Archive for November, 2010

The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)– and some general thoughts about indices

November 20, 2010

I like a good index.

VEI 3 (Mt Cleveland, Alaska 2006 as seen from ISS)

Here’s one:


Icelandic volcanoes, poppies, visualising science

November 11, 2010

The title says it all. More random ruminations and recent links.

Great blog on Icelandic volcanoes and earthquakes— where I’ll go to check on Katla in future months.

Poppies– why are they used to commemorate Armistice Day, as opposed to any other flower?

Most people know that it was because poppies grew in profusion on many World War 1 battlefields, as popularised by Canadian doctor, soldier and poet, John McCrae:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Cholera in Haiti

November 6, 2010

Haiti is having a bad year.

Nine months after the earthquake it has been estimated that 1 million people are still living in tents, and now there’s a cholera outbreak to deal with. These two facts are not unrelated— to quote the Pan American Health Organization:

Natural and man-made disasters which produce overcrowding, a scarcity of safe drinking water, improper elimination of human waste, and the contamination of food during or after its preparation are risk factors for the spread of the disease.

One question doing the rounds is where has the disease come from? Cholera has not been seen in Haiti since the 1960s. The presence of Nepalese soldiers in the United Nation’s mission to Haiti, and in the region of Haiti where the outbreak started, has been pointedly noted. Cholera is endemic in Nepal, with regular outbreaks occurring in rural regions during the wet season— and the strain in Haiti is indeed south Asian.