Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Faroe Islands shine in storybook setting
Though local legend hints of Tolkien drama in this Danish territory, there's much more to these hauntingly beautiful 18 islands.
By Karl Ritter, Associated Press
Published July 15, 2007
GJOGV, Faroe Islands - It's just after 9 p.m. when the magic begins.
The late-setting sun breaks through purple rain clouds to drape the rugged island of Eysturoy in a golden shimmer. A perfect rainbow arches over the Slaettaratindur mountain. Offshore, a wild ocean launches ferocious swells against the Giant and the Witch, two spectacular rock pillars that protrude from the surf like craggy teeth.
All that's missing from the storybook setting is a band of orcs or goblins crawling out from behind a rock, or a pipe-smoking Hobbit emerging from one of the turf-roofed houses.
The Lord of the Rings analogy is never far away in the Faroe Islands, a barren and wind-swept archipelago whose volcanic peaks shoot out of the Atlantic Ocean halfway between Iceland and Norway. Local legend even claims the ring of power is hidden here.
"The one who holds it gets lots of powers, but the one who holds it will also die because of it," says Hans Jakub Mikkelsen, a hobby historian, recounting an ancient Faroese saga.
Although easily accessible by plane from Britain or Scandinavia, the Faroe Islands are remote enough to be spared mass tourism. You run into more sheep than people once you venture outside the sedate capital, Torshavn.
That's a good thing. Anonymity has helped this semiautonomous Danish territory remain one of those rare places where you don't have to worry about traffic, pollution or crime. Doors are left unlocked and only seven of the roughly 48,000 residents are in jail.
Shy but hospitable, the islanders trace their heritage to a less friendly bunch - the Vikings, who started settling here in the eighth century. Ancient traditions live on, like the medieval chain dance, the reciting of ballads and a controversial whale slaughter.
The bloody spectacle occurs about six times a year when a school of pilot whales comes close enough to be driven onshore. Knife-wielding men butcher the whales to the silent approval of scores of onlookers and horror of animal rights activists.
The brutal tradition seems hard to reconcile with the gentle character of the Faroese, but then again, this is a land of stark contrasts.
Nature has carved a dramatic landscape from the basalt rock spewed out by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Every winding turn of the well-kept roads offers majestic views over deep-green pastures, shimmering fjords or steep cliffs towering over the Atlantic swell.
But walk up to the edge, and the brute force of nature stares you right in the eye.
Take Slave's Edge on the island of Vagar. Here, a high-lying lake spills over a rock wall and releases its excess water into the ocean in a 100-foot waterfall.
The surf below roars menacingly as a horizontal wind lashes your face with rain. The rocks start to feel slippery as you watch the hostile waves crash into the vertical wall. Not surprisingly, the Faroese are looking for ways to generate electricity here.
"If you take the power of 1 kilometer off these cliffs there is enough energy in those waves for one year of electricity consumption in the Faroe Islands," says Olavur Gregersen, the head of SeWave Ltd., a small Faroese wave energy company.
While hiking on mountain trails is a must, the best way to get around the Faroe Islands is by car. Modern roads and tunnels connect the main islands of Vagar, Streymoy, Eysturoy and Bordoy. Ferries run between most of the other islands. Weather permitting - and everything here depends on the weather - you can even get around by helicopter.
From the air you get a full appreciation of how lonely these 18 islands are. Tiny villages with colorful wooden houses are clustered around the shores, but the inside of the islands is desolate. The mountainsides are simply too steep or too exposed to the elements to make comfortable living possible.
You also get an idea of why the Faroese don't pay much attention to weather forecasts. One island will be baking in sunlight while the next is shrouded in fog.
The rule is to dress warm and waterproof, especially if you're out hiking. A clear sky can turn into hailstorm within minutes - and don't think you'll see it coming.
Harsh as it may seem, the climate is actually very mild for this northern latitude thanks to the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current that helps keep average temperatures between 37 degrees in the winter and 52 degrees in summer.
The mix of warm Gulf Stream waters and frigid Arctic waters also provides a fertile breeding ground for fish, whose impact on the Faroe Islands cannot be overestimated.
The local government says fish products account for an estimated 97 percent of export volumes. Faroese cod, saithe, haddock and farmed salmon are shipped around the world.
Oddly for a fishing nation, fresh seafood does not dominate the menus at Torshavn's restaurants. The Faroese like to eat meat when they go out, not fish, which is considered a staple food.
You'll need some courage to sample such Faroese delicacies as sheep's head, whale blubber and Skerpikjoet - raw mutton that has been left to dry for months. If you're not feeling adventurous, there's always roast lamb and potatoes.
- - -
The Faroe Islands
Don't miss the birds: Puffins, kittiwakes, gannets and the world's biggest colony of storm petrels make the Faroes a top destination for birdwatchers. Boat trips with an expert can be arranged through the tourist office; www.visit-faroeislands.com.
Getting there: Local airline Atlantic Airways flies daily from Copenhagen and twice a week from London; www.atlantic.fo. The Faeroese Smyril Line operates year-round cruises from Norway, Denmark and Scotland; www.smyril-line.com.
Accommodations: Four-star hotels in Torshavn include Hotel Hafnia, www.hafnia.fo, and Hotel Foeroyar, www.hotelforoyar.com. Rates start around $240 for a double room. For a more affordable stay, try the Gjaargardur guest house in Gjogv, where a twin room is $127; www.gjaargardur.fo.
Festivals: Don't expect pulsating night life - Iceland is the place for that - or major cultural events. But the summer is packed with art and music festivals. The July G! Festival brings thousands to the village of Goeta to hear international bands and local singers; www.gfestival.com.
Tips: You can change your money into Danish kroner at local banks. English is widely spoken.