Krakatoa: the story of the world’s mightiest explosion

The biggest explosion the world has ever known (try to imagine: an estimated 13,000 times greater than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima during WWII) happened on this day, August 27 1883, as eruptions of the Krakatoa volcano reached their peak. To understand, the noise of the explosion was heard 3,000 miles (4,800km) away, five cubic miles (21 km^3) of rock and ash were projected 50 miles (80.5km) into the air, while 36.5m tsunamis were created and 36,000 people lost their lives. The island of Krakatoa (originally Krakatau) featured three linked…

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536 AD: the never-ending winter of the worst year in history

If you ask medieval historian Michael McCormick of the University of Harvard what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer. Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe, and not 1918, when “spanish” flu killed 50 million to 100 million people. It happened to everyone, sooner or later, to hope that a particularly difficult year will come to an end, hoping that the next one will reserve better days. But what was, objectively, the worst year in human history? It seems impossible…

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