Daily Archives: March 19, 2011

Death of a Russian Cosmonaut

Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin is coming out next month and it sounds pretty amazing.

…The space vehicle is shoddily constructed, running dangerously low on fuel; its parachutes — though no one knows this — won’t work and the cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, is about to, literally, crash full speed into Earth, his body turning molten on impact. As he heads to his doom, U.S. listening posts in Turkey hear him crying in rage, “cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.”…

Read more here

Father Knows Best. Depending on the father, of course

Skepchick Evelyn (who also comments here now and then) is writing an interesting series of posts that consist of interviews by her of her dad, an Nuclear Engineer, regarding what is going on in Japan. I think this link is probably the best way to get to them.

Speaking of Skepchicks, you should check out this post. It’s amazing. Yet mundane. You will, like, totally LOL. Hebbo.

The Water is Rising

The amount of water available to produce floods is at a much higher than average level for Minnesota, including the Minnesota, Red, Mississippi and Saint Croix river drainages, not to mention smaller rivers and streams. As I write this personnel at the National Weather Service are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on watches and warnings for this area.

The snow pack has been melting for a few days and continues to do so, and is actually doing it at a nice pace. The melting stops over night as it gets cold, and only slowly resumes until the warmest part of the day, then slows down again. If the melting stays like this, flooding will be reduced. If it rains and gets very warm, we’re screwed.

It will be interesting to see how Fargo and other communities along the Red River react to there being no significant flooding, should that happen. Will the hundreds who have spent thousands of hours messing around with sand bags over the last couple of weeks take credit for stopping a flood that didn’t happen? Will he good citizens of the Red River Valley realize that they spent piles of time and money for something that didn’t happen, and thus, experienced a costly non-flood that would not have happened if the floods were not an issue? What I’m getting at, here, is the prospect that even in years when there is no flood, the threat of a flood is real, and costly, and that cost (monetary, emotional, social) should be considered when thinking about things like “do we move our homes and businesses out of the flood zone?”

The next few days will stay cold at night and not too warm during the day, but tomorrow there will be enough rain to hasten snow pack disintegration. There may be some flooding in spots, therefore, on Sunday. We are expecting more rain mid week, but still temperatures will be cool and Wednesday’s rain may actually fall as the frozen stuff (a.k.a. snow). And, remarkably, next weekend it will snow a bit more, and over the next 10 days, the high temperature will not pass about 40F and the lows will be below freezing almost every night across most of the state.

This means that a) the flooding may end up not being as bad as it could be, if enough snow pack gently melts away and b) the original forecasts, dating back a week or so, of major flooding happening in early April seem right. But do beware: Tomorrow’s rain may be a problem for you, depending on where you live.

Don’t drive into the water. Sounds like simple advice but some of you will, and some of you will ruin your cars or die or some other stupid thing. We have a whole warehouse of Darwin Awards.

Here’s a nice list
of flooding related resources from WCCO.

This is not something you see every day

One day I was walking along a path dedicated to philosophers in Kyoto, Japan, with my friend Hitomi. It was interesting that there even was a path dedicated to philosophers. It made me think deeply about paths, which at the time was the subject of my PhD Thesis. Suddenly, earning a Doctorate of Philosophy with a specialization in Paths made sense. But that feeling wore off quickly enough when we something rather unusual unexpectedly appeared in the sky.
Continue reading This is not something you see every day