disaster science

Judith Resnik

(1949–1986) Engineer and astronaut

Judith Resnik was the second American woman in space, and the first Jewish American. She received her PhD in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She was recruited for the space program while at Xerox Corp. by NASA recruiter, actress Nichelle Nichols. Resnik died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The IEEE grants an award for space engineering in her name.

Number 152 in an ongoing series celebrating remarkable women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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There are stories internationally about animals that can predict disasters. Dogs, cats, and cows acting strangely days before earthquakes. Birds fleeing before hurricanes. Sharks swimming to avoid storms. Absol is simply another one of these, a valiant-hearted dark type which uses its powers of premonition to warn others of impending doom. But how?

The short answer is that a lot of animals just have better sense than us. For example, many of these animal predictions have been shown to work through hearing. As humans, we can hear frequencies of 20 - 20,000 Hz. Other animals have different ranges of hearing, such as cows who can hear from 16 Hz up to 40,000 Hz. There are a lot of sounds that we, as humans, just can’t hear. For example, the high-pitched dog whistle is out of our range but dogs can hear just fine.

Slightly more relevant lies on the other end of the spectrum. Sounds below 20 Hz, called infrasonic, that we can’t hear. These kinds of sounds are frequently made by earthquake shockwaves, ocean waves, thunderstorms, see where this is going? Absol has a wider range of hearing than we do, such that she can physically hear disasters approaching.

Of course, hearing is not the only way to sense disasters. Dogs are particularly well known for their super smelling powers, such as the ability to sniff out cancer or even monitor a diabetic’s blood sugar levels. We did a whole post on their amazing noses for Growlithe, but it just as well can relate to disasters, too.

Then, of course, there’s the way we do it for weather forecasts: monitoring the atmospheric pressures and humidity. Bees, for example, seem to be sensitive to humidity, which warns them of incoming rain with enough time for them to seek shelter in their hives. Sharks can sense pressure drops of just a few millibars, and abnormal/extreme weather like hurricanes usually causes large fluctuations in the atmosphere.

So again, the short answer is that animals just have better senses than us. Think of it like your bedroom, coming home every day to the same furniture and walls, and then one day, suddenly, everything has been flipped upsidedown – that might be what these animals feel like.  They get accustomed to the normal pressures, sounds, and smells of their environment, and act accordingly when something changes for the worst, by running away, seeking shelter, or for Absol, warning others. 

Absol has better senses than humans, which lets it hear, smell, or otherwise detect natural disasters before they arrive.

  • fanon holtzmann: smooth 24/7, Sex God, knows exactly what to say and it is hilarious, makes you gay even if you Don't Want That, fashion icon, seriously though look at her for one second and You're Gay, she planned all of this to work perfectly
  • canon holtzmann: certifiably Bad™ at feelings, has no idea. about anything that's happening. ever, fashion disaster, science is her safe place, literally lies down on the ground and hides from confrontation, trash girl, never paid for a thing in her life
CDC abruptly cancels long-planned conference on climate change and health
The agency decided to cancel the summit after the election of Donald Trump, raising concerns about government agencies silencing their own work.

Another science disaster.

Shame on the CDC. The people who made this decision should both be utterly ashamed of themselves and they should also resign from their position.

I will quote my friend xray (who got a dedication in a Dance with Dragons - she famous I know) directly. She was talking about the "rule # 1 of resisting authoritarianism”:

Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.


Zoomed in view of the Calbuco Volcano eruption of 2015 (also seen in last post). You can see so much texture in the volcanic cloud - these are all low density enough that none of them collapsed, but breakdowns in these clouds can be a key part of producing pyroclastic flows.


Ronald Reagan Addressing the Nation from The Oval Office on the Evening After the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. January 28th, 1986.

NASA spots short-lived Tropical Cyclone Alfred

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured a visible image of the Southern Pacific Ocean’s newly formed tropical cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria. By the next day Alfred made landfall and weakened to a remnant low pressure area.

The Gulf of Carpentaria is a body of water between Australia’s Northern Territory and Queensland. The Arafura Sea lies to the north of the Gulf.

On Feb. 20 the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided a visible image of Alfred that showed half of the storm was over land, and half in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Tropical Cyclone Alfred developed from a tropical low pressure area previously known as System 91P. As the low pressure area briefly moved off the coast of the Northern Territory and into the warm waters of the Gulf it consolidated and strengthened into a tropical cyclone.

When Alfred developed around 0300 UTC on Feb. 20 (10 p.m. EST on Feb. 19) the Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted Alfred’s maximum sustained winds were near 46 mph (40 knots/74 kph. At that time, Alfred was centered near 15.3 degrees south latitude and 137.1 degrees east longitude in the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria. Alfred was moving to the south-southeast 3.4 mph (3 knots/5.5 kph) and was crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria coast, between Borroloola and the Northern Territory/Queensland border.

By Feb. 21, Alfred had made landfall near the Queensland and Northern Territory border and weakened to a remnant low pressure area. At 8 p.m. AEST local time in Queensland, The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABM) noted that ex-tropical cyclone is expected to remain slow moving over land before shifting westward on Feb. 22.

IMAGE….At 500 UTC on Feb. 20 (11 p.m. EST, Feb. 19), NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of newly formed Tropical Cyclone Alfred in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria between Australia’s Northern Territory and Queensland. Credit Credits: NASA/NOAA



In 1997, Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian woman to travel in space. She acted as the mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator on flight STS-87 of the Space Shuttle Columbia, traveling over 6.5 million miles in 252 orbits of Earth and logging more than 372 hours in space.

Chawla was selected as a crew member for flight STS-107 three years later. After multiple delays due to scheduling conflicts and technical difficulties, she returned to space on January 16, 2003 to spend approximately sixteen days in orbit conducting a series of experiments on microgravity and other topics. 

Tragically, Space Shuttle Columbia encountered some difficulty reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, disintegrating over Texas and resulting in the death of Chawla and her six fellow crew members on flight STS-107. She has been memorialized through scholarship funds, college dormitories, hostels and more established in her name, including the Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College in her birthplace of Karnal Haryana, India.

u want some fuk?

Its my favorite parrot boy!! Rhubarb! Its a little late for valentines day but the boy is always up for kisses <3 

During 2010 in Sindh, Pakistan, massive floods drove millions of spiders and insects into the trees to spin their webs. This flood put nearly one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area underwater and affected about 20 million people.