Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The article "Raiders of the Lost Lake" by Alan Bellows talks about a Russian drilling company in Antarctica that found, but did not disturb, an underwater lake the size of Lake Ontario in Michigan. The lake is underneath 2 miles of glaciers and hasn’t seen sunlight for about 500,000 years or more. If the drill were to breach the ice above the lake 60 gallons of kerosene would fall into the lake and contaminate it beyond repair. The kerosene was to keep the water from refreezing around the drill. The Russians were drilling there to take ice samples because they heard that Antarctica was once a very tropical are with palm trees and all that beachy stuff. Once Australia and South America moved away, they took the warm currents with them and deprived the beaches so that they eventually froze and formed the Antarctica that we know and love. When other scientist heard of the discovery of the underground lake they had a field day and made a pact with the Russians that no military force would be used to take control of Lake Vostok. Scientist had devised a plan to send a drill down that would make a whole that would refreeze after the drill was through. Once it reached the lake the drill would open and send out a camera that would take pictures of all of the creatures down there. Another reason that we don’t want the Russians to keep drilling is because once they reach the lake, all the pressure of the air and water will make an explosion that might send all the water from the lake and the kerosene out into the open air and expose all of the other lakes. This could be a massive learning experience for the science community but what they find may not be community appropriate, as in it might scare every one in the public. The things that could scare them would be the microorganisms in the water, though small could be dangerous or helpful to the community.
The article "A Large Hearted Gentlemen" by Jason Bellows talks about Jim Corbett and his uncanny knack to track large cats in the Indonesian jungle and not to kill them but to track and document them in their natural habitat. The only time Corbett would shoot an animal was when everyone was screaming about the man eating tigers and panthers. He would kill them and learn that they were hunting humans because they were either old or had injuries so they couldn’t hunt regular game. One of the man eaters that Corbett killed was a panther in the Indonesian jungle. He found one of the animals favorite trails and set a goat in the trail, hid in a mango tree and waited for the animal to come. On the 11th day that Corbett was in the tree the animal came, Corbett turned on his light and shot the animal. When he got out of the tree to examine the animal he saw that it had porcupine wounds in its leg that had been there for many years. As most little spikes like that dissolve, porcupine needles don’t, so when the needles go in they don’t come out without some one doing something about it. With the porcupine needles in the cat’s leg, the muscles started to rot and the bone was wearing thin, that’s why the cat hunted humans instead of regular game. I think the lesson from this story is that you shouldn’t make false presumptions when you don’t know the real answer or don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The article "Gimli Glider" by Alan Bellows talks about how The Gimli Glider, which is a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, got its name. In one particular flight history was made. While the passengers were loading and before the plane took off, the ground crew told the pilots that the gas tank gauges weren’t working but, everything else was okay. The flight started at 5:48 eastern time in Montreal, Canada. They made a stop, to check the fuel, in Ottawa and then didn’t think that they would need to make another stop until they reached Winnipeg, Canada. When they were about 80 miles away from Winnipeg they heard loud noises coming from the left side of the plane, this followed a warning where all the lights to the fuel tank were flashing. At first they didn’t know what had happened but then they felt the plane pulled to the left and they determined that the left engine was out. They called Air Traffic Control Tower in Winnipeg, told them what had happened and were told that they could land at either Gimli or Winnipeg airport. They chose to land at Winnipeg because there was emergency equipment present. About 15 minutes later the pilots called Air Traffic Control back telling them they had now lost both engines, would land at Gimli because it was closer and asked them to send emergency personnel. Gimli airport was decommissioned and closed but not destroyed so there was still a runway but that was used for racing. At the time that the emergency occurred there was a race going on, where a lot of people were gathered. Since both plane engines out and the races activities were loud no one heard the plane trying to land. Luckily someone saw the plane and told everyone to get out of there. The pilots had released an emergency engine that used the wind to power itself and they were able to get the landing gear down except for the front landing gear which was just hanging down there. The plane was able to land safely and no one was killed or badly hurt. Due to the lack of front landing gear, the inflatable slides in the back of the plane were pretty steep so some people got bruised and cut a little bit. The emergency personnel were almost to the crash site when they ran out of gas “which almost ripped a whole in the space-irony continuum.” (Quoted from DamnInteresting.com) The plane was able to get back in the air a little later and the fuel tanks when searched were found bone dry. The same 747 still flies to this day in Canada. This would have been one flight I would not like to have taken again.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The article “Doctor Watson’s Phobia Factory” by Alan Bellows is about how some ethically challenged, over enthusiastic researchers who are willing to conduct research studies that can have life long effects on humans if they are the test subjects. One physiologist like the one described above, John B. Watson, who was experimenting with a baby, which is probably one the most unethical things of all. What he did was use a hammer to hit a metal rod while the baby was holding a furry little animal, and wondered if this would scare the baby enough so that it wouldn’t go near that kind of animal again. The doctor’s thoughts were correct in that when the rod was struck while the baby was holding the animal it would get as far away as possible and maybe start crying. They scientist would give the baby an animal without hitting the rod and the baby would still react the same way. Then they put a rabbit in the baby’s lap and let it sit there for a while and the baby got enough courage built up and started touching the rabbit. After a short time of the baby getting comfortable with rabbit the metal rod was struck and the baby turned away immediately and started crying. The scientist gave the baby one month “off”, they let him go home and not be around animals of hammers. Then brought him back to the lab were they tested the baby again but the month were the baby was gone did nothing for its fear. Soon after Watson finished the experiment and published his discoveries and he was ridiculed because of his unethical experiment and he was also asked to leave were he worked at Johns Hopkins because of his extra marital affairs. In the end Watson lost his job, wife and he couldn’t teach or experiment anymore. This man Watson must have been very curious in the psychological boundaries of science because he went to the extent to mentally upset a baby for the rest of his life. He also based his experiment off the experiment of Pavlov’s notorious dogs had been conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell. The fear might have been reversible if he tried to do some thing but he didn’t have enough time because he needed to get his information published before anyone else. No one knows what happened to the baby and if the fear of animals followed him into adult hood or not because of the unethical experiment. Also, why would the mother or father of the baby let some one do something like this?