Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Say what?

It appears that lakes can explode. That's 'splode' to the brown dogs in the audience. I'm not making it up, you can read it here http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050926/full/050926-4.html . From the article, there are a couple of lakes in Africa that have a large amount of carbon dioxide trapped in the water at the bottom of the lake. The lakes are over volcanic sites, it appears there was a landslide under the water that caused the water from the bottom to be pushed up. Causing the carbon dioxide to be released from the water which ended up soffocating more then 1700 people. After reading the how and the why, and after doing some research it makes perfect sense as to how this can happen. I find it interesting because several years ago I got my SCUBA diving certification and in the process they teach you the (limited) science of how fluids can hold air under pressure and how that air can be released when the pressure is decreased rapidly. The rapid release of air is what causes the 'bends' or decompression sickness. It works just like a bottle of pop. If you get a bottle of coke from the store and look at it, it appears to be just a black liquid. But if you shake the bottle and increase the pressure, then open the lid quickly, you'll see bubbles appear. When you scuba dive, the pressure causes your blood to become nitrogen rich. So you should avoid any rapid ascents so that your body can obsorb the nitrogen before it forms into bubbles.

Back to the article, more then 1700 people lost their lives from this 'explosion'. That is a major loss of life and is perfectly explainable from a cause and effect point of view or more specifically from a scientific point of view. Now that we have a better understanding of how this can happen we can take proactive actions to mitigate this kind of disaster in the future. However if science was left out of this many people would probably assume that 'God' was punishing them for some misdimeanor or whatever. Which leads me to the question, if you claim 'God' is punishing you for something how do you know what that something is? Perhaps you jumped to the wrong conclusion, perhaps you were being punished for wearing those shoes with those pants and not for screwing your neighbour's wife?

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