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History

A Creation Story

 

In the beginning the Pacific Ocean was a formless void.  Then about 70 million years ago the Great God Vulcan said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters".  So he formed a great hot spot - a hole in the earth's crust through which magma from the mantle could leak, like air leaking from a netball.  Then Vulcan said,  "Let the dry land appear".

On the surface of the Pacific tectonic plate, below the water, a little pimple formed - pushing the land up until it became an island and with a 'pop', some red hot molten rocks and gasses squirted into the sky.  And Vulcan saw that it was good. 

But soon the Pacific plate drifted north, over his hot spot. So Vulcan repeated his trick again and again, creating a chain of islands.

 

Lyman Museum Lyman Museum
Lyman Museum Lyman Museum

Lyman Museum - the formation of the archipelago
 

Vulcan's hotspot is presently below Mauna Loa and Kilauea and the mere mortals a' top his other mountain have noticed that there's an almost linear relationship between the age of each volcano in the chain and its distance from Kilauea, the youngest, that emerged above water just 100,000 years ago.  They've also noticed that the island they call Oahu is over a million years older than their 'big island' of Hawaii.

 

Formation of the Hawaiian archipelago
Formation of the Hawaiian archipelago

Formation of the Hawaiian Archipelago - from the Hawaii Center for Volcanology website

 

Vulcan's islands were of pure sterile rock, born of fire. So Vulcan said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon my isles".  Thus during the millions of years that followed, sea creatures came ashore and flotsam from trees and plant life washed ashore. Then those new-fangled bird things evolved to bring seeds in their guts and defecate in the soil.  And Vulcan saw that it was good.

A long, long time later, after lying unmolested for many hundreds of millennia, just seven hundred or so years ago, Vulcan caused an eruption creating a long white cloud so that following it from far away the first human settlers arrived (or was that New Zealand?).  After humans arrived an avalanche of change took place.  With them they brought new plants and animals and a whole new ecosystem began to evolve.  The first settlers were soon followed by others of their species, who possessed even more advanced technologies, and thus they brought even more change. Some might say devastation.

But mighty Vulcan's not concerned.  He has more islands planned. Underwater nearby he's already building another, Loini, that's not yet emerged from the waters and over time he intends to sink the present lot.

Praise be to Vulcan.

 

 


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Travel

Burma (Myanmar)

 

 

This is a fascinating country in all sorts of ways and seems to be most popular with European and Japanese tourists, some Australians of course, but they are everywhere.

Since childhood Burma has been a romantic and exotic place for me.  It was impossible to grow up in the Australia of the 1950’s and not be familiar with that great Australian bass-baritone Peter Dawson’s rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s 'On the Road to Mandalay' recorded two decades or so earlier:  

Come you back to Mandalay
Where the old flotilla lay
Can't you hear their paddles chunking
From Rangoon to Mandalay

On the road to Mandalay
Where the flying fishes play
And the Dawn comes up like thunder
out of China 'cross the bay

The song went Worldwide in 1958 when Frank Sinatra covered it with a jazz orchestration, and ‘a Burma girl’ got changed to ‘a Burma broad’; ‘a man’ to ‘a cat’; and ‘temple bells’ to ‘crazy bells’.  

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Bonfire (Cracker) Night

 

 

We children were almost overcome with excitement.  There had been months of preparation.  Tree lopping and hedge trimmings had been saved; old newspapers and magazines stacked into fruit boxes; a couple of old tyres had been kept; and the long dangerously spiky lower fronds from the palm trees were neatly stacked; all in preparation. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Renewable Electricity

 

 

As the energy is essentially free, renewable electricity costs, like those of nuclear electricity, are almost entirely dependent on the up-front construction costs and the method of financing these.  Minimising the initial investment, relative to the expected energy yield, is critical to commercial viability.  But revenue is also dependent on when, and where, the energy can be delivered to meet the demand patterns of energy consumers.

For example, if it requires four times the capital investment in equipment to extract one megawatt hour (1 MWh) of useable electricity from sunlight, as compared to extracting it from wind, engineers need to find ways of quartering the cost of solar capture and conversion equipment; or increasing the energy converted to electricity fourfold; to make solar directly competitive.

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