A longtime passion

<p>Ferdinand Magellan's expedition made the first complete trip around the globe, in 1522. Five hundred years later, people still try for circumnavigation records — youngest circumnavigator, oldest circumnavigator, the first to fly around the world without refueling. </p> <p>Throughout that long history, technology developments — such as better charts, improved food storage and space travel — have made circumnavigation both safer and, depending on the method, more dangerous. Here are some of humankind's greatest world-circling efforts and the technological and cultural advancements they made. </p> <p>Many of these examples come from "Round About the Earth" (Simon & Schuster, 2012), a book about the history of circumnavigation, as well as the Twitter feed of the book's author, Harvard University historian Joyce Chaplin (<a href=http://twitter.com/joycechaplin1>@JoyceChaplin1</a>). </p>

A deadly goal

<p>Ferdinand Magellan, an explorer born in Portugal, led the first expedition to circle the globe, but he didn't come back with it. Magellan embarked from Spain in 1519 with five ships that probably took about 1,000 trees in total to build. Expeditions like Magellan's eventually denuded the Mediterranean area of trees, according to "Round About the Earth." </p> <p>In 1522, one of Magellan's ships finally made its way back to Spain. Magellan had died in a battle along the way. Much of his crew died of starvation and scurvy. </p> <p>Circumnavigation continued to be a deadly goal until the early 1700s. The first world-circling ship expeditions lost anywhere from 66 percent (Sir Francis Drake, 1580) to 98 percent (García Jofre de Loaísa, 1536) of their crews to disease, fights, storms and desertion. </p>

Kinder-hearted captains

<p>British Royal Navy officer John Byron was the first circumnavigating captain who valued his sailors' lives, according to "Round About the Earth." For his 1764 journey, Byron set a schedule that allowed his crew adequate rest, refused to ration water, tried to pack and serve fresher foods and even nagged his men to change when their clothes got wet. </p> <p>Byron, grandfather of poet Lord Byron, made the entire journey around the Earth without a single crewmember dying of scurvy. He also set a speed record for his time, going around the globe in under two years. </p> <p>Byron and his contemporaries, such as fellow Royal Navy officer James Cook, made circumnavigation much safer. They pioneered several new technologies, including improved charts and chronometers, and adopted on-ship habits that helped prevent disease. </p>

The first woman

<p>The first woman to circumnavigate the globe boarded a French expedition dressed as a man. Jeanne Baret was eventually found out, although <a href=http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/01/23/145664873/the-first-woman-to-go-round-the-world-did-it-as-a-man>stories vary</a> about how, exactly. </p> <p>At the time, sailors considered it unlucky to have a woman, or even female animals, on board. The prejudice against women was so strong that a female goat kept for milk circled the globe before Baret did. </p> <p>Nevertheless, Baret received recognition in 1785, when the French Navy gave her an annual pension of 200 livres for her accomplishment and dubbed her an "extraordinary woman." </p>

On a bike

<p>The first man to ride around the globe on a bike did so on a penny-farthing bicycle, one of those old-fashioned bikes with a large front wheel and a small back wheel. Thomas Stevens, an American laborer originally from England, contended with rough wagon roads and suspicious locals on his 1884-1887 journey, <a href=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6928993>NPR reported</a>. </p> <p>The penny-farthing was the first bike to boast a metal, instead of a wooden, frame. Its comparatively swift design helped kick start bicycle racing as a sport, <a href=http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/insidethecollection/2012/09/the-penny-farthing-bicycle/>according to the Powerhouse Museum in Australia</a>. </p> <p>In the years after Stevens' journey, advances in transportation made long-distance travel so safe that super-rich people around the world took deluxe circumnavigation tours. Their parties were carefully selected to exclude those of certain ethnic backgrounds or social classes, according to "Round About the Globe." </p>

In a plane

<p> In 1924, the United States War Department sent out four planes, dubbed the World Cruisers, to attempt the first round-the-world flight. Two British teams and one French team had previously attempted the feat, unsuccessfully. </p> <p>Aircraft at the time were biplanes that lacked radios and advanced navigation aids. During the War Department-sponsored attempt, one World Cruiser got lost in fog and crashed into a mountainside. (The pilots sustained only minor injuries.) Another World Cruiser had to make an emergency landing in the Atlantic Ocean and suffered too much damage to go on. The remaining two planes finished the route. Their accomplishment marked a major step toward worldwide transport, <a href=http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?id=A19250008000>according to the National Air and Space Museum</a>. </p>

Amelia Earhart

<p>In 1937, Amelia Earhart attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world, after previously earning distinction as the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, amongst other records. While flying over the Pacific Ocean, she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, encountered cloudy skies and lost radio contact with the Coast Guard ship following them. The U.S. government immediately launched a rescue effort, but couldn't find Earhart or Noonan. </p> <p>A high-tech effort to <a href=http://www.technewsdaily.com/5907-robots-hunt-amelia-earhart.html>find Earhart's plane</a> this past year also failed. </p>

The space age

<p>The onset of the space age brought the first circumnavigation efforts attempted in orbit. In 1957, the Soviet Union sent the first creature to space in the Sputnik 2. Laika, a stray dog, died from overheating during her fourth orbit, before she could consume the poisoned food scientists had packed for her as a more merciful death. </p> <p>Many of the animals and people who followed Laika into space also perished, once again turning circumnavigation efforts into a series of fatal expeditions, as had been the case in Magellan's time. </p>

Fuel-free

<p>The first circumnavigating craft depended on sails and manpower. Later versions used enormous amounts of fuel. Now, some of the latest world-circling vessels require nothing but the sun. </p> <p>In May 2012, the Tûranor PlanetSolar became the first entirely solar-powered boat to circle the world, <a href=http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/05/worlds-first-circumnavigation-by-solar-powered-ship-a-success/>Wired reported</a>. PlanetSolar's journey took more than a year and a half, but encountered no major problems, aside from occasional stalls when the sun wasn't shining and the boat's batteries ran out of power. </p>

Future flight

<p>A Swiss team plans to fly around the world in 2015 without using any fuel. The team, called Solar Impulse, has been testing an entirely solar-powered plane on shorter journeys. In July 2012, the Solar Impulse plane flew between Switzerland and Morocco. </p> <p>The circumnavigation trip should take two to three months, with stops in major cities along the way, team members told TechNewsDaily during a visit to the Swiss Consulate in New York City. Pilots may stay in the air four or five days at a time, gathering electricity during sunny days that they will need when flying through the nights. </p>

The 9 Greatest Voyages Around the World