Best title for a science article, ever! All about efforts to track asteroids, comets and other outer space stuff that might hit the Earth, and to deflect or destroy it before it does.
Techno-magician Louis Michaud believes that he can summon a tornado, “tame” it, and use the entity to generate electricity. And he intends not to simply summon a miniature steam vortex, such as can be seen in the Science Museum of Magisota’s Experiment Gallery, but a full-sized wind monster, as featured in the documentary “Twister.”
As bizarre as the idea might seem, councils of air and wind magicians at learning institutions across the country say the theory is sound. It would simply require a sorcerer of the most audacious kind. Perhaps the wizard Michaud is just that person.
The idea is based on the simple and well-known principle that tornado beasts feed and grow off of warm air. Michaud proposes summoning the tornado into a “vortex engine” using a source of hot air such as the waste heat from a nearby nuclear generator (or even, depending on geography, heat from warm tropical water). The hot air would be directed up from the vortex engine’s base in a spinning motion, and would gather momentum as it rose, eventually becoming a tornado several kilometers high. The air sucked into the tornado would spin turbines and generate electricity. The normally chaotic and destructive tornado beast would be content to stay above the vortex engine, feeding off the hot air provided. The wizard Michaud also claims that the stationary, summoned tornados could have the added benefit of combating, in some small way, the powers of That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named (Global Warming, as it likes to be called). The vortex engines would propel hot air high into the atmosphere, where it could more easily radiate energy back into space – an interesting idea, although it seems like there would have to be countless such tornado summoning stations to have any measurable effect. Who’s to say?
However, there is a price to pay for all this, as is always the case with magic. While universities have been experimenting with the summoning spell on a small scale – luring tornados not larger that a meter or two into this realm – the facilities for commercial-scale summoning would cost somewhere on the order of $60 million. This price would be offset somewhat if the generator were built in conjunction with a nuclear power station, as the station would no longer need a $20 million cooling tower. Michaud has formed the corporation AVEtec to seek investor funding. High wizards from Oxford, Cambridge, and MIT have joined AVEtec’s advisory board.
But new research is showing that the effects of hurricane weather can have a positive impact on some coral beds, particularly those that are suffering from stress caused by warming water temperatures. Ironically, warming waters is one of the factors that lead to more and bigger hurricanes.
A team of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that hurricanes off of Florida and the Virgin Islands in 2005 were a benefit to “bleaching” coral beds in those areas. The bleaching problem is caused by the loss of algae in the area and a reduction in the pigments of the corals in the area when they’re stressed by warm weather.
Hurricanes Rita and Wilma in 2005 stirred up the waters of those bleached coral beds and were able to lower the water temperatures in the impacted coral beds by as much as nine degrees.
That water temperature saw a quicker recovery rate for the bleached coral beds. The researchers also point out that a direct hit by a hurricane to a coral bed still did vast damage, but areas on the edges of the storm showed improvement on the bleaching condition. Those improvements could be seen as far as 250 miles away from the hurricane’s main path.
Over on our thread about a crazy catfish skull, "brandon" recently left a rather off topic, yet still intriguing question:
hi there! i was wondering if there was a hurricane in new york in 1930???????
Why, yes, there was. Technically, it happened in 1938, and it was quite the whopper. On Friday, September 16th, 1938, a Brazilian ship reported a huge storm in the Atlantic and weather forecasters expected it to make landfall near Miami. Luckily for Miami, the storm turned north and everyone expected it to head out to sea. Remember: this was long before satellite images allowed us to track these huge storms in real-time.
Unluckily for people who lived in New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, though, the storm had just temporarily headed out to sea and was about to make landfall in New England. On the 21st, with no warning, one of the fastest-moving hurricanes ever recorded slammed into the New England coast. It caused massive damage in Long Island, giving the storm the name "The Long Island Express." Nearly 600 people died by the time it was all over.
Can you imagine what a storm like that would do to this area today? In 1938, Long Island was still somewhat rural and undeveloped. Today it's a densely-packed urban area full of millions of people, homes, and businesses. And, quite honestly, I hadn't ever even heard of this storm until today. I often think of New York as immune to these sorts of major storms. But it's actually very likely that a major storm will affect this region again in the next 50 years.
The Great Hurricane of 1938 - a very in-depth history of the storm.
History Reveals Hurricane Threat to New York City - A modern perspective on the risks to New York city.
The regional perspective on the 1938 hurricane - Lots of great pictures of the destruction in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Do you know anyone who remembers the 1938 hurricane? Do you live in this area and have a hurricane story? Share your stories.
The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November 30.
Check back often for the latest predictions, forecasts, and discussion.
An article in the journal Science recommends that government harness the power of blogs, wikis, and on-line communities to help coordinate disaster relief. The idea is that decentralized bloggers can bring hundreds of eyes and ears to an event, monitoring the situation and looking for solutions.
Big rocks hurtling through space tend to smash into our planet. Unfortunately if these rocks are big enough they could easily wipe out human civilization. So now the United Nations is drafting a plan about how to respond to an eminent asteroid impact. And no, their first step is not to hire Bruce Willis.
Before I moved to St. Paul a couple years ago, I lived in a large county north of the Twin Cities. When severe stormy weather arose in one part of the county, the sirens would sound, even if the part of the county I lived in was calm and sunny.
That’s all going to change this fall.
The National Weather Service has announced that starting on Oct. 1, it will no longer be issuing severe weather warnings on a county-wide basis. Instead, it will be delineating storm warning areas by geographic landmarks, such as highways and rivers. Storms situations covered by the new warning system include tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods and marine hazards.
Watches will still cover entire counties, but those aren’t the conditions when the weather service sounds emergency alarms to take cover.
Even worse than my former personal situation north of the Twin Cities, under the old county-based storm warning system in some parts of the U.S., people could be alerted to a storm and still be more than 100 miles away from the action.
Weather Service Director David Johnson hopes that the new system won’t make people get complacent.
"I do not want to teach America to ignore warnings," Johnson said, so under the new program, "if you get the warning, there is a direct correlation to you being at risk."
Do you think you’ll be able to adjust to the new system? Remember, it doesn’t start until the fall, so any storms we have yet this summer will be reported under the old county-alerting system.