Only two natural cataclysmic events seem to be engraved deeply on the modern historical consciousness of mankind: Tunguska and Krakatoa. Tunguska may have been a singularity; science does not even know with any assurance what caused the devastation of so many square kilometers of Siberian forest in 1908. Krakatoa, on the other hand, was a volcanic eruption of considerable, but far from exceptional violence; a repeatable event that we, and certainly our children, shall see somewhere on Earth in our lifetimes. In fact, a far more energetic eruption took place at Tambora, on nearby Sumatra, only 68 years earlier. Even...

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