A Different Kind of Oil Spill

The Gulf oil spill, which was caused by an oil blowout, is not your average environmental worry. What makes this catastrophe unique is that it occurred at 5,000 feet under the water. Normally, an oil tanker releases the oil on the surface of the ocean. While both types of spills are incredibly toxic to the environment, the Gulf oil spill has some unprecedented consequences for the entire region. It may take decades to calculate the true extent of the damage wreaked upon the environment and society.

Located only forty miles offshore, at the destruction site of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, the spill has released millions of gallons of oil into the ocean. Bottom-dwelling species, which constitute the main fishing staple in the area, may be affected. Fishermen who earn their living along the coastal marshes of the Gulf states may witness the decline of several marine species who inhabit the region. Coastal marshes frequently serve as breeding grounds for myriad species. Because of this, the toxic effects of the oil could cripple certain fishing industries.

Not only will this spill effect the wildlife normally associated with oil slicks, such as birds and sea mammals, but it will also take a toll on the unique fauna of the deep sea. Rare, barely-known species could face potential contamination. Thanks to the hostile, pressurized environment in which these creatures of the deep reside, scientists may never know exactly how much damage has been done.

The human toll is also hard to estimate. Though eleven workers on BP’s oil rig were killed, more human costs remain to be seen. Cajun culture is in serious jeopardy thanks to increasing pressure on an already weakened environment. Those who live along the Gulf bayous may not be able to continue the fishing and food practices that have become ingrained into their personalities. These people may have to leave their homes-again. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, the ever-decreasing size of the Mississippi Delta region, and the oil spill, the entire Gulf region faces huge environmental, economic, and social consequences.

With fishing industries, entire cultures, and beautiful habitats playing victim to the toxicity of the oil spill, there are the obvious consequences and the not-so-obvious ones. Certain issues are already apparent. Eleven people died, millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf, and sea creatures are dead or dying. Experts don’t yet know how far-reaching the effects of this spill will be on Cajun culture, deep sea species, and the unique environments of the Gulf wetlands. One thing is for sure, the healing process will take the region years to complete.

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Earth Magnets – What You Must Know

Earth magnets are made from the alloys of rare earth elements.  These are more permanent and stronger than the other types of magnets.  Earth magnets are used by various industries all over the world.  Some of their popular applications include:

  • Audio speakers
  • Computer hard drives
  • Fishing reel brakes
  • Bicycle dynamos
  • Wind turbines
  • Diamagnetic levitation experiments
  • Launched roller coasters
  • Stop motion animations

Since they are highly brittle and corrosive in nature, earth magnets are usually coated in nickel to prevent chipping and breaking and to enhance their durability.

Types of earth magnets

The most popular earth magnets used today are neodymium and samarium cobalt magnets.  Discovered in the 1980s, the neodymium magnet is the strongest earth magnet known to man.  It is made from an alloy of iron, boron, and neodymium.  The magnetic field strength of the neodymium magnet is quite high.  It is very affordable, and it is easier to customize this magnet to meet your particular requirements.  You can get it in any shape, size and strength.

Samarium cobalt magnets were developed in the 1970s.  These were the first type of earth magnets made from rare earth alloys.  An alloy of cobalt and samarium is used to make samarium cobalt magnet.  They have high temperature ratings because of their higher Curie temperature.  Samarium cobalt is resistant to oxidation, but it chips and cracks easily.  The magnetic field of this magnet is very weak. Since samarium cobalt magnets are highly expensive, there is very limited production.

Applications of neodymium magnets

Neodymium magnets are used in a variety of fields, such as industrial, security, health, mechanics, electronics, etc. They are used in:

  • Manufacturing synchronous, stepper and spindle motors
  • Making couplings and bearings
  • Resonance imaging
  • Healthcare machines
  • Security systems
  • Telephones and televisions
  • Video applications
  • Oil filters
  • Metal and chip detectors
  • Children’s magnetic toys
  • Digital cameras
  • Watches

Applications of samarium cobalt magnet

The uses of the samarium cobalt magnet include:

  • Manufacturing of high speed motors and turbo machinery
  • Designing traveling-wave tubes
  • Making of some musical instruments

Earth magnets in jewelry

Recently, earth magnets have found their way into a new area of use.  Neodymium magnets are used in magnetic jewelry to make magnetic necklaces, bracelets, etc.  This type of jewelry does not need clasps or strings to close or hold it in place.  They also provide the benefit of magnetic therapy to the wearer.

Drawbacks of earth magnets

While earth magnets have many benefits, they also present several hazards.  They can cause physical injuries to the human body when the skin gets pinched between two magnets or a magnet and a metal object.  The strong magnetic fields of earth magnets may erase magnetic data from credit cards or hard drives.  They could also affect the functioning of pacemakers.

Earth magnets have become an inseparable part of the everyday life of human beings.  Almost 90% of the applications and devices we use daily, such as mobile phones, cars, computers, etc., contain these wonderful magnets.

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Hurricane – Protecting Yourself From Nature’s Powerful Force

Hurricane KatrinaHurricanes are natural phenomena that make their way into the news every summer. Hurricanes are tropical storms with powerful winds and large amounts of rainfall. They can devastate wide areas, creating billions of dollars in property losses and taking many lives. Good preparation can limit the losses from hurricanes. Regular news reports help to alert residents to the proximity of hurricanes in their area.

What Are Hurricanes?

Hurricanes are swirling storms that form over warm ocean water. They are accompanied by very strong winds of at least 75 miles per hour, and often, several times that amount. If winds are less than this amount, they are called tropical storms. Hurricanes have an “eye,” a hole at the center of the weather mass where winds are light and clear can be clear. The “eye wall” is a ring of thunderstorms that swirl around the eye. The winds are strongest and the rain is heaviest in the wall.  The “rain bands” are the patchy rings that extend out from a hurricane’s eye wall and can stretch for hundreds of miles around the hurricane. They contain active thunderstorms and often spawn tornadoes.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

Warm water is needed for hurricanes to form. Generally, water temperatures must be above 79 degrees to form a hurricane. As a result, hurricanes usually form in the late summer and early fall when the ocean water has been warmed by the hot summer sun. Hurricanes do not usually form in northern areas of the world because the ocean water stays cold year-round. Hurricanes also require winds that do not change as they move higher. Changing winds break up weather patterns. The uniform winds help to move the hurricane in a circular pattern. Climatologists study the weather data that predicts the likelihood of hurricane formation and the paths that hurricanes will take. The exact path of the hurricane can be very difficult for weather scientists to predict. Generally, they will narrow down the range of probable paths to a “cone of probability,” a cone-shaped region where the hurricane is likely to hit land. This limitation allows communities within the cone to alert residents so that they can secure their properties and evacuate the area.

How Destructive Are Hurricanes?

The powerful winds that accompany hurricanes can cause a great deal of damage to homes and properties, breaking windows, creating water damage and propelling objects through the air. The winds can knock down fences and screened areas, lift roofs off structures and uproot trees. The heavy rainfall can ruin floors and walls, cause flash flooding and collapse sea walls. Even after the powerful hurricane winds have subsided, people must beware of the “storm surge,” a rise in nearby water levels that can occur unexpectedly. Storm surges are responsible for the majority of the losses in human life during hurricanes.

How To Protect Your Family and Property

Those people who live in hurricane-prone areas should install hurricane panels over the windows and glass doors of their homes. Bring in all lawn furniture and other objects that can become missiles in the high winds of a hurricane. Check the weather news frequently to determine if you are in the direct path of the hurricane. If so, prepare to evacuate your home and go to an area outside of the strike area. Pack a bag with clothes, medications, children’s items and pet items to take with you. Fill your car with gasoline and get additional water and batteries for electronics. If caught unexpectedly in your home during a hurricane, carry a mattress, radio and water into a windowless closet and cover yourself with a mattress. Watch out for downed power lines and broken gas and water mains.

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The Nature of Hurricanes

Hurricane IsabelThe functions of this great earth are spectacular. One of the most amazing wonders of nature is storms. Storms are recognized by different names such as typhoons or hurricanes depending on the location of their occurrence. They are called typhoons in the Western North Pacific, tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. They are considered hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific Ocean. The scientific term used to identify these storms is tropical cyclone.

Hurricanes are like giant engines that use tepid moist air or water vapor as energy. They form only over ocean waters near the equator that are warm. This moist air over the ocean’s surface rises upward leaving less air below. This is the formula for the perfect storm.

The beginning of a hurricane depends on at least three conditions.  First, the ocean water surface must be warm enough to put enough heat and moisture into the atmosphere. This works to supply the potential energy for the thermodynamic engine that a hurricane becomes. Second, atmospheric moisture or water vapor due to evaporation must combine with that heat and energy to form the powerful force needed to propel a hurricane. Third, a wind pattern must exist near the ocean surface to spiral air inward from the surrounding areas. As the air from the surface moves upwards a low pressure is created which pulls the surrounding air. In turn this provides the additional force required to continue the propulsion. Bands of thunderstorms are formed, allowing the air to warm further and rise higher into the atmosphere. This rhythmic cycle continues. If the winds at these higher levels are relatively weak, this formation can remain intact and grow in force. This is the beginning of a hurricane.

Hurricanes that form on the northern side of the equator spin counterclockwise whereas those on the southern side of the equator spin clockwise. This variation is because of Earth’s rotation on its axis. Astonishingly the center of the storm is very calm and clear. This is called the eye of the storm. The fiercest activity takes place in the area that is in the immediate vicinity of the eye referred to as the eyewall.

These storms cause damaging winds and furious waves. Although with them comes grief from the damage they cause, because it is nature’s creation, there is an underlining beauty about them.

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