National Geographic November 2013, Part 1

Now that I’m back earlier than 2014 in this project, I sure hope that I can remember to put what year each issue came out. This is sort of an advance apology if sometime down the line, I goof and put “2012” instead of “2011” or anything like that.

The Last Days of a Storm Chaser, by Robert Draper

The Last Days of a Storm Chaser is a very long article about the life and death of Tim Samaras, who chased tornadoes, not for the thrill, but for the opportunity to study them in hopes of better understanding them and eventually saving the lives of people in the paths of them.

We start out with the video that Samaras made of the storm in question, then go back to discuss how he came to be there on that day. Draper discusses Samaras’s research, then goes a bit into how tornadoes form. Then he goes back farther to Samaras’s childhood

Samaras was well known for being very cautious. If he didn’t think that he and his coworkers, who included his son, Paul (who died in the same tornado), could get in and back out safely, he wouldn’t even attempt to place probes in the path of the tornado.

And yet, somehow, Samaras managed to make one tragic judgment call that led to his death and the deaths of two others. Samaras was videotaping the tornado and the videotape ended three minutes before his death, so it is likely we will never know why he opted to be where he was in those last minutes. Draper suggests that perhaps they were trying to deploy probes at the time, or perhaps they were attempting to get away.

Paradise Revisited, by Cathy Newman, photographs by David Doubilet

Doubilet is not only the photographer for this article, he is also the point of view character. Doubilet visited Kimbe Bay, off the coast of Papua New Guinea “seventeen years ago,” so presumably that would be 1996. We’re never told specifically. Since then, Doubilet has longed to return, to see if the coral reef in the bay is still healthy. And it is, for the time being. With global climate change being what it is, however, there are no guarantees that the reef will stay that way.

I am unsure why this is structured like a traditional article with the writer’s name at the top, rather than like other articles that focus on the work of the photographer, where top billing is given to the photographer and the writer’s name is given at the end. Perhaps over time I will see more examples of this kind of article and I will be able to figure out the pattern.

Expanded Boundaries and Hidden Treasures, by Robert Ballard

I had the pleasure to see Robert Ballard speak in person in the late 1980s. Ballard was speaking on the JASON project, which he founded to give children a chance to work with working scientists. He is an engaging speaker, and we had a chance to actually speak with him (very briefly) one-on-one after the talk.

But I digress. Expanded Boundaries and Hidden Treasures is about the exclusive economic zone (“EEZ”), which allows countries to lay claim to undersea territory at least 200 nautical miles from their coasts (if they can prove that the continental shelf extends beyond that 200-mile mark, they can claim more than 200 nautical miles). Needless to say, landlocked countries do not qualify to have an EEZ.

Through its coastline and also its island territories, the United States has claimed an area nearly the size of the continental US through the EEZ. “Last June,” presumably June of 2012, the United States sent its exploration ships out into its EEZ to uncover the natures of both the natural and the economic resources to be found there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *