Tag Archives: Smithsonian Magazine

Preview: The Smithsonian Magazine – Jan/Feb 2023

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Smithsonian Magazine – January/February 2023:

The Misunderstood Roman Empress Who Willed Her Way to the Top

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A fresh view of Galla Placidia, who married a barbarian and ruled when the world power fell into chaos

Mesoamericans Have Been Using a 260-Day Ceremonial Calendar for Millennia

New research has the earliest evidence yet of when the timekeeping guide was used to mark the seasons

A New Discovery Puts Panama as the Site of the First Successful Slave Rebellion

Deep in the archives, a historian rescues the tale of brave maroons

Reviews: The Ten Best Science Books Of 2022

Smithsonian Magazine – Ten Best Science Books of 2022 – December 7, 2022: From a detective story on the origins of Covid-19 to a narrative that imagines a fateful day for dinosaurs, these works affected us the most this year

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong

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In An Immense World, science journalist Ed Yong dives into the vast variety of animal senses with a seemingly endless supply of awe-inspiring facts. As humans, we move through the world within our Umwelt—a term for subjective sensory experience Yong borrows from the Baltic German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. But every creature on Earth has its own Umwelt that we can scarcely imagine. Through interviews with scientists around the globe, Yong teases out the astonishing details of other animals’ perceptions, introducing us to their fantastic Umwelten. Scallops, for example, have up to 200 eyes with impressive resolution, but their brains are likely not complex enough to receive and process such crisp images. Some butterflies can perceive ultraviolet color patterns on their wings that distinguish them from other species. And hammerhead sharks have receptors that scan the seafloor for the electric fields emitted by hidden prey, “as one might use metal detectors,” Yong writes. But many creatures’ senses have been thrown off by human activity, he notes. For example, our visually centered society has erected artificial lights that disorient migrating birds and hatchling sea turtles.

Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage by Rachel E. Gross

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Perhaps no aspect of our anatomy is both more fascinating and misunderstood than the vagina—down to the very common usage of what that word means. A vagina isn’t the whole of a woman’s reproductive anatomy. Instead, the vagina is a muscular canal that’s part of many people’s reproductive systems, of varying genders, whether they were born with it or had it surgically constructed. Nuance exists in this territory that is so often overwhelmed by a tangle of science, myth and cultural perceptions, and journalist Rachel E. Gross has composed an enthralling, sensitive book that’s relevant to everyone no matter what your personal topography looks like.

The pages of Vagina Obscura contain plenty of cutting-edge popular science and historic reflection on everything from how ovaries were once miscategorized as female testicles to how operations for individuals injured in war paved the way for gender-affirming surgeries. The book is arranged by anatomical part, and Gross details the function each part carries out. Gross’ work stands out because the unfolding story is couched in what we’ve been wrong about, how our ideas have changed, and how every person—no matter their sex—shares far more in common than we often recognize. Everyone’s reproductive anatomy, as Gross notes, is made up of the same parts in different arrangements, a quirk of human development that underscores commonality. Gross’ exploration is far more than a natural history of human anatomy, but a narrative that busts myths and celebrates all that we’ve come to know about vaginas and their associated parts during a time when such clarity on sex, gender and bodily autonomy is more needed than ever. Where the popular understanding of human anatomy is sometimes shallow, Vagina Obscura brings depth. (Riley Black)

Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus by David Quammen

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In Breathless, David Quammen has constructed a masterful book about scientists’ efforts to understand SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Make no mistake, the book is not about healthcare and our response to Covid-19. The main character in this tale is the virus, and Quammen crafts a detective tale about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by chronicling the efforts of scientists around the world to identify it, search for its origins, understand how it mutates and respond to it. He interviewed 95 scientists and allows readers to look over the shoulders of many of them as they use their specialized expertise to study the virus. To show how the scientific process works on a global scale, he details the work of a genomic epidemiologist here, an evolutionary virologist there and a computational biologist somewhere else. Each expert adds or refutes some important detail about the rapidly evolving virus that has created a pandemic. Each discovery builds on those that came before.

Quammen has said he wrote the book with no outline, instead allowing each addition to naturally form on the next, in the way a crystal forms. He has the skills and knowledge to do this thanks to decades spent writing captivating science books, on everything including evolution and the spillover of disease from animals into humans. What results from his immense effort is a solid, reliable and entertaining scientific thriller about a shifty and prolific virus that is still very much evolving. (Joe Spring)

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International Reviews: Top Books On Food In 2022

NOVEMBER 23, 2022

BUDMO!: Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen

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In this colorful  cookbook  you’ll find recipes for dishes like cold borscht, dark cherry varenyky and sweet pumpkin rice kasha from Ukrainian native Anna Voloshyna, who moved to California in 2011. Known for hosting pop-up dinners and cooking classes,  Voloshyna is also a food stylist, photographer and blogger. In her debut cookbook, she offers modern and American spins on the typical dishes she grew up with, and she also includes details like food origins, customs and traditions in each recipe’s headnote. Budmo, which is how Ukrainians say “cheers,” shares the country’s complicated history that has led up to the current war, while simultaneously celebrating its varied and vibrant cuisine.

A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City

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“It’s the boundary between two worlds: the Paris you see and the Paris you don’t,” writes Edward Chisholm, an Englishman who moved to Paris in 2012 and spent several years as a waiter while trying to build up his writing career. Now, his debut book, a no-holds-barred memoir detailing his time waiting tables in one of the world’s hottest restaurant cities, reveals what really goes on behind the scenes of fine dining establishments. This book is the next generation of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidentialand Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, with Chisholm exposing the often-shocking mayhem of the restaurant kitchen in visceral detail. He deftly uses the Parisian restaurant as a microcosm for France as a whole, with immigrants, people of color and blue-collar workers at the bottom of the food chain.

Sweet Land of Liberty: A History of America in 11 Pies

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Ever wonder how apple pie became a symbol of America? Food writer and editor Rossi Anastopoulo slices into the history of pie in the good ol’ US of A, from pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to apple pie on Independence Day, using the iconic American dessert to tell the story of a country. Still, it’s not all sweet, as she details how molasses pie traces its origin to slavery and Jell-O pie reveals the history of gender disparity in our country. All in all, Anastopoulo shares interesting facts behind 11 all-American pies, like how the first recipe for American apple pie appeared in a 1796 cookbook called American Cookery, which is believed to be the first cookbook ever published in the newly minted United States. The book includes a recipe for each pie, too.

Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook

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Part memoir and part cookbook, this debut from our country’s first Puerto Rican food columnist Illyanna Maisonet dives into the author’s personal family recipes, which she painstakingly documented from her extended relatives through the years, and also includes her interpretation of dishes by Puerto Rican friends, chefs and roadside food vendors. There are 90 recipes including traditional Puerto Rican dishes like tostones, pernil and mofongo. Other highlights include sloppy joes and sancocho. But more than just the recipes, Maisonet shares how migration and colonization have influenced and progressed Puerto Rican food, ingredients and techniques. In explaining why her family wraps their pasteles in foil, Maisonet writes in her intimate, conversational style, “When you think of my grandma coming to Sacramento as a 17-year-old mother of two in 1956, you have to wonder where the hell would she have found banana leaves in Northern California?” She posits that this progression is no less authentic than the original method, and that the resourcefulness of Puerto Ricans has evolved their cuisine into what it is today: dynamic and delicious.

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Previews: Smithsonian Magazine – December 2022

Smithsonian Magazine – December 2022

Smithsonian Magazine – December 2022:

The Sweet and Sticky History of the Date

Throughout the Middle East, the versatile fruit has been revered since antiquity. How will it fare in a changing world?

This Guatemalan Village Is Becoming a Work of Art

To help boost its appeal to tourists, local residents are transforming their lakeside town into a living art installation

Previews: Smithsonian Magazine – October 2022

Cover for October 2022

Smithsonian Magazine October 2022 Issue:

Founding Force

How America’s “first politician” galvanized a colony—and helped set a revolution in motion. BY STACY SCHIFF

Glen Canyon Reveals Its Secrets

Water woes threaten America’s second largest reservoir—but leave new vistas in their wake. PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEXT BY PETE MCBRIDE

Tolkien’s World

Haunted by the approach of another world war, the beloved fantasy author created a new story of Middle-earth that few people even knew about—until now. BY JOHN GARTH, PHOTOGRAPHS BY KIERAN DODDS

Ray of Hope

The giant fish faces threats from poachers, boat strikes and climate change. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALEX MUSTARD, TEXT BY TERENCE MONMANEY

 

Scents and Sensibility

From the lab to the art gallery, the latest efforts to understand the fragrant, musky, stinky and utterly baffling world of your nose

BY ABIGAIL TUCKER

PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAROLINE TOMPKINS

Previews: Smithsonian Magazine – September 2022

Smithsonian Magazine    In Search of King Arthur  September image 1


SCIENCE

Cougars Are Killing Feral Donkeys, and That’s Good for Wetlands

Mountain lions play an important role in the Death Valley ecosystem by preying on the introduced species

Sam Zlotnik

SCIENCE

How Long Will It Take to Understand Long Covid?

SCIENCE

The Incredible Story of the Iceberg That Sank the Titanic


SMART NEWS

Why Was a Synagogue Mural Hidden Behind a Wall in a Vermont Apartment?

August 22, 2022 8:35 a.m.


Did Archaeologists Find Saint Peter’s Birthplace?

August 19, 2022


Western States Are Fighting Over How to Conserve Shrinking Water Supply

August 19, 2022

Previews: Smithsonian Magazine – July/Aug 2022

Smithsonian

The Forest and the Taboo

Famed American biologist Patricia Wright explores an astonishing breadth of biodiversity in the wilderness of Madagascar

BY DYAN MACHAN – PHOTOGRAPHS BY NOEL ROWE

 

The Long Haul

America’s fascination with trains is fast-tracked in this study of passing freight

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHEN MALLON – TEXT BY TERENCE MONMANEY

 

The Race to Save Ukraine’s Sacred Art

JOSHUA HAMMER

Preview: Smithsonian Magazine – June 2022

June 2022

Cover for June 2022

FEATURES

 

Flesh, Blood & Bronze

One sculptor and his team of artists take on the epic project of conveying the century-old conflict through a massive bronze installation

BY JEFF MACGREGOR

PHOTOGRAPHS BY VINCENT TULLO

 

Not Far From Kyiv

To residents of Southern California with ties to the Eastern European nations, the conflict feels close to home

PHOTOGRAPHS AND INTERVIEWS BY STELLA KALININA

 

In a Tight Spot

Conservationists are racing to rescue a delightful coastal animal from rising seas

PHOTOGRAPH BY LAUREN OWENS LAMBERT

TEXT BY MADDIE BENDER

 

The Real Pinocchio

Forget what you know from the cartoon. The 19th-century story, now in a new translation, was a rallying cry for universal education and Italian nationhood

BY PERRI KLASS

PHOTOGRAPHS BY SIMONA GHIZZONI

 

Escape from the Gilded Cage

Even if her husband was a murderer, a woman in a bad marriage once had few options. Unless she fled to South Dakota

BY APRIL WHITE

DEPARTMENTS

Discussion

Ethical Collecting

For more than a century, museum artifacts were acquired in ways we no longer find acceptable. How can we repair the damage?

Popular Wisdom

The world’s largest book repository has expanded far beyond its original scope to include sound recordings and digitized collections

Van Gogh in the Grove

A new exhibition of lesser known works during a pivotal time sheds light on his budding genius

Role of a Lifetime

An unpublished memoir reveals how the world’s most famous child actress became a star of the environmental movement

A Brief History of Red Drink

The obscure roots of a centuries-old beverage that’s now a Juneteenth fixture

The Next Clone

Forget Dolly the Sheep. The birth of a mouse named Cumulina 25 years ago launched a genetic revolution

Previews: Smithsonian Magazine – May 2022

FEATURES

 

There’s Plenty of Juice on Block Island

Block Island, off the New England coast, overcame political strife to lead the way on energy independence

 

Welcome Back

A hunting ban has fostered the return of a nearly extinct species

 

Why Did the Salamander Cross the Road?

To reproduce, of course. And a band of volunteers gathers at night to help it—and countless other amphibians—get to the other side

 

Making the Connection

In the sparse Utah desert, the vital contributions of these 19th-century laborers are finally coming to light

 

Italian Renaissance

Take a photographic tour through the country’s effort to revitalize its rural towns