primal fearscinations

Last weekend I was visiting my dad in his hometown Waal, a lovely little village in Bavaria. He told me he walked pass the church (here is a neat fullmoon-shoot of its pinnacle we took 4 years ago) earlier, where construction work is taking place. There he saw a skeleton being excavated by an archeologist. Of course I wanted to go there! Unfortunately the skeleton was already gone. It was however still visible where it was located for the past decades or centuries – until maybe just a few hours ago. Then we discovered next to the containers with demolition waste a tub filled with human bones, including skulls! Kind of creepy but also kind of cool! And probably normal routine for workers that move earth on sites were graveyards used to be?

Well, the remains of 100 billion humans have to go somewhere. I subtracted the current 7 from the 107, which is the estimated number of homo sapiens who have ever lived since 50.000 BC as shown here.

I do seem to have a little bit of a morbid side – at least I am weirdly fascinated by seeing pictures of excavations of skeletons! Two famous recent providers of which are the Homo Naledi in the Dinaledi Chamber (here the full paper), and in 2012 King Richard III of England. See a time lapse of the archaeological dig at the burial site in this article. At some point I would like to join a summer school in Archeology. “Ask a Mortician” is an entertaining and informative youtube channel on the topic by the way.

As a child I had terrifying fantasies (likely infused by the depiction of time travelling Terminator and alike) of beaming going wrong and subjects ending up in walls, under the surface or just deep enough under water so that they can’t make it back up in time.

Two primal fears/fascinations come together here. One more general that most people will resonate with: the reminder about ones mortality and the irreversible progression of time. And one that I might share with fewer people? Namely this (obvious) insight how intensely compressed and dense the 6×1024 kg mass is below our feet! And that grotesque shift in density from below the surface to the above-surface world. Again, obvious all the way, but mind-blowing to me nevertheless every time I drift into it during day or night dreams.

Did you know that “most of the known volcanic hotspots are linked to plumes of hot rock rising from two spots on the boundary between the metal core and rocky mantle 1800 miles below Earth’s surface”? More here, so cool!

And then there is deep water of course! Look at this picture, it fearscinates me so much! It exudes this silent void that is terrifyingly empty and promises complete freedom at the same time…

DrowningManNot sure about the original source, probably here.

To conclude this blog post I want to share Derek Muller’s brilliant video “Our Greatest Delusion” from his absolutely subscribe-worthy channel Veritasium.


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Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

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