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Sample text

She is a little workaday boat doing her appointed job. If Turner’s painting implies any villain, we must surely look to the bureaucrats of the British Admiralty who let the great men-of-war decay, and then sold them for scrap. Which brings me to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer who goes with Turner in my second pairing. How many of you know his name? How many even recognized the words as identifying a person, rather than a tiny 51 l e o n a r d o ’s m o u n t a i n o f c l a m s a n d t h e d i e t o f w o r m s principality somehow never noticed in our atlas or stamp album?

It balances itself with equal opposing weights round the center of the world, and lightens the earth from which it is divided; and it [the lightened earth] removed itself immediately from the center of the world and rose to the height, for so one sees the layers of the rocks [with their fossils], formed by the changes which the water has undergone, at the summits of the high mountains. The exterior method of lightening by erosion can enhance this process once the mountains rise. Rivers will now erode the sides of the mountains and carry the resulting sediment away to the oceans.

Moreover, Leonardo studied Latin because he yearned to gain full access to the scholarship of classical and medieval sources. He built a 29 l e o n a r d o ’s m o u n t a i n o f c l a m s a n d t h e d i e t o f w o r m s respectable library for the time—Italian translations whenever possible, but Latin when necessary. He read particularly widely and deeply in this essay’s subject of paleontology and the structure of the earth. Kemp writes: “He was taking up questions which had provided considerable bones of contention in classical and medieval science.

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