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The Remnants of Theia May Still Exist Deep Inside the Earth

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There are two enormous provinces of unusual rock that sit at the bottom of the mantle, just above the Earth’s core. One of them is located underneath Africa and one is under the Pacific Ocean. They’re called Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) and they may shape hotspot formation and volcanic activity across the globe.

The LLSVPs are areas where seismic shear waves propagate much more slowly. They extend laterally for thousands of miles (we think), and they may be up to 1,000km “tall.” Geologists have considered a variety of potential explanations for the origin of the LLSVPs, and now a team has put forth a new argument: The LLSVPs may represent the remains of Theia, the protoplanet thought to have smashed into the world some 4.5 billion years ago, creating the Moon. There are a number of hotspots around the world associated with the margins and boundaries of the LLSVPs:

Image by DR Davies et al, The Australian National University

The hotspots associated with the LLSVP sometimes create a type of lava known as ocean island basalts, which are often compared with mid-ocean ridge basalts. In some cases, ocean island basalts are found with isotopic ratios that are believed to reflect the primordial Earth, especially when they’re located above one of the LLSVPs.

This suggests that at least some of the material down at the mantle/core boundary has been there since the formation of the planet. Mid-ocean ridge basalts are more likely to contain magma drawn from the upper layers of the mantle. This material has typically melted, cooled, and then subducted and melted again more than once across billions of years. This cycling results in magma with different isotope ratios and characteristics compared with the magma welling up from the mantle/core boundary.

Qian Yuan, a Ph.D. student in geodynamics at Arizona State University (ASU), presented his hypothesis on the topic at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. According to him, the Theia impactor could have formed the LLSVPs if Theia’s mantle material was 1.5 – 3.5 percent heavier than Earth’s. Under this model, some parts of Theia’s original mantle remained contiguous and never completely mixed with the Earth. This is not a problem; it is very difficult to create a Theia – Earth impact model that achieves uniform mixing, even if you assume a post-impact global magma ocean. Yuan’s work suggests Theia’s mantle material would form 3-15 percent of the mantle volume of the Earth, which lines up with the 3-9 percent of the mantle the LLSVPs are thought to occupy.

Image by Sanne Cottaar, CC BY-SA 4.0. Animated version available.

Alternate Explanations

The Theia impact hypothesis is not the only explanation for the LLSVPs. A number of causes have been proposed. They may be plumes of upwelling magma or represent differentiation that occurred entirely on Earth early in its history. They may be created by thermochemical convection or be comprised of ancient slabs of subducted ocean crust that fell to the bottom of the core/mantle boundary hundreds of millions to billions of years ago.

There’s even a chance that the LLSVPs don’t exist, at least not in their currently theorized size and shape. We track seismic waves as they propagate through the Earth to learn about its composition and structure, but it’s not the same as taking an X-ray. Some researchers have argued that the enormous size and unusual shape of the LLSVPs are due to resolution limits in our seismic data.

Image by Sanne Cottaar, CC BY-SA 3.0

The idea that we might find pieces of Theia inside the mantle is a solid one, even if the LLSVPs turned out to be something other than they’re currently theorized to be. There are other, smaller pockets of low seismic velocities inside the mantle. They’re often near also associated with the LLSVPs, but much smaller. These ultra-low-velocity zones are thought to be enriched with iron. They may represent core fragments of other planetesimals that struck Earth during its formation and became trapped in the mantle. The long-term sequestration of such primitive material would explain why we occasionally find lava that looks as if it came straight from the early solar system.

If the LLSVPs or ultra-low-velocity zones prove to be of extraterrestrial origin, it would mean the planetesimals that helped form the Earth have continued to shape its geology ever since. It’s one thing to know the Moon was created in an impact some 4.5 billion years ago, and another to imagine that some of the core of the planetesimal that shaped our entire Earthly existence might still exist itself, trapped below an ocean of liquid rock.

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Inside the ER in Laval, Que., one of the worst hit cities in Canada

As the doors of the emergency department swish open, a man stumbles inside, gasping for breath.

A security guard and volunteer, who are stationed just steps inside the entrance of Laval’s Cité-de-la-Santé hospital north of Montreal, ask him if he’s having a heart attack.

Between wheezes, he shakes his head and manages to sputter out a no. Staff quickly assess his COVID-19 risk.

His temperature is taken, he’s given a new mask and, after a brief assessment, whisked into a waiting room — in his case, the yellow zone, which is an area set aside for patients with symptoms of the virus.

Minutes later, he’s wheeled into the ER treatment area and put into an isolation cubicle.


A nurse cares for a patient inside an isolation cubicle in the emergency room at Cité de la Santé hospital in Laval. The cubicles are for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are suspected to have the virus. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

Precautions add to workload

Every patient, symptoms or not, is tested for the virus, but the cubicles keep COVID-positive patients and people suspected of having the virus completely sealed off.

Only designated staff can move in and out of the cubicles, and full personal protective gear is needed.

The precautions are necessary, but it adds to the workload.

“You have to dress appropriately. So it takes a lot more time. One, to go see the patient. Then to take care of the patient. These are patients who often require a lot more care,” said Mélanie Boudreault, who has worked as an ER nurse here for nearly a decade. 

ER visits down

Fear of catching COVID-19 means emergency visits are down across the province, said Sébastien Rocheleau, assistant director of nursing operations for the CISSS de Laval, the local public health authority.

By the time some patients show up at the hospital, they are often more ill because they waited to go.

At Cité-de-la-Santé, the number of visits to the ER dropped — from 6,761 in the month of January 2020, to 4,903 in January 2021.


Infection prevention coaches regularly pass through the ER to make sure staff are wearing their masks and protective gear properly. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

For the first time since the pandemic began, the hospital gave CBC Montreal exclusive access to the ER to see how it has adapted and what precautions it has put in place to keep everyone safe. 

What they captured was the frontline of a year-long battle to keep the virus at bay while allowing the emergency medical system to continue to function.

And while the staff knows the latest case numbers are promising, they also know they’re not out of the woods yet.

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Inside the Canadian women’s basketball team’s virtual training camp

It was exactly 367 days ago when Canada’s women’s basketball team qualified for Tokyo 2020.

Fast-forward to today, and the team is coming off a week-long virtual training camp, unable to meet in person due to the pandemic that forced the one-year postponement of the Olympics.

“That was sort of like the last big thing before the wheels fell off, and you think back to your mindset and just how everything felt at that point in time in Belgium: living the life, competing, playing against the best in the world, winning games, qualifying for [the] Tokyo Olympics, doing it all together. We were on top of the world,” head coach Lisa Thomaidis said of the Olympic qualifying tournament played last February.

“And then, you know, a few short weeks later, just how everything came crashing down.”

Training camp kicked off first thing Monday with words from Canadian chef de mission Marnie McBean, who reassured the team that Tokyo 2020 would indeed be going ahead in 2021.

McBean advised the team to block out reports that may arise in the coming months, such as the single-source story from the Times of London in late January that claimed the Japanese government had concluded to cancel the 2021 Games.

“It was good timing because it had come out [two] week[s] prior to us getting together. And so for her to come on the Monday morning and just be kind of like, ‘OK, this is what’s really happening,’ it was good just to kind of get rid of the elephant in the room,” Thomaidis said.


McBean’s insistence set the tone for a week of daily two-hour meetings covering everything from team vision to Olympic logistics to Tokyo heat.

“[We] went through a lot of envisioning and projecting what it’s going to be like in Tokyo, the conditions, the living arrangements, our competition schedule or training schedule leading into it,” Thomaidis said.

Those exercises helped put players’ minds at ease about attending the Olympics during a pandemic — not that there was much hesitance after already waiting this long to compete.

Forward Ruth Hamblin said it was important to hear assurance from McBean when she sees so much negativity surrounding the Olympics every day on Twitter.

“I feel like this meeting just kind of solidified what we have as a team and our system and our momentum. It’s going to be different, but it’s still an Olympics. I think that that doesn’t change. And if anything, it’s more than ever because the world needs some positivity,” said Hamblin, who currently plays in Poland.

Social activity welcomed

With questions surrounding the Olympics sorted, Thomaidis began instilling some of the team’s on-court systems. It’s tough to implement anything too complicated over Zoom, but some base principles helped sharpen how the team will attempt Canada’s first-ever Olympic women’s basketball medal.

After so much time apart, the social aspect of the week was also welcome to both coach and players alike.

Some meetings included games with quiz software Kahoot, and another ice-breaker matching Emojis to different players kicked off each day’s festivities.

“It’s just good old times, like the familiarity with these people because we spent so much time together. It’s really good to just hang out with them,” Hamblin said.

“I think more than anything, it was just that the energy that they came to the meetings with was pretty cool. People are tuning in from all around the world,” Thomaidis reiterated.

The team will continue to meet regularly over Zoom, likely every three or four weeks with frequency increasing as the Olympics approach.

Next opportunity to meet in May

While some other teams, including the U.S., were able to meet in person during the international window, Canada was stuck online with players dispersed throughout the U.S., France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Germany.

Forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who plays for Lyon in France, thinks that could work in Canada’s favour.

“I don’t think anyone expects us to get together two hours every day and watch film together and have a virtual reality. And I’m just really happy that we’re doing these things that can gain us a competitive edge over some of the other countries,” she said.

Canada’s next opportunity to meet in person is in May, when the team hopes to hold training camp in Edmonton ahead of the FIBA AmeriCup in June.

Overseas pro leagues will be done by then, meaning the logistics of gathering could be simplified. Then again, planning in a pandemic is fluid.

“I think it’s going to be one of the strangest Olympics ever,” Hamblin said. “And our ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances is going to be a key to our success.”

A basketball team going over a year without practice ahead of its biggest tournament certainly qualifies as strange. But from all corners of the world, Team Canada appears to be adjusting well.

And after the long period of inactivity, that competitive fire only burns brighter.

“We’re a basketball team, we just want to go and compete. I think everyone’s just finally looking forward to that. So, yeah, definitely some excitement building,” Thomaidis said.

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Masks now mandatory inside middle and high schools in B.C.

Masks are now mandatory for students and staff inside high schools and middle schools in British Columbia.

Non-medical grade masks must be worn in all indoor areas, the province announced Thursday, including while students are in their learning cohorts.

A statement from the B.C. Ministry of Education said masks can come off while students are at their workstation in the classroom, while they’re eating and drinking, or while a barrier — like a sheet of Plexiglas — is in place.

Wearing masks indoors is still optional for elementary students. Staff in elementary schools, however, are now also required to wear a mask.

$ 900K for rapid response teams

The province also announced the creation of six regional rapid response teams — one in each health authority — to support independent schools.

The teams, created with $ 900,000 in funding, “will continue to improve the speed of school exposure investigations so health authorities can inform school districts and families more quickly.”

The teams will conduct physical and virtual inspections to ensure health and safety guidelines are being followed consistently in K-12 schools.

If there is a serious exposure or in-school transmission, the teams will be sent out to conduct a review and make recommendations to prevent the situation from happening again.

Calls for more safety measures

Parents and teachers have repeatedly called for a number of mandates to help keep schools safer, such as mandatory masks and rapid testing, since in-person classes resumed last September.

Results released Wednesday of a survey commissioned by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation suggested more than half of teachers felt unsafe in the classroom during the pandemic and the vast majority wanted to see masks become mandatory.

The poll of 4,186 teachers found 57.8 per cent did not feel safe during in-person instruction and 86.9 wanted to see all adults wearing face masks or shields. A slightly smaller portion — 79.9 per cent — said students should wear masks as well. 

The push increased this week after news of possible exposure to a new coronavirus variant at Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge, B.C.

Officials confirmed Wednesday someone at the school was infected with a more transmissible form of the virus, but has since recovered. A total of 81 students and eight staff members who are in that person’s cohort were all tested to see if the virus had spread, and all of them tested negative.


Students are pictured on a school bus after classes end at Earl Marriott Secondary School in Surrey, B.C., on Jan. 4. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Over the fall, Henry has said data shows transmission of COVID-19 is generally low in schools

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, 2,868 children under the age of 10 in B.C. have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday — about four per cent of all cases in the province.

Current guidelines for schools are different than those for the rest of the public. Masks are recommended but not mandatory, and the rule for physical distancing is one metre apart instead of two.

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Tesla Revamps Model S Sedan Inside and Out, Adds 520-Mile Version

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Tesla has unveiled its biggest update to its Model S sedan since its unveiling in 2009 and launch in 2012. That’s normally an eternity for production cars, although a few have gone longer recently (see: Dodge Challenger and Charger, Nissan Frontier) and Tesla has been able to update the Model S with software tweaks more than other automakers.

This time, though, the refresh is significant outside and a full revamp inside. The exterior gets revised front and rear ends and a more pronounced stance, thanks to some subtle flaring in the door panels ahead of the rear wheels that give the illusion of a rake and more width. It’s a relatively safe update, but the car’s styling was always pretty timeless to begin with. Tesla says the new model has a .208 coefficient of drag (Cd), which the company claims makes the Model S the “lowest-drag car on Earth.”

Inside, the most dramatic change comes via the yoke-style steering wheel, which is either a nod to Formula-style race cars or a throwback to the Knight Industries Two Thousand, depending on your viewpoint. There are no longer stalks or shifters to either side of the wheel. The center stack now has a horizontally aligned 17-inch display with 2,200 by 1,300 resolution and a slight leftward tilt. Tri-zone air conditioning, ventilated front seats, and HEPA filtration deliver more luxurious cooling, and you get wireless and USB-C fast charging with enough juice to power a laptop. The audio system now has 22 speakers and 960 watts of power with active noise cancellation.

Second-row seating also gets a redesign, with additional legroom and headroom, a new LCD for rear passengers, and integrated wireless charging in the center armrest. The company says the car now has up to 10 teraflops of power and can support in-car gaming with today’s latest consoles, including wireless controller compatibility and the ability to play “from any seat.”

The new Model S starts at $ 79,990 for the dual-motor Long Range, which snaps off 0-60 runs in 3.1 seconds and yet runs for 412 miles on a full charge, with 670 peak horsepower (“peak” being a nod to the fact that depleted batteries affect power, unlike with fossil-fuel-powered vehicles). The $ 119,990 Plaid edition gets three motors and all-wheel-drive, and Tesla is claiming an insane under-2-second 0-60 time, 1,020 peak horsepower, a 200 mph top speed, and a 390-mile range. You’re not getting all of those at once. But you’re also not getting 25mpg in a Mustang GT running at 150 mph with the accelerator pedal pushed into the floorboards, even if the ‘stang can achieve that kind of fuel economy at normal highway speeds. Finally, an 1,100-hp Plaid+ option will cost $ 139,990 and have a reported range of 520 miles, which would be ludicrous if true–in pure Tesla fashion, of course.

The Long Range and Plaid arrive in February, according to Elon Musk; look for the Plaid+ before the end of the year. The Model X crossover SUV will also get the new interior and dashboard screen, plus new Long Range and Plaid versions, although its exterior remains unchanged.

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‘A toll on everyone’s soul:’ Inside 2 hospitals’ struggle to save lives from COVID-19

During the coronavirus pandemic, Canadians are being told to stay home to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. Yet most of us have no idea about what’s happening inside our hospitals, specifically intensive care units. 

Jan. 25 marked the one-year anniversary of the first person in Canada to be hospitalized due to COVID-19.  

To mark the anniversary, staff at two of Canada’s largest hospitals — Sunnybrook Hospital and Toronto General Hospital — filmed a day in their lives on the job, highlighting how they deal with the stress and strain they’re up against day after day. 

Watch as they give an intimate, inside look at why they’re so emotionally exhausted — and what gives them the strength to keep fighting o care for “everyone’s loved ones.”
 

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IIHF says 8 Germans, 2 Swedes test positive for COVID-19 inside world junior bubble

The International Ice Hockey Federation says eight players from Germany’s team at the world junior hockey championship have tested positive for COVID-19 inside the Edmonton bubble.

The IIHF says the Germans will all remain in quarantine until Thursday. The country is scheduled to open its tournament against Finland the following afternoon — Dec. 25 — before facing Canada on Boxing Day.

The quarantine means Germany, with a roster that includes Ottawa Senators prospect and 2020 No. 3 overall draft pick Tim Stuetzle, will miss exhibition games against Austria and the Czech Republic ahead of the annual under-20 event.

The IIHF also announced two members of Sweden’s team staff have tested positive.

The Swedes will stay in quarantine until Monday, with the exception of those exempt from serving longer periods based on previous positive tests that “provide a personal immunity and no threat of infection to others.”

Tournament set to start Christmas Day

Sweden is scheduled to face Canada in an exhibition game Monday.

The IIHF says more than 2,000 tests have been conducted on players, staff and game officials since they entered the Edmonton bubble Sunday.

Teams without positive tests were eligible to begin training Friday.

The tournament is scheduled to begin Christmas Day — including that meeting between the Germans and Finns — at Rogers Place. The first exhibition games are slated for Sunday.

The NHL implemented similar bubbles for the restart of its pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season this summer. The bubbles are tightly controlled and include strict health and safety measures implemented in hopes of keeping the coronavirus at bay.

The league said it had zero positive results over more than two months.

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Inside Manitoba’s busiest ICU: The beds are full and COVID-19 patients keep coming

‘What we don’t have is staff’

It’s nine in the morning and hospital beds are as coveted as they have been for months.

As part of the pandemic response, health officials meet virtually every morning to discuss the management of an overflowing hospital.

In a meeting room, charts and graphs are beamed onto a white wall for people on the call, like a scene out of a science-fiction movie.

Some rows are coloured in red, which represents an overcapacity unit.

They can tell the number of suspected COVID-19 positives across the HSC site, broken down by unit.

“Right now on our children’s unit, we have three suspect positives,” Jennifer Cumpsty, acting chief nursing officer for HSC, told a visitor later in the morning.

Jennifer Cumpsty, acting chief nursing officer for HSC, describes the purpose of the hospital command centre where they strategize the movement of patients every morning. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)
Jennifer Cumpsty, acting chief nursing officer for HSC, describes the purpose of the hospital command centre where they strategize the movement of patients every morning. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)

The problem, says Cumpsty, isn’t space in the hospital; they can keep finding rooms to put more beds and more COVID-19 patients.

“What we don’t have is staff,” she said. “That is our limiting factor.”

To address that, teams of specialists led by critical-care nurses have formed to care for patients befallen by the virus.

These teams include staff who would otherwise not work in critical-care units, such as the nurses in the GD-2 unit — an orthopedic surgical ward before the pandemic, said Anna Marie Papiz, the unit’s manager of patient care.

“Staff, if you were to speak to them and ask them, have they had experiences with patients who have passed away … many of them would say very rarely, and now that’s become commonplace here,” she said.

In December alone, 212 Manitobans have died of COVID-19 so far — that’s 40 per cent of the 523 people who’ve lost their lives from their virus.

“The number of patients that we’re sending up to MICU [medical intensive care unit], the number of deaths that we are encountering, is far greater than we’ve experienced as surgical nurses.”

Health-care workers are dealing with long hours and juggling many patients at once in their fight against the contagious coronavirus. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)
Health-care workers are dealing with long hours and juggling many patients at once in their fight against the contagious coronavirus. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)

Papiz said that staff are working through their fears, putting in long hours and overtime. They’re skipping their breaks to tend to the patients entrusted to their care.

Surgical nurse Aaron Turner said his colleagues are brushing up on skills they haven’t practised since university.

“There was a lot of anxiety from staff, pushing ourselves well out of our comfort zone,” he said.

One of his new duties, he said, is connecting dying patients by phone with their loved ones, who are barred from entering the hospital.

“It’s not something we’ve had to do before,” Turner said. “It becomes part of business, I suppose, but you can never get used to that.”

Despite these new duties, health officials put up for interviews exude a confidence that the employees they have in place — reassigned and otherwise — can handle the influx of COVID-positive cases.

Hospital resources were stretched so thin in early November, the province imposed a near-lockdown to try to slow admissions.

But officials do openly question whether the health-care system can handle the numbers they’re seeing much longer.

“They are working overtime,” Cumpsty said of the staff. “They are stretched beyond right now.”

WATCH | ‘Every spare space’ turned into a COVID-19 unit:

That stretching has included a change, from one-to-one nursing care before the pandemic, to a “team-based” staffing approach, where one nurse cares for multiple patients, with support ranging from respiratory therapists to physiotherapists.

Not everybody on the front lines believes the new care model, announced in November, is tenable.

“Patients will almost surely die in this environment,” a group of nurses at HSC’s medical ICU wrote in an email to officials. “Patients are already suffering from neglect.”

The emails surfaced this week, after they were obtained by the Opposition Manitoba NDP.

In another message, staff said they cannot be expected to monitor several isolated patients at once.

They questioned the unimaginable decision that may arise if a nurse is left alone with multiple patients when a colleague goes on break.

“What room should they prioritize to go first if both alarms require their immediate attention for it’s a matter of life and death?” the email asks.

“Please don’t place these tough decisions on their shoulders.”

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Scientists Found an Ancient Tectonic Plate Buried Deep Inside the Earth’s Mantle

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Plate tectonics — the slow movement of the Earth’s continents across the globe, and their interactions with each other — is a relatively new discovery, having only been broadly accepted in the geologic community since the mid-1960s. In addition to studying the seven large plates that make up the major continents on Earth, some scientists study the remains of vanished plates that were subducted under the edge of a continent and driven down into the mantle. Now, one group studying northwest North America has discovered what it believes are the remnants of a now-vanished plate that slid underneath the Pacific Northwest millions of years ago.

Geologists agree that the West Coast of North America was formed by a complex interplay between multiple plates. Two of the now-subducted plates underneath this area of the United States and Canada are the Farallon and Kula plates. A third plate — dubbed Resurrection — has been controversially theorized to exist, with some geologists arguing that it explains certain features of the terrain (and terranes) in particular regions. Now that new evidence has come in, it looks as though the Resurrectionists have won.

Hrm. Probably shouldn’t use that name.

The “Pro-Resurrection” side of the debate seems to have won. After isolating masses that appear to belong to Kula and Farallon, the team reports there are reconstruction gaps in the record, which:

…correlate spatiotemporally to published NW Cordillera near-trench magmatism, even considering possible terrane translation. We attribute these gaps to thermal erosion related to ridge subduction and model mid-ocean ridges within these reconstruction gap mid-points. Our reconstructions show two coeval ridge-trench intersections that bound an additional “Resurrection”-like plate along the NW Cordillera prior to 40 Ma. In this model, the Yukon slab represents a thermally eroded remnant of the Resurrection plate.

Now, I’m sure nobody needs a translation of that, but just in case it’s helpful, here’s a YouTube video of how this process is believed to have unfolded.

“When ‘raised’ back to the Earth’s surface and reconstructed, the boundaries of this ancient Resurrection tectonic plate match well with the ancient volcanic belts in Washington State and Alaska, providing a much sought after link between the ancient Pacific Ocean and the North American geologic record,” says geologist Jonny Wu, from the University of Houston.

A few more interesting things about the relationships of really, really have things on Earth. Mountain ranges form at plate boundaries, but they don’t form at anything like a consistent speed. One explanation for this is that fast mountain formation is caused by pieces of subducting plates breaking off and plunging (very slowly) through the mantle, towards the core/mantle boundary. Imagine hurling a bowling ball into a bathtub, then freezing the water in the instant it hit maximum height, and you’ve got an idea for how these events played out over geologic time.

Plate subduction is not the only thing that reshapes the continents. After the last ice age, continents all over the world began to rise as the sheets of ice melted. This is believed to have had the side effect of making local volcanic eruptions more likely because there wasn’t nearly so much weight holding the continents down. Isostatic rebound is still occurring to this day, though it’s much slower than current rates of sea-level rise and is not beneficial to solving the problem due to the timescales involved.

Understanding where these vanished plates are underneath our feet can aid our understanding of geologic events on the surface, like volcanism. If volcanoes and earthquakes ever become predictable, it’ll likely be thanks to a greater understanding of the deeper layers of the Earth.

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It’s Now Possible to Play Doom Literally Inside of Minecraft

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Porting Doom to various devices has become an art over the years. From calculators to printers, the first level of “Knee Deep in the Dead” tends to show up in a lot of places. This is the first time, at least that I’m aware of, that a modder has figured out how to actually play Doom inside of Minecraft itself.

The mod works via VirtualBox (as-in, the software) and an associated Minecraft mod. Essentially, the mod allows you to order a computer from a satellite that passes overhead 5x per day. Once you’ve ordered it, you can configure the box for the type of machine you want to virtually emulate, then install an emulated operating system. You can probably guess where this is going:

I played DOOM in Minecraft with VMComputers mod. from Minecraft

While running Doom in Minecraft via VirtualBox is new, it turns out that running Doom inside of other applications isn’t as novel as I thought it was. It’s actually possible to run Doom inside of GZDoom already, thanks to a tool called Action Code Script, which raises a question of its own: Is it possible to run GZDoom in Minecraft, and then to run Doom inside of GZDoom?

Because if you did, you’d be running Doom inside of Doom, inside of a virtual machine, inside of Minecraft, which itself is just one application running on a PC. When I was a kid, one of the things we did for fun was call people who had threeway calling, then get them to call someone, and so on. We once built up a long enough chain of people (reports varied on how many) that we were all simultaneously disconnected and the phone system fired off an “all circuits are busy” when we tried to call each other back.

Running Doom inside of Doom inside of Minecraft reminds me of something similar. It’s also an amusing way to waste modern CPU performance by finding the point at which a computer can no longer effectively play Doom because the weight of every other simulation/game running behind Doom has left the machine inoperable.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Take your fun where you can find it.

PCGamer has a pretty great list of other “computers” you can play Doom on. Doom has also been ported to the Commodore 64, an ATM, and (my personal favorite), a piano. The ultimate trick would be if playing the music from “Knee Deep in the Dead” on the piano also successfully maneuvered Doomguy through the level and let him exit successfully.

Feature image by VMComputers, Minecraft mod

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