The Mediterranean Sea Could Disappear in the Distant Future

iStock
iStock

The Mediterranean Sea, which takes up approximately 970,000 square miles, might be gone from the face of the Earth 50 million years from now.

The Economist published an explainer on Monday detailing how continental drift (the gradual movement of the Earth's continents) will account for the eventual disappearance of the sea and will generally make our planet look very different in the distant future.

Continental drift happens because the tectonic plates under the Earth's surface are constantly being moved by heat-distributing currents in the planet's mantle. As you read this, Africa and Europe are creeping toward each other across the Mediterranean, headed for a collision that will result in one mega-continent called Eurafrica. When the two continents meet, most geologists agree that the Mediterranean will close up and become mountainous as the landmasses run into each other. Of course, if you're reading this right now, you won't be around to see the new mountain range.

If the creation of a mega-continent makes you think of Pangea, you're right on the money. Scientists theorize that super-continents have formed in cycles throughout Earth's history. Pangea was the most recent one, and it broke up approximately 200 million years ago. Some scientists believe that places us in the middle of a cycle, and a new Pangea, one that will include the mountains formerly known as the Mediterranean Sea, may be in store.

[h/t The Economist]

The World’s Steepest Street Is in Harlech, Wales

Tonktiti/iStock via Getty Images
Tonktiti/iStock via Getty Images

It wasn’t by chance that Ffordd Pen Llech just clinched the Guinness World Record for the world’s steepest street: The townspeople of Harlech, Wales, worked hard to steal the recognition from Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand.

At its steepest point, the gradient of the street in Wales is 37.5 percent, beating out Baldwin Street’s 35 percent. “I feel sorry for Baldwin Street and the New Zealanders,” Gwyn Headley, who spearheaded the campaign, told The Guardian, “But steeper is steeper.”

Guinness World Records has a surprising 10 criteria for the honor, including a blueprint of the street in question. This was the toughest for Harlech residents, because the thousand-year-old road was there long before roads were planned out with blueprints. So surveyor Myrddyn Phillips created one from scratch, using a satellite dish and chalk to calculate every possible measurement. Another criterion is that the road must actually be used by both people and vehicles. This one was easy, considering it leads to Harlech Castle, a UNESCO Heritage Site that was built over 700 years ago.

Having just lost to England in the Cricket World Cup, New Zealand is having a rough month—which Headley does feel bad about. “At least they have the Rugby World Cup … for the moment,” she said.

Because of its opportunities for bikers, motorcyclists, and other thrill seekers, Baldwin Street has become something of a tourist destination, which Dunedin residents have capitalized on by establishing nearby food, drink, and souvenir shops. Since the street is just as steep as it was before losing the world record, it’ll likely still function as a tourist attraction. But the townspeople are understandably disappointed, and one even suggested resurfacing it to increase the gradient.

In the meantime, Harlech is planning a party. “We know the anticipation has been building for quite some time now and I’m pleased to see the outcome has brought such joy to the residents,” Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday told The Guardian. “I hope Harlech enjoys the celebrations and that the new title brings lots of people to the beautiful town.”

[h/t The Guardian]

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