Picture of the Day

One of the nearly 400 statues, or moai, on Easter Island guards a hilltop beneath a nocturnal South Pacific sky.  Scientists are still trying to understand how the residents of Easter Island managed to erect these massive structures, which on average, are 15’ to 20’ in height and weigh upwards of 10 tons.  The largest statue is 70’ tall (about 5 stories) and weighs 270 tons.  That humans even made it to Easter Island is amazing unto itself.  Barely 63 square miles, Easter is the most remote spot of land on Earth; some 2,150 miles west of Chile and some 1,300 miles east of Polynesia’s Pitcairn Islands.  The island’s indigenous people, the Rapanui, like to say the statues walked by themselves to their present positions.  But, without draft animals or some kind of wheel mechanism, it’s more likely they just used brute strength.  Check out Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, which features a chapter dedicated to Easter Island’s plethora of mysteries.  Photograph by Randy Olson, National Geographic.

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