Sunday, January 3, 2016

Research gems

From time to time I tweet about a fact I found in researching a novel or a blog post that I think is interesting:


  • If you’re caught in a pyroclastic cloud, the heat is so extreme, your blood comes to an immediate boil and your head can explode from that. I recently saw pictures from Mount Pelee where people’s organs had also exploded, forcing the abdomen to burst open like a dropped melon.
  • The most powerful volcanic eruptions in the US the past century were in Alaska, not the Cascades.
  • The deadliest earthquake of my lifetime: Tangshan, 1976. 
  • The volcano Krakatoa erupting in 1883 helped meteorologists begin to understand the jet stream.
  • The superheating of the atmosphere as a giant asteroid came through could be so severe that steel would spontaneously ignite. (Though a recent paper suggests that instead of the heating being worse near the point of impact, it's actually worse on the other side of the world.)
  • One major arm of the evangelical religious movement in the US expanded partly in response to fear about the San Francisco earthquake of a century ago, with effects still felt here today.

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