Some sort of adult or something – also science in the media

by e_e_evans PhD student

This episode I talk about: Argos, 3D printing, shake and vac, reading journals, volcanoes and rescue missions.

For those who have been following my recent exploits (aka saw a facebook post or something) will know the story so far, if not, to summarise, this is my first full week as a PhD student with the department of Geography and Engineering.

My days have mainly involved reading journal articles, going to the library to aquire more textbooks and journals, reading those, going down to the XRCT lab to check out the data they’ve already got on tephra and fiddling with learning how to use the software. Oh, and watching the fish tank and 3D printer while the software loads data (seriously, it’s hypnotic, I must do a timelapse sometime).

Yesterday I acquired somewhere to live which meant I had to go to Wilkinsons (other discount stores are available) and by crockery. But today, today I went to Argos, which called to mind:

Seriously, the entire time I had Bill Bailey in the back of my mind saying
“the laminated book of dreams… why is it laminated? To catch to tears of joy…”

New houses that aren’t new never have that new house smell so I indulged in something seriously retro. I’d be surprised they’re still making it except I knew they sold it about 10 years ago so after 30 years of it, why stop! Yes indeed:

Why yes I did make those gifs myself just to illustrate my point… Oi! I’m not that sad!

Blimey, when did I become so domesticated? I must be some sort of adult or something.

Right, onto something more serious:
Recently there’s been some exciting science in the media. Firstly, the girl with the 3D printed bionic arm:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29451187

Born with a condition effecting her hand the 3D printed hand (in fashionable pink and black) means that Hayley from Inverness can now grab, hold and manipulate things with her hand. The report says that it might help to boost her confidence in school now as before she would hide her hand some the other children wouldn’t see. I’ve seen some pretty cool 3D printed stuff (hero shrew vertebra, the Eiffel tower, meshing gears, a model of a jet engine to name but some of the things in the lab) but this is remarkable because it’s customisable, quick to manufacture and low cost. The world needs more 3D printed bionic limbs! NHS, make this happen!

In more sad news, the recovery effort looking for Malaysia fight MH370 has produced something surprising:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29378953

The hunt for the missing aircraft has lead the search crews to create sea bed maps in never-before-seen resolutions. The data is quite remarkable and even though I’ve seen bathymetry maps before there’s still that thrill of exploration about them. Especially when you think that if these ridges and valleys were above sea level they would dwarf every mountain in the UK and the footprint of a single volcano could squash a good size British town and leave no trace of it. Truly awesome.
But coming back to the actual story, one can only hope and pray they find the plane soon.

And finally, the suddenly eruption of the Japanese volcano, Mount Ontake, has left dozens kills and even more trapped:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29440982

The authorities confirm that 47 have died in the eruption; rescue attempts continue despite gas emissions, ash and continuing seismic activity. Despite having some of the best monitored volcanoes in the world the eruption in Japan took everyone by surprise, which is why there were hikers on the mountain at the time. This once again highlights that volcano monitoring is not yet an exact science. Until volcanologists have all the available facts about a volcano observation and mitigation is the best they can do.

Mount Ontake is a stratovolcano and the second highest volcano in Japan. It is also one of the sacred mountains of Japan and frequently climbed as part of spiritual rituals [source]. The volcanos in Japan are formed by the subduction of the North American and Philippine plate under the Eurasian plate. The water and other volatiles released by the subducting plates causes the solid mantle to melt and erupt explosively. Explosive volcanoes are the more deadly because, while still spectacular and hazardous, effusive, lava-flow based eruptions can, literally, be walked away from. Ash fall, on the other hand, can collapse roofs, pollute water supplies, seed rain clouds causing torrential rain and lead to chronic respiratory issues.

Next time: I talk about two mini-fieldtrips I’ve been on recently, complete with pictures. Also, more on tephra.

E

An academic paper related PhD comic:

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