Edvard Munch's The Scream is one of the most famous paintings in Modern art. The blood-red sky has long been seen as a symbol of the fear and anxiety caused by the upheavals of modern life.
Now, a scientist from Texas has uncovered the source of this arresting image. Reviewing old newspaper accounts, Donald Olson determined that sunsets in Europe really were a deep red in late 1883, thanks to excessive dust in the atmophere -- dust that came from the volcanic explosion at Krakatoa, half a world away! Due to dust distorting the light from the sun, unusually colored sunsets were reported from around the world for the next 3 years.
Though Munch did not finish The Scream for another 10 years, art historians know he had been working on it much earlier. And when Olson went to Munch's hometown of Oslo, Norway, he found the exact spot depicted in the painting, and realized it faced southwest -- directly into the setting sun.