What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Explore : exploration

Journeys

The One-Armed Geologist Whose Daring Colorado River Descent Made the Grand Canyon Famous

John Wesley Powell's Expedition Opened the West. He Then Devoted His Life to Protecting It

by John F. Ross
April 25, 2019

In May 1869, ten men climbed into four small, wooden rowboats to attempt what no one had dared before: descend the Colorado River through the unknown, frightening confines of the Grand Canyon. The leading explorer of the day, John C. Frémont, called it a suicide mission.

But no one could dissuade the expedition’s leader, scientist and Civil War hero John Wesley Powell, from exploring the last largely unexplored section of continental America, a 100-by-300-mile swathe of labyrinthian canyonland of the …

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Encounters

What’s More American Than Skydiving?

Encounters with Freedom, Optimism, and Exploration at 10,000 Feet

By Taya Weiss
March 31, 2015

When I quit my first real job, I didn’t have a plan. I just walked out with the recklessness of a Harvard graduate who had come of age during the Clinton era Internet bubble. I was barely out the door when reality set in, and elation gave way to doubts about the wobbling post-Y2K economy. What if I had doomed myself to poverty? I wanted catharsis. That’s when I got the idea to jump out of an airplane.

Soon after, …

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Journeys

The Path to Mars Goes From Lebanon to Pasadena

Growing Up in the Middle East, I Loved John Wayne and Gazing at the Stars. I Came to America Believing Nothing Was Impossible.

Charles Elachi and colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

By Charles Elachi
September 22, 2014

“Only the United States could do this.” Those words were uttered by the head of a foreign space agency who was one of my VIP guests at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on August 5, 2012, the night the long-awaited Mars Curiosity rover landed successfully on the Red Planet. I’ll never forget hearing him say those words…

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