It's official: California's Death Valley is the hottest place on earth. It's taken 99 years for the recognition, but experts at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced on Thursday that a reading of 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius) at a remote Libyan outpost in 1922 was simply a case of overcooked data. Thus, the WMO now recognizes the 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) reading on July 10, 1913, at Death Valley's Greenland Ranch (now called, quite fittingly, Furnace Creek) as the highest surface temperature ever recorded.
The record came during a week of extreme heat in Death Valley, where the high reached at least 127 degrees Fahrenheit (52.7 degrees Celsius) every day.
"It was so hot that swallows in full flight fell to the earth dead," Oscar Denton, the ranch caretaker and regional weather observer, reportedly said of the day. "When I went out to read the thermometer with a wet Turkish towel on my head, it was dry before I returned."
We, as a people, love the extremes -- the hottest, coldest, tallest, deepest, largest, smallest, highest, lowest everything. Anything that ends in "est" piques our imagination.
It also serves as a good marketing tool for tourism boards to lure us in. For those that can't help but be attracted to earth's extremes, here's a look at some of the wildest spots on the planet and how easy (or hard) it is to visit them.