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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Aroma of Tacoma: Why One Washington City Is Known For Its Stench

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Tacoma, Washington has a rotten reputation. For decades, the city was enveloped in an undeniable stench. In fact, the foul emanation was so bad that Bruce Springsteen said it forced him to leave town early when he was there on tour in the mid-'80s.

The odor—reminiscent of rotten eggs—was partially attributed to the pollution in Commencement Bay, once ranked one of the 10 worst toxic waste sites in the U.S. When the tide was out, the smell was especially pungent. That water pollution combined with the air pollution—industrial smokestacks and animal renderings, in particular—and created a very particular scent. The aroma was so strong that it even inspired a song:

It’s much better these days. In the 1980s, the cleanup of Commencement Bay was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities list. The EPA spent 25 years working with businesses and the community on various initiatives that would help restore the bay—and their efforts were largely successful.

In the 1990s, the Simpson Tacoma Kraft pulp and paper mill, one of the biggest air pollution offenders, also took a number of steps to reduce their noxious emissions. One of those solutions was upgrading their mill, which was responsible for a massive output of stinky sulfur.

So, the next time The Boss plays the port city, he'll find that the Aroma of Tacoma is now pleasant enough that he can enjoy his entire stay.

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Courtesy of Sotheby's
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History
Found: A Rare Map of Australia, Created During the 17th Century
Courtesy of Sotheby's
Courtesy of Sotheby's

More than 40 years before Captain James Cook landed on Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu created an early map of the Land Down Under. Using geographical information gleaned from Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in the 1640s, it was the first map to include the island state of Tasmania and name New Zealand, and the only one to call Australia “Nova Hollandia.”

Very few copies—if any—of the 1659 map, titled Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), were thought to have survived. But in 2010, a printing was discovered in a Swedish attic. After being restored, the artifact is newly on display at the National Library of Australia, in the capital city of Canberra, according to news.com.au.

The seller’s identity has been kept under wraps, but it’s thought that the map belonged to an antiquarian bookseller who closed his or her business in the 1950s. For decades, the map sat amidst other papers and books until it was unearthed in 2010 and put up for auction.

The National Library acquired the 17th century wall map in 2013 for approximately $460,000. After a lengthy restoration process, it recently went on display in its Treasures Gallery, where it will hang until mid-2018.

As for other surviving copies of the map: a second version was discovered in a private Italian home and announced in May 2017, according to Australian Geographic. It ended up selling for more than $320,000.

[h/t news.com.au]

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geography
What's the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?
iStock
iStock

Around 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water, which is why geographers have coined so many names to describe the forms it takes. But what’s the real difference between, say, a lake and a pond, a spring and an oasis, or a creek and an arroyo?

Vox gets granular with geography in the video below, explaining the subtle distinctions between everything from a bay (a part of an ocean, surrounded by water on three sides) to a barachois (a coastal lagoon, separated from the ocean by a sand bar). The five-minute explainer also provides maps and real-life examples, and describes how certain bodies of water got their names. (For example, the word geyser stems from geysa, meaning "to gush.")

Guess what? A geyser is also a type of spring. Learn more water-based trivia—and impress your nature-loving friends the next time you go camping—by watching the video below.

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