Filtered for deep time and stories from space

21.33, Wednesday 5 Jan 2022

1.

An exploding comet in the sky, over the Atacama Desert, 12,000 years ago:

the immediate aftermath would have been astonishing to behold, a 50-mile line of molten sand, warped and roiling like the sea, forming spheres and waves, freezing and shattering, a road of glass disappearing with an eerie glow over the desert horizon.

This is the explanation for why twisted chunks of black and green glass lie scattered all over Chile.

Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG relates the story (beautifully).

WHAT IF, he continues, humans saw this?

imagine such an event occurring in, say, the Middle East around the same time, thus forming the basis for bizarre future folklore, legendarily strange Biblical scenes, tales of molten glass roads appearing in a flash from the sky.

WELL:

A Ferocious Asteroid Strike Demolished an Ancient Middle Eastern City 3,600 Years Ago (SingularityHub).

A meteorite exploded 4km above the city now called Tall el-Hammam, 3,600 years ago. The air heated to 2,000 Celsius and the city was destroyed; the walls of Jericho fell 14 miles away.

The destruction layer also contains tiny diamonoids that, as the name indicates, are as hard as diamonds. Each one is smaller than a flu virus.

(A diamond influenza, shivering and shaking as you crystallise from the inside, sneezing clouds of diamonoid virii that refract shimmering infectious rainbows in the air.)

AND:

It’s possible that an oral description of the city’s destruction may have been handed down for generations until it was recorded as the story of Biblical Sodom.

I wonder how many events that are super-rare-for-individual-humans but probable-over-an-epoch are recorded in stories.

2.

A story about an event 37,000 years ago:

Long ago, four giant beings arrived in southeast Australia. Three strode out to other parts of the continent, but one crouched in place. His body transformed into a volcano called Budj Bim, and his teeth became the lava the volcano spat out.

Now, scientists say this tale–told by the Aboriginal Gunditjmara people of the area–may have some basis in fact.

The rocks of the volcano Budj Bim have now been dated, and the dating method suggests both volcanoes formed about 37,000 years ago. What’s more, Matchan says both seem to be of a style that can grow from nothing to peaks tens of meters high in a matter of days to months.

So, maybe!

(Btw the article includes this line: the Gunditjmara community welcomes the new study. Good. I hope that means there was permission and collaboration too.)

3.

Hey new ice just dropped.

Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water (Quanta Magazine).

Superionic ice, Ice XVIII, is black, hot, heavy (4x on regular ice), and conducts electricity like a metal. It’s also stable with a high melting point (4,700 Celsius) – but only at high pressure:

Across the solar system, at least, more water probably exists as superionic ice – filling the interiors of Uranus and Neptune – than in any other phase, including the liquid form sloshing in oceans on Earth.

They made some in a lab.

It’s the ability to conduct electricity that gets me. And also the idea that it will melt into non-conducting forms of ice. Which provides a wonderful possibility of complexity.

I imagine computing circuits written into Ice XVIII which are able to rewrite their circuits from the inside, 3-dimensional circuits of Ice XVIII alloyed and filigreed by other exotic forms: directed electricity to melt and then reform the ice. It’s the ideal substrate for AI civilisations: they live running in code at the heart of Jupiter-like gas giants, the cores of these semi-stars vast thinking mountains of hot ice computronium.

4.

Near the constellation Taurus - you can see it with the naked eye - is a tight box of stars, the Pleiades. (As mentioned by Sappho.)

Whenever I’ve spotted them, my eye kind of flickers off and around them. They’re just a bit too close together and not quite bright enough to get a fix.

a.k.a. The Seven Sisters.

BUT: count them and there are only six.

Many cultures around the world refer to the Pleiades as “seven sisters,” and also tell quite similar stories about them. After studying the motion of the stars very closely, we believe these stories may date back 100,000 years to a time when the constellation looked quite different.

There is a similarity between Greek and Aboriginal stories.

A mystery!

It turns out that the stars are moving. Today, Pleione and Atlas look like the same star. BUT, rewind:

Pleione was further from Atlas and would have been easily visible to the naked eye. So 100,000 years ago, most people really would have seen seven stars in the cluster.

The dance of these stars over 400 light years away, 100 millenniums ago, laid down in our ancient myths like a microscopic, indestructible piece of grit - just a counterintuitive single word - and passed on and passed on and passed on through too many lives to count, across deep space and across deep time a diamonoid of story.

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