Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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11

Sep

2017

Of fireballs and pure chance in our lives

Author: Jim Taylor

Joan and I were sitting in our hot tub last Monday night, staring up at the stars and wondering when -- if ever -- the rains would return to the B.C. interior, that day being our 66th without perceptible rainfall, when a brilliant flash lit up the eastern sky.

            “Lightning?” Joan wondered. “The weather isn’t supposed to change until the weekend.”

            I started counting for the boom of thunder. Years ago, I learned that sound travels at roughly a thousand feet per second. If the boom follows the flash by five seconds, the centre of action is safely about a mile distant. (For  a kilometre, about three seconds – a little closer.)

            I quit counting after ten. Joan claims she heard a rumble, about ten minutes later.

            Which would be about right. Because the flash, we learned the next morning, had occurred more than 200 km away, directly over Kootenay Lake. A hunk of rock left over from the formation of our solar system had smashed into the earth’s atmosphere over the little town of Boswell at the south end of Kootenay Lake; it blew up over Meadow Creek, slightly beyond the lake’s north end.



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14

Feb

2016

Random chance matters in real life

Author: Jim Taylor
In the closing days of January, five snowmobilers died when an avalanche roared down the slopes of Mt. Renshaw, east of Prince George. Ordinarily, when I hear of these accidents, I tend to rant about human stupidity. About overgrown boys with too much horsepower and too little common sense, testing the limits of their machines’ performance on unstable slopes, failing to take reasonable precautions… Not in this case, apparently. Although some early reports called the avalanche “human caused,” later reports didn’t repeat that allegation. Later reports also described the snowmobilers – 17 people, in four separate groups – as well prepared and experienced back country sledders. Indeed, their safety equipment saved most of them. Two GPS tracking devices indicated their location instantly when the slide hit. Search and Rescue teams already in the area were able to reach the disaster site in minutes. A helicopter was on its way soon after. The survivors were already digging out their buried friends. Even so, they were too late for five people.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

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