Why are the colors in this (not photoshopped!) image so weird? Why did the CIA recruit Howard Hughes for deep-sea mining? Why are bikers up in arms about an obscure Wyoming land dispute? What is the new car smell? Answers to this and more in this week's landscapes reads!

The CIA Origins of Deep-Sea Mining

When the CIA began a secret mission to recover a sunken Soviet submarine, they knew who to ask for help: Howard Hughes. Yes, the aviator-filmmaker turned eccentric billionaire. Under the cover of a deep-sea mining expedition, Hughes got a $350 million ship built to recover the submarine. It was only a billionaire's (fake) dream in the 1970s, but deep-sea mining is now poised to become real way to make some people very rich. [DC Bureau]

Radiolab devoted a recent episode to this CIA cover story, too, which also spawned the now the maddeningly ubiquitous phrase, "neither confirm nor deny."

Rails to Trails Threatened By Obscure Land Dispute

The program to repurpose old, unused railroad tracks as bike trails could be jeopardized by a Supreme Court ruling that says the government actually does not actually long-term rights to the land around some railroads. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has a rundown to figure out whether your trail might be affected. [USA Today]

What is the New Car Smell and Is It Bad For You?

We associate the chemical smell of new cars with luxury. When anthropologist Nick Shapiro went to do field work after Hurricane Katrina, he found that same smell in FEMA-issued trailers. "Trailer residents would positively note the new smell of their trailer between bouts of coughing," he says in this interview at The New Republic. Most of the new car smell is actually formaldehyde, and when you're breathing it in all day long, it's not so great for you. [The New Republic]

The Afterlife of Golf Courses

Meth cooks, bikers, copperhead snakes—just some of the things Jacques Leslie is warned against when exploring Myrtle Beach's abandoned golf courses. Leslie writes a poetic meditation on how golf courses, a simulacrum of nature, turn once again into nature . It's full of memorable lines like this: "Strip malls line the town's highways like paramecium." [Earth Island Journal]

When Forests are Red and Clouds Are Blue

"In reality, a red forest is just as real as a dark green one." What? NASA's Earth Observatory, which regularly shares gorgeous satellite images, explains how to interpret bizarrely colored images like this up above, an infrared photograph of Yellowstone National Park. [NASA Earth Observatory]

Top image: National Park Service