Science Says It Can

2006-08-11 23:54:49.000 – Walter Sessions,  Alpha Intern


In case you missed it, August has begun and apparently that means winter has arrived on the summit. Our temperature last night dropped to 33.5°F. If it had fallen farther, perhaps a last bit of rime ice would have been entertaining before I scamper back to Florida next weekend. But no, it’s just cold and windy and I packed down my long underwear weeks ago, which means the rest of the summit crew can’t make me sleep outside for once.

Now Tim’s telling me the temperature’s down to 31.7°F as we watch Berlin’s lights pop through intermittent fog.

The summit was absolutely packed on Wednesday and Thursday before a mysteriously sparse tourist population on Friday. Perhaps the idea of no precipitation and clearing skies bored people, or maybe there’s a Law & Order marathon that I missed. The rest of this weekend the summit is expected to be in and out of the clouds with a low chance of precipitation, which may sound familiar.

Since there isn’t a whole lot of excitement on the summit today and this post is mainly to prove to my dad that I’m not holed up in Mexico, I’m going to take the rest of this entry to try to answer some questions before this organization finally washes its hands of me. To make it worth while, I’ll randomly include a few pictures I’ve taken since my previous post.

First off, the Coriolis force has been a mainstay of elementary school science classes for years. Unfortunately, its teaching is normally accompanied by some unfortunate tales about sinks draining in opposing directions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres; even my dear Simpsons had an entire episode premised on toilet orientations. The truth is that basins drain based upon their shape and how the fluid enters them. The Coriolis force does not have the strength to fight the centripetal accelerations over such a short distance or at the speeds the water is moving. If any proof is needed, visit my apartment complex in Tallahassee, FL to view my counter-clockwise toilet in concert with my neighbor’s clockwise draining unit. At the very least it’ll give me a chance to call my bathroom a laboratory.

Next up, more of a Florida question, but “Why don’t we just drop nuclear bombs into hurricanes? This is an awful idea for many reasons, but for starters adding heat to a hurricane is counter productive, the number of bombs required to adequately disrupt the winds is unreasonable, I don’t want a radioactive water fountain going through my (and probably your) grandmother’s backyard, and we haven’t discovered any oil-containing hurricanes. Maybe ignore that last reason.

Third, since we’re often asked what the record high (72 °F) and low (-47 °F) temperatures on the summit are, and we’ve famous for the highest surface wind speed directly measured (231 mph), we occasionally have the natural companion question about the record low wind speed for the summit.
Hold on tight because here it comes!

0 miles per hour

Sometimes even Mt. Washington takes a break.

Finally, “Michael Criton/Dan Brown/my cousin said that global warming is fake/real/delicious.” Michael Criton promised me dinosaurs and I had a teacher once tell me that the danger in asking a meteorology student about global warming is that they may give you an answer. Hope that clears things up!

Anyhow, it’s time to get back to work. Next Wednesday is my last day on the summit for this internship, so I’ll go ahead and plug the program to anyone interested. Internship information can generally be found here. Except right now because you’re too late for the fall. How do you expect to impress anyone with that kind of punctuality?

I’m returning home to Florida to a slow hurricane season and a teenage brother who just had his appendix out; hopefully one of these things has a greater respect for fiscal responsibility and health insurance than when I left.

ps. I’m looking at you, James.

We got ice


Walter Sessions,  Alpha Intern

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