National Geographic April 2016, Part 3

Ghost Lands, by Paul Salopek, photographs by John Stanmeyer

We return to Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk series for the first time after a pretty long hiatus. The Out of Eden Walk was originally supposed to take seven years, but it looks like it may take longer. The last time I checked the map showing where he was expected to be, he was a little bit behind schedule. I found the map and he was supposed to be in India in 2015 and then in China at some point in 2016.

So far he’s made it to the border between Turkey and Armenia and in this article he shares with us some of the fraught history between those two countries. During the last days of the Ottoman Empire (which lasted until 1922), over a million Armenians were killed in what Salopek says that “most historians” say is “the modern world’s first true genocide.” The official Turkish version is different, of course; they say that 600,000 were killed and that they were more along the lines of “collateral damage” than an attempt at extermination.

Salopek shows us the remaining damage to both the land and the people as a result of the deaths of these Armenians. The border between the two countries is closed and there is basically no way to get directly from one country to the other except for one airline that flies out of Yerevan. By land, the only way to get from one to the other is to go hours out of the way through Georgia.

93 Days of Spring, by Jim Brandenburg

Brandenburg shares with us his project to take one photograph a day in Minnesota during the spring. Brandenburg didn’t choose Minnesota randomly; it’s his home. The photographs are beautiful, as one would expect from a professional photographer. They also show a love of his home that, hopefully, will inspire other photographers to take pictures of their own homes.

As an aside, taking pictures close to home is a particular interest of mine. Some of the important things from my childhood and youth are no longer there and I never got to take a picture of them. I’m always after Alex to photograph the things and places that are important to him because you never know what may happen in the future and he may want to share these things with his own family someday.

National Geographic February 2014, Part 1

Secrets of the Brain, by Carl Zimmer, photographs by Robert Clark

Secrets of the Brain is about the new technology that scientists are using to find out how the brain works. We see Zimmer having an MRI done of his brain, and the project where the scientists took nearly microscopic slices of a mouse brain to look at the anatomy. Then we go on to new technologies such as a project where they removed all of the fatty acids in the brain of a mouse, rendering the brain transparent.

We also look at one of the results of this research. Carly Hutchinson had a stroke which paralyzed her completely. They put an implant in her brain that allows her to control a computer, and the computer has a robotic arm that Hutchinson can use to accomplish tasks, such as drinking. Hutchinson says that moving the arm feels natural after only a little practice. And as of the writing of the article, a man in an exoskeleton controlled by such an implant was planned to make the first kick of the 2014 World Cup. I checked, and he did make that kick on June 12, 2014.

There’s No Place Like Home, by Garrison Keillor, photographs by Erika Larsen

Keillor has lived most of his life in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region of Minnesota. He moved to New York City for a while, thinking that was where he “shoudl” live as a professional writer, but never felt like he fit in there, so he went back to Minnesota.

In There’s No Place Like Home, we see the area as both Keillor and the Twin Cities grew throughout the years of Keillor’s life (and to some extent that of his ancestors).

As usual, Keillor’s writing is lyrical and beautiful and I wish I could write like him, but I know that if I tried, it would sound weird and forced and I’m better off just being me.