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Old 01-25-2020, 05:42 AM   #17
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Default Re: Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Good to have you back!
Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
Really glad to see you back. :-)
It is exceedingly good to 'see' you two, Brett, Anthony and everyone else.

I've missed gaming, the forums and the erudite, intelligent discourse of which SJ Games forumites are capable, even on these awful Internets.

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Almost every kind of scientist can be useful here. One starts with an expert in the geology of the Caribbean, whom you'll probably do best to look for at the Mona, Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies. Establishing the relationship - or otherwise - of the geology of this island to the surrounding areas will be important. If it's extra-planar, then new kinds of minerals, unusual isotope ratios in common minerals, and other such details may be present, which will be quite convincing.
Professor Harlan P. Wehmeyer has an M.Eng degree in petroleum engineering with an emphasis in geology from Texas A&M University from 1958, MSc in Geoscience from the Institut Francais du Pétrole (IFP) from 1960 and a PhD in Geophysics from Texas A&M, which he received in 1963. As a consultant, Wehmeyer has extensive experience of reviewing potential offshore petrochemical fields, many of them in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Commander Shackleford also received his PhD from Texas A&M, albeit the Galveston campus, probably around 1960-1964. While he's spent much of his life as a research scientist in the public sector, doing oceanographic surveys for the US Navy and various official institutions, he's also done stints of private consulting for offshore oil companies. He knew the waters in question pretty well, as the island was situated just 250 miles north of Puerto Rico, where he's done much survey work (and never seen this island before).

The University of West Indies is a good idea. Either graduates from there, faculty or research scientists associated with it should probably be represented in some way.

Of course, just because only eight scientists were lost with Teddy Smith (PC) in his backstory, that doesn't have to mean that they were the only scientists involved in investigating the new island. The eight who were lost were those who were on the seaplane that had overflown the island and the boat with scientific instruments sent to support it. Other scientists might have been analyzing data in their workplaces or from Puerto Rico, collecting data from various other sources or simply on another mode of transport, a helicopter or another boat, which was set to take them to the island when they got the news that the tropical storm warning was upgraded to hurricane warning, leading them to delay joining the rest.

Those who were lost ignored weather warnings, driven by the need to explore the island before the US Navy or Air Force officially took note of it and sent their own expedition. Surely pilots and others had noticed a whole island coming into existence just 250 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, in 1995 still home to a huge naval base and military airfield. That's international waters, but very much within the area which the US government and military considers its backyard.

Even if satellites and various long-range sensors inexplicably seemed not to pick up the island, anyone flying over it or sailing by couldn't fail to see it, not to mention that meteorologists, oceanographers and others must notice its effects on ocean tides and weather patterns. Commander Shackleford, though he had heard nothing officially, was certain that the US Navy and/or the Air Force must already have dispatched ships, planes and helicopters to the island, and certainly would mount a full-scale expedition to land there within a day, if not hours.

So the expedition that was lost was hastily assembled, in great secret, among men who'd worked with J.R. Kessler (the billionaire Patron behind the expedition) before or at least were known to someone he trusted and recommended without reservations as discreet and reliable. Kessler had an advantage over the military in that he believed the eyewitness reports of a low-flying pilot, despite maps, models, satellite sensors and images showing nothing there. So he had maybe an extra 24-36 hours which the US authorities lost before taking the reports seriously. But that's not a lot of time and the expedition was mostly mounted using resources previously used for similar, smaller scale expeditions investing reports of anomalies, cryptids or other OOPA.

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
If this island is of any size, inspecting the photographic archives of the Landsat program will show that it wasn't there in the past, but is now. You might well find that a fisheries expert is the kind of person who would be closely familiar with Landsat imagery and its interpretation.

Of course, any satellite images, regardless of date, show nothing but empty ocean. This is alarming, to say the least, but leads to the hypothesis that the island is not wholly present in this world or time, but that those who fly low enough or travel close to it somehow occupy the same Elsewhere time or space as the island.

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Once on the island, you'll want botanists, entomologists, ecologists, and so on to classify the species found there and explore their relationships with species in surrounding areas. You'll also want a meteorologist to see if the island seems to have been subject to a different climate to the area where it is now.
In your opinion, which scientific specializations are most vital among those who reach the island first?

Assuming that efforts are ongoing to eventually bring in trusted experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines, which fields of expertise would be so absolutely vital that the initial party to land on the island simply had to have someone with that education and experience?

Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
I think one thing you'd try to bring along is someone whose word is unimpeachable. Perhaps someone political as well. Maybe combine the two. A war hero who served in the current administration. Someone not known for taking in or taking on bullsh*t. A witness to the weirdness if you will.

I think you'd also want a journalist or two as well and much for the same reasons at first, but afterward getting them to get the word out would be just as darn useful.
Very good thought.

Of course, the initial team would be somewhat unusual, what with the specific requirements. The need for absolute reliability and discretion, the ability and desire to drop everything to travel to Puerto Rico based on a strange story, a motivation to land on the island as soon as possible that proved stronger than reasonable caution or instinct for self-preservation in the face of weather warnings, and, last but not least, a requirement that they have some sort of a personal allegiance to the eccentric billionaire Patron (or someone close to him).

However, I imagine that Kessler, (our eccentric billionaire Patron) would be planning on obtaining unimpeachable witnesses of stature and reputation as soon as he could, certainly to land on the island as soon as it was determined to be safe. As well as having already had his PR people select tame journalists to feed the story to if and when he decided he had enough evidence to publish.
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