It's Volcano time again

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It's Volcano time again

Postby Paranoid__Android » Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:39 pm UTC

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An unprecedented no-fly zone imposed across Europe following a huge volcanic eruption in Iceland is set to remain in force into the weekend, causing travel chaos for over a million air passengers.

Airspace stretching from Ireland to Finland, including airports in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, was closed today following the violent eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in south-east Iceland which sent a plume of ash across some of the world's busiest flight paths.

All UK airspace was closed from noon except for "agreed emergencies". It is likely to stay shut tomorrow, with the force of the eruption showing no sign of abating.

Last night north-westerly winds continued to blow the eight mile high plume across the continent, raising fears that airlines could be grounded for days. One volcanologist said the ash could present intermittent problems to air traffic for six months if the eruption continued. The last time the volcano erupted in 1821, it spewed ash for two years.

The pan-European shutdown affected an estimated 4,000 flights and is the most dramatic step of its kind in living memory. It caused the most international travel chaos since the 11 September attacks on America in 2001.

Airports across France closed tonight following the lead of safety authorities in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Denmark. Planes travelling from America to Europe had to turn back over the Atlantic and a jet carrying British forces back from Afghanistan was grounded in Cyprus. The plume is projected to spread east and south over Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, as well as parts of Russia.

"We certainly do not think we have over-reacted," a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Service said, prior to extending the total shut down of all UK airports until at least 1pm today. "Safety is our main priority and volcanic ash is a serious threat to aircraft."

In 1982, a British Airways jumbo jet became a giant glider when all four of its engines failed after flying through a volcanic plume over Indonesia. After a terrifying descent, the crew managed to get the engines started, before landing the plane safely in Jakarta.

The Met Office predicted planes will be grounded all day on Friday, while John Swinney, the cabinet secretary in the devolved Scottish government, said the ban on flights is likely to remain in place for "some days". Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, will tomorrow morning meet senior transport officials to consider contingency plans if the current weather situation continues.

The impact of the volcano, which began erupting in the early hours of Wednesday morning, eclipsed the build-up to the leaders' debate in Manchester . Gordon Brown apologised for any disruption caused by the eruption but said "safety is the first and predominate consideration". David Cameron broke off electioneering at a Halifax primary school to say it was "a very worrying and difficult situation".

The ash cloud, almost invisible to the eye, began to spread across Europe on in the early hours of Wednesday before stretching east to northern Norway, Sweden and Finland and south across Scotland and the UK, engulfing Britain totally by Thursday afternoon.

The runways and aprons at Heathrow, normally the world's busiest airport, were becalmed. Manchester airport was almost empty with 75,000 passengers unable to travel.

The eruption of the volcano which had been dormant for 187 years caused devastation in Iceland and civil protection teams had to evacuate around 700 residents when torrents of melt water flowed off the glacier through fields and farms. Day turned to night east of the eruption as thick grey ash fell, leading to fears among farmers for their grazing farm animals.

Geophysicists in Iceland said that the production of ash from Eyjafjallajokull is likely to continue at a comparable level for some days or even weeks.

"Where it disrupts travel depends on the weather," said Einar Kjartansson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. "It depends how the wind carries the ash."

John Strickland, director of air transport consultancy JLS Consulting, said the effects on long haul travel could be particularly severe because of Iceland's position on heavily used routes.

Ironically, Reykjavik airport was one of the few European airports to remain open, because the wind direction carried the plume away from the country's capital.

This looks a little worrying to me, and it's cirtainly the last thing Iceland needs these days.
Is there a possiblity of this thing turning Europe into a no-fly zone for a significant amount of time?
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby pseudoidiot » Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:43 pm UTC

Here's the most recent from NATS:
http://www.nats.co.uk/

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things improve enough that I'll still be able to travel to London this weekend. I'm not sure how much hope I have of that. (I could deal with a day or 2 delay, I suppose).
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby The Reaper » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:01 pm UTC

I demand this topic have the name of the glacier its under in the title.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby wst » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:14 pm UTC

Stuck in Spain for an extra week here... good and bad... I was looking forward to returning to the UK for the first time ever and I had plans and everything. Kinda... annoyed as hell kinda. And kinda happy. But I would rather an extra week away from a beau while remaining in one piece than being spread over several miles in many pieces...
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:29 pm UTC

I find it amusing a forum about a science webcomic has only just now decided a thread on the biggest science story of the year is worth producing. Especially when it's, y'know, halted all air traffic on a historical level at a time when airlines are haemohorraging terribly as it is.

And it mostly overshadowed the dumb American style TV debates for the election. I hope the next one is set aside by the second coming of Christ.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

The eruption was Tuesday! Over here, I did not even hear or see a single news report until mid day today, when the first airport in England (not even the first in the UK) got closed. Considering it's rather a big news story, I was amazed how no one took note until it effected them personally. Now we have had a no fly zone over the entire UK for a whole day. Update is 7ish GMT tomorrow. I have not even heard any military jets overhead which is very rare, if not unheard of. It is rather peaceful though. However my feelings go out to everyone stuck without transport for the next few hours at least, and days at worse.

On a sciencey note. AFAIK the eruption is showing no signs of slowing down. So will the ash continue? Or was it just the first plume that came from the clearance of the surrounding area that has caused the trouble? Is it likely to last all weekend?!
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

Eyjafjallajokull (I LOVE that name, like someone spazzing at the keyboard) has so far no links to Katla, which could also be triggered by this eruption if its found the energy isn't being released fully via this one event. Though the last time this current volcano got going was around 1821, and lasted two years. This situation could go on for months if the plumes keep coming.

Iceland, it should be said, potentially caused the famines and general climate chaos that helped set things like the French Revolution up and the worst food shortage in Japanese history. This is what geologists call a Big Bloody Deal.

Personally, I'm enjoying the sunsets and vapour trail free skies. If it does go on for a long time, I hope we all start flying airships again.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Mother Superior » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

According to news, flights are likely to remain canceled 'til saturday at least- beyond that they can't say. They also can't say how long the eruption will last. Maybe it will end tomorrow, or maybe it will last years, like it did last time.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby The Reaper » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:06 pm UTC

Admiral Valdemar wrote:I find it amusing a forum about a science webcomic has only just now decided a thread on the biggest science story of the year is worth producing. Especially when it's, y'know, halted all air traffic on a historical level at a time when airlines are haemohorraging terribly as it is.

And it mostly overshadowed the dumb American style TV debates for the election. I hope the next one is set aside by the second coming of Christ.

A volcano erupting is not a major science story. sustainable, controllable fusion would be, as would numerous other things.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:07 pm UTC

Reading the wiki, it may continue at a lesser degree. So not too much of a worry long term. Except maybe those nearby.
I was joking with a friend today that they will not make it into work Saturday. Hope I'm wrong on that one.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby NightStar » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:16 pm UTC

Volcanic ash messes up turbojets immensely, not to mention fouling the instruments and getting into the cabin. It's not worth the damage and risk to fly through, so don't expect any airlines to try. Not sure how long it will stay up in the atmosphere; IANAMeteorologist.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:19 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:The eruption was Tuesday!

It's kinda been erupting since March 20, actually, and there was even already a thread about it.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby SummerGlauFan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:I was joking with a friend today that they will not make it into work Saturday. Hope I'm wrong on that one.


Look on the bright side, nothing short of an erupting volcano will keep you from work this week!
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Vieto » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:27 pm UTC

also, if the volcano erupts for 2 years, then global temperatures will drop by a degree or so. (less jets in flight, blanket of SO2)

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:30 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:A volcano erupting is not a major science story. sustainable, controllable fusion would be, as would numerous other things.


Yeah, an eruption causing the LARGEST mass transport clusterfuck in history is clearly not newsworthy.

In the US.

We should also avoid going to Wiki for the facts. The last memo I saw from the Icelandic geological survey stated the intensity of the tremors was trending up and the eruption showing no signs of slowing.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:31 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:The eruption was Tuesday!

It's kinda been erupting since March 20, actually, and there was even already a thread about it.


Oh that Eyjafjallajoekull. I got to work on my Icelandic.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Diadem » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:43 pm UTC

Does anyone know *why* planes can't fly? All the media are not reporting that all airports are closed. None seem to mention why.

I mean it's not like it's a dense pillar of ash coming our way. What is it? a few parts in a million or something like that? I haven't noticed anything strange while walking outside. Airplanes can fly through dense mists and thunderstorms. Why not a bit of ash?
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Hawknc » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:48 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Does anyone know *why* planes can't fly? All the media are not reporting that all airports are closed. None seem to mention why.

I mean it's not like it's a dense pillar of ash coming our way. What is it? a few parts in a million or something like that? I haven't noticed anything strange while walking outside. Airplanes can fly through dense mists and thunderstorms. Why not a bit of ash?

NightStar wrote:Volcanic ash messes up turbojets immensely, not to mention fouling the instruments and getting into the cabin. It's not worth the damage and risk to fly through, so don't expect any airlines to try. Not sure how long it will stay up in the atmosphere; IANAMeteorologist.


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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Diadem » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

But is there more dust in the air now from this vulcano, then during a windy day in the vicinity of a desert? Looking outside, I somehow doubt it.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Vohu Manah » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:06 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Does anyone know *why* planes can't fly? All the media are not reporting that all airports are closed. None seem to mention why.

I mean it's not like it's a dense pillar of ash coming our way. What is it? a few parts in a million or something like that? I haven't noticed anything strange while walking outside. Airplanes can fly through dense mists and thunderstorms. Why not a bit of ash?

According to this BBC article, it messes with the engine.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby el_loco_avs » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:29 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:But is there more dust in the air now from this vulcano, then during a windy day in the vicinity of a desert? Looking outside, I somehow doubt it.


From the wiki
Two earlier notable incidents were British Airways Flight 9 in 1982 and KLM Flight 867 in 1989.[35] In both incidents, volcanic ash caused all engines to cut out as the ash melted into glass inside the engines. The outsides of the aircraft were 'sandblasted', which severely reduced visibility. The engines reignited after descending into cleaner air, avoiding a disaster, but were very severely damaged

Also, it might not be noticable from the ground cause the cloud is 17km up in the air maybe. I think.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby fjafjan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:38 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:
Admiral Valdemar wrote:I find it amusing a forum about a science webcomic has only just now decided a thread on the biggest science story of the year is worth producing. Especially when it's, y'know, halted all air traffic on a historical level at a time when airlines are haemohorraging terribly as it is.

And it mostly overshadowed the dumb American style TV debates for the election. I hope the next one is set aside by the second coming of Christ.

A volcano erupting is not a major science story. sustainable, controllable fusion would be, as would numerous other things.

A volcano erupting disrupting all air travel in Europe for potentially months, as well as having a (if that is true) very very major impact on the climate, as well as nature, I'd say that's a pretty massive science story.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Paranoid__Android » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:09 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:The eruption was Tuesday!

It's kinda been erupting since March 20, actually, and there was even already a thread about it.

Ah, sorry, I didn't see that.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:44 am UTC

Diadem wrote:But is there more dust in the air now from this vulcano, then during a windy day in the vicinity of a desert? Looking outside, I somehow doubt it.

Volcanic ash and desert sands: kinda not at all the same thing. Also, I somehow doubt there's much windblown sand as high up as this ash is.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby clintonius » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:56 am UTC

fjafjan wrote:
The Reaper wrote:
Admiral Valdemar wrote:I find it amusing a forum about a science webcomic has only just now decided a thread on the biggest science story of the year is worth producing. Especially when it's, y'know, halted all air traffic on a historical level at a time when airlines are haemohorraging terribly as it is.

And it mostly overshadowed the dumb American style TV debates for the election. I hope the next one is set aside by the second coming of Christ.

A volcano erupting is not a major science story. sustainable, controllable fusion would be, as would numerous other things.

A volcano erupting disrupting all air travel in Europe for potentially months, as well as having a (if that is true) very very major impact on the climate, as well as nature, I'd say that's a pretty massive science story.

Yes. Look at the timestamp of the article and the time the OP posted. The article was published at 20:27 BST, less five hours for EST = 15:27. The OP was posted at 16:39 EST. That's pretty damn quick. There were stories of the eruption earlier than that, but since AV seems to think that the air traffic portion of the story is the most relevant aspect, s/he could look at earlier articles like this one printed on the 14th and note that air travel had not yet been halted.

That said, I'm not convinced that air travel interruptions are a bigger story than the potential environmental ramifications. Are there articles discussing this? A cursory glance didn't reveal much, but I'm also prone to mistyping names likes Eyjafjallajokull when I've got a bit of nyquil in my system.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby wst » Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:37 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Does anyone know *why* planes can't fly? All the media are not reporting that all airports are closed. None seem to mention why.

I mean it's not like it's a dense pillar of ash coming our way. What is it? a few parts in a million or something like that? I haven't noticed anything strange while walking outside. Airplanes can fly through dense mists and thunderstorms. Why not a bit of ash?
I'd answer with more of my own words but I must get ready to go to the airport and talk to the airline in person, the phones are completely jammed.

This is why. And what to do when you find yourself in volcanic ash at FL360
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby dubsola » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Good read, especially for this line:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are all doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:19 pm UTC

I wonder how much of an offset the grounded aeroplanes are to the volcanic ash. Not that it will be much I guess.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:31 pm UTC

clintonius wrote:Yes. Look at the timestamp of the article and the time the OP posted. The article was published at 20:27 BST, less five hours for EST = 15:27. The OP was posted at 16:39 EST. That's pretty damn quick. There were stories of the eruption earlier than that, but since AV seems to think that the air traffic portion of the story is the most relevant aspect, s/he could look at earlier articles like this one printed on the 14th and note that air travel had not yet been halted.

That said, I'm not convinced that air travel interruptions are a bigger story than the potential environmental ramifications. Are there articles discussing this? A cursory glance didn't reveal much, but I'm also prone to mistyping names likes Eyjafjallajokull when I've got a bit of nyquil in my system.


Actually, I'd been following this eruption since the original fissure formed in March. That's why I find it curious the strength isn't waning despite this being a secondary eruption via a new magma channel.

As for the environmental issue, like? The floods in Iceland are the biggest problem. The ash cloud is far too dispersed to affect light levels or cause significant problems should it settle on farmland, since a large chunk of the plume is steam with dispersed ash at a level to harm gas turbines, but not to affect climate.

Also, I never get tired of reading Capt. Moody's recounting of the tale about BA Flight 9.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby clintonius » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:31 pm UTC

The flooding is part of what I'm curious about. I'd also like to know if scientists anticipate any further ramifications due to glacial melt -- interruptions to the Gulf Stream, etc. I'm ignorant as all hell when it comes to those matters and would love to learn.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:05 pm UTC

The Eruptions science blog is a good source for the latest on this issue from a fairly well connected volcanologist. I have been wondering if the glaciers will suffer slower melting from the ash cloud blocking sunlight, or whether it falling on the ice will enable a positive feedback in more melting.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Paranoid__Android » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:14 pm UTC

Well snow/ice is white and reflective, wheras ash is dull and grey, I'm pretty sure it will have a warming effect on the glaciers.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Admiral Valdemar » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:23 pm UTC

Yes, but I'm wondering to what extent, and whether the cloud hovering above will negate any bonus melting once it settles. So far, it seems the plume is being carried across Europe and Scandinavia and not really falling heavily enough yet.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Paranoid__Android » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

Oh right, sorry, I misread your post.
Short answer- I don't really know.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Telchar » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:52 pm UTC

I think global climate ramifications at this point, with so little time to collect data, would be purely speculative.
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby AnotherOne20150728 » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:33 pm UTC

Article
ScientificAmerican wrote:By far the more substantive climatic effect from volcanoes results from the production of atmospheric haze. Large eruption columns inject ash particles and sulfur-rich gases into the troposphere and stratosphere and these clouds can circle the globe within weeks of the volcanic activity. The small ash particles decrease the amount of sunlight reaching the surface of the earth and lower average global temperatures. The sulfurous gases combine with water in the atmosphere to form acidic aerosols that also absorb incoming solar radiation and scatter it back out into space.


History/science show that they have a cooling effect.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby fjafjan » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:53 pm UTC

Paranoid__Android wrote:Well snow/ice is white and reflective, wheras ash is dull and grey, I'm pretty sure it will have a warming effect on the glaciers.

Well the ash is very far up into the athmosphere, so any heat that WOULD be absorbed there will be radiated away, whereas anything absorbed on the surface will be both reflected back, as well as quickly absorbed via conduction.
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Telchar
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Telchar » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:39 pm UTC

I think we know that ash in the upper atmosphere will have a cooling effect, but how much and for how long is speculative without an analogous situation. I know it's erupted in the past, but I recall it being before we could compare things like ash volume, compositon, or sunlight variation. Unless you can do those through geological record, which would be cool.
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Sheikh al-Majaneen
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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:20 pm UTC

If this goes on for two years like the last time, I forsee trains traveling to places with airports, which are not covered by the ash cloud, to get very busy.

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Re: It's Volcano time again

Postby kernelpanic » Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:55 pm UTC

Admiral Valdemar wrote:the biggest science story of the year

Ahem.
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