Research is a Chain Reaction

Sometimes research is easy:  What’s the population of Springfield, Missouri?  Or the average high temperature of Mesa, Arizona in October?  One question, one answer.

More often, at least for me, research is a chain reaction.

Question:  Where is the Rosario Mine in Honduras?  I’m curious because my grandfather, on a steamer from Panama to San Francisco, wrote about ta “Secretary of the Rosario Mining Company 5000 ft. up in the Honduras Mountains, who came four days on mule back and twenty miles in an open boat to take our steamer.”  So exactly where is the mine?

I found Rosario Mine–Internet research is great!–but where there used to be the mine, there is La Tigra National Park, so I search that.  Do they have tigers there?  Not exactly.   It is named after the female puma, which is called la tigra, and yes, las tigras do live there–at least a few of them.  Also, the mountain where the mine, and now the park, are located, is called La Tigra.

Now I want a photo of that animal.  I search “puma, Honduras” and discover that “The Puma Energy brand is the leading oil products brand in Honduras.”  Scratch that.  Add “animal” to search.

Pumas are called, according to that site, “cougars, panthers, and mountain lions.”  Not tigers.  Are there tigers in Central America?

  1.  There is a “Tigers” soccer team:  “While many fans in Nuevo Leon are dreaming of a 2017 Liga MX Apertura final between Tigres and local-rival Monterrey, each side still has semifinal series to navigate.”
  2. There is El Tigre Island, on the Pacific side of Central America, which my grandfather sailed past in 1914 and mentioned in his journal.

True tigers live only in Asia

That last site, All about Wildlife, seems like an excellent reference and the photographs distract me from the gold and silver mined at Rosario where you would now take a hike instead of digging a tunnel in La Tigra Mountain.  I’ll take a break from my Panama book writing and learn about exotic animals for a while.

You see what I mean by a chain reaction?

Oldest Computer—The Antikythera Mechanism

"The first computer" found in shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera
  • Antikythera is the Greek island near where it was found.
  • It predicted lunar and solar eclipses, held a calendar, and signaled the next Olympic Games.
  • When scientists studied the device with x-rays, they discovered you could use it to track the sun, moon, and planets.
  • CT scans—the same procedure that might tell your doctor whether your appendix needs to come out–revealed tiny writing engraved on its parts, not exactly a built-in instruction manual, more like parts labels, but important clues to where it might have been made and what it was supposed to do—enough for scholars now to understand at least some of the workings.
"The first computer" found in shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera
The Antikythera mechanism on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Image credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0.

The Antikythera Mechanism was found with a 2000-year-old wrecked ship in 1902.  It’s the only one found, but perhaps something similar will turn up elsewhere to answer questions about when it was made, who made it, and did anyone, a thousand years ago, build anything like it?

This model of the Mechanism, built by science modeler Massimo Mogi Vicentini, is an attempt to show what its insides might have looked like 2000 years ago:

Mogi Vicentini via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5