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Earth Science

3,500 Year Old Florida Tree Dies of Natural Causes 206

hondo77 writes with an excerpt from The Daily "'Mother Nature claimed one of her oldest living specimens (Monday) in a freak fire that destroyed a 3,500-year-old bald cypress tree towering over central Florida. Known as "The Senator," or simply "The Big Tree," the hollowed-out majestic timber, standing at 118 feet tall, ignited before dawn. Firefighters watched helplessly as the oldest tree east of the Mississippi — and the fifth oldest in the world — blazed and then collapsed in a heap of flaming embers.' The fire likely started by 'either a weeks- old lightning strike that smoldered until combustion occured, or friction caused by buffeting winds that ignited a spark and erupted in flames.'"
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3,500 Year Old Florida Tree Dies of Natural Causes

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  • Sigh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:15AM (#38901935)

    Ok, I’m not normally one of the guy’s who says this... but

    The hell is this doing on Slashdot?

    It’s not tech related, it’s not significantly world changing to fall into the “stuff that matters” side of things, and it’s not even related to a topic that frequently interests this demographic (anyone here know off-hand where the other 4 older trees are?).

    Regardless, this is a (sorta) discussion site, not a news aggregator. What is there to discuss here? Potential open source solutions to prevent this kind of thing from happening? Did the tree infringe anyone’s copyright? Can this be used as more evidence that Google is turning evil?

    Lets discuss the bus strike that just started here in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) instead! Huge pain in the ass traffic backed up, people scrambling to get to work, lots of people who are just plain screwed. Also, bus drivers make way more than I thought they did! I mean it’s a shitty job and all, but I figured it was a crappy paying shitty job.

    Which side are you on? I kind of suspect HRM only wanted to change the rostering thing.. and threw the contracting stuff in there as something they could then take out and make the union look petty. On the other hand, the union is coming across as somewhat unreasonable. Opinions?

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:19AM (#38901979) Journal
    In Florida? Are you serious? Does anyone else realize that unless there's a hurricane Florida (especially central Florida) is basically a dead zone for winds []. That's not to say a freak wind storm couldn't occur but I've lived in some pretty windy places and never heard of a fire started by buffeting winds. Lightning, yes. I've googled for it, can someone point me to evidence of this phenomena actually happening? Having tried to get a spark or start fire by rubbing two sticks together, I can tell you that it would indeed by a freak occurrence if wind did just that.
  • Re:Natural Causes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:25AM (#38902027) Journal

    To a tree a freak fire IS "natural causes." Just as being eaten by lions is "natural causes" to a zebra.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinchris ( 1020961 ) <> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:26AM (#38902039) Homepage

    (anyone here know off-hand where the other 4 older trees are?)

    This is Slashdot, so I don't expect anyone here to know this, but TFA helpfully provides information about the other oldest trees :)

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mitchell314 ( 1576581 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:26AM (#38902047)
    I figured this is science/biology related, and - I know, it seems impossible - but there is nerd stuff out there that isn't just IT stuff.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archimagus ( 978734 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:30AM (#38902095)
    While I agree it maybe doesn't belong on Slashdot, I actually live about 5 minutes from the park where this tree was and would take my kids there to see this tree. Pretty magnificent. So, I at least find it cool to see it on /. even if it doesn't "really" belong here. Also, disappointed to see it go. I don't know if my kids were old enough to really remember seeing it from the last time we went there. I had been meaning to get back there, but, you know, who expect a 3500 year old tree to be suddenly gone. Also, they now suspect arson and not natural causes as originally thought.
  • Re:Natural Causes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by multisync ( 218450 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:44AM (#38902223) Journal

    To a tree a freak fire IS "natural causes." Just as being eaten by lions is "natural causes" to a zebra

    I suppose any death is by "natural causes," unless one dies at the hands of some supernatural entity.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:22AM (#38902595)

    I saw lots of amazing perspective shifting stuff while getting dragged around on vacation by my parents as a kid .. and I don't remember most of it. At a certain age, stuff like this means nothing to most people.

    Kinda like how stuff that put me to sleep in school has turned into a serious interest many years later. Sounds really stupid, but it was actually a jaw dropping realization that I could actually go to a museum on my own accord.. no bus or permission slips or anything required..

    I think that's what was meant.

  • No photo? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:32PM (#38903423)

    I like how the damn article refers to this tree being majestic but then doesn't even feature a photo of the tree. Instead they present the reader with three useless photos.

    In this day and age it's inexcusable for a news site to not feature big, quality photos. It took me all of 5 seconds to do a search online and find a good photo of the tree. You mean to tell me the so-called journalist who wrote this article couldn't have done the same? And then get some intern to get in touch with the rights-holder for permission to run it?

  • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:02PM (#38904615) Journal

    In 1964, there was another one nicknamed Prometheus that was believed to be the oldest tree. The US Forest Service sent a guy in with a chainsaw to cut it down so they could verify its age. It turned out to be over 4900 years old. No older bristlecones have been found. Other forestry people were sufficiently outraged by this that it turned into a standard textbook-level warning, and people who study the oldest bristlecones refuse to report their locations, to protect them from the Forest Service as well as from common vandals.

    I know it's "just" a tree, and I'm not one to go cavorting about with greenpeace and whatnot, but wtf? What kind of stupidity is that- I can't believe they did that. The thing was close to 5,000 years old and they just killed it out of curiosity?
    Anything that lasts that long deserves some respect.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"