Guaranteed Weather When Traveling? Scientists Think That Might Be Possible

Weather conditions at any destination around the world are hard to pin down. We may have a general idea of average temperatures for any given time of the year, know that good rain gear is required for certain places or that bringing a swimsuit is a must. But exact weather conditions can often be elusive.

But what if they were not? What if, somehow, weather conditions could be modified?

Hacking The Planet,” a new series that starts this week on The Weather Channel, shows scientists developing ways to actually change the weather. Viewers can gain some insight into ways scientists may one day prevent, weaken or redirect threatening weather conditions and natural phenomena.

In each of the six initial episodes the show asks, “What if humans were no longer as susceptible to Mother Nature’s wrath?”, a question that could undoubtedly affect travel plans in a very big way.

Getting a handle on weather-related flight delays alone would be huge.

“It simply defies nature to think that humans could prevent rain from disrupting a sporting event or use lasers to draw lightning away from sensitive areas like nuclear power plants,” said Michael Dingley, senior vice president, content and development at The Weather Channel in a press release.

Surely, making even the slightest impact on rain, snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions too could protect iconic destinations from ruin, cause otherwise-aborted travel plans to happen and more.

“It’s fascinating to imagine a world where we can could manipulate the planet’s most powerful natural forces,” adds Dingley. “If any of these experiments are successful, it’s truly mind-boggling to think what that could mean for our future.”

Hacking The Planet” premieres Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET and is just one of a growing number of travel-related programs from the Weather Channel. The channel is also home to “Coast Guard Florida,” “Hawaii Air Rescue,” “Plane Xtreme” and others. New Weather Channel series coming up include: “Prospectors,” which follows a group of miners searching for the rarest gems (March 5), “Breaking Ice,” which takes viewers to the North and South poles (April 2013), and “Tipping Points,” a show about charting climate change (October 2013).

[Image Credit – Flickr user .michael.newman.]

National Geographic announces Emerging Explorers for 2011

National Geographic has revealed their selections for the 2011 Emerging Explorers program, which spotlights outstanding scientists and adventurers who are doing great things, even at the early stages of their career. The awards, which are given on a yearly basis, include a $10,000 grant to assist the recipients in furthering their work, which can be in any number of diverse fields.

There are 14 men and women who have earned the title of “Emerging Explorer” this year. They include environmental scientist Jennifer Burney, who is exploring the impact of food production and distribution on climate change and Jørn Hurum, a Norwegian paleontologist who is exploring fossils on the remote Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Entomologist Dino Martins earned a nod for his research on how environmental changes are effecting insects, which are in turn important for pollinating the plants that sustain life on our planet. Meanwhile, Tuy Sereivathana is working to protect slightly larger creatures in the form of Cambodia‘s endangered elephant population.

These are just four examples of the 2011 class of Emerging Explorers. There are ten others who are doing interesting and important work in their own fields of interest as well. National Geographic recognizes that they are all on the cutting edge of their professions, and that their work could have a lasting impact on their particular realms.

While winning this award is a great honor, it is by no means an indicator of future success. Still, past winners have gone on to make impressive strides in their areas of expertise and achieved great things along the way. These Emerging Explorers are working hard to not only unravel the mysteries of our planet, but the entire universe as well. Pretty heady stuff from a group of young people.

Galileo’s fingers go on display

Tourists in Florence can now learn more about the city’s most famous resident at The Museum of the History of Science, which has just reopened as the Galileo Museum.

Galileo (1564-1642) was one of the greatest scientists of the Renaissance. He made significant advances in physics and mathematics and made history when he turned a newfangled gadget called the telescope towards the night sky and discovered that Jupiter has moons and Venus has phases. These observations strengthened his conviction that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe and in fact revolved around the Sun. The Catholic Church felt threatened by this idea and put him on trial for heresy. Galileo spent his final years under house arrest.

The museum preserves the lens from his famous telescope as well as other artifacts from Galileo’s life and times, including some rather macabre ones. When Galileo’s body was being moved to a new tomb in 1737 an admirer cut off three fingers off the right hand (the thumb, index, and middle finger, if you must know), a vertebra, and a tooth. The thumb, middle finger, and tooth went missing for many years but recently turned up at an auction. They’re now back home in Florence and are the most unusual artifacts in the Galileo Museum.

Besides the body parts of a persecuted genius, the museum has an impressive collection of scientific instruments. The displays explain how these instruments helped expand humanity’s knowledge. Science museums are fascinating places, and if you can’t make it to Florence this year, check out these science museums in London and Northern California.

“Galileo Galilei showing the Doge of Venice how to use the telescope”, fresco by Giuseppe Bertini, 1858.