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Pat Shingleton: "The First Caluclations and Pig Weed..."

4 months 1 week 2 days ago October 17, 2016 Oct 17, 2016 Monday, October 17 2016 October 17, 2016 9:59 PM in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton

During idle time as an ambulance driver in World War I, Lewis Richardson would perform numerical weather experiments; cataloging sky conditions, integrating numerical calculations into his journal. His calculations by hand didn't produce a useful forecast but was the beginning of modern weather predictions.  He wrote a manuscript that was lost but eventually discovered in a coal bin and later published.  Upon his death, the book was given to the National Weather Service where it is on display in their Executive Suite. He envisioned a "large hall-like theater" filled with human computers, calculating for a particular point on the Earth. The National Weather Service currently utilizes massive parallel computers executing those same calculations. Finally, it's harvest time in South Louisiana for sugar cane and soy beans. Each year, farmers in Arkansas are struggling with a menacing weed that is compromising the cotton crop. "Pig Weed" is dominating many fields and pesticide applications that originally controlled the weed remain ineffective. Years ago, experts  declared it uncontrollable as it chokes a million acres of cotton and soybeans. Some farmers have spent more than $500,000 fighting a plant that won't die. Pig weed grows three inches per day and has a root structure the size of a baseball bat at its base. It not only kills crops but destroys the blades on combines and cotton pickers. By next year, researchers will be able to deliver a herbicide to control pig weed.

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