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Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

James K. Polk's Remains May Be Moving to a Fourth Grave

Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

James K. Polk died just three months after leaving office in 1849, having likely contracted cholera on a trip to New Orleans. One of the more successful one-term presidents—he expanded the territory of the nation by a third, among other achievements—Polk died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, and was temporarily buried outside of town, in keeping with the law for cholera victims.

A year later, his remains were disinterred (the concerns over cholera contamination presumably having passed) and moved to their second location, a William Strickland-designed tomb located in a prominent spot at his former home, Polk Place—the final resting place he had requested in his will. When Sarah Polk died more than 40 years later, she joined her husband in the tomb. But they did not rest in peace.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In his will, Polk had specified that the house pass into state ownership and that a “worthy” blood relative be allowed to live there. But the couple had no children, and after Sarah died, scores of Polk's relatives came forward to challenge the will—they wanted to sell the land and divvy up the profits. They got their way, and the house was sold to out-of-town developers, who opted to demolish the home. The Polks' remains were disinterred in 1893 and reburied on the grounds of the state Capitol in Nashville.

The Polks have resided at the Capitol for well over a century now, in a quiet spot that State Senator Joey Hensley says is overlooked. That’s why he has introduced a bill that would move the Polks—again—to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, Tennessee. The home was built in 1816 by Polk’s father; the former president lived there for just five years as a young man.

Detractors say it’s a cheap, disrespectful ploy to increase tourism to Columbia, which is currently most famous as “the mule capital of the world.” Others, including the curator of the museum, say it’s simply a better way to honor James and Sarah Polk than the afterthought at the Tennessee Statehouse. The state Senate will debate the bill tonight, although the move will also require the approval of the state’s House of Representatives, governor, the Tennessee Historical Commission, and a local judge. No word on whether Polk is spinning in his grave at the thought of being moved yet again.

[h/t The New York Times]

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Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
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geography
It's So Cold In One Part of Russia That People's Eyelashes Are Freezing
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Oymyakon, a rural village in the eastern Russian region of Yakutia, is one of the coldest inhabited spots in the world. While some schools in the U.S. cancel classes as temperatures approach zero, schools in Oymyakon remain open in -40°F weather. But recently temperatures in the region have dropped too low even for seasoned locals to handle. As AP reports, the chill, which hit -88.6°F on January 16, is cold enough to break thermometers and freeze eyelashes.

Photos shared by residents on social media show the mercury in thermometers hovering at -70°F, the lowest temperature some are built to measure. When thermometers fail, people Oymyakon have other ways of gauging the cold. Their uncovered eyelashes can freeze upon stepping outside. Hot water tossed in the air will also turn to snow before hitting the ground.

To Oymyakon's 500-odd citizens, the most recent cold snap is nothing out of the ordinary. Temperatures are perpetually below freezing there from late October to mid-May, and average temperatures for the winter months frequently reach −58 °F. On Tuesday, residents were advised to stay inside and stay as warm as possible. Of course, that directive wasn't enough to stop some adventurous locals from sneaking outside for selfies.

[h/t AP]

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David Rumsey Historical Map Collection // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
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The Largest Known Map of the 16th-Century World Has Been Digitized
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

The challenge of designing an accurate, detailed world map has stumped cartographers for centuries, but Urbano Monte got pretty close to achieving perfection in 1587. Now, for the first time, his full 10-by-10-foot world map has been assembled and digitized, Co.Design reports.

There are only two copies of the map: one in Milan, Italy and the second, digitized one at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at Stanford University. The massive, extremely detailed illustration, which comprises 60 hand-drawn sheets, is the largest known early map in the world. The Italian cartographer drew it using the azimuthal equidistant projection, which depicts the flattened globe with the North Pole at its center. According to Monte, this gave a more accurate view of the Earth than the Mercator Projection, which was published just two decades earlier in 1569.

The map's depth of detail becomes more apparent the longer you look at it. In addition to country names and geographical landmarks, Monte took the time to note information on weather, meteorological events, length of days at different latitudes, world leaders, and significant countries and places.

Map details.
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

To view the completed map in all its glory, you can download the 3D image through Google Earth or view it through Apple’s augmented reality app AR Globe.

[h/t Co.Design]

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