2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
Beachgoers, frolicking in the warm waters of Indonesia's Indian coast, look up and see a strange sight on the horizon: A swell of water. But curiosity turns to panic as the swell nears land and amplifies into a 100-foot (30-meter) wave hell-bent on destroying everything in its path.
It all started on Dec. 26, 2004, when a 9.1-magnitude earthquake shook the bottom of the Indian Ocean with the force of 23,000 atomic bombs. The movement of the seafloor thrust a tsunami in all directions, like the ripples of a stone tossed in a pond. By the time the waters receded, nearly 228,000 people in 14 countries were dead, and some communities in hard-hit Indonesia were almost completely wiped off the map [source: Folger].
Just as scary as the tsunami itself is the possibility that a deadly event could happen again — despite the installation of an early detection system in the Indian Ocean. See, the Indonesian island of Sumatra sits right next to a hyperactive fault zone. Even if Sumatran residents are instantly warned, they may only have 30 minutes to evacuate. That's nowhere close to enough time, particularly in large cities where evacuation routes could quickly choke with cars [source: Folger].
Author's Note: 10 Scariest Events in History
From the real (climate change, tsunamis, supervolcanoes) to the perceived (Y2K, creepy clowns, Halley's Comet), scary events are a huge part of our shared human history. In fact, there are so many things we've been scared of over the years that it was hard to narrow down the list. So how do we handle these situations? I'd like to think we respond with thoughtful, positive action, but judging from these events it seems mass hysteria is a more common reaction. Now isn't that a scary thought?
More Great Links
- Carlson, Adam. "Stephen King Urges People to 'Cool the Clown Hysteria' After More Reports and Arrests." People. Oct. 7, 2016. (Oct. 12, 2016) http://people.com/crime/clown-sightings-2016-stephen-king-twitter-reacts/
- Clark, Stuart. "Apocalypse Postponed: How Earth Survived Halley's Comet in 1910." The Guardian. Dec. 20, 2012. (Oct. 13, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/science/across-the-universe/2012/dec/20/apocalypse-postponed-halley-comet
- Folger, Tim. "Will Indonesia Be Ready for the Next Tsunami?" National Geographic. Dec. 25, 2014. (Oct. 15, 2016) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141226-tsunami-indonesia-catastrophe-banda-aceh-warning-science/
- Lowenstern, Jacob B., Robert L. Christiansen, Robert B. Smith, Lisa A. Morgan, and Henry Heasler. "Steam Explosions, Earthquakes, and Volcanic Eruptions — What's in Yellowstone's Future?" U.S. Geological Survey. May 10, 2005. (Oct. 11, 2016) http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3024/
- Miller, Laura. "Who Burned the Witches?" Salon. Feb. 1, 2005. (Oct. 12, 2016) http://www.salon.com/2005/02/01/witch_craze/
- NASA. "Climate Change: How Do We Know?" Oct. 5, 2016 (Oct. 10, 2016) http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
- NASA. "The Consequences of Climate Change." Oct. 5, 2016. (Oct. 10, 2016) http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
- National Archives. "Transcript of John Glenn's Official Communication with the Command Center (1962)." (Oct. 15, 2016) http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php/doc_large_image.php?flash=old&doc=93
- National Geographic. "Y2K Bug." Jan. 21, 2011. (Oct. 10, 2016) http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/Y2K-bug/
- National Security Archive. "Interview with Robert McNamara." Feb. 14, 1999. (Oct. 14, 2016) http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/coldwar/interviews/
- Oskin, Becky. "What Would Happen if Yellowstone's Supervolcano Erupted?" Live Science. May 2, 2016. (Oct. 11, 2016) http://www.livescience.com/20714-yellowstone-supervolcano-eruption.html
- Philofsky, Rachel. "D.C. Sniper Attacks of 2002." Encyclopedia Britannica. May 5, 2016. (Oct. 14, 2016) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Washington-DC-sniper-attacks-of-2002
- Readfearn, Graham. "Carbon Dioxide's 400ppm Milestone Shows Humans Are Rewriting the Planet's History." The Guardian. May 20, 2016. (Oct. 10, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/may/20/carbon-dioxides-400ppm-milestone-shows-humans-are-re-writing-the-planets-history
- Romm, Cari. "People Fear Clowns for the Same Reason They Fear Uncertainty." New York Magazine. Oct. 18, 2016. (Oct. 21, 2016) http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/10/clowns-are-scary-because-people-cant-handle-uncertainty.html
- Rothman, Lily. "Remember Y2K? Here's How We Prepped for the Non-Disaster." Time. Dec. 31, 2014. (Oct. 10, 2016) http://time.com/3645828/y2k-look-back/
- Sheesley, John. "Y2K: The New Year's Disaster That Never Happened." TechRepublic. Jan. 2, 2009. (Oct. 21, 2016) http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/classics-rock/y2k-the-new-years-disaster-that-never-happened/
- Shilling, Erik. "The Definitive Map of America's Creepy Clown Epidemic." Atlas Obscura. October 6, 2016. (Oct. 11, 2016) http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-definitive-map-of-americas-creepy-clown-epidemic
- Taylor, Jim. "Is Our Survival Instinct Failing Us?" Psychology Today. June 12, 2012. (Oct. 10, 2016) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201206/is-our-survival-instinct-failing-us
- Teague, Matthew. "Clown Sightings: The Day the Craze Began." The Guardian. Oct. 8, 2016. (Oct. 12, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/oct/05/clown-sightings-south-carolina-alabama
- U.S. Department of State. "The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962." 2016. (Oct. 14, 2016) https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis
- U.S. Geological Survey. "Steam Explosions, Earthquakes, and Volcanic Eruptions—What's in Yellowstone's Future?" 2005. (Oct. 11, 2016) http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3024/
- Weissman, Paul. "Halley's Comet." Encyclopedia Britannica. Nov. 4, 2015. (Oct. 13, 2016) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Halleys-Comet
- White, Josh. "Lee Boyd Malvo, 10 Years After D.C. Area Sniper Shootings: 'I Was a Monster.'" The Washington Post. Sept. 29, 2012. (Oct. 13, 2016) https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/lee-boyd-malvo-10-years-after-dc-area-sniper-shootings-i-was-a-monster/2012/09/29/a1ef1b42-04d8-11e2-8102-ebee9c66e190_story.html
- Worland, Justin. "Meet the President Trying to Save His Island Nation From Climate Change." Time. Oct. 9, 2015. (Oct. 21, 2016) http://time.com/4058851/kiribati-cliamte-change/
The peace sign has been a ubiquitous part of culture for more than 60 years. HowStuffWorks takes a look at this enduring symbol of cooperation.