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The Final Moments of the Civil War

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Our new issue is on newsstands and in mailboxes (or beach bags or bathrooms or wherever it is you do your _flossing). This week we'll be sharing a few excerpts from the cover story, "The 50 Most Interesting Places in the Space-Time Continuum," by Jenny Drapkin and Ethan Trex, plus a few places that ended up on the cutting room floor.


21. In the Final Moments of the Civil War
How do you get a tenacious general like Robert E. Lee to surrender? Make him an offer he can't refuse. In April of 1865, General Ulysses S. Grant cornered General Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. After making a last-gasp effort to break through Union lines, Lee realized the situation was hopeless. "There is nothing left for me to do but go and see General Grant," he concluded, "and I would rather die a thousand deaths."

But Grant took it easy on Lee. He told him that if he surrendered, the Confederate soldiers would be allowed to return home without being imprisoned or charged with treason. Grant also promised to give the starving Rebel troops several days of rations and to let them keep their horses. Lee accepted, knowing it was the best deal he was going to get.

Grant may have defeated Lee, but it was a surprisingly civil affair. As Lee rode away, the Union soldiers began firing their guns and cheering, but Grant quickly put a stop to their antics. "The war is over," he told them. "The Rebels are our countrymen again." If only all of Reconstruction had gone so smoothly.

See Also: The Final Resting Place of the Russian Mafia. If you're in a subscribing mood, here are all the details.

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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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