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?

The Nightmare Child.

The following is an excerpt from an actual conversation between Conrad Noir and Marco Sparks last night. Yes, this is what they’re really like…

Marco Sparks: So, you’ll never believe this dream I had the other night…

Conrad Noir: I don’t know if I’m really up for a conversation about your hopes and dreams, man.

Marco: Well, when I say “dream,” what I really mean is sweaty, dread-dripping nightmare.

Conrad: Oh yeah? Shit. Nevermind. You know I’m all ears for that. Shoot.

Marco: Well, I’ll tell you about the nightmare in a second, but first let me tell you about my Saturday night…

Conrad: Always a catch, isn’t there? Shit. Okay, tell me about your Saturday ni-

Marco: It was awesome. But then, later on, I was just trying to go sleep, right? And it’s late, I don’t remember the time, but late. So I turn on the TV and put it on mute, just wanting some flickering light and alpha wave manipulation in the room. Or something.

Conrad: Sure, sure. Perfectly normal.

Marco: So then I lay down on the bed. The room I’m in though, there’s no remote. Or, if there is, fuck if I know where it is.

Conrad: Oh, yeah, man’s constant struggle.

Marco: Right, so I’m stuck with whatever the channel is because, well, I’m lazy.

Conrad: I feel that.

Marco: In this particular case, it was A&E. The former Arts & Entertainment channel.

Conrad: “Former” being the operative word.

Marco: Seriously. Airing that late evening/early morning was a seeming non stop marathon of CSI: Miami episodes.

Conrad: Wow. Ouch.

Marco: Ouch is right. And let me tell you, I could not sleep with that on.

Conrad: How do you mean?

Marco: Every five seconds they cut back to a shot of David Caruso! Constantly! And let me tell you, Caruso has two emotional speeds on that show. The first: Putting on his sunglasses. The second: Taking them off again. People could be on fire, running around screaming, bits of their skin melting off or whatever as creatures of the apocalypse commit homicides or devour souls or just what have you, and Caruso’s cool as Fonzie the whole fucking time.

Conrad: That seems accurate with the little bits of it I’ve caught occasionally.

Marco: Also, it’s freakishly bright. Like, too bright and dayglo for even Miami.

Conrad: Okay.

Marco: It would not let me sleep! I turned over, looked at the flickering light patterns on the wall, like some kind of twisted variation on Plato’s Cave and I felt like Caruso was picking me up from the airport and driving me straight to madness!

Conrad: Caruso’s like that.

Marco: This is the guy from NYPD Blue who subjected America to his ass. Why would you want to see this man’s ass?!

Conrad: Or Dennis Franz for that matter.

Marco: Well… obviously. But, so I lay there, squeezing my eyes shut. But it was no good, man. I knew that Caruso was in the room with me. Putting his fucking sunglasses on. Or worse.

Conrad: Worse?

Marco: He could’ve been taking them off again…

Conrad: Okay, so this was the nightmare?

Marco: Oh, no, this was real. Deadly real. Eventually I must’ve passed out from all the stress of his ontological torture and when I woke up, of course, A&E was still on, right?

Conrad: Yeah, of course.

Marco: So, the sun is shining through the window, birds are chirping little songs and I’m a little tired, but I’m breathing a sigh of relief. I’m all like, “Thank God, it’s morning, I made it. I survived!”

Conrad: This is going somewhere bad, isn’t it?

Marco: You bet your goofy ass it is, my friend. Because there on the TV…

Conrad: Yeah?

Marco: Motherfucking Chris Daughtry was on the TV. Somebody was actually interviewing him!

Conrad: Ugh. Gross.

Marco: Exactly! Why would anyone want to interview that fucker? Why is he on the TV? Why did my day have to start with these violent images? It was like… last night I couldn’t enter the domain of sleep and now… Now I can’t be awake with this in the world!

Conrad: I feel like I need a drink now.

Marco: Me too. From just, you know, reliving that traumatic experience. From being the plaything of the sandman.

Conrad: So what was the nightmare?

Marco: Oh, the nightmare. Yeah, sorry. That was last night. I was like in a room, but I wasn’t. I was like “the camera” or whatever. Anyway, there was a little boy and he was trapped in the room. No windows, yet there was moonlight slipping around. And he was sleeping like a little shit does and then goblins crawled out of the cracks in the walls and out from under the bed and cut off his eyelids or something.

Conrad: Damn. I like that. I mean, that’s seriously creepy.

Marco: Yeah, it was something. When I woke up, I knew you’d love it.

Conrad: You were right. And goblins, you say? Wow. Goblins. That part is especially wild. People don’t throw around the word “goblins” all that much anymore.

Marco: Let me tell you something about goblins, my friend. Something you may not know. Something very few people may actually know.

Conrad: Do it.

Marco: Goblins, man. They’re no joke. They’re fucking scary, and they’re fucked up. And they will fuck you up. You understand me?

Conrad: Yes, I believe I do. But let’s talk about something important now. Let’s talk about me and my dreams. And my nightmares.

Marco: Take aim and fire away, baby.

Conrad: So, you know, I’ve been taking melatonin a lot lately, right?

Marco: Cause you can’t get your hands on ambien, right?

Conrad: Yeah, sorta. I got tricked into trying to go all natural, which is a sham. Whenever in doubt, just go with hard drugs.

Marco: Put that on a t-shirt.

Conrad: Don’t tempt me.

Marco: But I feel you. I have several friends who don’t realize they’re becoming recreational vicodin addicts, which is cool, cause this is America and shit. But I can’t do that stuff anymore. It gives me freaky nightmares. I mean, genuinely freaky nightmares. Like, where the goblins show up and tell me I’ll have erectile dysfunction for the rest of my life and or will be forever locked in a mortgage I can’t afford.

Conrad: As long as you’re not longer dreaming about Avril Lavigne, you’ll be fine.

Marco: I’ll have you know: That was a very special time in my life.

Conrad: Anyway… me. And my nightmare.

Marco: Do it.

Conrad: So, I guess you’re supposed to take melatonin only so much, right? Until it stirs up your… well, I don’t know. Something. Some kind of chemical. I’m not a trained doctor or anything. But you take it short term, you get some rest, you move on.

Marco: Gotcha.

Conrad: But I keep taking it because it gives me juicy nightmares. And I’m a horror movie fan.

Marco: I remember that you were a Freddy guy more than a Jason guy.

Conrad: Exactly! Anyway, so the one I had last night… Wowza.

Marco: Oh?

Conrad: Oh yeah. So I’m like wandering around in this fucked up, dark version of Chuck E. Cheese’s, right?

Marco: This already sounds terrifying.

Conrad: Oh, it was. Believe you me. It so was. And there’s all these fat, sweaty white people around me.

Marco: Your ultimate nightmare.

Conrad: My ultimate daymare, you mean. But there they are. And there’s famous gross white people there too. Like Jeffrey Dahmer.

Marco: I remember that Peanut used to date a guy who looked like Jeffrey Dahmer. Man, I hated that guy.

Conrad: Me too. Well, Dahmer, anyway. But he was the guy who, later on I discovered, didn’t belong in the dream. But there was other famous people too. Like Mary Kay Letourneau. And Roman Polanski. And Joey Buttafuoco. And Debra Lafave. And Pete Townshend. And Bobby Fisher. And Gary Glitter!

Marco: Oh shit. You were at a child molester convention!

Conrad: Exactly. By accident, of course. Once I realized what was going on, I was like, “Oh shit, I gotta get the fuck outta here!”

Marco: Shit. I hope so.

Conrad: So I take off for the door, right? But right as I get to it, I notice the little bulletin board listing who all the speakers are going to be at this thing.

Marco: So, it was like a proper convention then? With speakers and talks and things?

Conrad: Yes! Terrifying, right?

Marco: Very.

Conrad: So I’m running my finger down the board, just looking at all the famous names. I remember that R. Kelly was on there, of course.

Marco: Right. Yeah. “Age ain’t nothing but a number,” after all.

Conrad: And then I get to the end. The keynote speaker.

Marco: Ooh, this is going to be good, isn’t it? Who was it?

Conrad: I’m not bullshitting you here. It was Jon Gosselin.

Marco: Oh… wow.

Conrad: I know, right?

Marco: Yeah. Wow. Eeesh.

Conrad: But, whereas everyone else had their name and like a title of what their speech was going to be about or whatever, after his name… there was just one word. One single word.

Marco: What was it?

Conrad: It was simply… “Gangsta.”

Marco: Oh. My.

Conrad: Uh huh. It shocked me away. And I sat there, in my bed, just catching my breath from the sheer intensity of the thing. And I just whispered it back to myself. “Gangsta.”

Marco: Wow…

Conrad: Yeah, I know.

Marco: Yeah.

Conrad: Yeah.

Marco: Yeah, uh… let’s talk about something else, okay?