Month: September, 2022

There Used To Be An Island Here

Thousands of years ago, when the ocean levels were lower, an inhabited island once existed between Great Britain and Denmark. Who were the people who lived there? And what happened to Doggerland?

TRANSCRIPT:

In 1931, a fishing trawler was working in the North Sea in an area known as Dogger Bank, it’s an undersea raised formation about halfway between Britain and Denmark – it’s a popular spot for fishing because the water is shallower there, and that’s actually how it got its name, a Dogger is a type of Danish fishing boat.

Anyway, on this one particular fishing trip, they trawled a little too low and scraped the sea floor and pulled some of that floor up with it.

And as they were digging that sea floor stuff out of their nets they realized that what they had actually dug up underneath the sediment was peat.

Now this is weird right away because peat is a nutrient-dense organic soil that’s made from decomposing plant life over thousands of years, which suggests there was once dense vegetation there, totally not what one would expect at the bottom of the ocean.

But even weirder was that mixed in with that peat, they found this. A stone-age barbed hunting spear made out of antler bone.
What was this doing in the middle of the ocean? Was it dropped off a stone age boat? Did stone age boats even exist?

To get some clarity on this, they analyzed some of the peat from the same area and found pollen that suggested that the area was once a mixed woodland – in other words… This used to be dry land. Dry land with people living on it.

So… What happened?

To say that the world used to be different is the most obvious statement ever made. Of course continents have shifted and changed over time – South America used to spoon up against Africa in the giant continental orgy we call Pangea.

Ooh, naughty geology.

Hell, fossils of sea creatures have been found here in North Texas because back in the Cretaceous, there was an ocean here. It was called the Western Interior Seaway.

But these are things that take place over geologic time, hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. The idea that it could happen during the span of human history – and fairly recent human history at that – is kinda mind-boggling.

And yet, that’s what happened in this area of the North Sea that was once inhabited land. An area now known as Doggerland.

So what caused this to happen? The short answer, is the same thing that killed the dinosaurs… According to Batman and Robin.

Terrible pun. And even worse science.

No, the ice age didn’t kill the dinosaurs, but it did lower sea levels all around the world.

And this changed the map in a lot of ways. In Australia, it gave it this nice little peninsula that merged it with Papua New Guinea.

Just northwest of there, Vietnam and Cambodia merged with Indonesia and Brunei to create this giant land mass bigger than India today.

Speaking of India, it once had a peninsula where the island of Sri Lanka is now.

Saudi Arabia was merged with Iran with no Persian Gulf in between them.

And perhaps most famously, a land bridge formed over the Bering Strait, connecting the Eastern and Western hemispheres, allowing animals and humans to migrate into North America.
And in Northern Europe, the British isles merged with the mainland, forming this region that we’re talking about today.

The reason for this drop in

sea levels was, of course, the massive ice sheets that formed over the Northern Hemisphere during the Late Glacial Maximum.

This was a period where just incomprehensibly large miles-high glaciers began creeping down from the arctic starting about 33,000 years ago, and reaching their peak at around 25,000 years ago and finally retreating around 14,000 years ago.

It’s thought that 8% of the Earth’s surface was covered in this thick ice, and sea levels dropped by 125 meters. All because the average temperature dropped by 6 degrees celsius. (11 degrees F).

Now I’ve been calling this the “Late Glacial Maximum,” it’s also often called the “Last Glacial Maximum.” Because it’s not the only time this happened. It happened a lot actually over the years.

From about 800,000 to 500,000 years ago there was the Cromerian Stage, followed by the Elster Ice Age about 450,000 to 300,000 years ago.

This was when Neanderthals and Homo Heidelbergensis entered the scene, leaving behind flint rocks and wooden spears that have been found all over Northern Europe, including in Doggerland.

This was followed by the Saalian Glaciation from 300,000 to about 150,000 years ago, then the Earth had a warming cycle called the Eemian period that started about 120,000 years ago.

This caused ocean levels to rise by 9 meters, and put Doggerland back under water. This would actually happen several times, it would be inhabited, then it would flood, then dry and inhabited, over and over again.

The last of these glacial periods was the Weichselian Glaciation, this began 115,000 years ago, and would last until about 12,000 years ago.

This was the period that encompassed the Last Glacial Maximum and would bring an end to the Pleistocene Age. It was also when we, homo sapiens came on the scene in Northern Europe around 40,000 years ago.

The Pleistocene actually ended with a bit of a last hurrah, with a warming period from 14,690 to 12,890 years ago called the Bølling–Allerød interstadial, followed by the Younger Dryas, a rapid cooling period between 12,900 to 11,700 years ago.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%B8lling%E2%80%93Aller%C3%B8d_warming

This is when temperatures leveled off into the Holocene period, which is the era we’re living in today.

Now that was a lot of history to cover in a very small amount of time, so a ton got left out, but that brings us to what you might call the Golden Years of Doggerland.

Before the glaciers truly melted away and the seas rose, Doggerland was a lush woodland, populated by mammoths, bison, reindeer, and horses. And some more surprising animals like lions and hyenas.

This was like a Golden Corral all you can eat buffet for early humans in the area, and just to put this into perspective, the Pyramids of Giza wouldn’t be built for another 9,000 years.

Not only was hunting plentiful but fishing was relatively easy, and it boasted a slurry of tree species like Oak, Hazel, Birch, Pine, and Juniper.

It was the Ahrensburg people who populated Doggerland for much of this time, they were an early hunter-gatherer civilization that emerged after the climate shifts caused a change in ecosystems.

Ahrensburg items have been found in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, North France, and Eastern England, and it’s thought that Doggerland may have been especially popular during the Winter following the migration of reindeer.

And they’ve found similar barbed spears in Ahrensburg settlements much like the one they found on Dogger bank.

They were a group of nomadic tribes so they didn’t set up cities in Doggerland or anything, which is a good thing because as we already know, Doggerland’s days were numbered.

As the glaciers continued to melt and the water slowly rose, much of Doggerland became marshy wetlands, which actually still made for some pretty good hunting grounds for humans because it kept out other predators like sabre-tooth cats.

The Dogger Bank area was higher in elevation so probably still more dry and woody

But then, around 9,000 years ago, an event took place on the other side of the world that pretty much sealed its fate.

In North America, as the Laurentide Ice Sheet melted and receded northward, it left behind a massive lake just to the northwest of the current Great Lakes, called Lake Agassiz.

Lake Agassiz was bigger than all the Great Lakes combined, it covered 440,000 square kilometers, larger than any lake currently existing today – similar in size to the Black Sea.

And when that ice sheet receded past Hudson Bay, all that water – a Black Sea worth of water – spilled into Hudson Bay, which was connected to the Atlantic Ocean.

This rose ocean levels around the world practically overnight, and most of Doggerland slipped under the water. And Dogger Bank bank became Dogger Island.

Some suggest that the Lake Agassiz event might be the source of all the flood myths from all around the ancient world because it raised ocean levels everywhere.

And just like today, people back then tended to settle along coastlines. It’s likely a LOT of settlements got wiped out. Including Doggerland.

But this isn’t why they call Doggerland the Atlantis of the North Sea. No, at this point, Dogger Island still remained, along with a small land bridge connecting Britain to the mainland.

And Dogger Island wasn’t small, it was 23,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Sardinia.

Oh, and fun fact, in this same area is the world’s oldest boat. A canoe was found and is dated to be around 7750 BCE, so it’s possible people could have even traveled to it.
No, it was another event that has led some to call it Atlantis.

Around 6200 BCE, so 8200 years ago, the North Sea was hit with a series of massive tsunamis caused by the Storegga Slide.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storegga_Slide

That might sound like a dance you might do at a cousin’s wedding but the Storegga Slide was an underwater landslide that occurred when a massive chunk of the continental shelf broke off and displaced 3500 cubic meters of debris. That’s 840 cubic miles.

That’s basically like if an asteroid 9.5 miles wide dropped into the North Sea.

Experts suggest that this mega-tsunami wiped out both the remaining land bridge and Dogger Island, effectively wiping out any civilizations that might have remained there and separating Britain from mainland Europe.

You could call it the first Brexit.

Now, to the best of our knowledge, any remaining groups still living on Dogger Island were likely hunter-gatherers so the idea that an advanced and powerful civilization got wiped out like the Atlantis myth is kind-of a non-starter.

But it was an inhabited island that literally sank into the ocean in a cataclysmic event.

Of course nothing in science is that cut and dried, there is evidence to show that this happened, like the distribution of sand and clay in the area.

But other findings based off sediment cores suggest that it might have remained above water for several hundred years after the tsunami.
But investigations continue around Dogger Bank to learn more about what was lost all those years ago. Everything from lions to wooly mammoths to dozens more spear tips and tools.

As of right now, the youngest artifact found was from 6050 BCE.

Ironically, plans are in the works to use Dogger Bank to install an offshore wind farm, including a floating “artificial Island” in the same place a real island used to be.

Double ironically, the point of the wind farm is to help reduce the very kind of sea level rise that doomed it in the first place.

It’s a big project but there’s an even bigger project that has been discussed that could actually bring Dogger Island back.

I mean, it’s unlikely. But maybe?

Because of rising sea levels and cities like Amsterdam in the North Sea coming under threat, some proposals have been made to put a dam across the whole North Sea and The English Channel.

The plan is to extend a dam from Scotland and the Shetland Islands across to Norway and from the southwest coast of England to the Northwest tip of France.

This is being called the North European Enclosure Dam and it would not just protect the North Sea but also the Baltic Sea and all the cities that lie on that coast.

It’s a megaproject to say the least. The total length would be 657 kilometers, and it could cost up to $500 billion, but would protect the livelihoods and property of over 25 million people and prevent many times more cost in damages.

And hey, if they get really crazy with it, maybe they could pump out enough to bring Dogger Bank back out of the water, and discover all the secrets it holds.

Again, not likely, but an interesting thought.
And I mean, I think it would be cool to know more about the people who lived on Dogger Island. Like it’s easy to kinda blow it off say ah, they were stone age hunter/gatherers, so what but keep in mind, there were artists painting on cave walls going back 30,000 years.

One of my favorite things that I saw in Ireland on my trip there were stone circles and monuments and tombs dating back 6000 years.

These were mature civilizations with rituals and religions, and understanding of astronomy, they might not have been Atlantis but they were significant.

And since they lived on islands, that isolation probably created very distinct cultures that have now been completely lost to the sea.

Much like Ireland and Britain developed distinct cultures over thousands of years even though they were right next to each other. And this clash of cultures led to a catastrophe of its own that threatened to wipe out Irish culture.

This one, however, was entirely man-made.

The Irish Famine of the late 1840s was not the same as what happened in Doggerland. No tsunami was involved, but an argument could be made that it was the worst disaster that occurred in that area since Dogger Island was wiped away.

It was by far the biggest loss of life in that area – I mean, we have no way of knowing how many people were on Dogger Island when it went down, but it was undoubtably less than the millions of people who literally starved to death between the years of 1846 and 1849.

 

The Best Places To Live To Survive Climate Change

We hear a lot about ways to mitigate climate change, but as the effects start to pile up, we should probably talk about ways to prepare for the worst. So let’s look at the best places around the world to live to survive climate change.

TRANSCRIPT:

They say Texas is a state of extremes. And this summer has definitely lived up to that.

They say Texas is a state of extremes. And this summer has definitely lived up to that.
After two straight months of triple digit temperatures and almost no rain whatsoever, a storm blew through on the 22nd that caused widespread flooding here in Dallas.
How bad was it? Well according to Pete Delkus, the local weather guy around here, overnight it went from one of the driest Augusts on record to the 6th wettest.
Yeah. One storm.

Now, no one weather event is climate change, but climate change models predict more extreme weather events like this. And the extreme heat and drought that came before.
I talked earlier in the year about the problems with the Colorado River and not to pat myself on the back or anything but yeah… Everybody’s talking about that now.
There’s also the Great Salt Lake, which is 1/3rd the size it used to be and leaving behind dry lake beds filled with arsenic that could get blown around the city and cause health problems for hundreds of thousands of people.
The things is, we know this, we know that some places are going to be hit harder by climate change than others. We hear about that all the time. But what about the other places?

What are the places that could actually benefit from climate change?
Whenever you do a video on climate change, you will inevitably get that guy in the comments that points out that yes, climate change is a thing, because the climate it always changing, it always has changed, since long before humans got here, therefore it has nothing to do with us.
It does.

But let’s set that debate aside for the purposes of this video and focus on what we agree on…

1. The climate is always changing, it’s actually fluctuated quite wildly over geologic time.

2. The current change the climate is going through is it’s getting warmer. Kinda distressingly fast.

The best option we have for mitigating this is to change the  composition of our atmosphere to what it was 150 years ago or so. Hence the effort to get carbon dioxide levels down to where it was back then.
But even if we manage to cut all carbon emissions tomorrow, it would take decades, maybe centuries for things to stabilize, much less go back to where it was.
So while we do need to be doing all the things to mitigate it, we also need to accept that change is coming. And we are going to need to adapt.
It’s nothing new, throughout human history there have been farms that became deserts, land that became oceans – whole cities and civilizations have splintered, moved, or disappeared completely because the conditions that made it possible in the first place just… changed.
Different parts of the world have become more and less habitable as the global temperature has ebbed and flowed over the last 10,000 years of human history. Ten thousand years, by the way, that were actually remarkably stable in the big picture.
So as climate and ecosystems change, some areas will become more difficult to live in. But others will actually be easier to live in.

Ideal Conditions

There does seem to be a temperature range where humans thrive the most. Researchers call it the Human Climate Niche. And it’s fairly narrow.
At least according to a research study by ProPublica, most people have historically lived in places with a Mean Annual Temperature of 11 to 15 degrees Celsius, about 52 to 59 Fahrenheit.
And it turns out here in North America, historically anyway, we’ve been in that Human Niche.
For several thousand years, temperature and rainfall created desirable areas in a band from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast.  Some scattered regions, like the coast of California, are also ideal.

Climate Change Effects

But these ideal regions are changing. Over the next fifty years, the American Southeast is expected to continue getting warmer and drier. And this band of ideal conditions will shift north, nearly to Canada in some places.
And this is being optimistic. More drastic scenarios could see everything south of Colorado become uninhabitable.

Heat and Humidity

Southern states like Louisiana are famous for their humid heat.  In the future, Louisiana will be a steam bath, while states further up the Mississippi like Missouri and Kentucky could look a lot more like Louisiana today.
Ironically, changes in cloud cover could cause humidity to go up in the desert southwest, which will only add to the stifling heat there.
I mean, 110 degrees is one thing, but 110 degrees with 90% humidity? That’s a whole different thing.

Wildfires

But some places that could use that humidity is California and Oregon, where wildfires are expected to increase. Or I should say, continue to increase.

Sea-level Rise

On the east coast, sea-level rise will drive millions of people from their homes.  Don’t get me wrong, it’ll affect the Pacific coast too, but it’s not as densely populated.
Two-percent of New York County is expected to fall below the tide line.  That may not sound like a lot, but 8.4 million people live there.
It’s thought that 2 to 5% of property in Florida will be taken by the ocean and the various storms it produces. That equates to about  fifteen million people.
By the way, rising water levels are already having an effect in Florida.
Back in March Fox Weather did an article – yes, THAT Fox Weather –  about how popular spring break spots like Miami are already feeling the pain. 

Local businesses are seeing increased flooding, with water backing out of storm drains and going over sea walls.  Septic tanks have started flooding, sending their contents into the streets.
Obviously that’s not the Spring Break experience most people are looking for. [END TANGENT]
Now that may not be the most heartbreaking thing in the world, some frat bro’s gonna have to find a new place to shoot their Natty Lights, big deal. It’s not like our food is at stake.
Except our food is totally at stake.

Reduced Crop Yields

Experts predict crop yields will fall across most of the US, but especially in the South, from the East Coast to West Texas.
Some California crop yields will decline by 20 percent.  Avocados are expected to fall by 40 percent.
Reduced crop yields will increase the cost of meat. In Texas, 96% of our corn crop goes to livestock.  Imagine the price of beef when Texas farmers are growing 70% less corn.

Combined Effects

And it’s not like Texas, or anywhere else, will have to deal with one climate-related crisis at once.  Most areas are going to be hit with several, and these things are going to compound to make life miserable in a lot of states.
But not all.

Refuges: The Great Lakes States

As this Human Climate Niche shifts upward, the Great Lake States are likely to see a population boon.
As temperatures warm and winters become less severe, crop yields are expected to remain steady and the ample fresh water in the Great Lakes means they won’t be as vulnerable to droughts.
And their inland location means no sea level rise or hurricanes.
Rust-belt cities may see a return to peak populations.  Buffalo, New York hopes to reap the whirlwind.  The mayor declaring declared Buffalo a climate refuge awhile back.
Since then, the city has been working through a list of initiatives to make it resilient to climate change.

Refuges: Pro-active Cities

It’s one of a growing list of cities that are looking ahead with these effects in mind and making plans.
Boston, for example, is building roads, walkways, and seawalls to hold off an expected 1% sea-level rise.
New York City has been building a “flood protection system” since 2020, inspired by Hurricane Sandy.
Phoenix, Arizona is trying to combat heat by planting trees.  Phoenix is also looking to provide more shelter for homeless people, who are at the greatest risk of dying from heat.

 Lovable Underdogs

And credit where it’s due, the US government is still trying to keep New Orleans from washing away.

80% of the city was swamped by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The Army Corps of Engineers has been shoring up the levees ever since.
Unfortunately, those levees are sinking.  They’ll be mostly useless in about four years.  A new plan is underway to divert sediment from the Mississippi into nearby wetlands.

The plan will cost 1.5 billion dollars. But get this: some of the money is coming from BP, the company behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  BP’s money could buy New Orleans time.
But it won’t make it cooler.  In twenty or thirty years, the folks who live in New Orleans, or Phoenix, or Dallas, will have to learn to love heat, or leave it.  Some will definitely stay.
To be honest, that’s a discussion that we’ve been having around here lately. I mean, this summer was rough. And I’m really starting to question if I want to live the rest of my life in a place where you can’t really go outside for 3 months out of the year.

For all of these reasons, it’s thought that the US is going to have a population shift over the next several decades from the South to the North.
Now I make that sound like the South is going to empty out and everyone’s going to move up north, of course that’s not what’s going to happen. Some cities will shrink a little but probably it’s more like as the population grows, it’s going to grow faster in northern areas than southern ones.
Yeah, I actually don’t think we’re going to lose any whole cities, there are always going to be stalwarts who will stick around no matter what.

Hell there are still 5 people living in Centralia Pennsylvania, and it’s being swallowed up by an underground coal fire that’s been burning for 60 years. I did a whole video about it a while back.

Refuges: Other Alternatives

But if you’re not so ride-or-die for your hometown, you might consider a move to the Great Lakes in the coming years.
The ProPublica report also suggest areas in the Northeast like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and cities like Boston or Pittsburgh.
Other areas like Wyoming and Colorado look promising – their higher elevation means they’ll more temperate. Same for West Virginia.

The International Situation

Climate change is a global problem, pretty much every country is gonna get whacked by the climate stick.
So to find this answer, I’m using a report from a group called the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), they release a report every year since 2005 that lists countries by their climate protection.
This year’s report ranks Denmark, Sweden, and Norway near the top.

The list also puts India in the top ten.  But India is already the exception to the temperature rule.  Its Mean Annual Temperature is 26 degrees Celsius, nearly 80 Fahrenheit.

Refuges: The Scandinavian Countries

But in general, more northern countries will be the best bets, that’s why Scandinavian countries are close to the top – Finland and Iceland rated well too.
Iceland is an interesting example actually, because it’s already changed quite a bit due to melting glaciers.

Warmer seas have disrupted their fishing industry. But… crop yields are going up.
In fact, barley was abandoned a long time ago on Iceland but in the last couple decades it’s made a comeback and has actually become a valuable crop for farmers there.

Refuges: NZ, UK, AU, IR

But let’s say the fit really hits the shan and massive waves of climate refugees cause societies to collapse. Then you might want to find a lifeboat country. A lifeboat country, according to this report, is a country with good climate protection plans but are also geographically isolated and somewhat self-sustaining.
Good examples of this are New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.
Ireland has a 125-billion Euro plan to combat climate change.  More importantly, only 2 percent of the Irish economy depends on agriculture, which makes the country less vulnerable than its peers.

Then you’ve got Australia on the other side of things, they’ve so far not done much to mitigate climate change, but geographically they’re in a good place.
I should note that plenty of countries in Africa and South America have done amazing things in their climate efforts. Just their locations kept them off the top of this list.

Developing Countries

Which kinda brings me around to the most important point. Some places are just going to suffer more than others. And most of those are the poorer parts of the world.
Like this whole time I’ve been saying “maybe you should move here” or “This place might be better” but that’s just not an option for a lot of people.
Moving is not cheap. The ability to do it is kind-of a privilege.
And just to pile on to the point, these are the people who have contributed the least to the problem, but they’re going to suffer the most.
But then there are weird knock on effects that could be both a blessing and a curse. Like Greenland.

A Greener Greenland?

I considered putting Greenland on the list of refuge countries. Because as its ice melts, more farmland is going to open up. Meaning someday Greenland might actually be green.
Right now only 2 of every 10,000 acres of land on Greenland is good for farming.

Obviously this sounds like a good thing, more green… land would be better. And it is in terms of having new land to put cash crops on… but it also puts a target on their back.
Right now, Greenland is one of the most contested pieces of real estate on the planet.  It’s coveted by China, Russia, and the US, among others.
Aside from valuable cropland, there’s also thought to be a wealth of rare earth metals under the ice.
And natives are already fighting to protect their land.  A law was passed in 2021 to block uranium mining near the port of Narsaq.

Time to Invest

But it’s safe to say that investors are smelling the chum in the water. Not just because of new lands that are opening up but as sea ice thaws in the arctic, new shipping lanes are opening up as well.
There are already predictions that port cities in Greenland and Northern Canada that are barely more than villages right now are going to explode in the coming decades, both in population and importance.

Now before I get accused of putting too much of a positive spin on this, I just want to reiterate, none of this is good. None of it.
Humans have spent the last 10 to 20,000 years settling in a nice little goldilocks zone here on Earth. And as things warm up and that zone moves away from the equator, we are likely to see mass migrations of people at a scale never before imaginable.
If you have the ability to, say, just pack up and buy a house in the Great Lakes region, you are one of the lucky ones. If you already have a home in the Great Lakes region, (pop in, menacing)

Gimme it. Gimme it now.
But don’t forget there are billions of people around the world who could be displaced in the coming decades.
If we’re lucky, this will happen slowly and gradually enough that it’ll feel natural. But I fear that if we’re going to talk about adapting to the effects of climate change, one of those effects will be massive social unrest.
But if I may try to end this on something resembling a positive note, massive social unrest often leads to positive social changes in the long run. Because something was out of balance that caused the unrest in the first place.
That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. So, if you have the means to do so, the time to prepare is now.

I’m curious to hear what you guys think, would you be willing to move to avoid climate change problems? Is there anything specific that would make you decide it’s time to do that? Share your opinion with the thousands of trolls and bots down below.

 

ASMR Does Something Weird To Our Brains | Answers With Joe

If you’ve been on the internet for more than 5 minutes, you’ve probably heard of ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s the weird – but pleasant – sensation some people get from certain trigger sounds or sensations. It’s sparked an entire industry of content, but it’s still a bit of a mystery. Let’s try to get to the bottom of it.

TRANSCRIPT:

It’s been called The Tingles, Whisper Porn, even Brain Orgasms. And much like regular orgasms, some people just can’t have them.It’s been called The Tingles, Whisper Porn, even Brain Orgasms. And much like regular orgasms, some people just can’t have them.
So I’ve been told. By some girlfriends.
It’s called ASMR, and if you haven’t heard of it, well, welcome to the internet.

It’s a sensation that people have probably felt for thousands of years, but it was only after the internet came along that millions of people looked at each other and said, “Oh, you too?”
ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response,” and it was coined by a woman named named Jennifer Allen in 2010.
She was part of a Reddit thread that was trying to get to the bottom of the phenomenon. And it kinda stuck. It was a clinical-sounding name designed to make it easier to talk about but also make it sound more legitimate to researchers. Not to mention negate associations with sexual fetishism. Because it’s not a sexual thing, even though they call it “whisper porn” and “brain orgasms,” and… every search result you get.

Dr. Craig Richard, from Shenandoah University in Virginia is an ASMR expert and created an online resource called ASMR University.
He’s also the author of the book Brain Tingles where he describes ASMR as:

“… a deeply relaxing feeling often accompanied by light and pleasurable brain tingles. It’s often stimulated during moments of positive, personal attention from a kind or caring person whispering, speaking, acting, and moving in a gentle way. It may be likely that about 10-20% of the global population is able to experience ASMR.”
Up until 2010, ASMR was sometimes called “The Unnamed Feeling,” “Weird Head Sensation,” and “Attention Induced Euphoria.”
It was also called “(head)tingle(s),” “head orgasm, and “braingasm.”

A person going by the screen name WhisperingLife uploaded the first, intentional ASMR video to YouTube in 2009.
It’s called “Whisper 1 — hello,” and it consists of a black screen and a lo-fi, whispered recording of her talking about making a YouTube channel specifically for whispering.
Since then, ASMR content has exploded online. When researching this video, a Google search brought up 244 million videos.

So you’re watching the 244 million and first video ever uploaded about ASMR.
It’s even making its way into mainstream commercials.
Hershey’s Chocolate Co. released an almost 90-minute online video titled “Reese The Movie: An ASMR Experience” in 2019.
The company brought together five popular ASMR creators to sit at a round table in an orange room and take turns whispering about the candy, along with crinkling its wrappers and eating the peanut butter cups.
Michelob Ultra ran a commercial during the Super Bowl in 2019 that had Zoe Kravitz whispering into a microphone and tapping her fingernails against a bottle.

So, how does ASMR work? What happens on a physiological level when it’s triggered? 

ASMR isn’t experienced by everyone. But for those who do, it usually starts in childhood.
Like you might feel tingles when your head was checked for lice or fingers running through your hair.
Or maybe you felt tingles when someone would trace a finger across your back.  (which to me doesn’t sound that strange, doesn’t everybody get a shiver?)

There are also consistencies in ASMR triggers. These include

Like some people have trouble experiencing them in clinical lab situations. For obvious reasons.
Its’ also kinda hard to determine whether people are having “true” ASMR experiences.
Regardless, there’ve been several studies over the last few years that look into the personalities of those who can experience it.
To better understand what happens to the brain, Dr. Richard and co-researchers had 10 participants watch ASMR videos in an fMRI machine for a study in 2018.
The participants’ brains showed significant activation in areas associated with reward and emotional arousal.
Brain activation also showed similarities to patterns observed in musical frisson, also known as music chills because of a chills-down-the-spine sensation.
As Dr. Richard told National Geographic in March 2022:

“[The study] showed that specific areas of the brain are active when someone is experiencing ASMR. Some of these regions highlight the likely involvement of dopamine and oxytocin.”
Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone.” Behaviors that trigger oxytocin release are similar to behaviors that trigger ASMR.
Oxytocin can also stimulate states of relaxation and comfort, which are similar to ASMR feelings. 
Another study in 2017 focused on the default mode network (DMN) of the brain.

This gets a little in the weeds but the default mode network is made up of several modules in your brain and it’s kind-of on when you’re not.
Like if you’re focusing on a task, something external, then the network is less active. But if you’re kinda relaxed and looking inward; thinking – being introspective, that’s when it becomes more active.

And in this study, they measured the DMN activity of 11 people who could experience ASMR and 11 people who can’t. And they found that there was less functional connectivity in people who can experience ASMR.
In other words, all those different modules that make up the DMN had weaker connections in the ASMR group. Possibly making it easier for certain sensory stimuli to kinda short it out.
But they also found higher connectivity in certain parts of the brain that manage executive control and visual resting-state networks.

To put all that together into some sexy science speak:

The researchers suggest that it’s possible that “ASMR reflects a reduced ability to inhibit sensory-emotional experiences that are suppressed in most individuals.”

In other words, it might be something that we all feel, but for most of us it gets suppressed in the brain.
The researchers made sure to point out this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with people who experience ASMR, it’s not a mental disorder or anything. In fact, it may be actually be helpful as a tool to cope with depression or stress.
Speaking of coping, two studies published in PLOS ONE in 2018 looked into the physiological benefits of the ASMR experience, especially when watching videos.

One of the two studies showed reduced heart rates and increased skin conductance levels and said it could be “a reliable and physiologically-rooted experience that may have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health.”
The researchers specifically noted in both studies that ASMR is not associated with sexual arousal.

As the researchers wrote:
“This misconception may arise from the often interpersonal and intimate nature of some ASMR videos, but our research indicates that sexual arousal is not a reliable outcome of watching ASMR videos.”
The boobs in the thumbnails are just a bonus I guess.

Then there’s a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality in April 2022 focused on sensitivity.
The study looked at 500 people and showed that people who experience ASMR scored significantly higher on tests involving  external hypersensitivity and body perception.
But as one of the researchers pointed out, this does have a downside. Saying:

“Highly sensitive people may be able to experience intensely pleasurable feelings like ASMR but this high sensitivity also has downsides. For example, the noise of a pen clicking or someone chewing gum could set off a negative reaction, which others would simply ignore.”
There is actually a term for what could be considered the opposite of ASMR, misophonia, where you experience discomfort or disgust at certain sounds.
Another study from February 2022 suggests ASMR experiencers may be more neurotic and have more baseline anxiety than non- experiencers.
This suggests that they may be more prone to experiencing negative emotional states as well as anxiety disorders. The good news is that they suggest the ASMR experience can help mitigate that.
One last study worth mentioning was published in Frontiers of Psychology in 2017 that focused on personality traits.

They studied 290 ASMR experiencers and 290 controls and found that the ASMR group demonstrated higher scores on Openness-to-Experience and Neuroticism and lower levels of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness when compared to the controls.
In other words, introverts may be more likely to have them.

They said:
“It may be that inward looking people are more likely to experience ASMR symptoms than more sociable, outward looking people. Alternatively, the ASMR symptoms may lead people to be less sociable and more introspective.”

Little bit of a chicken and egg thing there but especially if the hypersensitivity to stimuli thing is true, then yeah, I can imagine those people preferring to be in a more relaxed, quiet setting.
So, what are we to make of all of this? ASMR is non-sexual… (thumbnails) really… some people who experience it may have more anxiety than others, may be more introverted than others, but the experience is a beneficial one for them.

Also, ASMR could be triggering memories from infancy.
In fact, Dr. Richard thinks the quality that is underneath almost all ASMR videos is a “tranquil, womb-like intimacy.”

He believes that sounds like towel folding and whispering are about triggering the experience of being loved.
When his study participants were asked how they most prefer to experience ASMR outside of videos, they ranked receiving light touches with their eyes closed first.

Sound triggers were ranked second, and visual ones below that.
And he points out that interestingly, this is how our senses develop over time.

When you’re born, you receive most of your information about the world through touch. Parents often coddle and stroke their newborns.
So, ASMR could be an experience of reliving your newborn time.

As Dr. Richard told Smithsonian Magazine in 2017:
“The reason people can get tingles and feel relaxed and comforted listening to Maria GentleWhispering is because she’s acting very much the way a parent would care for you, with the caring glances, gentle speech and soothing hand movements.”

This is classic pattern recognition. Our brains recognize the pattern of someone who cares, and that comforts us. And it activates that oxytocin that makes us feel good.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about – feeling loved and cared for. After all the studies, all the theories, all the debates, it’s really just the deep down universal human need to feel loved.
So if you are into ASMR content and someone tries to give you crap for it, you’ve got the perfect comeback.

So, do you experience ASMR? If so, what’s your trigger? Or misophonia? Anything weird you can’t stand to hear?
My little weird thing is when people wear thong sandals and they kinda slap the bottom of their feet as they walk…  I don’t know why, I hate it. Just… (react)
But either way, if you do enjoy a good brain tingle, I say go for it.  Life is hard, times are tough, self care is important.

 

…And Then 1700 People Died.

This sounds crazy, but it’s true. There are lakes in the world that randomly explode, and it works in much the same way as soda cans, but on a massive scale, and cause massive death and destruction. They’re called limnic eruptions, and they’re super weird.

TRANSCRIPT:

Maybe I should do the whole Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle thing in my carport and then explain why it does this. Something about how the chemicals in mentos rapidly pull CO2 out of the carbonated water.

I’ve never actually done this…

Well that made a mess. And it’s like a hundred degrees out here so… I’m going to do the explanation part of this inside.

After I clean this up.

Carbonation happens when carbon dioxide dissolves in water to make carbonic acid, and it does this through pressure. Reason number 1001 that pressure changes everything.

There’s a couple of different ways to do this. Beer makers for thousands of years would add sugar and yeast into a sealed container – the yeast eats the sugar and produces CO2, which with no place to go builds up pressure and dissolves into the water.

This… can go badly.

Today, soda companies add fizz to drinks by injecting carbon dioxide into water and pressurizing it.
To get a little nerdier, the chemical reaction looks like this: H2O plus CO2 produces H2CO3 in dynamic equilibrium. The “dynamic equilibrium” part means the reaction can go left-to-right or right-to-left.
Add pressure, and the reaction goes to the right. Release that pressure, and the process reverses.

So when you open a soda can…

That sound is water and CO2 breaking up. Still a better love story than Twilight.

That’s the sound of water crying.

But why does Mentos make it so explosive? Well the surface of the Mentos is rough, and that rough surface which creates millions of tiny spots where the water and CO2 can break apart, and because they’re heavy, they sink to the bottom, allowing more of the surface to be in contact with the water.

Now this is just a fun little science experiment that might help teach about how soda works but mostly it’s just fun blowing stuff up.

But it turns out, this can happen in nature, on a massive scale. And it’s not quite so fun.

The Lake Monoun Disaster

Late in the evening of August 15, 1984, an explosion rocked the residents of the village of Njindoun in Cameroon. They told police the next morning the sound had come from the direction of Lake Monoun, 5 kilometers to the south.

A policeman went to the lake to investigate, and he brought a doctor with him just in case anybody was hurt. And before they even reached the lake, they came across a strange cloud.

It looked like pale smoke and kind-of hovered near the ground, only reaching a height of about 3 meters. But before they got a chance to really investigate it, they both started feeling sick, so they got out of there.

Once the cloud dispersed, they came back to the area and discovered that whatever that cloud was… it killed everything.

Strewn all over the place were bodies of animals and birds… and 37 people. All of them asphyxiated, and many had strange blisters all over their skin.

The investigators were baffled. There was flattened vegetation around the lake that suggested a 5-meter high wave had crashed at the shore, and there was a sulfurous odor in the area.

As time went on and no answers were found, rumors started to spread that the deaths had been deliberate. Maybe even some kind of biological weapon.

Why Did it Happen?

This, of course, got the attention of the U. S. government. Because weapons… That’s OUR thing.

So they asked Professor Haraldur Sigurdsson to investigate. He is not only the most Icelandic sounding human being alive, he is also an expert volcanologist and geochemist. Which… being from Iceland would make sense.

In fact I believe he popped up in my supervolcanoes video.

And he’s the right person for the job because Lake Monoun was created by a volcanic eruption way back in the day, and it’s actually one of 38 lakes that lie on a chain of volcanoes called the Cameroon Line.

As part of his investigation, he interviewed locals went went out into the lake on a boat to take samples.

It turned out finding the right spot was easy because bubbles were still breaking the surface.

And what he figured out was that these bubbles were carbon dioxide. The lake had become saturated with it and these bubbles were the lake literally fizzing just like a carbonated soda.

Only something caused this lake to erupt. Something was the Mentos that caused this lake to explode. And in the process released so much carbon dioxide gas that everything and everyone in the area choked to death.

After two years of studying this eruption, Haraldur published his theory and gave the phenomenon a name. Limnic eruptions.

Danger at Depth

Well how does a lake get saturated with CO2? It’s the same as with the beer and soda examples earlier – you add pressure.

And it turns out an easy way to add more pressure is just add more water.

If a lake is deep enough, water at the bottom will be under so much pressure from the weight of the water above that water will bond with carbon dioxide, just like in soda.

Now, most lakes absorb CO2 from the air, but since the source of the CO2 is at the top where the pressure is low, it doesn’t become carbonated.

So for that water down at the bottom to become saturated, there has to be a source of carbon dioxide down at the bottom of that lake.

And there are two sources that fit that bill – volcanic gas vents and decomposing plant or animal matter. Both of which create methane, too, which also can dissolve under pressure.
And what happens when lake water combines with CO2 or methane at depth? Well, nothing, so long as the pressure stays high. But if pressure drops….

Imagine fifty billion Mentos falling into a hundred billion liters of Diet Coke. This is a phenomenon that Haraldur Sigurdsson called Lake Overturn.

And Lake Monoun isn’t the only lake to experience this, or the deadliest. Actually, not even close.

The Lake Nyos Disaster

Literally 2 months after Haraldur Sigurdsson published his findings, a second event occurred only 100km away at Lake Nyos.

Around 9 PM on August 21, 1986, people living near the lake heard a rumble. A wind caused some to pass out.

The next day, investigators found the lake transformed. The blue waters had turned red, from iron being dredged from the depths.

They found that a massive wave had struck portions of the lakeshore, with water cresting as high as 100 meters in some places.

It damaged the contours of the lake so much it dried out a waterfall.

But far more disturbing was the death around the lake. It wiped out literally everything.

Eyewitnesses described a chilling silence in the area. No bird calls, no animals moving around. Not even any bugs.

I think the creepiest detail from the eyewitness accounts was the absence of flies. Dead bodies were all over the place and none of them had any flies on them. Because even the flies were dead.

The human death toll in the end came out to 1,746 people. This was a massive disaster. And it brought a lot more experts to Cameroon.

They found blisters on the bodies, as they had at Lake Monoun. This lead some to believe that a volcano had erupted. But volcanoes… let’s just say they aren’t that subtle.

Volcanic eruptions throw out huge quantities of rock and ash, create lava flows, and release sulfur in the air. Now you might remember reports of a sulfur smell at Lake Monoun, well it was also smelled by Nyos survivors, but when investigators couldn’t find evidence of elevated sulfur levels anywhere.

The water was also too cool to have suffered a volcanic eruption. Investigators found that if it was volcanic the water would be 40 degrees Celsius warmer.

It was pretty clear that CO2 was the culprit for the deaths, in fact, one of the key investigators name George Kling took a sample of Lake Nyos water and said it literally exploded from its container.

Unanswered Questions

But there were still some major questions around this. Number one was the smell. CO2 doesn’t smell like sulfur.

On the other hand, it has been known to trigger sensory hallucinations. Maybe the sulfurous odor was an illusion.

Or maybe the survivors did smell sulfur, but at such low doses, it left only traces were found.

What about the blisters? One theory was that it wasn’t carbon dioxide but carbon monoxide, which has been known to cause blisters, by limiting the circulation of blood to a person’s skin.

Or they could have been caused by trace, toxic gases mixed in the CO2 cloud.

Which leaves only the big question. Why, exactly, did the lakes erupt? What caused that pressure drop that set everything in motion?

Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos appear to have been accumulating gases for some time. Both are thought to be fed by “soda springs” that carry gasses from deep underground.

One theory was that a landslide may have broken the lake’s seal. Or a volcanic eruption that was too small to leave direct signs.

Both disasters occurred during monsoon season, so George Kling suggests a rain storm might have cooled the water and allowed the deep water to rise, which would lower the pressure.
We may never have all the answers to these two eruptions. But we do know arguably the most important thing – how to prevent them in the future.

Degassing Efforts

In 1990, a team of engineers added plumbing to the exploding lakes. There were money problems and it took a while to build but they basically installed artificial fountains that let the gassy water escape from the depths.

Nyos was so saturated the fountain shot up to 45 meters high. At first. It’s gone down since then, which is a good thing, that means it’s working.

And yeah, thanks to these efforts, Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun are now considered safe.

But… in the words of the great Master Yoda… There is another.

Lake Kivu’s Danger

About 2000 kilometers west of Lake Monoun lies Lake Kivu. Kivu is not only much larger and considerably deeper than these two lakes, but it’s also sitting on top of volcanic vents that have been releasing gas into it for thousands of years.

Yeah, they estimated in 2021 that the amount of CO2 in Lake Kivu equals as much as 5% of global CO2 emissions. That’s in one lake.

So if Lake Kivu exploded, that would be bad for, like, everyone. But for the people nearby… It would be an absolute disaster.
https://www.nature.com/immersive/d41586-021-02523-5/index.html

Actually, no Lake Nyos was a disaster, and that was with a population of 14,000 people living around it. Lake Kivu is on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And there are nearly 2 million people living around it.

And it’s also bordered by an active volcano, Mount Nyiragongo, which actually erupted in May of 2021. Half a million people had eo evacuate. Luckily Kivu didn’t explode.

Actually the size of Kivu might be its saving grace. It’s just so big and heavy it can keep that pressurized gas trapped down there.

But don’t relax too much because it also contains huge amounts of methane, which is more prone to the overturn effect.

The upside to methane is that it’s a natural gas, so if you can get it out of the lake, you can sell it. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Power Plant Plans

In 2015 a new power plant came on line called KivuWatt that’s currently delivering 26 MegaWatts of electricity to the Rwandan power grid. I mean talk about a win-win.

Of course every rose has its thorn. Some experts are concerned that methane extraction can destroy the layer of dense water that keeps the gasses trapped.

And if that doesn’t trigger an explosion directly, it could make the lake more sensitive to other triggers, like Mount Nyiragongo.

On top of that, many of the locals make a living by fishing the lake, and there are concerns that the methane extraction could stir up other toxic gasses that the volcanic vents have been releasing.

To be fair, the Rwandan government is monitoring the water and so far, so good.

But KivuWatt isn’t a perfect solution. At their current rate, they will extract less than 5% of the lake’s methane in 25 years. Plans to expand are in place, but they have moved slowly.

Of course, they kind of have to. Lake Kivu is a time bomb.

Except with a time bomb, at least you know how much time is left.

So next time you crack open a soda, just remember you’re flirting with some dangerous chemistry. and don’t get me started on the sugar, it’s bad for you…So bad for you.

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