Musings

31 August 2017, Thursday

There is unimaginable misery in Houston, Texas--and now Beaumont to the east. Even when the floodwaters recede, one cannot go home again. The sheetrock/drywall is mush, dangerous mold abounds, and, of course, anything electrical is no longer trustworthy. Hurricane Harvey was an ordinary hurricane. The Gulf Coast hasn't experienced many powerful hurricanes since Katrina, so we must readjust. We can't really blame this storm on climate change because even an ordinary hurricane will cause massive flooding when it gets stuck, and Harvey got stuck over Houston. Historically, there have been other hurricanes drop 50 inches of rain on a single location. Hurricanes are tremendous heat-redistribution machines that relocate heat from the lower atmosphere and lower latitudes to the upper atmosphere and upper latitudes. The magnitude of energy in these machines is astronomical. Just think of the 25 trillion gallons of water dropped on Texas and Louisiana. We tend to build cities in precarious locations. New Orleans is perhaps the ultimate precarious location in the category of flooding. Being below sea level does not help. There are other reasons as well; for example, the silt-laden Mississippi River has been wanting since the 1970s to change course and travel down the Atchafalaya to the sea. The Atchafalaya River is quite west of the Mississippi River's current route. Regarding locating cities, it is perhaps worthwhile to think of the presence of hills.

25 August 2017, Friday

Hurricane Harvey is churning up greater and greater strength off the Texas Coast as we speak. It will likely be a Category 3 storm when it hits the coast. We in Hattiesburg, Mississippi will likely receive considerable rain and a chance for flooding. It is hard to say with exactness when dealing with hurricanes. Before hurricane season, I take a look at temperatures of the eastern Pacific Ocean to see if conditions are either in a state of normality, in a state of El Nino, or in a state of La Nina. Right now, we are in very normal conditions with the eastern Pacific Ocean. With normal conditions, the Gulf Coast of the US is more prone to have hurricane impacts, so be ready to batten down the hatches until December. For more information about conditions in the Pacific, go to http://www.climate.gov/enso .


17 July 2017, Monday

On 21 August 2017, a total eclipse will occur in the United States on a path from Oregon to South Carolina. In Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1984, I remember the effects of a near-total eclipse. The effects are quite memorable, and Hattiesburg will experience them again with the predicted 85% near-total eclipse of 2017. Here are a few effects I remember:

1. The whole atmosphere darkens. It is not like a setting sun with bright and dark spots.
2. The breeze will pick up.
3. Sunlight that passes through tree leaves will reflect images of the eclipse on the ground, so one can see images of the eclipsing solar disk on the ground.



18 January 2017, Wednesday

Astronaut Eugene Cernan (born 1934) died Monday, 16 January 2017. He was the last man to step foot off the moon. On Netflix, there is a documentary about him titled "The Last Man on the Moon". I watched it, and it made me sad because, as a boy, the space race meant a lot to me. That glory is all in the past. The year 1972 marks a turning point in our national momentum toward major scientific goals. I will soon do an essay soon about 1972. A personal goal of mine is to shake hands with one of the few remaining astronauts still alive. I better hurry; they are all in their 80s now. I am sorry I didn't get to meet Eugene. He and I, I know, would agree on so much about how much we need the kind of scientific goals we had in the past. If you want to meet somebody, don't hesitate.

In the menu on the left, there is a topic titled Apollo Videos. There is a youtube video of Cernan's lunar module taking off from the moon (3rd video on the page). Those scenes are so cool. We were so smart then. Let's rejuvenate that smartness. Let's give it the ole college try!
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