Posted tagged ‘KPI’

What makes an earthquake “swarm”?

November 4, 2009

Reno, Nevada may be known as a popular gambling destination, but it is also the site of thousands of earthquakes that rocked the city last year. Scientists call the mysterious quakes a “swarm,” but what causes them is unclear – and the term itself is a bit ambiguous. In fact, my first question upon assignment to the project was, “What exactly is a swarm?”

There is no precedent for the growing frequency and intensity of the earthquakes in Reno last year. Unlike a typical mainshock-aftershock earthquake sequence, the Reno earthquakes struck with increasing magnitude hundreds, even thousands of times over a period of less than one year. Over the course of ten days, our crew questioned seismologists, geodesists and emergency responders for answers as to why this phenomenon occurred. Their insight into potential causes of the earthquakes astonished me. But I still couldn’t conceptualize just what a swarm is–-what hundreds of small earthquakes hitting every day must have felt like.

Fortunately, my confusion cleared up on the last day of our shoot. And ironically, it wasn’t a scientist who provided the answer. While sitting on a dusty slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I asked our Production Assistant, a student at the University of Nevada in Reno, “How would you define the swarm?” Her explanation was a real eye-opener: “It was like someone playing a drum nonstop. You couldn’t hear the beats, but you could feel the vibrations.”

Katherine de Gaullier des Bordes, Associate Producer

Naked Science: Reno Earthquake Swarm

Naked Science: Earthquake Swarm airs Thursday, November 5th at 10PM/9C on National Geographic Channel

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AREA 51 – THEY KNOW WE’RE HERE

October 13, 2009

Area 51 - sat photo

Tikaboo Peak rises several thousand feet above Area 51 in southern Nevada. Yes–“ground zero” for UFO theorists. We’re here at 5 AM for a purely recreational hike, of course. It would be about 2 hours with a daypack, but we’ve decided to take a 200-pound lens with us, along with the rest of our gear.
Very slow-going up the mtn. There’s no clear trail and it’s straight uphill on slippery rock and gravel. We hired 4 locals to help carry extra weight, but the lens can only be carried about 30 feet before they have to put it down to rest. We should have hired three more.
About a third of the way up, an F-16 zooms right past us. Holy sh*t. Our guides are excited that he’s this
close, but, hey, could be just a coincidence.
Then the jet circles back again and then a third time, doing crazy turns and maneuvers. Our guys are starting to wonder if the military knows we’re here.
Suddenly a helicopter appears from the other side of the mtn–starts circling overhead as the F-16 continues to buzz us.
Now our guides are sure: This show is all for us. Area 51 knows we’re out here, climbing up this mtn with a box that looks suspiciously like a missile.
Our guys speculate about how they knew we were coming. One is very concerned about getting arrested and contemplates bailing out. We’re concerned we’ll get down the mtn and the local cops will be waiting for us to confiscate our tapes and gear.
The air show goes on for about 30 minutes. Our DP sees thru the viewfinder a guy in the helicopter, perched on the edge, staring straight down on us.
We finally make it to the peak around noon… More than 6 hours after we started. It’s 95 degrees. Everyone is tired and dehydrated, but we get to work. Below us is the U.S. Air Force military base known as Area 51, aka Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Extraterrestial Highway. We have a great view of the base, but we see no aliens tap dancing on the runway. Why would they in this heat?

Area 51 from Peak

MYSTERYQUEST: ALIEN COVER-UP airs Wednesday October 14, 10PM/9c on HISTORY.

Ice Scrapers vs. the Frost Giant

October 11, 2009

The final episode of season one of CLASH OF THE GODS is THOR.
Monday October 12, 10PM/9c on HISTORY.
Sweden runestone

Hundreds of runestones can be found scattered across the countryside in Scandinavia. Many are memorial stones erected after the death of a family member to honor them, but there are some that are clear depictions of the myths and stories that filled the lives of the Norse centuries ago.
In February I traveled to Sweden with my Director of Photography Bo Randulff, and set out on a cross-country treasure hunt trying to track down a few specific runestones that told the myth of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. It seems that no one has ever drawn a runestone map of Scandinavia, and there is no handy iPhone app, so we were relying on some long distance research and a little luck to find them. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack that was covered in snow!
As we arrived in a little clearing in the forest we were pretty sure that we had found the site of the large rock carving we were looking for, but it was nowhere to be seen. It suddenly occurred to us that it was most likely lying under a foot of snow. Armed with only our rental car’s ice and snow scrapers we started digging, much to the amusement of some local kids. Finally we found it, and it was worth the effort.
The evil Frost Giants of the Norse myths are certainly alive and kicking, and I would have loved a helping hand from the brave Thor and his magical hammer in defeating them. But this particular battle was between the Frost Giant’s snow and me, armed only with an ice scraper.
Thor runestone
–Sarah Hodgson
Associate producer, Clash of the Gods

Not For LORD OF THE RINGS Fans Only

October 2, 2009



CLASH OF THE GODS: TOLKIEN’S MONSTERS airs Monday, October 5 10PM/9c on HISTORY.

Why Middle-earth Matters

October 1, 2009

GandalfIf you’re a history and military buff like me, The Lord of the Rings is a story tailor made for you: two massive armies facing each other on the battlefield about to be locked in combat. Now…just substitute Patton for a wizard in flowing white robes, the Nazis for a hideous race of creatures called Orcs, and Europe for Middle-earth.

Okay, that’s a wee bit simplistic (and not actually accurate…although written in spurts between 1937 and 1952, Tolkien always said that Lord of the Rings should never be read as an allegory for World War II.)

But what is it that has caused The Lord of the Rings to have sold over 150 million copies and to be translated into almost 40 languages? For me, it’s that feeling of real history, which gives Lord of the Rings its life. JRR Tolkien was obsessive about documenting his universe with dates, family trees, maps and indexes….hell, he even threw in a creation story. If it wasn’t for the fact that the characters are elves, dwarves, hobbits and wizards you’d think you were submersed in a history textbook.

So in Clash of the Gods, the goal was to figure out where all this inspiration came from. Much of The Lord of the Rings is about good overcoming evil, and Tolkien’s devout Catholicism provides the backbone. Comparisons of Frodo’s quest to Christ are plainly seen, but I think the most interesting tidbits are the ones found in Beowulf and other Norse myths. Tolkien doesn’t really hide in lifting almost exactly scenes from classic tales. The transformation of Smeagol into the creature Gollum almost exactly mirrors a tale in the Norse Volsunga Saga; and scenes like Bilbo stealing a cup in The Hobbit are directly lifted from Beowulf.
GollumRing
But more than any gods or monsters from ancient myth, I think it’s the personal pain that Tolkien suffered which gives The Lord of the Rings its foothold in reality. As a soldier in World War I, Tolkien was right in the middle of the action, watching friends killed and mutilated right in front of his eyes. When Tolkien writes about the same kind of suffering for Frodo there is a ring of truth that isn’t found in any other kind of fantasy writing.
tolkien.thumbnail
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me that Tolkien stole stuff from tales of the past…that’s pretty what all writers do. But what he did was to make it his own and transform it into something new. A feat which many writers attempt, but few do successfully.

So I’m off to re-read The Lord of the Rings…150 million people can’t be wrong.

– Ted Poole, KPI Writer and Producer

CLASH OF THE GODS: TOLKIEN’S MONSTERS airs Monday, October 5 10PM/9c on HISTORY.

DNA Casts Doubt on Hitler Suicide

September 29, 2009

Hitler skullKPI photo
From AOL News September 29
New DNA tests show that a skull long thought to be Adolf Hitler’s is not his after all. Scientists at the University of Connecticut conducted tests on the bullet-pierced skull — which had been secretly preserved for decades by Soviet intelligence — and discovered that it belonged to an unidentified woman under 40, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Sunday.
The results cast doubt on the long-held account that the Nazi dictator swallowed a cyanide pill and then committed suicide in his Berlin bunker as Allied forces were closing in on him in 1945. The story of the testing was also reported in a History Channel documentary, Hitler’s Escape.

[Note: the DNA testing was initiated by the KPI producing team and History Channel]

Click here to read the full story at AOL News

THE MOTHER OF A MONSTER

September 28, 2009


Beneath the surface of a frozen lake, armed with a magic sword, Beowulf fights past a supernatural serpent to reach the lair of his most seductive and deadly nemesis of all.

CLASH OF THE GODS: BEOWULF airs Monday September 28 10PM/9c on HISTORY