Friday, June 10, 2011

A brush with living history

The title sounds like a fifth grader's civics essay about the time president Kennedy's motorcade drove through town. Honestly, I try not to get too pie-eyed when meeting historical figures in hydrology, but last night in Delft, the Netherlands, I managed to have a one on one interview with Norman Crawford. We discussed river forecasting and modelling.

He was quite literally the first person to write a river model and put it on a computer. This was a bit over 50 years ago. He squirms at the suggestion that he's famous but Norman won the hydrologists' equivalent of a Nobel prize. Two different ones actually. "Norm" (he's very self effacing) is one of only a handful of people in history to ever win both. Descendants of his model are still used all over the world and he leads a consulting firm, Hydrocomp. I'm still compiling my notes and hope to write more but today is the birthday of my wife, Kitty.

It's been a heady two weeks in Delft. I met with scientists from Deltares (a non-profit consulting firm that makes a widely used piece of river forecasting software) and there was a workshop of scientists from all over the world. So much to catch up on!

In the meantime, there's this bit of weather news Wichita (Kansas) experiences rare 'heat burst' overnight. The temperature shot up 17 degrees F in 20 minutes.... right around midnight!

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