Posts Tagged ‘anniversary’

Where is the Berlin Wall now? (BBC)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

[Editor's note: Twenty years ago this week the Berlin Wall came down (history from the Guardian) and with it the Cold War unraveled. I don't remember the Challengar exploding but I do remember watching the slabs fall on the late night news broadcast. Check out the wall in Vegas in this photo mashup from the BBC showing where pieces of the wall have ended up. Also read story in today's Washington Post about a school in Maryland which recreated the wall for a day.]

Republished from the BBC.

When the Berlin Wall fell down in November 1989, parts of it were chipped off and taken away by locals and tourists. Some people took segments as souvenirs and some pieces were given to institutions around the world.

Use this interactive map to see how far the wall has spread around the globe, and where large sections of it are on public display. If you have a piece of the wall, tell us using the form below.

(Screenshot below)

Interact with the original at the BBC . . .

bbc_berlin_wall_map_mashup

Captain Hudson’s journey: Fair to foul and back again (Economist)

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

2709us5[Editor's note: The Economist notes the 400th anniversary of the Netherlands' discovery of the Hudson River, which passes thru New York City, once New Amsterdam. To celebrate, the city moved the annual 4th of July fireworks display to west of Manhattan island.]

Republished from the Economist.
July 2nd 2009 | NEW YORK. Image by Corbis.

The Hudson River, 400 years on

AS AMERICA celebrates its birthday on July 4th, New York is celebrating the discovery of its Hudson river. The Dutch East India Company hired Henry Hudson, an English explorer, to find a north-west passage to Asia. He failed: the route defied all explorers until Roald Amundsen in 1906. But Hudson’s journey of 1609 up the river that would later bear his name led to a valuable trade in furs and eventually to settlement by the Dutch. His shipmate recorded abundant fish and that the surrounding lands “were as pleasant with Grasse and Flowers, and goodly Trees, as euer they had seene, and very sweet smells came from them.” The smells unfortunately, have not always been so sweet.

The Hudson has been exploited and abused. Factories used the river as a dumping-ground. At one time a 20-mile stretch of the Hudson had little or no aquatic life. “You could tell what colour the GM plant in Sleepy Hollow was painting its cars by the colour of the water,” recalls Alex Matthiessen, president of Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog. Since the 1960s, groups like Riverkeeper and advocates such as Pete Seeger, a folk singer, have fought to restore the river’s ecosystem. The 1972 Clean Water Act helped deter polluters. And in 1984 the federal Environmental Protection Agency classified 200 miles of the river as a Superfund site, eligible for special attention. As a result of all this the river has begun to look like its old self. Water quality has improved. Some fish populations look healthier. The Bald Eagle once again nests nearby.

There are still concerns. Indian Point, a nuclear power plant in Westchester, uses up to 2.5 billion gallons (9.5 billion litres) of river water a day. The water is then discharged back into the Hudson. According to Riverkeeper, the hotter discharged water kills large numbers of fish, larvae and eggs. Indian Point says there have been no temperature-related deaths. There is also considerable contamination by PCBs, toxic chemicals with carcinogenic effects. After years of delays General Electric has now begun a process of dredging to clean up the contaminants. But it was already safe to swim with the fishes, except after heavy rain. Antiquated sewage systems in New York City and in towns and cities further up river cannot handle storm surges.

The Netherlands still retains an interest in its former New Amsterdam. The country is America’s fourth largest investor. It is participating in many of the festivities, including a big flotilla last month. New York’s July 4th fireworks display is taking place on the Hudson. In September a replica of Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon, will re-enact the captain’s journey. But he wasn’t the first to discover the river, of course. Native tribes lived along the “Mahicantuck” for thousands of years.

Humboldt’s Gift (Economist)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

greenview[Editor's note: My alma mater and home county in California (others) are named after the famous German naturalist, apt for a school with strong Geography program.]

Republished from the Economist.

Alexander von Humboldt pioneered the science now used to study climate change

AMID this year’s flurry of scientific jubilees, one seems to have passed largely unnoticed. On May 6th admirers celebrated the 150th anniversary of the death of Alexander von Humboldt, a Prussian naturalist and geographer. He may no longer be as famous as some of his contemporaries, yet Humboldt’s work sheds a clear light on the great challenges the world faces today from climate change.

Humboldt cut a remarkable figure. He traveled widely, making scientific notes of his many geographical, zoological and botanical discoveries, and formulating theories to explain the relationships he observed. Humboldt noticed, for example, that volcanoes form in chains and speculated that these might coincide with subterranean fissures, more than a century before plate tectonics became widely accepted. Broadly educated, cosmopolitan and a polyglot, he championed the study of how living things were related to their physical surroundings. Charles Darwin described him as “the greatest traveling scientist who ever lived” and later added, “I have always admired him; now I worship him.”

Continue reading at the Economist . . .