Stories tagged pressure

Oct
27
2010

As the cold wind blows
As the cold wind blowsCourtesy Erik Ogan
If you're in the upper midwest or in the Minnesota neck of the woods your hair probably looks awesome today. We're experiencing an epic storm system due to a record low pressure system sitting over the northern part of the state.

Unsurprisingly, MPR's updraft blog has some good material on the amazing Land Hurricane of 2010.

The record low pressure map there is pretty cool.

I saw several downed big tree limbs on my way into work this morning. I wonder how city public works departments respond to mega wind storms like this. I'm reading a great book all about various parts of urban infrastructure, and it leads me to think that there are lots of guys in cherry picker trucks driving around the city dealing with downed power lines today.

May
26
2010

Later today, BP is going to attempt to block up the leaking oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. They're going to pump heavy drilling mud, followed by cement, into the blowout preventer (the giant valve system that was supposed to stop the well from leaking in the first place). The heavy mud should slow down the oil after a while (it will probably get blasted out of the pipe at first), and then the cement will block up the flow. If it works, it should cap the well, and stop the leak entirely. If not, it's back to the drawing board. An earlier plan for capping the well involved injecting it with shredded junk first, but it looks like that might be off the menu, because of the risk that the junk could further damage the well equipment, and allow oil to escape even faster. So now it's just heavy mud and concrete.

Here's an animation of the process:

And here's a labeled illustration.

Hold your breath and cross your fingers...

Feb
14
2007


Lobster: death by boiling. Courtesy sooz.
So you think that boiling lobsters alive to get to their meat it too inhumane? Whole Foods markets did to. So now they will only be selling lobster meat processed with the Avure 687L food processing machine. This giant gadget, essentially squeezes the lobster to death under huge water pressure, separating its meat from its shell. Crazy. Trevor Corson's description of the whole deal is quite interesting. Ahhhh, food science, it makes you hungry huh?

So what would really happen if and evil computerized spaceship locked you out of the spaceship. In many sci-fi movies you see people explode in the vacuum of space. Not surprisingly, Hollywood has lead us astray. Find out what would really happen if your spacesuit popped a hole.

Apr
26
2006


Tornado: Image courtesy NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)

Tornado season is here for those of us living in the Midwest. Tornadoes fascinate me – they’re so incredibly powerful and stunning and scary all at once. I used to have all sorts of elaborate emergency escape plans to the basement when I was a kid, and even had a pecking order for what prized possessions I would save and how. I also remember as a kid being told that if there was the threat of a tornado to open up a window a crack before heading to the basement so that the pressure inside the house would normalize with the pressure outside generated by the tornado thus preventing the roof from being blown off. I did this all the way up until last summer – but no more.

It turns out that a majority of damage to homes is the result of wind blowing into open (or broken) windows pushing up on the roof at the same time as winds are blowing over and under them, generating a lifting force, which increases the chances of the roof being blown off. So, all this time I’ve been making my house less safe, rather than safer. Doh.

Although it is likely wishful thinking on my part to hope that a single pane of glass is going to remain intact during a tornado, especially with all the debris that will be flying around. It makes more sense to close them to keep the rain out than to save the house from tornado damage, but it feels good to do something during those times when you have no real control. Better still to just forget the windows and get to the basement. With my most prized possessions.

For more information on tornadoes, and tornado safety, check out these sites:
Tornado Project Online
NOAA’s online Tornado FAQ
Weather.com’s Tornado page