This article accompanies the fable
Claude Lévi-Strauss' masterpiece Tristes Tropiques was published in 1955. In it he poses the essential dilemma of any anthropologist or historian and, of course, any scientist too:
Either I can be like some traveler of the olden days, who was faced with a stupendous spectacle, all, or almost all, of which eluded him, or worse still, filled him with scorn and disgust; or I can be a modern traveler, chasing after the vestiges of a vanished reality. I lose on both counts...
Atolls overrun by the sea... Reduced to being watchers, like Odin...
Photo credits: top from L to R: Nui atoll, Tuvalu and Malhosmadulhu Atoll in the Maldives (both photos by NASA); a paramecium (photo: Brafooz). Below: the Maldives capital Malé - photo credit: Shahee Ilyas. This was a candidate for Wikipedia Picture of the Year, 2006.