Sunday, August 23, 2009

PBS Globe Trekker covers Canary Islands tsunami risk (Cumbre Vieja volcano)

On August 23, on PBS, "Globe Trekker" WETA (Alex Riley, apparently a Brit) toured the Spanish Islands: the Balearics off the coast of Spain, Mallorca (site of some chess tournaments) and most of all the Canary Islands, including Cumbre Vieja, the volcano that could trigger an avalanche resulting in a huge tsunami that would reach the East Coast of the United States. Reilly also took a gondola up a nearby volcano, and hiked to the 12000 foot barren summit. The particular volcano has been dormant for about 1000 years, but still leaked sulfurous fumes.

The link for the show is here.

Attribution link for Wikimedia map of Canary Islands here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PBS Wide Angle: "Eyes of the Storm": the junta supresses reporting of Cyclone Nargis in Burma

Aaron Brown (often on CNN, a major reporter on 9/11) narrates the 40 minute film PBS Wide Angle “Eyes of the Storm” about Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma) in May 2008, along with the political aftermath, including the continued repression of journalists by the ruling junta that has no real ideology.

MPT aired this on August 19, 2009 with this link.

The PBS link is here.

The program started with the coverage of a trial of a female journalist arrested for having “the wrong people” in her own home.

The documentary showed the carnage of the typhoon, but spent more time on social and political conditions in the country, including a ten year old forced to raise his siblings.

Check also ABC’s Foreign Correspondent here.

Attribution link for NOAA diagram of cyclone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

History Channel: The Universe: "Death Stars"

On Tuesday Aug. 18, the History Channel premiered its 2009 “Universe” series with the episode “Death Stars.”

The documentary examined blue giant start WR104, a huge “Rubyiat” that is already preparing to go supernova. The star might not have enough metallicity to avoid becoming a Gamma Ray Burst. From the position of the dust spirals nearby, we believe that Earth would be in the firing line 8000 years after a GRB. We are just close enough that our ozone layer could be set on fire, possibly a life extinguishing event. Once every billion years or so the Earth could be jeopardized by a GRB in the Milky Way.

There also exist “death galaxies” where entire small galaxies shoot out gamma rays to nearby galaxies. A few billion years from now, the Milky Way will merge with the larger Andromeda and could generate a death galaxy.

Binary neutron stars, of which there are about 24 in the Milky Way, could generate short GRB’s aimed at Earth.

A rogue neutron star could conceivably kick the Earth out of solar orbit, to freeze as a rogue planet X. Would they tell us? It sounds like the stuff of Jules Verne.

The “Star Wars” series presented its versions of death stars.

There are some supernova contenders even within 1000 light years, like red giant Beetlegeuse, only 500 light years away, and it might generate a GRB, but we are not in its blast line. A nearby supernova would be the brightest night object every seen.

Attribution link for NASA p.d. drawing of a GRB, here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ABC 20-20 documents Parkersburg, IA 2008 tornado

On Friday Aug. 14, ABC 20-20 presented a show on the May 25, 2008 Parkersburg, Iowa tornado. The show was called “Blown Away, Twister Terror”. The main news story is by Joanna Weiner with link here.

The report shows unusual video of the tornado actually forming. Later it describes how a walk-in cooler in a restaurant survived (with the patrons inside), while the rest of the building was blown away. The destruction wrought by the half-mile-wide EF5 tornado was described as “atomic.”

Afterward the authorities have to watch leaking natural gas and electric sparks.

The tornado sounds comparable to the 2007 Greensburg KS tornado.

Attribution link for NWS p.d. picture of Parkesburg IA.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

UC television offers major lecture on San Andreas Fault

Dr. Bridgett Smith, from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, gave a lecture in January 2008 on University of California Television, “Exploring Earthquake History Along the San Andreas Fault,” at the Scripps Aquarium.

There have been some media reports recently of increased activity along the fault, and the possibility of a major earthquake in California in the near future, so the lecture is of some interest.

The lecture includes a lot of color-coded animations, well done with some sort of animation software package, of earth movement during many different events going back to the early 19th Century. She pays particular attention to the Imperial Valley and Salton Sea, to Parkfield, and to the San Francisco area with the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes.

Attribution link for NASA photo of San Andreas fault. I visited the Imperial Valley area in February 2002 (when it was actually cool).