Wednesday, September 17, 2008

SPEED LIMIT 186,000 miles per second

Call me crazy, but I like to think about things that make your head spin. I can remember when I was younger my father telling me that if you park your car north to south that it is longer that if you parked it east to west. But, do not bother to measure this, because the device you use to measure the length of your car will be affected the same. Makes you think.

I have been reading about Albert Einstein and many of his contributions to science. I have read a few books on his special and general theory of relativity and they are all a little bit hard to understand. One was written by Einstein specifically for those with lesser mathematical abilities. Well, even that was a little confusing. I have found that if you read a little on these theories in physics, astronomy, and physical science texts first, it become a little easier to understand. Einstein made great contributions to the understanding of light. Growing up I always wondered if you were traveling at the speed of light and you had a flashlight in your hand and turned it on, would the beam of light proceed out at twice the speed of light? I always thought that this would be the case. After all, if you are driving in your car at a steady rate of 40 mph and threw a ball out of the car forward at 40 mph the ball would travel at 80 mph relative to the ground. After reading Einsteins work on relativity he has proven that the speed of light is the cosmic speed limit. Nothing can travel faster than light. So, if I travel at the speed of light and turn my flashlight on, my light will not travel twice the speed of light. So, the speed limit is 186,282.397 miles per second or 983,571,056.4 feet per second. Pretty fast huh!

Last night I began to think about light and light speed, as I think we all often do at night. I took my thoughts on the flashlight a little further. What if I were traveling at the speed of light, as you can see I often think about doing this, and I had a little hand mirror with me. While traveling at the speed of light I place the mirror in front of me to view my reflection. Will I see my reflection in the mirror? Think about this for a moment. ?????????????? What to we view when we look at something or someone? We see the reflection of light off of the object we are viewing. So, the answer would be no. The light would not be reflected from your face toward the mirror in front of you because of this cosmic speed limit. Think About it!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Get the hell out of there! Why do people think that they can fool with "Mother Nature?" Nature's furry is more powerful than most think. As I have studied natural disasters I have gained a great respect for the power of the Earth. Also having studied emergency management issues I have seen many disasters and the death and injury that comes with these events. Many deaths and injuries could have been avoided if individuals had taken evacuation measures seriously. I am amazed at how stupid (see photo below) some of the people in the path of hurricane Ike are. (Hurricane Ike is a very large storm in area. The photo above can show you scale. This image is take from the International Space Station. Yes, that is the curve of the Earth at the top of the photo. ) I believe that the media makes the category of a hurricane the most important issue. Yes, the category is important as far as wind speed goes, but the most destructive part of a hurricane is the storm surge and the flooding that this causes. Not only is water forced in by the winds of a hurricane on the northeast side of the eye, but also the oceans are actually elevated because of the intense low air pressures associated with hurricanes. The air pressure is so low in a hurricane that there is actually a dome of water that lifts up under a hurricane (cool huh!). This also aids in the flooding of land. What is particularly concerning about Ike is that it is very similar to a hurricane in Galveston in 1900. This hurricane basically wiped Galveston off of the map. This hurricane started to flood Galveston before the storm surge hit. Ike started to do this while it was still some 140 mile off of the coast. Yes, they have elevated Galveston some 15 ft and built a seawall, but we are no match for the power of "Mother Nature." The Earth is in charge. If it wants to move something it can and will.

There is a group of people at a bar in Galveston that are going to ride the storm out close to the shore. (see photo above) They have been warned by the National Weather Service that if they stay they will most likely die. I am happy to think that these individuals will most likely be so drunk that this will help to ease their pain in death. Others in the area said they were going to ride the storm out, but soon changed their minds when the winds began to blow water in ahead of the storm surge. These are the lucky ones. There is a point of no return. There is a point where if you have not left, well, say a prayer and hang on you are pretty much screwed. Individuals need to take evacuation orders seriously. Emergency management officials do not order evacuations just to see if they can tie up roads and cause panic. These are given well in advance and ordered to save lives. Yes, many evacuations have turned out to be not needed, but better safe than sorry. I know this is why many people do not evacuate, they feel it is a false alarm. We saw not long after hurricane Katrina that most of the people in the Houston area took the evacuation orders seriously for hurricane Rita, but turned out to not to be so bad. I hope that this is the case with Ike, but conditions are not looking good. GOOD LUCK! for those who have chosen to stay.

I tend to get a little fired up about these issues. After all, this is what I went to school for and what I do. I am intrigued and fascinated my natural and technological hazards and disasters, but I do not like to see people get injured and killed by these events. I love to watch volcanoes erupt, tsunamis crash on shore, tornadoes tuchdown, but not death. These events will continue and will increase with magnitude and intensity. This is why I started my business in emergency and disaster planning. I understand the earth science behind theses events and know what can be done to help reduce injury and death by preparing and planning for such events. It does not matter where you live, there is something that nature or man will throw your way. Get prepared.

Let me, if you will, tell you of the "Perfect Storm" that could happen from this hurricane Ike. The chances of this are very small, but just humor me and "Think About It." You may not know, but there is a tropical storm "Josephine" in the Atlantic moving WNW at 5 mph (lookout). That could possibly turn into a hurricane. We also have Ike of course that will move onto land and move up through Texas and into Arkansas. As Ike move onto land dumping large amounts of rain it is also meeting a large cold front moving in from the west. Well, cold air and warm moist air are not a good combination. This will bring even more rain and more intense thunderstorms and tornadoes. Lets forget about the tornadoes and just focus on the rain. Well, this is going to cause flooding across Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and some other states. These states all have something in common. All of these states waterways drain into the Mississippi river. The Mississippi river drains into the Gulf of Mexico right near a city, that in my opinion, people should not live there. Yes, New Orleans should be used for shipping, oil, industry, and agriculture, but not for living. Something about living below sea-level that close to the ocean just concerns me, call me crazy. Okay, back to my scenario. All of these flood water is going to drain down the Mississippi river just as Josephine gains strength into a category 5 hurricane, not that the category matters, and the eye hits just west of New Orleans. WOW! All of that flood water combined with the surge of hurricane Josephine will make Katrina look like the fictional Coriolis force on the flush of your toilet. All of this floodwater will be backed up from the storm surge and cause catastrophic flooding and damage. And the Mississippi river will be set free once again as in many years past to choose its path of least resistance and flow freely along the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, this is very, very unlikely to happen, but that would make for a great Hollywood movie. But, then again New Orleans, strike one Katrina, strike two Gustav, and strike three Josephine and "Your Out!" Think About It.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Winter? Where is fall?

We woke up to snow in the mountains today. Not unusual for Utah this time of year, but it sure lets you know that the seasons are changing. This was taken from my back yard in Lehi, Utah looking toward the east to Mt. Timpanogos. Better that a hurricane though.