These photos won a National Geographic contest, and they're breathtaking.

For over 120 years, National Geographic has brought the world to your doorstep.

The iconic magazine, TV channel, and brand has built their name showcasing the planet's most beautiful and exotic places in writing and photography.

Every single month, the glossy, high-resolution pages of National Geographic are filled with some of the best photography in the world.


They also hold an annual photography contest, open to amateurs and people outside of Nat Geo's employ. It's a chance for photographers all over the world to showcase their work.

The 2016 winners of the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest were announced in July.

As you can imagine, they are breathtaking:

"Winter Horseman" by Anthony Lau (Mongolia)

Grand prize winner. All images courtesy of National Geographic.

"The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving," writes photographer Anthony Lau. "At a freezing temperature of minus twenty and lower, with a constant breeze of snow from all direction, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos."

"Wherever You Go, I Will Follow" by Hiroki Inoue (Japan)

"Nature" first place winner.

"It was the time of day immediately following sunset. I heard a voice. 'Wherever you go, I will follow you' the voice says." — Photographer Hiroki Inoue.

"Ben Youssef" by Takashi Nakagawa (Morocco)

"Cities" first place winner.

"Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compare to the street outside in Marrakesh," wrote Takashi Nakagawa. "I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for long time."

"Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi" by Yasmin Mund (India)

"People" second place winner.

"I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30am," wrote Yasmin Mund. "I instinctively climbed the 7 sets of stairs to the rooftop (which happened to be the highest in the vicinity) to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As the sun was rising I looked over the right hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief."

"Double Trapping" by Massimiliano Bencivenni (Brazil)

"Nature" second place winner.

"I was in the Brazilian Pantanal along the Rio Negrinho," wrote Massimiliano Bencivenni. "I realized that the river, at certain points of the loops, created places where there were many yacare caimans. I saw a yacare sink suddenly, and I immediately looked for the best location to photograph when it resurfaced. The whole thing lasted only a fraction of a moment."

"Silenced" by Wing Ka H. (China)

"Cities" second place winner.

"This photo was taken on my last trip to Guangzhou, China," wrote Wing Ka H. "This place is the school dormitories of South China Normal University. When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break. After lunchtime, they needed to go back to study."

"Remote Life" by Mattia Passarini (India)


"People" third place winner.

This woman is carrying a log to warm up her home in the remote village of Himachal Pradesh.

"Lagunas Baltinache" by Victor Lima (Chile)

"Nature" third place winner.

"I embarked alone on this adventure to find images not yet published of the most arid desert in the world and its contrasts," wrote photographer Victor Lima. "Despite the Atacama Desert being one of the best places on the planet to do night photography, in my prior research I discovered that there were not many night photos in the main tourist destinations there."

"Celestial Reverie" by Jeremy Tan (Malaysia)

"Cities" third place winner.

"Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia, during a thunderstorm. It is symbolic of the rejuvenation that the city, famous for a unique blend of centuries-old buildings and modern structures, has enjoyed in recent years." — Photographer Jeremy Tan.

"Muscle Beach Gym" by Dotan Saguy (USA)

"People" honorable mention.

The iconic Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, California.

"Bears on a Berg" by John Rollins (Canadian Arctic)

"Nature" honorable mention.

"To me, the relative smallness of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear's reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence," wrote John Rollins.

"Divide" by Kathleen Dolmatch (USA)

"Cities" honorable mention.

"From a doorless helicopter looking south on Central Park West, dividing the architecture and Central Park," wrote Kathleen Dolmatch. "The flight was my birthday gift."

It probably seems like there's a lot of ugliness in the world lately.

Terrorist attacks, shootings, political drama — it's exhausting.

But it's nice to be reminded that there's always beauty in the world, and sometimes it takes a keen, highly trained eye to find it.

Photographers often have to wait around for hours or days to capture images like these. They have to climb on roofs or get in helicopters or put themselves in dangerous spots just to grab a single moment of the world's intense and fleeting beauty.

When they do, it's so worth it. Because we all get to enjoy it.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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