Rain, caves, and miracles: New study connects weather to ancient tales

A new study provides a possible scientific explanation for the existence of stories about ancient saints performing miracles with water.

Photo by Peter de Vink from Pexels
  • Ancient climate patterns can be determined by examining the ratios of various isotopes.
  • Isotopic signatures found in Italian cave stalagmites suggest that the Sixth Century was wetter than usual.
  • The study provides a partial explanation for the origin of stories about saints performing water miracles.
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    Is this Danish island soon coming to a coast near you?

    An artificial island in the North Sea is the biggest building project ever in Danish history - and could pave the way for many more.

    • In 1991, Denmark constructed the world's first offshore wind farm.
    • Now they're building an entire 'Energy Island' in the North Sea.
    • As the U.S. catches up, Danish know-how could soon come to America.
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    What a carve-up: when French and British ruled the world

    James Gillray's 'plumb-pudding' caricature is "probably the most famous political cartoon of all time."

    Credit: Public domain, via the British Library
    • The fight for world dominance always seems to involve a contest between two superpowers.
    • Back in 1805, it was the British versus the French, and this cartoon pokes fun at both.
    • Pitt and Napoleon are carving out the big slices of the world-pudding – an image endlessly copied since.
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    In this Dutch town, the euro’s fictional bridges are now real

    The European currency features buildings that didn't exist, until Spijkenisse made them in concrete

    Credit: Google Maps, ECB (Graphics: Ruland Kolen)
    • The euro banknotes feature seven different bridges – all of them fictional.
    • They represent periods instead of places, so as not to offend anyone.
    • But one Dutch town has turned monetary fiction into monumental fact.
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    This map of Europe is good for only one thing

    Topologists can't tell donuts from coffee mugs, but their maps are revelatory nonetheless.

    Credit: © Peter Staub, Mollis GL/Switzerland – CC BY SA
  • Topology is a relatively young branch of mathematics, with various branches of its own.
  • It has applications in biology, computer science, string theory, and yes, also cartography.
  • This topologist's map of Europe is not a true reflection of area or size, only of the relationships between countries.

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