Wednesday Roundup: Inka Roads, Road Salt for Ants, Swanky Working Quarters and More

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Ants Choose Savory Over Sweet: A recent study by Michael Kaspari of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute shows that salt that spread on roads in the winter may be a benefit to ant colonies. Kaspari—whose favorite animal is the ant—has found that while this type of salt has been shown to have harmful effects on roadside plants and aquatic life, ants actually prefer it to sugar when offered a choice between the two. I wonder if those of us who aren't as crazy about ants could apply these findings in more dubious ways...

Traveling the Inka Roads: The Inka empire (to use the Quechua spelling) rose and fell thousands of years ago, but it left in its wake a network of roads connecting its descendants. Ramiro Matos, a curator and archaeologist with the American Indian Museum, has dedicated his summer to collecting oral histories along the "Inka road," which winds its way through Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Writer and photographer Megan Son is accompanying Matos for our reading/viewing pleasure. It sounds like there are more posts to come, so stay tuned to NMAI's blog.

An Office Fit for Mad Men: Volkswagen Beetles were one of the best selling cars of the 1960s. This might be how Capital Car Distributors—a company that distributed Volkswagens to 58 mid-Atlantic dealerships—could afford the lavish Lanham, Maryland headquarters they built, which SIRIS featured last week. The complex, complete with lush gardens, luxurious furnishings, a spa and plenty of windows to enjoy the view, is now home to Hargrove, Inc., a management firm for special events. Looking at the photographs of the luxurious grounds on SIRIS, it is easy to imagine Don Draper of Mad Men smiling with approval.

Simon Wiesenthal tracked down around 1,100 Nazi fugitives after surviving the Holocaust, but he spent his personal time pursuing vintage stamps. His collection is the subject of a new online exhibit by the National Postal Museum, "Hunting Wiesenthals: Postmarks from the Simon Wiesenthal Collection." The exhibit, profiled by Pushing the Envelope this week, features stamps from all over Europe, beginning in the late 1940s and leading up to a stamp released jointly by Israel and Austria this June, honoring Wiesenthal's life. The stamp features Wiesenthal inside a star of David, along with the words, "Justice, not vengeance."

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