Imagine my surprise at discovering an Olmec head during a recent visit to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin!
Yes, the Olmec were an advanced culture for their time, but no — there’s no evidence that they made it as far north as Austin. This is a replica (a very good one, from the looks of it) of Monument 1 in San Lorenzo.
From the placard:
This sculpture, weighing 18 tons, is an exact copy of the colossal head that was discovered at the Olmec site of San Lorenzo, Veracruz, Mexico. The original is a landmark work of art of the Olmec culture that flourished in southern Mexico 1500 – 400 BCE.
The Universidad Veracruzana presented the replica as a gift to the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies in 2008 in recognition of the close ties between the peoples of the United States and Mexico.
The Olmec were mesoamerica’s first major civilization, and the original source of many cultural innovations that would later be expanded on and extended by subsequent cultures like the Maya and Aztec. San Lorenzo is the oldest known Olmec center, and dates to about 1150 BC.
Another excellent find from the “A Day in Pompeii” exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science — a water bypass box with valves:
As was the case for all Roman plumbing (the source of the name, actually), this was built of lead. Not a good thing over the long term, but likely not the worst health threat of the time. And given the metallurgical technology the Romans had on hand, lead was probably the only material they could have built something like this from.
From the placard:
Water flowing into this junction box through a lead pipe was diverted into one pipe at the top and two at the bottom. The top pipe may have carried water to the house, while the lower ones may have serviced the garden.
Courtesy of Swedish photographer Gören Strand, a beautiful video of the Aurora Borealis. This started as a solar flare on March 15th, and two days later resulted in a beautiful display in and around the Arctic. Gören’s video makes this available to all of us that don’t live in locations quite so amenable to seeing the northern lights (4 hours of video compressed into a 3 minute time-lapse video — direct link):
On display at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, it’s the F-100 “Super Sabre” (mislabeled as a “Super Saber” on-site):
Created as essentially an evolutionary step forward from the F-86Sabre, the F-100 Super Sabre was the first of the “century series” fighters that reshaped the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War. Fast for its time, but with tricky handling characteristics, it never really lived up to its hoped-for role in air-to-air-combat. So it was only temporarily (as an expedient) used as a fighter, subsequently being used as a ground attack aircraft, its numbers then largely being converted to drones for target practice.
From the placard at the site:
The F-100 was the USAF’s first operational aircraft capable of flying faster than the speed of sound in level flight. It made its first operational flight on May 25, 1953 and the first production aircraft was completed in October, 1953. North American built 2,294 F-100s before production ended in 1959.
Originally designed to destroy enemy aircraft in aerial combat, the F-100 later became a fighter-bomber. It made its combat debut during the Vietnam conflict where it was assigned the task of attacking such targets as bridges, river barges, road junctions, and areas used by infiltrating enemy soldiers.