When Does A + B ? C?

We all learn at some point in our school years some simple math concepts, such as 2 + 2 = 4.  Then we proceed a little further in time and we get to algebra and learn how to solve things like I have A equal to something and know and that C is equal to something, what is B equal to.  It seems so simple really, if we know two pieces of the equation statement we can determine the third.  Then we start incorporating these principles in our everyday life.  For instance we have $20, and dinner and a movie with a date cost $50, so we know we need $30 more or that date really is not going to go well.  So when does that simple equation structure fail us? « continue reading »

Is Print Dead?

Its hard to imagine it has been over 25 years since the line ‘Print is dead’ was rambled off in Ghostbusters.  Since that time print media has had its ups and downs and is once again struggling for life.  Oddly enough, technology may have extended its life.  With audio and video so dominant in our lives in the 80s and early 90s, the Internet would spawn a whole new revival of print.  Of course this was also driven by the fact that in the early days connection speeds were slow enough that print remained the primary mode of communication over the Internet.  But as technology growth continues, audio and video interaction and delivery over the Internet is once again changing the rules.  You might be wondering at this point, what this has to do with anything here at WSIC? « continue reading »

What Is A Sabbatical?

While the likely origins appear to be related to the word Sabbath, in recent times the term has become synonymous with the concept of an extended break.  It has been a concept used in academia for some time and is often associated with professors who will take an extended leave from their normal faculty position.  However, it is not just a break to do nothing, the goal is the time off allows for pursuit of an interest that would take an extended period of time to complete.  That might mean writing a book, working abroad, or even getting a new degree.  The concept even appears to be gaining traction in the corporate world with nearly 20% of Fortune’s top 100 from 2 years ago offering paid sabbaticals, and even more offering extended time off without pay.  So what in the world does this have to with WSIC? « continue reading »

When Is A Tropical Cyclone A Tropical Cyclone?

Seems logical enough doesn’t it, a tropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone. Reality is a tropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone only when ‘someone’ decides it is a tropical cyclone. You are probably thinking so what, no real big difference there, but in a science primarily governed mathematical equations and the laws of physics and thermodynamics, that involvement of ‘someone’ can be very significant. So really there are two important questions here – When is a tropical cyclone a tropical cyclone? AND Why the heck does it matter? « continue reading »

Really, That Many Hurricanes?

This time of year gets particularly busy for me with the start of the North Atlantic hurricane season (as you can probably tell by the lack of recent posts).  However, that delay is your good fortune as all the latest predictions for this year’s hurricane season have come in, and if the majority our correct we are in for a season full of live report’s from various coastal locations by your favorite reporters. « continue reading »

Does Size Matter?

By Angela Fritz

When you want to determine how intense or how strong a hurricane season was, there are many ways you can calculate it.  An obvious place to start would be summing the intensity of the individual tropical cyclones in that season.  When a cyclone is defined as a tropical storm or a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), it is given a ranking on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSHS).  It can be a TS (tropical storm) or a category 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, with 5 having the strongest winds .  Category 5’s that we can remember well would be Hurricane Andrew of 1992, or Katrina of 2005 (although I should note, Katrina was a Category 3 when it made landfall).  When we take a step back and look at the number of strong hurricanes in a given season, we begin to get an idea of how bad that particular season was.  That is, until we dig in a little deeper.

Can You Pronounce Eyjafjallajokull?

Even after listening to it said multiple times I still can’t, but then again my language skills (especially for those based on Viking speak) have never been one of my strong points. If you want to learn, you can follow along as the Good Morning American Crew listens and admits their inability to get it. So while you may not be able to say Eyjafjallajokull, it is very likely that you have at least heard numerous stories in the last couple of weeks about people impacted by the ‘Icelandic Volcanic Eruption’. So how is it that an event that seems so remote can have such a major impact on so many people? « continue reading »

Did The Weather Cause That Earthquake?

 

This has been a common question for me over the last few weeks.  For anyone who knows what I do, they all want to know if somehow weather or climate change is to some degree related to the rash of very strong earthquakes we have seen around the globe.  Quickly I assure them this is not the case and try to do so without delving too deeply into the realm of thermodynamics because I get lost enough on that topic without any help.  But of course prompted these inquiries prompted some questions in my mind like:

How Sure Are You About That Forecast?

For anyone with experience making plans around a weather forecast, there is no doubt that you have wondered how sure the weather forecaster was about that forecast that seemed to be nothing like the day actually turned out. Of course there are many days when the forecast seems spot on (although we never seem to remember those). Now that blown forecast may be due to some lack of skill, but often if can be attributed to knowingly high uncertainty in the forecast when it was issued. So why in the world did they forecast a specific temperature or condition? « continue reading »

So What Does a 8.8 Earthquake Feel Like?

Thankfully I do not know, but being roughly 200 miles away was close enough.  Actually, I had not planned to discuss this topic but since the shaking struck again (zone of squiggly icons SW of Santiago in the graphic) as I was working on an alternate post yesterday, it seemed as I was being jolted for a reason.
Living in Santiago for many years now, one gets use to occasional tremors and generally speaking they are not strong enough to greatly influence your behavior.  However, in the early morning hours of February 27th that changed.  I was awakened as the bed moved (and yes I usually sleep through them), but unlike most this shake kept going and getting stronger.  It being in the middle of the night, it was not until looking at the alarm that the power outage was confirmed.  A quick look around the house inside and out revealed not serious damage, but not exactly something you go right back to sleep after.  However, without power no easy way to get more info on the quake.
Finding out a bit later in the morning that it was an 8.8 and had struck just offshore (the star location) made my mind start racing.  How bad was it closer to the #epicenter# (Concepcion is the green circle only 60 miles away)?  Was there a #tsunami#?  What would the #aftershocks# be like?  And of course, were friends and colleagues ok? Without power or phones I suddenly felt completely unable to address any of these issues, so attention turns to the basics – do I have water, food, gas and batteries, thankfully yes.  The next few days would reveal so much, and while I was fortunate enough to not lose anything meaningful, others weren’t so lucky.
The remainder of this post will provide you some lists to help convey important, interesting and even bizarre tidbits that have forever ingrained themselves into my long-term memory banks.
Trying to explain nerdy science stuff to non nerdy folks
Why is this #Richter scale# so confusing even if it is logical to nerdy folks – agreed when you try to comprehend that an 8.8 is 500 times more powerful than the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti – I recommend the #Modified Mercallie Scale# – which takes into account other variables like depth and position to create shake maps #like this one#
What is a #subduction zone# and why does it have to do with Chile earthquakes, volcanoes and even the Andes mountains -
Why does a tsunami form from an earthquake and why does it travel around the world
What it feels like on my own personal scale
Mild quakes remind me of being in a building when a large vehicle or train goes by, or being on a bridge as a large vehicle or multiple vehicles pass by.
Medium quakes take on two different qualities, the last longer and therefore cause you to really take notice and often are a bit less rhythmic like a washing machine that gets out of balance.  It might feel like driving through a gravel road with sporadic potholes or multiple sets of train tracks
Strong quakes take on a level of intensity and uncertainty that is like being tossed around in a large wooden roller coaster or a long stretch of turbulence on an airplane.  The biggest difference from both of these is usually you have enough time to get outside and realize that everything is moving and you don’t know when it will stop (very disturbing)
Severe quakes, don’t know personally and hope I never do
What was surreal
Finding power in another part of the city and finally making contact with family and friends via cell phones, email, #facebook#, #twitter# and #linkedin# while it seems business as usual in this Dunkin Donuts
Finding an open store with 50+ check out lines stacked 50+ people in each, some with the logical – bread, water, batteries, candles, etc., others with beer, wine, steak, etc., clearly different agendas
Major aftershocks one minute, people vacuuming, mowing and seemingly back to the same old routine the next
Powerful reminders
There is never a time too trivial to tell someone you care or take the time to spend with ones important to you – like that man teaching his 10 year old to drive on my street a few days later – just missed me, but precious moment to witness and clearly he realized he almost never had that chance
Losing power and communications for two days is nothing like losing everything you ever had, or ones you love – some things can never ever be replaced
First hand experience is the only real one – watching and reading coverage afterwards was no where close to what I actually felt and witnessed, and quite often focused on whatever would capture viewers and readers but not close to the overall reality
Be Prepared – I was never a boy scout, but what a great motto, think about where you live and work and know enough about events which could impact you and what you need to do so you can minimize the impact on you and those around you
Act – when exposed to these life events, they are a reminder to not let life, good and bad, pass you by without getting into the mix – helping, caring, changing, growing, living!
What you can do to help
The list that follows are some way you can donate to help those who have had their lives forever altered by natural disaster tragedies.  For those of you who have already contributed – Thank You!  For those of you who are not in a position to help financially, there are always ways you can give of your time and abilities to help those in need, seek those out.
Until next time – LIVE and make the most of your time, gifts, relationships, talents and abilities!

quakeThankfully I do not know, but being roughly 200 miles away was close enough.  Actually, I had not planned to discuss this topic but since major shaking struck again (zone of squiggly icons SW of Santiago in the graphic) as I was working on an alternate post yesterday, it seemed as I was being jolted for a reason.

Living in Santiago for many years now, one gets use to occasional tremors and generally speaking they are not strong enough to greatly influence your behavior.  However, in the early morning hours of February 27th that changed.  I was awakened as the bed moved (and yes I usually sleep through them), but unlike most this shake kept going and getting stronger.  It being in the middle of the night, it was not until looking at the alarm clock that the power outage was confirmed.  A quick look around the house inside and out revealed no serious damage, but not exactly something you go right back to sleep after.  However, without power there was no easy way to get more info on the quake right away.

Finding out a bit later in the morning that it was an 8.8 magnitude earthquake and had struck just offshore (the star location) made my mind start racing.  How bad was it closer to the epicenter (Concepcion is the green circle only 60 miles away)?  Was there a tsunami?  What would the aftershocks be like?  And of course, were friends and colleagues ok? Without power or phones I suddenly felt completely unable to address any of these issues, so attention turns to the basics – do I have water, food, gas and batteries, thankfully yes.  The next few days would reveal so much, and while I was fortunate enough to not lose anything meaningful, others weren’t so lucky. « continue reading »