Will The Next Jet Airliner You Fly Be Obsolete, And Ready for Early Retirement?

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Multimedia eLearning program authored by: David Anthony Johanson ©  – All written & graphic content on this site (unless noted) was produced by the author. Add: 2.0  For an alternative graphic format presentation, please visit: https://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com/tag/commercial-jet-airliner-obsolescence/ 

This multimedia essay includes an eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning. Assessment tool: A quiz and answer key is located at the end of the program. Learning content covered: aerospace/airliner— aerospace engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental footprint, financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning.Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

[ Disclaimer: David Johanson is a former Boeing scientific photographer and currently has no stock holdings or a financial interest in: Boeing, Airbus or any other companies referenced in this program. Research in this article has been cross referenced using at least three sources, however, all perspectives and opinions represent only the viewpoints of the author.]

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Like seeing a mirage in the distance, shimmering sunlight reflects off rows of metal fuselages densely packed in the summer light. A surreal scene of Boeing jet airliners dominates the view, while forming a metallic wall around sections of a regional airport.

Boeing_Paine_Field_747_ae3013Billions of dollars worth of jet airliners are now double parked around Paine Field, Snohomish County Airport, in Everett, Washington. “This development indicates the current success, Boeing is having at landing airliner orders and the result you’re seeing represents a record amount of aircraft production,”said Terrance Scott, a spokesman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

He said the Company is leasing this space from Paine Field so that planes can have the remaining work completed and be ready for delivery to their customers — also, this isn’t unique to Everett, but is happening at Boeing manufacturing facilities at Renton Field and at Boeing Field in Seattle.

“Boeing has always been a good neighbor and a fine customer for the airport, they are currently leasing areas to park their aircraft and the revenue generated is appreciated.” said Dave Waggoner, Airport Director at Snohomish County Airport — Paine Field.

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The global economy’s steady growth has increased passenger traffic, which puts pressure on the airlines to purchase new aircraft for satisfying demand. Continued drops in jet fuel prices benefits air travel industry profits, giving further incentives for fleet investments. Additionally, with historically low-interest rates, lending institutions find new opportunities in aviation financing, enabling expansion of corporate sales. However, financing for used planes is another matter. Cash is drying up for previously owned jetliners — which puts pressure to part-out, then scrap relatively newer-used aircraft. Boeing_Paine_Field_BPP_ae3009

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Could The New Normal Be Shorter Aircraft Service-Life For Airliner Fleets?

Recently, published reports noted a shift towards an assumed obsolescence and accelerated scraping of newer airliners — well before structural integrity or air worthiness becomes a problem, middle-aged aircraft are experiencing vulnerability to an early end-of-life. Clearly, accelerated scraping of newer aircraft is not due to any structural concerns, but rather, cyclical conditions of the industry. To appreciate these concerns a review of an airliner’s operational lifespan may help clarify some of the issues.
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Aircraft manufactures use pressurization cycles to determine an airliner’s operational lifespan. A pressurizing cycle includes three distinct aircraft flight activities — takeoff, climbing until it reaches a cruise altitude and then landing. During this process, air is pumped into the fuselage to pressurize the cabin for passenger comfort. This repeated pressurization flexes or expands the fuselage — consequently stress is put on various connecting components, including fasteners and rivets — which helps to hold the structural integrity of the plane together. After a certain number of landing pressurization cycles, stress or metal fatigue can begin to develop, eventually causing small cracks around the fasteners. Pressurization/landing cycles mainly concern the life of an aircraft’s fuselage, wings and landing gear.

The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.

The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.


The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.

Maintenance schedules and lifespan of jet engines are measured in the number of flight hours. Aircraft engines, followed by landing gear and then avionics are the most valuable components for part-out and dismantling specialist operations. Ultimately, engine condition is the major factor in an owner’s decision to part-out an aircraft.

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For short flights, single or smaller double aisle craft are used to carry passengers, which may go through many landing or pressurization cycles for everyday operations. The more takeoffs and landings, means a shorter operational lifespan for the plane. On long overseas flights, wide body or jumbo jets such as 747s experience fewer landing cycles. These larger airliners, especially ones use for cargo operations can have longer lifespans of upwards of 20 or 30 years. In the U.S., the FAA requires an initial inspection on Boeing 737s, which have 30,000 takeoffs and landings using electromagnetic testing. Mandatory inspections are required for finding cracks in the fuselage or metal fasteners.

Dreamliner_BPP_e2121Boeing has a history of ‘over-engineering’ components of its aircraft, which is actually a good thing for ensuring passenger safety and for an extended service-life of the aircraft. Historical evidence of this conservative engineering practice is documented in WWII archival film footage of blown-apart B-17s returning from a mission and safely landing. There are more recent examples of Boeing commercial aircraft surviving dramatic inflight catastrophic failures, with most of the passengers and crew landing safely.

Photo-illustration of an aircraft end-of-life center (aircraft boneyard.)

Photo-illustration of an aircraft end-of-life center (aircraft boneyard.)

Compound Forces Working Against Long-Life-Cycle Aircraft

What are the current forces, which hasten the end-of-life of a commercial jet airliner? Recurring cycles or patterns of economic and technological events influences the commercial aircraft industry on a daily basis. Various ripple-effects of these cycles can quickly alter new and used aircraft asset valuation. Airline leasing companies have a major influence, in providing their customers with the aircraft assets they need. Unless the buying customer has solid credit, it’s doubtful they can secure financing for previously-owned airliners. Also, tax incentives exist for Airline companies to use depreciation right-offs by decommissioning all but the most advance aircraft assets. photo illustration

Maintenance requirements are a long-term, yet fluid, financial concern for a company’s airline fleet. The newer designed aircraft are manufactured with significantly fewer parts than previous models. Consequently, reduction in parts has an impact on reducing maintenance expenditures — including smaller service crews, hours spent on inspection and a reduction of overall repairs. Also, spare parts inventories for maintaining the aircraft’s optimum performance can substantially be reduced compared to an older aircraft. The cost savings benefits are compelling incentives for eliminating older, higher maintenance, aircraft assets.

Boeing_Flt_Line_BPP_bg0187As mentioned previously, the considerable reduction of parts used in manufacturing newer aircraft provides an immediate benefit of up to 20 percent weight reduction. Without compromising strength or aircraft structural integrity, the cost savings from less weight begins the day an airliner is put into service. Traditionally, fuel-efficiency is the “holy grail” used for selecting an aircraft — the amount of fuel-burn affects the daily operational cost of an airline company. After a decade of service an older airliner reaches mid-life, it may require upgraded and modification conversions to the aircraft’s wings (winglets) or need new fuel-efficient jet engines. However, these conversions reach a threshold of diminishing returns from such investments. As a result, keeping an older aircraft competitive with newer models may not pay off at a certain point. That’s when permanent retirement and parting-out the airliner begins to make economic sense and the aircraft’s end-of-life management begins.Boeing_Paine_Field_BPP_ae3134

Inevitable Problems Facing Aircraft Electronic Systems (Avionics) Obsolescence

The most perplexing problem facing all commercial aircraft is how to ensure its critical avionics systems continue to evolve and stay up-to-date. Avionics provides the central nervous system or a central processing unit (CPU) framework for a commercial aircraft. It’s a marvelous matrix of advanced electronic systems technology, which constantly communicates with itself, the pilots and the outside world. More so than any other components making up an aircraft’s technological system, its management and functionality duties are beyond comparison. Each year avionics components physically contract in size, yet they expand immensely in functionality and system management. 

Cell_Phone_Tlk_BPP_et82Here’s an example to help clarify this dichotomy of physical contraction and expansion of technical functionality. Your smartphone can be used as a basic representational model for avionics obsolescence. The phone you’re holding in your hand has a superior mobile graphics processor and sheer number-crunching power advantage over IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer of the late 1990s. Yet, you can hold your phone in hand, compared to Deep Blue, which was the size of a large refrigerator. However, advanced your smartphone is today, a year from now it’ll be obsolete and two years from now… a quaint antique.  If you grabbed your smartphone and considered the example, you just experienced Moore’s law of observation — ‘over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.Man_micro_chip_BPP_et169

Now, imagine trying to update a complex system such as an airliner’s avionics bay, in five-years, 10-years or 15-years. The installation and the majority of electronic systems are not made by the Aircraft’s original equipment manufacturer Mars Frontier series(OEM) such as Boeing or Airbus. Moreover, the vendors or suppliers 10 or 15-years from now who were the OEM, may be out of business.  In the meantime, new replacement components may have to substitute the obsolete equipment. However, the aircraft industry is highly regulated by government agencies, which require strict certification of equipment modifications. As a result of these constraints, aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing, developed obsolescence management strategies to help mitigate these ongoing concerns. But there are always unforeseen obstacles and many moving parts to coordinate before the necessary electronic components are available when needed. Clear, transparent communication is necessary between internal engineering and purchasing departments. Successful collaboration at all levels can present major challenges, especially if the objectives and timetables are not each group’s priority.

So aircraft avionics are the vulnerable underbelly of airliner obsolescence — with financial consequences associated with accelerated, technology — necessitating complex and expensive electronic upgrades.

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Airspace Navigation Service Providers (ANSP), which includes the FAA and the European counterpart EASA — have established new mandate requirements for avionic component upgrades. The purpose of this technology is for enhanced data link digital communication, which interacts instantly with aircraft Flight Management Systems (FMS). These requirements include, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), Controller-Pilot Data Link (CPDLC) and the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) enables text messaging and global position through satellite communications. The new civil aviation mandates are part of the next generation air traffic computer technology called NextGen, which represents air traffic infrastructure’s future for the next 10 to 15 years.

Used Aircraft Components, Harvested For Premium Returns, Is The Retired Airliners Last Call In Service Before Its Final Destination.

Perhaps aircraft boneyards are flying under the radar as virtual gold mines, as refurbished parts are easily sold at market value. The savings of buying used, over new aircraft parts is incentive for expanding the market. Engines, landing gear and avionics are the most expensive components of an aircraft. These prized components are a highly valued commodity and are quickly snapped up. Specialized systems are not manufactured by companies such as Boeing or Airbus, but by outside OEM. Parts sold brand new by the manufacturer are considerably more expensive than buying used.

Money_int _BPP_a223Next Generation aircraft such as the Boeing 737-600 and even a 737-800, which was reported to have had a hard-landing, reached their end-of-life as scrap.  Also, Airbus has had similar, newer single-aisle aircraft models reached their final destination in the aviation boneyard.  Aircraft Fleet receivable Association (AFRA) estimates 600 commercial jet airliners are scrapped yearly. By 2023 it’s estimated the number of commercial airliners scrapped will reach 1000 per-year.

Efforts Of The Aviation Industry To Leave A Smaller Environmental Footprint.

In 2008, the Boeing Company reached out to Airbus in collaboration, with the goal to vastly improve aircraft recycling technology. Airbus estimates they are recycling 85 percent of the entire aircraft, the remaining cabin interior amounted to 15 percent and was the only materials added to landfills.     Earth Day 2010

The best takeaway from the issues surrounding accelerated airliner service-life is that less fuel is consumed by the newer fleets. As older, less efficient aircraft are replaced — a 20 percent reduction in fuel emissions will not enter the atmosphere from the next generation aircraft replacements. If the world’s commercial airline manufactures continue to devote more effort towards efficient recycling of past generation aircraft, we can look forward to clearer skies ahead.         ~
photo illustration

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Special thanks to The Future of Flight Museum, for allowing photos to be taken from their excellent observation deck.

http://www.futureofflight.org                       A surprise appearance of a Boeing Dreamlifter has photographers scrambling to be ready.

 

Aerial view of Paine Field Airport looking north.

Aerial view of Paine Field Airport looking north.

Airliner Obsolescence Quiz    (Read the entire question before answering.)

1. ) What three economic incentives are currently influencing airlines to purchase new aircraft for satisfying travel demand? ______________________________________ _________________________________ & _________________________________
2. ) (True or False) Structural integrity or air worthiness of current generation airliners is the main issue why these aircraft are being retired early. _______ If you answered false, give at least one other reason why this is occurring. ____________________________ _____________________________________________________________________
3. ) Aircraft manufactures use, what type of  ___________ cycles to determine an airliner’s operational lifespan?
4. ) Name the three distinct aircraft flight activities used to determine an airliner’s operation lifespan? _________________________ __________________________ ____________________________________________
5. ) Maintenance schedules and lifespan of jet engines are measured in the ________________ hours.
6. ) Aircraft _________ followed by ____________ and then ___________ are the most valuable components for the part-out and dismantling specialist operations. Fill in the blanks above by selecting the proper order of component value, using the following list: (bulk heads) (wire bundles) (avionics) (engines) (landing gear)
7. ) Selecting from the choices listed below, which aircraft will typically experience more pressurization cycles and why? A or B ____________  A. Jumbo jet (larger, multi isle aircraft) which is used for longer, overseas flights. B. Smaller, single isle jet airliners, which are used more for shorter, domestic flights.  Now explain why? ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________    8. ) Multi-isle airliners or jumbo jets, used for longer international flights or for cargo operations can have life cycles of upwards of ____ – ____ years. Select the best match from these sets: 5 − 15, 10 − 15, 20 − 30, 30 − 40 years. 

9. ) Explain why a larger commercial jet airliner, which flies longer over-sea routes, would have a longer operational life than a smaller aircraft, which is used on much shorter routes? __________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________
10. ) What procedure is required by the FAA for a Boeing 737 airliner, which completes 30,000 takeoffs and landings? _______________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________
11. ) The newer designed aircraft are manufactured with significantly fewer parts than previous models, list at least two reasons why this is an advantage and would make older aircraft obsolete? _______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
12. ) What aircraft component traditionally has been considered the “holy grail” used by the airline industry for selecting an aircraft? _____________________________________
13. ) When permanent retirement and parting-out the of an airliner begins to make economic sense, what form of management begins for that aircraft? ____________________ Select one of the following: end-of-days, end-of-life, retirement cycle, recycle phase.
14. ) What critical system of an airliner is considered its “central nervous system” or CPU for overall control of the aircraft? ________________________________ Give at least two reasons why this system contributes to a jet becoming obsolete? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________
15. ) Approximately how many aircraft are permanently retired or scrapped in a year? __________________ By 2023, how many aircraft are expected to be scrapped? _____________________
16. ) Regarding commercial aircraft recycling technology, what percentage does Airbus estimate it is recycling of the entire airliner ___ 40 %, 65 %, 75 % or 85 % What percent of the aircraft is not recyclable ___ 60 %, 50 %, 25 %, or 15 %  What part of the airliner is not recyclable ____________________ and where does it end up? _______________
Answer key is located at the very bottom, after program sources & related links

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Sources & Related Subject Matter Links

This link shows live air traffic anywhere in the world. View how congested the sky’s are over the world’s busiest airports.

http://www.flightradar24.com/47.79,-122.31/7

Aircraft Bluebook – Used for aviation asset valuation

http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/aircraft_economic_life_whitepaper.pdf

http://marketline.squarespace.com
http://www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/aboutus/brief/commercial.page

http://www.airbus.com/innovation/eco-efficiency/aircraft-end-of-life/

http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/what-determines-an-airplanes-lifespan-29533465/?no-ist

http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/air_software/media/ObsolescenceFinalReport.pdf

http://aviationweek.com/awin/nextgen-obsolescence-driving-avionics-refurbs

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/11/boeing-commercial-planes-double-asia-pacific

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5740876/

http://avolon.aero/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Aircraft_Retirement_Trends_Outlook_Sep_2012.pdf

Article & photos on U.S. aircraft boneyards

http://www.johnweeks.com/boneyard/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2336804/The-great-aviation-graveyard-New-aerial-images-hundreds-planes-left-die-American-deserts.html

Article, photos & interactive map of U.S. aircraft boneyards

http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/commercial-aviation-airplane-boneyards-storage.htm

Excellent aerial video of Airplane Graveyard (Mojave Airport, California)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RjaoR7Zk2s

 

Airliner Obsolescence Quiz Answer Key

1.  ) Satisfying increased travel demand   Fuel cost savings & Historically, low-interest rates for financing new aircraft

2.  ) True    Newer aircraft are replacing airworthy, older aircraft due to much less operating cost, including fuel savings and maintenance issues.

3.  ) Pressurization or Landing cycles

4.  ) Takeoff    Climbing to cruise altitude    Landing

5.  ) Number of flight hours

6. ) Engines  landing  gear avionics

7. )       Shorter service routes typically involve more landing and takeoffs as the airliner satisfies domestic travel demand

8.  )   2030 

9.  )  An airliner flying overseas route would most likely have fewer takeoffs and landings, due to the longer flight time required to reach its destination

10.)  Electromagnetic testing for finding cracks in the fuselage or related components

11.)   Fewer parts can result in an airliner weighing up to 20 percent less than older models, which can correlate to the same percentage of fuel savings. The maintenance cost is substantially lower allowing for more savings over older aircraft with more component parts.  

12.)  Fuel-efficiency

13.)  End-of-life

14.)  Avionics   electronic components used for avionics may not be available or upgradeable due to obsolescence   upgrading obsolete avionics may require expensive redesign

15. )   Up to 600   1000

16. ) 85 %   15 %   Cabin interiors   Landfills

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Big Picture One – Directory Of Multimedia eLearning Posts

Multimedia essays & eLearning programs by: David Anthony Johanson  © All Rights 

To quickly view sites of interest, just click on the white text to the right of the feature photo & above the program’s description. You also have the option to navigate to each essay by simply scrolling down past the end of this directory.

Essays are listed in chronological order from when they were first published.

You’ll find in each program essay, a spectrum of resources to help better understand & appreciate the subject matter. To enhance your experience, a variety of carefully considered dynamic content is used, including: photographs, videos, graphics, text & hyperlinks to other sites. Every effort is made to assure the information presented is factually correct by cross referencing content & giving proper credit for creative work used in the stories & essays.

You’re invited & encouraged to comment on the programs presented here, by doing so, you enrich the site by making it a more interactive experience. All constructive comments are welcome, even if you’re not in total agreement with the article’s point of view.

The author of these sites is a multimedia photographer, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer.

For an alternative graphic format of these programs, please visit — www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com 

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/new-brain-based-learning-strategies-explored-using-neuroimaging/  New Brain-Based Learning Strategies Explored To Help Achieve Your Full Potential. Finding and sharing new learning strategies, that are inspired from evidence based, neuroimaging and brain-mapping studies, is a dynamic process to help assist individuals in reaching their full learning potential. Brain-based learning is a spectrum of teaching strategies, which uses neuroscience research on how the brain functions in achieving ideal development and potential. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning. Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/tag/gone-in-30-seconds-elearning-program-on-rocket-launch-disaster/  Gone In 30 seconds… It’s estimated that an average of 8 percent of all commercial rocket launches end in failure. This eLearning program includes a compendium of 20th & 21st century rocket launches, including dramatic failures. A succinct introduction to space law is included for greater appreciation of the consequences and liabilities related to the growing number of commercial rocket launches. A detailed world map illustrates the major spaceports & launch centers using GPS coordinates and web address. 

An eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning content covered: — aerospace/astronautic engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental footprint, financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology& Space Law. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning. Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/tag/david-a-johanson-historian/  Will The Next Jet Airliner You Fly Be Obsolete, And Ready for Early Retirement?  This multimedia essay examines the evolving financing strategies and technological developments affecting older generation commercial aircraft. An eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning. Assessment tool: A quiz and answer key is located at the end of the program. Learning content covered: aerospace/airliner— aerospace engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental footprint, financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning. Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

[ Disclaimer: David Johanson is a former Boeing scientific photographer and currently has no stock holdings or a financial interest in: Boeing, Airbus or any other companies referenced in this program. Research in this article has been cross referenced using at least three sources, however, all perspectives and opinions represent only the viewpoints of the author.]

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-environment-our-earths-lost-frontier/ The Environment, Our Earth’s Lost Frontier. A photo essay dedicated to the environment using photos from editorial and industrial photo assignments. From Alaska’s oil rich Arctic region to the tropical rain forest of Hawaii, environmental encounters and stories are visually shared. eLearning – suitable for secondary/postsecondary education, community & extended learning. Photo-illustration, graphics, text and links on Earthday and the environment included within this program. 

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-martian-prophecies-earths-conquest-of-the-red-planet/  The Martian Prophecies. In this futurist multimedia photo essay, a correspondent from 2054 presents a series of Astronautical engineering and Astrobiology developments enabling the remarkable colonization of Mars. ELearning – suitable for secondary/postsecondary education, community & extended learning. Extensive photo-illustration, graphics, text and links on Mars colonization included within this program.

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http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/an-introductionary-guide-to-steampunk/ A Beginners Guide to Steampunk. — Photo essay introduction to Steampunk subculture. As a sub-genre of science fiction its practitioners feature Victorian era clothing along with accessories such as goggles, intricate antique jewelry & a wide spectrum of retro-futuristic attachments. Subjects include critical thinking, alternative lifestyle, 19TH Century Industrial History & Steampunk Etymology.

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http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/how-did-romes-vitruvius-become-the-worlds-first-impact-player-in-architecture/  Multimedia photo essay introduction to Roman architect & engineer Vitruvius, who writes the first book on architecture. Vitruvius’ influence is relevant for modern architecture, STEM, Pre-Engineer & CTE related content. For Secondary & post secondary learning. ELearning, Links relating subject matter, quizzes for learning. Extensive photography of Roman architecture featured from: Rome, Ostia Antica & Herculaneum.

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Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP_e8v474bigpictureone.wordpress.com/tag/photos-of-pearl-harbor-visitor-center/  Low light architectural photography of the new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on Oahu, Hawaii. Multicultural essay of modern Hawaiian & Pan Pacific Cultures. — multimedia photo essay, eLearning, photo tutorial on marketing & night photography, reference links

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Sky_look_ BPP_ae208Is Space Law Really That Far Over Your Head? | bigpictureone   Space Law introduction, case studies, space port launch sites, space debris, asteroid mining includes history of the modern rocket program. — Multimedia essay, eLearning, STEM & CTE content, quizzes, interactive map, video links, reference links
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Reflecting on the 33rd Anniversary of Mount Saint Helens Eruption | bigpictureone    Reflections on a close encounter with one of the worlds most active stravovolcanos.  Mt. Saint Helens eruption – photo essay, eLearning, reference links

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What Chance Will America’s Youth Have In A Changing   STEM_EXPFair_ESD_BPP_E23Global Economy? | bigpictureone STEM Education & Magnet Schools – Origins of the program & its success in public education. STEM expo at Mountlake Terrace HS -Edmonds School District.–  Multimedia essay, eLearning, STEM & CTE content, reference links

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Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez © All RightsReflections From A Future Hawaii. Can A Tropical Paradise Become A Portal To Deep Space? | bigpictureone   Futuristic Hawaii in the year 2054 as it’s transformed into a space port & gateway to space. — Multimedia essay, eLearning, links

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Waikiki_Santa_BPP_E22An unusual encounter with a Waikiki Santa Clause | bigpictureone      Photo essay of a Waikiki Santa Clause using an adaptation of Clement Clare Moore’s (1799 -1863) classic poem — Twas the night before Christmas. Multimedia photo essay.  Mele Kalikimaka! — multimedia, poetry, eLearning

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Silhoute_man_ocean_BPP_E227http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/will-the-last-people-remaining-in-america-turn-the-lights-back-on/  Multimedia essay on solar flares, solar/geomagnetic storms & solar maximum of 2013-2014. Potential solar storm scenarios, which government scientist & federal agencies are warning about, including loss of world power grids. Resources & links to various publications & sites  included. — multimedia, eLearning on solar storm history & threats to current infrastructure, STEM related content, quizzes, reference links

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EPSON scanner imageA Glimpse Into Havana’s Legendary Watering Hole | bigpictureone Family photo taken in 1941 at Havana’s Sloppy Joe’s, inspired this photo essay of events shortly before & after the start of WWII. Family chronicled as they arrive in Panama for reunion with my grandfather, evacuated & survive being stalked by German wolf-pack U-boat submarine. — multimedia essay – eLearning

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R22_Helicopt_DAJ_44The Latest Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle From the R22 Beta Helicopter – Part 2 of 2 | bigpictureone  Helicopter safety & repair video, aerial photography of Seattle & Boeing field, using an R22. — STEM & CTE learning, multimeida, eLearning, quizzes video essay.

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R22_helicopt_DAJ_42A Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle      From the R22 Beta II Helicopter – Part 1 of 2. | bigpictureone  Helicopter safety & repair video, aerial photography for Port of Seattle, from Boeing Field, using an R22, eLearning video essay. STEM & CTE learning, aerospace engineering. — mutlimedia, eLearning, quizzes, resource links

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Star_Showr_Ref_Lk_BPP_e616http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/blinded-by-the-light-in-the-middle-of-night/  Photo essay on light pollution’s effects on night photography, astronomy, animal migrations & quality of life. Mount Rainier National Park & long exposure photographs of landscape & star constellations are featured in this essay. — multimedia, eLearning, STEM related content,  quizzes, resource links

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Aurora_Bor_BPP_il_0011_1http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/theres-nothing-new-under-the-sun-or-is-there/  Multimedia essay introduction to solar storms (including historical perspective), CME’s, effects of geomagnetic disturbances & potential threats to global electrical power grids. The connection between solar storm activity & aurora Borealis — eLearning, STEM related content, quizzes, resource links

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Orvi_Italy_BPP_E0412http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/exploring-etruscan-ruins-beneath-the-cliffs-of-medieval-orvieto-italy/ Multimedia essay on one of Europe’s best kept secrets — the medieval fortress citadel, Orvieto. Explores Etruscan ruins, grottos, medieval architecture, massive cathedrals & nearby Umbria countryside. Examines Etruscan art & its misunderstood cultural traditions under the shadow of the Roman Empire. — Critical thinking, World history & culture, travel, e-Learning, extensive photo gallery, quizzes, resource links

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Paint_Hills, BPP__42http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/1382/ Multimedia essay includes video interview with a National Park Service’s ranger on the unique geology & wildlife qualities of John Day National Monument’s Painted Hills. Video features exclusive walking tour, which occurs only once per year. — night photography, resource links

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Boe_ing_787_First_Flt_BPP_Bg404Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Historic First Flight From Paine Field, Everett, WA. | bigpictureone Historic first flight video of Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Everett facilities by BigPictureOne. Multimedia of Boeing Scientific photography experience related to aircraft structures & test engineering. — ELearning, STEM & CTE Ed, large photo gallery, quizzes, resource links

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SeaSPNed_BP_90_MRhttp://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-world-event-which-launched-seattle-into-a-post-modern-orbit-50-years-ago-today/  Multimedia essay explores an early postmodern World’s fair — known as Seattle’s Century 21 Worlds Fair, opened in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  e-Learning, STEM related content, quizzes, extensive photos

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twinT_WTC_NYC BPP_arl_44http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/the-day-after-911-ten-years-after/ Multimedia narrative of a 1998 visit to the NYC World Trade Center Towers & the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Seattle architect Minoru Yamasaki’s designs of the NYC Trade Centers are compared with his Seattle Science Center design for the Century 21 Worlds Fair —eLearning, critical thinking, extensive photo gallery, quizzes, resource links

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Snoqu_almie_Falls_BPP_Ae_6174Luminous Beauty of Low-light Photography | bigpictureone Photo essay tutorial on low-light photography. Strategies & techniques of using low noise sensors in digital cameras. Terms such as magic hour & HDR photography are explained. — eLearning, CTE related content, photo gallery

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Kingdome Demo_BPP_ 2KIngdome demolition March 26 2000 | bigpictureone Video multimedia essay of one of the World’s largest demolitions of Seattle Kingdome. E-learning, video tutorial (featured slow-motion & high-speed video effects), essay of event & aftermath from dust storm. Reference links included.

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Tech_abst_BPP__3ea1Will The Current Solar Storms Hitting Earth, Lead To Lights-out for us by 2013-2014? | bigpictureone A multimedia essay introduction to solar storms, history of geomagnetic effects on industrial & postmodern societies. Civil preparedness, Photos & videos of Aurora Borealis. STEM & solar physics undergraduate content, extensive photos, resource links

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Will the Last People Remaining In America, Turn the Lights Back On?

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Multimedia essay & images by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved

Series 1 of 2

For background on solar storms please view the previous essays:  Will the current solar storms hitting Earth, lead to lights-out for us all by 2013? | bigpictureone    There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There? | bigpictureone    As a likely threat to ending our modern civilization —a severe solar storm is unmatched as a natural disaster and yet it is vastly underreported. An alternative graphic format of this site is at: http://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com/

Now that we’ve moved beyond December 21, 2012 and you know, the Mayan prophecy wasn’t about the end of the world — there’s some truly sobering news about what really does threaten our civilization. A powerful, natural solar event, which affects everyone living today, is now reaching the peak of a violent cycle. Documented by history and science, this potential event could cripple our civilization by destroying the essential technology we rely on and throwing us all back into the “dark ages.” The key to avoiding this global catastrophe is within our grasp — if  we and our National leaders are prepared to be aware of the problem and act by using the correct resources for defending our National power grid.

A Shocking Glimpse of Things To Come                                                               Aurora_Bor_BPP_il_0011

To understand what we’re up against, you only have to go back a short distance of time, to March 13, 1989. A chain-reaction near the surface of the sun was triggered by a solar flare on March 9. Thousands of miles of magnetic arcs collided, causing violent high-energy explosions, which were instantly hurled into space. A plasma cloud from the event was observed heading directly towards earth at a million-miles per hour. As the sun’s radiation particle penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere, short-wave radio signals became disrupted, indicating our planet’s protective magnetic field was being overwhelmed.  And the brilliant, surreal light-shows from the“northern lights” heralded the solar storm to astonished viewers in Florida and even Cuba.

A cascading wave of technical glitches, involving electronic components suddenly occurred globally and beyond! The monitoring systems on the U.S. Space Shuttle were sending corrupt signals to mission controllers, while a host of satellites began malfunction and a Japanese satellite was damaged beyond repair.

At 2:44 a.m., after only 90 seconds of detection, the massive Hydro-Quebec power company was knocked offline by surging geomagnetic energy caused from the aggressive solar storm. Moments later, hundreds of utilities within the Eastern U.S. were all suddenly blacking out. As a result of the blackout six-million people were now without power on a winter’s day. Within 40 minutes of the geomagnetic current’s detection — the force continued to build  like a Tsunami as it surged through the entire continental U.S. power grid, nearly collapsing all the Nation’s electric utilities in its path. The event’s speed and power led some to believe we were under attack from a Soviet nuclear electromagnetic pulse “EMP.”

Particle energy shock    wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth's magnetic field.

Particle energy shock wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic field. Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Titanic burst of charged particles created from a solar flare. Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Titanic burst of charged particles created from a solar flare. Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

The Achilles Heel of Our Technology          Silhoute_Bldg_BBP_et204

Teams of scientist, engineers and physicists began piecing the events together and realized it was first large-scale, solar geomagnetic storm to hit during the postmodern digital electronic era. As powerful as the solar storm was in creating a rogue like wave of geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which saturated the entire planet — it was only one-tenth the strength of the earlier 1921 “super solar storm.” Our electric infrastructure back in the 1920s was in its infancy and we didn’t have voltage sensitive microelectronics, which we now depend on to facilitate all our electronic devices. Today’s complex and overstretched power grids, with their high-power transmission lines are susceptible to geomagnetic energy created from solar storms.

The 1921 solar storm was what scientist classify as a one-in-hundred year storm. Many scientist from NOAA, NASA and the National Academy of Scientist “NAS” predicts a 10 to 12 percent probability of this super solar storm happening within the next 15 years and 100 percent likely some time beyond that time period.

The 2013 solar cycle is now entering its 11-year, peak phase known as solar maximum, this critical phase is of a grave concern as the sun begins to reverse polarity and creates the potential for a super solar storms. History reveals over the decades of time a consistent pattern in the approximate 11 year solar cycle… put the pattern together and it may reveal how little time we have to prepare. This is the pattern from three of the largest storms in recent history:  1989 Quebec-Power geomagnetic storm, the 1921 super solar storm event arrived and the greatest of them all — the 1859 Carrington Solar Storm event all taking place within the 11-year solar maxim.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

Satellites, The Holly Grail of Telecommunications.

Solar storms and geomagnetic energy presents a spectrum of threats to satellite operations. Scientist, physicists and aerospace engineers have realized the challenges solar storms present to satellites since they were first launched into orbit. The geomagnetic energy caused from mass solar energy interacting with the Earths magnetic field, can cause satellites to lose their orientation and if not corrected… can end their lives or even send them hurling back to Earth. Geomagnetic energy is similar to the static electrify you create when walking on a carpet and then is discharge by touching a grounded object. In satellites there’s no way to discharge the electricity, so it will continue to buildup energy and can fry the tightly packed circuits or damage one of the orientation gyros within it. Another problem created from a GIC is the magnetic energy it contains, which can erase the memory in your computer or any memory storage device. The list of essential industries and services relying on archived records that are threatened by CIGs, goes well beyond the banking and financial institutions.

Telestar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and an consortium of international enterprises

Telestar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and an consortium of international enterprises

Even though this subject is well know in the satellite industry, it’s not a topic journalists will have much luck in finding someone to go on the record for in interviews. Satellite companies don’t like admitting reasons for technical problems experienced with their products. The military is even less forthcoming with satellite information. It’s understandable why the armed forces maintain a proprietary stance on its satellites, but commercial satellite companies could benefit themselves and the entire industry by sharing their experiences with solar storm related activity.

If you have cable television, you’ve probably noticed at some time, the satellite transmitting your program being disrupted by solar storm radiation. An indicator for solar interference is digital tiling, which momentarily appears like a frozen video frame, before breaking up into smaller digital tiles. The last few times I’ve noticed digital tiling on my television, I verified it was from solar interference by going to NOAA’s space weather site, which in fact, confirmed elevated solar storm activity was happening.

Was It My Question On Satellite Solar Vulnerability,  Which Brought An Abrupt End To An Interview With U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell?

Senator Cantwell  sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

Senator Maria Cantwell sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

This past July, I arranged a phone interview with Washington State, Senator Maria Cantwell.  Senator Cantwell serves on the U.S. Senate committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, satellites are a topic this committee holds hearings on. Cantwell also is the committee Chairman on Energy, for the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, which deals directly with the Nation’s electric grid.

The interview began with Senator Cantwell and her advisor as they were traveling to an event. After I gave a brief intro to the interview topics, Cantwell was asked to share what updates the Senate had in regards to hardening our satellite systems against solar storms — particularly relating to the aging GPS satellites, which are now being replaced. There was silence for a moment,  it sounded like the Senator and her advisor had covered the phone for a discussion. Senator Cantwell said she would like to get back to me on that subject — I sensed in that moment, the satellite topic should have been brought towards the end of the interview, so I quickly changed gears and followed-up with — why the Senate was taking so long in approving a Bill, which would help protect the National electric grid? Again, I didn’t get a direct answer and the Senator asked if we could finish the interview at another time.

Our latest technology in the  transmission of electric power uses GPS satellites to help regulate the flow of high voltage electricity through power lines. Also used in the control and monitoring of the electric power is shortwave radio and phone lines all of which can be seriously interrupted by severe GIC caused from a solar storm.

A full spectrum of communication modes can disrupted by a GIC.

A full spectrum of communication modes can disrupted by a GIC.

As it turned out, the Senate later that month approved 84-11 to move forward with advancing the proposal for Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes protecting the electric grid. As an example of taking one step forward and then taking two steps back — the Senate voted down in August and again in November the Cybersecurity Act. Part of the reason for the Bill not being approved appears because of a legislative tactic which attached unrelated or conflicting objectives to the Bill, so that opposing the side feels they can get more out of the negotiations.  It’s seems startling in this era of politics, when the Congress or Senate is able to come together quickly and pass any new law without using this protracted tactic.

In the event of a super solar storm, individual homes, neighborhoods and communities could be isolated with no electricity for months or  years.

In the event of a super solar storm, individual homes, neighborhoods and communities could be isolated with no electricity for months or years.

It has to be noted, this was a phone interview, it wasn’t face to face, it’s possible a more pressing matter came in while the interview was in progress. Also, the Senator was in the final months of her Senate election campaign and probably was advised not to comment on anything which could be perceived as politically damaging.

The interview illustrates how challenging it is to help inform the public, along with government officials on what we all are facing from an impending 100-year solar storm event. I have contacts within the electric power industry, including the Bonneville Power Administration, which have been helpful in providing their own perspective on geomagnetic storms, but they’ve all asked to speak off the record. Unfortunately there’s too much pressure to play down the GIC issue from inside the power industry. It’s not pleasant realizing how poorly prepared we are for a potential natural disaster on this scale — that’s why I believe, “mainstream corporate media” has neglected to inform us on the consequences solar storms can have on society. There is industry and government precautions which could be used to help protect the power grid — but it requires courageous political leadership to  enact these safeguards, unfortunately our current politicians are too preoccupied with partisan gridlock to enact the necessary safeguards.

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An Overstretched, Electric Power Grid Creates the Mother of All Antennas!

Government regulators, private and most public power companies have missed critical opportunities to invest in, strengthen and protect our electric power infrastructure from solar geomagnetic storms. Since the wake-up call of the 1989 Hydro-Quebec solar storm, our nation’s electrical grid has been overburdened with higher demand and added thousands of miles of high-voltage power lines. The vast network of power transmission lines stretching over the continent creates the mother of all antennas, for channeling geomagnetic energy into the electric grid.  The lack of investment in transformer security and overuse of the grid, makes it much more vulnerable than it ever was in 1989. An impending solar storm could produce the “perfect geomagnetic super storm,” which in a matter of minutes… decimates most of the nation’s ability to transmit power for several months or even years.

Recently there were comments in an open online physicist forum, regarding threats from geomagnetic storms to the National grid. One thread mentioned a possible way to stop a serious GIC event from destroying high-voltage transformers, is to physically cut the power lines to the transformers. Another physicist replied that the plan just might work, however, he wasn’t sure anyone would be willing an attempt to physically interrupt the electricity collecting behind a continent of power lines.

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Underground pipelines and rail lines are also perfect conductors for channeling GIC’s electric current and have their own issues relating to damage from electromagnetic energy.

Envirn Indust_BPP e1007

In the 1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm, there were only 90 seconds to make a decision on what action to take. Today, it is assumed, power utilities are more prepared with an action plan, however deciding to shut down any section of the grid is an extreme responsibility for an individual. To give an example, last November I was Honolulu, Hawaii, meeting with a friend who works for the Core of Army Engineers. She mentioned, earlier in the year on the Island of Oahu, a serious problem occurred with the transmission of electricity. A plant operator realized something was critically wrong and made the decision to disconnect the power, which caused large sections of the Island to lose power. The initial response from the public and local media was anger and criticism towards the operator, for shutting down the power without notification to thousands of people. It turned out the utility operator actually saved the system from being severely damaged by deciding to act quickly. If the power was allowed to remain on, it could have caused severe system damage and extremely expensive to repair. So in reality this operator’s quick decision and courageous action saved the day for thousands of customers.

Image courtesy of NASA.
Image courtesy of NASA

Deregulation of the Power Industry, Combined With No Centralized Authority over the National Grid In An Emergency  — Potentially Jeopardizes the Economy and Our Safety.  

Deregulation of the power industry has been an adopted policy since the 1980s. It was supposed to encourage industry competition, for creating greater profits for the utilities, allow for steady improvements in infrastructure and lower cost for consumers. In reality deregulation has failed to deliver on its stated objectives.

Independent and comprehensive cost/benefit studies were not completed before deregulation was adopted. Joseph Swidler, former chair of the Federal Power Commission, stated in 1990 editorial of The Electricity Journal — While there is bitter disagreement over … changes, there can be little argument these are occurring haphazardly without the benefit of comprehensive analyses at a national level.” A specific example is the absence of an analysis of the decrease in benefits from coordination as mentioned above, since competition typically results in decreased coordination. [A. CasazzaAllan J. Schultz and Joseph C. Swidler A brave new world: Let’s look before we leap The Electricity Journal, 1990, vol. 3, issue 9, pages 40-43]  SubSt_BPP0709_bt73

Engineering originally defined the qualifications and standards used for policy and management in the power industry.  After deregulation took hold, the industry became beholden to marketing and finance, which de-emphasized engineering standards.

While the original standards used in the power industry were not perfect, it was more reliable and efficient than the current system — which has overstretched the National grid with higher capacity transmission lines and not sufficiently updated key infrastructure needs. Deregulation is what allowed for large-scale fraud and market manipulations to take place. This created unethical opportunities to gouge private consumers and large corporate customers by the former Enron Company in the early part of the 21st Century.

According to industrial insurance underwriters publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. A critical component  of major concern is high voltage transformers.

Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

The Issue of High Voltage Transformers

According to industrial insurer’s publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. Many of the high voltage transformers functions at the edge of their life expectancy. It typically takes three years to order, install and have a transformer ready for service. High voltage transformers are no longer manufactured in the U.S.. On average they weigh 100 to 200 tons and are too large for aircraft to transport.

A severe geomagnetic storm creates geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which transfers massive electric energy through the path of least resistance. This energy travels through water, earth and especially through metal such as underground pipes, rail line and electric power lines. The GIC saturates transformers, which distorts the voltage in the system and violently disrupts the entire process of transferring electric power.

Electrical power infrastructure (electrical grid) is vulnerable to major Solar storm's Coronal Mass Mass Ejections (CMEs), Geomagneticly Induced Currents (GMIs) and man made Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP's.)  Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights-

Electrical power infrastructure (electrical grid) is vulnerable to major Solar storm’s Coronal Mass Mass Ejections (CMEs), Geomagneticly Induced Currents (GMIs) and man made Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP’s.) Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights-

As a critical component in the distribution of electric power, transformers have proven vulnerable to geomagnetic energy and their survivability is a major concern to engineers and scientist.  It’s likely a majority of the high voltage transformers would be at risk from  the geomagnetic energy caused from a super solar storm. The transformers and the Nation’s electrical grid are more vulnerable on the East coast due to how overstretched the system is there. In the Western part of the U.S. the power utilities have been more proactive in protecting transformers and the grid is not as dense as it is in the East. The further south in longitude a power grid’s location is a factor in lessening the effects of a geomagnetic storm. Also a location’s geology is a factor, some rock compositions conduct geomagnetic energy more efficiently than others.

According to leading engineering experts in the power industry, a practical strategy to protect the high voltage transformers is to install a surge protector like component on each transformer. The devices are about the size of a washer machine and would cost from $ 500 million to $ 1 billion dollars to protect all of the Nation’s transformers. That’s probably the best value  of an insurance policy which would cover the Nation’s electrical grid, especially compared to the alternative of replacing  several hundred industrial size transformers.

Power

Transformers a risk to keeping the power on – 360 News – Lloyd’s

A Comprehensive Study, With Extensive Geomagnetic Storm Computer Modeling.

In 2010, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory produced an extensive report titled: Geomagnetic Storms and Their Impact on the U.S. Power Grid. The Metatech Corporation was contracted to produce extensive computer modeling on various solar and geomagnetic storm scenarios. The report has been presented to both the U.S. Senate and  House Congressional subcommittee hearings. Here’s a link for you to see for yourself how severe and extensive solar storm impact is likely to be using computer modeling.

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/ees/etsd/pes/pubs/ferc_Meta-R-319.pdf

The Prospect of 400 Chernobyl’s   400_chevnob_103

Russia’s Chernobyl and the United States’ Three Mile Island, are considered two of the greatest nuclear power plant disasters in history. Their legacy was clouds of lethal radiation, which caused mass evacuations and contaminated areas  still not safe for people to inhabit. When these nuclear accidents occurred, there were no earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes to blame. The cause was a combination of technological failure and human error, which prevented the reactor’s cooling system to function, ultimately causing the nuclear disasters.

On March 11, 2011 the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan experienced a 9.0  violent earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami. This time it was a natural disaster which caused a failure of the reactor’s cooling system. The backup electric generators to the reactor’s cooling system also unexpectedly failed, causing the reactors to begin overheating. The reactor released a  substantial radioactive cloud, which forced a 20 mile radius evacuation.

There are federal disaster relief agencies, scientists and engineers questioning if a super  geomagnetic storm would burn out the backup generators for cooling a nuclear power plant’s reactor. Another question is, will the trucks used for hauling diesel to backup generators, even work after waves of geomagnetic energy travel through a vehicles microelectronics. Any type of car transportation or truck transport  will be extremely limited, if electricity is not generated to pumping gasoline and diesel from service stations.

In Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, a number of hospital’s critical backup generators failed to operate. It’s uncertain if backup generators will survive a severe geomagnetic disturbance from a solar storm. With over 400 nuclear power plants throughout the world, a serious geomagnetic storm, could potentially lead to loss of all electrical power to reactor core cooling systems, which would release radiation contamination on a global scale.

The Tragic Events of the RMS Titanic Serves As A Cautionary Analogy

Arctic_Ice_Field_BPP_6E54

This past April marked the 100 year anniversary of the “unsinkable” Titanic ocean liner’s maiden voyage. The once modern looking, massive ship was state of the art technology in 1912 — today it represents human arrogance and hubris towards over reliance on technology. The  captain of the Titanic,  Edward J. Smith, was quoted, of ‘not conceiving any disaster which could happen to his vessel’ — after all, no major passenger ship had been lost for nearly 50 years before the launch of the Titanic

882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.
882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.

White Star Line of Liverpool, England was the premier shipping company at the beginning of the 20th Century. White Star commissioned the construction of RMS Titanic – an Olympic class steam liner.  The passenger ship was outfitted with twin colossal, coal-fired reciprocating turbine steam engines, and the ship’s electric generator produces more power than an average city’s power-plants at that time. It also featured the latest wireless communication technology, capable of sending and receiving signals 1,000 miles away. Owned and operated by the Marconi Company, the radio room was operated 24/7 using two technicians. The radio’s functions were primarily for commercial passenger telegram services, but it also served an operations function for the Titanic as it received useful weather reports and ice warnings.

A functional forced air heating system used electric fans to push warm air through a ventilation network. The Titanic could in an emergency, produce its own fresh water from seawater using a desalination process. Many new living improvements and conveniences on this marvelous, “floating city” employed advance technology created during the late industrial era.

RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.
RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.

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Full Speed Ahead Into the Night and Unseen Ice Fields

On April 14, 1912, three days into its maiden voyage the Titanic with its 1,317 passengers and 885 crew members moved swiftly across the North Atlantic. The ship averaged an efficient, 21 knots per hour (24 mph; 39 km/h) through the icy cold waters and approximately 900 miles from its New York destination. As the streamliner approached the coast of Newfoundland, the skies were clearing over an unusually calm Atlantic Ocean. Throughout the day, Titanic’s radio operators received warnings from various ships in the route ahead of where they would soon enter — the captain responded by charting a 10 mile precautionary adjustment to the south for the ships heading. Throughout the day, warnings in Morse code reached Titanic’s radio operators in increase numbers and with more alarming urgency. The Captain assured the concerned operators — their ship had nothing to fear from icebergs and they should  attend to the passengers important communication needs. As the late afternoon melted into the twilight,  Titanic was cruising at full-steam ahead and virtually blind in the calm featureless night.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Two ship’s lookouts climbed the long later attached inside the steamships smoke stack to reach the crow’s nest for the last time. Unfortunately, the bridge binoculars were missing, so the men were forced to rely on their plain eyesight to see any impending danger. The Titanic cruised effortlessly through the flat calm ocean, creating a false sense of security to the crew and passengers — but with icebergs in the water, on a moonless night meant no splashing waves to help warn a watchful lookout. Just before midnight, Fred Fleet, the lookout  in the crow’s nest spotted the Titanic’ s dreadful rendezvous with destiny — a massive iceberg looming dead ahead. The bridge responded immediately by skillfully turning the ship away from the iceberg, the quick maneuver nearly was successful — but then… a horrible sound of solid ice scraping against sheets of steel plates and the profound shutter delivered to the ship — telegraphed it was mortally wounded. Five watertight compartments were breached just below the waterline by the jagged ice, if just one-less compartment would have torn open, this story wouldn’t be told. The largest ship in the world, this floating world with its community of families, workers and wealthy aristocrats, now had less than three hours before the unthinkable would happen.

The Captain and the Star Line management on board must have fallen into total shock and denial of what was happening to their Titanic, technological wonder. These individuals in charge with the responsibility for the ship’s operations and ultimately the passengers safety, were steeped in overconfidence they never conducted drills or consider necessary emergency contingencies and procedures. Fortified with hubris that the Titanic could withstand any act of nature, they lost sight of their most important duties of safe operations and procedures — after all they believed in the myth their ship was built to be unsinkable.

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In the same way the Titanic’s symbolizes a mythic system of indestructible technology, which can withstand anything nature can throw at — our civilization and specifically our Nation is repeating some of the basic errors regarding — an over reliance, complacency, and trust in life supporting technologies.  We’ve been so fortunate to have built a civilization, which harnessed electrical technology to run our industry, heat our homes and provide our security.  For decades, with few exceptions, we’ve had uninterrupted, reliable electric power that is now, taken for granted. Most of us have become shortsighted, with blind-faith in assuming we’ll have reliable electric power, whenever or wherever we need it.

Recorded history has demonstrated solar storms are a real threat to our technologies and civilization. Solar cycles, flares and storm events are a regular occurrence — a super geomagnetic storm will happen again, creating potential for catastrophic effects beyond any scale humanity has ever faced. Reliable, national and international scientific institutions and governmental agencies in charge of safety and security, increasingly  warn us of these real threats to the electric grid.

Unlike RMS Titanic’s captain, whose hubris and over reliance on the technological engineering of his steam liner, lead to the tragic loss of his passengers and the world’s largest ship  — our elected officials and top power industry executives, need awareness of our technology’s fatal weakness and decisively act now to defend it! If our Nation, like the Titanic waits until the impending disaster is upon us to act… It will be too late — the  majority of our population, like those on the doomed infamous ship a 100-years ago will be scrambling for lifeboats that aren’t there. The millions of lives depending on electricity to transport food, medicine and provide security will have no safety-net for years to come. The threat from a natural continental or global catastrophic event is a known reality. It’s time for everyone to educate themselves and have an open dialogue with their families and communities regarding what precautions are necessary to minimize their effects. ~

Particle energy shock    wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth's magnetic field.

Particle energy shock wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

Tech_abst_BPP__3ea1
 

Government Agencies Which Are A Warning Of Solar Storm Potential Dangers

Severe S

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olar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade: NOAA

Scientists warn solar storms could be “global Hurricane Katrina” | Homeland Security News Wire

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Testimony Given to  the U.S. Congress Regarding Threats to the National Grid from Solar Storms

http://www.solarstorms.org/CongressSW.html

SHIELDAct.com / Read H.R. 668 – The SHIELD Act

Testimony Given to the  U.S. Senate Regarding Threats to the National Grid From Solar Storms

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20110505082259-Testimony%20McClelland%20(5-3-11%20Final).pdf

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20120717100957-7-17-12-FERC-Testimony.pdf

Who Is In the Lead For the Darwin Award Between the U.S. Senate or Congress

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Here Are Some Links For Your Review To Inform Your Own Decision On Who Deserves the Darwin Award.

Feds and Utilities battle over Solar EMP threat in 2014 | SpaceBattles.com

Senators debate security of electricity grid – Washington Times

Senate dumps strategy to prevent EMP damage | The Total Collapse

Murkowski Blocks Effort to Protect US Power Grid

What Can We As Citizen Do To Protect the National Grid

Please check back to view the complete story — new content is being added daily, including an interview with Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell and comments from government agencies and electric power grid representatives.

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Solar Storm  & Electrical Power Portal  [Editorial Links Government Links Industry links & Resources]

Solar Storms & Solar Weather

Space: NOAA Watch: NOAA’s All-Hazard Monitor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: U.S. Department of Commerce

NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Solar Storm Warning – NASA Science

SpaceWeather.com — News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

Active Solar Regions – HAMwaves.com

Solar Satellites Research

Solar Shield–Protecting the North American Power Grid – NASA Science

Electric Power Industry Related to Solar Storm Issues

Lawrence E. Joseph: The Solar ‘Katrina’ Storm That Could Take Our Power Grid Out For Years

Emergency Preparedness & Societal Concerns Related to Solar Storms & EMPs

Are We Smart Enough to Survive … Or Will Humanity Win a Darwin Award? – Washington’s Blog

[contact-form][contact-field label="Name" type="name" class="GINGER_SOFATWARE_correct">/][contact-field label="Email" type="email" class="GINGER_SOFATWARE_correct">/][contact-field label="Website" class="GINGER_SOFATWARE_correct">/][contact-field label="Comment" type="textarea" class="GINGER_SOFATWARE_correct">/][/contact-form]

The Latest Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle From the R22 Beta Helicopter – Part 2 of 2

Multimedia video essay by: David Johanson Vasquez – © All Rights

BigPictureOne & ScienceTechTablet are dedicated sites for including excitement, experience & education in E-learning. To see an alternative graphic style of this story click on:  Science Tech Tablet

Have you ever traveled by helicopter and encountered a full-throttle-ride at a tree top level? Part 2 of my Helicopter video series is now online for you to experience. There are valuable safety tips, aerial photo techniques, employment requirements for helicopter mechanics  as well as the ultimate joyriding aerial views of Boeing Field and Seattle!

Collaboration and Clear Communication

Clear communication and teamwork between helicopter pilots and flight mechanics is essential for aviation safety. Professional collaboration and working experience is also required between a pilot and photographer for ensuring successful photographic results. On the day of this aerial photo shoot the helicopter we were using had some technical issues, which needed repairs before continuing the project for the Port of Seattle. With solid communication between pilot and ground crews established, the repairs were completed as the fast and furious activity of aircraft went on all around us.

Video by: David Johanson –  © All Rights

Helicopter Rear Rotor Blades Can Be a Liability

A February 2007 Rotor & Wing Magazine article by Tim McAdams, used two tragic crash events involving helicopter aerial photography to illustrate potential hazards encountered from the helicopter’s rear rotor. In the article it reported, “the NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot-in-command’s improper in-flight decision to maneuver at a low airspeed with a left quartering tailwind, which resulted in a loss of tail-rotor effectiveness.”  The investigation of these and similar crashes helped to create the FAA Advisory Circular AC90-9, that warns pilots of conditions which can cause loss of flight stability due to stress on rear rotors.

Under no circumstances should anyone including ground crews be near the helicopter’s rear rotor while the engine is on. The video shows why helicopter rotor blades are painted with bright patterns to warn of their potential danger.

Fast and Furious

Helicopter operations are virtually never boring and are the centers of major activity. See how the latest video in the series explores Seattle’s dynamic landscape, Boeing Field operations and helicopter safety.

REFERENCES: (Click on these sites to learn more on the subject)

Helicopter Landing Area Safety

Safety Around Helicopters

Helicopter Hazards | Aeronautical Knowledge Handbook

Rotor Hazards

Tail rotor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rotor & Wing Magazine :: Safety Watch: Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness

RC Helicopter Auto Rotation

http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/av_safety/promotion/safety_alerts/IA%20SA%2011-03%20LTE%20Final.pdf

Port of Seattle

King County International Airport/Boeing Field

A Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle From the R22 Beta II Helicopter – Part 1 of 2.

Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez  © All Rights 

The Robinson R22 helicopter is often described as a sports car version of helicopters — ultra light in weight, it takes off quickly and is so responsive it will literally make your head spin.  Weighing in at only 1200 pounds fully fueled, it often feels like you’re wearing the helicopter like a “jet-pack” rather than riding in it. As a thrilling life experience, helicopter flights are at the top of the list, however, it requires the highest level of professionalism to safely fly and be involved with helicopter operations.

Video by: David Johanson © All Rights

The Initial Reason for the Project                                                                                        As a multimedia specialist who produces stories supported by photography and video content, I’ve used a variety of helicopters for an image capture platform. Everything from the compact, high – performance Huey 500D up to the large tandem rotor Kawasaki KV 107 (a licensed version of  the Boeing Vertol BV107 “Chinook” helicopter.)                                                                                                                                                       

The Robinson R22 Beta II Helicopter was arranged for me to use  as part of a six-month photography contract with the Port of Seattle. In between  locations  photographed for the Port, I shot video content for multimedia educational applications.

Multimedia Enhancements For Greater Learning                                                            This multimedia video includes Ξ graphic overlays, lower third titles and an integrated color key, which indicate: Θ Seattle historic architecture (Smith Tower), municipal, transportation and infrastructure information along with the R22’s performance ratings.    The style of writing for this multimedia essay structures information using bold and italicized text to optimize key content for quick scanning by readers. For assessing your recall and comprehension a quiz is included at the end of this essay. You’re also invited to explore provided web links related to essay content. Your opinions and insights on how to enrich this multimedia experience is valued, so a comment section is provided for suggestions.

                                                                           

Advantages & Challenges For Image Capture From Helicopters

The advantages of using a helicopter over an urban setting are many, including: multiple low angle views, which are unavailable when using fixed winged aircraft, hovering over specific areas, an efficiency in reaching desired altitudes for a variety of perspective views.

 Aerial photography and especially video are challenging to produce in a helicopter compared with using fixed winged aircraft. ↑ Two major issues, which can hamper imaging are: vibrations and noise caused from the engine next to the cab and rotor vibrations caused from elastic torsion deformations while flying. Aerospace companies such as Boeing and big budget feature film projects will occasionally use high-end aerial photography, which have specialized cameras mounted into their aircraft. This specialization can reduce some aerial photography vibration issues associated with hand held cameras, but it requires a large budget to justify the expense. The R22 helicopter is a very light aircraft, the summer afternoon, which was used to shoot these aerials, had strong turbulence, so some scenes will have unavoidable vibration and noise in them.

This is the first of two videos, which features aerial views of Seattle provided by  Helicopters Northwest out of Θ Boeing Field. The second video, soon to be posted, shows the return for refueling and includes initial mechanical issues getting the helicopter back in the air. In regards to refueling, it’s critical a helicopter has been properly grounded before operations begin. ↑ Helicopter rotor blades are capable of generating large amounts of static electricity — especially in dry, dusty environments, which can pose a serous threat to both flight and ground crews.                      

The Outcome From Rare Helicopter Accidents Are Usually Tragic… But There Are Exceptions

One of my first jobs after graduating from college was with KREM-TV (King Broadcasting) in Spokane. A few years after I moved on from working with the station a tragic accident occurred with its news helicopter. The helicopter had just picked up Gary Brown —an outstanding KREM videographer (who I remembered as always being upbeat, positive and friendly) — when its rotor blades suddenly struck guy wires supporting the station’s transmitter tower. Both the photographer and pilot were killed instantly.

I’ve included a link below, which has an article with an accident scene photo from the Spokane, Spokesman Review in a Tuesday, May 7, 1985 addition. The story has comments from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official coordinating the accident’s investigation. Ironically on the same page is a syndicated, New York Times story of a larger helicopter accident, which occurred on the following day of May 6. That tragedy involved the loss of 17 Marines in a massive Sikorsky, CH-53 Sea Stallion off the southwestern coast of Japan. A joint operations helicopter reported witnessing the CH-53 suddenly lost power and dropped 500 feet into the sea.

About ten years ago a friend of mine survived a helicopter crash, with only a few scratches. He had bought a used helicopter from a sheriffs department to start his own flight service business. Over time, parts needed to be replaced with upgrades and he was sold a defective fuel-line, which failed while in flight. He was approximately 100 feet in the air with two clients when the helicopter’s engine shuttered to a stop. Fortunately he got his helicopter into ↑ auto rotation ( helicopter emergency procedure, which shifts rotor blade’s pitch to use stored kinetic energy to make a “soft landing”) and as they began descending, the helicopter’s skid caught the center of a tree and its branches helped them slow the descent even more.

Education and Training Is the Key to Helicopter Safety

Overall, if you consider how many hours and flights in a day helicopters perform flawlessly — they are safe and reliable. What these specialized aircraft can achieve in vertical maneuverability and performance is nothing short of marvelous and amazing. ↑ To ensure engines and structural frames are safely maintained the FAA certifies aviation mechanics using  two certifications. Helicopter mechanics are required to have: an air frame mechanic and or a powerplant mechanics certification. Most employers prefer their mechanics having both certifications, which requires 1,900 hours of coursework in order to pass oral and written exams that prove their skills.

Each video in this multimedia essay demonstrates the essential level of professionalism required for aviation operations during a high volume of jet and helicopters landings and takeoffs at Boeing Field.

Now, just sit back and take in the sights! ~                                                                        

Questions For Continuous Learning and to test your recall?

1.) What are the advantages and disadvantage of using a helicopter for aerial photography?

2.)Name one of the first skyscrapers, which also was the tallest building on the West Coast until 1962?

3.) What is the most important overall requirement for flying helicopters?  

4.) What is the name of the emergency procedure for when a helicopter’s engine fails inflight and what process takes place for a soft landing?

5.) Name the FAA requirements for being a helicopter mechanic and why are they necessary?

6.) Describe the multimedia enhancements on the video, which were used to promote greater learning.

Integrated Learning Color/Symbol Key for Career Technical Education:

↑ Navy Blue  Aerospace Engineering related including: aerodynamics, structural dynamics & avionics

Ξ Dark Green Multimedia & graphic design techniques used for Integrated learning

Θ Maroon Historical structures, locations and or districts

◊ Indigo Professional photography & video production

↔ Purple Civil engineering related

References: (Click on these sites to learn more on the subject)

The Kopp-Etchells Effect: Eerie Halo of a Helicopter’s Rotor Blades in a Dust Cloud – Neatorama

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=AD0282087

The Spokesman-Review – Google News Archive Search

Robinson Helicopter Co.

Helicopters Northwest – Boeing Field

Intersting facts about the historic Smith Tower

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

Smith Tower – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Walking Tours (Self-Guided) – Visiting Seattle – Seattle.gov

http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/about/Chronology.pdf

Downtown (Central Business District) guide, moving to Seattle | StreetAdvisor

Columbia Helicopters

CH-47JA Helicopter | Helicopters | Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. Aerospace Company

Boeing CH-47 Chinook

Boeing: History — Products – Boeing CH-47 Chinook Rotorcraft

MD Helicopters MD 500 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boeing: History — Products – Hughes OH-6 Cayuse/500 Military and Civilian Helicopter

Helicopter Safety | Flight Safety Foundation

http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/1900/1/umi-umd-1880.pdf

King County International Airport/Boeing Field

Port of Seattle

 

Blinded By Light, In The Middle Of Night

 
Multimedia eLearning program by: David A. Johanson © All Rights  — Second Edition

The author is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative formatted view of this program, please visit — www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com

 

My photo wingman, Rick Wong and I headed into the heart of darkness in a quest for the Perseid meteor showers. Mount Rainier National Park, was our destination to use its iconic landmark for framing an infinite field of stars—far from the glare of city lights. Traveling at night in Rick’s new hybrid Ford Fusion, equipped with “information technology”—voice navigation, made it easy finding the park without using a map.

Arriving at our location, luminous stars lit up the night as expected, but we were surprised by some uninvited competition, which nearly stole the show.

A stunning view of Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lake, with the summer stars overhead. The pink and orange glow on the left side of the mountain is light pollution emitted from the City of Tacoma, approximately 65 miles northwest.

We found an ideal location above Reflection Lake to begin our photo shoot, with one of the Cascade Mountain’s most famous stratovolcano in the background. An unexpected warm light was glowing behind Mount Rainier, which I reasoned, was a faint remnant from the earlier sunset. However, the sun had set at least four hours earlier, so it couldn’t be the source of the illumination. Rick suggested “its light coming from the City of Tacoma,” located about 65 miles away. During a 20-second long exposures used to take an image of the snow-capped mountain, I began thinking about the effects caused by light pollution.
With a bright moon rising, we worked fast to keep up with the changing light, until its intensity eventually overpowered the stars.

Just now, the moon was rising higher into the night sky, it too was causing us to shift focus on what to photograph. Like a giant diffuse reflector, the moon reflected soft, filtered light onto a previously dark, formless landscape. Moonlight was beginning to compete with the canopy of stars’ brilliance, partially masking crystal clear views of the Milky Way, along with some meteor sightings. So being photo opportunist, we used the moonlight to illuminate shadow-detail on Rainier’s south face.

Like some sorcerer conjuring an intense cauldron of red light, the photographer adjusts his digital settings before Mount Rainier and her crown of stars above.

A Peaceful Paradise Lost                                                                                             There’s a tranquil feeling while in the process of taking long exposures at night; it’s normally quiet and not many visual distractions overwhelm the senses or interrupt your focus. I personally enjoy these rare opportunities of solitude, to visualize an image, using a minimal, Zen like perspective.

 

When a distraction, like a car suddenly rounding a corner occurs, it’s often an annoyance, which takes you out of the moment. My moment was taken by clusters of cars, with glaring lights as they came around a turn… just as the moon illuminated the mountain, as it was reflected onto a perfectly still lake.. Their headlights flooded the calm mirror-like water and stands of old growth trees beyond with glaring intensity— as I used my hands in an attempt to shield the lens from light flare. Finally, the cars diapered into the darkness with no more approaching vehicles until dawn.

Photo-illustration of micro light sources, which can cause light pollution by unintended spill-light.

Moving above the lake to find new angles for interesting compositions, I took notice of something not seen before. Lights of various colors were coming from photographers bellow me, created by their digital camera’s preview monitors and infrared sensors for auto focusing. With the low light-sensitive Nikon cameras I was using, these multicolored monitor lights, appeared like a bright flare on the long exposure images. Now, I had one more unwelcome light source to avoid, which required strategic timing in the photo’s exposures to minimize glare.

Again, my thoughts returned to the issues of light pollution. Recalling the time back home, when I attempted to photograph some constellations at night, only to have a neighbor’s motion sensor flood light, overwhelmed the backyard with brightness. The piercing light  forced me to find the last remaining, isolated shadowed corner of the yard.

My reminiscing was cut short by a distant, but bright, pinpoint of light from bellow Mount Rainier’s summit. Flashlights from mountain climbers near Camp Muir shined bright—like lighthouse beacons from the semi darkened rocks and glacier fields on the mountain. Even the faintest light can shine bright at night as was noted during World War II, when warships were forbidden from having any exterior lights on at night — including a lit cigarette, which posed a risk of being spotted from great distances by enemy submarines.

Lights from mountain climbers on the approach to the summit of Mount Ranier.

Encountering the Universe’s Brilliance                                                                       The improper, overuse of outdoor lighting has erased one of our basic and most powerful human experiences—encountering the universe’s brilliance with its galaxies and billions of stars shining in the night sky! Making visual contact with our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of the greatest shows seen from Earth.

 

In less than a century of civilization’s reliance on electric technology: two-thirds of the U.S., half of Europe and a fifth of people in the world—now live where they cannot see the Milky Way with the unaided eye. You can appreciate how we lost our stellar view by seeing aerial photos taken from orbiting spacecraft and the International Space Station. These startling images taken of the Earth at night, reveal a man-made galaxy of artificial light, which cancels out much of the real one in the sky above.

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Some years back, I was a part-owner in a small recreational ranch, in Eastern Washington’s, Okanogan County. Brining friends over from Seattle, it was often nighttime when we arrived. The instant of exiting the cars, was a startling event as the Milky Way’s intensity of light overwhelmed your senses. The “ranch” was remotely located, at about 5,000 feet in the mountains, near the Canadian border and 30-miles from the closest town. Days would go by where we didn’t see a car or even hear a small airplane go overhead… it was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life, to perceive nothing except wind going through trees and seeing only starlight at night for hours at a time.

Image courtesy of NASA

A television interview with the director of a major observatory in Southern California recounted when Los Angeles had its last electrical blackout —people were calling 911 and his observatory, with reports of strange, bright objects in the night sky. Actually, what the callers were seeing for the first time, was the Milky Way’s canopy of shining stars.

   

Image courtesy of NASA.

Besides forfeiting a life inspiring, wondrous view of the cosmos, there’s tangible losses associated with light pollution. Conservative estimates are—30 % of U.S. outdoor lighting is pointed skyward in the wrong direction, which wastes billions of dollars of electricity. The unnecessary practice of lighting clouds, burns more than 6 million tons of coal, which adds: harmful greenhouse gas emissions, along with toxic chemicals into our atmosphere and water.

Further scientific studies indicate wildlife is suffering the ill effects of excessive urban lighting. The City of Chicago has taken measures to turn off or dim its high-rise lighting to enable migrating birds to continue normal migration patterns. An increase in species of insects attracted to light along with rodents, which are drawn towards bright city lighting, is a growing concern to many scientists.

Heavy equipment product shots never look quite this good. Scheduled improvements to the viewing area above Reflection Lake, had some equipment, taking a nap, before going to work when the sun came up.

Education Is the Solution to Light Pollution                                                                    The reason light pollution continues to expand is, we have grown accustomed to its seemingly benign presence. After all, probably no one can point to a single case of a person killed from overexposure to light pollution. However, there is a growing correlation of health risks associated with overexposure from artificial light. Some of the main symptoms include, physical fatigue and damage to eyesight. This lighting health risk was recognized in 2009, when the American Medical Association officially established a policy, which supports the control of light pollution.

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Municipal lighting codes are beginning to help define and eliminate unnecessary light pollution. Lighting enforcement can create a more pleasing environment, by reducing excessive urban lighting, which causes fatigue from glare and cuts down on unnecessary electric utility cost. Redirecting outdoor lighting away from the sky where it is needlessly wasted is a simple and easy solution.

Installing motion detector security lights are another efficient and productive mitigation strategy. For security purpose, a light, which is triggered by motion is much more effective for crime prevention than a continuous floodlight. Motion detector lights have a clear advantage of focussing our attention onto an area, which is triggered by a sudden change from darkness to bright-light.

The light intensity of the Milky Way is a breathtaking wonder to witness at night —` unrestricted light-pollution has faded this wonder from what was once a valued human experience. You can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the right 1/3 of the frame. Nikon D700 – Nikkor 28mm lens @ F3.5 @ 20 seconds August 11 11:48 p.m.

 

The encouraging news is… the key to reducing light pollution is a simple matter of basic education and action. Public awareness of over-lighting requires a minimal expenditure, which will quickly pay for itself in energy savings and perhaps return the opportunity to experience one of the greatest shows seen from earth. ~

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Light pollution glossary:

Urban Sky glow: the brightening of the night skies over municipalities and communities, caused primarily from high-volumes  of collective, reflected light and poorly directed light, which is pointed upward or not shielded properly.

Light trespass: light falling or spilling into areas where it is not intended. Also know as “spill light” – as in municipal streetlights, which go beyond the intended illumination of street signs and sidewalks, causing an unwanted exterior lighting of residential homes.

Glare: A direct, bright or harsh light, which causes discomfort or pain. The effects of glare can be reduced or eliminated with the use of a shield or filter.

Uplight: Light angled inappropriately upward towards the sky and serving no purpose. Uplight washes out the night sky and reduces opportunities for astronomers and star-gazer to enjoy the beauty of the planets, moon and stars.

Light Clutter: Poorly planned, confusing and unpleasant use of grouped lights usually associated with urban or retail lighting. Retail business often trying to outdo the competition by using overly bright, multicolored or pulsating lights.

Links to articles & information on light pollution:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/light-pollution-a-growing-problem-for-wildlife.html

www.darksky.org/assets/documents/is001.pdf

www.njaa.org/light.html

www.skymaps.com/articles/n0109.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution

ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution      

The World Event Which Launched Seattle Into a Postmodern Orbit, 50 Years Ago Today.

Photos and essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights – Third Addition

Content includes: Blended learning, critical think, Seattle Postmodern History, (Video Links – MGM film segments with Elvis Presly at Seattle’s World Fair, postmodern video of early NASA rocket launches & spacewalks, video defining “postmodernism”)  (Web links, history org feature of Century 21 Seattle’s World’s Fair & Architect Japanese American Minoru Yamasaki)

On this day, April 21st, 1962, Seattle’s Century 21 World’s Fair opened the doors for its national and international visitors.  Eventually, almost 10 million guests attended the entire event to — “imagine a futuristic tomorrow,” which promised technological wonders for improved living and for promoting world harmony.

Century 21 Fair Exposition Logo.

The 1851 London World’s Fair, which took place in London’s  Crystal Palace, was the vanguard of this type of global gathering.  The industrial age was in a mature stage of development, offering new and exciting forms of technologies. In this era, people became aware of time-and-space being compressed — due to steam-power’s ability to hasten long-distance travel with the locomotive and steamship.  As the World’s people experience shrinking obstacles towards bringing distant nations and cultures together—the creation of global fairs was created to promote industrial development and international exhibits.

Queen Victoria opens the first international World's Fare in 1851. ( Image in public domain )

Queen Victoria opens the first international World’s Fair in 1851. ( Image in public domain )

Seattle’s first World’s fair — Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909, occurred near the peak of an industrial age, which helped Seattle obtain national name recognition.

The Space Needle, an iconic landmark from Seattle’s 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair.

Significantly, the Century 21 World’s Fair was created in an emerging postmodern era. The Fair was remarkably successful with a number of tangible results, notably: it was one of the select few world event of its kind, which made a profit and most importantly, it lifted Seattle out of its perceived provincial setting, and placed it onto a world stage. The timing was ideal for the city’s economic development trajectory.  With Boeing Aerospace as a Seattle-based company, it benefited from the international exposure, at a time when the postmodern world began to embrace jet travel for global access.

Seattle Center with Mount Rainier in Background.

Optimism and enthusiasm associated with the 1962 World’s Fair was authentic, however, in the big picture, a dark shadow was growing with super-power tensions. As the cold war thermometer was nearing a boiling point, a serious situation was escalating.  President Kennedy’s excuse of having a cold for not attending the Century 21 closing ceremony in October was a ruse — actually his efforts for de-escalating the Cuban Missile Crisis were urgently required.  As a result of averting a nuclear war over Cuban missiles, President Kennedy successfully presided over the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union’s signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in  the following year of 1963.

Ironically, it was the Soviet Union, which created the theme of science for Seattle’s Century 21 World’s Fair. On October 4, 1957 the Russians launched Sputnik, the first orbiting man-made satellite, which gave them an edge in space development. With the Soviet’s apparent satellite success, Americans feared they were falling behind in science and technology; as a result of tech envy, a theme of science became the framework for Seattle’s Worlds Fair.  From this time forward, the U.S. Set goals to be leaders in space exploration and technology development.

Elliott Bay with Seattle Center and Mount Baker in background.

The shock-wave effect created by Sputnik, awoke America from its complacency of 1950s idealism.  Now, a sense of urgency was created  in looking for optimism within the futuristic Technology of tomorrow.  This quest for all things technological, was the fuel which Seattle used for launching its World’s Fair.  Late in 1957, the title: Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair was selected as the brand name to help promote America’s vision of optimism in a technological future.  To champion this cause, Albert Rossellini, Washington State Governor from 1956 to 1965, selected an exceptional group of business and civic leaders for a commission which successfully acquired local and national financing for the Seattle World’s Fair.

Governor Albert Rossellini, on Veteran’s Day 1961.

Governor Rossellini, a Pacific Northwest civic titan, had the vision which helped develop the region into a world-class, economic dynamo.  The Century 21 World’s Fair, along with the state’s modern transportation infrastructure , and post secondary education developments are just a few examples of Albert Rossellini legacy. One more fascinating contribution from Governor Rossellini was his contribution in bringing the “King of Rock and Roll” to Seattle’s World Fair. Albert Rossellini actually pitched the idea to MGM, for making a movie with Elvis Presley (click on the video link ↓ )  It Happened at the World’s Fair — (Movie Clip) Happy Ending  Enlisting Elvis, a mega superstar, to help promote the Fair in a movie was a brilliant marketing move, with true creative vision!

Most impressive icons of the Century 21 Fair are the Space Needle and Monorail, which went on to become revered Seattle landmarks and its biggest tourist attractions.

The ever popular Seattle Monorail is gliding past Paul Allen’s EMP building.

Internationally, the Space Needle is a more recognizable symbol of Seattle, than the city’s actual name or any other single reference.

The inspiration for the Space Tower as it was initially called, came from a napkin sketch by C21 chairman, Eddie Carlson of a 400’ TV Tower with a restaurant in Stuttgart Germany.  The idea of a tower with a “flying-saucer” shaped restaurant at the top, was presented to architect John Graham, who added the concept of a rotating restaurant to allow viewers a continuous change of panoramic views.  Victor Steinbrueck, professor of architecture at the University of Washington and architect John Ridley produced concept sketches which featured an elegant tripod, crowned with a saucer structure observation deck.

Minoru Yamasaki, a first-generation Japanese American, born in Seattle, was the main architect, along with Seattle’s NBBJ Architects chosen in designing  the U.S. Science Pavilion, today’s Pacific Science Center.

Minoru Yamasaki’s innovative, graceful design was also used for Seattle’s most daring piece of architecture, the Rainier Tower, supported by a gravity defying inverted pedestal!

Another of Minoru’s Emerald City designs is the IBM Building, used as a model for the New York City twin tower design (destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.)  The architectural style of the Pacific Science Center and NYC twin towers is “gothic modernism,” which is found in most of Minoru’s designs (please see examples of Gothic modernistic elements in the photographs be low.)

Seattle IBM Building designed by Minoru Yamasaki, was used as the model for NYC WTC Twin Towers. An example of Yamasaki’s “gothic modernism” style.

 

During the summer of the World’s Fair opening, my parents took me to experience the exposition. Although I was very young while attending… I clearly recall the impressions of wonder from seeing the futuristic architecture and dynamic exhibits.  The theme of life in the 21st century, awoke my imagination and interest in science technology at an early age, which still continues to this day in the form of stories, essays and multimedia work, which I share with you now. ~

Twilight view of Space Needle and Pacific Science Center.

A must see postmodern era video featuring the beginnings of the space race. Click on link below. ↓

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfVfRWv7igg 

What is postmodernism video (click on video link below ↓)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL8MhYq9owo 

HistoryLink to Century 21 — The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, Part 1 ( Click on link below ↓)

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=2290

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Historic First Flight From Paine Field, Everett, WA.

Multimedia and video essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The presentation includes: Video of a 787 Dreamliner first flight, aerospace structural testing practices, aerospace engineering design practices, aerospace manufacturing, fiber composite materials.  

My video camera kit had been prepared months in advance, ready at a moment’s notice for the first maiden flight of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner—21st Century entry airliner.  Finally, Dave Waggoner, the director of Paine Field Airport, queued me into the date to witness an evolutionary advance in commercial aviation.

Cameras Packed And Ready To Go

My home is only a short drive from Boeing’s production facilities at Paine Field, Everett; so I was motivated to video record this “making of 21st century aviation history.”  Due to initial production delays, an entire year went by before I received reliable news of the 787-8 wide-body, long-range airliner was ready for her much-anticipated maiden flight. The 787 Dreamliner’s first flight was at 10:27 a.m. PST, December 15, 2009.

Experienced As A Boeing Scientific Photographer

The 787, first flight video project brought back some great memories from my former career as an aerospace photographer with the Boeing Company.  When first hired on by the iconic aviation leader, my assignment involved providing video support for the Everett plant’s test engineering groups, who were conducting bulkhead fatigue test on airline fuselages. In preceding years, some airlines began experiencing inflight catastrophic failures related to metal fatigue. Tragically  the determined cause was from the age of the aircraft, specifically, stresses created when interior cabins went through an excessive number of pressurization cycles.

BOE 747 skin_BP_Pbgl747

An event in the 1980s, of a Boeing 737 was dramatically documented as it safely landed with a massive section of the fuselage missing. The Aloha Airlines, 737 jetliner experienced a catastrophic failure due to metal fatigue. The metal fatigue issues caused from pressurization cycles on the aircraft were not clearly understood, so the FAA required engineering test to research the potential safety threat.A series of highly documented Test were conducted over a period of months; going through thousands of pressurized cycles.  The purpose was to recreate what a jet airliner physically experiences when the cabin is repeatedly pressured and unpressurized — as in every-time an airliner takes-off, gains altitude and eventually returns for its landing. Our team of scientific photographers had series of video cameras, strategically placed within the test bulkhead, which sat shrouded in layers of protective coatings, in a remote section of the Everett facilities. Over-pressurizing the bulkhead eventually caused the anticipated failure, announced  by a thunderous sound of cracking metal. The  bulkhead  test was well documented using various engineering test methods and imaging equipment. Valuable test data gathered was immediately analyzed, studied and put to methodical use for redesigning, engineering and manufacturing safer jet airlines.

Examining a fuselage section of the 787 which uses composite carbon fiber materials.

Boeing’s Traditional Practice Of Over-Engineering

It’s been my experience, which confirms for me, what commercial pilots and engineers claim regarding Boeing’s reputation with its conservative practice of “over-engineering” their aircraft.  Historically, an over-engineering approach has proven itself as a life saving benefit — with countless Boeing aircraft surviving horrific damage… yet, still landing safely. Documentaries on WWII aircraft feature  shot-up Boeing aircraft returning safely, is an example of over-engineering.

For teams performing test  monitoring, with elaborate configured structures,  attached string gauges and actuators trying to force a break of an airplane part — the aerospace test may go on for days, or even months — the experience feels like sitting in bleachers for hours while watching slow-motion glacier races in progress.  All the invested resources of  time and effort, which goes into these aerospace component test,  helps to assure the flying public’s safety and the airlines performance records.

Engineers enjoy seeing how much torturous abuse their designed support systems will take before they bend, crack or break.  At the instant  a component does finally fail [normally, after far exceeding the range of what the it was designed to do] you’ll hear a loud noise caused from a test-object going beyond its limit. The sound of a breaking part, ends the tension of monitoring a test for hours or days — in an instant, the group of test engineers and technicians start cheering like a goal was scored by a home team in a stadium full of their fans.

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner taxiing for its historic, maiden flight on December 15, 2009 from Paine Field Airport, Everett, WA.

Carbon Fiber Future In Aviation

One of many significant technological improvements for the new long-range, wide-body 787 Dreamliner, is a high percentage of composite, carbon fiber materials used in its construction. The amount of composite, materials employed in today’s aircraft have substantially increased from when it was initially developed  and used in military aircraft.  I recall, how amazingly light wing spares made of carbon fiber composite materials are, when moving them under lighting setups at Boeing’s Gateway studio.  It was fascinating observing and photographing the manufacturing of composite materials, as the process involves using massive heated autoclaves to form predesigned sections for aircraft structures.Now, remember the bulkhead test from a previous paragraph?  Carbon fiber composites eliminates the issue of metal fatigue associated with pressurizing  passenger cabin space.  Less concerns over metal fatigue allows for more pressurization  in the cabin for passenger comfort  — more importantly, the  integrated use of composite materials ensures greater safety, with substantially less risk to the structural integrity of the airliner.

Is Boeing’s Reliance On Outsourcing The Main Culprit For The 787 Dreamliner Being Grounded In A Global Lockdown?

In the past 15 years, Boeing’s upper management has broken formation from its traditional engineering leadership and replaced it by promoting executives with business and marketing backgrounds. The current Boeing regime embraces an outsourcing strategy, unfortunately, this trend of maximizing profits for shareholders has been on going with U.S. companies for the past two decades. Negative consequences of replacing an engineering management with a business one is clearly apparent in the power transmission industry — deregulation & marketing-driven-management  in the electric power industry has significantly placed this essential infrastructure at risk [overstretched power grid, vulnerable outdated high-power transformers.] Please see my multimedia essay – Will the Last People Remaining In America, Turn the Lights Back On? :http://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com/tag/solar-storm-testimony-to-u-s-senate/                                           

                                                 Money_int _BPP_a223                                                                                                                                                 

A heavy dependence  on  foreign outsourcing is cited as a cause for unforeseen 787 production delays. Consistent, quality control monitoring becomes problematic when components are manufactured offsite, as result these issues can sometimes lead to extended,  unanticipated problems.photo illustration

Outside vendors are capable of producing equal, if not superior quality components to that of Boeing in some technical areas. In fact, there are legions of aerospace companies in the Puget Sound region, which supply critical parts to the 787 Dreamliner’s manufacturer. Some outsourcing is absolutely necessary for Boeing to compete with Airbus. The concern is outsourcing critical components in a new airplane program, which is attempting to use technology never used in a commercial airliner. It’s ironic, li-ion batteries are at the center of the 787’s grounding — lithium batteries have been a concern for over a decade to the FAA, TSA & NTSB, even leading to bans & restrictions for passenger’s to bring on commercial flights. It’s almost hubris or a form of high-risk gambling, to “initially” rely so heavily on outside vendors [GS Yuasa, the Japanese firm making the li-ion & Thales, the French corporation making the batteries’ control systems] for producing an unproven, prototype system. L PI CRTBD BPP et99

While working as a Boeing employee in the 1990s, I recall an incident with a vendor supplying thousands of counterfeit aircraft quality fasteners made in China. Fortunately, the fiasco was caught early — but not before many hours and dollars were lost, going back to inspect wings on the production line, to remove and replace the defective fasteners. Unless solid

photo illustration

 metrics are emplaced to assure critical standards are met for each component, it’s only a matter of time before a failure will occur. Boeing has traditionally been an aerospace company, which “over engineers” it airplanes & errors on the side of safety. Hopefully the company has maintained & continues to practice these quality assurances. Outsourcing is practical both economically and politically for companies with international sells. It’s a successful strategy Boeing has used for many years; outsourcing has proven to provide incentives for foreign airline companies to buy Boeing aircraft, in order to support their own domestic aerospace industries.            World_box_BPP_et424The American auto manufacture Tesla, had similar “thermal runaway” issues when first using li-ion batteries to power its Roadster. Tesla Motors, benefited from its learning curve by switching to Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, which run at cooler temperatures. The innovative auto manufacture also developed its own battery pack architecture, with proprietary liquid cooling system packs — for controlling battery cell temperatures within self-contained, metal lined enclosures.  The nontoxic, Tesla battery packs are manufactured domestically in Northern California. Perhaps Boeing should be considering manufacturing all critical systems in-house and domestically as Tesla has done.  Boe_ing_747_stock_BPP_E221

According to MIT Technology review’s – Kevin Bullis, who points to Boeing’s battery manufacture,  GS Yuasa’s web site ,  the 787 is using Lithium Cobalt Oxide batteries, which it also manufactures for the International Space Station. These batteries are categorized  as “high-energy storage capacity,” but are not considered resistant to heat as other battery chemistry. Another issue I’m speculating could contribute to the  787 li-ion batteries overheating relates to Boeing reintroduction of an [electrical compressing system] to provide higher pressurization for the cabin environment. This type of cabin pressurization system requires more electrical energy than standard systems, so could this be putting additional demands on the batteries? Part of the advantage to using more composite materials in the 787 was to reduce metal fatigue caused from the cabin pressurization cycles. The Dreamliner uses higher cabin pressure than most aircraft to make it more comfortable for passengers — however, li-ion battery manufactures specifically warns against over-pressurizing these batteries. Is the cabin pressure contributing to pushing the li-ion beyond their tolerance?

Whether or not the stated technical issues are of a real concern for the onboard battery system packs, can only be determined by thorough testing.L TEC ELMICROS BPP et211

Again, it’s to early to know the exact extent of the problem with the 787’s battery systems. The issue will soon be isolated, as Boeing has long history of thoroughly testing and over-engineering its aircraft systems. One thing is certain, it’s rare for Boeing to experience a new aircraft being grounded simultaneously by  Japan’s transport ministry and by the FAA.

Ultimately,  A Bright Future Awaits The 787 Dreamliner

Gaining profitable fuel savings by developing a lighter, wide-body aircraft, combined with the fuel-efficient, GE or Rolls Royce engines, produces a major advance for airliner capabilities.  The tangible benefits in comfort, interior lighting and convenience  contribute to a remarkable passenger experience.  All the evolutionary, technical advances in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, creates a remarkable new development  for commercial aviation. ~

Future of Flight Museum - Mount Rainier & Paine Field in background - Everett, WA

Future of Flight Museum – Mount Rainier & Paine Field in background – Everett, WA

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Maiden Flight – December 15, 2009 – Paine Field, Everett, WA.  Video by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved

The Unworldly Splendor of Oregon’s Painted Hills.

If you would like to see an alternative format in the graphic design of some of the following multimedia presentations, please see our new site at— http://ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com

Photo/video and text by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The sun had just set as I arrived at my friend’s condominium on Lake Washington near Seattle. Rick was loading camera equipment into his SUV, Ford Escape — a gasoline-electric hybrid, which holds the honor of being one of the first American-built hybrids.

We had a long drive ahead, which required us to drive all night before reaching our destination in the high desert of Central Oregon. It was a cool, but clear, May evening, as the SUV climbed steadily up to Snoqualmie pass. After cresting the Cascade Mountains we descended into a dryer, warmer Eastern Washington. After a few hours of driving the glow from a near full moon was illuminating the desert sagebrush outside the town of Goldendale on the Columbia River.

Wind turbines above the Columbia River are lit by the moon.

Our adventure to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was planned to coincide with a full moon for illuminating the surreal Painted Hills. Rick and I use digital cameras, featuring full-sized image sensors and fast optical lenses, which are ideal for capturing low light environments. Taking the opportunity to harness some moonlight as it rose above the Columbia Gorge, we made a stop to photograph wind turbines. These wind gathering  monoliths, heavily populate this section of Washington and Oregon. The site is ideal for wind farms, due to the wind tunnel conditions created by compressed airstreams forcefully moving through the constricted Gorge.   

Standing next to a colossal tower is a strange experience. These massive wind catchers are the largest machines you’ll probably encounter on land. And the eerie sounds caused from wind moving massive propeller blades takes some time getting use to.

Driving on the Washington side of the Columbia River and continuing into Oregon, you see legions of wind turbine sentinels as they constantly harvest the restless winds. It takes an hour of driving south on the highway before we see fewer and then suddenly… no steel towers flanking our drive.

Now what I become aware of is not seeing any cars traveling in either direction of a deserted looking highway. Eastern Oregon’s vast size can’t be appreciated unless you spend some time touring its sprawling, unpopulated counties.

After traveling all night and encountering some falling snow as the hybrid SUV started ascending the road to the high desert—we finally entered into the realm of the primeval Painted Hills. It’s totally dark now that the moon had set hours earlier, cloaking the desert from our view in all directions. Fatigued from hours of driving, we pull into a remote area to catch a couple of hours of sleep before our video and photography expedition can begin.

The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is organized into three Units; the Painted Hills is the third Unit, which contains 3,132 acres of wildlife, plants and some unusual geology.

Over millions of years, layers of ash from nearby volcanic eruptions mixed with clay. Through the process of erosion, intense surreal hues and patterns of color explode in every direction.

The following morning was a like waking up in some eye-candy dreamland. The colors just popped out at you like viewing a TV monitor, with the hue saturation cranked up high.  Stunned by the startling beauty, I grabbed my video camera on a tripod and began shooting panorama footage. Attempting to capture the details of the environment, an external microphone was used to record the outburst of chattering songbirds, which had woken up to announce the beginning of a new day.

My first impression was of being overwhelmed by sensory overload — it was challenging to take in all the colors, sounds and surreal shapes of the textured topography. What I was seeing, appeared to be out of this world — like viewing some futuristic post cards of a terraformed Martian landscape.

What I remembered from earlier road trips to the Southwest, was how striking the Painted Desert in Arizona was — that location now seemed pale in comparison to the Painted Hills.  What makes the geology of this site so vivid is the saturated colors, caused by a series of volcanic eruptions, taking place over millions of years. The accumulation of layers of ash, dust and clay mixed together from relentless years of erosion to form the hills of strata of colors, like some massive layered cake.

What remains buried beneath the volcanic soil is a time-capsule preserving the fossilized carcasses of mammals and plants, which lived in the region during the  Cenozoic Era —the Age of Mammals. This era began roughly 65 million years ago, so this National Monument is a target rich environment for paleontologist studying fossils from that era.

After I shot about an hour worth of video from the spot from the spot I started from, it was time to scout other dramatic locations.  Not too far into our drive we spotted a family of graceful antelopes, casually grazing in a large field. Apparently, from talking with one of the NPS Rangers, this National Monument is teeming with indigenous wildlife including: bears, cougars and eagles.

Latter in the afternoon we stopped at the side of a gravel road to take in a stunning view of  one of the larger hills at the site.  The clouds above were opening and closing like a massive shutter on a spotlight — producing lighting effects which were irresistible. We set up tripods along with our video and still cameras to begin shooting right away.

Shortly after we setup shop, a ranger pulled up close to the SUV and was intently watching us. Rick and I shrugged as we looked at each other with a shrug, thinking perhaps we had unknowingly parked in a restricted area. Eventually the ranger introduced himself, he had the impression we were part of a National Park Service video crew, which was schedule to be doing work at the Monument.  We were invited to join his walking tour with a group of  photographers into a restricted area of the Painted Hills.  As it turned out, this special photography tour only takes place one weekend out of the entire year —when the John Day chaenactus (a bright yellow wild flower) begins to bloom, then as quickly as it appears—it begins to fade away.

The photographer’s tour was visually fantastic and can only be experienced under the supervision of an NPS Ranger.  The plant life is so fragile here, you’re only allowed to  walk inside a dried out creek bed while touring this area.  The Ranger was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about the site.  Wind is common and unpredictable in this high desert area, so I came prepared with a wind guard on my microphone; but I did experience a few audio dropouts,  hopefully you’ll be able to hear the main message clearly enough.

Later that evening we photographed the landscapes using a full moon for our lighting. I’ve never seen greater clarity of the stars and moon from this high desert environment, which created a great backdrop for an unearthly landscape. We photographed throughout the night until the light of predawn appeared.

At a little over 2,000 feet in elevation, the high desert can produce cold, bone-chilling weather and as mentioned—windy conditions.  I recommend warm clothing and gloves to help keep your hands comfortable from wind-chill.  For photography, the higher altitude is a great benefit, especially for optical clarity if your focus is on night photography of stars and landscapes.

I definitely plan to go back to the Painted Hills as soon as possible… it’s a dreamlike setting I have rarely experienced, which captivates the senses, with its splendor of stunning colors contained within an unworldly environment. ~

LINKS:

Here’s a link to National Park Service’s John Day Fossil Bed National Monument:   http://www.nps.gov/joda/index.htm

Luminous Beauty of Low-light Photography

Multimedia eLearning by: David Anthony Johanson  © All Rights

David A Johanson is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and former Boeing scientific photographer. All images and text were created by the author.

All photographs featured in this photo essay were taken in the Pacific Northwest during the winter season, using low-light, natural illumination. The camera used was a Nikon D700.

As a filmmaker and photographer who uses many forms of light, low-ambient-light has always been a rare delight.  “Magic hour” also know as golden hour, is a term cinematographer’s originated for the holy grail of eye-candy lighting. This dramatic, low-angle light begins minutes before sunset, then dramatically merges into dusk, before entering the realm of twilight.

An enchanting view of Snoqualmie Falls during a record deep freeze. HDR photo technique using a Nikon D700

Magic hour was the gateway for me to explore and develop a passion for this wonderful transcendental light. After sunset, the busy activity of the world begins to wind-down… becoming still, before renewing itself for a new day. When twilight arrives, it presents opportunities to observe and record subtle events, which many of us are not aware of as we dream part of the night away. Digital technology has recently entered a new threshold by producing a select breed of cameras, capable of capturing this marvelous luminosity.

Low angle view of Snoqualmie Falls using HDR technique.

What I relied on before the recent advance in low-light digital imaging is a process termed: HDR photography (High Dynamic Range.)  Basically the technique requires a steady tripod for a camera to take a series of images; typically three to eight exposures are taken of a scene.  At least one image of the scene is under exposed; another exposed for what the camera or light meter indicates as a “correct” exposure, and at least one final, over-exposed image completes the HDR series. The intent is to record the entire range of tonal values, from the subject of interest.

Unlike the human eye, which is our unique window for visualizing the world — most camera light sensors lack the sensitivity to record a wide range of tones within the frame. Typically, if only one exposure is used to record a scene with normal or high contrast, the Camera’s light sensor will compress some tonal values, with tones being lost either in the high or low-end of the scale. HDR photography attempts to solve this limitation by combing multiple exposures to record a more dynamic range of tonal values, which later can be combined to create one image in post-production. The results produced with the HDR process are vivid photographs, which present an image closely resembling our initial impression of a scene. 

Iconic Snoqualmie Falls, encased in ice. HDR photo technique.

Of photo pros I know using HDR applications, Photomatix, has been popular for the past few years. It’s a powerful tool, with flexibility and control to help produce impressive results.  Another favored choice for a HDR app, is found bundled within Adobe’s Photoshop.

An acquaintance recently sent me a YouTube link for promoting Nikon’s HDR software. What I saw featured in Nikon’s video was over processed, over-the-top HDR images.  Perhaps it’s a good app, but the promotion relied on too much eye-candy for my taste. In conversations with fellow photographers and multimedia producers the question becomes — at what point does a skilled technique turn into a gimmick?  Some viewers go gaga for the over processed look, with an image appearing unbelievably surreal, and more suited for an illustration or painting.  As with most pursuits, moderation offers the best results at the end of the day. Taste is all subjective, however, for photography, I prefer an image which retains a photo quality character, versus an over-saturated illustration. Perhaps in our contemporary digital media environment, which presents a constant tsunami of image content, there’s a perceived need to push the limits of effects. Okay, I’m finished with my soapbox moment, of the good, the bad, and ugly use of HDR photography.

I still enjoy using HDR technique, but now more sparingly, since I found a camera capable of producing a dynamic tonal range image,  from a single exposure of low-light environments.

 

 

A parade of snow storms blankets the Pacific Northwest. In-between snow showers, ice sculptures glisten beneath the night stars. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

Occasionally we’ll have powerful snowstorms roar through the Puget Sound area, which presents some exciting, low-light photo opportunities. One evening, at midnight the conditions were perfect for night photography, with crystal clear visibility. Graceful, fast-moving clouds were gliding overhead, then suddenly, an opening appeared to reveal a splendid shimmering of stars from above.

These featured “night snow images” were delightful to capture, as they revealed an enchanting, dreamlike quality to them. The reflective character of snow, also creates a subtle luminosity on the surrounding frozen landscapes. A blend of moon and starlight filtered through shifting openings of clouds, which merged with street lighting to create an infrared-photographic look. All these snow scenes were created from one exposure, made possible by using my low-light Nikon D700 camera.

The night’s stillness sparkles with reflected light.

Winter snow clouds mix with the deep blue night sky. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

Here’s some technical photographic information about low-light photography. Nikon’s D3s is the current leader in high ISO for low-light environments, using the second-generation of full frame, FX sensors. The Nikon D3 and D700 produce the same image quality as each other, with both featuring Nikon’s first-generation full frame, FX sensor cameras.  Surprisingly, Nikon designed the D3s with the same 12+ megabyte resolution as the D3, instead of doubling the amount of mega-pixels. By not inflating the pixel count, it allowed for the same pixel size or “pixel pitch” as the D3 and D700.  Apparently, this matrix extensively increases sensor sensitivity. Currently, FX sensors are the masters of low light by out performing DX sensors by 3 stops.

  If you decide to try low-light night photography, be prepared for challenging conditions and dress to keep warm. Whether you choose to use HDR techniques or single image capture, get ready to discover the wondrous illumination, that low-light photography will reveal to you.

Luminous winter stars prevail and shine through another set of passing clouds. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

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