September 28, 2014

The Limits of Knowledge

Don has some rather scary footage taken by via a cellphone on Mount Ontake when it suddenly erupted. As many as 30 other hikers may be dead. I gather that there was some festival going on and there were a great many hikers on the summit. Japan monitors their fire mountains quite closely for obvious reasons, and yet this mountain had not given sufficient warning to close it to the public.

I suspect that there will be some recriminations over this. Seismometer readings, temperature sensor records and the recordings of instruments monitoring gas discharges will be examined and someone will be found to have dropped the ball and not detected that which will be determined to be obvious with 20/20 hindsight. 

Decisions, however, are not made in hindsight. Nature is unpredictable and vulcanism in particular is a chaotic process that experts are constantly making discoveries about. It is highly likely that this was one of those discoveries. 

The unexpected can befall us at any time, and it is good to be prepared, but all the preparation in the world will do little good if the earth suddenly explodes under one's feet. 

As to how one might prepare for this...If there is any "lesson" to be learned here I think it would be to carry a few dust masks when climbing a volcano. They won't protect one from lava, asphyxiation or a pyroclasm, but the ash itself is quite deadly. 

A life worth living carries a certain amount of risk. It is, therefore good to live it well while one has the chance. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:45 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 A life worth living carries a certain amount of risk.

You have just managed to depress the hell out of me.  The amount of risk in my life is negligible... unless you count the everpresent danger of stubbing a toe on a chair leg.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Mon Sep 29 00:13:38 2014 (BCjxQ)

2 I dunno, didn't you almost die of a heart attack?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Mon Sep 29 10:45:19 2014 (+rSRq)

3 ...didn't you almost die of a heart attack?

Not a heart attack, a cardiac thingy called "superventricular tachycardia."  If a heart attack is a broken arm, SVT is a sprained wrist.  Scared the bejeezus outta me.

The whole thing happened when I was doing that horribly dangerous activity: paperwork.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Mon Sep 29 21:14:36 2014 (BCjxQ)

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