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Seamen relaxing on the HMS Pallas, April 1775. Early depictions of common seamen are exceedingly rare; this one is from an album of watercolours by Second Lieutenant Gabriel Bray aboard the ship. Courtesy the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Essay/
Oceans and water
Who was Jack Tar?

He was a patriot and a prisoner, a delegate and a drunk; circling the globe when few Englishmen ever left their home counties

Stephen Taylor

Uummannaq Fjord in Northern Greenland. Photo by Ciril Jazbec/National Geographic

Essay/
Anthropology
We are wayfinders

Navigation and spatial awareness sustained humans for tens of thousands of years. Have we lost the trail in modern times?

Michael Bond

Desolate? A panoramic view of the coast at Ashkelon, Palestine. Coloured lithograph by L Haghe, c1843, after David Roberts. Photo courtesy Wellcome Images

Essay/
Global history
Struggling to see Palestine

For Westerners, the Bible and its prophecies have obscured as much as they’ve revealed about the Holy Land

Michael Press

Soldiers enjoying the snow in Gulmarg, a ski resort in the beautiful but disputed border province of Kashmir, India. Photo by: IndiaPictures/UIG via Getty

Essay/
Travel
Boldly go!

In thinking about faraway travel, the ability to assess risk falters. It’s probably safer than your morning commute

Henry Wismayer

Arrivals and departures at Kazan station. Gueorgui Pinkhassov/Magnum

Essay/
Travel
Right on track

If there is a greater thrill of travelling than the discovery of unfamiliar places, for me it’s getting there by train

Margarita Gokun Silver

Photo by Raghu Rai/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Travel
The parlance of pilots

High above London, Tokyo and Cairo, the language of the cockpit is technical, obscure, geeky – and irresistibly romantic

Mark Vanhoenacker

From Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, published in 1865. (De la Terre a la Lune). Photo by Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

Essay/
Travel
How we lost the Moon

The Moon has always enchanted dreamers, but Apollo is a fading memory and routine lunar travel seems as remote as ever

Brian Clegg