THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 41

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 41

…the United Korean Peninsula finds itself overheating after failing to immediately rid their skies of what they are calling Giant Ball…

It does not take long for the Ÿ€Ð to react to being exposed to the penetrating harshness of their star. The impenetrable cloud deck that they have benefited from from their inception has gone away, just like the usefulness of those 3 Seljuk outposts.

But that is where the comparisons end.

Seljuk views the loss as a warning, from the angle of the nail, choosing to ally themselves with Eridanus and Earth, going so far as sharing a space warrior’s tools.Related image

The Ÿ€Ð interpret their blazing nakedness as the need to be the hammer, electing to restore their entire fleet of warships out of mothballs. Peace among the galaxy elite is about to be threatened, like the olden times when Ÿ€Ð were the bully and everybody else did hide away for fear of being conquered.

But priorities are taking precedent, while scores of its inhabitants are dying from radiation poisoning, they have forgotten more about screening out IR & UV rays, flares and heat, than the current technology at their disposal; so immediate was the de-cloaking.

So, the sleeping antagonist has been aroused.

And —

Similarly, the United Korean Peninsula finds itself overheating after failing to immediately rid their skies of what they are calling 거 대 한 공{Giant Ball} and are considering the destruction of their nuclear submarine as an act of aggression towards them, when in fact it was they who fired the offending warhead.

Never mind the facts. Facts only get in the way of irrational behavior.

More than a dozen Taeopodong Unha-5s are launched in the direction of any world power suspected of producing Giant Ball or possessing nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, France, Israel, Iran, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Somalia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Great Britain and quite naturally the USA are recipients of Jong-Un-Family doomsday targeting.–


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 41


page 45

No Helium, No Fun – WIF Science

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 If We

Ran Out

of Helium

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Helium was first discovered in 1895. It is the second most abundant element in the universe and it makes up 0.0005 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a colorless, odorless gas that is lighter than air and it is the coldest liquid on Earth.

 While it’s abundant in the universe, on Earth, we might be running out of it. You may not know it, but helium is an important part of modern life and possible shortages have been such a big worry that the United States government has been stockpiling helium since the 1960s.

The problem is that once helium hits the atmosphere, it is pretty much useless, so it needs to be mined or pull from natural gas. This makes helium a finite element on Earth.

So what would a post-helium world look like?

10. No More Party and Parade Balloons

When the American government first announced a possible shortage of helium in April 2012, one of the first things suggested to conserve helium is to stop using it to fill up party balloons and balloons used in parades. This is pretty hard to argue against because it’s a completely frivolous use of the a finite element, even if you can get a good laugh out of listening to people’s voices change after inhaling the gas and parades won’t be as exciting. However, as you’ll see, helium has a lot more important uses.

Unfortunately, eliminating helium filled balloons isn’t going to solve the problem of helium running out, because only a minuscule amount of helium is used to fill up balloons. It would be like a pack a day smoker trying to avoid cancer by taking one last puff every year.

9. Airships

The Goodyear Blimp over Dodger Stadium. (Courtesy photo)

One reason that helium is so useful in many different fields is that it is safe to use because it isn’t flammable or combustible. This makes it great for flying machines like blimps. When blimps are filled with a different lighter-than-air gas, such as hydrogen, which is both combustible and flammable, things can go horribly wrong. A notable example is the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when the German blimp LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames while trying to dock at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. In total, 36 people were killed. While the cause is debated, the fact that the airship was full of flammable and combustible gas wouldn’t have exactly slowed down the fire.

Granted, blimps aren’t common and most people have probably only seen one at an air show or a football game, but amazingly they are still used by different segments of the United States government. One example is the Tethered Aerostat Radar System(TARS). They are unmanned blimps that are used to detect low and slow flying aircraft and marine craft. It’s currently being used along the American-Mexican border and in a portion of the Caribbean.

Another blimp used by the United States is the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, which is used to track things like cruise missiles or even trucks full of explosives. The project has been in development for over two decades and the Pentagon has spent at least $2.7 billion on the project.

A whole other field of flight that wouldn’t work without helium is balloon space tourism. Currently, there are two companies that plan on sending people into space using helium filled balloons. For $75,000 to $125,000, travelers can get into pressurized pods and the balloons will lift them out of the atmosphere. This is similar to the way Felix Baumgartner got to space to do his famous jump.

However, without helium, attempting to reach space in a balloon would be much more dangerous.

8. A Leak Checking Tool

When the Manhattan Project started in 1942, it was important that when they enriched the uranium needed for a nuclear bomb, there couldn’t be any leaks in the pipes or tanks during the process. Even a tiny leak could have been disastrous.

To ensure everything was sealed, the scientists sprayed the welding seams with helium. If there was a leak, the helium would get into it, because out of all the elements, helium has the second smallest atom (hydrogen is smaller, but it is inert, which means it doesn’t move). So helium can find really small leaks, which helps ensure that the tanks and pipes are sealed.

Besides just having a small atom, helium is also non-toxic, non-condensable, and non-flammable, so spraying it won’t leave a trace behind.

Since the Manhattan Project, helium has gone on to be a common way to detect leaks in more than just tanks and pipes. It is used in such industries as food canning, refrigeration, air conditioning, furnace repair, fire extinguishers, aerosol cans, and car parts, just to name a few. Essentially, any industry that relies on sealed cans use helium to look for leaks. That means without helium, we may have products that be will more dangerous because they are leaking, and/or products will be more expensive because some other method will need to be implemented to detect leaks in all those different fields.

7. Some Welding Will be Impossible

One of the most common applications for helium is welding; about 23 percent of the world’s helium supply is used for welding purposes.

Certain arc welding jobs, which is the process of joining two metals using electricity, depends on helium because it is used to keep the molten metal from oxidizing. One type of metal that couldn’t be welded without helium is aluminum. That means things like shipbuilding and building space shuttles will be much more difficult to do.

However, arc welding isn’t the only type of welding that utilizes helium. CO2 laser welding, which is used in car manufacturing, uses helium as a shielding gas. Shielding gas is used to keep the molten metal away from other elements in the air, like oxygen, water, and nitrogen. Without helium, this could cause an increase in vehicle prices while alternative methods are implemented.

6. Barcodes

One of the most common ways that we interact with helium is at the supermarket. Barcodes scanners use helium-neon lasers, also known as HeNe lasers and they use a gas ratio of 10:1 helium to neon. HeNe lasers are used because they are inexpensive, have a low energy consumption, and they are efficient. Besides just barcode scanning, HeNe lasers are also used in other fields, like microscopy, spectroscopy, optical disc reading, biomedical engineering, metrology, and holography.

Of course, the good news in this example is that, as many of you with smart phones already know, there are other ways to scan codes. It will just be a matter of changing over to the new forms of scanning.

5. Space Travel Would Become More Dangerous

A field that would be incredibly hard hit by a lack of helium is the aerospace industry. NASA reportedly uses about 90 to 100 million cubic feet of helium a year in a whole variety of ways.

One way is that when a rocket burns fuel, the fuel that was in the tank is replaced with helium. This ensures that the tank doesn’t collapse under structural pressure. This also reduces the risk of fire or an explosion in the fuel tank. Helium is also useful during space travel because it keeps hot gases away from ultra-cold liquids.

A third way that NASA uses helium is to clean liquid oxygen out of tanks. Finally, there are other minor uses, like it’s needed for pneumatic control systems and it cools fueling handling systems.

Without helium, space travel will still be possible, but it will be a lot more dangerous than it already is.

4. The Large Hadron Collider will be Useless

It’s believed the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can help unlock many of the universe’s mysteries. It’s the biggest, most powerful machine on earth, and it smashes subatomic particles together almost as fast as the speed of light. And in order for the whole thing to work, liquid helium is needed.

Shooting those particles around the 16.7 mile loop are magnets that steer the particle beams. However, they can quickly overheat and they need to be cooled with liquid helium to -452.47 degrees. Also, the niobium-titanium wires that make up the magnets that shoot the particle beams around the loop are housed in a closed liquid-helium circuit that is -456.25 degrees. Liquid helium also cools the entire system down to -456.34 degrees. 

Without liquid helium, the Large Hadron Collider would literally become, and we’re gonna use a technical term here, a hot mess.

3. MRI Scans Will Be Less Common

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common tool in the medical field and it is used to non-invasively look inside the human body at things like ligaments, spinal cords, and organs, including the brain. A lot of times, ailments like torn ligaments and tumors are diagnosed using MRI machines. However, without helium it will be impossible to run these machines.

How an MRI works is that a magnet is powered and it creates a magnetic field. This field causes the protons of hydrogen atoms in your body to align and then they are exposed to a beam of radio waves. This creates a signal that is picked up by a receiver, which converts the information to a detailed image. However, maintaining that large magnetic field requires a lot of energy. To get that much power and sustain it without overheating, helium is used and that is done by reducing the resistance in the wires to almost zero. This is accomplished by constantly bathing the wires in liquid helium that is -452.38 degrees. On average, one machine uses 1,700 liters of liquid helium.

While there are MRI magnet cooling systems that do not use helium, the problem is that they are not designed for full body MRI machines, like the ones that are in hospitals.

2. Computer Chips and Fiber Optics

As we’ve mentioned a few times, helium is commonly used for cooling. In fact, nearly a third of it is used for cryogenics. One notable feat is that it can be cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, which is -459.67 degrees. This makes it the coldest liquid on Earth.

Another field where cold helium is vital in computers and telecommunications. One of the main uses is with fiber optics, which are cables that are used to connect the internet and telecommunications. Fiber optics can transfer more data over longer distances than wire cables. However, they are much more fragile than wire cables and they need to be housed an in all-helium environment or it can cause air bubbles, which would make them useless.

Another way helium is used when it comes to computers is that computer chips are made using superconductors. Superconductors are basically magnets that are supercharged and don’t overheat thanks to liquid helium.

Without helium, computer chips will be incredibly hard to make. This is going to have big ripple effects on everything that uses computer chips. This includes cars, smart phones, appliances, and of course computers.

1. Scientific Progress Will Be Slowed

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest experiment that uses helium, but it is also necessary for use in all different types of experiments and machines that are used in universities and laboratories around the world. The reason it’s used is because it’s safe because it isn’t flammable or combustible, which is great for researchers, especially students who are still learning.

So other elements, much more dangerous ones, will have to be used to cool the machines. This will clearly slow down progress and make experiments and machines more dangerous. Even if there was a way to run the machines, that means they will have to be retrofitted or purchased new, which isn’t cheap. For example, Western Michigan University’s chemistry department has a $250,000 machine that needs helium and they have a tank of helium delivered monthly. That is just one department at one university.

Without helium, all fields of scientific study that rely on machines that use helium will be slowed down this includes physics, medical science, chemistry, and computer science, just to name a few. In turn, scientific study will be severely handicapped.


No Helium, No Fun

WIF Science

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 40

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 40

…Cerella had hoped for an unabridged Ekcello…

Cerella slams the door on the increasingly uncomfortable exchange by changing the tenor of the conversation. She musters up enough decency to concede his reality. She is aware that Skaldic is not your run-of-the-mill Null.

“What is the planetary status, Skaldic?”

“I have completed a census of the Gifted and you are alone in your normalcy.”

“Ekcello?”

“He is in his tower. Like all the Gifted, his essence is functioning. That is all I can tell.”

This news is of little comfort to the Heiress to the High Council. She had hoped for an unabridged Father.

Skaldic continues his report in the 3rd person, like it is his “job”, “Skaldic did see a O stationed near the olde home world,” which is still in volcanic upheaval, “before I could identify it, it was gone.”

After Cerella translates O for the McKinney elder {Sampson}.

The patriarch’s interest is piqued. “A perfectly smooth silvery moon that moves in its own dimension, right…? We spotted that beggar over in Selljunk territory!”

“What is beggar?”

Deke McKinney translates, “… a tramp or wanderer.”

Cerella refines wanderer, “Wanderer.” She ignores Sam’s butchering of the spooked-civilization-from-the-galaxy-next-door, but picks-up on his “own dimension” phraseology. “Your perception is enlightening, Sammy Mac. O operates separately from our timestem. O may be the cause of other occurrences.”

Celeste M. explains the concept of O, as expressed among those in the know:

  • the recently Gifted like her and Deke
  • the always Gifted like Cerella
  • the fringe Gifted like Skaldic
  • Sammy Mac
  • Offingga is definitely not Gifted and thusly clueless.

There is a consensus among them all, every one; they would wise to keep an eye peeled for that perfectly smooth & silvery shiny meddler with questionable intent.

The lone overhanging issue will require a combination of luck and a prayer. If there is a way to fathom/neutralize O {Lorgan}, will it become obvious to them in time?


THE NULL SOLUTION

Overhanging Issue by Mizzi

Episode 40


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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 39

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 39

…You can knock Cerella over with a single solitary puff of misty air. Not in all her upbringing had she ever had contact with the Null…

Of all the inhabitants of Eridanus, the heretofore shunted Null are nearer to humanity, in contrast to the others. With no robes, with visible legs to stand on, they are not whitely colored – rather individually so. On top of that, they are downright approachable.

Skaldic and Offingga see the Defender slide through the massive opening of the Spaceship Expository and they are there to be the official welcoming committee. They stand tall & confident in their newfound independence. Surely they would not be punished for any acts of insolence.

You can knock Cerella over with a single solitary puff of misty air. Not in all her upbringing had she ever had contact with the Null. Now, and that covers considerable Eridanian cycles, she does, not knowing where to look, how to act or what to say.

The youngest McKinney snatches the honor, “I do not believe we have been introduced; my name is Deimostra Samantha McKinney. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

‘What a dry fresh breath of air are these people of Earth,’ Skaldic thinks, not expecting such simplicity. “They call me Skaldic the Null and my companion is Offingga {translation: the jabberer}.” 

That spontaneous Null irony whizzes past without notice.

“How is it that we haven’t met before now? We {she points to Mom, Dad, and Deke} landed on your planet many cycles ago. Surely we should have crossed paths.”

“The Null tower is on the empty side of Eridanus.”

“There are others like you… so where are they?”

“Many more and it is best that they stay in our tower.”

“You act so different than Cerella and her father Ekcello.”

“We do not possess the ability to communicate with our minds.”

“I can teach you. If my brother can learn, certainly you can.”

“We are inferior beings in the eyes of the Gifted, unfit for interaction.”

Cerella slams the door on the increasingly uncomfortable exchange.

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THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 39


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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 38

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 38

…I thought I saw my reflection in that shiny object…

The Eridanian ship Defender is hurtling back home with TSF dexterity. The experience with The Seljuk is fresh on every one of the five minds aboard, now being shared amongst those who care.

“Daddy – what has happened to make a nice man like Chasonn so paranoid?” spoken by the 1st Terran-child of space, who has yet to experience many “human nature” concepts.

Sampson McKinney happened to have a pow-wow with the leader of the Seljuk, man-to-man, heart-to-heart, just when it seemed that the man was questioning the motives of the Defender crew. The pair swapped history lessons about their respective planets and discovered that they had more in common than not.

“Long ago Deimostra, when Chasonn was away at their place of higher learning, every Seljuk leader was whisked away, including his father, never to be seen again… it took almost two centuries for the Seljuk to recover.” It is not customary to sit a 21 year old girl on his lap like he is doing, but some wisdom needs to be handed down not discarded. “Trust is something that is earned, not given. And they have kept to themselves ever since, not unlike Eridanus, right Cerella?”

“After we have been far and wide and seen the whole of the Great Expanse, there comes a time when keeping private is the logical choice. Until you people of Earth were brought into our keeping, we had no need to borrow the trouble that lurks on the other side of this and other galaxies. Chasonn and his people made the same choice… and then here we are charging directly into their renewed chaos.”

“On top of that, our arrival came right after they lost communication with their sentinel outposts, as well as the appearance of that phantom planetoid – like the one we spotted on the way in.” That shiny unknown still bothers brother Deke.

“How can anything that flawless do any harm? It’s just like the pictures you showed me Daddy, what you called a Christmas ornament. There were blue ones, red ones, green ones and silver ones. In fact, for a moment, I thought I saw my reflection in it.”

That gives some others pause.

“I saw my reflection too!” Celeste admits.

“I thought the same thing,” Sammy Mac confesses. He thought he was the only one seeing things.

“That is impossible. We didn’t get within 250,000 miles of that thing, before it vanished that is,” Deke tries to be the voice of reason – he saw his reflection as well without admitting it.

In the time it takes for Eridanus to complete one cycle, Defender is back in the berth reserved for it in the Spaceflight Expository, after its mission to the Triangulum Galaxy. At first blush, nothing has changed in the meantime; not a single Eridanian figure had moved.

But in the excitement of recent exploits, they forget about the Null, specifically Skaldic.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 38


page 43

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 37

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 37

…As improbable as it may seem, I think they are reaching out – or back – or forward to us, like we are going to run into something we currently can’t deal with…

Gus McKinney has reported for duty and gets in on the Space Technologies Expo.

F-squared acts like he has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “What have you been hiding from us Fletch?”

“Easy Gus, this download just started a minute or two ago,” Roy confirms in defense.

Like kids in a candy store, they “Ooo” and “Ahh” and “of course” their way through the Image result for star trek transporter gifmaterial, which has the feel of techy wisdom – sent from the future.

“Why didn’t we think of that,” the astronaut of the group comments on the section most applicable to him. “This molecular stabilizer is just a stepping stone to a Star Trek transporter, I’m telling you!”

The ramifications of these technologies pale in comparison to their implementation or rather when or if they are implemented.

“This has my Mom’s fingerprints all over it. I don’t mean that this her techno stuff, but it dovetails with the visions I’ve been seeing of her and Deke. As improbable as it may seem, I think they are reaching out – or back – or forward to us, like we are going to run into something we currently can’t deal with.”

“You may be onto something Gus. I think we better start working our way through the engineering, Fletcher. If he’s right, we will need this stuff sooner than we think.”

“But what about Lorgan, shouldn’t we be worried about it?”

“So far all we know is it doesn’t like Koreans… just like you Fletch.”

“I see your point.” Back in the day, he was on the Korean dime. “I’ll get on it right away.”

“Just a word of warning, if you need help with integrating and me or Gus aren’t available, do not share details with anyone else. If word gets out about what we’re up to… I don’t want to think about it!”


THE NUL SOLUTION

Episode 37


page 41

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 36

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 36

A straw that stirs the drink would be an apt depiction of Lorgan…

Known to Earth as Lorgan, that “shiny meddler” seems to have an agenda and the ability to navigate space with impunity. Its effects appear to vary widely, as it applies to any unique affected party.

  • Wipe out an Eridanian scouting mission & drive them into isolation and ultimately, hibernation?
  • Spy on what “it” considers a primitive world by hiding behind Earth’s star & singling out the planet’s most dangerous society?
  • Disable the outposts of the paranoid Seljuk, while stirring their suspicions as to who is responsible?
  • Expose the Ÿ€Ð to the harshness of their proximity of their star & provoking them into an offensive position?

A straw that stirs the drink would be an apt depiction of Lorgan, but you best keep a safe distance.  The drink itself is the Great Expanse. But what exactly are the purposes of the straw? Where does the straw come from? You will likely get four different answers from the 4 affected parties.

“Take a look at this Crip,” Fletcher Fitch has been digging in the recesses of the NASA mainframe, searching for something, anything that will give him a leg-up on that whippersnapper Gus McKinney. Understanding Stellar Explorer’s unexplainable improvements, as well as defining the undefinable Lorgan, has turned into an earnest competition. He points at a complicated schematic that has appeared out of nowhere into the NASA mainframe.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“Some sort of energy field?”

Before the engineer can expand on his thoughts, another diagram piggybacks on the first.

“Now hold your horses. This one looks like a molecular disruptor! I’m not sure where this stuff is coming from, but I can tell you it’s not from any of us.” Fitch would know.

“Somebody must think we may need these improvements in the future.” None of this technology would make sense for an organization in the business of mere exploration, with only fractional knowledge of extraterrestrial entities.

A third program spills into the supercomputer.

“These are the schemes for the molecular stabilizers.”

Davinci 2 by chillara on DeviantArt

“And the answers to how SEx went from warp1 to warp3.”

They are accidental inventors, each one.

This is like discovering every single one of Leonardo da Vinci’s notes or Edison’s drawings of his numerous world-changing inventions. Technology, barely comprehensible by current science, is falling into their laps.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 36


page 40

Easy Easter Tidbits – WIF Holidays

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 Easter  is

More Interesting

Than Just

Chocolate

As holidays go, Easter is a strange one. We’re here today to look at Easter’s origins, and how it’s celebrated around the world. Just make sure to keep some chocolate on standby in case of cravings.

10. The Name

easter1

We know that Christmas is a combination of “Christ” and “Mass,” and we also know that Halloween comes from “All hallow-even.” But where does Easter come from?

By far the most prolific explanation comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility known as Eostre. The goddess had 10 variants of her name, including Ostara, Eostur and Austron — which made adding her as a contact on your phone a nightmare — but it’s agreed that the root of her name comes from “eastre,” meaning “spring.” This was adopted and used as a Christian celebration. Despite the fact that this is one of the top explanations, there’s a lot of debate over whether Eostre was even an actual goddess worshipped by people. You know, just to confuse you further.

9. The Rabbit

easter2

Out of all the animals to be designated as the one who delivers chocolate eggs, why a rabbit? The tradition definitely has a back story, but which story you get depends on who you ask. There have been several claims for the origin of the iconic rabbit, and they span different religions and traditions.

One theory states that the Easter Bunny originated from our friend Eostre. The story goes that, once upon a time, Eostre stumbled upon a bird dying from the cold in the snow. She turned the bird into a hare, so that its fluffy coat kept it warm and safe. Because it was once a bird, it still laid eggs, so the rabbit decorated them and left them as gifts to Eostre for saving its life. This is also an explanation for the Easter egg hunt — looking for the eggs that the bird-rabbit hid. Although stealing gifts from a goddess is probably not the best idea.

Another story states that the Easter Bunny came about because, once upon a time, people believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites, making them able to give birth without losing their virginity. This has strong ties to the virgin birth of Jesus from Mary, so people began to relate rabbits to them. Some churches even sport a three hare motif, consisting of three hares connected by their ears running in a circle, a potential symbol of the Holy Trinity. However, these have been found all over the world, and their true meaning is unknown.

A third story points a finger to the first record of the Easter Rabbit in De ovis paschalibus, a German book that translates to About the Easter Egg. It states that the tradition had existed in the Christian-dominated Alsace, carried over to America with German immigrants in the 1700s, and sparked the annual chocolate gluttony ever since. There’s been no historic record yet that says people waited a day later to get eggs much cheaper, though.

8. Semana Santa

IMG_3717

Now that we’ve tackled the myths and legends behind Easter, we can look at the events that take place around the world leading up to, and on, the holy day. One is Semana Santa, held within cities across Spain.

Semana Santa means Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter Sunday. In it, all shops and stores except restaurants close, and the entire city is transformed.55 different churches take part in the festival, parading large floats that resemble Jesus in some way. The floats make their way from their church of origin to the cathedral, and then back again. While a sombre celebration, it’s one that draws tourists from all over the world to see its magnificence.

7. The Epitáphios Threnos

easter4

The Epitáphios Threnos is a tradition in Greek Orthodox religions that’s held on Good Friday. It means Lamentation at the Tomb, and is in essence a funeral service to respect the death of Jesus by re-enacting the way he was buried after his crucifixion. The Epitáphios Threnos takes place in churches, where an epitaphios is placed atop something representing the tomb of Christ. The epitaphios is a highly-adorned piece of cloth that represents the shroud Jesus was wrapped in. The tomb is decorated with flower petals and rosewater before hymns are spoken. Interactions with this tomb vary depending on tradition — some will hold it over the church entrance so that believers pass under it, a symbol of entering the grave alongside Christ.

6. Easter Ham

easter5

A prolific theory behind the Easter ham resides in Christianity. The story states that a wicked queen named Ishtar gave birth to a son called Tammuz. This son would become a hunter, but his career was cut short when he was killed by a wild pig. Presumably out of spite, and maybe with a love for bacon mixed in, Ishtar designated a Sunday on which people consumed pig.

Another theory states that, while lamb was usually the go-to dish for its symbolism with Passover, ham would be used because pigs were considered a symbol of good luck. Killing and eating symbols of good luck seems to be a bad idea, but at least it got ham on the table.

Another source gives a more practical approach. Before the invention of refrigeration, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and preserved during winter. Should some of the meat not be consumed during the winter months, it would be cured so it could be eaten during springtime. When did the curing finish?Around Easter, making it an ideal dish for the season. It’s a less exciting origin, but it makes good sense.

5. Maundy Money

easter6

In the United Kingdom, a select few people are given money the day before Good Friday. These coins, known as Maundy Money, have a long history. It began when Jesus gave the command “that ye love one another” after he washed the feet of his disciples, who probably felt they could get used to that sort of treatment. This became a fourth century tradition where the poor have their feet washed and are given clothes. This stopped around the eighteenth century, and was replaced by an allowance to give the poor the chance to buy food and clothing. Thus was born the Maundy Money.

Today, a selection of elders receive a red and white purse. The red one contains legal currency, while the white one contains special symbolic Maundy coins. These people are selected by the amount of Christian service they have performed, so if you see some senior citizens suddenly taking a great interest in the church and goodwill approaching Easter, now you know why.

4. Pysanka Eggs

Mixed Eggs

Painting eggs on Easter is always fun. But it doesn’t have to be child’s play — the Ukrainian Easter tradition of Pysanka eggs are a craft all by themselves. These highly-decorated eggs have been made during Holy Week for generations. Even when Easter is nowhere near, people can’t resist making them. While people once made eggs to ensure fertility and avoid fires and nasty spirits, today they take to the art form for the aesthetic allure.

How do Pysanka eggs differ from regular ones? The preparation, mostly. After designing a pattern on an uncooked or empty egg, it’s then dipped in a colored dye. Between the dyeing stages, the craftsman draws patterns on the egg with wax, so as to seal the color currently on the egg and create the intricate patterns you see on the final product. In short, if the rabbits you paint on Easter eggs end up looking like the one out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps consider purchasing Pysanka eggs instead.

3. Haux Omelets

easter8

After a busy Easter, it’s easy to imagine that people are sick to death of anything based around eggs. It would be a good idea for them to stay away from Haux in France, whose Easter traditions are just dying to have egg-based puns written about them. Every year on Easter Monday, the residents create a large omelet. This isn’t the kind of large omelet you get when you drop a box of eggs on the floor — it’s not unheard of for the final result to come in at three yards wide to feed 1,000 people. One year’s omelet saw 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, and 110 pounds of bacon, onion and garlic, which sure beats what you get at Denny’s. You could even call it eggstreme, if you wanted us to come over there and smack you.

2. Passion Plays

Vilagers take part in an Easter Passion Play re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday at Gantang Village near Magelang, in the province of Central Java

One of the longest running traditions of Easter is the Passion Play. Because a lot of people in medieval times couldn’t read, plays were a great way to educate the masses about the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There are passion plays held all over the world, but one of the most famous is the Oberammergau Passion Play. Its roots began during the black plague, when the residents of Oberammergau were on high alert to keep the disease out. A farmer coming home from a nearby village brought the plague back with him, which killed one-fifth of the town. With the disease ravaging the town, the elders declared that the church would hold a passion play every 10 years in exchange for God’s blessing and protection (you’d think they’d try every 10 days considering the circumstances, but whatever). The play has been performed every 10 years since 1633, with only a ban in 1770, World War I, and World War II stopping three shows. Thankfully, no outbreaks of plague happened on those years.

1. The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers

easter10

If you’re discussing what you do on Easter with a friend, and they reveal that what they love most about it is the part where people with blackened faces perform a folk dance down the streets, you may have just met someone from Bacup, England. Every Easter, The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or Nutters, perform a folk dance from one town boundary to the other. What makes these dancers unique is their blackened faces, but no one is sure of their origins. It might be from medieval times to hide the faces of those who participated to stop evil spirits from getting their revenge, or it may have ties to the mining industry. Either way, the custom has come under fire for its potential racist nature, with the Nutters swearing that the blackened faces have no racial aspect whatsoever. Like every dispute around Easter, we hope this one can be solved with chocolate.


Easy Easter Tidbits

WIF Holidays

Strange Lake Guide Handbook – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Strange Lakes

From Around

the World

Image result for lake painting

Mallards Lake by Doug Kreuger

10. Gafsa Lake, Tunisia

Pretty early on in life, most of us learn that things don’t just appear from nowhere. Apparently, Gafsa Lake in Tunisia never got the memo. One day in 2014, a group of Tunisian shepherds were making their way to a familiar patch of land. Imagine their surprise when they got there and found a giant freaking lake where their meadow used to be. A lake that just happened to be the most-inviting shade of azure.

 Gafsa is an area that has seen lots of mining in its past, much of it unregulated. Scientists think that some rupture in the rock above the water table resulted in the sudden appearance of Lake Gafsa, as below-ground water was sucked up onto the surface. Whatever the cause, it happened quickly. One local resident said he’d passed the remote area only three weeks beforehand and it had been dry as a bone.

Although Gafsa Lake started out a cool, inviting blue, it quickly became full of algae, and possibly toxic to humans. Not that that stopped locals from bathing in it. In the heat of Tunisia, even a lake full of green sludge is better than no lake at all.

9. Roopkund Lake, India

There are certain things you never want to find in any body of water. Piranhas is one. The decaying remains of hundreds of humans who’ve died a terrifying death is another. Yet that’s exactly what British troops found in Roopkund Lake in the winter of 1942.

It being wartime and all, the Brits naturally assumed that they were at the scene of a Japanese massacre. The truth was far, far stranger. When the bones were examined, it turned out that they all dated to around 850 AD. On top of that, they’d all been killed in a similar way: with a blow to the head that cracked their skulls. The injury matched no known weapon. So what could have caused 200 people to die in this way? The eventual answer scientists came up with was hailstones. Really, really big hailstones.

 There’s an old song from the region around Roopkund, about a mountain goddess who smote a bunch of travelers with a titanic hailstorm. It’s now thought this is a folk memory of a real event, and a freak hailstorm that dropped baseball-sized chunks of solid ice killed all 200 pilgrims in the valley when they couldn’t reach shelter. Over time, the valley filled with water, eventually becoming the skeleton-haunted Roopkund Lake.

8. Lake Nyos, Cameroon

Picture the scene. You arrive home from a weekend away, to find your neighborhood full of corpses. Bodies lie in the streets, an expression of fright etched on their dead faces. You wonder what could have killed all these people. Was it a terrorist attack? A virus? The answer could be even weirder. They could’ve been killed by a nearby lake.

In 1986, this is exactly what happened in Cameroon. As locals lay in bed, Lake Nyos quietly released a gigantic bubble of CO2, like the Earth was exhaling. The effect was immediate and horrific. A cloud of deadly gas settled over the region, suffocating anyone in its path. Up to 25 kilometers away, people and animals suddenly fell to the ground, coughing and gasping for air. Flames extinguished. Children died in seconds. Within minutes, 1,746 people and 3,500 animals had died. Entire villages had been wiped out. It remains one of the world’s weirdest natural disasters.

That it happened at all is down to sheer bad luck. Lake Nyos was formed from a CO2 rich volcanic crater. While similar crater lakes usually released small doses of CO2 over a long period of time, Nyos was so freakishly still that the gas became trapped. It wasn’t until something – a landslide, a heavy rainstorm on one side of the lake – agitated the water that its deadly payload was released, ending nearly two thousand lives.

 7. Lake Peigneur, Louisiana

Unlike Lake Nyos, we know for certain what caused the freakish Lake Peigneur disaster. Texaco were drilling for oil when they accidentally punctured the roof of a mineshaft below the lake. Not that knowing the cause makes what happened next any less bizarre or terrifying.

The collapse of the mineshaft created a whirlpool. A whirlpool that became a powerful vortex. A vortex that grew and grew until it became the biggest, scariest sinkhole in human history.

The entire lake was sucked down into a swirling mess of mud and terror. The drilling platform was pulled in. 11 barges on the lake at the time went under. Landslides started, bringing surrounding forest and countryside tumbling down into the sinkhole. The canal flowing out the lake actually reversed, pulling the Gulf of Mexico up into the former-lake. Imagine pulling the plug out your bathtub and having not only your entire house, but half your neighborhood go swirling down the drain. That was Lake Peigneur.

Incredibly, this muddy vortex of horror didn’t kill a single human being. 50-odd people all managed separate, miraculous escapes from what should have been certain death.

6. Baotou Toxic Lake, Inner Mongolia

The lake at Baotou, China, is so new that it doesn’t have a real name. Instead, reports simply refer to it as the ‘Baotou toxic lake’. That the word ‘toxic’ is in its title should be telling enough. Baotou is a manmade lake, created by the mining and refining processes that give us the minerals to power our shiny iPhones. As such, it is one of the most-polluted lakes anywhere on Earth.

Coming face-to-face with it is like stepping into a dystopian nightmare. The surface is almost entirely black, a giant swathe of sludge that’s unremittingly bleak. Nothing can grow here. The shores are all dyed as black as the lake itself. The result is a nightmarish, monochrome world. A place that’s as surreal to set eyes on as it is horrifying.

Perhaps the strangest part of the Baotou Lake is why it exists. Most modern technologies use specific minerals in their running, such as cerium, which gives us touchscreens on our phones. Many of these minerals are also used in ‘green’ technologies, like wind turbines. Minerals for such technologies are one of Baotou city’s biggest exports. That’s right: Perhaps the most-polluted lake on Earth was created thanks to our love of eco-friendly tech.

5. Lake Natron, Tanzania

It sounds like something out of a fairy tale, or maybe some haunting Disney story. A lake that magically turns anything that touches its surface into a frozen statue. Yet Lake Natron in Tanzania is far from being fictional. Hidden deep in east Africa, it is surrounded by the creepy stone statues of animals that strayed too close to its deadly waters.

Of course, Lake Natron isn’t magical, or cursed, or anything like that. Instead, its waters are filled with natron, a naturally-occurring compound that contains a lot of sodium carbonate, and a bit of sodium bicarbonate. They’re also dangerously hot and have an alkalinity of around pH 10. The result is that anything that tries to drink from the lake usually dies, quickly, and gets immersed in the waters. The natron then does its thing, calcifying the bodies and essentially turning them into stone.

For visitors, it represents a spectacularly horrible sight. All around the lake are dead statues, often of birds that died when attempting to land on the water’s surface. As a result, visiting is like walking through the most-gruesome department store in history, one where all the mannequins used to be living things.

4. Kawah Ijen Crater Lake Java, Indonesia

At first sight, Kawah Ijen Crater Lake in Indonesia looks almost inviting; the kind of lake you’d like to take home to meet your folks. But this sky-blue lake at the top of a volcano has a fiery underbelly… literally. The whole thing is so full of sulphur that it periodically bursts into neon-blue flames that are both hypnotic to look at, and so deadly that even getting close can cause you to keel over and die from inhaled fumes.

 While the shores of the lake burn and rage, the lake itself is basically one great big bath full of hydrochloric acid. Remember the chemical vat Michael Keaton’s Batman knocked Jack Nicholson’s Joker into, like, three Bat-decades ago? Well, that’s Kawah Ijen Crater Lake. The thing’s got a pH of 0, and could melt anything you chuck in it as quickly as a pool of car battery acid. Speaking of acid, the air around the lake is so full of the stuff that its almost essential to wear a gasmask while visiting. Unless you want your lungs to resemble those of a lifelong, six pack-a-day smoker, that is.

The craziest part of this weirdo lake? Some people actually choose to work here, dodging streams of flickering blue fire to mine chunks of Sulphur from the volcano itself.

3. Pitch Lake, Trinidad

Pitch Lake may have the most-apt name of any lake on Earth. It is a lake made entirely from pitch asphalt, the same stuff we use to surface roads and so-on. You better believe the result is weird. Pitch Lake is so thick in places that you can walk across it… and so dangerously-thin in others that you can slip through its surface, vanishing forever into the murky depths below.

 The lake’s surface ranges in texture from being as thick and solid as rock, to as springy as an eraser, to as squidgy and terrifying as quicksand. Trees, boulders and other bits and pieces that fall into its embrace often get stuck to the surface, where the pitch hardens around them, effectively turning them into stone. This means Pitch Lake is a lake that you walk across while surrounded with the statues of dead trees and other lifeforms. We’re betting that’s not a sentence you hear very often.

Word to the wise if you’re planning a visit: While some tourists brave the lake’s clearer waters for a swim, this is about as dangerous as the idea of swimming in pitch sounds. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

2. Lost Lake, Oregon

As we saw with Gafsa Lake, it is possible to have a lake just spontaneously appear from nowhere. But what about one that disappears? Lost Lake in Oregon is such a lake. Every summer, the nine-foot deep, 85-acre lake quietly vanishes. Every fall, it reappears again, as if nothing ever happened.

We don’t mean ‘most of it dries up’ or anything. It utterly vanishes. In its place, a pretty little meadow appears that has no trace of water in it at all. The reason this happens: Lava tubes.

Lava tubes are… well, tubes in rock that are left over from ancient lava flows. They can be less than a foot across, or big enough to walk into. There are two small ones in Lost Lake, constantly draining water off from the surface, ensuring the lake doesn’t flood in winter. In summer, however, the streams that feed Lost Lake dry up. As a result, the lava tubes completely drain the lake dry, until the fall rains come and the two little tubes can no longer keep up with all the water flowing in, and the lake reappears.

 1. Yellowstone Lake, USA

Literally everybody reading this has heard of Yellowstone Lake. Famously vast, calm, and beautiful, it’s about as far from a ‘strange’ lake as you’re likely to get. At least, it is on the surface. Go diving in its placid depths, and you might just notice an odd dome growing on the bottom. This is the current topmost point of what’s been termed the Yellowstone Supervolcano. One day it’s gonna burst. When it does, you can say goodbye to life as we know it.

Think of the lake as your teenage face, and the dome as a gross little spot that’s just starting to swell under the skin. Over time, that spot is gonna swell up and up and up, until it’s ripe and ready to pop. Only it won’t be a little jet of pus that comes out. Instead, the bottom of Yellowstone Lake leads into a gigantic magma chamber that contains enough lava to fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times over.

If it one day erupted, it would be a catastrophe. Although a relatively-small number would die for such a gigantic blast (estimated in the region of 90,000), the Midwest would be buried under a layer of ash, and massive crop failures would plague the US for the next decade or so. If you thought Lake Nyos up there was deadly, just wait till Yellowstone Lake blows.


Strange Lake Guide Handbook

WIF 10 Cent Travel

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 35

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 35

…On a normally ugly, smelly day, early in the year StarDate 2052, the Ÿ€Ð are thrown for a loop by the critical combination of an unsolicited trespasser and fate…

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CHAPTER FOUR

Friend or Foe

 

The Definition of an Alliance;

An alliance is a pact, coalition or friendship between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests. It can be a political agreement between countries to support each other in disputes with other countries, making them allies.

Alliances on a planet are pretty straightforward. Separated only by borders {ocean, river or imaginary}, they are leagues fashioned through philosophical similarities.

  1. On Earth, certain countries align themselves together {distinct factions}.
  2. On Eridanus, the many towered cities are filled to the top with people connected by brainwaves {except the Null}.
  3. The Seljuk can be called “reclusive”, preferring to keep things private {but things change}.
  4. The Ÿ€Ð are the Ÿ€Ð, an alliance unto themselves {whatever that means}.

The 4 planetary systems are separated by 64 combined parsecs {ea. 3+ light years}. They are 4 civilizations that could not be more dissimilar. 4 fates are being tethered together by an uneasy, unidentified, unwanted, unaware or unwittingly urgent alliance.

Choose a lane or it will be chosen for you.

The Ÿ€Ð {#4 above} have always been a wildcard in this corner of infinity. They are unsightly in the eyes of 95% of known species and revolting to the rest. To make their palatability worse, they carry an odor that would offend a Venusian Wasteworm.  Add to this unsavory list, Ÿ€Ð do not possess a shred of decency. They assume the worst in all things and act accordingly.

3 Planets by ENDESGA on DeviantArt.com

No good things can come of things, which they do not understand. Such is their attitude when an intruder dare enter their space without permission. On a normally ugly, smelly day, early in the year StarDate 2052, they are thrown for a loop by the critical combination of an unsolicited trespasser and fate..

The Ÿ€Ð star system is a simple one; three planets, of incremental size, in orbit far enough apart as not to exert gravitational influence on the others. Only one of these is suitable to sustain their species {not too warm, shrouded by dense clouds, extremely humid}{as opposed to Eridanus which is equally muggy but much warmer}. The clouds are an artificial blanket that covers over them, like a drapery over a window, so no one can see in.

One can imagine the horror that ensues when a shiny smooth O takes up an orbit beneath that protective security layer. They frantically scan and analyze in the brief time they have. Before a strategy can be formulated, a bright illumination clears away their synthetic security. For the first time in eons, the Ÿ€Ð are exposed to the harsh ultraviolet radiation of their star.

They are forced to make the proper environmental measures to ensure inhabitability of their world.

If there is one Ÿ€Ð-ian credo, it is “Attack first, ask questions later”. Galactic harmony has gone on too long for their taste. Their leaning would be to exact a measure of revenge.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Galactic Harmony

Episode 35


page 39