In 1959, geologist Paul Walker put this note into a bottle and left it buried inside a pile of rocks in a remote part of the Arctic. More than just a "GEOLOGY WUZ HERE" sort of message, though, the note requested that whoever found it measure the distance between the cairn that contained the bottle and a nearby glacier and send the measurement to him. The goal: To document whether the glacier was advancing or retreating.
A group of scientists discovered the message this summer and followed its instructions. What they found is probably unsurprising to anybody who has been paying attention to the state of Arctic ice over the last couple decades. In 1959, the cairn and the glacier were 168.3 feet apart. Today, there is 333 feet between them.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.