11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… what we can expect from an Extremely Large Telescope. Read of the week!

The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is being constructed by the European Space Observatory atop Cerro Armazones, a mountain the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The ELT will have a whopping 39-meter (128-foot) mirror and should be complete in 2024.
Illustration by ESO/L. Calçada. CC-BY-SA-4.0

What sort of images will the ELT be able to transmit?


… when you immerse yourself in the natural world, you wander a little through the landscape of your soul.

Anyone who believes that life is a battlefield full of individual warriors should go out into the meadows … This one is near the Straits of Magellan, Chile.
Photograph by Volkmar K. Wentzel, National Geographic

What living things make their home near yours?



.. at the oldest restaurant in Kabul, tradition trumps rockets.

This rich fruit stand in Kabul does not serve the lamb stew that has persisted through Soviet, Taliban, and American forces.
Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic

What has the most recent war in Afghanistan accomplished?



… snow leopards are no longer endangered.

Snow leopards inhabit the mountain ranges of Central Asia and rarely descend below 6,000 feet.
Photograph by James L. Amos, National Geographic

How do you track a snow leopard?


… how one tiny country feeds the world.

Artificial light illuminates Westland, the greenhouse capital of the Netherlands.
Photograph by Luca Locatelli, National Geographic

How are Dutch teachers connecting to the rest of the world?


… Bodegas are mimicking bodegas.

Customers of bodegas, like this one in Brooklyn, are skeptical that a new vending-machine start-up—called Bodega—will replace the beloved convenience stores.
Photograph by Shawn Hoke, courtesy Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Do bodegas and other local businesses help define a neighborhood?


… we’re killing the oldest fish in the sea.

New research reports significant declines in the oldest fish in nearly 80 percent of the populations of 63 species of fish, including Atlantic cod.
Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic

In what ways are fisheries part of the problem and solution for ocean health?


… how to dry-clean New York’s oldest maps.

In the Castello Plan map of 1660, Wall Street is actually a 12-foot tall wall separating New Amsterdam from the wilds of uptown.
Map by Jacques Cortelyou, General Governor of Nieuw Amsterdam, courtesy New York Public Library. Public domain

How would you clean the world’s oldest map?


… woolly rhinos grew a weird extra rib before going extinct.

Woolly rhinos were common throughout northern Europe and Asia until the Ice Age.
Illustration by Charles R. Knight, National Geographic. Public domain

What other weird things went on among dying populations of Pleistocene animals?


… a Nobel prize doesn’t necessarily make you an expert.

British scientist Francis Crick, left, and his American colleague James Watson revolutionized the field of genetics when they discovered the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the genetic blueprint for all living organisms. And then Watson distinguished himself by saying things like “some anti-Semitism is justified” and “our social policies are based on the fact that [Africans’] intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really.” Watson auctioned his Nobel Prize for $4.1 million.
Illustration by Ned M. Seidler, National Geographic

Who are some Nobel winners we’d like to forget? 


… a new tool lets DC residents make the Metro of their dreams.

This map of DC incorporates the forthcoming “Purple Line”—which will be light rail, not metro.
Map by MetroMapMaker.com

How do you make the best Metro map?

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