What could Apple possibly want with a dam in Oregon? Is raising condors with hand puppets going just a bit too far? Why should we all start eating prickly pears? Hey, it's time for this week's Landscape Reads.

Apple Bought a Dam to Power Its Data Center

When you upload your data onto iCloud, it of course gets stored on Earth—in massive data centers like Apple's facility in Prineville, Oregon. Massive data centers that use up massive amounts of electricity. That's why Apple is getting into the hydroelectric energy business, buying a dam in Oregon. As companies like Apple and Google snatch up wind, solar, and now hydroelectric energy plants, tech companies of the future turning into energy companies, too. [Wired]


The Time Capsules Inside An Old Dirt House

A century-old sod house in Gates, Nebraska, does not look like much. In fact, it looks like a pile of rectangular dirt bricks. But archaeologists are keen to dissect these bricks—dirt and roots and all—because they are uniquely preserved time capsules of what the prairie was like a century ago. [Harvest Public Media]

Is Cactus the Future of Food?

San Joaquin Valley, "the food basket of the world," has had a terrible time in this drought. With its soil now short on water but high in salt, farmers could turn to the one plant that happens to loves those conditions: prickly pear. But will we eat it? [High Country News]


Hand-Raising Condors With Puppets

Captive breeding programs are strange propositions. After we've forced an endangered animal to near-extinction in the wild, we will go to extraordinary lengths to raise it in an artificial environment—as far as feeding baby condors with bird-like puppets. These puppets, perhaps, reveal more about us than they do about the birds. "They raise the terrifying possibility that maybe we can't tell the difference between nature and artifice," writes Lizzie Wade. [Aeon]


Top image: When a river carrying clay, dirt, and silt rushes down from the mountain onto a flat basin, it spreads out as this "alluvial fan." The flat land, conveniently irrigated by the river, is ideal for agriculture, which is what you see in this satellite photo in Kazakhstan. This fan drawn in various pixels of green is the work of nature and human together. NASA

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Lana, Lana,...LANAAAAAA!!!

What Apple bought is not a dam, it is a run-of-river facility that diverts water to a turbine.