Between 1929 and 1945, there was a major poison gas production facility located on Okunoshima Island in Japan. Over 6000 tons of mustard gas was produced on the island for use by the Japanese Army. While there is no longer a poison gas factory on the island, there is a poison gas museum, as well as something else out of the ordinary:
But now, Okunoshima Island is becoming better known as “Usagi Shima” (meaning Rabbit Island), a “bunny paradise” where robust leporids numbering in the hundreds roam freely and fearlessly. According to the Mainichi paper’s reportage, it’s believed that the rabbits were first introduced to the island in 1971 when an elementary school in Takehara dumped several of the animals there after being overwhelmed by the responsibilities required to keep rabbits at school. However, many other sources state that the rabbits of Usagi Shima island are direct descendants of lab animals (upon which the Imperial Army’s poisonous gases were tested) set loose by factory workers at the end of WWII.
CNN has a fascinating story on the world’s smallest republic, the Pacific island of Nauru:
In a lot of ways, Nauru is something like a canary in a coal mine: It’s a tiny place with more than its share of troubles, most of them the kind that might have been prevented.
Nauru is battling a failed economy, widespread poor health and a natural environment ruined from the inside. They’re the kinds of things that aren’t altogether different from what’s facing many of the rest of us, but they’re magnified in a place that’s only a tenth the size of Washington, D.C.
If the Pacific took Nauru, it’d wash away one of the strangest and most troubled places on Earth. In my three days there, I met a cast of characters who would introduce me to the place.
Canary in a Phosphate Mine [CNN]
The New York Times has an interesting photo essay of Hainan, a super-rich island belonging to China. Above:
New apartment complexes loom over the west side of the marina. The yacht club already boasts more than 80 members who have each paid $92,000 for the privilege of parking their boats here for 23 years.
China’s Affluence Island [New York Times]
The stone tools found above were found on the island of Crete and are thought to be around 130 000 years old. Crete has been an island for about five million years, and it has been thought previously that humans have only been going to sea for about 30 000 years. This new discovery would seem to radically alter the past hypothesis about seafaring. From the New York Times:
The Plakias survey team went in looking for material remains of more recent artisans, nothing older than 11,000 years. Such artifacts would have been blades, spear points and arrowheads typical of Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.
“We found those, then we found the hand axes,” Dr. Strasser said last week in an interview, and that sent the team into deeper time.
“We were flummoxed,” Dr. Runnels said in an interview. “These things were just not supposed to be there.”
Word of the find is circulating among the ranks of Stone Age scholars. The few who have seen the data and some pictures — most of the tools reside in Athens — said they were excited and cautiously impressed. The research, if confirmed by further study, scrambles timetables of technological development and textbook accounts of human and prehuman mobility.
Discovery Dates Seafaring 100 000-plus Years Ago [NYTimes]
Posted in People, Places, Science, Thought-Provoking
Tagged Archaeology, Crete, Discovery, Island, Prehistory, Raft, Seafaring, Stone Age
Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland looks like my kind of place.
[via The Daily What]
Fishy Island by alltelleringet. Click for big.
An amazingly well-done stop-motion by Chris Gavin using a peg-board and myriad peg-board numbers.