Thursday, February 21, 2013
Given that NASA is reporting on a huge new sunspot, and not much progress has occurred in debating securing the power grid against space weather, another film about the possible effects of a coronal mass ejection or a “solar flare” (not quite the same) would be welcome.
I rented “Air Collision” (2012, dir. Liz Adams, Asylum Films), which is predicated on the idea that a solar storm knocks out all electromagnetic communications. But this C-movie just gets plain silly. Satellites fall out of the sky as if they were meteorites or broken asteroids and destroy cities, and then a passenger airline winds up in a collision course with Air Force One (itself another movie, 1997, Wolfgang Petersen). Then really silly moral dilemmas occur on the passenger plane.
My father would have said, “this is only a movie.” But a good documentary on the dangers of space weather seems very much in need.
The official Facebook is here.
The film can be rented on YouTiube for $3.99.
Newt Gingrich would not be impressed by this film.
Monday, February 11, 2013
The 2004 film “911: In Plane Site”, by William Lewis, running 72 minutes in the “Director’s Cut”, and narrated by David von Kleist of “The Power Hour”, presents some interesting observations about the planes that crashed on 9/11, although it’s hard to see how we could explain away what has become accepted as standard history of the attacks.
The film starts with an examination of the crash into the Pentagon, and maintains that a 757 would have done much more damage immediately. There is interesting footage of the exposed cross section of the Pentagon that shows undamaged furniture, computers, and even books.
Later the film looks at the footage of the plane hitting the South Tower, and makes a case for the idea that a device had been attached to the bottom of the plane to make it explode first. It tries to examine the footage frame-by-frame much as has been done with the Kennedy assassination. It then makes a similar observation from the well known French film clip (made by a crew in NYC that day making a documentary about the fire department) of the North Tower strike.
It also claims that Flight 93 also landed in Cleveland (which leaves us wondering what accounted for the crash in Pennsylvania). However, my own aunt (who passed away in 2010 but who was fully articulate at the time of the crash) said that several people north of the town of Kipton, Ohio (5 miles west of Oberlin) had seen a plane turning around very low and almost crashing that morning.
The film also plays forgotten media reports of unexploded second and third bombs at the Oklahoma City site in 1995.
It claims that President Roosevelt knew that Pearl Harbor would happen in advance, and that a “Northwoods” report urged bogus attacks against America’s own citizens in order to generate war against the Communists in the early 1960s.
The film can be viewed free on YouTube now, but I watched in on Netflix.
Friday, February 01, 2013
The Weather Channel offers a series on Thursday nights called “Deadliest Space Weather”.
On January 31, the first half hour discussed the 900-mph steady winds in the supercold atmosphere of Neptune. The winds are explained by the mechanics of the planet’s rotation, thick atmosphere, and heat from the core.
By the way, Neptune looks blue because of methane in the upper atmosphere. On Earth, methane can become a greenhouse gas (if released from permafrost or methane hydrate undersea).
A 900 mph wind could grind down the Pyramids in Egypt in about four years.
The episode stated that the highest wind speeds on Earth have probably been over 300 mph in the high spots on Antarctica. Winds over 200 mph have been recorded on Mt. Washington, and in mountain terrain you don’t need storms for very high winds. Sometimes the jet stream can come down to mountain tops, and Bernoulli effects can cause catastrophic gusts.
The highest wind speed ever recorded in a tornado apparently is about 320 mph in Oklahoma in 1989.
Climate change, then, has not necessarily increased the maximum possible severity of at least localized tornadoes. (The right wing is "right" on that point.) But it might increase the frequency, or cause major tornadoes in areas not accustomed to them.
The film showed the destruction from the huge tornado in Joplin, MO in 2011, and estimated wind speeds at about 220 mph.
The second half hour discussed meteroids, meteors, and meteorites. A football-field sized meteorite apparently exploded (not reaching the ground intact) over a remote area of Siberia in 1908 and burned an area the size of Rhode Island. Such a blast could destroy any major city.
A large enough meteorite landing in an ocean could produce a tsunami wave over 600 feet high (as in the 1998 film “Deep Impact”, which preceded “Armageddon”). Such a wave from the Atlantic would destroy all major cities on the East Coast, everything below the Fall Line.
The challenge is to develop the technology to detect asteroids, comets and meteors and nudge them out of collision course with Earth.
The link for the series is here.
It will be interesting to find an episode from the Weather Channel on solar storms.