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The Mysterious Motivational Rocks of Dogtown, Massachusetts

Bill and Melinda Gates have the Gates Foundation as their legacy. Andrew Carnegie funded more than 2000 libraries. The Rockefellers changed the Manhattan skyline. And Roger Babson carved some rocks in an abandoned ghost town.

Roger Babson was a successful entrepreneur and investor who amassed a fortune after founding Babson’s Statistical Organization, which analyzed stocks and bonds and revolutionized the financial services industry. In fact, his unique insight into the financial world meant that he was one of the first people to predict that the stock market was going to plummet in 1929.

When his prognostication proved true, Babson wasn’t one to sit idle. He came up with a plan to leave inspirational quotes on large rocks in the woods in Dogtown, Massachusetts, a place where colonists, including Babson’s ancestors, had once settled. His master plan was twofold: First, it would help people who were financially suffering by providing gainful employment for stonecutters in the area. And secondly, the inscriptions, which he called his “Life’s Book,” would serve to inspire those who were down on their luck—though, with no context, all-caps inscriptions like “IF WORK STOPS VALUES DECAY,” “USE YOUR HEAD,” and “HELP MOTHER” seem vaguely threatening.

His family thought so, too. In his autobiography, Babson noted:

“My family says that I am defacing the boulders and disgracing the family with these inscriptions, but the work gives me a lot of satisfaction, fresh air, exercise, and sunshine. I am really trying to write a simple book with words carved in stone instead of printed paper. Besides, when on Dogtown common, I revert to a boyhood which I once enjoyed when driving cows there many years ago.”

Babson’s family members weren't the only ones who didn't find the rocks charming. When one of the masons he employed carved a rock on land owned by Dogtown resident Leila Webster Adams, she was none too happy. “Just look at that horrible thing; just look at it!” she told reporters. “Whoever heard of such foolish warnings?”

To be fair, Babson’s legacy isn’t just rocks—he also founded Babson College, a private business school in Massachusetts. His other big claim to fame was his 1940 presidential run. FDR's popularity couldn’t be overcome; Babson earned just 0.12 percent of the popular vote. These days, he has faded into near-obscurity—but his rocks are still there. The next time you’re in the Gloucester, Massachusetts, area, stop by the Dogtown hiking trails and see if you can find all 24 of Babson’s Boulders.

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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?
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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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