Here, you can find pictures, movie trivia, and everything there is to know about Pandora and all of it's inhabitants.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hallelujah Mountains

The Hallelujah Mountains (Na'vi name: "Thundering Rocks") are floating islands that circulate slowly in the magnetic currents like icebergs at sea, scraping against each other and the towering mesa-like mountains of the region. On Pandora, huge outcroppings of Unobtainium rip loose from the surface and float in the magnetic vortices due to the Meissner Effect.

The entire area is sacred to the Na'vi. They are the staging ground for Iknimaya, a treacherous but fundamental rite of passage in which a young Na'vi must select, capture, and successfully bond with one of the ikran (Banshees) who nest there. This poses a problem for the humans who have come to mine them for their mineral wealth. The mountains float like clouds among the fixed mountains and swirling cloud structures. When they are in clear sunlight they cast distinct shadows on the land below.

more after the Jump...

They are overgrown with foliage at the top, and straggly beards of vines hangs down beneath them like the roots of air-ferns. Their sides are sheer cliffs. Waterfalls, originating on the mesa-like tops, stream down the sides and disperse into spray at the bottoms, like upside-down geysers. The local peaks and mesas actually project above the level of the craggy undersides of the few floating mountains Jake Sully can see, so it's obvious that collisions are inevitable. It is also the place Norm Spellman wants to visit most on Pandora.

The first human explorers to see images of the floating mountains were awestruck, as are all humans lucky enough to have seen the phenomenon. The sigh of billions of tons of rock floating as weightlessly as a cloud was inexplicable, almost hallucinatory.

After the initial unobtanium deposit was found, it's superconducting properties provided the first clue to help unravel the mystery of the floating mountains. Scientists assumed the the phenomenon must have something to do with the intense magnetic fields in the area, but they had no explanation for their source. The answer was found as a result of sit surveys conducted by RDA geologists who linked unobtanium to the magnetic fields. When accurate maps of ground magnetic isobars were studied, they revealed a magnetic field gradient that surrounded each floating mountain with a perimeter of increased field strength  that acted like a "magnetic fence." This explained their stable positions but raised a new question of how this situation came about.

Two schools of thought arose. The first, and by far the largest, originally propounded by Dimitri Pechta, of Luna's Armstrong University, was that some sort of positive feedback mechanism during Pandora's molten phase attracted large areas of like magnetic fields in an unobtanium deposit, and their mutual repulsion finally pushed a large chunk of unobtanium-containing matter away, to hang in the air until it cooled and solidified. The ordinary nonmagnetic rock was denser, and settled to the bottom of the molten mass as it cooled, forming the necessary ballast, like the heavy keel of a boat. The crater left behind at the top of the monolith was therefore deficient in the superconductor and its associated magnetic field. Thisleft a ring of stronger magnetic field around the circumference of the crater, which in turn restrained the floating mountain.

The second, and minority, opinion held that the finely balanced floating mountains required some sort of conscious supervision during their creation. They directed their attention to the worldwide links between the various life-forms and the satellite's ecology, as represented by the spiritual deity and natural phenomenon the Na'vi refer to as "Eywa."

and here's an odd bit: a beautiful video of some of our own Terrestial wonders...

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