Thursday, August 5, 2010


Back in 1980, when Christine was engaged in book layout at the Seuil publishing house in Paris, she gave me a work copy of their translation of the recent bestseller Earthshock by the British geologists Basil Booth and Frank Fitch, on the theme of colossal natural cataclysms such as the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. Curiously, this well-written text depicting extreme terrestrial violence has always remained, for me, a friendly and soothing bedside book. The inherent devastating power of our planet belittles the frequent inhumanity and stupidity of its human occupants.

The Big One, however, is likely to arrive, not from the bowels of the planet Earth, but from the sky. This little video—which I found on the excellent Pharyngula blog of PZ Myers [display]—says it nicely:

Here again, there's something strangely soothing in the thought that such a calamity could occur. In any case, I hope that Google keeps copies of blogs in their vast databases, so that my Antipodes posts are not likely to be wiped out stupidly in one fell swoop, in the first cataclysm that strikes us. Besides, I really must distribute a few extra copies of my genealogical research, for "eternal" safekeeping. Maybe the soundest security strategy would be to beam up copies of all my stuff, by laser, to a handful of neighboring stars, judged to be safe. As my great-aunt used to warn me: These days, you can't be too careful…

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