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February 19, 2019

If you're flying east today, you're in a whole lot of luck: The jet stream, that funny little channel of high-altitude air that flows over the United States and northern Atlantic, is moving at unheard-of speeds, delivering commercial jets to their destinations nearly an hour ahead of schedule, The Washington Post reports. In fact, one Virgin Atlantic flight traveling from Los Angeles to London notched a speed of 801 miles per hour over Pennsylvania — which, had it been on the ground, would have been faster than the speed of sound.

Thankfully for the passengers on board, the plane itself didn't actually break the speed of sound because, as the Post puts it, "it was embedded in the swiftly moving air," so only its horizontal speed over the land, or ground speed, crossed the 767-mile-per-hour speed-of-sound threshold. The plane's true "airspeed," or speed at which air was passing over the wings, would have been much lower.

Still, the speed is impressive, and is thought to be a record for a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has a usual cruising speed of 561 miles per hour.

Other flights have also been catching an extra boost from the high winds: A 737 traveling from Chicago to New York hit a ground speed of 700 miles per hour on Tuesday morning, with that route's estimated travel time down to one hour and 24 minutes from the usual two hours.

If you're flying west, alas, the jet stream won't be quite as fun: The Post expects westward flights out of New York and New England to see up to an extra 30 minutes of travel time. Jeva Lange

September 16, 2018

Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon world record by more than a minute Sunday, winning the Berlin Marathon with a stunning time of 2:01:39. The previous record, also set in Berlin, was a 2:02:57 race run by Kenya's Dennis Kimetto in 2014.

"I had a great belief that I would run a world record," Kipchoge said after his victory. "But I didn't know I'd run 2:01. I didn't know that what I was believing translated to 2:01, but I'm happy for it."

Kipchoge, who has been hailed as the "greatest marathon runner of all time," won Olympic gold for the marathon in 2016. Watch his moment of triumph in Berlin below. Bonnie Kristian

December 14, 2017

Buying chips from a vending machine is so 2017. In 2018, buying a car with the push of a button is where it's at.

Alibaba, a massive online retailer often referred to as the "Amazon of China," unveiled a video concept of its "Auto Vending Machine" on Wednesday. It's an attempt to simplify car buying, letting users browse, test drive and buy a car in a matter of minutes.

Oh, and it's also shaped like a cat.

The car-buying process starts with Alibaba's Taobao app. When customers spot a car they like on the street, they scan it on the app, customize the vehicle's color, and pick it up at their nearest vending machine for a test drive, per TechCrunch. After test driving for three days, shoppers can either buy the car or test something else.

This video breaks down the process:

Alibaba will open its first two test-drive centers in China next month, and aims to install more across the country in 2018. Who knows what wallet-altering decisions you’ll be able to make on a whim next? Kathryn Krawczyk

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