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Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event
Each of these ideas has been proposed, some of them more or less seriously. Not one of them is strongly supported by the evidence. The key point of the Tunguska Event is that there was a tremendous explosion, a great shock wave, an enormous forest fire, and yet there is no impact crater at the site. There seems to be only one explanation consistent with all the facts: In 1908 a piece of a comet hit the Earth. In the vast spaces between the planets there are many objects, some rocky, some metallic, some icy, some composed partly of organic molecules. They range from grains of dust to irregular blocks the size of Nicaragua or Bhutan. And sometimes, by accident, there is a planet in the way. The Tunguska Event was probably caused by an icy cometary fragment about a hundred meters across—the size of a football field—weighing a million tons, moving at about 30 kilometers per second, 70,000 miles per hour.
.… As soon as the flame had disappeared, bangs louder than shots from a gun were heard, the ground could be felt to tremble, and the window panes in the cabin were shattered. … I was washing wool on the bank of the River Kan. Suddenly a noise like the fluttering of the wings of a frightened bird was heard … and a kind of swell came up the river. After this came a single sharp bang so loud that one of the workmen … fell into the water. This remarkable occurrence is called the Tunguska Event. Some scientists have suggested that it was caused by a piece of hurtling antimatter, annihilated on contact with the ordinary matter of the Earth, disappearing in a flash of gamma rays. But the absence of radioactivity at the impact site gives no support to this explanation. Others postulate that a mini black hole passed through the Earth in Siberia and out the other side. But the records of atmospheric shock waves show no hint of an object booming out of the North Atlantic later that day.
The debris spreads to fill the full cometary orbit. Where that orbit intersects the orbit of the Earth, there is a swarm of meteors waiting for us. Some part of the swarm is always at the same position in the Earth’s orbit, so the meteor shower is always observed on the same day of every year. June 30, 1908 was the day of the Beta Taurid meteor shower, connected with the orbit of Comet Encke. The Tunguska Event seems to have been caused by a chunk of Comet Encke, a piece substantially larger than the tiny fragments that cause those glittering, harmless meteor showers. Comets have always evoked fear and awe and superstition. Their occasional apparitions disturbingly challenged the notion of an unalterable and divinely ordered Cosmos. It seemed inconceivable that a spectacular streak of milk-white flame, rising and setting with the stars night after night, was not there for a reason, did not hold some portent for human affairs.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton
anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, wikimedia commons, working poor
Petersburg. Get a bus or trolleybus to Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya. 59.941568 30.304588 Completed in 1654, the Gottorb Globe was the world’s first planetarium. Tunguska Event Epicenter VANAVARA, KRASNOYARSK KRAI On June 30, 1908, at 7:14 a.m., a powerful explosion shattered windows, knocked people off their feet, and leveled 80 million trees over 830 square miles (2,150 sq. km) of forest around Siberia’s Podkamennaya Tunguska River basin. Initial speculation was that a meteorite had hit Earth, but subsequent investigations found no crater in the area. Naturally, the mysterious nature of the Tunguska Event has given rise to a wealth of conspiracy theories. Among the more far-fetched culprits: a tiny black hole passing through the Earth; a UFO crash; and the testing of Nikola Tesla’s secret “death ray.”
Among the more far-fetched culprits: a tiny black hole passing through the Earth; a UFO crash; and the testing of Nikola Tesla’s secret “death ray.” Today, the favored scientific explanation involves the midair explosion of a large meteoroid or comet. Indeed, it is the largest impact event in recent history. Split, mangled, and felled trees are all still visible around the Tunguska site. The closest village to the Tunguska Event epicenter is the town of Vanavara, located about 40 miles (65 km) southeast of the epicenter. 60.902539 101.904508 Kola Superdeep Borehole MURMANSK, MURMANSK OBLAST Until 1970, geologists could only theorize about the composition of the Earth’s crust. That was the year Soviet scientists began drilling what would become the deepest hole in the world. Engaged in a subterranean version of the Space Race, the USSR went all out to beat the US in a journey to the center of the Earth.
Andrews bunker, 20 Wunderland Kalkar, 46, 429 OUTER SPACE Arecibo Observatory, 439 Astronomical Clock of Besançon Cathedral, 33 Baikonur Cosmodrome, 136 Calendar Sundial, 17 Campo del Cielo Meteorite, 386 Eisinga Planetarium, 62–63 Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, 290 Haughton Impact Crater, 262–263 Hoba Meteorite, 214 Jantar Mantar Astronomical Instruments, 130 Kovac Planetarium, 334 Large Zenith Telescope, 260 Leviathan of Parsonstown, 17 Meteorite Crater Field, 79 Monument to Hodges Meteorite, 339 Peoria Solar System, 322 Radio Astronomy Center, 81 Roppongi Hills Pond, 153 Space Shuttle Endeavour, 281 Space Travel Museum, 41 Star City, 93 SNOLAB, 272 Sweden Solar System, 109 Tunguska Event Epicenter, 89 UFO Memorial, 85, 110 UFO Welcome Center, 350 Xul Solar Museum, 383 OUTSIDER ART American Visionary Art Museum, 354–355 Antarctic Sculpture Garden, 446 Bruno Weber Skulpturenpark, 72 Carhenge, 314–315 Collection de l’Art Brut, 73 Decebal’s Head, 86 Dr. Guislain Museum, 30 Drawn Stone, 287 Dreamer’s Gate, 235 Eartha, 370 Electric Ladyland Museum of Fluorescent Art, 64 Electrum, 240 Fountain of Time, 320 Fremont Troll, 295 Gala Dalí Castle, 70 Georgia Guidestones, 343 Gilgal Sculpture Garden, 309 Hand, The, 408 Hill of Crosses, 82 Horca del Inca, 389 House of Artists, 25 Jamaica Pond Bench, 372 Josep Pujiula Labyrinth, 70 Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop, 199 Kaspar Hauser Monument, 45 Lightning Field, 301 Madara Rider, 75 Mano del Desierto, 398 Midlothian Castle, 270 La Mona, 418 Museum of Bad Art, 371 Museum of Modern Renaissance, 372 Nazca Lines, 404 Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, 129 Orlando Towers, 217 Ozymandias on the Plains, 306 Palace of Fine Arts, 287 Park of the Monsters, 56 Petrified Wood Park, 318 Phantasma Gloria, 281 Prada Marfa, 305 Ra Paulette’s Caves, 304 REACH: New York, 359 Roden Crater, 303 Shit Fountain, 320 Slab City, 278 Spiral Jetty, 302–303 Sun Tunnels, 302 Tiébélé, 196–197 Toro Muerto, 405 Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Park, 103 Velaslavasay Panorama, 281 Victoria’s Way Indian Sculpture Park, 16 Village of Dolls, 161 Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, 216 William Ricketts Sanctuary, 236 Witches Hill, 83 Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, 171 PRISONS Angola Prison Rodeo, 345 Boab Prison Tree, 232 Carandiru Penitentiary Museum, 394 Devil’s Island, 402 Eastern State Penitentiary, 363 Goli Otok Prison, 77 Karosta Prison Hotel, 82 Museum of Underground Prisoners, 118 Ottawa Jail Hostel, 271 Patarei Sea Fortress Prison, 78 Presidio Modelo, 431 Prison Cell of Ludger Sylbaris, 436 Rotary Jail Museum, 323 PYRAMIDS Alexander Golod’s Pyramids, 88 Balls Pyramid, 237 Gold Pyramid House, 322 Great Pyramids of Cholula, 415 Moche Pyramids, 405 Nekoma Pyramid, 315 Pyramids of Meroë, 194–195 Ryugyong Hotel, 164–165 Summum Pyramid, 310 RELIGIOUS RELICS All Saints Way, 372 Beverley Sanctuary Stones, 5 Bijbels Museum, 65 Body of St.
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application
The good news is that he assumes a plan to acquire and deploy a nuclear bomb would require a lot of people working in concert, making it more likely that the intelligence agencies would detect them. Woo’s job requires him to think about almost every conceivable disaster. We first met a few days after a meteorite had entered the earth’s atmosphere over Russia and exploded in the air above the region of Chelyabinsk, injuring as many as fifteen hundred people. The Chelyabinsk object was the largest to have entered our atmosphere since a 1908 meteorite known as the Tunguska event, which also struck Russia and flattened an estimated 80 million trees. The chances of a meteorite striking Germany was another thing Woo considered in designing the World Cup risk model, but this was one he ended up dismissing. Some probabilities (like that of England winning the tournament) are just too low to assess properly.1 Woo works at a firm called Risk Management Solutions (RMS), one of three large companies (the others are AIR Worldwide and Eqecat) that specialize in modeling catastrophes.
., “Making Savers Winners: An Overview of Prize-Linked Savings Products” (NBER Working Paper 16433, October 2010); Melissa Schettini Kearney, “State Lotteries and Consumer Behaviour” (NBER Working Paper 9330, November 2002). 11. Robert Shiller, The New Financial Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). 12. Anne Murphy, “Lotteries in the 1690s: Investment or Gamble?,” Financial History Review (October 2005). NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 1. Giuseppe Longo, “The Tunguska Event,” in Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by Peter Bobrowsky and Hans Rickman (Berlin: Springer, 2007). 2. To be precise, a special-purpose vehicle set up by the sponsoring insurer is the issuer of the bond. That protects investors from having their money locked up in a bankruptcy process if the issuer goes bust. 3. Goetz von Peter, Sebastian von Dahlen, and Sweta Saxena, “Unmitigated Disasters?
The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner
Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional
They don’t stir any particular emotion, and so they don’t engage the Good-Bad Rule and overwhelm our sense of how very unlikely they are to hurt us. The Example Rule doesn’t help, either. The only really massive asteroid impact in the modern era was the Tunguska event, which happened a century ago in a place so remote only a handful of people saw it. There have been media reports of “near misses” and a considerable amount of attention paid to astronomers’ warnings, but while these may raise conscious awareness of the issue, they’re very different from the kind of concrete experience our primal brains are wired to respond to. Many people also know of the theory that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, but that’s no more real and vivid in our memories than the Tunguska event, and so the Example Rule would steer Gut to conclude that the risk is tinier than it actually is. There is simply nothing about asteroids that could make Gut sit up and take notice.
restless legs syndrome Reynolds, Kim Rich, Frank Richardson, Louise ricin Roberts, Cokie Roberts, Julian Roche, John Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Rosenthal, Jeffrey Rothman, Alexander Rothman, Stanley Rottenstreich, Yuval Rozin, Paul Rule of Typical Things Ryle, Gilbert Sachs, Jeffrey Sagan, Carl sanitation sarin gas Sarkozy, Nicolas Schacter, Daniel Scheuer, Michael Schneider, Stephen school shootings Schwartz, Lisa Schwartz, Tony Schwartzman, Donna Schwarz, Norbert security industry Shames, Daniel shark attacks Sharpe, Richard Sherman, Steven sickle-cell anemia Siegrist, Michael Silent Spring (Carson) Simon, Herbert Sinaceur, Marwan Slovic, Paul and breast implant risks and the Good-Bad Rule and health risk research and impact of culture and media influence and numeracy risk perception research and the Tenerife conference and the tobacco lawsuit Small, Deborah smallpox Smart, Elizabeth Smith, Anna Nicole smoking Sokolove, Michael Stahl, Leslie Stalin, Joseph statistics and the breast implant scare contrasted with stories and crime risks and health risks methodological issues probability blindness Strack, Fritz Stuber, Bob Sunstein, Cass Sutcliffe, Simon Suzuki, David Taliban Tenerife Tenet, George Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) terrorism and the Bush administration and catastrophist writing and cost-benefit analysis and global communications and the Good-Bad Rule low-probability/high-consequence event and marketing fear and media coverage political reaction to psychological impact and risk perception and weapons of mass destruction Tetlock, Philip Thoreau, Henry David Trunzo, Caesar tsunamis Tunguska event Tversky, Amos typhoid fever typhus U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccines Vallone, Robert Vandello, Joseph Vietnam War volcanoes VX nerve agent Wald, George Walsh, John Wansink, Brian Wason, Peter water purification Waxman, Henry weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) Weingart, John Wells, Holly Westen, Drew West Nile virus Whelan, Paul Whylie, Barbara Wildavsky, Aaron Will, George Willer, Robb Wilms, Ian Wilson, Robyn Winfrey, Oprah Winkielman, Piotr Wolf, Naomi Woloshin, Steven World Health Organization (WHO) Worldwatch Institute World Wildlife Fund York, Herbert Zajonc, Robert Zaltman, Gerald Zillman, Dolf Zimmerman, Peter About the Author Daniel Gardner is a columnist and senior writer with the Ottawa Citizen.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
clean water, Colonization of Mars, Danny Hillis, double helix, epigenetics, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, kremlinology, Kuiper Belt, microbiome, phenotype, Potemkin village, pre–internet, random walk, remote working, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, the scientific method, Tunguska event, zero day, éminence grise
Some of the lumps might have been dense enough to undergo gravitational collapse. They could form black holes that instead of weighing what a star weighs could be a lot smaller.” “How small?” “I don’t think there’s a lower limit. But the point is that one of them could zip through space invisibly and punch all the way through a planet and out the other side. There used to be a theory that the Tunguska event was caused by one, but it’s been disproved.” Dinah knew about that, because her dad liked to talk about it: a huge explosion in Siberia, a hundred years ago, that had knocked down millions of trees out in the middle of nowhere. “That was a big deal,” Dinah said, “but not enough to blow up the moon.” “To blow up the moon would take a bigger one, going faster,” Ivy said. “Look, it’s just a hypothesis.”