11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… architects, urban planners, and activists have some big ideas for the “adaptive reuse” of former big box stores.

Big box stores and online retailers have dealt serious blows to shopping malls like this one in Trotwood, Ohio.
Photograph by Nicholas Eckart, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-2.0

How does adaptive reuse fit in with “new urbanism”?



… that if you have a smartphone and can see some clouds, you and your students can become NASA scientific research assistants.

The GLOBE Program offers citizen scientists a chance to conduct up to ten cloud observations (like this gorgeous lenticular cloud over Dublin, Ireland) every day.
Photograph by Omnisource5, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-4.0

Use our resource to get some cloud basics.



… Belgians go fishing for shrimp on horseback.

Use our activity to help students map the Belgian nearshore shrimp fishery.



… archaeologists have identified new geoglyphs in the Peruvian desert.

Unlike the nearby Nazca lines (above)—most of which are only visible from overhead—the older Paracas glyphs were laid down on hillsides, making them visible to villages below.
Photograph by Bates Littlehales, National Geographic

Where else have ancient geoglyphs been discovered recently?



… this ancient lizard had four eyes.

An extinct species of monitor lizard that lived in what is now Wyoming about 49 million years ago is the only jawed vertebrate to have had four eye-like structures. Two standard eyes were on either side of its head, while pineal and parapineal “eyes” sat on top of its head. Pineal eyes are associated with hormone production. Many extant species of lizards, frogs, and some fish have a pineal “third eye.”
Photograph of a fossil of by Smokeybjb, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

What other weird adaptations have lizards developed?



… how one geologist mapped the minerals of the cosmos.

A professor told Ursula Marvin she should learn to cook. Instead, she became a planetary geologist and chased down meteorites in Antarctica.
Photograph courtesy Smithsonian Institution Archives

Do some meteorite-hunting of your own with our interactive map.



… geography and ethnic prejudice are threatening the way of life among “floating villages” of the lower Mekong River.

Since 1979, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has kept the ethnic Vietnamese of the floating village of Chong Kneas, Cambodia, in a state of political limbo—informally granting and rescinding rights based on the current political climate.
Photograph by Christine Zenino, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-2.0

What is the history of the civilizations of Vietnam and Cambodia?



… how the earliest land plants muddied up our world.

Once land plants became established, changes to both how rocks weathered and how fine, muddy particles were trapped by plants meant that muddy sediments could accumulate on land in much greater quantities.
Photograph by Walter Meayers Edwards, National Geographic

How do land plants continue to preserve soil today?



… the math behind the perfect free throw. (Protip: Aim beyond the center of the rim.)

Photograph by Winfield Parks, National Geographic

What’s the math behind March Madness?



… you can use demographics to find your city’s twin. Or its opposite.


Use our collection of resources to support the AP Human Geography “Cities and Urban Land Use” topic.



… the Hubble Space Telescope helped identify Icarus, the farthest star humans have yet seen.

This image composite shows the discovery of the most distant known star,  a blue supergiant nicknamed Icarus, using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The upper right image pinpoints the position of the star, observed in 2011. The lower right image shows where the star was undergoing the microlensing event in late May 2016.
Photograph by NASA & ESA and P. Kelly (University of California, Berkeley)

Icarus is a blue supergiant. Do you think a nearby planet might be habitable?

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