In this video, we are flying over the Earth, looking down and seeing what astronauts see when it's nighttime, when lightning storms flash like June bugs, when cities look like galaxies, when you can see where people are. It's quietly astonishing.
This montage of space footage was assembled and narrated by NASA scientist Justin Wilkinson. There's another one, which takes us around the Earth in daytime.
From now until November, President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. In this installment of NPR's "Parallel Lives" series, a look at Romney's time at Cranbrook, an all-boys prep school in Michigan.
Cranbrook has been coed since the mid-1980s, its overall diversity is quite evident and the dress code is casual. None of that was true when Mitt Romney, class of 1965, was a student there.
Kyle Glusenkamp pilots Gamera, a human-powered helicopter.
Credit Adam Cole / NPR
Team Gamera keeps a stack of spare rotor blades on hand for quick repairs after crashes. Styrofoam ribs, wrapped in plastic, create the blade's airfoil form, while a triangular truss built of carbon fiber tubes provide strength.
Todd Reichert pedals Atlas into the air, as Cameron Robertson (left) and team member Calvin Moes watch from the ground.
A Canadian team built Atlas in this abandoned barn at a glider club near Tottenham, Ontario. It once held livestock; the roof leaks during thunderstorms.
Credit Maggie Starbard / NPR
Henry Enerson prepares for a flight.
Credit Team Gamera
With Enerson in the cockpit, Gamera reaches an altitude of 8 feet. Elizabeth Weiner, the human ruler, stands below.
"I grew up wanting to fly," says Graham Bowen-Davies. "I guess I just settled for being an engineer."
He's standing on an indoor track in southern Maryland, watching a giant helicopter take flight. At the end of each of its four spindly arms — arms he helped design and build — a giant rotor churns the air. In the cockpit sits the engine: a 0.7-horsepower, 135-pound graduate student named Kyle Gluesenkamp.
Gluesenkamp is pedaling like crazy to keep the rotors spinning and the craft aloft.