Watching this scientist sample lava from an active volcano will make your heart race

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When I read that the video featured here was intense, I was skeptical. One of my biggest gripes about "reality" television programs (and, to a lesser extent, documentaries) is how they often use music and stylized camerawork to imbue relatively innocuous situations with a sense of urgency, tension or danger (see: every episode of Ghost Hunters, ever).

The music in the clip up top is exactly the kind you'd expect from a filmmaker who's opted to substitute melodrama in place of real, accurate storytelling, and I suspect that's why my initial reaction to it was negative... but I'll be damned if my heart wasn't racing by the two-minute mark. Just watch that scientist clamber up the outer rim of that vast, roiling pit of lava with the awkwardness of a newborn fawn, and tell me you don't fear for his life. By the 2:42 mark, I was actually pleading with him to "get the fuck away from the massive fucking lake of fucking fire, you fucking idiot."


Over on boingboing, Maggie Koerth-Baker drops some facts that help justify my expletive-hurling:

It only gets more tense when you realize that the volcano in question is Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — which has some of the fastest-moving lava flows ever recorded. The key feature of Nyiragongo is that lake of lava in the center of the crater that you see in the video. In January 1977, the lava lake was 2000 feet deep. When the volcano erupted later that month, the lake emptied dry in less than an hour. Lava was clocked at 40 mph. [emphasis mine]


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go change my pants.
[Spotted on boingboing]