Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Clouds can communicate, Scientists Say, Source: Fox News

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, August 13, 2010

Clouds Can Communicate, Scientists Say

By Jeremy A. Kaplan

Published August 13, 2010

| FoxNews.com

Little, fluffy and talkative? Clouds can communicate, a new paper suggests — but what are they talking about?

A new study has found that clouds “communicate” with each other, much like chirping crickets or flashing fireflies on a summer night. The surprising findings, published online in the journal Nature, may have significant implications for our understanding of the Earth’s climate.

So the next time you find yourself laying on your back picking out shapes among the clouds, mull on this one: Are they talking among themselves about you?

“Cloud fields organize in such a way that their components ‘communicate’ with one another and produce regular, periodic rainfall events,” explained Graham Feingold, a research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the paper’s lead author.

In other words, Feingold found clear evidence of self-organization in the regular patterns of rainfall and repeating growth of those floating puffs of cotton. 

How does such synchronization come about? Falling rain cools the air as it descends. This creates downward air currents. These downdrafts hit the surface of the planet, flow outward, and collide with each other, forming updrafts. The air flowing up creates new clouds in previously open sky as older clouds dissipate. Then the new clouds rain, and the oscillating pattern repeats itself.

“In a sense what’s going on is that the clouds are communicating with each other by driving down to the ground. If you have a number of clouds doing exactly that, air is forced to go sideways from one cloud and meets the air from another,” Feingold told FoxNews.com. 

Voila! cloud speech!

Earlier theories about cloud structure explained that temperature change was at the heart of cloud generation, that warming and cooling shifts were the key forces. Precipitation as a driving factor is something of a radical shift.

But talking clouds? That’s even more radical. 

Feingold is nevertheless quite serious, citing a lengthy history of research into cloud communication.

“If you go back far enough, the basic physics behind this phenomenon was recorded in the early 1900s by a French scientist,” he explained.

He was looking at the sun though a telescope and noticed convection patterns. Lord Rayleigh later put it into a theoretical framework, explaining the hexagonal patterns observed in the lab, Feingold told FoxNews.com.

“1933 is the earliest report of patterns in the clouds,” by a scientist known as Graham, he said. But Feingold thinks the idea of cloud communication might date back far further.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancients were looking up at the clouds and seeing patterns early on,” he told FoxNews.com.

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Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language, Source: CNN

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, August 13, 2010

Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language

By Thair Shaikh, CNN
August 13, 2010 1:21 p.m. EDT

London, England (CNN) — A British anthropologist is setting out on a year-long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.

Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in north-west Greenland, the world’s most northernmost people, and record their conversations and story-telling traditions to try and preserve their language.

The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a “pure” Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climactic pressure to move south, says Leonard.

“They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost,” Leonard told CNN.

Leonard, who flies out to Copenhagen on Sunday before heading to Greenland, says there are about 1,000 speakers of Inuktun, an undocumented language.

Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.

“There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge… they speak a very pure form of Inuit, partly because of their geographic isolation. Their entire culture is based on a story-telling culture.”

Greenland

There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge
–Stephen Pax Leonard

Leonard, an anthropological linguist at Cambridge University, England, is under no doubt about the physical and cultural hurdles that face him. The average temperature is minus 25 degrees Celsius, although it can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.

Inughuit, which is the name of the northern Inuits, are hunter-gatherers; they do not have a cash economy and the men can spend weeks away from home hunting for walruses, seals and other mammals. They still use dog sleds in the winter and kayaks in the summer.

Hivshu, an Inughuit who now lives in Sweden, helped Leonard establish contacts with his former community in Greenland.

He has written about the Inughuit way of life on his website: “Even before I went to school I began assisting my father when he was out hunting, summer or winter, no difference. That was the way I heard the stories about my ancestors and their songs told and sung by the old people as it was a tradition to tell the stories and sing the traditional drum songs of Inuit to all of us during the hunting.”

Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed.

He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an “ethnography of speaking.”

That he hopes will be a permanent record that shows how their language and culture are interconnected.

Article Courtesy of CNN at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/08/13/greenland.inuit.language/index.html?hpt=Sbin

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