Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010


It was like an overly contrived disaster flick: A mammoth cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano creeps across the European continent, shutting down airports and stranding hundreds of thousands for days. Across the globe, people curse the volcano — or attempt to, since few can actually pronounce the name Eyjafjallajokull. And despite all our technological prowess, human ingenuity is shown to be futile in the face of an ash plume.

Eyjafjallajokull, whose name means "Island Mountain Glacier" in Icelandic, first erupted this year on March 20. But it was the eruption that began April 14 that wrought all the havoc, ultimately costing the airline industry more than $1 billion.