NERV OSHA Compliance

So the following post will include some visual and story spoilers for the seminal 1990s Television Anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. I have a lot to say about Evangelion, a lot of it good and a lot of it bad, but that is the subject of a post for another day. Today I want to focus on something entirely more ridiculous than Evangelion’s usual fare of mentally unstable teenagers, giant bio-titans, and eldritch monsters from beyond our understanding.

I want to talk about this image captured from the show:

Seriously, spoiler (And a bit gruesome) Last warning.

 

NAauxkU

This is the graveyard of failed Evangelions kept in Terminal Dogma deep within the bowels of NERV HQ. It is also so ridiculous that it positively boggles the mind. And I love how absolutely bonkers it is.

Look at the scale. Assuming those skulls match the (Admittedly inconsistent but undoubtedly huge) head of an Evangelion unit, that chamber is kilometers long and a kilometer high at least.

I realize that Gendo has a lot of pull and influence, I realize Seele created Terminal Dogma to hold the imprisoned pseudo-corpse of what is basically a bleeding god. But why does this exist? Who built it? A place of that scale can’t exactly be built by one half-mad Japanese guy and a cadre of floating Monoliths from 2001. It would take an army of dedicated contractors. Can you imagine the conversations involved?

“We need you to build this impossibly huge chamber, with holes a hundred meters deep shaped into the image of this ambiguously religious symbol”

“Uh…why?”

“None of your goddamn business that’s why.”

See, the top secret chamber holding Lilith makes sense. It serves a purpose (Produce LCL and keep Lilith where they want it). The infamous Rei-quarium makes sense (Make more Reis) but why does this place even exist? It’s explicitly called a dumping ground, but if you’re just trying to get rid of discarded EVA corpses there has to be a slightly less ostentatious and ludicrous way to do it.

Even assuming that they needed to be kept secret and dumped in a sealed area due to hazardous waste, there has to be a better way. Can you imagine if the US government decided to store nuclear waste in an underground metal chamber in open pits shaped into a pseudo-religious icon?

What is that anyway? Some kind of cross mixed with a Sefirot?

It can’t be sanitary either. Those are just open pits for the (mostly flesh) Evangelions to rot. Imagine skyscrapers of meat just festering away in some underground facility. Can you imagine the disease? Can you imagine the smell?

I realize this is one of those moments for the MST3K mantra. It is just a show. But while Evangelion tends to revel in this kind of thing (Cross-shaped laser beams, let’s not forget). This is a scene that stands out as absurd even on their scale of acceptably absurd that I give them. This is the kind of thing I expect from Warhammer 40K on the scale of over-sized and pointless religious iconography.

 

 

Geology of Middle-earth: The Eriador Orogeny

“Far over the Misty Mountains Cold…”

Alan_Lee_-_The_Pass_of_Caradhras

The dramatic Misty Mountains are some of the most prominent geologic features in Middle-earth, and will be the first stop on our geologic tour. Mountains are varied and can be formed through a number of ways, but the Misty Mountains (As well as the Grey Mountains and Mountains of Angmar) are the dramatic type of rising mountain that only occur via one method: the collision of continental plates.

So for a little geologic background, when two tectonic plates collide, one tends to run (be subducted) under the other. However, the continents float atop these tectonic plates, and continents do not fit neatly underneath one another, So when continents collide, they instead crumple, deform, and push upwards building mountains. The most dramatic example on Earth today would be where the Indian subcontinent collided with Asia, pushing up the Himalayan Mountains.

Of course, we must recall that a collision is not how the Misty Mountains were ‘made’. Specifically, They were raised by Melkor as a barrier against the huntsman of the Valar, Oromë. But we are running on the theory that the processes of the world are equivalent, so Melkor may in fact be responsible for the plate tectonics apparent in Middle-earth (among the many other things he’s responsible for).

This interaction of plates that leads to massive deformation is known as an “Orogeny”. It’s not clear what orogenic phase the Misty Mountains are in. They might still be rising, though the existence of places like Moria and absence of frequent earthquakes indicate this might be an inactive plate boundary, meaning the Misty Mountains are likely being eroded down.

So, with this in mind I put forth the idea that the Misty Mountains and its branch ranges form part of a three-way tectonic T-junction. Illustrated here:

Misty Mountains

Where the southern end of this plate boundary goes depends on later looks we’ll take at the mountains of the South (and the absolute geologic madness that is Mordor).

There is, however, one issue in terms of environment: Rain-shadow.

The issue with mountains is that they tend to get in the way of things like clouds and wind. If you look at the large mountain ranges of the Earth, you’ll notice that they tend to have deserts at one side. The arid American West, the Tibetan Plateau, the Atacama Desert, etc. This is because all that rain tends to be caught on one side of the mountains.

This rain-shadow does not occur in the Misty Mountains. We know from Tolkiens notes that Middle-earth resides at about the same lattitudes as modern Europe with the Shire standing in for Britain’s location. This would mean the bulk of Middle-earth is in range of the Westerlies, the East-West running global currents. This means that Rhovanion, home of Mirkwood and Lothlórien, should be deserts rather than lands of lush greenery. This is a bit out of my field as I am not a climatologist. But it might be possible that the rain-deprived lands of Rhovanion could be at least in-part nourished by the River Anduin and its tributaries, one of the major waterways of Middle-earth and potentially the propagator of a large river valley that feeds Lothlórien, while Mirkwood could be out of range of the rain-shadow.

Of course, it could just be Elf Magic.

The Snake and the Mirror

New serial Chapter up! Catarina decides to meet Gisela head on and see just what she has in store.

The Cities Eternal

Chapter 13

September 27th, 2024

“A pleasure to see you again, Catarina.”

Gisela’s voice was calm and level, her face a mask that Cat couldn’t read as she spoke. She offered no hint at amusement or disappointment, not even the shadow of a smirk on her lips or a glitter in her violet eyes. Cat found it unsettling, like a talking painting.

“I came to talk,” Cat said firmly.

“I imagine so,” Gisela nodded. “What shall we talk about?”

“I want to know how to kill Nidhoggr,” Cat said. “And I know…I know I can’t do it like I am.”

“No, you cannot,” Gisela nodded again.

“I thought I could just train and become stronger…but I don’t know how to train to kill a Primordial.”

“No one else on Earth that could teach you would do so,” Gisela said. “Though it is an astute observation to make.”

“I don’t trust…

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The Geology of Middle-earth

This is going to be one of those things that’s my favorite confluence of literature, geology, and over-analyzing things. Over the past few years I’ve used my comparatively professional knowledge of geology to argue with my friends and fellow Tolkien-buffs regarding the geology of his famous constructed world: Middle-earth.

Middle-earth is rife with long and dramatic mountain rages, roaring volcanoes, and all manner of terrain with sweeping changes in geology and geography over an area about the size Europe (According to Tolkien’s notes and letters and fan projections. See:

Didier_Willis_-_Middle-earth_and_Europe_projection

And we will be examining exclusively that part of the continent that has been commonly and extensively mapped, excluding the more variable parts of Arda explored by the Silmarillion and the Atlas of Middle Earth.

Part of this is for the sake of scope (Middle-earth is already a big place) and partly for consistency. There are, however, a few problems to see to when examining such a fictional world from a geologic perspective. Namely, Middle-earth, like the rest of Arda, was not formed by natural processes but rather sung into existence by divine powers. Though there is a lot of room for interpretation, in terms of measuring time, the world of Arda only appears to be around 10,000 years old, and it wasn’t even round for all of it! That’s a blip on the geologic timescale, it’s paltry.

Though again that timescale is questionable (How do you measure years without the sun?), Middle-Earth has not been around for a tremendously long time and that is going to determine the perspective with which I choose to define it. namely, Middle-earth is operated by natural processes (It is -supposed- to be our world after all…possibly) but it’s only just been ‘turned on’. Everything was formed more or less where it was and then all the tectonics, volcanism, and sedimentation began as normal about ten to fifteen thousand years ago.

So this will be a multi-post series, and I will likely keep coming back to it. But for now I want to add a few disclaimers. I am neither a Tolkien Scholar nor a professional tectonic geologist (My specialty is more in Paleontology). So while my hypotheses will try to be as accurate as possible there may be mistakes. Finally, this is applying a very complicated real-world science to a fictional world that literally used to be flat until the Second Age when Eru Iluvatar decided to punish the Numenoreans. So try not to take things TOO seriously.

We’ll begin in earnest tomorrow or Saturday with the Misty Mountains and the enduring question: Why isn’t Mirkwood a desert?

The Snake and the Mirror

Another chapter up! I’ll be linking these to the serial site every Wednesday and Friday.

The Cities Eternal

Mark of the Wolf

September 25th, 2024

The room where Leon was being interviewed was far less comfortable than where Aurelio and Hachi spoke with Kira. It was a windowless room lit by long fluorescent lights that shone with a dim buzzing over the cold grey walls. Elisa stood leaning against the metal door, the only entrance, her arms folded over her chest and her sword sheathed at her side. Quietly, minute by minute, she waited for the dawn to come. At her feet were a pile of clothes offered by Cade.

Across form Elisa, hunched on the floor, was the form of the massive werewolf. In the light and in such a small place, Elisa could get a better look at him. His clawed hands were bound behind him with enchanted manacles designed and built by Evangeline Metaxes, champion of Hephaestus, and summoned in by Mary to be used…

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Quote of the Day

“There is many a rich stone laid up in the bowels of the earth, many a fair pearl laid up in the bosom of the sea, that never was seen, nor ever shall be.”

  • Joseph Hall, Contemplations, Book VI, Contemplation I: “The Veil of Moses” (17th century)

Oscillating Wave Ripples

So I reminded myself that while I wrote a nice bit of writing about a rock I found on the highway (Which I hope was less pretentious than that description made it sound), I neglected to actually post a picture of said rock.

 

IMG_08541

Hopefully this helps add a little extra context.

Soundless Seas

Having a keen interest in Geology I recently had the pleasure of being able to visit several rock outcrops in Tennessee. To those unfamiliar with field geology, a great many outcrops are found in a rather mundane locale: The great mountain cut-throughs made to make room for highways. If you’re very driving along anywhere outside the American Midwest, you will almost certainly see these great rock facades rising up on either side of the road as you whip by. If you take a closer look (and hopefully only if you’re a passenger), you might see the warped and stressed stratigraphy that tell the story of North America’s ancient geologic past.

The Appalachian mountains are old. Best you understand that first. They were created as the ancient plate boundaries beneath them subducted the now-disappeared Iapetus ocean and eventually had a rather powerful collision with what is now Africa. Several hundred million years of mountain building and erosion tends to create a rather dramatic landscape, and in their prime the Appalachians would have resembled the modern Himalayas, a view no doubt lost on the primitive reptiles and amphibians that wandered the earth at that time.

So now that you have a rough background (The mountains are very old), I can try and grant a new perspective on why a souvenir from this roadside expedition struck me as so significant. There is a layer of rock that formed the deepest bowels of the Appalachian mountains, the basement rock of a mountain range that has only recently begun to be exposed, cut out like the bones of the mountain by water, wind, and dynamite. One of the deepest sedimentary layers one can reach without a drill is called the Rome Formation, and it was here I made my find.

What looks to be a wave cast in stone is not entirely inaccurate. What once was sand has been solidified into sandstone, and the ripple pattern of rock tells us where this sand came from: the beach. Now, the beach tends to paint an image in one’s head, and what struck me about it, the importance of the piece, was just how wrong that image was, because this rock had its origins in a beach that was no less than half a billion years old.

Half a billion is one of those numbers humans can’t really conceive of very well, and I can paint a far more vivid image in comparison than I can with numbers.

First I will need for you to imagine a beach. Simple enough.

Now the easy part. Remove the people walking and lying on the sand, remove the people splashing in the water and the noise they generate from shrieking children to chatty adults. Nice isn’t it?

Now remove all of the secondary and tertiary signs of humanity. All the jetliners flying by and the low roar they make. Remove the cars obviously, and the parking lot they’re sitting in, as well as the lightposts, the lifeguard tower, any telephone poles or either signs that humans were here. All this sounds more like a resort than an ancient landscape, doesn’t it? Well hold on to that thought, because it’s about to get stranger.

Now remove the birds. The harping gulls and bellowing cormorants and whooping pelicans. Get rid of all that noise. The birds are old, but they’re Jurassic, and we’re going back much further than that. The beach has become that much quieter, and that much emptier, oh but we’re far from done.

Now our beach is rather quiet. Nothing but the wind blowing through the grasses and the trees. Well, guess what’s going next. All the land plants are gone. From the reeds to the grasses to the trees. At best you could hope for spores among the sand but don’t get your hopes up. There is nothing on the shore for the wind to blow through anymore.

Now we have something of the stark picture of a Cambrian beach. There is no sound and no life anywhere on land. There is nothing to hear and nothing to see save for the sand, the wind, and the water. This piece of rock pulled up along a highway in Tennessee tells a story of a soundless sea, where even the dream of life on land was millions and millions of years away. Before man, before the dinosaurs, before any land animal and even before most vertebrates as we could recognize them there was this beach on the shore of an ocean that no longer exists. A place where there was nothing to be heard or seen but sand, wind, and water.

Quote of the Day

Gabe: “Well, isn’t the enemy of your enemy, like, your friend? Or whatever? Can’t they team up?”

Tycho: “Not exactly. In this setting, the enemy of your enemy is still a floating, greasy, armored brain.”

Gabe: “Well, what about his enemy? Maybe you could be friends with him.”

Tycho: “No, because that guy is a mechanical horror in an undying battle shell. He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.”