Treating scientists as bags of mostly water

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:01 PM GMT on December 26, 2007

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During the holiday season, it's natural to ask philosophical questions such as, "what is the essence of being human?" Well, one way to answer that question is purely scientifically. Humans are mostly water (ugly bags of mostly water, according to Microbrain, Stardate 41463.9, Star Trek: The Next Generation,, Episode 17). More than half the human body is made up of water, and we can use that fact to measure how many humans are present at large gatherings. Such an experiment was performed at the 2006 American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, as reported in a November 2007 paper by Darin Desilets et al. of the University of Arizona. The experiment made use of the fact that cosmic rays are continually bombarding the earth, creating fast neutrons as a by-product of nuclear disintegrations. When these neutrons encounter large concentrations of hydrogen (such as found in ugly bags of mostly water), they get scattered. One can look at the resulting scattering pattern and deduce how much hydrogen is present, and make an estimation of the number of people present.


Figure 1. Ugly bag of mostly water (and co-founder of the Weather Underground) Perry Samson (right) poses in front of his Poster at the 2007 AGU meeting. Also pictured: Russ Rew and Mohan Ramamurthy of Unidata. Fast cosmic ray neutrons scattered from their bodies were used to help estimate the number of people present at the 2006 meeting.

The equipment needed to do so costs about $10,000, and was set up in the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco during the 2006 AGU meeting. The scientists were able to show when lunch breaks occurred by pointing out a sharp reduction in neutron scattering when all the scientists filed out to grab a bite to eat. Desilets et al. estimated about 1,700 scientists were present in the Exhibit Hall of the convention center during the height of the conference, which is probably a reasonable estimate, given the stated capacity of 3575 people. The technique can also be used to perform measurements of water content of snow and soil, and Desilets et al. advertise that they are open to paid invitations to count crowds at Rio de Janerio's Carnival, Pamplona's running of the bulls, and the next World Cup Finals.

Happy New Year, everyone! I'll be back with a new blog on January 2.

Jeff Masters

References
Desliets, D., M. Zreda, T. Ferre, 2007, Scientist Water Equivalent Measured With Cosmic Rays at 2006 AGU Fall Meeting, EOS, TRANSACTIONS AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION, VOL. 88, NO. 48, PAGE 521, 2007.

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Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

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461. Weather456
11:44 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Tropical Cyclone Melanie

1430 UTC DEC 29 2007

Pattern: Extremely large and well define deep cloud overcast. Curve band is seen at 1.05 arc.

Current Intensity: CI 3.8/60/980

Adjustments: None

Final Estimate: CI 3.8

Dvorak Trends:
0000 UTC DEC 25 2007 - CI 1.5
1230 UTC DEC 26 2007 - CI 1.5
2200 UTC DEC 26 2007 - CI 1.5
1157 UTC DEC 27 2007 - CI 1.5
2030 UTC DEC 27 2007 - CI 1.8
0000 UTC DEC 28 2007 - CI 2.0
1000 UTC DEC 28 2007 - CI 3.0
2030 UTC DEC 28 2007 - CI 3.7
1030 UTC DEC 29 2007 - CI 3.5
1430 UTC DEC 29 2008 - CI 3.8




Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
460. 1900hurricane
9:46 AM CST on December 29, 2007
Hey y'all! Invest, huh? This is quite interesting. Reminds me a bit of Zeta.

A little off topic, but still interesting. 1954 had two tropical cyclones named Alice. The first one formed in june (like it should), but second one formed in late December and carried over into January. The reason why it was named at the beginning of the list again is because no one realized it was tropical until January, so they used the list again (1954 and 1955 was before they used rotating names for tropical cyclones and the same names were used).
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459. Weather456
11:40 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Subtropical Storm 95L

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
458. Orcasystems
3:35 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Hmm just read about Alice & Zeta
Appears the chances are about zero, unless this one is going to change all of the record books.
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457. Weather456
11:36 AM AST on December 29, 2007
449. Tazmanian 11:20 AM AST on December 29, 2007 Hide this comment.
456 how cold is a 496DM low?


whats "496DM"?
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
456. Drakoen
3:37 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
29/1145 UTC 27.0N 37.6W ST2.5/2.5 95L -- Atlantic Ocean
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455. Drakoen
3:34 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
453. extreme236 3:30 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Drak, to me this feels crazy talking seriously about a disturbance in the Atlantic basin on December 29th...feels like Zeta all over again lol


possibly. The vertical depth of the system will be the key to its survival as was the situation with Zeta.


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454. Orcasystems
3:32 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
453. extreme236 3:30 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Drak, to me this feels crazy talking seriously about a disturbance in the Atlantic basin on December 29th...feels like Zeta all over again lol
Action: | Ignore User


236, Drak & Storm W stupid question for you.
Can this thing make it a far as Cancun?

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453. extreme236
3:28 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Drak, to me this feels crazy talking seriously about a disturbance in the Atlantic basin on December 29th...feels like Zeta all over again lol
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452. Drakoen
3:27 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
The system has no choice but to move wsw or even southwest in response to surface high pressure anchored around Bermuda.
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451. extreme236
3:26 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Convection is wrapping nicely around a good part of the center
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450. extreme236
3:21 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
If we are still getting activity like this so late in the season, it really wouldnt surprise me to see tropical activity before the official start of the 2008 hurricane season next year.
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449. Tazmanian
7:15 AM PST on December 29, 2007
456 how cold is a 496DM low?
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448. CybrTeddy
3:16 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Well, 2007 like 2005 refuses to End, wow should have seen it comming and right before Jan. 1 08! What a season.
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447. Orcasystems
3:11 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
WTF? Invest?
I planned the trip to Cancun in January because this not suppose to happen.

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446. extreme236
3:09 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
SHIPS model brings 95L to 39kts in 36 hours, with weakening after 48 hours
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445. Weather456
10:52 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Storm south of the Aleutian Islands

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
444. Tazmanian
6:50 AM PST on December 29, 2007
thanks
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443. Weather456
10:47 AM AST on December 29, 2007
yeah..i will do that
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
442. Tazmanian
6:44 AM PST on December 29, 2007
456 no i did not no that may be you can keep me update on this powerfull strom by droping me a Wu e mail evere now and then this is some in that needs to be watch
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441. Weather456
10:39 AM AST on December 29, 2007
440. Tazmanian 10:38 AM AST on December 29, 2007 Hide this comment.
hi 456 look at this 456


Taz, thank you so much.....A bomb...
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
440. Tazmanian
6:31 AM PST on December 29, 2007
hi 456 look at this 456

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SACRAMENTO CA
400 AM PST SAT DEC 29 2007

THE LAST SEVERAL RUNS OF THE GFS AND ECMWF HAVE BEEN ADVERTISING A
MAJOR PATTERN CHANGE BY THE END OF NEXT WEEK. THE POLAR VORTEX OVER
SIBERIA WILL CARVE OUT A DEEP...COLD AND PERSISTENT CYCLONE OVER THE
GULF OF ALASKA. AN "ADJUSTMENT" WAVE WILL MOVE THROUGH THE REGION
WEDNESDAY OR THURSDAY WITH RAIN IN THE VALLEYS...AND SNOW ABOVE 5000
FEET OR SO. 06Z GFS HAS A BOMB 496DM UPPER LOW OFF THE WESTERN
CANADA COAST BY FRIDAY...BUT THE ECMWF...WHICH WAS DEEPER WITH THIS
YESTERDAY...HAS SOMEWHAT HIGHER HEIGHTS. BOTH MODELS IMPLY A PERIOD
OF VERY HEAVY SNOWFALL IN THE MOUNTAINS AS A SERIES OF SURFACE LOWS
MOVE INTO OREGON AND NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FROM THURSDAY NIGHT INTO
SUNDAY NIGH
T. INITIALLY IT APPEARS SNOW LEVELS WITH THESE SYSTEMS
WILL REMAIN BELOW DONNER SUMMIT MUCH OF THE TIME. WILL CONTINUE TO
MONITOR. SG

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439. Weather456
10:29 AM AST on December 29, 2007
95L Models



Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
438. sullivanweather
2:22 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
Time to dust off the 2007 Atlantic tracking chart...lol
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437. Weather456
10:03 AM AST on December 29, 2007
I know it is very dangerous to say this from only a satellite image, but I think there are lot of similarities with a subtropical depression...

I think its safe...cuz satellite imagery is only one of many data which suggest subtropical. Just look back at my posts.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
436. Weather456
9:59 AM AST on December 29, 2007
More evidence of subtropical

Look at the uniform surface temperatures

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
435. Cazatormentas
1:41 PM GMT on Diciembre 29, 2007
Wow !! Good one, Weather456 !

Convection is trying to surround the center of the vortex. Visual appearance is close to a subtropical depression, at least... I know it is very dangerous to say this from only a satelital image, but I think there are lot of similarities with a subtropical depression...
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434. Weather456
9:36 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Visible loop

Caza,

the loop above agrees with your comment. More consolidation of convection indicating wind shear has relax somewhat.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
433. Cazatormentas
1:22 PM GMT on Diciembre 29, 2007
Also notice the small radius of gale force winds (circles). Occluded cyclones have broad areas of gale force winds, hence their non-tropical nature. Subtropical and Tropical Cyclones have a smaller radius of gale force winds near the center, with the former greater than the latter.

I agree with this comment... But I think convection is better organized than before. Even, if you look at the wind shear fields of CIMMS, you could find that the low is located close to a region with "only" 10KT of wind shear. This value is lower than yesterday, when the low was located under 20 KT of wind shear.

In this way, I was sure the system will not start a tropical transition yesterday. But, today... I'm not sure. Perhaps, sea surface temperatures at this area could be the determining factor for tropical transition.

Any way, this is a very interesting issue for a 29th December!

See you again!
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432. Weather456
9:04 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Ur Welcome
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
430. Weather456
8:36 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Ice over the Northern Hudson Bay


Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
429. IKE
6:32 AM CST on December 29, 2007
21.24 inches of rain...here, where I live...since October 1st, 2007...in Defuniak Springs,FL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
428. aspectre
12:01 PM GMT on December 29, 2007
349 Weather456 "The top image is AMSU-A 200mb [temperature] brightness..."

"...second image is temperature brightness in channel 8 or 100 mb or 14.1 km in the troposphere."

350 CatastrophicDL "456 why isn't Antarctica blue like the Arctic?"

The Arctic is in deep winter: 24hours of darkness, no solar heating.
The Antarctic is in high summer: 24hours of sunlight, maximum solar heating.
Edit in:
350 CatastrophicDL "456 why isn't Antarctica blue like the Arctic?"
360 Weather456 "I think it has to do with the seasons (winter up north; summer down south). I would have to look at an image taken in July to verify that."

Obviously I shoulda read the next page more carefully during my initial scan-thru.
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427. Weather456
8:26 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Gm StormW
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
426. Weather456
8:18 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Massive Storm...A ship reported 50 knot winds around 0600Z.





Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
424. Weather456
7:41 AM AST on December 29, 2007
The forecast is very simple....the cyclone will move west to west-southwest to the south of the bridging subtropical ridge. Not a surprise.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
423. Weather456
7:37 AM AST on December 29, 2007
The GFS, CMC and NOGAPS all show the cyclone is currently a shallow, non frontal warm-core system.

Also notice the small radius of gale force winds (circles). Occluded cyclones have broad areas of gale force winds, hence their non-tropical nature. Subtropical and Tropical Cyclones have a smaller radius of gale force winds near the center, with the former greater than the latter.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
422. Weather456
7:30 AM AST on December 29, 2007
This morning's quikscat pass showed gale force winds have increase and extended to the Western and Eastern Semi-circles. Yesterday, gale force winds were mainly in the northern quadrant where the pressure gradient was tightest between the low and the Azores High.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
421. Weather456
7:19 AM AST on December 29, 2007
One other thing I notice is that the cyclone becoming cut-off from surrounding sources of absolute vort. Indicating some subtropical/tropical transition.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
420. Weather456
7:15 AM AST on December 29, 2007
418. KoritheMan 7:04 AM AST on December 29, 2007 Hide this comment.
Any idea why the subtropical low in the eastern Atlantic is not an invest?


Puzzles me..the NHC says Invest but nothing on the Navy site as yet
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
419. Weather456
7:00 AM AST on December 29, 2007
The little arrow shows the center

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
418. KoritheMan
11:04 AM GMT on December 29, 2007
Any idea why the subtropical low in the eastern Atlantic is not an invest?
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417. Weather456
6:51 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Tropical Cyclone Melanie (04U)

0830 UTC DEC 29 2007

Pattern: Well define CDO and banding. Curved band arc 1.10

Current Intensity: CI 3.5/55/994

Adjustments: None

Final Estimate: CI 3.5

Dvorak Trends:
0000 UTC DEC 25 2007 - CI 1.5
1230 UTC DEC 26 2007 - CI 1.5
2200 UTC DEC 26 2007 - CI 1.5
1157 UTC DEC 27 2007 - CI 1.5
2030 UTC DEC 27 2007 - CI 1.8
0000 UTC DEC 28 2007 - CI 2.0
1000 UTC DEC 28 2007 - CI 3.0
2030 UTC DEC 28 2007 - CI 3.7
1030 UTC DEC 29 2007 - CI 3.5





Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
416. Weather456
6:17 AM AST on December 29, 2007
The subtropical depression is still embedded within a deep layered trough. It is responsible for that deep moisture plume originating from the Amazon Basin. The arrow shows the location of the mid-level center.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
415. Weather456
1:24 AM AST on December 29, 2007
Convection has started to become consolidated around the center

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
414. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
5:13 AM GMT on December 29, 2007
Bureau of Meteorology - Northern Territory

Tropical Cyclone Outlook (29December)
===========================================
An active monsoon trough lies across the northern Top End with a developing low near Jabiru. The low is expected to move east overnight, reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria on Monday morning.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION POTENTIAL
===================================
Sunday-Monday: Low
Tuesday: Moderate
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43663
413. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:30 AM GMT on December 29, 2007
gonna hover around there dozent have much time but fun to watch convection nice in n ne e but the rest is naked waitin to see diural max
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52257
412. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:16 AM GMT on December 29, 2007
i notice that too tc ssd site flying invest now 20 min ago it was 90l but i think it may be 95l thats the next label left in 07
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52257
411. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:05 AM GMT on December 29, 2007
28/2345 UTC 25.9n/38.2w ST 1.5/1.5 90L atlantic basin
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52257

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.