Archive for July, 2006

Recursion: islands on islands

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

A reader comments:

Here’s a recursive island story, probably not unique. When I was 13, I went to a Sea Scout camp on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, Ontario. We wilderness camped there for 2 weeks, and one day, we climbed a steep hill/mountain behind our camp, to find a lake, which was quite warm, and good for swimming. Darned if there wasn’t an island in that lake. I looked around for a body of water on the island, but no luck. Perhaps in a torrential downfall…  Do you know of many examples of this?

Manitoulin has several nice double islands, relatively large for a lake island.

Their are several thousand such recursive islands in the world, concentrated in Canada, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and a few other places.

The largest is Samosir, on Sumatra, followed by Glover Island, on Newfoundland.

Glover is one of the few places in the world where there are islands on an island on an island — triple islands.  I once spent a week there, and camped on a small triple in the center of the island, alone except for the seagulls, and moose that came to feed at the edge of the lake.  It is possible that I am the only person to have slept on a triple island, as they are all quite out of the way.

Facts about Teresa Island, Atlin Lake, BC

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

There is some debate about Teresa Island in Atlin Lake.

Teresa Island is indeed the 2nd tallest lake island on the planet, the highest being Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua.

As for its ranking among “inland islands,” it is the 22nd largest lake island in the world, and thus ranked lower for overall “inland islands.”

Recursive islands: mini-Java on maxi-Java

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

I like a double island — an island on another — and the Indonesians have accomplished a special one: a mini-Java on Java.

It is the island in the foreground of the lake here, at Taman Mini Indonesia, where the Southeast Asian country is reproduced in minature, all on the north shore of maxi-Java.

Ghost island off San Francisco

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

I have always been intrigued by ancient islands now drowned under the waves by rising seas.

I was looking at the lovely new Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region, a guidebook by Doris Sloan, and noticed such an island about 20 miles off Point Reyes, northwest of the city.

Between 18,000 and 14,000 years ago, the rising ocean cut off a hill on the coastal plain, forming an island. Animals would have become stranded there, and over the next few thousand years some might have begun to evolve in their isolation. But the island continued to shrink, and by 11,500 years ago had been reduced to a few small islets. They submerged by 10,500 years ago, and the life of the place came to an end.

The remains of the island can still be seen, as Cordell Bank, where divers swim amidst the pinnacles that were the last remains of the island before it was gone.


Supervillainous island-building

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

In the new Superman Returns, evil genius Lex Luthor intends to grow a new island off the East Coast of the United States using Kryptonian crystals, consuming much of the country in the process.

It is not a perfect plan: the resulting terrain is terribly craggy, judging by early results, and would make an uninviting new home. As Cinematical puts it,

He aims to sink all of North America …. and then lease acreage on a massive block of green stalagmites and puddle-strewn crystal caves. …. I’m sure the worlds’ surviving masses will be thrilled to hand you 10 million bucks for a spot on a green rock that cannot support vegetation and offers nothing in the way of shelter.

And, being a supervillain, Luthor does not know when to stop, and plans to grow his island to full continent size.

We’re on a bridge to nowhere

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

Ketchikan ferryDespite near-universal acknowledgement as a stunning achievement in pork-barrel spending, Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere” — which would actually connect Gravina Island to Ketchikan on Revillagigedo Island — seems to still be alive.

It would replace the ferry pictured here, at a cost of some $223 million dollars, at the insistence of powerful Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

The problem is that only about 50 people live on Gravina, and a ferry runs every 15 minutes across the channel in question. Wags have even suggested that you could simply buy every family on the island their own helicopter and still save money.

[Image courtesy of Aaron Headly]