Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Labrador? Well, there’s a decent chance that you may have as it is in Canada and it is the place where the Vikings landed in item 2 below.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

2. Via SyFy, by using the knowledge of solar flares and the samples of wood that was taken down using metal tools in Newfoundland, Canada, scientists have determined that the Vikings arrived in North America in the year 1021 A.D.

The scientists extracted 127 samples from the wood, and 83 rings were examined. They used two methods to secure dates. The first was to compare the amount of carbon-14 in each ring with known atmospheric amounts from the time. This gives a rough date for the waney edge of the wood. They also then looked for an anomalous spike in carbon-14 in an inner ring, knowing this would have come from the 993 A.D. event, and then simply counted the rings outward from there to get the date of the waney edge.

In all three samples the waney edge was dated to the same year: 1021 A.D. This would be incredibly unlikely to occur at random.

This means that Vikings were definitely in North America, specifically Newfoundland, Canada, more than four and a half centuries before Columbus. And mind you this may not have been the first visit, just the first we have evidence for. So Vikings were there in 1021 A.D. at the latest.

In fact, looking at different kinds of cells in the wood the scientists could tell one tree was felled in the spring of that year, while another was in the summer/autumn, indicating the Vikings were there for several months.

3. Via Medium’s Alvin Townley, this is the story of Cecil Smith, the Texas cowboy who may have been the best polo player ever.

4. The Atlantic Photo, the volcano exploding on the Canary Islands is absolutely demolishing La Palma. I mention a changing coast below, but this is changing the coast of this island too.

5. The Statesider’s Elizabeth Miller on the ever-changing Louisiana coast, the rising water forcing the changing of the coast because it just is. I like to think of the coasts of maps as finite, but that’s just not the case.

We’d launched onto a quiet bayou an hour’s drive south of New Orleans, then cruised through calm waterways, raising binoculars after heron and egrets. We were aiming for a manmade island that marks what used to be Louisiana’s southern edge and looking for evidence of the efforts to reconstruct a vanishing coastline along the way. At one point on our south-bound trip, Healthy Gulf community science director Scott Eustis showed me his GPS. The screen indicated we should be in a channel. Instead, open water surrounded us.

Every map you look at of Louisiana is a lie. They simply can’t keep up. A relatively current print edition will show a chunk missing from between the highways that run alongside the farmland, fishing docks, and oil and gas processing stations to the southern fringes of the state. In satellite images of the coast, pond names hover over expanses of blue. The broad fans of the Mississippi River’s delta have washed away into thin strips. That river poured the landscape into place over millennia, but it’s taken just a century to unravel it.

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