History

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When slaves and free men were shipwrecked together

As they landed on the island on the night of the wreck, some of the crew supposed it inhabited. But the dark-skinned “locals” they encountered had come on the same ship, just a different part of it. Below deck 160 or so slaves had languished, men, women and children. Nearly half of them had died in the night, probably drowned under the nailed-down hatches. That still left 88, two-thirds of them men, now unshackled.

Image 2018-05-14 at 10.00.24 PM

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Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!

The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this “Library Public Domain.” She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942.

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A Plane Crash, A Glacier, And An Entrepreneur: How Icelandair Opened Up Air Travel For Everyone

But Eliasson refused to give up. He was a fiercely ambitious man on a mission that ended up changing the face of the airline industry. Through force of will, he and his cofounders invented the budget transatlantic flight and opened up Iceland to the rest of the world. His efforts laid the groundwork for Iceland to transform itself from one of Europe’s poorest nations to the most developed nation on earth by 2008.

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The GIF is dead. Long live the GIF.

The GIF as an art form—a short and silent loop—has never been more popular than it is right now. Yet the GIF as a filetype, the way we store the library of ones and zeros that computers translate into animation, is quietly embattled. Behind the scenes, a war to exterminate it has been raging for years, and it never really ended. All these years after Burn All GIFs Day, the GIF remains both deeply flawed and yet strangely irreplaceable. Whether this latest frenzy of GIF popularity enshrines it forever or kills it for good, you can be damn sure we’ll never see anything quite like it again.

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Greenland shark found to be at least 272 years old

A large, almost-blind shark that lives in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans is officially the world’s longest-living vertebrate, scientists say.

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) has a lifespan of at least 272 years, and might live as long as 500 years1. That is older than the 211-year lifespan of the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus), the previous record-holder in the scientific literature2. It also beats the popular — but unconfirmed — tale of a famous female Koi carp called Hanako, who supposedly lived to 226 years old.

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The Delightful Perversity of Québec’s Catholic Swears

Québec’s swearing vocabulary is one of the weirdest and most entertaining in the entire world. It is almost entirely made up of everyday Catholic terminology—not alternate versions, but straight-up normal words that would be used in Mass to refer to objects or concepts—that have taken on a profane meaning. Many languages have some kind of religious terminology wrapped into profanity (think of English’s “damn” or “goddammit”), but Quebec’s is taken to a totally different level.

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Isolated for 5.5 million years: the bizarre beasts of Romania’s poison cave

In the south-east of Romania, in Constanța county close to the Black Sea and the Bulgarian border, there lies a barren featureless plain. The desolate field is completely unremarkable, except for one thing.
Below it lies a cave that has remained isolated for 5.5 million years. While our ape-like ancestors were coming down from the trees and evolving into modern humans, the inhabitants of this cave were cut off from the rest of the planet.
Despite a complete absence of light and a poisonous atmosphere, the cave is crawling with life. There are unique spiders, scorpions, woodlice and centipedes, many never before seen by humans, and all of them owe their lives to a strange floating mat of bacteria.

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