7-29-2010: New (uprighted) video loaded on "Nitty Gritty" :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SciMath Career #4: Captain

Alex Simpson is our Captain for this expedition. That's him on the left operating the ships Dynamic Positioning computer. 3rd mate Rene is in the back. Captain Alex grew up in a small mining town in Scotland and started his maritime training at the age of 17. He has gained lots of experience since then: 13 with cargo ships, 17 years with offshore oil ships and 8 1/2 years on board the JR. Even with all these years of experience under his belt, he still has to attend training courses every year to learn about updated policies, new technology and new equipment. For math and science though, Captain Alex has to independently keep up with his years of study so that he can keep us all safe and keep the boat afloat.

Captain Alex started his maritime career just after the first pocket calculator hit the market in 1973. In order to navigate, he had to learn trigonometry (fancy geometry) of shapes and also of 3D objects since navigation is based on the laws of triangles. Keeping the boat afloat meant learning algebra, geometry and calculus to calculate how much of the boat sat in the water and how deep. Even though we have GPS and computers now, he needs to be able to make crucial decisions and for that he needs to remember his math! As Captain Alex says, " Technology is only an aid to the world's most wondrous piece of equipment which is planted right between your ears."

Being the Captain of a ship also means you need to know your science. Just keeping the boat right side up and making it go where you need it to go means knowing oceanography (waves, winds, currents, etc.) physics and the law of flotation. On top of that, he has to look out for the health of the ocean (no littering) and everyone on board (no physical injuries). That means knowing his environmental and health sciences. Whew! You didn't think being a Captain involved that much science, did you?

Captain Alex does so much more than just drive us to our site. He keeps the boat centered over a very small spot so that the drillers can do their magic at the seafloor. He oversees the maintenance all marine equipment from the doors to the 40 ton cranes. AND he has to be prepared for any maritime disaster if we ever encounter one. Where would we be without Captain Alex and his knowledge of math and science? Definitely out in the middle of the nowhere without a paddle! The Captain says "if you are not prepared, [being a Captain] is a scary job." Good thing Captain Alex is prepared!

SOME WORDS FROM THE CAP'N (He's just so quotable!)
Motto of his gradeschool: 'Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore, get wisdom but with all thy getting, get understanding.' "Understanding is the most important word in my [Captain Alex's] vocabulary."
"The study of physics helps me gain the understanding of all the physical wonders the world has to offer, and there are many."
"Man was not designed to live on the water and steel should not float and indeed it doesn't float, unless it is designed, built, operated and maintained exactly to engineering standards. The raw power of the ocean's wind, waves and currents show no mercy to anyone who thinks otherwise..."

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