Hiroshima 'Shadows' And 4 Other Haunting Historical Remnants
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But you know what? Remembering history ain't always so great, either. Most of mankind's time on earth has been fraught with death and destruction, and the only thing that changes through the centuries is the relative ridiculousness of a corpse's pants. But still, if you do want to take a stroll through history's horrors, perhaps you could start with ...
The Fukushima Exclusion Zone Is A Post-Apocalyptic Movie Set
After 2011's Tohoku earthquake kicked off a tsunami which caused not one, not two, but three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japanese authorities established a 20-km exclusion zone around the plant. Godzilla protocols were enacted, and all was well for the nearby cities. For the cities inside the zone?
Pretty much what you'd expect from a place labeled "In the Zone."
The disaster displaced more than 100,000 residents from periphery towns like Futaba, Okuma, and Tomioka, turning them into living snapshots of the moment they were evacuated. They have remained mostly untouched ever since, save for the occasional photographer who decides to sneak in and wade through the radioactive waste in a gas mask and short pants.
Free Kit Kats and Pocky as far as the fogged-up mask can see.
In the summer of 2016, photographer Keow Wee Loong misplaced his protective suit fund (all $2,880 of it), but decided to stroll right on into the Fukushima wasteland anyway. What he found was a perfectly preserved moment of the disaster -- DVDs, magazines, and newspapers, all dated March 11, 2011 ...
... hastily abandoned clothes at the laundromat ...
"Ugh, only a shirt that ugly would survive nuclear fallout."
... and more. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of the Fukushima exclusion zone, however, is how quickly Mother Nature started squatting in the ruins. Take the roving packs of irradiated wild boars, for instance. Left free to make bacon in a nuclear paradise full of scrumptious garbage, the territory now boasts 13,000 surplus boars, or about 2,600,000 pounds of tantalizingly inedible pork. Photographer Arkadiusz Podniesinski captured this stretch of road near the power plant, where an entire abandoned traffic jam still sits, slowly getting devoured by the vegetation:
Good news! Roads are fully recyclable.
It's at once a stirring reminder that nature always finds a way, and an ominous reminder that nature always finds a way.
The Franklin Expedition Left Behind A Trail Of Eerily Preserved Bodies
For centuries, explorers sought the fabled Northwest Passage from the northern Atlantic to the Pacific, because by God, being horrifically mauled by a polar bear was a small price to pay for timely tea. One such expedition set out in 1845, in which Sir John Franklin led a crew of 129 stout men at the helms of the HMS Erebus and the all too appropriately named HMS Terror -- the very same ship which, 30 years prior, had bombarded an American stronghold at Baltimore and inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Pictured: The Federal Society of Old Coots decides to send these explorers to their deaths.
The ships were fitted with steam-powered propellers to smash through the Canadian ice fields, to which the ice was coolly indifferent. The vessels became irremediably stuck, and their crews set out on foot, which worked out about as well as you'd expect. We didn't find the explorers' graves, and the cold-mummified remains within, for over a century.
But that jacket is as in style as ever.
Thanks to the startlingly well-preserved bodies, evidence of knife marks and thermal damage to bones found farther inland, and, in the case of Royal Navy stoker John Torrington, some truly fabulous hair --
To die for.
-- scientists were able to piece together the immensely disturbing ending of the Franklin Expedition. As it turns out, the men's tinned provisions -- sealed shut with lead welding -- had essentially driven them insane. Their journey on foot was a slow descent into madness and desperation, culminating in the final, hopelessly freezing survivors cracking the bones of their former crewmates to suck out the marrow. Isn't history glorious?
The Runit Dome Is A Nuclear Time Bomb
Back in the Atomic Age, the Marshall Islands served as America's nuclear playground, because you can only explode so much in your own backyard before there ain't no backyard left to explode. In all, the Pacific Proving Ground hosted 67 nuclear blasts, which produced at least 110,000 cubic yards of lethal nuclear debris, as well as soil which could only be considered fertile if the crop you're raising is Fallout bosses. Thankfully, the U.S. disposed of all that in a safe and conscientious manner.
Nope, we just left it right there on Enewetak Atoll, though we did have the common decency to cover it up with something that looks like a football stadium, as is the American way. The massive concrete cap is known as the Runit Dome, though the slightly irradiated locals more accurately refer to it as the Tomb.
Inside: toxic death, Godzilla's pantyhose.
This was only a stopgap measure, of course, meant to keep the problem out of sight and mind until a more permanent solution could be settled upon. The more permanent solution settled upon was "not caring anymore," so we left.
That was in 1980. Fast-forward to today, and the dome is cracking. Vines chew away at it, and rising sea levels threaten to wash in and destroy it, unleashing what we can only assume to be a gargantuan nuclear slug of some kind.
The Chinese Version Of Noah's Ark Was Real ... ly Terrifying
Many different cultures have their own version of the flood myth. Christianity has the story of Noah's Ark, Islam has ... well, also the story of Noah's Ark. Over in China, they have Emperor Yu, head of the possibly mythological Xia Dynasty (China's first), who saved China from a great flood -- not by building a bitchin' cruise liner for animals, but by digging some sensible canals.
Chinese fables aren't so into religion, but love civil engineering.
The Xia Dynasty got a whole lot less mythological in 2007, when Qinglong Wu of Peking University led a team of archaeologists and geologists in the discovery of a 1920 BC earthquake which created a natural dam in the Yellow River valley. When said dam gave way, it created a muddy outburst that swallowed Lajia village, in a scene researchers liken to a Chinese Pompeii.
That's archaeologist speak for "everyone frozen in carbonite."
Many of the villagers are now frozen in the moment of death, embracing one another for protection, or because it would freak out researchers a few millennia later ...
The Yellow River valley was known for its orgies.
Most heartrending of all is this woman, forever frozen while comforting a child ...
And that's why archaeologists drink, friends.
Hiroshima's Nuclear Shadows Are History's Most Haunting Graffiti
Aside from a massive psychic scar on the soul of humanity, the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan left behind something else: the permanent outlines, or "shadows," of the victims.
This exact thing also happens after dragon attacks.
Above, a man was waiting on the bank's steps when the bomb dropped. You can still see his horrific, unintentional memorial at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where the steps were sequestered after rain and wind began to erode the shadow. While often described as the remnants of people seared into the stone at the moment of the blast, the shadows are actually the opposite: As nuclear radiation pelts a hard surface, the surface becomes bleached -- sort of like what happens to you when you fall asleep at the beach, but in reverse. If any sort of sunblock -- in this case, that of the flesh-and-blood variety -- stands in between, it leaves behind a permanent darker area. Being a carbon-based life form isn't even a requirement. Here's a discarded bicycle ...
... and here's a valve wheel which left a perfect mirror image of itself on the wall behind it:
Ironically, this was to be the valve to the city's nuke shield.
That doesn't make it any less haunting, of course.
For more historical nightmares, check out 6 Nightmare Historical Diseases Humanity Forgot Are Possible and 7 Archaeological Discoveries Out Of Your Darkest Nightmares.
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