Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada on November 27, 1980 · Page 23
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Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada · Page 23

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Reno, Nevada
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Thursday, November 27, 1980
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Page 23
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IX) Ceil Reno Evening Gazette Thursday, November 27.J980-23 Reno i ost i tote M. IL By SUSAN MANUEL Scientists from Reno's Desert Research Institute are trying to help homeless Marshall Islanders find uncontaminated groundwater. The project on the islands, which were an American atomic testing grounds in the 1950s, is just one of several unusual jobs being done by DRI. Research into cloud seeding may eventually be used to castrate hurricanes. Another DRI project is looking at cloud seeding, science's rainmaker, as a possible means to defuse hurricanes of their fury. A third DRI project is taking a close look at the acid rains which are becoming more prevalent in the West and which are wreaking a wide variety of damages, from fish kills to ruining the finishes on automobiles. Dr. Stephen Wheatcraft conducts his studies on groundwater in atolls from a boat in the South Pacific, to help Marshall islanders who are returning to their homes find groundwater, in a method that uses electrical charges rather than more costly drilling. The islands were targets of atomic weapon testing in the 1950s. By pounding metal rods attached to a battery into an island, he measures the amounts of resistivity that tell him where salt water, ebbing and flowing with the tides, supplants fresh water. Salt water, he says, is more conductive and less resistive than fresh water, but it's also heavier, so it flows beneath fresh water. By determining how much water the islanders can draw from wells before hitting salt water, Wheatcraft has introduced a new way of getting water to them. They formerly collected it from roof ca-chements. Before the "civilized world" came to the atolls, through the Japanese and then the Americans, such methods like sufficed, he says. "It's all our fault they're totally out of whack," Wheatcraft says. "There's more people than the natural resources will support." He says knowing the amount of groundwater and the amount of rainfall will also tell the islanders how much time is required for tides to flush out old water contaminated by radiation. Several hundred islanders have moved back to the island Enewetak, but others are awaiting water and ground contamination studies by DRI and by the Stanford Lawrence Livermore Laboratories. Wheatcraft says putting people on other islands hasn't worked. "When you live in the Pacific, in the middle of millions of miles of water, your mile of land is more important than gold or food," Wheatcraft says. The entire radiation cleanup is costing $100 million, or about $100,000 a person, he said. On the hurricane front, DRI's Dr. John Hallett already has spent five years studying the mechanics of ice crystal forma tacks K . s J jP probl ems DR. JOHN HATTLETT Fighting hurricanes tion in clouds. Hallett is working with with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Florida Hurricane Laboratory. His research was intended to improve cloud seeding over the Sierra Nevada by understanding how ice crystals form, but he's now found applications that also could be used to tame hurricanes. Cloud seeding, essentially, duplicates the role of the same natural tmv mineral particles, which are frozen by supercold water first into crystals and then into snowf lakes or hail. Hallett has discovered that ice formation also could affect the furious winds of hurricanes, in which, he says, moist ocean air is carried up into the center of a storm, where it begins to cool and form clouds, releasing heat into the eye wall. He says scientists believe that process causes the high winds that swirl around the storm's eye. In the same pre-freezing stage of crystal formation interrupted for cloud seeding. Hallett says, scientists may be able to divert a hurricane's power. He says scientists, perhaps, could seed the supercooled water, changing it to ice sooner than would occur under natural conditions. In doing so, he says, it could slow winds further from shore, weakening a hurricane's power as it approaches land. The question of the the Northeast's acid rains is being attacked by DRI's Dr. David Miller, who is exploring how the polluting rains are formed, through research in the Atmospheric Research Center's cloud chamber. Sulphuric acid, emitted by utilities and industries, contributes to the East's polluted rain, and nitric acid from automobiles forms in Western clouds, scientists say. The auto and utility industries are financing research like DRI's to study how acid rain is formed. Miller says nitric and sulphuric acid probably cause acid rain. but. he savs, the speed at which they mix with water remains known. "The question is where it all happens," according to Miller. He says the mixture could occur in the "gas phase," before a cloud is formed by photochemical reactions, and rain then would wash the gas out and to the ground. Or, according to Miller, the process could be occuring by oxidation after a cloud has been formed. Miller's research involves "investigating the drop itself." To do so he creates clouds and feeds in different chemical mixtures composing the particles called "cloud condensing nuclei" -which moisture surrounds, to form a raindrop. In a detailed study, Miller says he is toying with the rate of oxidation, which could lead eventually to his naming of the exact contaminants "important to the world scheme." Sulphur dioxide, for example, has a finite lifetime, he says if it doesn't react in a cloud, "it will have a different fate in the atmosphere." The research results could eventually lead to strengthening controls that already have been imposed upon utilities. Miller says. "The real affect of acid rain will be debated for many years," he says. "It will require years of historic research." l ft JVL State MGM panel may ponder raising fire safety standards Gazette photo by Lance Iversen Song of thanks Frances Smith of Reno had a front row seat can elementary school offered a Thanksgiving Wednesday, as fourth graders from Glenn Dun- party serenade at the Senior Citizens Center. Re a! tors fete VA patients The more than 200 patients at Reno's Veteran's Administration Medical ('enter got the holiday season rolling Wednesday night with a Thanksgiving Eve parly sponsored by the Reno Board of Realtors. It was the third year the board has brought doughnuts, cider, fresh fruit, canteen tickets and a special present to the hospital to brighten the day for those patients who will be unable to go home for Thanksgiving. Each patient received $4 worth of canteen tickets, which can be used to buy cigarettes, candy and other such items. And this year's special gift was a micro wave oven for the hospital's 22-bed nursing home. Events included a short speech by Adj. Gen. Maj. Gen. William Engel, 1980 Reno Rodeo Queen Terry-Van Vliet and the piano playing of Virginia City entertainer Reba. Earlier in the day, various board members visited the rooms of patients who were unable to come to the multi-purpose room. "The patients look forward each year to this special Thanksgiving Eve party," said hospital director Harry Potter. "It's a nice gesture on the part of the Reno Board (of Realtors) especially since some of these guys never have visitors." Board president A.L. "Brick" Tenk says the parties has been a successful each of the three years they've been held. And most of the patients seemed to agree. LAS VEGAS AP) A governor's commission formed in the aftermath of last week's deadly blaze at the MGM Grand Hotel will discuss whether to force older Nevada hotels to live up to new fire safety standards, commission chairman Kenny Guinn says. "We want to lay the best groundwork to prevent this type of disaster from happening again," said Guinn. "Our major point of that will be discussing the philosophical question of retrofitting" applying current safety requirement to older buildings constructed when fire codes weren't so tough. When the 26-story hotel-casino was built, fire codes did not require the installation of sprinklers and the hotel had them only on its first two floors and on the top floor. Firefighters said that the presence of sprinklers could have saved lives. The new code requires sprinklers. Gov. Robert List earlier had created commission, including fire safety experts from several states. List Wednesday named t hree national fire safety experts to the panel. Los Angeles fire protection engineer John Degen-kolb. Phoenix architect Jasper Hawkins and Colorado Springs Regional Building Officer Peter Tyree all will serve on the commission, headed by Las Vegas financial executive Kenny Guinn. A tfrX & a m Imniii Also appointed to the panel were state Fire Marshal Tom Huddleston, Clark County Fire Chief Roy Parrish and Washoe County Commission Chairman Bill Fai r, Clark County Commission Chairman Thalia Dondero and Clark County Zoning Director Robert Weber. The panel is expected to begin work next week and is hoping to finish by the end of March to give the Nevada Legislature time to consider action on its recommendations. Meanwhile, there was still no estimate available on ' the amount of damage sustained by the MGM Grand, one of the most opulent on the glittering Strip. The hotel cost $10G million and was opened in December 1973. MGM officials have vowed to reopen next July 1. Work continued Wednesday on a 22-story. 722-room addition to the hotel. Work on the addition, which will add more restaurants and casino space to the hotel, was stopped by the blaze. Fire officials have said the inferno, which killed 84 persons and injured 706 more, started in an electrical box above the kitchen that serves a half-dozen restaurants at the hotel. The casino was destroyed by the fast-moving fire. Nearly 3,000 of the 4.500 MGM Grand employees were put out of work by the fire. Don't like forecast? Then do it yourself! By KATE SANTICH r''CT mm Joe McKenna entertains VA Medical Center patients in Board of Realtors Thanksgiving party. Arts center breaks ground Tuesday After several years of planning and more than a decade of organized wishing. Sierra Arts Foundation will break ground Tuesday for the initial, commercial phase of its $24 million downtown Reno Sierra Center complex of cultural and commercial facilities. The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Sierra Center site, at Center and Pine streets. The event will he open to the public. Speakers will include Foundation President Thomas "Spike" Wilson, who also is a state senator from Reno; former foundation president George Aker, who also is president of Nevada National Bank, and project architect .John Pflueger of San Francisco. A tent will be set up on the site with an architectural model of the proposed arts and commercial center. Entertainment also will be provided by the Reno Municipal Band. Sierra Center eventually is planned to fill the entire block south of the current A-frame opera offices and Pioneer Theater, hounded by South Virginia. Pine, South Center and State streets. The complex, within those bounds, will include the main section of the foundation's long-range arts center project, which would expand eventually to the Truckee River on the north. It also will include 200.000 square feet of commercial space, including a tower which would house the new corporate offices of Nevada National Bank, one of the main contributors to the project and its principal financier. The center would have theaters, shops, classrooms, an art gallery and parallel facilities, all centered around a multi-story atrium lobby. The two theaters would seat 250 and 700 people each, offering smaller alternatives to the neighboring 1.428-seat Pioneer. However, the Sierra Center plan also includes an acoustical renovation of the Pioneer, which is operated by the Reno-Sparks Convention Authority. The commercial areas would be intermingled in the complex, along with the bank tower, both as a means to draw more people into the arts center area and to provide continuing financial support for the non-profit arts facilities. The foundation hopes to keep its operating budgets for the cultural facilities in the black, to a great extent, through lease and rental fees received from the commercial facilities, for which ground is being broken Tuesday. The long-range Sierra Arts plan envisions closure of Pine Street and acquisition of all land to the Truckee River on the north, including the downtown branch Post Office building between the river and Mill Street, which formerly served as Reno's main Post Office. If the Post Office building can be acquired in the future. Sierra Arts would renovate it for addition art gallery, classroom, studio and rehearsal place, with development of a span of parkland on the river frontage, to the immediate north of the building. Eventually. Sierra Arts hopes to connect the central arts facilities with the Washoe County Library, the downtown financial district and Reno and Washoe County government buildings. Eventually. Sierra Arts plans to develop about 105.000 square feet of cultural facilities in the downtown area. Maybe you donned your warmest woolies and lugged your umbrella to work accidentally poking a hole in your car's upholstery with the tip because the weather forecaster predicted rain and cold temperatures. And then it turned out to be 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky. So the next day, you face the world in short sleeves and wisely leave the clumsy umbrella at home, because the weather report says you have nothing but clear skies ahead. A blizzard hits and you end up frostbitten. So much for the exact science of predicting the weather. Why not do it yourself, the old way? Some of the more imaginative methods include: The widely held folk belief that the color and size of a goose bone will predict the severity of winter. If there is a row of dark spots on the bone, it is said to be a sure sign of bad weather. And: the November goose bone be thick, so will the winter weather be; if the November goose bone be thin, so will the winter weather be. The Wooly Bear Caterpillar is considered as good a forecaster as a goose bone, and you don't even have to carve it up to get your prediction. The pioneers kept an eye on the brown, mid-section band that wraps around this otherwise black and furry creature's body if the band was wide, it was going to be a mild winter. There are numerous varieties of onion-skin predictors, the traditional of which says: Onion skin very thin, mild winter coming in; onion skin very tough, winter's coming cold and rough. If that one seems too simplistic, try the more-complicated procedure of cutting an onion in half on New Year's Eve. Twelve hours later, remove 12 dome-shaped shells and designate each as representatives of the months of the year. Drop a pinch of salt into each, and if it becomes moist, then that month will be wet; if it is dry, then there will be a drought that month. Farmers are probably the most famous group of weather folklorists, if for no other reason than the high stakes they have involved if heavy rain, wind or drought spoils their crops. All the tales have a similar theme. The first three months of the year should be cold to have a fruitful growing season. One predicts Year of snow, fruit will grow, and another s;.s, January blossoms fill no man's cellar. The Germans have their own. rather curious way of saying the same thing: One would rather see a wolf in February than a peasant in his shirt sleeves. Perhaps it loses something in the translation. A few folk tales can be categorized as absurd, but that does not impede their proliferation. An example of unknown origin claims: The winter can be determined by how far the feathers grow down on the legs of a partridge. .

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