Physics and Hurricane Michael

I am a meteorology, geology, astronomy geek. Yep, and proud of it.

Last Wednesday I went to a presentation at the University of Arizona by the folks who helped get the image of the black hole M87. I had chills. It made my mind fly with excitement, and frustration.

The frustration was because I was never encourage, pushed, or helped to do well in school. My folks were not those kind of parents. I was never asked if I had homework, much less if I did my homework. If I got a good grade that was nice, if I didn’t (math specifically) I was told I probably wasn’t good at it, instead of working with me to improve.

My father was in the Air Force, and we lived lots of places. This gave me the chance to experience every kind of meteorological and geological event. Hurricanes in the Philippines and earthquakes in Japan. Tornadoes in Texas and monsoon flooding in southern Arizona. I’ve chased storms in tornado alley, and sat on a cliff in Hawaii watching the lava flow into the sea.

When I came back from helping my son move to Florida I took a side trip to Pass Christian MS to see where storm surge of Hurricane Camille washed the coast clean back in 1969.

I get notifications from NASA whenever the ISS is visible in my area and I watch for it. I’ve learned parts of the sky with my star charts. I eagerly followed the courses of Voyager 1 and 2 out of our solar system, kept track of the arrival of Osiris Rex at asteroid Bennu, watched the images of New Horizons when it flew by Pluto, and set my alarm to wake up so I could watch live the reveal of the first images of a black hole the Event Horizon Telescope captured.

I dig this stuff.

I want to know how they did this stuff. How do scientists figure out the way to image a black hole with six telescopes around the planet? How do geologists measure the movement of the plates? How did meteorologists come up with the CAPE measurement?

I mentioned in a previous blog about observing the damage done by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle back in October 2018. The damage six months later gives the evidence why this storm was recently upgraded to a category 5. All of these photos were taken on I-10.

I know I have a science leaning. I worked in a cell culture lab for seven years where I was taught how to grow cells, titer antibodies, and make tissue blocks used in cancer diagnosis. I used high school algebra I thought long forgotten, and learned the same sterile technique for a biological safety hood taught to freshmen biology students at the University of Arizona. I had my own projects, and developed procedures I taught to incoming staff with PhD’s. With just a high school diploma.

What more could I have done with the proper encouragement in math and science?

Woulda, shoulda, coulda – physics.

So I still try to learn, my curiosity is as strong as ever.