Travel

Arctic Ship Traffic and Oil Spill Worries Rise as Ice Recedes

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 25, 2014   View Article

Ships packed with frozen mackerel and herring will sail in convoy behind a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker from Norway to Asia this summer along the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic Ocean — a trial run as companies rush to capitalize on the world’s hunger for fish and to extract minerals from the top of the world.

Dozens of ships now transit the Arctic each year amid decreasing summer ice — in 2013,71 vessels plied the Northern Sea Route, including the first container ship. In another first, a bulk carrier transited coal through the famed Northwest Passage on a voyage from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Finland. And that traffic is only likelier to get busier.

Hundreds more ships “go up to the Arctic and perform some activity and then they come out,” Lawson Brigham, a professor of geography and Arctic policy at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, explained to NBC News. Most of these ships transport equipment to mines and other industrial sites and leave with commodities such as oil, gas, copper, nickel, and iron ore.

60 years after first Everest ascent, anyone can climb (online)

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 29, 2013   View Article

Sixty years ago, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay struggled to make the first ascent of Mt. Everest — but today, anyone with an Internet connection can easily trek to basecamp, take a virtual flight over the region’s glaciers, and see how the mountain has changed over the years.

“What we’ve heard from the scientists that study these specific glaciers is that the melt rate is increasing dramatically,” David Breashears, a famed mountaineer and filmmaker, told NBC News.

“One then says, well if we continue to put more carbon into the air … what will the glaciers look like and what will the consequences be?”

Skip a stone on a mountain lake from your desk

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2012   View Article

Stuck in a cubicle but wish you were in the mountains skipping stones? So do I. And now we can, sort of, thanks to a promotional robot sitting on the side of a lake in Sun Valley, Idaho, waiting for you to play with it.

To do so, surf over to www.stoneskippingrobot.com and tell Skippy how hard and what angle to fling the stone. Skippy will do the rest. Just sit back and watch your stone skip across an idyllic mountain lake.

Boeing concept jet could be Prius of the skies

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 2, 2012   View Article

In 2050, flying commercial may still mean crammed overhead bins and crummy food, but the engine could be powered by liquefied natural gas or electricity, according to an ongoing study on the future of flight.

Such planes might also be constructed with lighter materials, sport high-span truss-based wings, and be routed with improved air-traffic control systems, according to Marty Bradley, a technical fellow with Boeing Research and Technology who is the leading the NASA-funded study.

100-year-old whisky highlights art of blending

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 9, 2012   View Article

Antarctica-bound explorers would be wise to bring a case or two of Scotch whisky to endure chilly nights. Ernest Shackleton was wise.

In fact, the Scotch he packed for the Nimrod’s 1907 attempt to reach the South Pole was exceptional, according to distillers who sampled and re-created the drink.

Taxicab data helps ease traffic

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 29, 2011   View Article

Traffic blows. It’s unhealthy and a waste of time. It is also a fact of life in almost every major city around the world, especially in fast-developing China whereas many as 20 million rural farmers migrate to the cities each year looking for jobs and a better life.

To help urban planners determine where to build new roads, subways, skyscrapers and shopping malls to absorb their new residents, researchers are turning to data collected by GPS systems in taxicabs.

Sensors to avert ‘carmageddons’

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 1, 2011   View Article

The much-hyped carmageddon predicted last month for Los Angeles never materialized when a stretch of highway was closed to allow a bridge demolition, but commuters may not be so lucky if one of the nation’s thousands of deteriorating spans suddenly collapses.

That’s the sort of scenario that Medhi Kalantari hopes to avoid with the deployment of wireless sensors on the nation’s — and world’s — aging bridges. One in four U.S. highway bridges is either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to a 2009 estimate by the U.S. Society of Civil Engineers.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach