From this post on Boing Boing, I learnt some happy things. The most important is that we don’t actually know which is the tallest tree on the planet: the title of tallest known tree was held for four years by a redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park named “Stratosphere Giant,” however it has recently been usurped by a redwood in another park, named “Hyperion.” Hyperion was discovered by a couple of hikers and – here’s the cool part – its location is being kept secret so its habitat doesn’t get too disturbed.
About seventeen years ago I read an Arthur C. Clarke book called The Deep Range. It was about a near-future astronaut who is traumatised by an accident in space and turns to a career in the oceans instead. The book posits a world in which we farm the seas and therefore do a lot more underwater exploration than we do now. There is an awesome bit where the main character and his buddy capture a super-giant squid. But the point of bringing it up was not to indulge my cephalopod obsession, but to mention that in many ways we already know more about stars thousands of light years away than we do about what is under the oceans. This is one of my favourite facts, and I am now adding the fact that we don’t know, definitively, where the world’s tallest tree is, to that list.
You remember in The Truman Show, when they show a clip of the young Truman jumping up in class to say that he wants to be an explorer, but his teacher whips out a world map and says “but everywhere’s already been discovered?” Finding out that one can still go tall tree hunting and bag yourself a record-breaker kind of helps to explode that myth and restore a little wonder to the world.