Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thunderheads




Smithsonian Networks and Infinity Entertainment Group



Smithsonian Networks produces some of the best, most interesting, well-done videos on the planet. We can all agree on that, right? They have a way of taking a topic that I have never given much thought to, waving their wand and producing a riveting documentary that I would watch multiple times. This DVD pretty much guarantees that you will never again look out your window at a thunderstorm in the same ho-hum way again.

Basically, a large group of the world's smartest scientists and researchers join forces with the world's best pilots. All 250 of these super-smart and/or super-capable people load themselves and some very expensive, high-tech gadgets onto seven planes and fly straight to Darwin, Australia. Why Darwin? This group has been planning for two years, waiting for just the right opportunity. They believe Australia will offer their opportunity in the form of a very large thunderstorm, nicknamed Hector.

To recap, these people are flying directly into a gigantic ball of water and fire. And those are the smartest people in the world. Their mission is called I.C.E. - the International Cloud Experiment. The group is hoping they can study Hector to learn how thunderstorms affect global warming. Clouds are the Earth's first line of defense against global warning, and understanding them is key to understanding more about global warming.

What makes this documentary spectacular? During the experiment, a record-breaking tropical typhoon will arise, then spend seven days as a "landphoon" over the Australian desert. The pilots will be battling life-threatening turbulence, lightning, grapefruit-sized hail, microbursts, mysterious “gravity waves” and mechanical mishaps. Possibly best all, the pilots will be fighting with the scientists to keep a safe distance from the danger.

 

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