11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… Easter Islanders did not engage in ecocide. Read of the week!

Easter Island has long been used as an example of ecocide, in which residents exhausted the island’s resources and suffered a population collapse. The collapse didn’t actually happen until Easter Islanders met the guns, germs, and steel of European visitors.
Photograph by Randy Olson, National Geographic

Who are the most famous residents of Easter Island?


… new underwater sensors are searching for the Big One off Canada’s west coast.

Is the North American West Coast prone to earthquakes?


… how layers in a latte form, and why this is important to oceanography.

The new research was inspired by a citizen science question on #layeredlatte Instagram.
Photograph by Jesse Sutton

What are the layers in the deep blue sea?


… bar mitzvah motivators get the party started.

Mazel tov!
Photograph by Selena N.B.H., courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-2.0

What are bar mitzvahs? (Page 48!)


… deaf servants thrived in the Ottoman Empire’s carefully cultivated culture of silence.

In the 1600s, deaf servants were the favored companions of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and their facility in nonverbal communication made them indispensable to the court.
Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic

Where was the Ottoman Empire?


… the California drought helped the Sierras rise by almost an inch.

Download this spectacular Nat Geo map to understand “California’s Water Challenge” and how droughts can impact entire regions.
Map by National Geographic

What was California’s “megadrought”?


… scientists revealed a connection between lightning and the solar wind—thanks to the personal diary of a medieval princess.

When 17th-century Japanese princess Shinanomiya Tsuneko took note of an afternoon storm in her diary one humid Kyoto summer, she could not have imagined her observations would one day help resolve a longstanding scientific conundrum.
Woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai. Public domain

What is lightning?


… how bidding for Amazon’s second headquarters could impact civil rights.

Individuals representing a broad spectrum of gender identities and expressions pose for a group portrait. Photograph by Henry Leutwyler, National Geographic.

How are other e-commerce giants managed?


… 2,000 years later, Romans repealed Ovid’s exile.

The great poet Ovid was exiled from Rome for unspecified offenses in 8 CE.
Painting by Luca Signorelli, courtesy Wikimedia. Public domain

What were the limits to citizenship in Ancient Rome?


… what we’ve learned from 60 years of U.S.-funded UFO studies.

Image by George Stock, courtesy the Central Intelligence Agency

Learn a little about Project Blue Book—the government program to study UFOs.


… Ghana’s hip-hop artists rap about the environment.

Download and print your own map of this coastal African nation here.

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