On a recent trip, I embarrassed my travel companion after I flagged down a flight attendant.

“You know, I produced some of your in-flight entertainment,” I told her, and pointed to my screen. She managed to look interested — even impressed — but in truth she was probably more concerned about making sure everybody got their dinner on time!

The entertainment in question was The Swiss Connection, which SWI swissinfo.ch produces for SWISS International Air Lines. (There’s Swissness for you.)


The current batch includes my tales of cheeky street musicians (Bern’s Buskers’ Festival) and a jolly band of wandering woodsmen (An Architectural Tour). The selections come from swissinfo’s weekly program, and they change every few months.

So next time you travel with SWISS, I hope you’ll check it out! I know I will, and I might even elbow a fellow passenger and say, “Guess what? If you like podcasts … ”


Geranium city

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In Bern you know spring has sprung once the Graniummärit (geranium market) takes over the Bundesplatz. This year marks the 60th edition. As you can see, it’s not just geraniums on offer, but they are the dominant flower. And they’ve got the biggest pots this year…

Swiss researcher Katherine Leonard with emperor penguins near Breid Bay, Antarctica. For an upcoming EPFL project as part of ACE, she will study Southern Ocean salinity. (©Olivier Pierre )

Swiss researcher Katherine Leonard with emperor penguins near Breid Bay, Antarctica. For an upcoming EPFL project as part of ACE, she will study Southern Ocean salinity. (© Olivier Pierre )

Following the launch of the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI), Switzerland now has a voice in global polar policy. Its first project is a three-month Antarctic expedition involving researchers from around the world.

“The SPI will make it possible for Switzerand to be on a par with other countries,” remarked climatologist Thomas Stocker, referring to the fact that many other nations have polar institutes. He also cited the importance of polar research.

“The poles are probably the most vulnerable regions when it comes to anthropogenic climate change, which is happening in front of our eyes in the Arctic, and somewhat less so in Antarctica,” said Stocker, professor of climate and environmental physics at the University of Bern.

Based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the SPI is a consortium of the EPFL, the University of Bern, federal technology institute ETH Zurich, and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.

To mark the launch, SPI is organising a major project: the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE). I got a sneak peek.

With a budget of €3 million (CHF3.3 million), the three-month project will be the first scientific expedition to fully sail around the southernmost continent. You can read the whole story on swissinfo.ch.

© Solar Impulse | Anna Pizzolante | Rezo.ch

© Solar Impulse | Anna Pizzolante | Rezo.ch

I’ve been following Solar Impulse since the first plane was unveiled in 2009, and I’m still really excited about it!

The completely solar-powered plane made history as the first solar aircraft to fly through the night in 2010. That was also the plane that flew across the continental United States in 2013. Engineers back at the base in Payerne, Switzerland, then fine-tuned the aircraft.

The current plane, presented in 2014 and dubbed Si2, is larger and more powerful than its predecessor. In March 2015, it kicked off its quest to fly around the world in several stages – a journey of about 40,000 kilometers with stops in 12 destinations.

However, poor weather pulled the adventure behind schedule, and overheated batteries forced the Solar Impulse team to postpone the project in July 2015. After several months of hibernation in a Hawaiian air hangar, Solar Impulse is now ready to resume its record-breaking attempt at a round-the-world tour.

For a quick catch-up, read my Si2 fast facts story. It covers what it is, how it works, and other pressing questions, like how the pilots go to the bathroom!

Also at SWI swissinfo.ch, I’ve been coordinating a special dossier, Soaring with Solar Impulse, which follows the plane’s progress. Stop by for the latest news and analysis, and let me know if there’s an angle you think we should cover.

Cash in hand!

I finally got a hold of the beautiful new CHF50 note, as you can see in this video. You can watch the whole thing on SWI’s Facebook page.