Bavaria, an Asteroid, Willy Wonka, and the Planet Mars


Not word salad: these things are all connected.

A quick look around YouTube — after reading this news story about an ancient impact crater in Bavaria that resembles something on Mars — has brought up additional fascinating facts, like a town built out of diamond-encrusted rocks that was used for background in the original Willy Wonka movie.

First things first.

Basically, about 15 million years after the Chicxulub impact in the Gulf of Mexico, which opened up a world of opportunities for mammals, a much smaller object struck our planet just north of the Danube River.

Instead of causing a major mass extinction, this impact left behind clues that the boffins are now piecing together for comparison to samples collected by a rover from a similar crater on Mars. This can give them insights into the Red Planet’s watery past.

That’s cut-and-dried science. But, wait! There’s more!

Everything about this story is so goshdarned adorable. The site, for example, as seen in this video introduction to an undated university field trip.



That area seems hardly touched by human history between medieval times and the Apollo program!


And here is the view of Ries Crater from space (and mention of the diamonds and Willy Wonka):



Earth has weather and, therefore, erosion. That’s why this lacks the sharp, distinct features of a Martian impact crater.


Those diamonds are industrial grade, of course, and tiny.

Still, I’m never going to be able to watch this movie again without realizing that:

  1. That’s not a set — it’s a real city in Bavaria
  2. Those buildings are diamond encrusted. That’s better than a golden ticket because it’s true.

Nonetheless, golden tickets are not to be sneezed at:



And imagining the place as the site of a massive asteroid impact gives that boat ride an even scarier vibe!


Featured image: Tourist-Information Stadt Nördlingen via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.



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