How about a nice story?

We need some of these now and then. I know I was reading about the possibility of the Yellowstone supervolcano destroying us all, and it took me a few minutes to figure out if that was a bad thing or a good thing.*

Anyway, go read this story about David Bowie and an autistic little boy. It cheered me right up, I say while wearing my nifty new invisible mask.

*The article ends by saying the yearly odds of a supervolcano eruption is 1 in 730,000. Still not sure if that’s good or bad.


  1. whheydt says

    What I tend to wonder about, when it comes to Yellowstone is this… It’s driven by a mantle plume/hotspot. The North America plate is moving over the the plume. So should one expect Yellowstone to erupt again, or is it plausible that there will be an eruption somewhere to the east of the existing caldera? (The Hawaiian Island chain–and the Emperor Seamounts to the west of them were built by the same mechanism, and there is a new–so far underwater–volcano southeast of Kilauea, the Lo’ihi Seamount.)

  2. says

    Lovely story. I’m reminded of Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade (1995), where an invisible mask becomes a vital piece for one character, who is excruciatingly shy, and treated like an idiot by many of the other characters.

  3. madtom1999 says

    2.1M, 1.3M and 640,000 seem quite well spaced at ~750,000 years between bangs so I’d put the odds nearer 200,000 to 1 for it going of in each of the next few years, and dropping.

  4. agreen15 says

    Hi! Long time lurker, first time commenter. I’m a geology Ph. D. student and my advisor is close friends with the PI (Christy Till) of the study most outlets are reporting on for this. This is what she has to say:

    “There’s a fair bit of alarmist headlines spinning out of the New York Times piece on our work this week. FYI we’re NOT saying Yellowstone will erupt sooner than thought or cause more devastation. Repeat–Yellowstone is showing no irregular activity and no signs of erupting. My graduate student, Hannah Shamloo’s and my research is on the events that lead to the last large eruption at Yellowstone ca. 631,000 years ago as recorded in crystals from the volcanic deposit. These crystals show an event that *MAY* have triggered the eruption decades prior to the eruption. While shorter than expected other scientists are seeing similar timescales for other volcanoes to kick into activity, which is interesting but doesn’t change anything about the probability Yellowstone will erupt. Yellowstone has had >23 smaller eruptions (i.e. mainly small lava flows of <1 km3) since its last large eruption (i.e. between 631,000 and 70,000 years ago), and a future eruption (if there is one at all, there's no guarantee that it will ever erupt again), is much more likely to be a small eruption like these more recent lava flows. Also volcanic eruptions are not like earthquakes which have re-occurrence intervals, so Yellowstone is NOT due or overdue to erupt as you might have heard."

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    I don’t know… at the rate things are going a super volcano, asteroid strike, gamma ray burst, or some other natural disaster sounds preferable to the man-made horrors we seem to be enthusiastically inflicting upon ourselves. Still, dead is dead, and one way to cease the the stupidity and disappointment that is human existence is as good as any other. Mmmmmm… sweet, sweet oblivion.

    (My Prozac hasn’t kicked in yet. Can you tell?)

  6. tacitus says

    So should one expect Yellowstone to erupt again, or is it plausible that there will be an eruption somewhere to the east of the existing caldera?

    The hotspot is currently over Yellowstone, so that’s where the next eruption will be, assuming it’s within the next few hundred thousand years. But there are ancient caldera remnants stretching in a chain westward across the state of Idaho, so yeah, given another million or two years, the hotspot will be to the east of where it is today, and any eruption will also be to the east.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    I think Akira is onto something.
    Now I’m hoping for a meteor strike on the super volcano resulting in gamma rays.
    Quantumn Gamma Rays
    Aimed At The White House
    the Rum has kicked in

  8. jahigginbotham says

    Don’t forget earthquakes. The 1959 Yellowstone or Lake Hebgen quake killed 28 people and was one of the strongest in North America.

  9. gijoel says

    That’s such a beautiful, amazing story about Bowie. No I have to go find the invisible onions in my flat.

  10. Charles Insandiego says

    The invisible mask story reminds me of the invisible witches hat that Granny Weatherwax gave to Tiffany Aching in “A Hat Full of Sky”.