Get your fill of fascinating experiences without leaving the house
Alas, lockdown continues. Yet, thanks to the Internet, the world is at our fingertips, with so much to discover and experience. The web is bursting with virtual tours offering us the chance to explore the world in all its dimensions, both time and space. Intolife has selected some gems for you.
Visit the sites of lost civilisations
As we live through this pandemic, which causes us to reflect on the long-term future of our own civilisation, it can be helpful to reconsider our own destiny in the wider context of human History.
Several major prehistoric sites offer us the opportunity to travel back in time and take an intimate look at lost civilisations through the magic of virtual visits: examples include the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc and Lascaux Caves in France, and that of Altamira in Cantabria, with their awe-inspiring wall paintings. Another fascinating, moving exhibition is “Pompei chez vous” devoted to the remains of the Italian city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius, which the Grand Palais in Paris has decided to make available online, since it was forced to close its doors to the public.
With Google Street, we can also be teleported to the foot of some of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, such as the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the Giza pyramids in Egypt, and Chichen Itza, Mexico’s best-preserved Mayan ruins.
Surfing the wave of discovery
Who invented paper, the swivel chair, or the toilet? Who discovered the South Pole or atomic energy? These are just some of the questions – both quirky and essential – that Google’s “Arts & Culture” website attempts to answer. The “Once Upon a Try: tales of inventions and discoveries” section is the world’s largest virtual exhibition devoted to human inventions, and it’s entirely free! This incredible collection of documents about the history of science and technology was put together in collaboration with curators and archivists from 111 partner institutions across the globe. It brings together some 350 online exhibitions, 200 virtual tours of historic sites and 200,000 scanned documents, some of which have never previously been made public. One example among the countless gems waiting to be discovered: the tour of Robert Falcon Scott’s hut, the operational base of one of the first men to explore Antarctica. It was in this wooden home-cum-laboratory lost in the midst of the white desert that the first research into the climate and ecosystem of Antarctica was carried out, at the dawn of the 20th century.
Take to the seas with Tara
The Tara Ocean Foundation carries out scientific expeditions to study and understand the impact of climate change. Its mission: open people’s eyes to the vital role of the ocean: humanity’s “Life Support System”, the heart of our climatic system, on which most of life on Earth depends. A veritable floating laboratory, the research schooner Tara – which can be toured online here – has already travelled more than 400,000 kilometres, making stopovers in more than 60 countries during 4 major expeditions, carried out in collaboration with international laboratories of excellence (CNRS, CEA, MIT, NASA, and others). During lockdown, the Foundation offers us the chance to share its expeditions through the world’s oceans and seas.
Watch the documentary “Tara, Journey to the heart of the climate machine” and get a true feel for what it was like to be part of the crew during Tara’s Arctic mission from 2006 to 2008 – 507 days of voluntary confinement, surrounded by ice sheets! Dive to the ocean floor, to the heart of the world in its tiniest expression, on the trail of plankton, thanks to the online comic strip Planktos!
Discover Tara’s other major scientific expeditions, from the Arctic to the Pacific, through the virtual exhibitions made available by Google Arts & Culture …
Exploring the skies and space
By combining all the data at its disposal, especially that obtained via the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter robotic spacecraft, NASA has published a high-definition video of a virtual tour of the Moon. This fascinating account offers countless insights: the North Pole, the crater and Taurus-Littrow lunar valley, the landing site for the Apollo 17 mission, which transported the last men to have walked on the Moon, in 1972. You can actually glimpse the lander and the rover used in the mission!
After the Moon, as we wait for future human expeditions to Mars, NASA takes us on a voyage to the red planet through a series of images collected by the Curiosity rover since it arrived on site in August 2012. By assembling the photos taken using a robotic arm, NASA provides us with a life-like view of the Martian landscape, accessible to all from a computer, mobile or – even better – with a virtual reality headset.
Budding astronomy enthusiasts can also wander through the cosmos at will, exploring constellations and the solar system, through images captured by huge telescopes, on the WWT (worldwidetelescope) website run by the American Astronomy Society. An endless source of amazement. Head in the stars… What better way of escaping from lockdown?
Prepare your future trips
MOMA in New York, the Louvre and Versailles in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Vatican museum, the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan and the Uffizi Gallery in Italy… The world’s most prestigious museums made their collections available for public viewing online well before the pandemic. Of course, they are no substitute for the emotion we feel when standing face to face with a masterpiece of human creation. But virtual museum tours are still an excellent way of planning our future trips, as we wait for aircraft to take to the skies once again.