First Contact, New Worlds, and DOOMSDAY.

Hello! And happy Tuueessday. A bit late, but two things to bring to your attention…

First up: “The Man who lived through Doomsday!”

I’ll let other sites explain it best…

From io9:

On May 8, 1902, Mt. Pelee in Martinique erupted, destroying the city of St. Pierre and instantaneously killing more than 30,000 people. The city’s sole survivor was Ludger Sylbaris, a felonious drunk who was rotting in this cell.

On the night of May 7, Sylbaris was arrested for fighting and was thrown in the pokey. His cell was tiny, stone, partially underground, and contained only a tiny slit for air. Sylbaris had picked a prime night to act rowdy, as hell would come to St. Pierre the next morning.

And from Atlas Obscura:

Mt. Pelee exploded and a cloud of smoke darkened the sky for fifty miles around. A cloud of superheated volcanic gas and dust rolled out of the volcano at hundreds of miles per hour destroying everything in an eight mile radius. Within a single minute the 1,075 degree pressure wave had flattened every building in the city of St. Pierre and anyone unlucky enough to be in its way instantly caught fire and burned to death. Even those in shelter were suffocated as the wave of gas, hotter than fire, burned up the oxygen and replaced it was deadly gases. People lungs were burnt to a crisp form taking a single breath, and after the eruption the city burned for day. The explosion instantly killed the over 30,000 residents of the island.

Except that it didn’t, not quite. Ludger couldn’t have been more lucky. He was found four days after the eruption by a rescue team who heard his calls. Despite being in the safest place on the island was horribly burned as the air in his room had flash heated to over 1000 degrees. Ludger described the experience of seeing the light coming through the slit grow dark, and then the superheated ash flying in. He peed on his clothes and stuffed them in the slit, but it didn’t stop the heat.

I would highly recommend that you read the rest of both articles because, well, they’re just absolutely fascinating. The io9 one is written by Cyriaque Lamar, who heavily references the Atlas Obscura one, where the pictures come from.

And secondly:

from here.

“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.”

-says Stephen Hawking in Into The Universe, his upcoming documentary series on the Discover channel.

He feels that attempts at alien contact, SETI and the like, are “a little too risky” and compares it thusly: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

from here.

Related topics:

The launch of secret US space ships and weapons.

The Thorne/Hawking/Preskill bet.

The Wow! signal.

Eruption Volcanique a la Martinique by Georges Méliès, 1902.

Monserrat’s city of ash.

Scientists eager to climb on and study Iceland’s volcano.

Is there life on Mars?

Believe in me like I believe in you.

La Voyage dans la lune, 1902, by Georges Méliès, which translates to english as A Trip to the Moon. It’s simply a classic of the silent film genre or of just the art of film in general and is considered by many to be one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century. The story is loosely based on two novels by the two of the great writers of early science fiction:

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne, and

The First Men on the Moon by H. G. Wells (a novel of scientific romance).

But Méliès’ lovely little film is also the inspiration for something else I like…

The music video for “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins, from way back in the halcyon days of 1996.

The thing about the Pumpkins and, well, Billy Corgan, is that I am a fan of theirs/his still. I’m going to throw that out there and not profess as to why I still am, because frankly, when it comes to other people not liking them or being frustrated with the seeming egomania of Billy Corgan, well… I get it. As a fan of his, let me just put it this way: If you think he drives you crazy, you can only imagine how nuts some of his bullshit makes me.

But still, this is a great song, undeniably, I say, and a wonderful video too, directed by powerhouse team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who then went on to direct Little Miss Sunshine. And after you’ve seen this video, it’s impossible to separate the images from the music in your mind forever after.

from here.

About two years ago now Conrad Noir and I were watching the band perform at one of their very intimate and very cool comeback residency gigs in Asheville, North Carolina and even as this song was playing – which had a tremendous impact on me, something akin to be subjected to magical electrocution, which can often happen with a good band a good song and a good performance when you’re trapped in the middle of an audience that’s feeling it as hard as you are – and even then, just a few of the images from the video floated in my mind. Even as a few people whipped out lighters and others did the cell phone lighter thing (which I find so painfully dumb and dumb looking).

If I really wanted to be sappy I’d tell you about this friend I’d had years ago. And that’s all I’ll say about them, because the story’s not really about them, no story is. It’s about me. But this friend and I shared a mutual love of the band and once, we were parting ways, one of us moving far away. And I decided to leave this friend with a mix CD of music, the kind of thing when you’re stupid and immature, a mix primarily of Smashing Pumpkins music because we both loved it and shared that bond and rather tellingly, I titled the disc Believe In Me Like I Believe In You, which I will admit rather pretentiously is a line from this very song I’ve been discussing all this time. And yet I ask you, is there any stronger, more simple and beautiful sentiment than that in someone you care for or respect with all your being?

And if I really wanted to get emo on you, I’d tell you how I discovered later that that mix CD with that beautiful title and that I poured my heart into and bled over the track listing for was… well, it was never listened to. It’s case was never opened. If I really wanted to be tremendously pathetic with you, I’d share that vague little anecdote with you. But I don’t. Instead I give you the music video for the song, which I hope you enjoy…