11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… how a “somewhat dreamy scholar” sent fake typhus vaccines to Nazi soldiers and provided the real thing to fellow inmates at Buchenwald. Read of the week!

Survivors look out the window of the hospital barracks of the Buchenwald concentration camp after liberation in 1945. Buchenwald inmates suckered Nazi elites for the last 18 months of the war with a false vaccine.
Photograph by William B. Duff, courtesy U.S. Army. Public domain

Put Buchenwald in context with our interactive timeline of World War II in Europe.



… how illegal gold mining is threatening cocoa farmers—and your chocolate.

Where does your chocolate come from? Use our Planet Food interactive to learn more.



… about testing for wisdom, and why one psychologist thinks the U.S. education system is producing a system of “smart fools.”

The faculty and University of Virginia graduating class of 1950 heads to the ceremony.
Photograph by Anne Frances Revis, National Geographic

How is “generation geography” testing the wisdom of their students?



… Rome’s newest subway line is leading to archaeological wonders.

Mosaics like this one (although not this one) were uncovered by archaeologists ahead of expansion of a subway line.
Photograph by Luis Marden, National Geographic

Explore the art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and politics with our rich collection of resources on Ancient Rome.



… the world’s largest telescope will finally allow astronomers to see stars without those distracting diffraction spikes.

The artificial spikes of the white dwarfs in Globular Cluster NGC 6397, visualized by the Hubble Space Telescope, come about not from the primary mirror itself, but from the fact that there needs to be another set of reflections that focus the light onto its final destination. The Giant Magellan Telescope, scheduled to be completed by 2025, will get rid of those spikes.
Photograph by NASA, ESA, and H. Richer (University of British Columbia)

You don’t need the world’s largest telescope to spot a supernova.



… women have been charting careers in cartography for as long as there has been cartography.

This 19th-century map of what was then the western United States already documents the forced relocation of Native American communities.
Map by Emma Willard, courtesy Library of Congress

How are women cartographers reinvigorating mapmaking today?



… an evidence-based project has significantly cut fertilizer use while boosting crop yields for millions of small farms across China.

Scientists developed evidence-based suggestions about how much and when to use fertilizers. The advice was given to farmers on the basis of their local geographical conditions.
Photograph by George Steinmetz, National Geographic

Will evidence-based suggestions help farmers feed our growing population? Use our lesson to help students better understand our agricultural system.



… how centuries of Muslim rule—and generally peaceful religious coexistence—came to an end in Spain.

This painting, completed in Catholic Spain 400 years after the Reconquista, represents the moment when Boabdil, the last Moorish sultan of Granada, surrendered the city and gave the “keys to paradise” to it to Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.
Painting by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz

What was the Reconquista?



… how pointed stone tools evolved over millennia.

New research examines whether the length of the sharp, working edge of stone flakes changed over time relative to the size of the flakes.
Photograph by David Arnold, National Geographic

What are projectile points?



… private education is experiencing a worldwide boom.

A sixteen-year-old takes her final exams on the last day of school at Colegio Vertice, the top-ranked high school in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Private universities’ share of enrollment is highest in Latin America—48.8%. Photograph by John Stanmeyer, National Geographic

Our community of certified educators represents a great coalition of private, charter, and public educators.



… the deadliest animals in the U.S. aren’t what you think they are.

What are you looking at?
Photograph by Brian Finke, c/o Everybody Somebody Inc. and National Geographic

In the jungles of Hawaii, cattle are the most dangerous game.

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