THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 94

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 94

…There was supposed to be a small colony on Mars, not a freaking skyscraper…

‘I want to see what Tycho looks like after all these years,” Sam suggests. 

As soon as they can sync the viewer with the geographical location of the Plain of Xanthe, it is clear that the neighborhood has changed. Not only are there clouds and oceans and vegetation, there is a towering structure dwarfing the tiny lander that once called Space Colony 1 its home base.

Sampson McKinney, formerly of Earth, Mars and now Eridanus, is as confused as his the Null next to him, “I thought you told me this planet was barren.”

“It was when I left,” he claims. He has to wonder why Celeste did not leave a clue about her hyperphysical trip back. Surely Crip would have mentioned a little thing like a colony on Mars. A friendly heads-up would have been nice.

Sure as Mars soil is red, a mile-high colossus rises up on the spot where humans once tread.

“Something like that would take centuries for Earth to build. There was supposed to be a small colony on Mars, not a freaking skyscraper. I wonder if the Chinese are responsible, they have always had money to burn?” He contemplates possible explanations.

Just as they get close enough to magnify their view, something strange, yet familiar pops into the scene.

“0” Skaldic has seen it before and so has Sampson, if only for seconds at a time.

Reliably so, it gives off a reflection.

“Harmonia,” reads Sampson.

#Harmonia# reads Skaldic in the Olde Language.

Twice read, once gone.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me? I saw that thing over Selljunk way.”

“I saw it out by our olde home world,” to each his own.

The recent visitors to the vicinity have stopped watching where they were going. The planned descent to the surface is met with a blinding rebuke.

The next thing you know, they are found back in Eridanus orbit; SNAP!

“Holy crap!” After recovering from unconsciousness, Sampson has his say.

Skaldic points to the same viewscreen that recently held pixels of the New Mars. It reads instead:

The Null runs the riddle past a comprehensive Eridanian database. It does not compute.

The Earthling utilizes an Earthly version, with the same results.

Nothing about the last few moments seems to add up.

“Fuzzy math or bad Dr. Seuss,” Sam summarizes, “We are a full 180° off course, emptyhanded and confused.”

“That is not all Sampson McKinney.”

“Please Skaldy, I can’t take anymore.”

“The TSF drive is unavailable.”

“Swell. You can add going nowhere fast to the list.”

All in a ½ day’s work.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Work Painting by MICHELE Z FARRIER

Episode 94


page 95

Tourist Attractions that No Longer Exist – WIF Forgotten Travel

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Forgotten Tourist

Attractions that

No Longer Exist

1. Wawoma Tree, Yosemite National Park

Back in 1881 a tunnel was carved through this 2,100-year old sequoia tree in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. By the late 1910s (when it’s likely this photograph was taken) the tree was popular with tourists, keen to be pictured driving right through the 234-foot (71.3m) high natural wonder. Even President Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1903.

2. Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Two mammoth Buddha statues – the tallest in the world, in fact – once looked out from a sandstone cliffside in Bamiyan. They were carved in the 6th century, with the tallest topping out at 180 feet (55m). But, in 2001, these Buddhist effigies were destroyed by the Taliban.

3. Duckbill Rock Formation, Oregon

Slide 6 of 39: Named, as you might have guessed, for its likeness to a duck’s bill, this rock formation once drew camera-wielding tourists to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The sandstone hoodoo stood around seven-foot (2m) tall and, carved out over millennia, had most likely occupied its coastal spot for millions of years.

Named, as you might have guessed, for its likeness to a duck’s bill, this rock formation once drew camera-wielding tourists to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The sandstone hoodoo stood around seven-foot (2m) tall and, carved out over millennia, had most likely occupied its coastal spot for millions of years.

4. Sutro Baths, San Francisco

Slide 8 of 39: If you picture San Francisco, attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island or Lombard Street might spring to mind. But did you know that the city was once home to the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment? The impressive complex included six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, with capacity for 10,000 people.

If you picture San Francisco, attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island or Lombard Street might spring to mind. But did you know that the city was once home to the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment? The impressive complex included six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, with capacity for 10,000 people.

5. Pink and White Terraces, Lake Rotomahana, New Zealand

Slide 10 of 39: Back in the mid-19th century, these gorgeous, naturally formed cascading pools attracted tourists from across the globe and were one of the biggest draws for those visiting the Southern Hemisphere. Often dubbed “the eighth wonder of the world”, they were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera back in 1886. Now their glory is captured only by a handful of paintings, like this one by English artist Charles Blomfield.

Back in the mid-19th century, these gorgeous, naturally formed cascading pools attracted tourists from across the globe and were one of the biggest draws for those visiting the Southern Hemisphere. Often dubbed “the eighth wonder of the world”, they were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera back in 1886. Now their glory is captured only by a handful of paintings, like this one by English artist Charles Blomfield.

6. Vidámpark, Budapest, Hungary

Slide 14 of 39: While it may not possess stunning architecture or natural beauty, this former amusement park was an institution for thrill-seekers. The attraction offered several historic rides, including the City Wave Roller, a wooden roller coaster built in 1922, and a carousel built in 1906.

While it may not possess stunning architecture or natural beauty, this former amusement park was an institution for thrill-seekers. The attraction offered several historic rides, including the City Wave Roller, a wooden roller coaster built in 1922, and a carousel built in 1906.

7. Guaíra Falls, Paraguay/Brazil

Slide 16 of 39: Thirty-seven years ago, on the border between Paraguay and Brazil, there lay one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. Comprising a series of 18 falls, with the tallest 130-feet (40m) high, this natural wonder attracted tourists from across the globe, who were captivated by its immense power and beauty.

Thirty-seven years ago, on the border between Paraguay and Brazil, there lay one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. Comprising a series of 18 falls, with the tallest 130-feet (40m) high, this natural wonder attracted tourists from across the globe, who were captivated by its immense power and beauty.

8. West Pier, Brighton, UK

Slide 18 of 39: Today, Brighton’s Palace Pier is a beloved attraction in this seaside town, but just along the coastline you’ll find the skeletal remains of an older pier. Opened in 1866, during the Victorian boom for seaside vacations, the West Pier featured a concert hall, funfair and tearoom and was extremely popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Today, Brighton’s Palace Pier is a beloved attraction in this seaside town, but just along the coastline you’ll find the skeletal remains of an older pier. Opened in 1866, during the Victorian boom for seaside vacations, the West Pier featured a concert hall, funfair and tearoom and was extremely popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

9. Porcelain Tower, Nanjing, China

Slide 20 of 39: If you’ve ever smashed a piece of porcelain crockery, you might think that a 260-foot (79m) tower made from the stuff is not the smartest idea. Yet, surprisingly, this architectural gem lasted for around 400 years, from the 14th to 19th centuries, before being destroyed by rebels. In its day, it showcased a traditional pagoda style, adorned with colorful Buddhist imagery and lit up by lanterns at night.

If you’ve ever smashed a piece of porcelain crockery, you might think that a 260-foot (79m) tower made from the stuff is not the smartest idea. Yet, surprisingly, this architectural gem lasted for around 400 years, from the 14th to 19th centuries, before being destroyed by rebels. In its day, it showcased a traditional pagoda style, adorned with colorful Buddhist imagery and lit up by lanterns at night.

10. The Hippodrome Theatre, New York City

Slide 22 of 39: If you had walked down to 1120 6th Avenue in New York one hundred years ago, you’d have been greeted by the sight of this spectacular theater. The giant 5,697-seat Hippodrome was the brainchild of entrepreneurs Frederick Thompson and Elmer Scipio Dundy, who enticed new middle-class customers with lower ticket prices and made theater accessible for all.

If you had walked down to 1120 6th Avenue in New York one hundred years ago, you’d have been greeted by the sight of this spectacular theater. The giant 5,697-seat Hippodrome was the brainchild of entrepreneurs Frederick Thompson and Elmer Scipio Dundy, who enticed new middle-class customers with lower ticket prices and made theater accessible for all.

11. Jeffrey Pine, Yosemite

Slide 24 of 39: Yes, it’s just a tree – but it’s possibly one of the most photographed trees ever, after landscape photographer Ansel Adams brought it to fame back in 1940. With its dramatic, keeled-over shape, the tree became a popular photo stop for visitors to Yosemite National Park, and it showed the effects of more than 400 years of windy weather.

Yes, it’s just a tree – but it’s possibly one of the most photographed trees ever, after landscape photographer Ansel Adams brought it to fame back in 1940. With its dramatic, keeled-over shape, the tree became a popular photo stop for visitors to Yosemite National Park, and it showed the effects of more than 400 years of windy weather.

12. Love Locks Bridge, Paris

Slide 26 of 39: This quirky tradition saw tourists flocking to the City of Love to express their amor by signing theirs and their partner's names on padlocks, before attaching them to the Pont des Arts over the River Seine. The practice became so popular that at one point the bridge contained one million padlocks weighing around 45 tons.

This quirky tradition saw tourists flocking to the City of Love to express their amor by signing theirs and their partner’s names on padlocks, before attaching them to the Pont des Arts over the River Seine. The practice became so popular that at one point the bridge contained one million padlocks weighing around 45 tons.

13. Penn Station, New York City

Slide 30 of 39: The former Penn Station, opened in 1910, was a striking sight: designed in the Beaux Arts style, it featured pink granite, vaulted glass windows, giant stone pillars and archways. Unfortunately, like many grand buildings, it cost a hefty sum to maintain, so in 1962 it was demolished – despite the backlash from many New Yorkers.

The former Penn Station, opened in 1910, was a striking sight: designed in the Beaux Arts style, it featured pink granite, vaulted glass windows, giant stone pillars and archways. Unfortunately, like many grand buildings, it cost a hefty sum to maintain, so in 1962 it was demolished – despite the backlash from many New Yorkers.

14. Royal Opera House, Valletta, Malta

Slide 32 of 39: When Valletta’s Royal Opera House was built in the 1860s, it was a neo-classical jewel drawing big-name Maltese and international artists, as well as up-and-coming acts. Sadly, though, its life was short. In the 1870s, the venue was ravaged by fire and its interior was badly damaged. 

When Valletta’s Royal Opera House was built in the 1860s, it was a neo-classical jewel drawing big-name Maltese and international artists, as well as up-and-coming acts. Sadly, though, its life was short. In the 1870s, the venue was ravaged by fire and its interior was badly damaged.

15. The Azure Window, Gozo, Malta

Slide 36 of 39: You might recognize this stunning natural formation – it’s been featured in Game of Thrones, The Count of Monte Cristo and Clash of Titans, as well as on many an Instagram feed. The arch was formed by the collapse of a coastal cave, probably in the 19th century, and was a popular spot for photographs.

You might recognize this stunning natural formation – it’s been featured in Game of ThronesThe Count of Monte Cristo and Clash of Titans, as well as on many an Instagram feed. The arch was formed by the collapse of a coastal cave, probably in the 19th century, and was a popular spot for photographs.

16. Crystal Palace, London, UK

Slide 38 of 39: Once a Victorian masterpiece, this impressive glass and steel structure was built in 1851 in London’s Hyde Park – it was later moved to Penge Place, in the south of the capital, where it remained for 82 years. In the palace's heyday, its grounds were home to a mind-boggling array of delights: a roller coaster, festivals, cricket matches and even a garden complete with model dinosaurs.

Once a Victorian masterpiece, this impressive glass and steel structure was built in 1851 in London’s Hyde Park – it was later moved to Penge Place, in the south of the capital, where it remained for 82 years. In the palace’s heyday, its grounds were home to a mind-boggling array of delights: a roller coaster, festivals, cricket matches and even a garden complete with model dinosaurs.


Tourist Attractions that

No Longer Exist

WIF Forgotten Travel

SuperVolcano Handbook – WIF Geology

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Terrifying (Dormant)

Super Volcanoes

Вулкан - анимация на телефон №1287538 | Fotografía de naturaleza, Naturaleza impresionante, Hermosos paisajes

A supervolcano is defined as having the capacity to produce an eruption so big that it can eject around 240 cubic miles of volcanic material in the form of molten rock, hot gases, and ash. That’s roughly one thousand times more than the largest volcanic eruption ever recorded in modern human history. Supervolcanoes are formed when a momentous volume of super-heated magma rises from deep underground, but is unable to penetrate the Earth’s crust and creates a huge, high-pressure pool several miles beneath the surface. As time passes, pressures rise and this massive pool of magma grows, until a mega eruption takes place.

 These kinds of eruptions have taken place in the past, and will do so again. It is estimated that such a blast takes place somewhere around the globe every 50 to 60 thousand years or so, with the last one going off 74,000 years ago, in Indonesia. So far, 40 supervolcanoes have been discovered, with seven of them still active. Not even with today’s technology are we able to stop any of these volcanoes from erupting, and the best thing we can do right now is to monitor them, learn as much as we can, and prepare for their aftermath.
cal·de·ra
/kalˈderə,kôlˈderə,kalˈdirə/        noun
  1. a large volcanic crater, especially one formed by a major eruption leading to the collapse of the mouth of the volcano.

10. The Apocalyptic Eruption of a Supervolcano

We have to make a couple of things clear right from the beginning. For starters, we know relatively little about how supervolcanoes are formed, and we know even less about what sets one off. However, recent geologic studies have shown us that super volcanoes are not like other ordinary volcanoes, especially when it comes to the causes that make them erupt. While an ordinary volcano is triggered by internal mechanisms, like magma pressure building up over time and eventually punching through the rock, a supervolcano is triggered by the above Earth’s crust which, due to the huge size of the magma chamber below, becomes highly unstable and forms cracks and faults. Through these faults, the magma can generate an unstoppable chain reaction that would lead to a devastating and inevitable explosion, the likes of which can extinguish most life on the planet. Because of this fact, it’s far more difficult to estimate when a supervolcano will erupt.

One such ancient eruption took place around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs. Coinciding with another cataclysmic event (the meteor that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago), the area of what is now known as the Deccan Traps in central India was the site of a huge volcanic eruption. Even before India slammed into the Asian continent, one of the largest volcanic structures made its presence felt for nearly 30,000 years. It now consists of more than 6,500 feet of flat-lying basalt lava flows, covering an area of roughly 200,000 square miles (almost the size of the Washington and Oregon combined). It’s estimated that the original area was three times that size, but shrank due to erosion and plate tectonics. The present volume of volcanic material is somewhere around 122,835 cubic miles, as compared to the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, which spewed out only around 0.24 cubic miles of lava.

An even larger and more destructive event occurred some 235 million years ago in what’s now Siberia, which triggered the Great Dying event, where 75% of all land life and 95% of marine life went extinct. But the largest volcanic eruption in Earth’s past 300 million years took place underwater, and began 125 million years ago. It created a plateau 19 miles thick and 750,000 square miles wide (1% of the Earth’s surface), called Ontong Java, north of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It released about 24 million cubic miles of lava, and was 100 million times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens eruption.

9. The Hellish Pyroclastic Flows That Soon Follow

Immediately following a volcanic eruption, an equally, if not deadlier event takes place. This is a pyroclastic flow, which instantly killed many of the people in the ancient Roman town of Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted. When a volcano goes off, besides the eruption column that forms above the crater, another, deadlier ash-cloud surge flows down the slopes in all directions and at incredibly high speeds (up to 450 mph). This is a fluidized mixture of solid and semi-solid fragments of rock, ash and incredibly hot expanding gases which act similarly to a snow avalanche. Everything that is caught in this flow will be killed instantaneously as temperatures inside it can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find yourself on a path of one of these pyroclastic flows, there is absolutely nowhere to run or anywhere to hide. The gases are so toxic, they wreck the lungs almost instantaneously, while the water inside tissue is simply boiled off.

In a supervolcano, the ash in a pyroclastic flow would be so hot that it would turn into lava once it touched back onto the ground. This would lead to lava flows hundreds of miles away from the volcano itself. Because of the extremely high speeds an “avalanche” like this usually travels, a phenomenon known as “viscous heating” takes place. Basically, the force moving these solid volcanic materials through the air adds to their overall temperature, making them even hotter and thus turning them into lava midair. Any life found in the vicinity, but not caught in this hurricane of incandescent materials hurtling towards them, would be killed by the poisonous gases that are released after the pyroclastic flow dies off. The area engulfed by the flow would be covered by up to 700 feet of debris.

8. A Volcanic Winter is Coming!

Now you may be inclined to believe that, even though huge and deadly, supervolcanoes would wreak havoc on a local level. But this could not be further from the truth. While the popular image of volcanic destruction is that of molten rock engulfing everything in its path, far greater devastation takes place high in the air. A supervolcanic eruption column can rise up to 15 miles and the ash, which is dispersed by winds, can blanket the skies for years to come. The toxic gases react in the stratosphere, blocking out solar radiation and drastically cooling the atmosphere below. The resulting volcanic winter, along with other effects like acid rain, can affect the whole planet, disrupting natural cycles and annihilating plant life, on which other organisms, like us humans, depend.

In just several days after the blast, the skies would be dark and deadly, with fallout reaching distances of 1,750 miles from the volcano. Five hundred miles away, ash could settle up to 3 feet deep. Within this zone, movement would be impossible, roads invisible, air travel grounded and people outdoors would not be able to see where they were going, and would probably suffocate. Wet ash would collapse rooftops, short circuit power lines, and clog car engines and power station reservoirs. Nuclear power plants would be forced to close and lawlessness could take over.

Those living in the path of the ash cloud would need to protect themselves with masks and visors. This is because volcanic ash is in fact rock which has been blown apart into tiny pieces and transformed into minute shards of glass with jagged edges. In its fine powder form, this ash is easily inhaled into the lungs, and people and animals can suffer a slow and painful death caused by the rare Marie’s disease. As the lungs fail, the skeletal system goes out of control, rapidly depositing new bone on top of old. This will affect people living even one thousand miles away and within a month of the eruption.

A simulation conducted on what happened during the last time Yellowstone erupted, some 640,000 years ago, showed that in one month’s time, the cloud of fine ash and dust covered the entire Northern Hemisphere and within 18 months the average worldwide temperature dropped by 10 degrees C. As a result, sea ice rapidly grew in the Arctic, reflecting even more of the sun’s rays. This in turn led to a severe rainfall decline, and oceans and land areas retaining more CO2. All of these factors lead to a drop in biological productivity, with food supplies lasting just mere weeks in some areas. According to the analysis, it took roughly 20 years for the planet to recover to its pre-eruption period. So, if the blast and pyroclastic flow of a super volcano can kill millions of people (depending on where it is situated), the volcanic winter that follows will most likely kill billions all over the globe.

7. Aira Caldera, Kyushu, Japan

Now that you have an idea of what a supervolcano is and what devastating effects it can have, we’ll be talking about the seven such active volcanoes we currently know about. The first one is the Aira Caldera, located in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu. At first glance, the Sakura-jima volcano, at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay, looks like any other ordinary volcano. Even though it’s been in near continuous eruption since 1955, and threatening the nearby city of Kagoshima (population of 500,000 people), Sakura-jima doesn’t really stand out from the many volcanoes that dot the Pacific Ring of Fire.

This is highly misleading, as Sakura-jima is just the tip of a much larger and far more dangerous volcano. The fact that it’s positioned on an island in the middle of a bay is the first clue. This is because Kagoshima Bay itself is in fact the infamous Aira Caldera. A caldera, as opposed to a volcanic crater, is a huge depression in the ground which formed after a previous supervolcanic eruption. As the magma chamber emptied, the ground above sank in and partially filled the hole left behind. This caldera in particular formed after a huge eruption about 22,000 years ago, with Sakura-jima beginning to sprout 9,000 years later. Today this volcano acts as a mere vent for the much larger, 150 square mile caldera it sits on. When this supervolcano last erupted, it spewed out roughly 14 cubic miles of material.

Japanese scientists believe that a volcanic eruption big enough to disrupt the whole country has a 1% chance of happening in the next 100 years. With the many tremors that take place around Kagoshima Bay on a daily basis, the Aira Caldera is among the top on that list. If it were to erupt today, lava and pyroclastic flows, as well as ash clouds, could engulf areas where 5 million people currently live. Another 120 million people would be severely affected by ash fallout, which makes up pretty much the whole of Japan.

6. Taupo Caldera, North Island, New Zealand

Lying beneath the surface of one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth sits the Taupo supervolcano. Located on the North Island in New Zealand, this caldera is currently covered by the country’s largest lake, Lake Taupo. This volcano began forming some 300,000 years ago, with the present caldera coming into existence around 25,000 BC, in what is called the Oruanui Eruption. It ejected somewhere around 288 cubic miles of volcanic material to the surface when it erupted. Today the magma chamber is situated some 5 miles beneath the surface, and is responsible for the largest eruption in the past 5,000 years.

This last major eruption at Lake Taupo took place around 200 AD from vents near Horomatangi Reefs (now submerged). The eruption plume reached heights of 30 miles into the air, well into the stratosphere. The pyroclastic flows that followed engulfed the surrounding area, 55 miles in all directions. This was the largest such event in recorded history, with the Kaimanawa mountains climbing one mile in a matter of minutes. The lake itself was blocked at its mouth, raising the water levels by 112 feet. This natural dam eventually broke out in a huge flood, the effects of which can be traced for over 125 miles downstream, and which include boulder beds and buried forests. It is quite possible that this eruption was the cause for the red sunsets the ancient Romans and Chinese recorded at that time.

5. Toba Caldera, Sumatra, Indonesia

The Toba caldera in Indonesia is responsible for producing the largest volcanic eruption in the past 2 million years. It is also the largest at 18 by 60 miles, which makes a total surface area of over 1000 square miles. This caldera probably formed in stages after eruptions occurred about 840,000, 700,000, and 75,000 years ago. This last one was the largest, spewing out a whopping 670 cubic miles of lava, ash and gas. Pyroclastic flows covered an area of at least 7,700 square miles, with the island of Samosir being engulfed by a thick, 1,800 foot blanket of tuff (pyroclastic debris). The resulting ash from the eruption covered an area at least 1.54 million square miles, and reached distances some 4,350 miles away.

Many scientists believe that this Young Toba Tuff eruption from 75,000 years ago put an incredible strain on the early human population still living in East Africa. So much so that it created a bottleneck from which only a mere couple of thousand people managed to survive. While this close call with extinction humanity faced back then actually happened, recent discoveries seem to point out that Toba wasn’t the main contributor. Archaeological investigations indicate that East Africa’s climate wasn’t so severely affected by the blast and its aftermath as to kill off almost all of humanity. What did it, however, is still a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it seems that the volcanic winter that ensued dropped Earth’s climate by at least 5 degrees C. and may have triggered a new ice age.

4. Valles Caldera, New Mexico, United States

Despite a very green, tranquil and inviting landscape present in New Mexico’s Valles Caldera National Reserve, the presence of hot springs, gas seeps and occasional tremors indicate a disturbing presence hiding underground. The volcanic caldera found there is relatively small compared to others here on this list, but at 14 square miles, it’s quite a hike to walk it from one end to the other. It’s also not the first here, as it collapsed over and buried the older Toledo caldera, which in turn covered previous ones.

This volcano had two mega eruptions in the past 2 million years, one 1.7 and the other 1.2 million years ago, piling up to 150 cubic miles debris and spewing ash as far away as Iowa. The last eruption here took place roughly 50 to 60,000 years ago, but this blast was far smaller in comparison. Though unlikely to erupt in the near future, the Valles Caldera lies above the intersection of the Rio Grande rift and the Jemez lineament, and its volcanic activity is due to tectonic movement along this crossroads. This makes this particular volcano highly unpredictable and hard to pinpoint a future eruption. With nearly 40 deep wells that have resulted in extensive subsurface data, the Valles caldera is the best explored caldera complex in the United States.

3. Campi Flegrei Caldera, Naples, Italy

Everybody knows that the residents of the city of Naples in Italy have always lived in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which completely wiped off the map the town of Pompeii in 79 AD. What most people don’t know, however, is that on the other side of the city rests a 13 square mile caldera known as Campi Flegrei (burning fields). This caldera makes part of the city’s westernmost outskirts, as well as the Gulf of Pozzuoli. This volcano went through two major eruptions in the past, 47,000 and 36,000 years ago, with smaller periods of activity at relatively regular intervals of roughly 4,000 years. Two eruptions have occurred in recent history, one in 1158 at Solfatara and the other in 1538, which formed the Monte Nuovo cinder cone we see today.

More recently however, back in 2013, a series of earthquakes put the residents of Naples in a state of unrest. Satellite imagery has indicated that the land on top the seemingly dormant caldera had risen by 1 inch in the course of a month, with some regions raising as much as 4 inches. Since the land hasn’t yet receded back to its original state, scientists believe that the chamber beneath the city has filled with about 148 million cubic feet of magma. This is not nearly enough magma to be a major cause for concern, as a super eruption needs a lot more in order to occur. Nevertheless, volcanologists need to keep a very close eye on Campi Flegrei, as these tremors can cause major faults throughout the city of Naples. But if it ever erupts to its full potential, all life in Europe could be lost.

2. Long Valley Caldera, California, United States

Close to the Nevada state line, in east-central California, lays the 200 square mile Long Valley caldera, just south of Mono Lake. The biggest eruption that occurred here took place some 760,000 years ago and unleashed around 3,000 times more lava and other volcanic material than Mount St. Helens in 1980. The ash that ensued reached as far away as Nebraska and the ground above the magma chamber dropped by approximately one mile. What is most worrisome here is that in 1980, after a swarm of earthquakes, roughly half of the caldera had risen by about 10 inches. Ten years later, CO2 and other poisonous gases began to seep through the ground, killing off trees and other vegetation in the Mammoth Mountain part of the caldera.

What sets aside the Long Valley caldera from all others is the fact that, as volcanologists like to put it, this volcano has a split personality. By this they mean that this supervolcano can generate two distinct types of eruptions at once. The first style is a gloppy, not very explosive lava called basalt that poses little blast danger unless it contacts groundwater or snow. The other is richer in glass, called silicic magma, which tends to be more explosive in nature. The official prognosis puts an eruption on any given year at less than 1%, which is somewhat equal to the San Andreas Fault letting loose another magnitude 8 earthquake like the one that destroyed San Francisco in 1906 on any given day.

1. Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming, United States

Unbeknownst to many tourists who visit Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the fact that they are actually walking on probably humanity’s biggest natural threat. Several miles beneath their feet lies the largest pocket of magma we currently know about. It is estimated that there’s enough magma in there to fill the Grand Canyon to the brim, eleven times over. The entire national park and the surrounding area form the huge caldera. The caldera is about 1,500 square miles and can fit the entire city of Tokyo in its perimeter.

Yellowstone has been active for a very long period of time and has erupted on different sites, as North America moved over it on its tectonic journey west. Its last three eruptions took place 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago and were about 6,000, 700 and 2,500 times larger than the St. Helens eruption, respectively. Last time it erupted, it released around 600 square miles of lava on the continent and covered most of the present-day United States in a thick layer of ash. Looking at the pattern of previous eruptions, it looks like Yellowstone could be preparing itself for a new one. However, volcanologists believe that it’s not quite there yet. Nevertheless, the grounds of the caldera have been rising and falling for thousands of years, which clearly indicate that the volcano is still brewing. If and when it finally decides to blow, it is fairly possible that all of the above mentioned catastrophes will happen. Most of the country would be covered in ash, with three feet of ash falling more than 500 miles away, as far as Denver.

A volcanic winter will probably ensue and it could last for up to 20 or more years, lowering overall temperatures by at least 11 degrees C. Together with the humongous amount of poisonous gases like CO2, the planet will then begin to warm up exponentially, similar to the Great Dying event of 235 million years ago. As the planet and oceans back then began to heat up, the vast quantities of methane hydrate (30 trillion tons), which lie frozen on the ocean floor even to this day, began to surface and heat up the planet by another 5 degrees in a positive feedback cycle.

The most frightening thing here, and far more probable than an imminent super eruption, is that what that ancient volcano managed to do in some 500,000 years, in terms of CO2 production and an initial warming of the planet, we humans can achieve in maybe two centuries. One of which has already passed.


SuperVolcano Handbook

WIF Geology

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 64

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 64

…Great, I’m going to save a bunch of goat minders…

Photo from Paula Watts

Not three. Not two. One of the original Ÿ€Ð cruisers is left cruising into Terran System territory.

To be exactly correct, zero may soon leave Collapsar Axis as the only Ÿ€Ð creation in the Great Expanse.

Gus is out for an authorized joy ride in his SEx machine. Without the drag of a formal “launch”, he is flaunting that freedom with the usual McKinney flair. The 1st time daddy is learning about all the new built-in bells ‘n whistles, with a get-a-long in his giddy-up.

Ostensibly Roy has dispatched him to NEO 2038DP to test out a fully charged disruptor blast. That 13-meter, oblong, tumbling big-bang-debris is back again and this orbit promises to charge headlong into the Himalayas next week. The UASI {United Association of Sherpas International} is sponsoring this near-Earth object deflection/destruction in conjunction with Dalai Lama 16.

“Now remember Gussy, you want to aim for the thinnest equator of that beggar.” Fletcher Fitch has narrowed the destructive beam of the weapon. The anonymous gift from somebody, arrived with a not-so-narrow ray, meant for a larger purpose. “For the time being, we want to put this thing to good use.”

Great, I’m going to save a bunch of goat minders.”

“Today’s goats are tomorrow’s llamas.”

“I almost forgot Fitch, those used to be your people!” an ancestry dig.

“Talibanistan is a China away from Nepal, did you fail geography?”

“The only geography I am focused on is a 43 foot hunk of space-rock.”

Mount St. Helens before

“That rock is traveling at 45K kilometers/sec. If it hits on a steep enough angle, it could be a mini Mount St. Helens.”

“Now you are testing my history aptitude? Displaced a billion tons of the mountain’s north face… in Washington State… in 1980… Ronald Reagan was president… and disco was king.”

“Enough already McKinney! Just do the task assigned and accept the gratitude of 126 Everest mountain climbers!”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Mount St. Helens after

Episode 64


page 67

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 32

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 32

…the United Korean Peninsula has been and continues to be blight upon the family of nations that makes up the rest of Earth…

The foreboding posture of the United Korean Peninsula is a troubling stain on the world at large.

The planet Earth is cut in half by an imaginary, yet quantifiable, line called the equator. In geography, latitude (φ) is a geographic coordinate that specifies the north-south position of a point on the Earth’s surface. Latitude is an angle which ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° (North or South) at the poles. Lines of constant latitude, or parallels, run east-west, circles the run parallel to the equator.

The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles (1,100 km) from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the east, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water. It is situated between the 34th and 40th degree of parallel longitude in the northern hemisphere.

Once Upon a Time in Joseon (A Korean Tale)

In a happier age, back when Baby Boomers roamed the Earth, there were two kingdoms, each named Korea (or the peninsula titled by its neighbors: Joseon). The country to the South was a friendly kingdom, a land where its people were free to prosper and participate in the beautiful planet called Earth. The country to the North was a belligerent kingdom, where its people were purposely forbidden to know the truth about their beautiful planet. The two kingdoms had to be separated by a barrier, manned by great warriors to keep the peace. But the peace was fragile and the kingdom to the North did not keep the same rules as the rest of the world and they dared to use a mighty weapon to subdue their neighbors to the South. The other kingdoms of the world could not put things back the way it was before. And so it was that the United Korean Peninsula came to be and it was bad. 

THE END

To this day, the United Korean Peninsula has been and continues to be blight upon the family of nations that makes up the rest of Earth. With undeserved impunity, they have managed to spoil some of the most progressive projects in the world’s history. Space Colony 1, the prime example, was permanently sabotaged, resulting in the stranding of Sampson & Celeste McKinney, as well as squelching any sustained appetite to replace it.

Even worse than that, they were the first nation, since the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the year 1968, to use offensive nuclear weapons. To label them as “rogue” is a gross understatement.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 32


page 36

Pope City / Vatican Secrets – WIF Confidential

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Dark Secrets

About the Vatican

Walled off in the city of Rome, Vatican City is an independent city-state that is just one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York City, and is the home of the Pope. However, the Vatican can also refer to the Holy See, which is the governing body of the Catholic church. These are the five darkest facts about the Vatican.

6. Pop(e) Secret

I apologize for this hint of irreverence (my Readers, Religious leaders or Theater feeders). I actually like popcorn and love God.

5. Exorcisms

With advances in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and biology, it’s hard to believe that exorcisms are still performed by the Catholic Church. However, according to former exorcist Gabriele Amorth, who apparently performed 70,000 exorcisms in his office in the Vatican, there are around 300 exorcists worldwide and four working in Rome.

Besides priests performing exorcisms, at least two modern-day Popes have performed exorcisms in the Vatican.

The first one was performed by Pope John Paul II in March 1982, on a young woman named Francesca Fabrizi from the Umbria region of Italy. During the exorcism, she writhed on the ground and cried out. The Pope said he would say mass for her the next day, which apparently cured her. She went on to live a normal life, getting married and having kids.

Pope John Paul’s second exorcism was in September 2000, when a woman with a history of possession was sitting in the front row of the Pope’s weekly audience. She flew into a rage and needed to be restrained, but was too strong and fought off the security. When she was finally restrained, Pope John Paul talked with her, hugged her, and then performed an exorcism. However, it didn’t work and Father Amorth had to do a follow up exorcism session that lasted two hours the next day.

Then in May 2009, Benedict XVI performed an exorcism on two men who were howling during the weekly audience. Apparently, when Pope Benedict blessed the men, they flew back nine feet and were cured.

4. Retiring Popes

For most Popes, it’s a job they have until they die. It’s part of Catholic Dogma; it would be like a parent giving up his or her kids. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to. It’s just very rare that they resign or retire. In fact, over the past 1,000 years there have been 123 Popes and out of all of them, only five have abdicated.

The first one to resign was Benedict IX, who was one of the youngest Popes, and was probably about 20 when he first sported that amazing hat. He was also the only person to have served multiple terms as Pope. He was forced out of the Papacy in 1036, but returned just months later and became Pope again. However, he had a problem – he wanted to get married. So he ended up selling the Papacy to the man who became his successor, Pope Gregory VI, in May 1045. However, Benedict soon regretted doing that because it turned out the woman he wanted to marry wasn’t interested in marrying him. Oops. He was able to reclaim the title of Pope in November 1047, but he only lasted a year before he was excommunicated.

The second Pope to resign was the man who bought the Papacy, Pope Gregory VI, who stepped down at the urging of the Bishops. He denied he did anything wrong, but resigned nevertheless in 1046.

The next Pope to resign was Pope Celestine V in 1294. He decreed that if the Pope wanted to resign, then he should be allowed to do so. He did that very thing a week later, after five months of being Pope. After retiring, he lived like a hermit for two years. Unfortunately, his predecessor was worried that Celestine might try to reclaim the Papacy or oppose him, so he had him imprisoned, and he died after 10 months.

The next one was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. At the time, due to a schism in the Catholic Church, which started in 1378, there were two Popes: one in Rome, and one in Avignon. Gregory chose to step down so that the Pope in Avignon could be excommunicated and the Catholic Church could get a fresh start.

The final Pope to resign was Pope Benedict XVI in 2013; he did it citing health reasons. However, there is a conspiracy theory that he was forced out, or undermined so much that he was forced to resign. Proponents of this theory point out that he retired after the “Vatileaks” scandal, which was the leaking of documents that showed Pope Benedict’s struggle to be more transparent with the public about things like priests and sexual abuse, but interior politics thwarted his plans. The Vatileaks scandal showed that Benedict was an ineffectual manager and he chose to retire.

3. The Banco Ambrosiano Scandal

The Vatican bank is officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, and from 1971 to 1989, the President of the bank was Archbishop Paul Marcinkus from Cicero, Illinois. Before that, the 6-foot-4 former rugby player worked as a bodyguard for Pope Paul VI. However, he’d be remembered for a scandal that broke in 1982.

The scandal started with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, which was one of the biggest private banks in Italy, with $1.4 billion in debt. Shortly afterwards, Roberto Calvi (pictured above), who was the general manager of the bank and friend of Marcinkus, was found dead, hanging from a bridge in London, England. Originally it was considered a suicide, but it was later ruled a homicide. Five people were tried in connection to his murder, but they were all acquitted.

That brings us to Marcinkus and the Vatican bank. It turns out that the main shareholder in the bank was the Vatican, and they had funneled a billion dollars from the bank into 10 shell companies. Other rumors that surrounded the scandal was that other shareholders with the bank were involved in organized crime and some were even members of a secret Masonic lodge.

When Italian investigators tried to interview Marcinkus about the scandal, he was very uncooperative. He refused to leave the Vatican, and even refused to answer questions, citing diplomatic immunity. Marcinkus ended up being indicted, but he never went to trial because the charges against him were dismissed. He continued to head the Vatican bank for seven more years.

The scandal has even led to some conspiracy theories. The most famous one was used in the plot of Godfather Part III, and it’s that Pope John Paul I was assassinated by the Mafia in August 1978. John Paul I was pope for only 33 days in 1978 before he was found dead sitting up in bed. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but no autopsy was performed. According to the conspiracy theory, he was assassinated because he wanted to put end the relationship between the church and private bank.

2. The Apostolic Penitentiary

Catholic priests have some pretty awesome powers when it comes to granting absolution for committing crimes. This includes forgiving people for things like murder, or mass murders and even genocide. That’s right: if you’re Catholic and you chop up the family next door and eat them, you could go to a priest, and ask for forgiveness and he could forgive you. Not only that, but the priest could never tell the police.

Yet, there are five sins that are so grave that priests can’t absolve them. Instead, inside the Vatican, they have a secret tribunal called The Apostolic Penitentiary, which looks at cases involving these sins.

The tribunal was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179 and the type of cases that they examine has been a secret for much of its history. However, in 2009, the Catholic Church made a huge step towards transparency and revealed the nature of these sins.

Two of them can be committed by anyone. The first is desecrating the Eucharist, because Catholics believe that it is the actual body and blood of Christ. The second is attempting to kill the Pope.

The other three sins can only be committed by a priest, or men trying to become priests. One is if a priest reveals a sin (and the person who committed the sin) that they hear in confession. Second, they can’t have sex with someone and then offer confession to their sexual partner. Third, a man who wants to be a priest or a deacon can’t directly be involved with an abortion, such as paying for the procedure.

1. The Vatican Bank and Nazi Gold

According to a 1946 document from the Treasury Department, the Vatican may have both held and smuggled Nazi gold during World War II, despite being a neutral entity.

The document, which was brought to the attention of the public in 1997, said the Vatican bank held 200 million francs, which is about $254 million in 2016, for the Nazis. According to a rumor cited in the document, that money was later funneled through something called the “Vatican pipeline” to Argentina and Spain, where it was given to Nazis who fled prosecution for war crimes.

The Vatican bank also apparently funneled money that was stolen from Serbs and Jews by the Utashe, who were a Nazi puppet regime in Croatia. At the end of the war, the Utashe started plundering from the victims of their ethnic cleansing campaigns and then smuggled 350 million Swiss francs, which is worth about $440 million, out of Yugoslavia through the Vatican. The money was then used to support the murderous Ustashe organization while they were in exile.

In 2000, a lawsuit was brought against the Vatican over this issue, but the suit ultimately failed.


Pope City / Vatican Secrets

WIF Confidential

Not Your Mother’s China – WIF Around the World

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Incredible Facts

About China

China is crazy-big. How crazy-big? Let’s just say if they were having a contest for ‘biggest, craziest nation on planet Earth’, the Middle Kingdom would not only win hands down, it would leave all the other countries scratching their heads and saying “whoa, get a load of that guy.”

There are 1.357 billion people living in China today, a whole billion more than there are living in the USA. The nation is big geographically, too; only Russia and Canada cover a larger land area. And you better believe all this bigness leads to craziness. Craziness so big and bigness so crazy that it’s impossible to fit it all into a single top ten list. But, by gum, we’re gonna try.

10. They Have a Dam So Big it Slowed the Earth’s Rotation

Forget the Eiffel Tower, the Forth Bridge or the Hoover Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is the only true engineering marvel on this planet deserving of the title ‘mind-blowing’. The largest dam yet built, it created a reservoir the size of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It holds back some 39.3 cubic kilometers of water. But the truly crazy part? The dam is so big that its construction slowed the rotation of the entire planet.

Time for a quick science lesson. There’s something called the moment of inertia, which basically describes how fast an object can rotate about its axis. If the object is wider, it can rotate less-quickly, which is why Olympic divers curl up into a tight little ball when doing those crazy flips. Raise a whole load of river water 175 meters into the air, and you’re gonna affect the moment of inertia for the entire planet. The end result? Earth itself slows down.

Now, we should point out that the effect is microscopic. As in, the Three Gorges Dam adds only 0.06 microseconds to the length of the day. But to look at it another way: holy cow, that dam is so big it adds a measurable amount to the length of each day!

9. 30 Million Chinese People Still Live in Caves (and enjoy it)

Imagine being so poor you were forced to move into a cave. It’d suck, right? Like, that’s the sort of thing that nobody has done outside of a warzone in centuries. Well, not quite. Even as you read this, there are currently 30 million people in China still living in caves (equivalent to the entire populations of Australia and New Zealand combined). The craziest part? Most of those 30 million freakin’ love their living arrangements.

The majority of China’s cave dwellers live in Shaanxi province, where the porous soil and limestone cliffs make for easy excavation. Most have been wired up to the mains, many have plumbing, many come with multiple rooms and a lawn, and some even have mod-cons like refrigerators and TV. More importantly, in a country where people still earn low wages, you can rent a big cave for about $30 a month. That’s if it’s not for free. Some families have been passing down ‘luxury’ caves for generations. And the majority of these caves are bigger, nicer, and quieter than Beijing’s apartments.

The LA Times even managed to interview city workers and Communist Party officials who wanted to retire to Shaanxi caves. We’re betting 90 percent of overcrowded New Yorkers would happily do the same, too.

8. Millions of Kids Have Names that Sound Like Hashtags

Remember last time tragedy struck, and you showed your solidarity by retweeting a hashtag? China’s parents laugh in the face of your low-level commitment to good causes. In the People’s Republic, citizens don’t merely use hashtags to show support on social media. They name their children after them.

In mid-2008, a huge earthquake shook the province of Sichuan, killing nearly 70,000 people. In the weeks after, the BBC’s China service reported a wave of new parents naming their children things like ‘Hope for Sichuan’. Noble as this is, it’s also pretty bizarre. Imagine meeting a couple with a kid called ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Je Suis Charlie’ and you’ll get some idea of how kooky this trend is.

But then people are always naming their kids after slogans in China. Also in 2008, 4,104 babies were registered with the name ‘Olympics’, in honor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The BBC found records of kids called everything from ‘Defend China’, to ‘Build the Nation’, to ‘Space Travel’, and ‘Civilization’. That last one, by the way, was so popular nearly 300,000 babies wound up with it. And you thought your name was uncool in junior high.

7. The Army has an Official Division of 10,000 Pigeons

In 2011, Chinese State media made a surprise announcement. No, not the unveiling of Beijing’s first stealth fighter (though well done for remembering that. We knew you were a clever sort of a guy). No, the announcement concerned the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) latest recruits. 10,000 of them had just been assigned to the Chengdu division. They’d been tasked with “special military missions” along the nation’s borders. Oh, and they were all pigeons.

That’s right. China’s PLA has a 10,000-strong official division of birds whose only discernable skill is pooping on statues of famous people. All snark aside, the reasoning here is actually pretty sound. Beijing is way paranoid about a nuclear or cyber attack knocking out their communications systems. In the event this happens, the pigeons would be tasked with delivering messages at high speed between the country’s military installations, especially along the remote stretches of border where keeping in touch is hard enough as it is. There’s even some precedent for this. When Japan invaded in WWII, messenger pigeons were a vital part of China’s defensive effort.

6. On-the-Go Organ Harvesting and Executions

You don’t want to commit a capital crime in China. While plenty of countries still have the death penalty, none kill criminals with the speed, efficiency or sheer gusto of the People’s Republic. China executes more people each year than every other executing country combined, a number that’s even crazier when you realize it includes Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North freakin’ Korea. And this bloodlust has led to some bizarre and unsettling innovations, the most-unsettling of which has to be the ‘Death Bus’.

 First reported in 2009, China’s death buses are essentially mobile execution vans that travel from village to village snuffing out the lives of local prisoners. Even more morbidly, the buses have a surgeon on standby so the dead prisoner’s organs can be quickly harvested after they kick the bucket, and sold on for profit. The key word here is “quickly”. These vans can rock up in villages and knock off 2-3 criminals in a single morning. That’s death row efficiency even the state of Texas would balk at.

5. There’s Only One Time Zone (and it’s crazy)

Before we can do this entry justice, we need to reiterate again just how big China is. It’s roughly the same size as the US. It’s over twice as big as the entire European Union. It dwarfs Australia. Each of those comparative nations/unions has at least 3 time zones, and as many as five. China, on the other hand has only one: Beijing time. And it applies everywhere.

This means Chinese time tends to make sense in Beijing, and is completely mad elsewhere. In the far western province of Xinjiang, for example, the sun doesn’t rise until 10 a.m. in winter, and sets after midnight in summer. That might make sense in Norway or Siberia, but China is way south of either of those places. In effect, locals at the extreme western points of the country have to put up with a timescale that makes zero sense for their circumstances.

As an additional headache, various ethnic groups in China refuse to recognize Beijing time, seeing it as cultural imperialism on the part of the Han Chinese majority. So a doctor’s appointment made for 3 p.m. in Tibet or Xinjiang may mean 3 p.m. Beijing time, or 3 p.m. on illegal Tibetan or Uighur time, and you probably won’t know until you get there and find the place shut.

4. You Must Have Official Permission to be Reincarnated

Let’s say you’re religious and believe in reincarnation. Now, let’s say that you wind up shuffling off this earthly plane in China. What do you think happens next? According to the governing CCP, the answer should be ‘depends on if I filled in the correct forms or not’. Since 2007, Beijing has required citizens to get official permission before reincarnating.

The law, issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, states that anyone intending to return to this mortal coil must follow a strict set of procedures, including informing the Communist Party of who they intend to come back as. Those who fail to do so will… well, we’re not sure, to be honest. Powerful as the Chinese government is, it seems doubtful even they have the ability to stop transmigration of the soul from taking place.

Of course, the real reason China brought in this hilariously odd law is to scupper the Dali Lama’s plans to get reincarnated and keep campaigning for Tibetan autonomy. The Dali Lama responded by saying he’d simply choose to reincarnate outside Chinese-controlled territory.

3. Books are Sold by Weight

The key to selling a book in the west is its title or author. A slim classic novel or a mega-blockbuster by a famous writer will go for far more than a bigger book by a total unknown. Not so in China. Go shopping for books on the streets of Shanghai, and you’ll find yourself paying not according to how good or famous a book is, but according to how much it weighs.

In practical terms, this means a 1,000 page tome by a guy who writes in crayon and can’t string a sentence together is considered far more valuable than a short book like, say, The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Mad as this sounds, it’s actually kind of useful for students. A short, glossy volume of common Spanish phrases, for example, will attract a mid-range price in the US. In China, you can have it for pocket change.

Before readers in China flood the comments section to point out our bone-headed ignorance, we should note that selling books by weight isn’t standard across the entire country. It’s mainly prevalent around Shanghai and the eastern provinces. But since this includes some of the biggest, busiest cities in the whole of China, we’re gonna go ahead and include it here.

2. Censorship is Even-Crazier than You Think

Quick: what do time-travel, cleavage, The Big Bang Theory, South Korea, and ‘Western lifestyles’ all have in common? The answer is that China censors every single one of them (“they’re all awesome” is another acceptable answer, depending on your level of tolerance for the weekly antics of Sheldon Cooper). These are only a fraction of the innumerable things Beijing feels the need to block its citizens from ever encountering.

Some of the things China considers beyond the pale are crazy even by the standards of authoritarian regimes. Until April 2016, one of the nation’s top-rated programs was ‘Dad, Where are We Going?’, a travel show where fathers took their little tykes on trips around China’s historical landmarks. Then party functionaries suddenly banned ‘celebrity children’ and the show had to be canceled. Other recent bans have included shows featuring gay people, and shows that depict smoking, drinking, South Korea, ghosts, reincarnation, or “feudalism”. We’d guess there probably aren’t that many primetime shows about feudalism out there, but then again, what do we know?

We could go on. China has officially banned talking animals in movies, depictions of online dating when it involves army personnel, and anything starring Brad Pitt. At least they didn’t have to suffer through Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

1. One in Five Humans Alive Today are Chinese

If you need any proof that China is the planet’s future, this amazing statistic is it. It’s one thing to hear that China has a population of 1.357 billion people. It’s quite another to see it put down in such blunt terms. 20 percent of all human beings alive today are Chinese. By way of comparison, Americans account for less than 4.5 percent of the global population.

The only country that comes even remotely close to this mind-boggling figure is India. India has a population of 1.252 billion; still several million short of China, but at least within the same ballpark. After that, it’s a long, long drop to the US, in 3rd place, with a comparatively tiny population of 325.3 million. China’s Pearl River Delta urban conurbation alone has a population of around 42 million, more than the entirety of Poland, Canada, or Australia.

 It’s worth remembering that all this comes after decades of a crazy one child policy that saw the country’s birthrate plummet. If the CCP hadn’t dreamed up its oddball family-limiting plan, probably even India’s population figures wouldn’t be within touching distance. Believe it or not, crazy-big as China’s population is, it could be even crazy-bigger.

Not Your Mother’s China

WIF Around the World

Wisconsin ~ My Home – WIF Geography & Humor

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Wisconsin ~ My Home

If Gwen can spell O-C-O-N-O-M-O-W-O-C, that proves she is from Wisconsin.

This is hysterical Wisconsin, according to Jeff Foxworthy:

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May, you may live in Wisconsin.

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t even work there, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you’ve worn shorts and a jacket at the same time, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with some…one who dialed a wrong number, you may live in Wisconsin.

If “vacation” means going anywhere North of Milwaukee for the weekend, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you have switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ in the same day and back again, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both doors unlocked, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you may live in Wisconsin.

If the speed limit on the highway is 70 mph, you’re going 80 and everybody is passing you, you may live in Wisconsin.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you find 10 degrees “a little chilly”, you may live in Wisconsin.

If you give directions and tell someone you live 30 miles East of Milwaukee, you are living on a boat and may be on the run from the Wisconsin State Police.

If you actually understand these jokes, repost this so all of your Wisconsin friends and others can see, you definitely do live – or have lived – in Wisconsin.

Gwendolyn Hoff currently lives in Illinois, but her heart remains in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin ~ My Home

WIF Geography & Humor