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How the New Madrid Earthquake Created a Kentucky Exclave on the Mississippi
Meet Kentucky's western exclave, courtesy of the Mississippi
Half man-made, half the Big Muddy’s work – a 45,5 sq. km (17,5 sq. mi) sized enclaved border irregularity bounded on three sides by a hairpin turn in the Mississippi and in the south by Tennessee is known as the Kentucky Bend. But its denomination is as fixed as the river that created it. Alternate names are: the New Madrid Bend, the Madrid Bend, the Bessie Bend, and even ‘Bubbleland’.
Bubbleland was home to about a dozen Kentuckians, cut off from the mainland of their state by Missouri and Tennessee. Formally, their home is an exclave of Fulton County in Kentucky’s extreme southwest. It is only reachable via Tennessee State Route 22.
The event that created Bubbleland was the New Madrid Earthquake, actually a series of earthquakes in late 1811 and early 1812 that each may have registered 8.0 on the Richter scale, making them the largest quakes in the contiguous USA in recorded history. Not only flattening most of the town of New Madrid nearby in Missouri, the tremors – felt as far away as Connecticut – also shifted the course of the Mississippi.
This confounded the work of early surveyors plotting out the line that would mark the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. By 1812, they hadn’t made it as far as the Mississippi. Later, it turned out their line cut right through the loop in the Mississippi created by the quakes, crossing the river twice.
This led to legal wrangling between Kentucky and Tennessee; for Kentucky had secured the Mississippi as its western border and thus claimed the westernmost point on the line. Tennessee held that it nevertheless had rights on the land contained in the loop. In fact, Tennessee administered Bubbleland as part of its Obion County until at least 1848, but eventually dropped its claim.
Much to its regret, one can imagine, as the soil inside the loop proved extremely fertile cotton-growing land. The 1870 Census tallied more than 300 residents, mostly cotton-farmers. Interestingly, Bubbleland has two other claims to fame:
• From February 28 to April 28, 1862, the area was the location of the Battle of Island Number Ten between Union and Confederate forces in the American Civil War. The battle, which involved ironclad ships, was won by the Union side and opened up the Mississippi further south, eventually leading to the capture of Memphis by northern troops. Island Number Ten has since eroded away (although Island Number Nine still remains).
• In ‘Life on the Mississippi’ (1883), Mark Twain describes a vendetta lasting 60-odd years between the Darnell and Watson families living in Bubbleland: “Both families belonged to the same church … They lived each side of the line, and the church was at a landing called Compromise. Half the church and half the aisle was in Kentucky, the other half in Tennessee. Sundays you’d see the families drive up, all in their Sunday clothes, men, women, and children, and file up the aisle, and set down, quiet and orderly, one lot on the Tennessee side of the church and the other on the Kentucky side; and the men and boys would lean their guns up against the wall, handy, and then all hands would join in with the prayer and praise; though they say the man next the aisle didn’t kneel down, along with the rest of the family; kind of stood guard.”
Whether this blood feud is in some way responsible for the thinning of the population of Bubbleland could not be ascertained.
This map, and much of the information on which this text was based, can be found here in Wikipedia.
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Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Reaching beyond the stereotypes of meditation and embracing the science of mindfulness.
- There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what mindfulness is and what meditation can do for those who practice it. In this video, professors, neuroscientists, psychologists, composers, authors, and a former Buddhist monk share their experiences, explain the science behind meditation, and discuss the benefits of learning to be in the moment.
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- "I think we're looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution," says ABC News anchor Dan Harris. "Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you." Closing out the video is a guided meditation experience led by author Damien Echols that can be practiced anywhere and repeated as many times as you'd like.
Just what every arachnophobe needed to hear.
- A new study suggests some spiders might lace their webs with neruotoxins similar to the ones in their venom.
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- Previous studies showed that other spiders lace their webs with chemicals that repel large insects.