To my loyal blog readers, thank you for allowing me the time to recover from my most recent 30,000 mile jet trip to Africa and South America. That was a travel and blogging marathon, and I needed a few weeks to catch my literary (and literal) breath. I am now back in the saddle again.
Science in modern society suffers a few ills, not the least of which is the production of misinformation that can be used to negate certain unwelcome results. From a personal perspective, I have seen the way certain religious groups attempt to discredit accepted methods for the dating of rock formations. Multiple lines of evidence that yield reliable and verifiable dates are nonetheless refuted by some who would rather we use a few verses in a 2,000 year old book from the Middle East to interpret earth history. With such beautiful evidence for an ancient earth (which by the way elevates the idea of god in most peoples minds), why would anyone adhere to the the idea of a 6,000 year earth? It boggles the mind.
Some scientists are finding that the generation of misinformation is itself a topic ripe for study. Robert Proctor, professor of the history of science at Stanford University, has undertaken a sudy of the development of misinformation and an interesting article published in the LA Times can be read here. Proctor looked at the first wave of manufactured misinformation that was developed by the tobacco industry. From there the vice has grown to include climate change deniers and the Affordable Health Care Act fear mongers. It all leads to greed.
In the end, science is the field that suffers. We create a society that not only fears science but despises it. One need only look to see the results in the society we live in.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Watch this excellent 7-minute video to see it as if you were there in the Apollo 8 Command Module.
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Most everyone I spoke to on this trip expressed some mixed emotions as we approached Sanford Airport in Orlando. No one was eager to go on for another week - these trips are too fast paced and action packed. No ones waistline could take it either. But the group was quite congenial and good natured and some friendships were made. So it was with some young and yang that we bid this trip to the history bin.
What is it like on jet rip like this?
Well, we get to walk on tarmacs a lot and get close to the jet and it's inner workings
Even stand by the engines and get a short description of how it works from the two engineers that travel with us
The jet is quite roomy with comfortable seats and fantastic service
Eazster Foldvary was our expedition leader...
...with Ester Pereria as the assistant. They were both fantastic trip leaders (I have traveled with them both before many times).
But what is it really like? I find that I need to decompress a lot on these trips, to just look for any private moments I can since the rest of the time I am so public. For that reason, I usually feel like I wish I had talked more to my fellow staff persons on the trip. I think we all are so involved with our jobs every moment and stealing the few moments we can for private time that we really have so little time to just reflect on it all. There is probably no way around this, just interesting.
I really enjoy seeing the world we live in. As I have mentioned many times on these pages, I thoroughly enjoy watching the jet slice through the sky and scraping the clouds. It is so beautiful up there and when you have the luxury to fly often, the tendency to watch "deeper" increases. Today, on the way home in my commercial jet, I watch overcast over Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico for four hours! I guess I am odd that way. But hey, it is better to be entertained than bored to tears.
I wonder when this gif will come obits eventual end. But I often recall the plea I made to my dad in 1964, when I asked him to take me to another state. I've always had the desire to see far off places and meet other cultures. That will never change. And now, I have the lovely Helen to come home to and I just feel like the luckiest person in the whole wide world!
Statistics for the trip:
We traveled 23,560 statute miles on the private jet. With my commercial flight to London and back home, I went over 30,000 miles on a jet in 25 days.
We had 14 take-offs and 14 landings on the private jet.
We used 53,698 US gallons of fuel
We used 1300 pounds of ice, 70 pounds of cheese, 120 bottles of white wine and 140 bottles of red.
Whew! I'm coming home Helen.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Our last stop on this African and South American adventure was at the active volcano of Masaya and the colonial city of Grenada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.
Hiking up to the sister crater to the east
Looking back to Masaya
This crater has been inactive for many years and we could see its floor. The steam and vapor in the other cone precluded a view inside.
Note the alternating cliffs and thin slopes. The cliffs are formed from lava flows while the slopes are horizons of ash and cinders that are unconsolidated, thus weathering into vegetation-covered slopes.
Every now and then the wind would shift and we could see a bit into Masaya crater
The unvegetated ridge in the background is part of the outer ring of a caldera and the lack of trees is due to the volcanic gases that blow in that direction. It was a fantastic morning.
Back in Managua we visited the ruins of the city cathedral, destroyed by the 1972 earthquake
And we got to visit the wonderfully preserved footprints made about 2,120 BP, in soft volcanic soil. The site is called Ancahualinca. A description can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_footprints_of_Acahualinca
Thursday, January 30, 2014
We took an eight hour flight from South America to Central America. Our route was over the Paraná River, the Amazon basin, and into the southern part of Nicaragua. I gave my fifth lecture when we flew over the Andes in northern Ecuador. It was cloudy so I didn't miss anything. I got some great shots of rivers and volcanoes on the way in.
Our hotel at Iguazu, the Das Cataratas
Summertime clouds over southern Brazil and Paraguay
This is likely the Parana River and the boundary between Brazil and Paraguay
As we approached the Amazon River, we saw many looping tributaries
There were many oxbow lakes, places where a loop in the River had been cut off. The course of this river is similar to the San Juan in Utah, except this one is not incised 1,200 feet.
As we landed in Iquitos, Peru for fuel, the great Amazon came into view. A boat on the river would barely be discernible, the river is that large.
More great clouds
And then Lake Nicaragua came into view with a volcanic island shrouded in clouds within it
This the famous two-volcano island of Ometepe. This conical gem is called Vulcan Concepcion. There is a cloud on top of the cone making it only look like it is erupting.
Aerial view of the colonial city of Grenada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. I will have pictures of the colorful houses from here in my next post.
Grenada is framed by the Mombacho volcano, which lost it's top in a fiery eruption some 20,000 years ago
It was a short flight from Buenos Aires to Iguazu and this would be our only one night stay. But we packed a lot into the short time we were here.
Flying into the Brazilian side of the falls
Into the jungle for a boat ride on the Iguazu River.
The falls pour over Cretaceous-age basalt, erupted about 121 Ma and known as the Parana volcanics. These lavas are related to the rifting that occurred when the South Atlantic Ocean opened between Africa and South America. The polygons here are weathering features as water invades the fractures and begins to chemically dissolve the rock along these lines of weakness.
Our craft as we head up the rive towards the falls
The power of the falls is astounding and flow levels were high enough that we dare not travel father up to the main falls
It was a wet and enjoyable ride
Time to view the falls from the top
Looking into the Devil's Throat on the Brazilian side. This was one of the highest levels of flow I have ever seen here and record flows were recorded last June. The power and sound of the falls is impressive.
The average discharge of the Iguazu River is between 600,000 and 1,500,000 cubic feet per second!
It was hot and steamy during our visit, about 92 degrees with about 95% humidity. I was soaked.
These is a catwalk constructed right above the lip of the falls. This photo looks downstream over the lip. In June the water ran over this catwalk.
At the end of the trail where the Devil's Throat is located. The falls are an impressive knickpoint on the River that is slowly migrating upstream. As rocks are plucked off the edge of the falls, the falls gradually retreat in the upstream direction.
The Itaipu Dam on the Parana River is one of the largest hydroelectric plants in the world. Only the Three Gorges Dam is larger. When this dam was completed in the 1980's, it drowned out the Seven Falls on the Parana, the location of a knickpoint on that river. My next post will be about the fantastic flight from Brazil to Nicaragua.