2.15.2006

Mega Scientist



A week ago I had the pleasure to take my students to a lecture given by Dr. Michael Fay, a conservation biologist made famous by his Mega Transect and Mega Flyover projects. National Geographic helped fund and document the projects and sponsored the lecture we attended.

I won't focus much on the content since it can all be read in the National Geographic articles that covered it. Fay flew over 25 countries, at an altitude of around 300 feet, taking digital pictures every 20 seconds. He ended up with roughly 150,000 images. Each image also had a GPS tag. With that info, Fay was able to attach his images to Google Earth to provide a visual tour of his trip. If you go to Google Earth and focus on Africa, you will find little red planes scattered over the continent. These represent the shots Fay took during his trip.

Using this format made the lecture much more interactive, although, he has so many images, and covered so much ground (70,000 miles) that it was difficult to get a well organized talk in one hour. Still, what we did see was spectacular and really allows you to visualize the human footprint on the land.

In addition to his discussion of conservation and ecological issues that Africa faces, he recounted some of his more harrowing tales, such as stalling in mid-air, confronting poachers in the bush and being gored by an elephant. Fay represents a true adventurer/scientist. My students were lucky to meet someone to see how their education could be put in action.

2 comments:

tristan said...

well stalling isn't that bad, but I wouldn't want to be on the business end of that elephant's tusks.

Cameron said...

Fay said his pilot's were Austrian and pretty crazy. Still, I'm not sure I would want to go through that experience. I was nervous enough just turning your plane.