11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… why high school students should learn Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Read of the week!

The grid here is spacetime, and it’s being warped by the gravitational field of Earth.
Illustration courtesy NASA

How much do you know about general relativity? Take our quick quiz to find out.



… glaciers can surge as fast as speeding trains—and be just as dangerous.

Lambert Glacier is the largest and one of the fastest-moving glaciers in the world.
Image courtesy Canadian Space Agency/NASA/Ohio State University, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Alaska SAR facility

How fast is a speeding glacier?



… you’re descended from royalty, and so is everyone else.

“DNA says exactly the same thing as mathematical ancestry: Our family trees are not trees at all, but entangled meshes.”
Gorgeous map by Chakazul, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Let the Genographic Project clue you in on genetics, DNA, and the human journey.



… a scrap of 300-year old paper reveals pirate reading habits.

When not dueling and being generally swarthy, the pirates of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge may have read about the rescue of Alexander Selkirk—the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe
Painting by N.C. Wyeth, courtesy National Geographic

How do we identify pirates, anyway?



… the Silk Road may have included a “silk canal.”

What was the Silk Road?



… erosion may transform Arctic food webs.

Arctic food webs include both marine and terrestrial organisms.
Illustration by Doris Dialogu, National Geographic

What are Arctic food webs?



… new maps have revealed some of the most isolated regions on the planet.

This map of travel time to cities illustrates travel time to cities of at least 50,000 people. The map ranges from minutes (bright yellow) to nearly a week (dark purple).
Map from “A global map of travel time to cities to assess inequalities in accessibility in 2015,” Nature doi:10.1038/nature25181

Where are the most populated regions of the planet?



… Chinese immigrants are adapting to Nigeria.

Commuters bustle through Nigeria’s busy capital city, Lagos. About 50,000 Chinese immigrants live in Lagos.
Photograph by Robin Hammond, National Geographic

Download your own map of Africa’s biggest economy here.



… Brexit has precipitated a chicken tikka masala crisis in Britain.

Chicken tikka masala is Britain’s unofficial national dish.
Photograph by Sarah Stierch, courtesy Wikimedia CC-BY-4.0

What is the Brexit?



… climate change is triggering a migration crisis in Vietnam.

Coastal erosion brought on by climate change has forced thousands of rural Vietnamese to cities like Hanoi.
Photograph by Mattias Klum, National Geographic

What are push and pull factors that impact Vietnam’s rural population?



… what it’s like to spend a year on Mars.

CLICK TO ENLARGE! This graphic shows what colonizing Mars might look like, complete with a map of the planet.
Artwork by Stephan Martiniere, National Geographic.

What would a settlement on Mars look like?

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