This month’s “art pick” are sketches by Alexey Feodosievich Wangenheim, who was the first head of the Soviet Union’s weather bureau in the 1930s, and drew these while spending the rest of his life in the Gulag.
Maya civilisation, at its peak some 1,500 years ago, covered an area about twice the size of medieval England, with an estimated population of around five million.
”With this new data it’s no longer unreasonable to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there,” said Mr Estrada-Belli, “including many living in low-lying, swampy areas that many of us had thought uninhabitable.”
The archaeologists were struck by the “incredible defensive features”, which included walls, fortresses and moats.
They showed that the Maya invested more resources into defending themselves than previously thought, Mr Garrison said.
One of the hidden finds is a seven-storey pyramid so covered in vegetation that it practically melts into the jungle.
The game-changing technology here appears to be Lidar.
The giant shipworm (three foot long, lives on hydrogen sulfide, within a calcium carbonate tube that it secretes) has finally been located (by scientists, that is … local people in certain parts of Thailand have been eating it as a delicacy)
Say what you want about Stephen Wolfram, I’m beginning to love the long-form posts I read at his blog, such as this one on civilizational artifacts (enjoyable apart from the plug for Wolfram Language)
Apparently, plants are quite active at long time scales, and can be sedated, just like animals! (there’s a good GIF on that page, of pea tendrils, that I wasn’t able to embed here)
When the dope wore off, the plants returned to life, as if something had hit pause — almost like they were regaining consciousness, something we typically don’t think they possess. It’s all so animal-like.
Readers of this “series” know that I only keep my New York Times subscription for the archives access, so here is the historical interest piece: there was actually a moment, in 1979, when the then-chairman of the Federal Reserve, said quite frankly in an interview:
“The standard of living of the average American has to decline,” he said. “I don’t think you can escape that.”