctional facilities.

Hospitals can be, and often are, as unique as the towns and cities they are built in. Some are general hospitals. Some specialize in teaching or treating cancer. Whatever the case may be, it’s painfully obvious that some hospitals get more time and effort put into them than others. Here’s three interesting examples.

The image above is the atrium of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, located in West Bloomfield, MI. Every detail inside and out was carefully planned to create a warm, welcoming and comforting environment. The hospital has a modern, mall-like feel to it. Points of interest include a demonstration kitchen, a “Live Well Shoppe”, and a wellness center and hair salon.

In addition to it’s modern approach to patient rehabilitation, the hospital is also super green. It uses natural light for heating and cooling. It also collects rainwater, and has an extensive recycling program. It’s crown jewel resides a short distance away: a hydroponics-based greenhouse that provides fresh fruits and vegetables for the hospital’s kitchens.

Don't worry, we've been doing this for CENTURIES.
Don’t worry, we’ve been doing this for CENTURIES.

Let’s now shift from modern to medieval with St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Smithfield, London, UK. More affectionately known as St Bart’s, this historic hospital has been in constant use since 1123 and is the oldest still-open hospital in the world.

It has served, off and on, as a teaching hospital for centuries now. Important research on the human circulatory system and modern surgery were conducted here in the 18th century. The hospital had nearly 700 beds by the late 19th century.

That number has dwindled down to just under 400 beds in modern times. Talk of shutting the hospital portion of Bart’s was bandied about in the early 90’s, but it was decided to keep it operating for minor injuries. Major injuries and emergency cases are handled by larger, more modern hospitals nearby.

That's PART of the medical center... PART...
That’s PART of the medical center…

Speaking of larger, our third and final hospital is arguably the largest medical center in the world: Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. Yes, Texas… The Everything Must Be Huge State.

I’ll give ’em a pass on this one, though. Texas Med covers an estimated 1.5 square miles of real estate. The hospital consists of six main buildings: The Cullen, Jones, and Robertson Pavilions, the Children’s Hospital, the emergency center, and the Heart and Vascular Institute. That only covers about a quarter of the Center’s buildings, by the way.

The Center employs over a hundred thousand people in total. That includes 20,000 physicians, scientists and researchers. This enables the Center to treat over 7 million patients annually.  Hospital or self-contained city? You decide.

Butch Cassidy: Robber Extraordinaire

Say what you want, the man cleaned up nice.
Say what you want, the man cleaned up nice.

You know what this website has been lacking? Wild Westiness. I’m here to correct that mistake. I couldn’t think of a more fitting, more prolific wild west outlaw to start with than Butch Cassidy. Read on then tell me I’m wrong.

Meet Butch Cassidy, aka George Parker, Lowe Maxwell, James Ryan…

Butch was born Robert Leroy Parker on April 13, 1866. He left home in his early teens and found himself working at a dairy farm with a cowboy calling himself Mike Cassidy. He got the nickname Butch working as a butcher a couple years on and decided to couple it with the supposed surname of his old cowboy mentor. Thus Butch Cassidy was born.

Cassidy robbed his first bank in 1889 with two other men. They successfully stole $21,000 from the San Miguel Valley Bank. A year later, Cassidy purchased a ranch which many believe may have been a front for clandestine activities and providing protection for fellow outlaws.

Sure enough, the rancher-cum-outlaw found himself arrested in 1894 for stealing horses, though some believed it was also for possibly aiding and abetting known criminals. He was released in 1896, promising the governor he would remain on the straight and narrow. He proved this by getting himself associated with a fresh group of criminals almost immediately.

Together they formed a band of outlaws christened “The Wild Bunch” and set to work. The outlaws robbed a bank in Idaho of $7,000. They struck again the following year, this time robbing a coal company of their payroll, also totaling $7,000. 1889 saw them rob a Union Pacific overland flyer in Wyoming. Things finally went sour later that year.

He was involved in a train robbery that went bad in Folsom, New Mexico. Elzy Lay, Cassidy’s best friend, shot and killed sheriff Edward Farr and a man named Henry Love. Lay was caught and eventually imprisoned for life in the New Mexico state penitentiary. Cassidy and his compatriots were very much wanted men.

Despite their predicament, Cassidy and the wild bunch went on to rob the First National Bank of Winnemucca, Nevada of over $32,000 in the year 1900. Less than a year later in 1901,  a smaller group robbed a Great Northern train in Montana of $60,000 in cash. The law came down hard, with one gang member arrested and two more killed as a result of the pursuit. Cassidy fled with “The Sundance Kid” Harry Longabaugh to Argentina, where they bought a 15,000 acre ranch.

Not content with the considerable wealth they had, the two men struck again in 1905. This time a bank near the Strait of Magellan was the target, being robbed of approximately $4,500. They struck again later that year at a bank near Buenos Aires, making off with 12,000 pesos.

Cassidy’s luck supposedly came to an end in 1908 after robbing a courier carrying the payroll for the Cia Silver Mine, totaling 15,000 Bolivian pesos. A miner at a nearby boarding house became suspicious of the men, who had taken the courier’s mule, and contacted a local cavalry unit. Long story short: The two ended their lives after a sustained shootout. One man shot the other before shooting himself.

That makes at least nine robberies for Butch Cassidy, Robber Extraordinaire.

 

Automotive Methuselahs

All new for 1884! Sorry, no cup holders.
All new for 1884! Sorry, no cup holders.

How long a vehicle lasts can vary greatly. Things like regular maintenance, vehicle and parts quality, and whether or not the vehicle is stored in a garage are just a few influences on the lifespan of your family sedan. Even under the best of circumstances, twenty years and/or 200,000 miles could be considered advanced old age for most cars on the road today.

These two cars are one hell of an exception. One makes an absolute joke of that mileage while the other sniffs at such a low number of years. Let’s take a look.

"La Marquise"
“La Marquise”

We’ll start with the gran-daddy of ’em all: the De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux, nicknamed “La Marquise” for those who don’t like tongue twisters. La Marquise was built all the way back in 1884, making it 130 years old as of this writing. It is arguably one of the first automobiles, period.

The funky little thing runs on steam power and is fueled by paper and wood scraps in addition to coal, also making it the grandfather of Mr. Fusion. It takes about half an hour to build up enough steam to get rolling, but can then hit speeds of up to 38 mph. That was written in present-tense because the world’s oldest car is also the world’s oldest still running car.

That picture is of said car being driven about before being put up for auction in October 2011. La Marquise might not be a hot rod anymore by today’s standards, but it’s still no slouch in the value department. It sold for a mind-blowing $4.6 million, making that driver either very brave or very naive.

"I've been everywhere, man..."
“I’ve been everywhere, man…”

Despite its longevity, La Marquise most likely has not yet hit the 200,000 mile mark. Now Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo P1800? It has hit that mark, fifteen times.

Gordon’s Volvo, of which he is the original owner, saw the 3 million-mile mark in September of 2013. He has received the world record for the most miles driven by the original owner of a vehicle in non-commercial service. He also has the record for vehicle with the highest mileage.

When asked about racking up so many miles, he said “I just couldn’t stop driving it.” Having a 125-mile daily commute probably helped out a bit(dude must have really liked his job, too.) Making a habit out of traveling all over the US didn’t hurt, either. Each million miles hit came as the culmination of a special road trip. Asked about going another million miles, Gordon was confident the Volvo could make it, but he’s not so sure he would. Gordon was 75 at the time.

Least Wanted: The Most Monstrous Inmates

Some prisoners have trouble adapting to their new environment.
Some prisoners have trouble adapting to their new environment.

Everybody has their own special talent. Some people are great at creating art. Some people are known for carrying a tune. Some people are known for kicking other peoples’ asses. The following two people fall squarely under that last talent, though one also qualifies for the first.

Oh, hai!
Oh, hai!

We’ll start with the uh, more colorful of the two inmates. Allow me to introduce you to Charles Bronson, born Michael Gordon Peterson, formerly Charles Ali Ahmed. I know it’s hard to tell from that photo, but he can be quite the character.

Mr. Bronson started his illustrious prison career all the way back in 1974 after being convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Mr. Bronson had trouble… adjusting. He went on to be transferred between prison and medical facilities well over a dozen times in as many years.

Some of Charlie’s escapades: Attacking an inmate with a glass jug, damaging prison property, straight-up punching prison officers in the face, trying to dig a tunnel out of his cell, staging rooftop protests and even at least one case of attempted murder. He did manage to make it out of prison briefly in 1987 (those naughty things he did stretched his sentence a bit) and enjoyed a short stint as a bare-knuckle boxer. He changed his name to Charles Bronson at that point on the suggestion of his manager.

Not surprisingly, he landed his ass back in jail because of committing… armed robbery. I could go on and on about this man, but I won’t. You seriously need to check out his wiki page. I’m just scratching the surface, here!

NOT farmer John
NOT farmer John

Charles Bronson is most definitely a violent man, but one thing that can’t be said of him is that he is a murderer. Thomas Silverstein on the other hand can make no such claim. Meet one of the most notorious prisoners in history who also looks like he could be your next door neighbor.

Mr. Silverstein made it into prison a few years after Mr. Bronson, in 1977. He used the same tactic to get there though: armed robbery. He was sentenced to fifteen years at Leavenworth.

He joined up with the Aryan Brotherhood while there. This led to his first prison murder in 1980. The victim, Danny Atwell, reportedly refused to serve as a drug mule. He received a life sentence and was transferred to a high security prison. The conviction was overturned in 1985 however, when it was revealed that testifying inmates had perjured themselves.

That didn’t make much difference, seeing how Silverstein struck again in 1981. His new victim was Robert Chappelle, a member of the D.C. Blacks prison gang. Silverstein said he didn’t do it(of course,) but newly-transferred Raymond “Cadillac” Smith, national leader of the D.C. Blacks said oh yes he did and immediately set to trying to kill his ass. Silverstein and another inmate killed Smith first, stabbing him 67 times.

Silverstein’s last victim was correction officer Merle Clutts. Silverstein managed to get out of his cuffs while being transferred from the showers and stabbed Clutts to death with a shank obtained from another prisoner. He didn’t deny that one.

Thomas Silverstein is currently housed in a supermax facility in Colorado. He will be eligible for release in 2095. Surprisingly, he is not the artist in the bunch. Seriously, go read more about Charlie!

 

Opposite Day: The Biggest Little Train Set

One of the more boring parts of this train set, believe it or not.
One of the more boring parts of this train set, believe it or not.

Today’s Opposite Day post finds us on both sides of the fence: Witness Miniatur Wunderland, the largest, miniature train set in the world! It’s the biggest little train set!

Miniatur Wunderland (literally “Miniature Wonderland” in case that wasn’t obvious,) located in Hamburg, Germany features an expansive miniature train system as the center attraction, but surrounds it with much, much more. The nearly 40,000 feet of HO scale train track ribbons through over 12,000 square feet of miniatures that represent multiple countries. Planned expansions extending all the way into 2026 will see England and France added to the mix.

Miniature Las Vegas
Miniature Las Vegas

While the trains are the main focus of the miniature, the real draw is the insane level of detail and animation that’s been poured into every inch of the attraction. Real locations have famous buildings and landmarks recreated in exacting detail. You can see cars driving about, amusement park attractions whirling around, even miniature people going about their daily lives.

The Knuffingen Airport, modeled after the Hamburg International Airport, is among the most impressive parts of the model. You can watch scale model passenger jets taxi, take off, and land. Meanwhile cars, taxis and emergency vehicles mill about the airport. Support vehicles on the airport landing strip drive around and tend to the landed planes.

Not the Architect's matrix control room.
Not the Architect’s matrix control room.

What goes on behind the scenes is just as incredible. The control room alone has dozens of monitors showing the attraction “on stage” and behind the scenes, along with screens showing diagnostics and conditions of various mechanics. Every single moving vehicle (essentially programmed, radio controlled vehicles) reports its location and state of charge.

The system is smart enough to know when vehicles need recharged or repaired. The affected vehicle will drive itself through a backstage access point and into a charging station, for example. A duplicate will be activated and sent out to follow its route until the first vehicle is ready to leave again.

Venice, Italy is currently under construction, with England scheduled for completion by 2021. See a video of the attraction here.

 

Daddy Dearest

Making sure you're still there...
Making sure you’re still there…

To celebrate Father’s Day, I thought I’d follow my lead from Mother’s Day and look at a rugged daddy. I immediately thought of daddy Emperor penguins. These doting dads show insane patience with their teeny tiny charges.

It all starts in late May or early June, when the mama penguin shoots out an egg. The shell of the egg is extra thick as far as eggs go. That’s because the mama penguin is about to pass the buck.

The mama calls over the daddy and goes through a very careful egg-transfer process. This is the first test for the dad. If the egg is fumbled, the baby will most likely die before it has much of a chance to grow. The egg won’t crack, but the extreme cold of the ground will prove too much for the chick.

Regardless of what happens to the egg, the mamas are out of there like it’s Ladies Night down at the local beer tap. In this case, Ladies Night lasts for two months. Apparently pooping out an egg is more draining than any of us realized.

This means the daddy is left standing more or less in one spot, balancing the egg on his feet, drooping his flappy belly all over it for those same two months. It um, it takes a while for the baby to grow. They will have lost about half their weight during this time, all the while braving temps below freezing and winds as high as 120 mph.

Go. Dad.

Despite being emaciated at this point, the daddy penguin will squeeze something akin to cheese curd out of his esophagus to feed the newborn chick. Yum-O! This sustains the fledgling chick until the mama returns (hopefully) a few days later.

It is at this point that the daddy penguin finally gets relieved of duty. The now well-fed mama takes over baby holding duty. The hangry daddy penguin goes off on the mother of all fishing trips for about three weeks to pack on the pounds once again.

So let’s recap, shall we? The mama penguin poops out the egg, says “Woo, I’m tired,” and goes on a two-month eating binge. Meanwhile daddy penguin stands in one spot for TWO MONTHS with a silent egg and Chris from next door that talks WAY TOO MUCH.

Then, FINALLY, his little baby is finally born! It was all worth it! Hi, champ! Have some regurgitated cheese turds from my throat, although I’m deadly thin! But lo, here comes the mama.

Goodbye, baby I just saw born. I’m going to go eat for a few weeks. Maybe you’ll remember me when I finally get back. Who knows? At least the poor S.O.B. gets to finally eat, eh?

In the end, just like in real life, the kids are slowly coddled less and less. Eventually they are left to fend for themselves while mama and daddy penguin go off for some alone time. Then they can do it all over again next year! Yay?

So yeah, moms are pretty cool. Dads can be pretty cool too, though. Get it? Cool? They’re like, penguins? Sorry… Go daddy penguins!

And Happy Father’s Day to all. 🙂

Space: The Ultimate Hangout

"Leaving me... Ha ha, guys... guys?"
“Leaving me… Ha ha, guys… guys?”

When we first started hurtling people out into the cold vastness of space at 17,500 miles per hour, we didn’t leave them hanging up there for too long. How long astronauts got to live in space became longer as technology progressed and space stations became a thing. Also, some of the things we shot off into space both before and after haven’t necessarily dropped back with any expediency either. Let’s look at some numbers, shall we?

Things got a lot more comfy for astronauts around the time the Russian space station Mir was put into orbit. It was only a little longer than that before we started seeing some serious records set. In fact it was a Russian cosmonaut by the name of Valeri Polyakov who has the honor of staying up in space for the longest amount of time. Mr. Polyakov went up into space on January 8, 1994 and didn’t fall back down until March 22 of the next year, for a total of 437 days. Hope he had some good books to read.

The Mir space station was de-orbited in 2001, but the International Space Station continues to rock it in Earth orbit. First launched in 1998, the ISS continues to house brave men and women, having done so for nearly seventeen continuous years and making it the current record holder. Some estimate that the station could be useful for up to thirty years.

For the longest anything sent into space by man, we turn to the Vanguard 1. The satellite was launched all the way back in 1958 to obtain geo-something something… It measured scientific stuff. Despite losing contact with it in 1964, the little metal ball that could is still swinging around our big blue marble. It’s estimated it will continue to do that for at least two more centuries. Now that’s staying power!