NPR, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Bill Paxton discussed on Short Wave
Mattie Safai here if you're like me maybe you're spending a lot of time lately. Reading the news scrolling through twitter. Maybe too much time which probably means you need a little break. So we're trying something. New here a shortwave. Movie Club where we talk about a movie and the science in them with someone who has a lot to say about both and personal host. Promise we will not be doing contagion. Okay here's the show. You're listening to shortwave from. Npr Alley. Burgos still remembers the first time she saw it. I mean we all do as about in fourth grade. It was maybe around midnight. Probably not that late because my parents probably wouldn't let me step that lay but Curtains drawn. I was knitting and I happened to come across admitted I happened to come across this movie on. Tv is just flipping channels. You know and I saw a tornado so I started watching it and I was just mesmerized. I remember my dad coming down and like yelling at me to go to bed. I was like just just wait. One more minute like I need to keep watching this Which she did and she saw the defining weather film of Nineteen Ninety. Six a movie. I love to hate twister starring Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in the movie chase down tornadoes trying to find a way to study them up close and personal and eventually they end up finding each other like it is such a good kind of bad movie. Yeah absolutely it's one of those things that you just watch like. Oh it's so good but so bad at the same time. So today. Our first shortwave. Movie Club we're talking one of my personal favorites twister with Alli Burgos meteorologist in analyst for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. I- Madison via shortwave. The daily science podcast from NPR. Alright here's the plan. I'm GonNa talk about some scenes in the movie alleys going to tell us about the science. Here we go in pretty much any scene with a tornado. It makes the sound. It's so ridiculous because tornadoes don't sound like roaring lion. I'm pretty darn sure. I think when I was reading a little bit about the movie they really want to make the Tornados. Seem like you know. A person are like this thing with like character and soul and generally tornadoes actually sound more like this constant low rumble sound or more like a rushing train. All right all right next up something. They got Kinda right the whole movie. Scientists are trying to get this instrument called Dorothy into the path of a tornado. We put her up inside a tornado. So they don't get sucked up in send out readings from the inside radio back information about the internal structure wind velocities flow a symmetry. We learn more than thirty six and they have in the past thirty years profile. The tornado for the first time the cool thing is is that these instruments are real. Scientists actually tried a version of this in the eighties sprite. Yeah so they modeled Dorothy after a real instrument called toto from wizard of Oz. The little dog toto. That's why they named it. And so the basic idea was to put that in the path of a tornado and had I could measure temperature and pressure and winds because what they really needed was to be able to get measurements real time so they only had things from radar doppler. So that's all from faraway measuring all those things and they tried it a couple of times in. It's really dangerous. As as the movie shows of trying to put something into our tornadoes half but now they actually have a new program that Noah is starting to fund called Torres and this is taking really small weather balloons and putting instruments on that and flying them up in Tornado. Okay so the balloon kind of takes that instrument package with it versus having to put a big clunky metal thing right in the power. So we've come a long way from like dropping something off a pickup truck into the center of the Tornado so cool so so the instrumentation while it wasn't like trying to measure exactly the same things was actually based off of a real experiment yet. They exact concept behind it was was the same so the last big scene of the movie is perhaps in. This is saying the. Let's be honest. It's the best season so the main characters are trying to get as close to an f five tornado. Great idea as they possibly can. And they deliver this device into the tornado and they kind of like get stuck on this farm. They're trying to run away from the Tornado at the same time report. You couldn't do in real life. Okay okay this is good because this is going to ask you about. But they basically find their way into this tiny shed Phil. Paxton is like it's fine. We're going to tether ourselves to this pipe. That goes really deep in the ground. Do with these two leather straps and then f five tornado rolls over the shed. Horrifically over the rips. The shed out of the ground. They're like being pulled up into the center of the tornadoes. One it is the most fun scene of the movie. You feel like you're inside of that Tornado with them. You see lightning bolts going on. There are multiple mini tornadoes within the big tornado. Within the tornado passes and they're totally fine her fine. Yes the biggest issue with that scene. Is that if you did have supposedly an F five tornado which you wouldn't be able to tell just looking at it is that all of the debris flying on around them would most likely kill them an f five tornado has wins upwards of three hundred miles an hour so even if you have a small small screwdriver for example of rats flying at that speed hits you you're gone and if you saw in that scene there is a shed and it's like full of like farming equipment ause and they would probably get hit by something like that but it certainly makes it a fun scene so tell me when you're saying you can't tell just by looking at because they're like this is an f. five right yeah so you can actually determine the scale or the intensity of a tornado just by looking at it what scientists have to do is do a damage survey afterwards and see all of the damage that the tornado caused and then from that they can determine the intensity walked has now moved on to the northeast. I've just got Mordovia. That even stronger Hornet is now starting to form twenty five miles from one you know so at at no point. Can you predict that a tornado is going to be at five before it happened? Correct to do the damage report. And you say okay based on this system this right and they were just going by you. Know bigger means stronger more violent. And that's not always the case you can actually have tornadoes that are look pretty small but that are very very violent. Okay all right so we have hated on twister a little bit by now but I feel like a lot of times in science movies. Scientists seem like pretty buttoned up lay definitely predominantly male. Which they still are in this movie. But you know. The lead researcher in this movie is woman. She's got a personal stake in her science. She's really passionate about helping people in that kind of stuck with me for sure. Yeah I think that stuck with a lot of people and I think a lot of people don't realize that there are tons and tons of researchers out in the field and so it's really cool just seeing people like down getting their hands dirty and really putting their heart and soul especially into something that is so important to help people and you told me that. This movie played a big role in your life to. Oh definitely I was one of those weird kids that watch the weather channel. Every morning waking up from school normal kid and so- twister definitely kind of showed me that there's another side of science besides just being a TV broadcasting like you can go out and research these things and going to college to study meteorology. My parents actually bought me that movie as a parting gift on DVD. It's fair to say that this movie inspired you in some way to go into your. Oh definitely and I think it inspired a lot of people to I know all of my meteorology friends speak very fondly of this movie when they were kids. Allie Burgos meteorologist in analyst for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If there's a movie or TV show that you've seen lately that features some interesting science to talk about email us at shortwave at NPR DOT bork. This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez and breadth Bachman and edited by. Va Emily von. Check the facts. The real the real facts. Not The twister facts. I'm Maddie Safai back. Tomorrow with more shortwave from NPR..