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Toba catastrophe theory (wikipedia.org)
66 points by flaviojuvenal on Oct 19, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

Is this apropos of some discussion I missed, or just a cool “Today I Learned” link?

I actually read this particular article just a week ago (Baader-Meinhof, etc.) when following links for another cataclysmic event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manicouagan_impact_crater

It still amazes me just what an incredible resource Wikipedia is.

It lacks some paleoalignment pictures to illustrate the facts.

See http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S092054460800003... for the end carnian impacts - perfect alignment between Manitoba, Quebec, France and Azerbaijan craters

I find the bottleneck theory fascinating - for example it seems there is one gene now identified that in the six cases where it is missing the people simply cannot talk. Now was that mutation Pre or post bottleneck? If Pre, what was spread of talking beforehand - was there a family advantage - or did it take a whole talking species to have an advantage?

How on earth you can answer those questions is beyond me but what makes us human is such a fascinating study

(and on the "no eugenics here front" what really makes us human is our humanity)

Are you talking about FOXP2? If so, absence of it foremost affects the motor control of speech organs. There also seems to be some effect on the actual brain functions that are usually associated with speech, but it is hard to say if this is really caused by the absence of the gene or by the developmental damage caused by its effects. It always seems tricky to me to pinpoint something as complex as language (and by extension speech) onto a single gene given the multitude of functions that are involved.

> The last eruption had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as "mega-colossal")

I'm not going to lie - this made me giggle.

Assuming this theory holds - then at one point in time all our futures depended on the actions of less than 1000 people - which makes me wonder about our future generations. Will they say the same thing about us living on planet earth?

I assume "1000 breeding pairs" means at least 2000 people. Elsewhere the article mentions an estimate of "3000 to 10000" survivors.

Either way, if true, it's an fascinating picture. Most of us will have more people within a few miles radius than once lived over all the Earth.

I wonder what sort of traits might have been passed on had the predicted disaster not occurred.

With some googling and clicking around I couldn't find what the estimated population was before the disaster.

Anyone know?

Are we prepared for such an eruption today, and what can we do to prevent/fight consequences?

You should go visit Yellowstone. That way you can stand on a supervolcano that is due to blow any day now (using geological timelines). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Caldera#Volcanic_ha...

Some idea of what would happen when it blows: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/supervolcano/arti...

People are very resilient so I have no doubt that some would survive, adapt and then flourish. No worries for the species.

The effects could be minimised through standard civil defense type measures. However it would require far greater cross border cooperation than is typical today.

I think it would really push geo-engineering to a whole new level.

Rapid global cooling would render huge chunks of landmass virtually useless and put many of the worlds most economically important cities under a glacier, so governments would be quickly pressured to fund drastic measures to re-stabilize the climate before we have another ice-age.

Follow-on question: Are we prepared for the consequences of everyone's taxes quintupling, to prevent/fight the consequences of such an eruption? (Not considering the massive corruption increase caused by such tax increase.)

Well we did make it through last time with much fewer resources...

Sure but the thing about already living in the stone age is that being knocked back to the stone age isn't so much a catastrophe as it is Tuesday.

I dunno... Sometimes I miss the good 'ole days.

That sounds like a great concept for a TV show.

I've been there 2 years ago and the lake is so immensely huge. Difficult to imagine how powerful the eruption that made it.


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