Friday, April 16, 2010

Iceland's Volcano

Iceland's disruptive volcano

Today, British civil aviation authorities ordered the country's airspace closed as of noon, due to a cloud of ash drifting from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. The volcano has erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. The volcanic ash has forced the cancellation of many flights and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Collected here are photos of the most recent eruption, and of last month's eruptions, which were from the same volcano, just several miles further east. (18 photos total)

Smoke billows from an erupting volcano which seems to be close to the top of the Eyjafjalla glacier on April 14, 2010 near Reykjavik. All London flights, including those from Heathrow, will be suspended from noon (1100 GMT) today due to volcanic ash from Iceland that has already caused almost 300 cancellations here, officials said. (AFP/Getty Images)


An aerial handout photo from the Icelandic Coast Guard shows flood caused by a volcanic eruption at Eyjafjalla Glacier in southern Iceland April 14, 2010. The volcanic eruption on Wednesday partially melted a glacier, setting off a major flood that threatened to damage roads and bridges and forcing hundreds to evacuate from a thinly populated area. Picture taken April 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Icelandic Coast Guard/Arni Saeberg) #


Melting ice caused by a volcanic eruption at Eyjafjalla Glacier in southern Iceland April 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Icelandic Coast Guard/Arni Saeberg) #


Photo taken on April 14, 2010 the Markarfljot glacial river, west of the Eyjafjalla glacier. Iceland's second volcano eruption in less than a month melted part of a glacier and caused heavy flooding on April 14, forcing up to 800 people to evacuate and grounding some flights over Norway. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images) #


Flooding caused by a volcanic eruption at Eyjafjalla Glacier in southern Iceland April 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Icelandic Coast Guard/Arni Saeberg) #


A man takes a picture of a road that has been washed away by flood water following the melting of the Eyjafjalla glacier due to the eruption of a volcano on April 14, 2010 near Reykjavik. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images) #


In this Wednesday April 14, 2010 photograph, smoke and steam are seen rising from the volcano under the Eyjafjalla glacier in Iceland, which erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. (AP Photo/Icelandic Coastguard) #


A natural-color satellite image shows lava fountains, lava flows, a volcanic plume, and steam from vaporized snow. The image was acquired on March 24, 2010, by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. The lava fountains are orange-red, barely visible at the 10-meter (33-foot) resolution of the satellite. The scoria cones surrounding the fissure are black, as is the lava flow extending to the northeast. White volcanic gases escape from the vent and erupting lava, while a steam plume rises where the hot lava meets snow. (The bright green color along the edge of the lava flow is an artifact of the sensor.) (NASA's Earth Observatory/Robert Simmon)#


This picture taken on March 27, 2010 shows lava spurting out of the site of a volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano some 125 km east of Reykjavik. With lava still gushing, a small Icelandic volcano that initially sent hundreds fleeing from their homes is turning into a boon for the island nation's tourism industry, as visitors flock to catch a glimpse of the eruption. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images) #


Tourists gather to watch lava spurt out of the site of a volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on March 27, 2010. Up to 800 people were evacuated in Iceland early on April 14, 2010 due to a volcano eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in the south of the island, police and geophysicists said. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images) #


People gather to watch lava flow at the site of a volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano near the Eyjafjalla glacier on March 27, 2010. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images) #


Heat shimmers above lava flowing from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland on March 28th, 2010. Original here. (Bruce McAdam / CC BY-SA) #


Lava spews out of a mountain on March 21, 2010 in the region of the Eyjafjalla glacier in Iceland. (RAGNAR AXELSSON/AFP/Getty Images) #


Lava spurts out of the site of a volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano near the Eyjafjalla glacier in Iceland on March 27, 2010. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images) #


Smoke and steam hang over the volcano under the Eyjafjalla glacier in Iceland, early Thursday April 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gaudi) #


Lava spews out of a mountain on March 21, 2010 in Hvolsvöllur in the region of the Eyjafjalla glacier in Iceland. (Fior Kjartansson/AFP/Getty Images) #


Steam and hot gases rise above lava flowing from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on April 3rd, 2010. Original here. (Ulrich Latzenhofer / CC BY-SA) #


This image made available by NEODASS/University of Dundee shows the volcanic ash plume from Iceland, top left, to the north of Britain at received by NASA's Terra Satellite at 11.39 GMT Thursday April 15, 2010. (AP Photo/NEODAAS/University of Dundee) #


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

 

Open to the public only one day a year, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation takes science and maths as its inspiration. Quite simply, there isn’t another garden like it in the world.

The shapes of science and nature come together in this wondrous place.  The steel curves of science stand in front of those provided so generously by nature.  Yet in a small time you can find yourself face to face with the wonders of a black hole.

The garden was set up by Charles Jencks, together with his late wife Maggie Keswick and is located at Portrack House near Dumfries. That’s in Scotland, by the way! It was set up in 1989 without the usual ideas people have when they create a garden. Horticultural displays very much take second place in this garden. Instead, it is designed with ideas in mind – and to provoke thought (or at least speculation) about the very nature of things.

The garden can be found at the base of these marvellous steps leading down from the original eighteenth century manor house with a Victorian addition, an octagonal folly-library. 

Around the garden one can find amazing sculptures on themes such as this - the DNA helix in giganitic metallic glory.

The snail mound allows visitors to explore for themselves the Fibonacci sequence of numbers that make up a shell or at least feel it beneath their feet.

However, are you interacting with it or is that the other way around?

Fractals and black holes abound, so be careful where you tread! Even thelandscaping explores the mysteries of science.

The garden comes replete with elegant manmade lakes which were designed by Maggie Keswick. The natural features of the garden blend and bond beautifully with the arches, contours, curls and bends of the science represented here. Symmetry, chaos and the tumult of nature and science combined.


Many people wish the garden was open for more than one twenty four hour period each year – but at the end of the day it is a private garden created by private individuals. All is not lost, however. It seems that recently, Mr Jencks met with Professors Peter Higgs and Rolf-Dieter Heuer. The latter is the Director General of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. We know it as CERN, the place with that big collider thingamajig.

The two scientists hope that they may be able to replicate the Garden of Cosmic Speculation at CERN, or at least something very much like it. You can hardly blame them for wanting to reproduce something so stunning for more public viewing.

You will find all sorts of thought provoking objects to arouse your sense of wonder in this thirty acre microcosm of the universe. Many ideas come together to form a whole, complex and mystifying, cryptic but thrilling. If you find it all too much you can always spend a while in the Nonsense Pavilion (above).

Such is the way that people are enthralled by the garden it has even been immortalised in an orchestral composition by US composer Michael Gandolfi and recorded by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

The garden is open this year on May 2. Get there at the crack of dawn, however if you are thinking of paying a visit. Each year the local roads come to a virtual standstill by midmorning, such is the interest generated by this wonderful place.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

And who says that the U.S. has the best healthcare system?

This is from a woman who went to Bangkok with her husband for physicals at  http://www.bumrungrad.com/
Of course this does not include the cost of travel, but it does give some insight into the true cost of many of the tests that we are charged big bucks for in the U.S. 

Well, this was about five years ago.   We made our appointments ahead of time.  Fasted in the morning.  Went in just before 9am, out by 1pm with a full printed report and discussion with doctors all along the way.  The tests that required overnight processing were in our hands by email a day later.

Full lab blood test

Tumor markers

Immunology/Infection Disease report

Urine/Stool

Chest X-Ray

Full eye exam

The most complete OB-GYN exam ever from a marvelous doctor with Pap smear

Ultrasound of the whole abdomen

EKG

Then I wanted to see a dermatologist and get my hearing checked.  They apologized because I had to wait a half hour. 

I got a complete hearing test with the audiology chamber.

Got all my skin and nip tuck questions answered.

All meds were dispensed on-site including OTC goods like Cetaphil, the best skin cleanser ever.

ALL THIS WAS UNDER $800! 

Russ, who didn’t go for the hearing or dermatology or ob/gyn got out for less than $500.  But he had an executive stress test.

All the records were centralized so each doctor could see what the previous doctor had done.

Facilities were impeccable.

Free lunch from a lovely fresh fruit and cereals buffet.

Assistants were beautifully dressed and gracious and spoke English.

All doctors spoke great English.

Plus they loan you a surplice pajama outfit and slippers to wear throughout the exam and give you a free slub silk scarf in case the a/c is too chilly and you get to take the scarf take home with you.

People from all around the world come there.  There was a woman in a full burqua and her granny in the dressing room.  Sheiks in flowing white robes.  American housewives.

 

I’ve never experienced better treatment.

Pat

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Monday, April 05, 2010

The Universe, in High Definition

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Banned Speech: The UN Council That Created the Goldstone Report

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