Wonder on the Web

Issue 40: Links to amazing stuff.

Packer’s Puritan Publications Published

The John Richard Allison Library in Vancouver has just digitized its entire collection of rare Puritan texts—and made them available to read online for free. Not only do you get to see high-res scans of the originals, old-school bibliophiles also get the satisfaction of virtually flipping each page (thankfully, you can turn off the page-flip sound effects). Exhibit A: Jeremiah Burroughs’s “treatise shewing that true blessedness consists in pardon of sin.” (Amen, Burroughs.) Many of these documents came from the private library of theologian J. I. Packer, who has written more than 40 books of his own.

The Early History of Autism in America

Autism, a developmental disorder we just talked about in our article on synaptic pruning, is usually considered to have been first recognized in the 1940s by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner. But Smithsonian suggests that social reformer and physician Samuel Gridley Howe (whose wife, Julia Ward Howe, wrote the famous “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) was studying autism even before the Civil War. In 1848, “Howe expressed hope … that his data would be of use to future generations trying to understand mental disability.”

Four Elusive New Elements

2015 brought a lot of new things, including the addition of four new elements to the periodic table: elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, temporarily known as ununtrium, ununpentium, ununseptium, and ununoctium. The names aren’t the only temporary characteristics of these elements—samples may only stick around for less than a thousandth of a second, and as of now they can only be observed in lab conditions. Looks like the seventh row of the table is finally complete. All high school chemistry textbooks and Tom Lehrer’s classic song are officially out of date.

Machimosaurus Rex

Paleontologists working in the Tunisian desert have just made a discovery of truly behemoth proportions: the fossilized remains of Machimosaurus rex, the largest crocodilian ever to swim the oceans. Based on the size of the skull, it was probably over 30 feet long—10 feet longer than the largest modern croc. Crikey!

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Also in this Issue

Issue 40 / January 21, 2016
  1. Editor's Note from January 21, 2016

    Issue 40: The best worst solar storm, hurricanes’ gifts, and a “spiritual Fitbit.” /

  2. The Week the Sun Reached Out and Touched Us

    The Carrington Flare happened at the last moment humanity could collectively appreciate it. /

  3. Why I Thank God for Hurricanes

    The natural disasters don’t simply destroy life. They make the world a better place. /

  4. Inside the ‘Spiritual Fitbit’

    Can an app measure how close you feel to God? Can it get you closer? /

  5. Snowflake

    “Timing’s everything.” /

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