Switzerland and snow have a very special history. It ranges from skiing to avalanche research. As the planet heats up the snow is melting, and it’s happening here in Switzerland as well. What has happened? And how will it snow in the future? A search for clues.
Birch bark pitch is the oldest all-purpose adhesive in history. Ötzi used birch pitch to affix his arrowheads to the shafts of the arrows; other prehistoric peoples glued broken pottery with birch pitch, or sealed canoes with it. Recently, science has also solved the mystery of how it was produced.
The Swiss-British artist John Webber (1751-1793) served as the draughtsman in Captain James Cook’s third expedition to Oceania, Canada, and Alaska. Webber’s artwork captures a unique moment in time – the first encounters of the British with indigenous peoples from around the Pacific Rim.
The Swiss artist Karl Bodmer took part in the North American expedition of Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied in 1832. Bodmer recorded his impressions in some 400 drawings and watercolours, which are still considered today to be the best and most important depictions of the vanished Native American culture along the Missouri.
While there have been huge strides forward in exploring the universe, most of the underwater world is still a dark, closed book. The Piccard family has done significant pioneering work in exploring the bodies of water on our planet. The Mésoscaphe submarine descended into the depths of Lake Geneva and was deployed in the world’s oceans. This icon of engineering skill was one of the star attractions at the 1964 National Exhibition in Lausanne.
Today, pedestrians almost always have right of way. That hasn’t always been the case. Since the first zebra crossing was installed in Basel in 1948, however, pedestrian road use has become a lot safer.
The plague epidemic in the Middle Ages, and its aftermath, readily invites comparison with the coronavirus pandemic. In his fascinating account of the ‘Great Plague’, however, historian Volker Reinhardt also warns of the limitations of such comparisons.