The Mystery of ‘Harriet Cole’

They’re wondering, more than 130 years later, how to describe the dazzling, jarring preparation, stripped of skin and pulled away from the bone. Whose body this is, and what would it mean if one of the university’s oldest fixtures never knew that she would spend her afterlife on display?

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Mar 18, 2021
Length: 33 minutes (8,253 words)

The Quest to Find a Lost Arctic Explorer’s Buried Soup

In 1900, Baron Eduard von Toll buried a cache of food in the Arctic to aid a lengthy expedition and despite attempts to locate it, the store went undiscovered until 1973. They big surprise? The contents remained edible, preserved by the Arctic permafrost for over 70 years: “a box with 48 cans of cabbage soup, a sealed tin box with 15 pounds of rye rusks [dry biscuits], a sealed tin box with 15 pounds of oatmeal, a soldered box containing about four pounds of sugar, 10 pounds of chocolate, seven plates and one brick of tea.”

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Aug 19, 2019
Length: 7 minutes (1,956 words)

The Hidden History of the Nutmeg Island That Was Traded for Manhattan

Back when Indonesia’s tiny Banda Islands were thought to be the world’s only source of this curative spice, the Dutch murdered and enslaved the Indigenous people to create a nutmeg monopoly. What few accounts mention is how the Bandanese people had already cornered the nutmeg market, and that their trading operations outlasted the colonists.

Author: Mark Hay
Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Feb 28, 2019
Length: 6 minutes (1,702 words)

The Weird, Dangerous, Isolated Life of the Saturation Diver

“One of the world’s most hazardous jobs is known for its intense pressure.”

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: May 9, 2018
Length: 19 minutes (4,916 words)

In China, Searching for Mysterious Gaps in the Family Tree

China’s revolution made it difficult for Chinese abroad to stay in contact with their families. Now many in the diaspora are searching for their roots.

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Dec 15, 2016
Length: 19 minutes (4,867 words)

Catholic Churches Built Secret Astronomical Features Into Churches to Help Save Souls

After centuries of war, Catholicism and science reconciled over meridian lines.

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Nov 15, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,658 words)

Space Art Propelled Scientific Exploration of the Cosmos—But Its Star is Fading Fast

The huge, hidden cost to severing the bond between art and science.

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Sep 20, 2016
Length: 17 minutes (4,425 words)

The Miseducation of John Muir

A close examination of the wilderness icon’s early travels reveal a deep love for trees, and some ugly feelings about people.

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Jul 26, 2016
Length: 13 minutes (3,431 words)

What Ever Happened to ‘The Most Liberated Woman in America’?

Barbara Williamson co-founded one of the most famous radical sex experiments in America. Then she got wild.

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Jun 7, 2016
Length: 27 minutes (6,812 words)

The Inevitable, Intergalactic Awkwardness of Time Capsules

“It’s easy to make fun of time capsules, but, as Jarvis details, it’s much harder to fill them with the kind of material that will actually stand the test of time. Often, the things we tuck away for posterity are embarrassing or boring. Sometimes, they’re much worse—racist, bigoted, wrongheaded. Most take that old adage about the winners writing history to its logical conclusion. And they are always, by their very nature, exceedingly presumptuous.”

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: May 25, 2016
Length: 17 minutes (4,295 words)