Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mauna Kea: November 20th

     Mauna Kea is 13,803 feet above sea level, and 33,500 feet from the sea floor.  Now that is one big volcanic mountain!!  We braved the altitude one cloudy day, to drive up and test our bodies in the thin air. A few headaches and somewhat rubbery legs seemed to be the big effects. But Avery was insisting that we were 2.5 feet about sea level (she meant about 2.5 miles.....) So we think that our minds were affected as well. So we did not linger too long at the top.    
     There is an array of 13 telescopes up top with researchers galore looking all over the Milky Way and at other astronomical wonders. These 13 observatories are run by 11 countries. We were hoping to do some star gazing up in the clear, unturbulent air but the cloudy weather thwarted us. I learned that turbulent air and windy air are 2 different things.  Even though it can be windy up there, it is the lack of turbulence that allows for really good visibility.
      Looking at all the expensive equipment up top lead to a converstation about ethics and needs, and how come we (as in people) spend so much money to study the stars, when there are so many in need here on earth that we could be using that money for. 
     We have been doing a lot of stargazing and learning of the heavens this home school year, but on this trip, instead of the heavens we ended up focusing on the the air around us. 

What?!!! we actually had to put on pants and jackets.

At the top, 13,803 (plus a rock pile)

   We played with water bottles and ziplock bags to see how the air pressure effected them going up, and then back down. Talked about altitude sickness, mountain climbers, Mt Everest, and pressurized airplanes. We wondered (well Owen wondered) what would happen if you took a deep breath of air at sea level (and held it in your lungs), and then magically arrived at the top of Mauna Kea, what would happen to your lungs? (explode?) Howard and Owen ran a mile down the mt, to see if the altitude winded them more than normal (not much). We keep a close look out for invisible cows, but didn't see any.

13,800 foot air in the bottle, being squished at about 800 feet. Love the real life
lessons in air pressure

1 comment:

yearinbolivia said...

Nice tan Avery! Lookin good, good Lookin.
Capt cate