HAMNET Report 28th May 2023

A tropical cyclone is threatening parts of the north-west Pacific. GDACS reports that Tropical Cyclone MAWAR-23, with maximum sustained winds of up to 249 km/h, is travelling in a westerly direction and has passed the island of Guam and was aimed at the area of the Luzon Strait, between northern Philippines and southern Taiwan, due to arrive there on Friday evening or Saturday, our time. As the storm approaches the Philippines, the naming convention will change and Mawar will become known as Typhoon Betty.

Radioworld.com says that the eye of Super Typhoon Mawar passed about 24 km north-northeast of Guam as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of up to 225 km/h around 8:45 p.m. Chinese Standard Time on May 24. On Rota, the southernmost island in the Northern Marianas, the typhoon brought Category 1 winds with Saipan and Tinian receiving tropical storm-strength winds. Six radio and TV stations on Guam were taken off the air by storm damage or power outages.

927 people were evacuated to shelters across Guam and Rota Islands, where strong winds were forecast from Thursday. Heavy rainfall, strong winds and storm surges are forecast over northern Luzon between today (Sunday) and Tuesday. By last Friday evening, no casualties had been reported.

Southern Africa got its first real winter cold front this week, with a double-whammy frontal system arriving in the Western Cape on Thursday morning very early. The front was preceded by a lot of cold north-westerly wind, but once it started raining in earnest, the wind died down, and steady rain was the order of the day.

By Friday the rain had departed the Western Cape, but the cold air behind the front brought us the first snow of the season experienced in the Cedarberg and Matroosberg area. The Snow Report website expects high ground in the Swartberg range between Ladismith and De Rust, as well as around Sutherland and Calvinia in the Northern Cape to get a light dusting, and the peaks around Graaff-Reinet and Hogsback in the Eastern Cape too. The highlands around Barkly East and Rhodes are more likely to see some decent falls.

Again the message is conveyed to all, to take care, remain protected as far as possible from the elements directly, and to look after your animals. Wise words!

How many of you have heard of the tiny island of Rockall? Boatsnews.com says that Rockall Island is a confetti of the United Kingdom territory, an uninhabited and un-vegetated granite islet lost in the middle of the North Atlantic, 370 km west of the Outer Hebrides. Claimed by the British Crown since 1955, it has been the object of envy and challenge ever since. Chris Cameron, a 53-year-old Scottish electronics lecturer, son of a sailor, oceanographer and former military man, wants to break the record for survival on this inhospitable rock, currently 45 days. The adventurer has set himself a goal of 60 days alone on Rockall. The idea came to him following the confinement linked to the Covid-19, wanting to experiment further the concept of solitude.

Rockall is 31 meters long and 17 meters high. The only flat surface at the top measures 4 meters by 1.5 meters. To survive there, the adventurer, who will share the first week or so with 2 companions, one a radio amateur and the other a mountaineer from Bulgaria, who also has his amateur licence, will have to use mountain equipment. An ultra-resistant mini-tent will be set up at the summit, which can accommodate 2 people. The mountaineer will sleep suspended from the cliff, thanks to specific mountaineering equipment.

The two radio hams will spend their week making contacts, presumably on VHF from Rockall, allowing avid radio amateurs to collect a QSL card from them.

After a week, the boat that brought the team will leave with the 2 acolytes, leaving Chris Cameron with the food necessary for his 60 days on site, a computer, a VHF radio, an Iridium satellite phone and a solar panel. It appears he does not have an amateur licence.

To give meaning to his experience, Chris Cameron has decided to raise money for charity. He hopes to raise £50,000 for the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines Charity and ABF Soldiers. To do this, the team will be issuing QSL cards to amateur radio operators attesting that they have been in communication with Rockall.

As its name suggests, the island is called Rockall, because it is all rock.

I don’t know whether this will be news to anyone, but Phys.org reports that a team of psychiatrists from Duke University and Yale University has found what they describe as a causal association between evening social media use and delayed sleep. In their study, reported in the journal Sleep Medicine, the group tracked social media use and delayed sleeping patterns for 44,000 Reddit users.

Prior research has shown that exposure to blue light, such as that emitted from phones and tablet computers, can lead to sleep problems because it interferes with production of melatonin. In this new effort, the researchers have found that posting to a social media site prior to normal bedtime may delay the time that people go to sleep.

The team wondered whether social media posting might be interfering with people’s normal sleep patterns, especially in the evening hours. To find out, they conducted an exhaustive analysis of data on the social media site Reddit. As with other social media sites, users on Reddit can post comments or links to content, and comment on what others have posted.

The researchers found that if a user posted to the site approximately one hour before their normal bedtime, they were much more likely to stay up past their normal bedtime—on average, they were still awake after posting, from one to three hours after they normally went to sleep. And if they posted multiple times before their normal bedtime, they stayed up even later.

The researchers suggest that a rise in dopamine levels due to anticipation of a response from other users on the site could make it difficult for posters to relax and go to sleep. Prior research has shown that a rise in dopamine levels contributes to mental activity and alertness, neither of which is conducive to going to sleep.

And this, folks, is a looming disaster of immense proportions, as dependence on electronic equipment and media becomes more and more widespread, and sleep deprivation leads to reduced productivity and greater likelihood of accidents in our next-day lives.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, leaving his cell phone in the study at bedtime, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.