Journal: News & Comment

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
# 1:19:00 PM:

Loving stuff to death

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Darren points to a six-year-old photo essay of a bulldozer retrieving a 56-year-old Soviet tank from the peaty bottom of a shallow lake in Estonia. Nazi soliders, who had captured the tank some weeks before, drove it into the lake as they retreated in 1944.

The tank is in remarkable condition, not even rusty. Which makes me wonder, can museums possibly preserve things as well as natural environments? This tank remained underwater for nearly six decades, but my guess is that it's started to degrade much more quickly now that it's above the surface again.

There have been people's bodies preserved in glaciers and bogs, artifacts retrieved from lakes and ancient mudslides, and of course fossils tens or hundreds of millions of years old. No matter how well we house these items now, are we not just hastening their destruction? Is the knowledge we gain from them worth it?


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