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The Sciences

Eyjafjallajokull!

Cosmic VarianceBy John ConwayApril 19, 2010 1:44 AM

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Okay, I have tried, but pronouncing this one eludes me...I think it needs a new name. (Simply "Kull" might do.) This eruption, though not the largest volcanic event in recent history, has certainly had a huge impact on air travel. Initially, there were even fears of (I've always wanted to use this word in a sentence) pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicavolcanoconiosis from breathing the silica dust. But the last I heard was that not that much was making it to the ground in high enough concentrations to worry about. The New York Times has some amazing video, relayed from British TV 4, which is absolutely a must-see. It is some of the closest scenes yet, though the video clearly shows some crazies in a helicopter very close to the plume. I want to see night shots, with the lightning! Will they resume flights soon? I guess it's too early to say, but what if it keeps spewing for a long time, like it did from 1821-1823? (After which nearby Katla went off.) Could it disrupt the climate? I am going to guess that this is a possibility, given that Mt. Pinatubo's eruption in 1991 cooled the planet by a fraction of a degree.

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