They call it the Hot-Spot library: a ramshackle building of plywood and sheet metal set on a crime-ridden street corner in Cape Town, South Africa.
With its threadbare couches and mismatched carpets, the place looks somewhat dilapidated.
On winter days, rain leaks through holes in the corrugated zinc roof and drips down onto the tables and bookshelves. Built around a pair of aging shipping containers, it may not look like your conventional library.
But for the residents of Scottsville, a neighborhood torn apart by drug abuse and gang violence, it offers a safe space to escape the harsh realities of daily life and to explore different worlds in the pages of thousands of donated second-hand books.
Could a devastating comet impact in Earth’s distant past have forever changed human civilization?
Scientists think that a cluster of comet shards may have smashed into Earth’s surface 13,000 years ago, in the most catastrophic impact since the Chicxulub event killed off Earth’s large dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.
In a new study, a team led by Martin Sweatman, a scientist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, investigated the impact and how it could have shaped the origins of human societies on Earth. While the first Homo sapiens emerged between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, much farther in the past than this impact, the researchers found that this comet crash actually coincided with significant changes in how human societies self-organized.