Random bits of weirdness for the week of Jan. 27

“Change the world” is a nice motivational motto for individuals, but frequently ends up being problematic when countries take the message to heart in the literal sense.

Searching for Atlantis in Svalbard.

Plato tectonics: The gods might be able to create a submerged continent, but it takes oil idols to make one vanish. Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

Remaking the map was a thing around Svalbard during the past week or so, including Norway’s decision to arbitrary redefine where the edge of the Arctic is. Which, shockingly, was basically about making it cool to drill for oil and gas in more places just beyond our backyard. But since everyone else is doing that as well (more on that momentarily), the oil folks deserve a hat tip for answering whether a lost Arctic continent similar to Atlantis is buried beneath our pristine waters. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate long assumed the sand and shale around Svalbard came from the sunken continent they dubbed Crockerland, according to Finnmark Dagblad. But researchers with the agency said studies during the past decade now reveal the deposits occurred about 230 million years ago, not 250 million, and for various long-word reasons that makes the old theory…well, a crock. Of course, good conspiracy theorists (oxymoron?) will argue this is all about keeping certain types from getting in a huff about oil drilling marring a lost world…

Penis substitute? Or just a coincidence our shirtless neighbor's new probe designed to assert his manhood is a phallic symbol? Photo courtesy of militaryrussia.ru

Penis substitute? Or just a coincidence our shirtless neighbor’s new probe designed to assert his manhood is a phallic symbol? Photo courtesy of militaryrussia.ru

But if there is a secret wonder beneath our waters, it’s a decent bet the Russians are hushing it up as well given all the nuclear sub voyages they’re taking these days in the neighborhood. The latest to be revealed was by the “top-secret” Losharik deep-diving titanium sub last September along the Mendeleyev ridge to help bolster the country’s claim it owns the North Pole (and much more), according to the Barents Observer. And they be getting a bit possessive about that, since the crew returned with 500 kilograms of rocks…

Finally, in a case of “good intentions gone awry,” Michael Armstrong, a leader on the 2011 British expedition that resulted in the death of a teenager that was killed by a polar bear, has received a suspended prison sentence of 18 months for making an experimental “bear scarer” and a stun gun at his home he hoped would provide more effective protection. A court found him in violation of U.K. weapon laws that would normally impose a five-year mandatory sentence, but granted leniency due to “exceptional” circumstances, including personal struggles since the attack.