Alexander von Humboldt might not be a name you know, but you can bet you know his ideas. Back when the United States were a wee collection of colonies huddled on the eastern seaboard, colonists found the wilderness surrounding them scary.
It took a zealous Prussian explorer with a thing for barometers to show the colonists what they couldn’t see: a global ecosystem, and their own place in nature. In this episode, we learn how Humboldt—through science and art—inspired a key part of America’s national identity.
More fascinating Humboldt facts:
He strongly opposed slavery in the early 19th century, calling it the “greatest of all the evils which have afflicted mankind.”
He was the first to theorize human caused climate change by changing how water flows through a landscape, on a local level, and warned about deforestation.
He invented isotherms, the lines on a weather map that we still use today. He used them to show which parts of the world were experiencing similar temperatures.
He made the world’s most detailed map of Mexico and the American west.
He nearly summited what was then thought to be the world’s tallest mountain (while wearing 18th century wools, no less.).
Another thing Humboldt and Jefferson bonded over? Mastodons. Humboldt was the first to discover remains of a species now known as Cuvieronius hyodon in Ecuador, which were similar to the “giant elephants” being found in Ohio. The teeth Humboldt found were the clue that these weren’t modern elephants; they looked pretty different. And because these teeth looked sharp, Jefferson and some American scientists thought they were for meat eating! Eventually Georges Cuvier, a French scientist who was friends with Humboldt, proved that these were different from Indian and African elephants, and even woolly mammoths—and the species eventually ended up renamed after him. One of the few eponymous misses for our friend Humboldt!
Simply capturing the ambiance and feeling of a beautiful location in the Pacific Northwest tucked in the southern forests of Washington. Turquoise rivers and amazing waterfalls housed within one of the most peaceful forests you’ll ever encounter. A location deserving of visual documentation.
Although this gently rolling creekside ramble is one continuous trail, an adventure in three parts awaits. The first few miles are a quiet walk through a classic fern-dotted, mossy forest. In the second section, hikers find Siouxon Creek and fellow waterfall seekers, and the final miles offer more solitude and small narrow canyons with more waterfalls to enjoy.
The trail to Siouxon Falls, Chinook Falls, and at least three other waterfalls along the way, starts from a subtle trail sign three miles before reaching the main Siouxon Trailhead on FR 5071. Look for a plain trail marker on the left side just after a pull-out on the right after a hairpin right turn. Once you step into the trees, you’ll see the Siouxon Trail No. 130 sign pointing the way to Huffman Peak turnoff (1 mile away) and the main Siouxon trailhead in 3 miles.
From a The Economist online article (March 23, 2020):
In this year of coronavirus contagion, however, the prospect of cheek-by-jowl hanami parties has alarmed the authorities. Tokyo’s government has urged people to steer clear of gatherings “that involve food and drink” to slow the spread of infection. To little effect.
EVERY MARCH and April trees along the banks of the Meguro river in Tokyo fleetingly erupt with fat pink and white cherry blossoms, heralding the arrival of spring. For a few glorious weeks, millions of people across the city flee the drudgery of the office and factory to spend an hour or two in places like this, eating and drinking under falling sakura petals. It is a ritual with ancient roots, with a chapter devoted to it in “The Tale of Genji”, a tenth-century work that is perhaps the world’s first novel.
This video shows you exactly why you NEED to see the cherry blossoms at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon. Peak bloom varies from year to year but tends to occur around the first day of spring.
Sarah Watkinson is Wytham Woods’ first poet in residence. She leads us through a delicate maze of woodland and words, weaving together nature, research and poetry. In their work, scientists are objective: they don’t express opinions, they don’t talk about themselves. Poetry would seem science’s diametrical opposite: it’s traditionally inward-looking and self-reflective. Sarah’s writing combines her scientific background and her love for form and words in the most delicate and unexpected way: observing the world, for her, is a form of poetry.