Researchers discover two new minerals on meteorite grounded in Somalia | Chemistry | The Guardian:

The meteorite, the ninth largest recorded at over 2 metres wide, was unearthed in Somalia in 2020, although local camel herders say it was well known to them for generations and named Nightfall in their songs and poems.

Western scientists, however, dubbed the extraterrestrial rock El Ali because it was found near the town of El Ali, in the Hiiraan region. A 70-gram slice of the iron-based meteorite was sent to the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection for classification.

Nightfall… I love that name. Nightfall, Somalia… it’s a piece of music, I am sure.

I read that local pastoralists were aware of the rock for between five and seven generations, and it featured in songs, folklore, dances, and poems. Now, however the future of the meteorite is uncertain as it has been shipped to China, presumably for sale. Somehow I don’t think the local pastoralists will get anything out of this. And they can no longer point at Nightfall when kids ask about the song.


“Soil is crammed with bacteria. Its earthy scent is the smell of the chemicals they produce. Petrichor, the smell released by dry ground when it is first touched by rain, is caused in large part by an order of bacteria called the Actinomycetes. The reason that no two soils smell the same is that no two soils have the same bacterial community. Each, so to speak, has its own terroir.”

From “Regenesis” by George Monbiot

French Car Parks

In France, all large parking lots now have to be covered by solar panels:

In France, solar just got a huge boost from new legislation approved through the Senate this week that requires all parking lots with spaces for at least 80 vehicles – both existing and new – be covered by solar panels.

The new provisions are part of French president Emmanuel Macron’s large-scale plan to heavily invest in renewables, which aims to multiply by 10 the amount of solar energy produced in the country, and to double the power from land-based wind farms.


I learned a Swiss expression today — from the book The Ministry of the Future.
Danke Mille Fois is how people from Zürich say many thanks. Danke = thanks in German + Mille Fois = a thousand times in French.

Nice multilingual expression.


Did you ever notice that the flag of England, a red cross on a white background and the flag of Genoa look identical? I had been wondering about that and looked for an explanation. They are identical because England rented the flag of Genoa for many years, because the might of Genoa could guarantee safe passage to English ships.

Genoa first adopted the symbol, and St George as its patron saint, in 1190 during the Crusades, when the city was a fearsome maritime republic.

The red and white cross was then taken up by the English towards the end of the 13th century, to be flown by its navy to deter its enemies from attacking and to scare off pirates.

The English agreed to pay a “substantial” annual fee to the ruler of Genoa for the right to fly the flag and use their ports to trade.

But payment stopped when the republic collapsed years later.

From the The Sun. Another article can be found in the The Guardian

The English monarch paid an annual fee for the privilege of flying the Genoese flag, but over the years it seems the English simply stopped making payments. This was, of course, after they had made it their own – by the late 13th century, the St George’s Cross was becoming more prominent in public life and in 1606 it was combined with the St Andrew’s Cross to make the Union Jack. According to Marco Bucci, the Mayor of Genoa, England stopped paying for use of the flag in 1771, when the maritime Republic of Genoa was in rapid decline.

Culture Trip