It’s not really a giant iPod; and no, there was no high-stakes poker game between Kerry Packer and Steve Jobs, I made that bit up.
Space really does “begin” at 100Km high, so the dam really could be visible, but is most likely indistinguisable.
What’s also true is that it’s Apple‘s 30th Anniversary on April 1st 2006 – and in Australia it already is April 1st, ’cause Brisbane is 10 hours ahead of GMT, so although this server’s time zone tells me it’s still 31/3, I have no doubt Dad is (probably at this very moment) attaching an exploding cork to someone’s hat and hiding a plastic novelty spider under a toilet seat.
If you believed; if you wanted to believe, or if you blogged it or reported it, thanks!, it was fun to watch a small April fool that was intended for a few family and friends as it went global!
A special mention is also due to Leon who kindly contacted me and put me straight thus:
I already read this somewhere, I cant remember where but when I saw this and read that it was an exclusive story; I have to correct you, it isn’t, I already read it and that it was aquired in a poker match, and saw it on google maps, sorry mate.
Having someone believe the story so much that they let me down gently about not being an exclusive, especially highlighting the bit about the poker; that made my week.
Thanks are also due to Apple afficionado Steve Woolley for proof reading the original article and also to the people kind enough to point out that the structure is a tailings dam (there were remarkably few of you). I didn’t know this when I made up the story, but assumed there was some kind of evaporation happening because of the pattern.
So you may well ask: since it’s not an iPod, what is a tailings dam?
There are an estimated 300 tailings dams in Australia, but fewer than 100 are in operation.
The exact content of a tailings dam depends on the geological composition of the ore that is being mined and any chemicals (explosives, corrosives and catalysts) that are employed in the mining and extraction process.
Paddington is actually a gold mine (not a disused mineral mine at all, I made that up too), so the tailings will be commensurate with a gold extraction process. Close up, the (highly acidic) tailings dam in Paddington looks like this.
The general cosensus is that tailings dams are among the most toxic man made areas on Earth. As liquids are absorbed into bedrock or evaporate, the dessiccated tailings can become airbourne, leading to long-term widespread pollution of the area surrounding a tailings facility.
Discovering the iPod
Several people have asked how I came across the thing in the first place, and that’s down to the fact that searching for locations in Google Earth is sometimes a bit hit and miss. I was looking for Paddington, a residential area of Sydney which I now know is about 2.5K SSE of Sydney Opera House.
I tried entering “
Paddington, Sydney, Australia” into the GE search bar and it came back with no match. So then I tried “
If you have GE installed, give it a go, you basically land slap bang on top of the Paddington gold mine with the iPod (tailings dam) in full view.
So there you have it. Sadly there’s no gargantuan iPod, but we can at least be happy that Apple make lovely looking machines, and have contributed immensely to the public understanding that Human-Computer Interaction should have a strong emphasis on the “Human” side of the equation, so thanks and happy 30th anniversary to everyone at Apple, past and present.
I wonder what they’re really going to announce.