Return of the Zeppelin – Travel by Airship is Making a Big Comeback

Before the zeppelin travel disaster of the Hindenburg in which 36 people were lost when the giant airship crashed and exploded in New Jersey in 1937, people looked forward to a future of travel in these graceful, lightweight zeppelins. They were more fuel efficient than airplanes which were just beginning to offer transcontinental service thanks to Charles A. Lindbergh’s successful flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.

They were also much faster than steamships, the most popular mode of travel at the time, completing the journey in only forty three hours as opposed to almost a week on the sea. Because of their efficiency and new technology airships may be making a comeback, according to Smithsonian.

The Hindenburg was inflated with hydrogen, a highly flammable gas. As the ship came in to dock, an electrostatic discharge, a spark, ignited a leak of hydrogen. Dr. Julian David Hunt, along with his colleagues at the Energy and Water Programs at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, are conducting a study with the intent of proving that airships can lower CO2 emissions from shipping commercial goods by not only using hydrogen, a cleaner, renewable source of fuel, but by using the winds of the jet steam which are reliably west to east.


The first zeppelin ascent over Lake Constance, Switzerland in 1900

The team is conducting research on dynamics, new designs, different propulsion systems, solar power, wind turbine power, and a multitude of other methods to find a viable alternative to commercial aircraft and maritime shipping, according to ScienceDirect. Wind speeds were tracked for a year, and an ideal latitude was computed to be 36.5° with a round trip taking sixteen days in the northern hemisphere and −30.5° latitude with a round trip taking fourteen days for the southern hemisphere, considerably reducing the time it takes for maritime shipping.


Postcard of the Zeppelin travel airship “Schwaben”, circa 1912

The most commonly seen airships are the blimps, such as the Goodyear blimp, which rely totally on internal gas, usually helium, to keep their shape. Zeppelin, however, is a brand name and applies only to ships built by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin of Germany, founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a German aristocrat and an officer in the army of Wurttemberg. explains that zeppelins are usually rigid airships like the Hindenburg.


Navy airship flying over NYC

Goodyear blimps have flown over football stadiums and other sporting events for years with their brightly lit digital advertising and are a frequent sight among the residents of Akron, Ohio especially during homecoming season at Akron University.

Goodyear blimp

The Goodyear blimp

They are being replaced by Zeppelins, the newest being the Wingfoot Three which is housed at the Wingfoot Lake Base in Suffield Township just outside of Akron. While the ships in Akron only provide rides under limited circumstances and as prizes for contests, the German site in Friedrichshafen, Germany offers extensive scenic flights according to company website, ZepplinNT.

The disaster of 1937 did not completely curtail the use of airships. Centennial of Flight reports that when the United States entered the second world war in 1942, Congress authorized construction of two hundred airships which the Navy used for search and rescue, minesweeping, anti submarine patrols, photographic reconnaissance, and escorting convoys and civilian ships.

Three million square miles were patrolled by airships including both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. They could spot enemy submarines long before the surface ships knew they were there and could stay in flight for sixty hours.

The U.S. Navy curtailed the use of airships in 1962 and considered reviving them in the 1980s, but in 1989 Congress stopped all funding. It appears now, however, that travel by zeppelin may be reemerging as a shipping solution to transport goods with less environmental impact. Time will tell.

Concept airship with a pool!

Crappy Days in the International Space Station

All toilets at ISS Break Down, astronauts forced to use ‘diapers’

None of the toilets at the International Space Station (ISS) are working, astronauts have to use “diapers”, a NASA translation suggested Wednesday.

There are two toilets at the ISS, both Russian-made – one in the US module and another one in the Russian one.

In addition, there are toilets in Soyuz ships docked at the station but they are used when the ship is in flight and only rarely when it is docked.

According to ISS commander Luca Parmitano, the toilet in the US section constantly signals that it is not working, while the one in the Russian module is filled to the maximum.

Later on, an engineer of Space Center Houston told ISS Commander Luca Parmitano that a toilet in the US module was operational again.

National Geographic Best Photos of the Year

Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” is believed to depict Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine silk merchant. Every year, millions of visitors jostle for a view at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The painting, protected by a thick layer of glass that must be cleaned regularly, has never been restored.


Petronella Chigumbura, a member of the Akashinga—a nonprofit, all-female anti-poaching unit—practices reconnaissance techniques in the Zimbabwean bush.


A male elephant grabs an evening snack in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Most of the park’s elephants were killed for their ivory, used to buy weapons during the nation’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1992. With poaching controlled, the population is recovering.


Marines have to be able to carry one another if necessary. USMC Cpl. Gabrielle Green hefts a fellow marine as they ready for deployment on a Navy ship at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Of the 38,000 recruits who enter the corps each year, about 3,500 are women—or, in USMC phrasing, “female marines.”


Canadian soldiers climb on the wreckage of a plane, roughly a thousand miles south of the North Pole, to scout the area during an Arctic survival course on Cornwallis Island. As the Arctic warms and tensions over its future rise, the Canadian and U.S. militaries have stepped up operations in the region.


Some 400 U.S. soldiers practice parachute jumps near Alaska’s Fort Greely. The multinational exercise, which includes Canadian forces, prepares troops for the rigors of large, coordinated operations in extreme cold conditions.


In Agadez, Niger, an Izala school educates about 1,300 students. Izala is a back-to-basics Islamic reformist movement that adheres to conservative practices, such as women covering their faces, but also prizes education.


Children nap at a kindergarten in Mongolia’s Bayanzurkh District. Each room is equipped with an air purifier, in an attempt to lower the level of indoor air pollution. Children are especially vulnerable to poor air quality.


Sal Thegal dressed like a hot dog at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday, August 23, 2019.


A Temminck’s ground pangolin named Tamuda searches for a meal of ants or termites at a rehabilitation center in Zimbabwe. He was rescued from illegal wildlife traders, who likely would have smuggled his scales to Asia for use in traditional remedies.


A crocodile rests in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, where wildlife’s future depends on humans’ livelihoods.


Two rats at India’s Karni Mata Temple box to determine which is dominant. Rats are social animals that take good care of their offspring. Studies show they will free a fellow rat from a small cage—even if it means giving up a treat. This suggests to some researchers that rats feel empathy.


Behind netting, a polar bear dances at the Circus on Ice in Kazan, Russia. Performing polar bears are extremely rare. The show’s four bears wear metal muzzles, and their trainer, Yulia Denisenko, carries a metal rod. Between tricks, the bears lie down and rub themselves on the ice.


Clay, Daniel, and Enzo, three of 39 tigers rescued from an animal park in Oklahoma, gather at a pool at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado. These cats will live out their lives here, with proper nutrition and vet care.


Lions that were released and collared in a remote region of the 4,500-square-kilometer Zambeze Delta area of Mozambique lounge in the early morning mist.


Incahuasi, “House of the Inca” in Quechua, was an island when Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni salt flat was a lake in prehistoric times. A remnant of a volcano, it’s covered in cacti, some towering 40 feet, and fossilized algae. Extracting lithium from under the salt flat is certain to alter the spectacular landscape.


Fourteen-year-old Danila holds a baby alpaca near Huaylillas in the highlands of northern Peru.


This book is a romance novel, but National Liberation Front (ELN) Comandante Yesenia also reads aloud to her river outpost compatriots from works of ideology and ELN history. At 36, she has spent more than half her life as a guerrilla fighter in Colombia; her two children live with civilian relatives.


The majority of residents in Uganda’s Bidibidi refugee camp are children, many of whom also work to help their families. In a small shop near his home in Zone 5, 13-year-old Steven Ladu sells candy.

Don’t Wake Me Up!

In a interesting video from Ireland, a sleeping tiger at the Dublin Zoo had a ferocious reaction to being woken up by its fellow feline.

The footage from a family’s visit to the zoo begins innocently enough, with a young girl mimicking a tiger as it comes prowling towards the glass.

But when the tiger rouses its companion from a serene slumber, the scene becomes rather unsettling and the toddler reels back in terror as the two big cats prepare to do battle.

Fortunately, it appears the tigers were able to work out their issues without resorting to violence, despite some tense moments when it appeared the conflict could get ugly.

While the incident may have been a surprise to the little girl, for anyone who has ever been woken up by an annoying roommate, it probably looked all too familiar.

How zoo animals in Washington, D.C. reacted to the earthquake on August 23, 2011

These are descriptions of how animals at The National Zoo in Washington reacted to the earthquake.  Some reacted before it began shaking.

From Popular Science

“Keepers were feeding the beavers and hooded mergansers (a species of duck) when the earthquake hit. The ducks immediately jumped into the pool. The beavers stopped eating, stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water, too. They all stayed in the water. Within an hour, some of the beavers returned to land to continue eating.”


“According to keepers, the giant pandas did not appear to respond to the earthquake.”

Hell, when there’s bamboo to be eaten, why get worked up about the ground shaking beneath you?


“The howler monkeys sounded an alarm call just after the earthquake.”



“Iris (an orangutan) began “belch vocalizing”—an unhappy/upset noise normally reserved for extreme irritation—before the quake and continued this vocalization following the quake.”

“About five to ten seconds before the quake, many of the apes, including Kyle (an orangutan) and Kojo (a Western lowland gorilla), abandoned their food and climbed to the top of the tree-like structure in the exhibit.”



“About three seconds before the quake, Mandara (a gorilla) let out a shriek and collected her baby, Kibibi, and moved to the top of the tree structure as well.”

“About five to ten seconds before the quake, many of the apes, including Kyle (an orangutan) and Kojo (a Western lowland gorilla), abandoned their food and climbed to the top of the tree-like structure in the exhibit.”

This is my favorite picture; I can imagine that the gorilla is really trying to puzzle out what just happened.



“Damai (a female Sumatran tiger) jumped at the start of the earthquake in a startled fashion. Her behavior returned to normal after the quake.”



“The lion pride was outside. They all stood still and faced the building, which rattled during the quake. All settled down within minutes.”



“The Zoo has a flock of 64 flamingos. Just before the quake, the birds rushed about and grouped themselves together. They remained huddled during the quake.”



“All the snakes began writhing during the quake (copperheads, cotton mouth, false water cobra, etc.). Normally, they remain inactive during the day.”

This is actually really scary, especially because the named snakes are super poisonous.