Monday, June 3, 2013

They Gave Their Lives for Science

In the midst of the deadly tornadoes that have hit the Midwest in the last couple of months, I was particularly struck by the deaths of Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young- three accomplished storm chasers. While the exploits of tornado chasers may seem like a most macho endeavor, the scientists who participate in it are working to better understand dangerous weather events, in the hope of mitigating their lethal effects. The fact that two members of the same family died compounds the tragedy, I can't imagine how wife and mother Kathy Samaras must feel in light of her loss.

I have worked in the teeth of some pretty bad storms, but have never felt that my life was in danger... I have nothing but admiration for those brave individuals who are willing to put their asses on the line seeking to increase human knowledge and to reduce human suffering. Me? It could be said that I've put my liver on the line for science, but I've never faced risks remotely like those these brave researchers did.

5 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Well said, B^4.
~

Shakezula said...

Oh no. I had no idea he'd died. I admit to watching Storm Chaser shows and thought he and his team were the best of the bunch.

mikey said...

I was working in Glen Rose Texas out in the middle of the prairie in '76. One day, on the (about an hour) drive back to Joshua after work, a GREAT BIG tornado touched down a couple kilometers away. It was interesting until the tornado veered right and the road turned 90° right and all of a sudden I was in a Ford Pinto playing chicken with an F4 tornado.

We couldn't turn - there's only the one road - so it was turn around or try to get past the tornado before it crossed the road. Being young and stupid, you can easily guess what decision was made.

Well, obviously since I'm writing this in 2013 we made it (or I am a time traveler and actually procured my own Hadrosaur), but it was only be a couple hundred meters and let me tell you, it is scary weird down that close to a big storm like that.

Those guys weren't brave - they had to be somewhat defective to do that on purpose. Kinda like people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes that aren't even on fire...

paleotectonics said...

Not defective, Mikey, just thrill junkies. And at least they were doing something useful, that may help someone down the road, as opposed to say, B.A.S.E. jumpers who break into towers to jump.

Helmut Monotreme said...

The one and only time I attempted to skydive, I was sitting in ground school, signing an endless array of release forms when the pilot burst into the classroom ripped the fire extinguisher from the wall and sprinted back outside to put out the fire on the burning jump plane. I didn't skydive that day, and never have since then, but now I understand the skydiver response to the standard question: "why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?"

"when they make a perfectly good airplane, I'll stop jumping"