Posted by Exile on April 18, 2010
I am supposed to be going to the UK on Thursday. Right now the prospects of being able to make the trip are looking almost nonexistent thanks to a volcano in Iceland. The damn country isn’t only bankrupt, it’s genuinely falling to bits.
The ash spewing forth from the bowels of this volcano has successfully managed to shut down all European airports for the last four days. I wonder, is this a new feint from the Icelandic Al Queda? I mean, we’ve pretty well got the airports sewn up security wise, and the aircraft, so there is only the air left to attack.
I wouldn’t mind so much if the ash was visible. It isn’t. It is so fine, apparently, that even tons of the stuff can’t be seen in the skies above us. The skies recently have been surprisingly clear. Sunshine by day and a starry heaven is visible at night. Hardly seems to me, that there is anything to worry about. One would expect a certain manifestation of dim sunshine by day and blackness by night. But no. Not even a hint of grey.
I have conducted experiments, from the comfort of my own home, to determine the visibility of ash in the atmosphere. Filling my largest pipe, I smoked it to the bottom of the bowl and then climbed my fifteen foot ladder and emptied the ashes into the air around me. I could clearly see it. Following this, I took two days worth of ash from my wood stove and repeated the experiment to confirm my results. I could see that too. So could my neighbour and he wasn’t exactly pleased about having all that nitrate poured out over his flower beds and asked me what the hell I thought I was doing. I explained the underlying science to him but he wasn’t moved by my efforts.
Now I know the true meaning of sackcloth and ashes.
I can only hope that someone manages to get a lid on the boiling pot that is Eylafjallajökull before Thursday. Or that the powers that be decide that what is invisible to us is also not dangerous. Indeed, the Dutch have had a few aircraft up today and no negative results for either aircraft or crews has been recorded. This may yet be crucial. If the invisible ash isn’t that bad or damaging I may yet get to see a crowd of my old mates at the reunion.
One lives in hope….!