Somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know we’re going to die. Even further back in our minds, we have a vague understanding that death can happen to us at any moment, though the millions of moments that have already passed without incident may give us false optimism. Surely, we think, we’ll have at least a few seconds of warning before the end comes. Maybe even days, weeks, or months? It can’t be the case that I woke up this morning for the last time, and that the end for me is scheduled for this afternoon, can it?
This is a natural way to think about the issue, and it’s a fair bet that the people in these pictures probably thought the same thing, right up until the unimaginable happened. In an increasingly photographed world, it is inevitable that some people’s last normal moments will be captured, giving a ghostly tribute to how normal everything can be . . . right up until the end.
This picture is from Ooltgensplaat, the Netherlands, in 2013. This wind turbine caught fire as two technicians were working on it, and there really wasn't much they could do once the blaze got going. In this picture, the two embrace before one tries his luck at jumping almost 200 feet to his death. The other tried crawling down through the tube, only to get trapped inside. They were 19 and 21 years old. Source: Reddit
Carl Williams was an Australian drug kingpin who got into some legal trouble and was sentenced to life in an Australian prison. During his time behind bars, he reportedly turned informant and started talking about former associates. In this picture, an associate of his former associates approaches Williams from behind with a piece of tubular steel torn out of an exercise bicycle. Williams' body wasn't discovered for another half an hour. Source: News.com
A British mall surveillance camera captured this image in 1993. The little boy is James Bulger, and he's holding hands with a 10-year-old who is leading him out of the mall. After leaving the premises, they were joined by another 10-year-old. Together, the two older boys killed James, apparently for no reason. The senseless brutality of the murder shocked British society to its core. James' killers were held for years in juvenile detention, then took new identities on being released as adults. Source: The Mirror
Parkour is an amazing urban sport. Freerunners leap, scale, and flip over the sides of buildings as if gravity has given them a hall pass. Pavil Kashin, however, had his pass revoked with this maneuver. In this picture, Pavil is flipping on the ledge of a 16-story building. The maneuver was successful, but he lost his footing just after landing. Kashin fell over the edge and died on impact. Source: Farang Magazine
Reynaldo Dagsa was a Filipino politician who specialized in antagonizing violent gangsters. Like Begnino Aquino before him, Dagsa would be made to pay for making enemies. This picture, taken just after midnight on New Year's Day, 2011, shows Dagsa's family celebrating the holiday. It also shows a man named Arnel Buenaflor jumping out of his car and firing the shot that would kill Reynaldo, who was taking this picture. When your victim literally takes your photograph as you squeeze the trigger, you're as good as convicted. Buenaflor and two partners were arrested within days of the murder. Source: Imgur
Joseph Avery went rafting on the Niagara River in 1853. During the trip, the team's boat capsized, and Avery's two companions drowned. A strong swimmer, Avery managed to get to a log, which is where this photograph was taken. Unfortunately, nobody had the equipment or the expertise to mount a successful rescue, and after 18 hours he lost his grip. Avery's body was swept over Niagara Falls. Source: Niagara Hub
Quick science lesson: Gliders, in order to stay in the air, must have a minimum of two (2) wings, preferably one on each side. On its first public exhibition in St. Louis in 1943, this Waco glider crashed after a poorly-fastened bolt came loose and the starboard wing sheared off. The glider plummeted 2,000 feet onto Lambert field and hit the ground with what one witness described as a dull thud, killing 10 people. Source: Gen Disasters
And what people they were! Since this was the Waco's first public exhibition, all kinds of important people went up for the test flight. The group in this picture, which was taken a few minutes before liftoff, includes St. Louis Mayor William Becker; William Robertson – the founder of Lambert Airport and head of the company that built the glider; Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Dysant; and the St. Louis County Chief Executive, Henry Mueller. In a single crash, a sizable fraction of St. Louis' political and business elite were lost, which is something to think about if the mayor of your city ever invites you and his golfing buddies along on a SpaceX trip he's taking. Source: Kurir
John Lennon, signing an autograph for Mark David Chapman – his biggest fan. Chapman shot Lennon a few hours after this picture was taken, as Lennon was returning to his apartment. Source: This Is Ego
Speaking of groundbreaking musicians, here's the Notorious B.I.G. enjoying a night out in Los Angeles. The dapper young man at his side is Sean Combs, a.k.a. "the guy whose job used to be saying 'that's right' in the background whenever Biggie sang." Right after this picture was taken, the 24-year-old Biggie got in his car and was shot at a red light by some prick in an Impala. Source: Genius
This is Gary Slok, posing for a selfie with his mom right before their flight lifts off from Amsterdam in June 2014, at the start of their South Pacific vacation. A few hours later, their flight, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, was shot down over Ukraine with no survivors. Source: Blog Gang
This 20-year-old man, identified to the press by his first name, Maqsood, allegedly crossed two or three barriers to get to the edge of the New Delhi Zoo's tiger exhibit. As you can see, he slipped and fell 18 feet into the moat. The tiger saw it too, and came over to investigate. What happened next is probably best left to the imagination, but it was a couple of hours before zookeepers were able to drive the tiger back into its cage and recover the body. Source: Bataar
Older readers will doubtless remember R. Budd Dwyer, pictured here at his last press conference. Dwyer was a career politician and Pennsylvania State Treasurer who, in 1986, was convicted of some serious corruption charges. This press conference was called immediately before he could be removed from office. At the conference, Dwyer repeated his denial that he had broken the law. After his statement, Dwyer pulled a revolver out of a paper bag. In this picture, he's warning onlookers to stay away, as: "this thing could go off." Source: Penn Live
Then he did this. As it happens, this wasn't exactly the irrational act of a desperate man. Since he had already been convicted of corruption charges, Dwyer was no longer eligible to hold his office, and in fact was due to be formally removed that afternoon. By killing himself before his official firing, Dwyer ensured his state pension would be paid to his surviving dependents. Source: Wordpress
This perfectly normal looking guy is Robert Ben Rhoades. Like all people whose middle name is used in news reports, he's a serial killer. His thing was picking up hitchhikers in the early '90s and . . . doing things to them. He's sitting on multiple life sentences, and he keeps confessing to more killings, so he probably isn't getting out. Anyway, the next picture is the last one in this gallery. It was taken of Regina Walters, one of Rhoades' victims. It isn't graphic, but we won't hold it against you if you maybe skip it. Source: Img Arcade
Regina Kay Walters (1975-1990). Nothing to say here. No jokes. She was 15. Rhoades took this picture in a dilapidated barn a few minutes before he killed her. The silver pewter lining is that this picture was shown to the jury and earned Rhoades his first life sentence. Source: Reddit
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Linebacker II, a pose that’s familiar to most sports bros. Source: Hannah Rothstein
Only artist Hannah Rothstein (previously) could capture the hilarity of the manly mindfulness movement she calls Broga. Playfully combining two groups of people—bros and yogis—who frequently take themselves a bit too seriously, she’s captured what’s sure to be next big workout craze. From Intensive Boar-ior III to Manchild’s pose, watch these brogis as they find their inner zen with six packs in hand. (We dare you to keep a straight face.)
There was a time when all Hillary Rodham Clinton wanted to do was finish her freakin’ dissertation.
The year was 1969. The place, Wellesley College. Hillary Rodham was not just trying to finish her senior thesis, but also prepare to speak at her graduation: the first student to be asked to do so in the university’s history. Even at twenty-two, there was something about her that made people pay attention.
No matter how low you have your thermostat set this summer, chances are your neighborhood’s heat conditions pale in comparison to everyday temperatures in Dallol, Ethiopia. With average temperatures consistently hovering at 94 ˚F, Dallol, Ethiopia might just be the hottest inhabited place on the planet. The sultry Danakil Desert surrounds the desiccated settlement, which contributes to Dallol’s unforgivingly hot climate. The annual average high temperature is 105 ˚F, but in June the temperatures can skyrocket to a fiery 116 ˚F. Heat and drought pummel Dallol, making visitors feel like they’re on another planet.
Unique geological conditions contribute to Dallol’s seemingly Martian landscape. The region is home to both the Dallol hydrothermal field and a volcano, which–given reports of an incandescent ash cloud covering the area earlier this year–may have erupted as recently as January 2015.
The volcano is one of the lowest volcanic vents in the world, but it is Dallol’s hot springs that make the region so visually striking. The earth releases chemical compounds like ferrous chloride and iron hydroxide within the springs, which harden some upon release and paint the subsequent salt deposits and lakes a greenish white. After some time, inactive springs oxidize and become brown just like metal rusts in the rain. The process repeats for years, drenching an otherwise lifeless area in incredibly vibrant tones.
Sulphur and solidified black lava engulf some springs; vibrant cyan pools hide poisonous waters. Openings in the Earth’s crust, called fumaroles, spew steam and gas into the burning hot air, raising the surrounding temperature even more. This alien terrain is literally coming apart at the seams and in a hundred million years, scientists predict that the Earth will rip open and the nearby Red Sea will swallow the painted desert whole.
Dallol’s unforgiving climate has also made it one of the most remote areas on Earth. Roads are non-existent and camels are the only form of transport available. In spite of these obstacles, the value of the salt produced in the region has attracted a number of extractive firms throughout the 20th century. In the early 1900s, a mining town sprang up in the crater, soon to be filled with Italian and American mining operations until the 1960s.
While these towns are all but abandoned today, salt merchants still travel to Dallol to collect minerals and haul it on camelback to Berhale or Mekele, where it’s transported to the Ethiopian highlands and on to Sudan. The salt fields supply nearly 100 percent of Ethiopia’s salt.
An abandoned car rots in the salty air of the desert. Source: Photo Volcanica
It is this salt that adds another element of danger to the region. Dallol’s salt is worth a good deal of money, and thus serves as a potential source of conflict–especially in an area where various groups are vying for political and territorial control. The armed nomadic Afar people protect it as theirs, and defend the salt reserves–“white gold”–from encroaching thieves and rebels. Border skirmishes are ongoing between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and often spill into the Afar region. In fact, from 2007 to 2012 insurgent fighters kidnapped and killed tourists and locals in various attacks.
Nevertheless, tourist excursions continue. Visitors are advised to travel with armed guards and bring plenty of water. Dallol is unlike any other place on the planet and for the brave few, a once in a lifetime opportunity. For the Afar, however, it’s just home. Take a closer look at life in the hottest place on Earth in the following images.