Category Archives: Natural Disasters

Celebrate Earth Day!

The photo was taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on their way to the Moon. Antarctica, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, and part of Asia are visible.

The photo was taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on their way to the Moon. Antarctica, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, and part of Asia are visible.

Today is Earth Day. It’s a time to celebrate the glorious bounty of this planet, which despite hurtling through a hostile and unforgiving universe, has nonetheless fostered an abundance of life for millions of years. Quite an accomplishment. Continue reading

Zombie Apocalypse, Part 3: Emergency Preparedness and the End of Life As We Know It (We’re Not Kidding)

zombie preparednessIn Zombie Apocalypse Part 1:  The Lamentable History of Zombies and Zombie Apocalypse, Part 2: Zombies and Pop Culture, we looked at how zombies became the current phenomenon of choice. We also examined the allure of spine-tingling fear and the chemistry of why we love to be frightened.  After all, it’s a suspension of reality. It’s just great fun.

Or so you thought. Continue reading

“Is it Time to Rethink Our Ideas About Preserving World Heritage?” A Provocative Question in Dire Times

AN Forum

The Financial Times’ recent article, “Is It Time to Rethink Our Ideas About Preserving World Heritage?” by Jonathan Foyle, explores whether in the face of the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage from natural disasters and “human aggression, theft and errors of judgment,” new ways of preserving our heritage should be sought. Continue reading

The Nepal Earthquake: Cultural Heritage and the Soul of a People

AN Forum

How do societies define themselves? To some degree or another, they look to the past. Where their people originated, the gods who have guided and protected them, their cultural accomplishments through the ages and the ancient sites that embody their historical heart.

Dharahara Tower before and after the earthquake. Image credit: NPR, Sunil Sharma/Xinhua/Landov and Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Landov

Dharahara Tower before and after the earthquake. Image credit: NPR, Sunil Sharma/Xinhua/Landov and Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Landov

The massive earthquake in Nepal has resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties. Pictures reveal vast swathes of devastation, and as with most catastrophes, it’s hard to distinguish amidst the rubble the evidence of previous human habitation. The earthquake now is embedded as a fault line of the nation’s 21st century self: the time before the earthquake, the time after. Once again, this ancient land has raised itself upward and wrenched itself away from earth’s pull. Eventually, after the geological frenzy, it will settle back down again. In Nepal’s strata, in its layers of broken tiles and artifacts, history reveals itself as relentlessly repeating. Continue reading

Maps, Part 3: Defining and Explaining our Past, Present and Future

"Gaia spacecraft" by ESA–D. Ducros, 2013

“Gaia spacecraft” by ESA–D. Ducros, 2013

In Parts 1 and 2 of Maps: Defining and Explaining our Past, Present and Future, we explored how the ancients mapped the heavens and how modern space programs capture data today. Amazingly adept we humans have been at duality, both mythologizing and demystifying the worlds around us through time. As we calculate and calibrate and chronicle, we push the boundaries of our known existences and challenge ourselves to see where the impossible can become the possible. Take a look at the Gaia Probe that will map out the Milky Way using a billion pixel camera and two telescopes. The Milky Way was the stuff of dreams for millennia. Now the Milky Way will be rendered with a precision that boggles the mind and unlocks the mysteries that have intrigued the human imagination for centuries. Continue reading

KIDS’ BLOG! Blowing Their Tops: The Destructive History and Amazing Science of Volcanoes

Lava flow from Mount Kilauea. Image credit: Adrian Glover

Lava flow from Mount Kilauea. Image credit: Adrian Glover

UPDATE! This post was originally published on September 3rd, 2013. Right now an ancient volcano in Hawaii is causing a lot of trouble for residents. The Kilauea Volcano, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is actually its youngest volcano, but that doesn’t mean it’s a baby by any stretch of the imagination. It is over 300,000 years old and has been constantly active since prehistoric times. It is one of the world’s most active volcanos and features prominently in many Polynesian legends, including the story of Pele, a volcanic goddess who is said to live in the Kilauea crater.[1] There is even archaeological evidence of the eruptions that have taken place since antiquity. Footprints frozen in time leave reminders of those who have lost their lives to this powerful force of nature.[2] Continue reading

Remembering the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz: The Ancient Voice of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Somewhere_Over_The_Rainbow_-_geograph.org.uk_-_962472It starts with a single drop of water. As visible light passes through the drop, the light is refracted as through a prism, split into its component wavelengths and reflected back to the eye. Multiplied by thousands of drops in the sky, an arc of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple emerges as if by magic. Rainbows…mystical, splendiferous, mind-bending. Continue reading

KIDS’ BLOG! Rain, Rain Go Away: Ancient Weather, Modern Predictions

hurricane

Update! This post was originally published on June 25, 2013. Hurricane season 2014 has been pretty quiet so far, but you never know when a tiny little storm system can gain momentum and become a full-fledged hurricane. Ancient civilizations had to face threats from weather just like we do today, but they didn’t have the amazing technology we have that can track and predict storms. Read our post and learn more about ancient weather and take advantage of our all new activities after the post! Continue reading

Foodborne Illness: The History of an Invisible Enemy

The history of foodborne illness is as complex and tortuous as the history of eating. Since the very beginning, foodborne illness has been a perpetual hitchhiker in our journey with food. With every human advancement in eating and acquiring food, foodborne illness has been ready with a challenge, finding new ways to survive in changing environments. Bacteria’s tenacious flagella have withstood numerous developments in our diet and continue to plague our lives today.

 IN THE BEGINNING

Humans discover fire.

Humans discover fire.

The food rules for early man were simple: eat what you can get. Lacking discerning palettes, these opportunistic hunters were most likely consuming contaminated meat, poisonous mushrooms and indigestible grains. The meat from abandoned carcasses? On the menu. The sickest, weakest animals? A quick and easy appetizer. The variety of microbial fauna they frequently ingested has been preserved for posterity in the form of coprolites (fossilized feces). These generous deposits give us a glimpse of their diet as well as the pathogenic organisms therein.[1] Continue reading

KIDS’ BLOG! Archimedes’ Ancient Screw Saves 21st Century Britain From Flooding

Spaans-BabcockWhat do you do when the rains keep coming and floods sweep across your country? As the waters rise and cover your fields and towns, what do you use to save your home? Do you write a fancy new computer program, download the newest anti-flooding app on your phone or design complicated modern robots to deal with it? Well, people in the United Kingdom are facing this very problem and you might be surprised to learn they aren’t turning to modern technology. Instead, they’re looking back to one of antiquity’s greatest scientists and inventors, Archimedes, and to his giant water screws.

Continue reading