A Serbian flight attendant who survived a plane crash from 33,000 feet in the sky afterward asked to return to her job

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Photo: clipperarctic CC BY-SA 2.0

Italian master fantasist Dino Buzzati in 1966 wrote about the Ragazza Che Precipita or “The Falling Girl,” a story about Marta and her great descent from the rooftop of a gigantic skyscraper.

Buzzati masterfully used Zeno’s mathematical paradox in his narrative to slow down time as if it were not passing at all for the little girl, forcing her to contemplate her life. Many say that when people are in a state of emergency and faced with grave danger, time moves very slowly for them as well. In truth, the feeling is just an illusion and our brains are simply working faster on such occasions.

That being said, who knows how fast was it going for Vesna Vulovic in 1972 and what dreams and goals she felt she would miss as she was descending, not from a tall skyscraper, but while stuck within an airplane that burst into flames 33,000 feet up and falling ablaze, quickly accelerating towards the inevitable crash that was getting closer and closer with every passing second.

Was she thinking about all the things she would never have a chance to have? Was she thinking about her parents, about her loved ones? About everything she was about to lose. Of kids perhaps? She was 22.

All memory of the plane crash stayed forever suppressed as fragments tucked away in a far corner of her brain–a brain that luckily survived intact after her skull was completely shattered along with both of her legs, two vertebrae bones, her whole pelvis, and several ribs. She was smashed, shattered, and broken all over, yet she survived and miraculously recovered. She had no memory of what went wrong or what happened on the way down. Nor of what she was doing the whole time. Remarkably, she asked to be reinstated in her old position as a flight attendant.

Vulovic was working on board the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 aircraft, Flight 367 for JAT Yugoslav Airlines, that exploded mid-air and split into two over Czechoslovakia. She was not even supposed to be on the plane. She had had a day off but was mixed up with another flight attendant with the same name and was called by mistake. An hour into the flight, as they were headed from Stockholm to Belgrade, a bomb went off in the cargo hold. Twenty-seven of the 28 passengers and crew members on-board died–either in the initial explosion, sucked out of the jet plane into subfreezing temperatures on the way down, or killed when they hit the snow near the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany, in the small village of Srbská Kamenice.

Roughly 250 people lived in the village that frosty day of January 6, 1972. One of them heard the helpless women screaming for help in agony. His name was Bruno Honke and he found her nearly dead with her legs visible in the plane wreckage. She was losing a lot of blood, but a rescue team arrived quickly and took her to a hospital.

“The first thing I remember is seeing my parents in the hospital. I was talking to them and asking them why they were with me,” she said to Green Light Limited, a London based security training firm who approached her for an interview in 2002, three decades after her devastating crash.

“When I saw a newspaper and read what had happened, I nearly died from the shock,” she said in the New York Times in 2008. An investigation concluded that when the bomb went off and detached the cockpit from the rest of the plane, she found herself trapped in her seat by the food cart that miraculously kept her stuck in place the whole time.

 She was in a coma for a couple of weeks after the incident but fortunately for her, the snow was thick and the plane crashed in the trees of a forested hillside that probably softened the blow enough to spare her life.

Though she was paralyzed from the waist down at first, within months she made a full recovery and went on to live a normal life (with a limp though), for the next 40 years, or until December 23, 2016, when a neighbor found her dead in her apartment in Belgrade.

“I was broken and the doctors put me together again. Nobody ever expected me to live this long,” she confessed in the same interview for the New York Times.

And nobody did indeed expect her to survive the injuries. As nobody ever imagined that, right after her recovery, she would ask her employer to resume working as a flight attendant. However, JAT Yugoslav Airlines believed that putting her back up in the air could bring bad press and risk terrifying the passengers who would be with her on the same plane and would recognize her. “They didn’t want me because they didn’t want so much publicity about the accident,” she said for Green Light.

Instead, they gave her an office job, and Vesna Vulovic, who continued to travel by air, never really was seen as a threat by passengers. On the contrary. “People always want to sit next to me on the plane,” she said. After all, she was a real hero in her country and was recognized as “the woman who cheated death” throughout south-east Europe. So in a way perhaps they saw her as a lucky charm on their flights.

As of what might have happened, it is still unclear to this day. One theory states that a bomb was placed in the luggage compartment right below the cockpit during their stop-over in Copenhagen, and another one stipulates that the plane had some problems and was looking for a safe landing in Czechoslovakia but got really low, really fast–and close to a nuclear weapons storage facility and was shot down by fighter jets. However, black boxes were never recovered, no one was arrested, and nothing was ever proven.

For what is worth, Vulovic, who unintentionally holds the record for surviving the highest free fall without a parachute, and was credited in the Guinness Book of Records of 1985, made sure to live a life worth living and make every second count.

After the devastating accident, she used all her popularity and public persona to fight against injustice and the dictatorial governance in her home country, led by President Slobodan Milosevich, who later stood trial in Hague accused of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and was labeled as the “Butcher of the Balkans.”

 Martin Chalakoski


The ancient Peruvian mystery solved from space

In one of the most arid regions in the world a series of carefully constructed, spiralling holes form lines across the landscape. Known as puquios, their origin has been a puzzle – one that could only be solved from space.

The holes are from the Nasca region of Peru – an area famous for the Nasca lines, several enormous geometric images carved into the landscape; immaculate archaeological evidence of ceremonial burials; and the rapid decline of this once flourishing society.

What adds to the intrigue in the native ancient people of Nasca is how they were able to survive in an area where droughts can last for years at a time.

The puquios were a “sophisticated hydraulic system constructed to retrieve water from underground aquifers,” says Rosa Lasaponara of the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis, in Italy. And they transformed this inhospitable region.

(Credit: Ab5602/Wikimedia/Public Domain)

The funnel-like shape helped to draw the wind down into the underground canals (Credit: Ab5602/Wikimedia/Public Domain)

The puquio system must have been much more developed than it appears today

Lasaponara and her team studied the puquios using satellite imaging. From this, the team were able to better understand how the puquios were distributed across the Nasca region, and where they ran in relation to nearby settlements – which are easier to date.

“What is clearly evident today is that the puquio system must have been much more developed than it appears today,” says Lasaponara. “Exploiting an inexhaustible water supply throughout the year the puquio system contributed to an intensive agriculture of the valleys in one of the most arid places in the world.”

A series of canals brought the water, trapped underground, to the areas where it was needed; anything left was stored in surface reservoirs. To help keep it moving, chimneys were excavated above the canals in the shape of corkscrewing funnels. These funnels let wind into the canals, which forced the water through the system.

Like many other South American cultures the Nasca had no writing system

“The puquios were the most ambitious hydraulic project in the Nasca area and made water available for the whole year, not only for agriculture and irrigation but also for domestic needs,” says Lasaponara, who has written about her satellite studies in Ancient Nasca World: New Insights from Science and Archaeology, which is due to be published later this year.

The origin of the puquios has remained a mystery to researchers because it was not possible to use traditional carbon dating techniques on the tunnels. Nor did the Nasca leave any clues as to their origin. Like many other South American cultures they had no writing system.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Some think the famous ‘Nasca lines’ related to the presence of water (Credit: Getty Images)

Their existence tells us something remarkable about the people who lived in the Nasca region from before 1,000 BC to AD750. “The construction of the puquios involved the use of particularly specialised technology,” says Lasaponara. Not only did the builders of the puquios need a deep understanding of the geology of the area and annual variations in water availability, maintaining the canals was a technical challenge as they spread across tectonic faults.

What makes them even more remarkable is that they still function today

“What is really impressive is the great efforts, organisation and cooperation required for their construction and regular maintenance,” she says. That meant a regular dependable water supply for centuries, in an area that’s one of the most arid places on Earth.

“Maintenance was likely based on a collaborative and socially organised system, similar to that adopted for the construction of the famous ’Nasca lines‘ which in some cases are clearly related to the presence of water.” The quality of construction was so good, that some of the puquios still function today.

These structures show the native people of the Nasca basin were not only highly organised, but that their society was structured in a hierarchy, says Lasaponara. She says the puquios were vital in “controlling water distribution by those in power over the communities that came under their influence.” Knowing how to bring water to one of the driest places on earth means that you hold the very key to life itself.

By William Park

Take a Peek Inside The Leonard Cohen Exhibit In Montreal

Visitors to Montreal still have time to see Une brèche en toute chose (“A Crack in Everything”), a multimedia art exhibit that pays tribute to the late Leonard Cohen.

More than a year after his death, Montreal is still celebrating Leonard Cohen’s life. The poet, novelist, songwriter and singer is everywhere—from the Main Deli, where he enjoyed smoked meat in the second booth against the wall, to the Jewish Public Library, with which Cohen was affiliated. But one of the largest tributes began two years before Cohen’s death—at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) as part of the city’s 375th anniversary celebration. It opened one year after his passing.

The exhibit contains no artifacts belonging to Cohen; no fedoras, long black coats or guitars—only his olive-green Olivetti manual typewriter on which he composed his first novel. What there is, though, is more impressive: filmmakers, musicians, contemporary artists and their takes on how Cohen influenced society.

The exhibit—which runs until April 9, 2018— titled Une brèche en toute chose(“A Crack in Everything”) features tribute pieces from filmmakers, musicians and contemporary artists.

With Cohen’s blessing, and with his complete artistic output made available to them, curators John Zeppetelli and Victor Shiffman, compiled the museum’s most ambitious exhibition, commissioning 20 works from 40 artists representing 10 countries to bring a unique vision to Cohen’s effect on music and literature.

Consider Berlin-based Candice Breitz’s offering: the life-sized projection of 18 ardent male fans aged 65 and older encircling the viewer as they sing, “I’m Your Man,” backed by the all-male Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir (the synagogue Cohen attended throughout his life).

British Columbia-based Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller pay homage to Book of Longing with an interactive sound installation called “The Poetry Machine.” Pressing a single key on the vintage Wurlitzer organ generates Cohen’s voice reading an excerpt from the book from one of the gramophone horns. Play more than one key, and the room is filled with Cohen’s voice reading several selections simultaneously.

American Taryn Simon offers a mixed media installation of the front page of the New York Times, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, with Cohen’s obituary published beneath a photograph of the first meeting between Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump. Cohen is doffing his hat in greeting or farewell.


The Surprising Thing Flight Attendants Say You Should Never Do on an Airplane (Though You’ve Probably Done It Many Times)

f you’re like me, you’ve probably lost count of how many times you’ve flown in an airplane from one place to another. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably also lost count of all the different things you’ve had to eat and drink along the way.

But, according to flight attendants — the men and women who should know — there’s one thing you might want to think twice about consuming on your next flight.

That one thing?

A hot cup of coffee or any other drink that uses water from the airplane’s onboard water system.

A flight attendant for a major airline, who was quoted anonymously to protect her job, explained in an interview for Vice:

Don’t drink the coffee on airplanes. It’s the same potable water that goes through the bathroom system. We recently had a test for E. coli in our water and it didn’t pass, and then maintenance came on and hit a couple buttons and it passed. So, avoid any hot water or tea. Bottled and ice is fine, of course.

Another flight attendant told Business Insider,

Flight attendants will not drink hot water on the plane. They will not drink plain coffee, and they will not drink plain tea.

You’d think that an airplane’s water storage and plumbing systems would be designed in a way that would prevent any possibility of contamination from occurring, and according to the airlines, that is the case. However, some flight attendants claim that these systems are not cleaned on a regular basis. According to a flight attendant interviewed by Travel + Leisure magazine, airplane water tanks “are probably only cleaned out every six months to a year.”

Indeed, when the EPA tested water from a variety of commercial airlines in 2012, the agency found that 12 percent of aircraft in the U.S. had at least one positive for coliform bacteria, which are found in the waste of humans and animals and are an indicator of the presence of pathogens, such as E. coli, that can cause illness and even death.

Surprisingly, this is about the same figure as eight years earlier, when the EPA tested the drinking water from 158 randomly selected domestic and international passenger airplanes and found that 12.6 percent did not meet EPA drinking water quality standards.

An investigation by Dallas-based television news station NBC 5 found that some airlines do better than others. In 2012, 13 percent of American Airlines planes were found to have coliform bacteria in their onboard water supplies (with fewer than half of 1 percent testing positive for E. coli), while only 3 percent of Southwest Airlines planes tested positive for coliform (with no tests positive for E. coli).

So, the next time you’re thinking of asking for a hot cup of coffee or tea on a commercial airline flight, think again. Or even better, grab a cup of Starbucks in the terminal and bring it on board with you. And if you’re going to drink water at all, make sure it’s poured out of a bottle — or bring your own.

Surprising Footage Captures Arctic Jellyfish Lurking Under the Ice

In the midst of a frosty Arctic winter, marine biologist Andy Juhl led a team from Columbia University’s Earth Institute on snowmobiles out over the frozen Chukchi sea. There they drilled holes through the ice, several feet thick, and dropped a submersible down into the frigid environment and take a peek at what lies beneath.

As George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo, what they found delighted them: a jellyfish.

Until now, scientists believed that the creatures spent the winter in polyp form—bulbous masses that cling to surfaces and release bell-shaped jellies in the Spring. But the translucent critter, Chrysaora melanaster, shows that the jellies can overwinter in the waters off the coast of northern Alaska—an environment previously believed to be too harsh for adult jellies to survive. The scientists described their find in a new study, published in the journal Marine Ecology.

  1. melanaster, also known as the “northern sea nettle,” is one of the Arctic’s largest jellyfish. Their voluminous bells can grow up to a foot or more across and their tentacles and ruffle-like string of “lips” stretch behind them for nearly ten feet. The jellies thrive in the cold Arctic waters, but until this latest study, researchers had yet to find evidence that they could remain in this environment over the course of the harsh winters.

Though their presence might seem surprising, as the researchers write in their study, the sea ice might protect the jellyfish from turbulent storms while the cold would slow their metabolism, allowing them to survive on little food throughout the winter. According to the Census of Marine Life, Chrysaora melanaster jellies feed on large zooplankton, small fish, copepods, and even other jellies.

In the video, the creature can be seen dragging across the seafloor, which might not appear like a thriving environment in the peak of winter. But as the researchers note, the Arctic seas support a surprising amount of winter food, namely ice algae, which grow inside and along the bottom of sea ice and eventually sink to the bottom, providing a base for the food chain.

Even so, the researchers note that reduced food supplies don’t stop these resourceful creatures, which can regrow their gonads once food availability increases. This means that even if food is short, these overwintering jellies will likely still be capable of reproduction come spring.

“Thus, overwintering could be an effective strategy for individuals with the potential to mature to consume the abundant zooplankton food available in spring and increase their sexual reproductive output,” the researchers write.

Knowing that these creatures can survive the winter under sea ice will help scientists better understand jellyfish population dynamics, which greatly vary from year to year, Dvorsky writes. Some years there are hardly any, while other years they are so common that fishing nets are choked with them.

These swings in jellyfish populations don’t just plague Alaska. One particularly dramatic bloom in the Mediterranean this summer prompted a researcher from Italy’s Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Antonella Leone, to try to get locals to eat them. She hopes to curb their numbers as warmer waters spur populations to grow “gelatinous generation after gelatinous generation,” Jason Horowitz reported for The New York Times earlier this year.

The latest study is not necessarily an indicator of changes in climate, but suggests that the northern sea nettle could be sensitive to future shifts in sea ice—just like the polar bears and walruses we commonly think of struggling to adapt to the changing Arctic.

As Juhl and his colleagues write, it’s especially important to understand these dynamics now, “as coastal Arctic seas become more open to transportation, commercial fishing, oil and gas exploration, and other forms of commercial exploitation.” These ventures could affect not just the furry creatures roaming above the ice, but the gelatinous ones sliding along below.

Top 10 Places For Foodies in India

Top 10 Places For Foodies in India


Food lovers can go any distances to quench their lust for a delicious meal. And when travelling comes as an added bonus, who would deny the chance to such an awesome way of life. India is a diverse country, be it in terms of religion or culture or beliefs. Why would food diversity be left behind? India serves a unique savour for each taste bud and hence disappoints no one.

All you foodies out…

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