Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Geologic Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geologic Time. Show all posts

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Day in Pompeii

A Day in Pompeii - Full-length animation (19 December 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Image Source: Wiki.
For today, see A Day in Pompeii, an animated recreation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24-25 August 79 CE. The animation was created by Zero One, and initially shown at the Melbourne Museum from 26 June to 25 October 2009. Over 1,300 negative impressions of bodies and bodily remains have been found by archaeologists, in an area where up to 20,000 people lived at that time.

Mount Vesuvius is one of sixteen volcanoes in the world designated as 'Decade Volcanoes'; they are especially destructive and are subject to special study because they help us to understand our planet's core.

Eruption Of Mt Vesuvius 1944 (14 April 2010). Video Source: Youtube.

In 472 CE, the volcano erupted so violently that its ashfalls reached Constantinople. Mount Vesuvius has had periods of quiet and periods of greater activity. We are currently in the latter. The last major eruption was in 1944. At present, 3 million people live near the volcano. The Italian government has a plan to evacuate 600,000 people in one week in the case of the worst possible future eruption.

Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the background on 29 November 2009. Click to enlarge. Image Source: Antonsusi/Wiki.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: The Famine of Memory

This is an early incarnation of the villain, Sauron, when he was known as Mairon. Image Source: The Land of Shadow.

One of the premises of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is that the characters live in a perilous time when real history has been lost. Thus, mortal danger arises not from the arch-villain, exactly, but from the abandoned vigilance of memory.

A later incarnation of Sauron, when he was known as Annatar. Image Source © Angel Falto/Tolkien Gateway.

Another conception of Annatar, who deceived the elves in the Second Age. Image Source © Alaïs/deviantART/Tolkien Gateway.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Names of the Prehuman World

Hypothetical image of earth during its earliest Precambrian Hadean eon. Image Source: pinterest.

Palaeontologists describe the prehuman world, a desolate and unrecognizable planet. Our beloved and enslaved earth had a secret, prehuman life. Not only did we not exist, but neither did our countries, continents or oceans. The territorial bases of humans and their nations and identities, geopolitics and religions, which we take so seriously now, were either primordial or absent. Modern humans are so self-involved that they forget that the planet once belonged to itself, a place we would find frightening, an antecessor that pre-existed everything our exploits might control.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Timeline of the Far Future

Click on the image to enlarge. Image Source: BBC.

The BBC has posted a timeline of the distant future, which includes the assumption that almost all buildings now standing will have collapsed by the year 3000. By that time, the BBC hypothesizes, all words from present-day languages will also be extinct, given the current rate of linguistic evolution.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Visit the Primordial Earth

Yahoo News reports on a collection of photographs from November 2012 from a volcanic field in Russia:
Tolbachik: hell valley on earth: Take a look at these stunning photos of an active volcanic complex called Tolbachik. The complex, located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia, is one of many volcanoes in the area. Looking at these breathtaking images, it's easy to imagine dragons, demons and rivers of hell. Tolbachik is calm right now. A year ago, however, lava fountains and rivers decorated the landscape after the eruption began with the opening of two Tolbachik fissures. In the midst of this activity, photographers Luda and Andrey (lusika33) took a trip down to see that stunning hell valley on earth.
It is easy to see why this primordial scenery acts like a window on geologic time and appeals to Ur-memory, folkloric sensibilities and mythical imagination. See more below the jump, and compare to a Space.com video of a monster X4.9 class solar flare released 24 February 2014. These are grim reminders of something fundamentally alien in raw nature. All photos © lusika33

"The volcanic complex of Tolbachik is clearly visible from the village of Kozirevsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Millennial Extremes 12: Listening at the World's Deepest Hole

Drill tower of the main borehole at Bortum-Erbendorf, Germany. Image Source: W.J.Pilsak/wikimedia commons via Discover.

Since the 1980s, crews have drilled near Windischeschenbach in northern Bavaria in Germany; they made an exploratory hole almost six miles deep (29,859 feet). They chose a spot which once lay on the fault line of an ancient continent. From Discover Magazine blog:
Drilling of the KTB borehole began in the late 1980s in a region of southern Germany called the Zone von Erbendorf-Vohenstrauß—the line where two ancient landmasses once merged to become the supercontinent Pangaea. The geology was bound to be interesting here, but even geologists were surprised by what they saw ... shifting seismic plates, boiling hydrogen, and temperatures reaching 600 degrees Fahrenheit … . The deep-drilling experiment yielded huge surprises about the structure of the earth, including maps of rock temperature, new information about seismic pressure, and beautiful models that show layers of rock wrapped around each other like ribbons.
The Russians drilled even deeper at the Kola Superdeep Borehole from 1970 to 1989; they eventually reached a depth of 40,230 feet, but then their funding ran out. This record-breaking borehole is no longer accessible.

The Russians' Kola Superdeep Borehole cap, welded shut, August 2012. Image Source: Wiki.

The German KTB borehole is the deepest artificial accessible point in the world. There are deeper, inaccessible oil wells. The natural Mariana Trench is slightly deeper than the German borehole. The Trench was explored by Canadian film director James Cameron in an exploratory vessel, Deepsea Challenger, in 2012. Incidentally, when Cameron reached the bottom of the ocean in this dangerous and daring exercise, his phone rang. His wife called to check up on him. He later joked that once a man gets married, he might think he's free when he goes off to explore the limits of the world, but he can never escape his wife. L3 provided the communication system for this extraordinary phone call.

In the case of the German borehole, we have a different audio sample. Drilling at the German KTB borehole stopped because, as in the Russian case, the funding ran out. Before the project ended, Dutch Gen Y artist Lotte Geeven recorded sounds at the base of the borehole, which you can hear below.

Audio Source: Lotte Geeven via Gizmodo via Discover Magazine.

You can see more about the story as it was originally reported at Gizmodo, which includes riveting seismic sound samples from earthquakes:
These moans aren't all that unique from the sounds beneath the boreholes, but they feel different to our human ears. Geoff Manaugh describes them as a "melancholic howl," while [sound artist Mark] Bain ... says they are "a bell-like alarm denoting histories in the making." Either way, we have our own ideas about what these cracks and grumbles articulate about the secret world below our feet.
See a report on the geological discoveries made in relation to this experiment, here. Deep drilling continues in the international project, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and its successor, the International Ocean Discovery Program.

See all my posts on Millennial Extremes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mauritia: Lost Continent beneath the Indian Ocean

Image Source: i09.

I09 reports that geologists have identified tiny bits of the lost continent of Mauritia, in a grain-by-grain analysis of the sand on Mauritius's beaches:
For ages now, Mauritia has been hiding. The small, precambrian continent once resided between Madagascar and India, before splitting off and disappearing beneath the ocean waves in a multi-million-year breakup spurred by tectonic rifts and a yawning sea-floor. But now, volcanic activity has driven remnants of the long-lost continent right through to the Earth's surface. After millions of years, and some incredible geologic sleuthing, it seems Mauritia has been found.

The news comes from a team of researchers led by University of Oslo geologist Bjørn Jamtveit. In the latest issue of Nature Geoscience Jamtveit and his colleagues present the result of a study that examined the beaches of Mauritius, a volcanic island off the coast of Madagascar ... . The lava sands of Mauritius are laced with very interesting particles called ... "zircon xenocrysts."

The vast majority of Mauritius's volcanic lava sands date to around 9 million years ago. But a grain-by-grain analysis revealed the sparsely distributed xenocrysts to be anywhere from 660 million to 1.97 billion years old. A strange find, to be sure, but Jamtveit and his colleagues have a compelling explanation for the anachronistic crystals.

The zircons, write the researchers, likely originated in fragments of ancient continental crust situated beneath Mauritius, and were in fact pushed up through to the planet's surface through volcanic activity. How far were they pushed? Geologist Trond Torsvik, first author on the paper, told the BBC he thinks pieces of long-lost Mauritia are likely situated 10km beneath the island and a chunk of the Indian Ocean. Analyses of Earth's gravitational field corroborate his claims, revealing several regions of the sea floor where the crust is significantly thicker than normal (around 30 kilometers thick, where it should be closer to 5 or 10). ... [A] 2-billion-year old zircon xenocryst on a beach covered in 9-million-year-old volcanic sands is a hell of a geological riddle, and right now, fragments of an ancient precambrian microcontinent, coaxed surfaceward particle-wise by volcanism, seem a rather compelling explanation. [Nature Geoscience via BBC]
 Image Source: i09 via BBC / T. Torsvik.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Secrets of the Flood Myth

Noah's Ark. Image Source: City of Kik.

High tech and Millennial biosciences, especially genetics, are unlocking more secrets of the deep past, of Antediluvian cultures. Almost all societies have as one of their central epics the 'before' and 'after' of what may have been late Ice Age worldwide floods around 9,000 years ago. New studies confirm that some plant species survived happily in ice-free pockets during the Ice Age. And The New Scientist reports on research from George Ferentinos of the University of Patras in Greece that Neanderthals were ancient mariners, who crossed the oceans perhaps 100,000 years ago (and maybe even earlier, since they appeared around 600,000 years ago)  (Hat tip: Lee Hamilton). Neanderthal Atlantis has become quite a popular idea lately; see here and here; other popular speculations whirl around Cro-Magnon Atlantis: here and here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Ghosts of 107 Billion

The Dead Will Outnumber the Living. Image © seriykotik1970 on Flickr.

I09 reports that the theory that the living now outnumber the dead is bunk. For every one living person now on Earth, they assume there are 70 ghosts of those who have gone before.  And more than 107 billion people have ever walked this planet:
There's a popular claim that the seven billion people alive today outnumber all other humans who have ever lived. It's meant as a stark reminder of humanity's population explosion over the last 200 years...but is it true, or total crap? ...

BBC News spoke to the Population Reference Bureau in Washington DC, and they estimate that about 107 billion people have been born since humanity first emerged, which they set 50,000 years ago. (That sounds like an underestimate, considering the current scientific consensus favors a date more around 200,000 years ago, but the tiny population means that even an extra 150,000 years would only tack on another few million or so.)

All this probably means that the living will never outnumber the dead, unless humanity's population explodes by several orders of magnitude beyond what we've already experienced. For what it's worth, one path to this might involve this estimate from the UN Population Division, which notes that, should 1995 fertility rates hold constant, the world population in 2150 would be 256 billion.
See another discussion on this topic here

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cloning Our Way Back to the Deep Past

Image Source: Wiki via I09.

Woolly Mammoths have been extinct for at least four millennia (most Mammoth populations died 10,000 years ago, but a small pocket survived on an island in the Arctic Ocean until about 1,700 BCE). Several specimens of these great Ice Age elephant cousins are so well preserved in Arctic ice that there is a lot of speculation that they could be successfully cloned within five years.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Malaria Studied in 20 Million Year Old Fly

Image Source: Parasites and Vectors.

From Twitter: "Whoa! 20 million year old fly in amber was carrying malaria, and sucking bat blood" (Hat tip: Bug Girl).  This fly, encased in amber, lived in the mid-Tertiary period, a violent time running from the extinction of the dinosaurs, to the beginning of mammals, to the onset of the beginning of the most recent Ice Age. This period featured one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever to occur on the planet (it took place in Colorado).  The Tertiary period was initially classified in the 18th century by Italian geologist Giovanni Arduino as the period of the Biblical Flood.  The tweet refers to an article at Parasites and Vectors, concerning research into the form of malaria carried by this fly.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

760 Million Year Old Animal Discovered - Origin Species of All Complex Life

Otavia antiqua. Image Source: Gizmodo.

Gizmodo reports on a 760 million year old animal, a sponge that was the original life form from which all other animals evolved:
"Scientists believe that this is the animal from which everything else evolved. The first multicellular being that spawned every living being in this world through billions of mutations, from fish to amphibians to reptiles to birds to mammals to you. It's an amazing discovery. Its name is Otavia antiqua, and it is the oldest animal ever discovered: 760 million years old. Scientists claim that it used to chill out in calm, nice, shallow waters, chewing on algae and bacteria through its pores and into its little tube body."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Millennial Extremes 7: 24 Hours to See a World Hidden for Millions of Years

Image Source: BBC.

Antarctica is home to over 400 subglacial lakes that are sealed off time capsules, miles beneath the ice.  These bodies of water retain their liquidity due to heat from the Earth's core and have not seen the light of day from anywhere between 125,000 years and several million years.  Three teams of American, British and Russian scientists are racing to drill at different points on the Continent to see what life forms survive in these freshwater lakes.  The Americans are preparing to drill at Lake Whillans in Operation WISSARD,  a project running from 2009 to 2015.  The Russians have been drilling for a few years and are metres away from reaching Lake Vostok - a 15 million year old time capsule; for Russian photos of their operation - go here.  At Lake Vostok, summer temperatures average minus 30 degrees Celcius and winter temperatures are around minus 80 degrees Celcius.

Underneath this ice sheet, Lake Ellsworth is considered more accessible than most subglacial lakes.

BBC just reported about a British team that is getting closer to starting their operation at Lake Ellsworth. Drilling will begin in November of this year. The conditions are terrible: in high summer, it is minus 20 degrees Celcius with extremely fast winds (30 knots).  The probes have to be completely sterile so that these hidden environments are not contaminated. Once the hole is open, two miles through the ice, the team will only have 24 hours to conduct experiments before the hole freezes up again.  Sounds like practice for space exploration, and indeed, the "Europa Jupiter System Mission team will be watching closely. They plan to send a lander to drill into the moon Europa’s ice-enclosed oceans to look for life."

See all my posts related to Antarctica.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prehistory's Mysteries: Billion Year Old Mountain Range Stays Young Beneath Antarctic Ice

Some original pulp illustrations from At the Mountains of Madness. See more here.

Anyone who has read At the Mountains of Madness (read it here; hear it in audiobook form here) can appreciate the Lovecraftian mystery of the Gamburtsevs, the mountain range that looks like the Alps, 8,500 feet high (2,600 metre tall peaks), but sleeps beneath miles of Antarctic ice. The Gamburtsevs were first discovered in 1958, and last week the journal Nature reported on the tectonic events that formed them. They have been dubbed "the last unexplored mountains on the planet." But due to new radar techniques and geophysical data, some headway is being made toward understanding the subglacial range. They are now believed to be one billion years old, but remain uneroded because of the ice sheet that preserves them. According to one of the co-authors of the article:
“Resolving the contradiction of the Gamburtsev high elevation and youthful Alpine topography but location on the East Antarctic craton by piecing together the billion year history of the region was exciting and challenging,” said Carol Finn, of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author on the paper. “We are accustomed to thinking that mountain building relates to a single tectonic event, rather than sequences of events. The lesson we learned about multiple events forming the Gamburtsevs may inform studies of the history of other mountain belts. The youthful look of any mountain range may mask a hidden past.”
Image Source: BBC.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dinosaur Feathers Found Encased in Canadian Amber

Wired recently reported that a bunch of dinosaur feathers have been found encased in Canadian amber, further confirming that the great reptiles actually looked like nightmarish giant birds.

Discoveries of dinosaurs' feathers have dramatically altered how we think these creatures looked - see below. (Hat tip: Ken Kaminesky)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Geologists Discover Atlantis?

The lost continent off Scotland's coast (map section).  Image Source: I09.

I09 is covering an article just published in Nature Geoscience, about a lost island discovered by geologists after they scanned the seabed off of Scotland.  This continent apparently existed above the waves for a million years before it sank back into the sea.  From the I09 report:
This week, a group of geologists report that they've found a lost continent off the coast of Scotland. 55 million years ago, about 10 million years after dinosaurs died out, a chunk of the seafloor erupted from beneath the water. It created a small continent that existed for at least a million years, covered in dramatic mountains and valleys, and irrigated with streaming rivers. Eventually the landscape sank back beneath the waves, its once-sunny mountains buried beneath 2 kilometers of seabed. ... In Nature Geoscience, Earth scientist Ross A. Hartley and colleagues describe their discovery, and offer some theories about how an entire continent could rise and fall in a million years — a brief moment in geological time. Above, you can see the image they created of part of the continent, including its coastline and a mountain whose slopes were deeply cut by rivers. 

There were eight river tributaries on this lost continent.  The original article is here.

Citation: Ross A. Hartley,  Gareth G. Roberts, Nicky White and Chris Richardson, "Transient convective uplift of an ancient buried landscape." Nature Geoscience. doi:10.1038/ngeo1191, Received Accepted Published online

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcome the Autumnal Equinox

Pomona. Tapestry designed by Edward Burne-Jones and John Henry Dearle, 1890. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Autumn Equinox begins on September 23 at 3:09 A.M. UTC (or Coordinated Universal Time, which is like GMT, but isn't).  That means it arrives10:09 PM EST on September 22. 

Timeless Myths explains the origin of the Roman goddess of orchards (depicted above in tapestry), Pomona.  It's the usual cheerful harvest story: "Vertumnus was the Roman god of garden and orchard. Vertumnus was probably a god of Etruscan origin, named Voltumna. His consort, named Pomona had similar functions. Pomona was the goddess of garden and orchard. The two deities had their festival on the same day, August 13. Ovid tells of how many woodland spirits and gods, including Pan and the satyrs, wooed Pomona, because of her great beauty. Pomona would have nothing to with males, mortals or immortals. All she cared about was orchard and her apples. ... Vertumnus tried various disguises to be near her and to win her love, such as ... farmer, vineyard worker, soldier ... . Finally he ... changed back to his normal form, and was going to force himself upon her. It wasn't necessary, since she had fallen in love with him in his true form."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Heartbeat of the Cosmos and Our Sun's Twin Star

Binary Stars WR 25 and Tr16-244 in the Carina Nebula. Hubble Photo. Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain).

MIT's Technology Review reported on July 12 that Adrian Melott at the University of Kansas and Richard Bambach at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC have reviewed the past 500 million years of earth's paleo-record to try to explain mass extinctions that have occurred like clockwork every 27 million years.  Their work has shown "an excess of extinctions every 27 million years, with a confidence level of 99%." 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Times Outside History 4: Prehistory in the Post-Postmodern Era

Hi there.  Previously Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe, May 2008.  All photos: REUTERS/Gleison Miranda-FUNAI.

How much of Prehistory survives in the present day?  Some anthropologists are devoted to finding niches of it in our Post-Postmodern times, be it through finding isolated indigenous tribes that still retain Prehistoric modes of existence - or by finding some Prehistoric patterns in current styles and popular behaviour.  Geneticists are commissioned to trace bits of Prehistoric life still extant via DNA studies; National Geographic recently participated in one such endeavour, The Genographic Project

Lately, Prehistory has been enjoying something of a renaissance with movies like Apocalypto (2006), the Land Before Time series (1988-2007), 10,000 BC (2008), and the Ice Age series of animated films (2002-2009).  There is a list of Prehistoric films here.

Neanderthals are back in vogue as well, enjoying a much more sympathetic treatment by Paleo-Artists and Palaeontologists.  In pop culture, they are the subjects of the novel trilogy The Neanderthal Parallax by Robert J. Sawyer.  Recently, Neanderthal testing kits have appeared on the market, so you can theoretically test the Neanderthal traces in your genetic profile.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Times Outside History 2: The Holocene Extinction - the Big Picture

Why are the transitions from one geological time era to another marked by mass extinctions?  The explanations all involve climate change and associated survivable conditions for some species.  But somehow there is an additional sense that as time turns over, for certain species, 'time is up.'  At present we are living in the Cenozoic Era, which means 'new life era.'  This is the time when the continents moved to their current positions, after the extinction of the dinosaurs. The Cenozoic Era is sub-divided as well - we are in its second, Quaternary Period.  And in that period, we are in the Holocene Epoch, which means 'entirely recent epoch.' 

The movement of the continents away from each other has changed the oceans and the earth's climate.  Wiki: "There are two types of global earth climates: Icehouse and Greenhouse. Icehouse is characterized by frequent continental glaciations and severe desert environments. We are now in the icehouse phase, moving towards Greenhouse. Greenhouse is characterized by warm climates. Both reflect the supercontinent cycle."  Technically, we are in an Ice Age right now, called the Quaternary Glaciation.  But the Holocene Epoch is considered a warm geological time within that Ice Age, or what's known as an interglacial period.  Ice ages run on 100,000 year cycles (just like everything else it seems).  In addition to plate tectonics, the earth's climate is affected by associated rises in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (we're not helping that natural shift), wobbles in our planet's orbit, and shifts in the earth's magnetic poles.

So with all this going on, it's not surprising that the primary geological event of our Holocene Epoch is the Holocene Extinction.