Earth Cavities

Worlds Inside, Real & Imagined,
Offer Insights Into Human Psyche

‘Why may we not suppose four ninths of our globe to be cavity?’ Edmond Halley’s 1692 Hollow Earth theory was rightly debunked for its faulty science. But it did lend, at least for a while, credence to a recurrent feature in ancient mythology, folklore, and legends.
No pun intended but underneath it all, he too was drawn to the allure of tunnels, caves, and the underground. The hidden and the obscure are innate to our psyche and beliefs, just as natural or manufactured burrows, are ideal temples for practical and mystical needs.
‘Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, (…) to attain the centre of the earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm.’ Two centuries after the Isaac Newton collaborator made famous by a comet had given up on his idea, Jules Verne concocted his own atemporal version of the enduring myth, in the best-selling novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Halley, an accomplished scientist thought to have been instrumental for the 1687 publishing of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, was ironically betrayed by what’s deemed a flaw of the revolutionary treatise: Newton’s erroneous attribution for the mass of the Moon.
By overweighting that mass in relation to Earth, by a factor of 1 to 26, instead of 1:81, the man responsible to our understanding of gravity laws unwittingly gave room to Halley’s supposition: Earth should be hollow, possibly inhabited. And the source of the Aurora Borealis, too.
None of this is detrimental to the two genius of science, or our debt to them. But Halley’s hypothesis did hit a resonant note, if not for its sacred past, then for a long string of mentally ill visionaries and phony prophets, way back from the Enlightenment to, sadly, our days.
BELOW THE BOTTOM
Even before antiquity, caverns were considered places of power, dwelling of spirits of good and evil, passages to other worlds. Many peoples and tribes, some whose descendants still walk among us, believed that the’d come from the Earth’s insides, and were supposed to return there someday.
All civilizations had some reference to the underworld, the Hades, the place where the dead lived. Dante Alighieri placed the Christian hell under our feet, so the faithful would live in fear and don’t stray. Throughout history, burials may have been so popular presumably for reasons other than just recycling.
Even today, some believe that UFOs actually come from beneath us. And just like vampires, fly out at night from hidden entrances in the poles. But the fact is, even if it were scientifically possible for this rock to have a giant hole inside, without cracking, it wouldn’t be big enough to accommodate all theories about it.
SECLUDED CATHEDRALS
To be sure, nature is not shy of keeping us away from its secrets, and often land or underwater caves are as inaccessible to most humans as the outer space is. Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, has its own jungle, rivers, and climate. And lethal challenges and a roll call of dead people too.
Its exploration is beyond most people’s athleticism and endurance. Just like astronauts are a special breed, so are cave enthusiasts. Also, due to Earth’s volatile geological and seismic configuration, while there may be even bigger caves yet to be discovered, some may suddenly cave in or shape up overnight.
Just as their enclosed universe will remain intimate and challenging, so will one’s connexion with those places. They may serve as a meditation sanctuary or a spot to hide, and the strength of one’s (more)
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Read Also:
* Whole Shebang
* Ghost Ride

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Tomorrow Never Knows

The World As We Know it &
Those That Aren’t Meant to Be

‘The future ain’t what it used to be.’ When Yogi Berra uttered his now often repeated axiom years ago, he was uncannily signaling the age of under-achievement and malaise that followed the great promises of the Atomic Era. Sadly, for a generation geared up to dream big, there would be no flying cars floating around anytime soon.
Nevertheless, many ventured into the risky business of divining what’s coming, some with insight, some spectacularly off, and others with a bit of both. Fortunately Berra, whose outstanding performance at his day job has eclipsed his talent to turn a simple interjection into a treatise of wit and charm, never did anything of the sort.
Back in 1900, when John Elfreth Watkins Jr. imagined ‘rays of invisible light’ allowing us to peek inside the body without having to cut it open, he was making an educated assumption. After all, science had just developed tools that did uncover a miniature world, previously invisible to the naked eye.
In comparison, George Hoyle‘s prediction, made some 70 years later, that everybody would be wearing jumpsuits by 2010, was almost embarrassingly wrong. But in all fairness, he did get lots of things right. And so did Bill Gates in 1995, when he envisioned people carrying computers in their pockets a mere 20 years ahead.

I IMAGINE, THEREFORE, I’M NOT BORED
What these no doubt visionaries were doing, though, was engaging in futurology, a rather guessing game, when one’s chances of catching lucky breaks are as likely as piling on a bunch of misses. Not without some irony, science fiction writers by far have always been the group with the better accuracy record than anybody else.
But even though Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and so many others got so much stuff right, many of which being already part of our daily lives, they’ve spoiled us all rot. That’s where our startlingly misguided resentment (more)
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Read Also:
* The Illustrated Man
* The Long Good Friday
* Not Human
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Having Guts

Down the Chute, Where
the Slimming Bacteria Live

While some may call it a temple for words and tastes, where great feats of thinking were expressed, and divine flavors have paid a visit, the mouth has also another, far more reductionist and not so noble, role: it’s only the first of two ends of a very long tube.
Albeit we won’t make it from here to that other side, not now anyway, our survival as human beings still depends on what travels down from our fat lips to the battleground of our guts. Not everything is turmoil in there, though. So come, let’s meet the locals.
For despite the many realms our thoughts have conquered, and the reasons why we orbit around the universe of the table, and always come back for more, we go out of our way to dissociate such fulfilling parts of life from what they ultimately imply, body-wise.
We made love to people and food with our months, and often recite with eloquence what they mean to us, and coyly, how we could never ever live without them. However, any mention to what goes on below the belt, and after such carnal feasts, and our appetite goes into a receding mode, embarrassed that we’d even think about it.
And yet, deep down, you know you think about it, all the time. It’s just not something that, thankfully, most people would like to share on Twitter. But from a medical point of view, we really are what we eat, even though no parallel connection has been established yet between thought and personality.
That’s why Gulp, Mary Roach‘s book on the human digestive system in all its warts and, well, more warts, is so illuminating. And also, why there’s reason to cautiously feel good about research that points to a bacteria that may have been making people fat all along, and we didn’t even know about it.

FANTASTIC VOYAGES
In the 1966 movie, a loose adaptation of a series written in the 19th century by Jules Verne, former Bond girl Rachel Welch leads a team of miniaturized scientists who are injected into a man’s carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. Of course, if they’d fail, the entire world would end.
It was one of the first cinematic incursions into what was known then about the insides of the body, but mercifully, they stayed clear from digging too deep or going down under. Also, because Isaac Asimov wrote a novelization of the movie’s screenplay, published right before its release, many still think he’d also come up with the original concept.
Other variations of the same theme came up too, both as movies and Continue reading

Remarkable Apparatus

Kafka’s Harrow Contraption & Cute  
Names for Chinese Torture Devices 

This won’t hurt a bit. But as far as absurd literature master Franz Kafka was concerned, worst than physical pain was not to know its origins. His tragic characters were often at loss to fully grasp why they were being accused, punished, and ostracized. Or acted numb, while being described in detail a despicably grotesque torture device, as in the 1919 story In the Penal Colony.
That device, the Harrow, has now been recreated for a show, and unless you’ve read the book in its original German, it may pack an equivalent emotional punch in its visual brutality. It certainly invokes the horrors of the Inquisition, but everything about it, including its name, greatly contrasts with the almost light-hearted names the Chinese had given to similar contraptions.
Without dwelling much in the horrors of torture, an ever present but rarely discussed issue in times of political turmoil, and under the banner of war on terror, for example, we do tend to think about the Catholic Church and its systematic use of it for over 600 years, in many parts of the ‘civilized’ world. And all supposedly in the name of a loving god, no less, of course.
But alas, with all its consistency and increasingly sophisticated methods, the church was far from being the first, the last, or even the worst at it. We’ve been physically torturing each other since, well, you give us a date, as far back as you can conceive it, and we’ll add a few thousand years even farther than that.
Every single conqueror and emperor and invader and king and sheik and warlord and centurion and clan-leader, their followers, family and friends, all went after their opponents with every possible means of inflicting pain till dismemberment and death. All in order to extract Continue reading

One if By Land, Two if By Sea

Rats Against Mines &
Piranhas at the Beach

Without scientific research, we’d be probably living in Revolutionary War conditions. But no matter how far we’ve advanced, we still count on animals to do our own heavy lifting.
Take the technology developed for war, for example. Since immemorial times, we’ve been perfecting the art of killing each other and who has been our unwilling partner on such a devilish enterprise?
An animal, of course. The same being that we alternately treat as company, food, and deity representation, according to the mood that suits us best at any given moment.
Let’s no mention when we combine two or all of these Continue reading