Last summer, NASA’s Global Hawk drones flew over two storms at 60,000
feet and dropped parachute-equipped devices that collected temperature,
humidity and wind measurements. Ferek says that when this information
was integrated into the model, intensity forecasts improved by about 25
to 40 percent. “Only by flying over with Global Hawks and getting data
from 65,000 feet to the surface,” says Ferek, “did we begin to
understand these missing physics.”
Seaweb nodes are capable of exchanging information through dozens of
kilometres of water. Such long ranges, however, require the use of
low-frequency sound waves, which reduces the data rate. Joseph Rice, the
project’s leader, says a Seaweb node can send a low-resolution photo to
another one 5km away in five seconds—two seconds to emit the sound
waves, and another three for them to travel that far. In seawater
acoustic waves carry only a few thousand bits of data per second, but
they travel at 5,600kph (3,500mph)—five times the speed of sound in air.
It is hardly broadband, but it can be used to connect submarines and
warships to sensors and roving subsea drones, also known as unmanned
underwater vehicles (UUVs). Mr Rice imagines that UUVs might deploy
sensor nodes and could visit them when required to download the data
they have collected in large quantities. Sensors could also alert UUVs
of any unusual readings that require investigation.
Instead of digitizing existing nautical charts, the team incorporated detailed data from water-depth sounding instruments aboard research ships and mathematical models to interpolate three-dimensional geographic data points on the seafloor. Multibeam bathymetric survey techniques provide a rapid means of
determining the morphology and nature of the seafloor. The recent
Hydrosweep DS-2 System onboard RV Polarstern provides 59 individual
soundings of the water depth and echo strength for each ping.
“Although very little sunlight penetrates to the deep sea, many deep dwellers produce a bioluminescent light…Widder and her colleagues therefore fitted Medusa with an electronic device that mimicked the bioluminescence that jellyfish produce when attacked to serve as a lure. It worked: Medusa first encountered a squid during its second deployment, igniting jubilation on the ship. “I just was blown away,” says Widder,” I couldn’t have been happier.”
Medusa ended up encountering a squid five times, culminating with a full view of one apparently attacking the camera system in a manner consistent with the alarm hypothesis. The squid was about 4 meters long, although giant squid can grow as large as 10 meters or more.
During a dive about a week after the first Medusa success in their Triton submersible, Kubodera and pilot Jim Harris had a face-to-face encounter. Once they had taken enough low-light footage, they turned on the sub’s bright main lights, expecting to spook the squid. Instead, the animal continued to feed on bait tied to the sub. For 18 mesmerizing minutes the pair watched as the huge animal’s skin shifted between unexpected gold and silver metallic hues.”
The laboratory is not the kind of place where you can just drop in. Normal access is by boat and then by foot to the tunnel entrance some 500 metres above sea level or by helicopter.
The opening to the ice itself is usually closed with steel beams that are removed when researchers need access.
Research activity takes place mainly in the winter when there is little water under the (Norwegian Svartisen) glacier.
To access the base of the glacier, researchers must use fire hoses with hot water to melt an opening in the ice. Scientists then have a tunnel that is about 2 m high in which to work. However, after the tunnel has been melted out researchers must act quickly because it shrinks to half its size each day.
My kids adored the book when they were young. Grownups can marvel about the superb visual effects ( and plenty of philosophical angles) in Ang Lee’s movie.
The New York Times describes the painstaking process of creating a digital tiger (4 actual ones were used for many of the scenes)
“These images take a progressive look through the meticulous process that went into constructing the digital tiger. Artists developed each layer of the animal’s physical makeup almost as if they were working on a biology experiment.
They started with the skeleton, which they used to control basic movements (segments with common colors, top right, move together), then added muscle, skin and fur. More than a dozen artists were assigned to the fur alone, focusing, for example, on how light shimmered on it. “
In many sequences I felt like I was on planet Pandora from the movie Avatar – spectacular fauna and flora as in an island with an army of meerkats and one with flying fish in the clip below.
BTW – one of my favorite scenes is when young Pi scribbles a few hundred digits of Pi, as in 22/7. If the scene had gone on the blackboard would have looked like this
New Scientist on how the warming Arctic is leading to all kinds of business. Excerpts (sub required for full article)
“Nearly a million visitors go to the Arctic each year. They account for more than 80,000 hotel-nights on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. Even greater numbers visit Greenland, where they easily outnumber the local population of just 55,000 people.”
“The number of voyages by fishing vessels in the Canadian Arctic increased sevenfold, to 221, between 2005 and 2010. The Inuit of Nunavut now run six factory ships trawling for turbot and other species in Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait, up from none 10 years ago.”
“Russian media report that the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea is the first permanent, ice-resistant oil production platform in the world. Russian oil giant Rosneft announced last year that it plans to build at least 10 more platforms.”
“Greenland is attracting huge attention. The south-west coast, around Kvanefjeld, probably holds the world's second largest deposit of rare earth elements and huge reserves of uranium and zinc - all together valued at almost half-a-trillion dollars.”
“The shortcut to Asia (the North-East passage) halves the shipping time from northern Europe to China to roughly 20 days, and avoids pirate-infested shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean. Russia expects a 40-fold increase in shipping along the route by 2020. American analysts say it could be carrying 5 per cent of world's shipping by 2050.”
I have been in the San Francisco Bay a few times – on ferries and in small craft. And the Golden Gate bridge, Alctraz, the glorious piers, the Presidio, and the SF downtown skyline usually dominate your senses.
Amazingly yesterday afternoon they were bit actors in a technology dominated few hours.
Thanks to Oracle, we were in a Protector high-speed boat (capable of getting upto 40 knots). Could have comfortably sat another 4 besides us 6. Needless to say, I was a kid in a candy store and asked Barry, the captain all kinds of questions about navigation charts and GPS and wakes at high speed.
This being Fleet Week in SF, we saw all kinds of vessels like the amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island with several helicopters on its deck, a massive NYK container vessel setting sail (presumably) to Japan, the twin Coast Guard cutters, Sockeye and Tern, which Barry said patrol these waters quite often, their guns mercifully pointed downwards.
Fleet Week also brings the Blue Angels with their F-18 Hornets to the Bay Area, and they did several acrobatic formations and fly-bys.
Wait! Those were still not the main attraction. It was the Fleet prep races for next year’s America’s Cup. Sailing greats Ben Ainslie, Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill competed in their advanced hull and tailsail beauties. We got to see the massive, deconstructed Oracle Racing carbon fiber hull and sails later at Pier 80.
What was less visible was the technology that is going into videotaping and the sensors that are helping track every aspect of the teams’ performance. A helicopter with a remote controlled HD camera (not the consumer kind, worth over half a million dollars) hovered above the race and for future broadcasts will have an augmented reality system for fan guidance like the football yellow lines.
Before we left for the water, Oracle gave us a nice tour of the technology and the history of America’s Cup. They also thoughtfully gave us the nice windbreaker in photo above essential for the always chilly Bay.
You can see how the Golden Gate bridge became just a minor side show for the afternoon. That’s saying something!