Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Maiden Vein tangent: Milky Way tour stop 3 - Bolivia

This week's word of the week from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English is Maiden Vein which refers to the Milky Way.

Using the stars to predict the weather.
From Newfoundlanders and the Maiden Vein to Bolivians and Pleiades

Maiden Vein - Milky Way Tour - Stop 3

Science And Folklore Converge In Andean Weather Forecasts Based On The Stars
By Kurt Sternlof

"The constellation Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters" © Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.

Toward the end of every June, indigenous farmers in the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru look to the stars for a hint of what the weather holds six months down the road. If the 11-star constellation known as the Pleiades appears bright and clear in the pre-dawn sky, they anticipate early, abundant rains and a bountiful potato crop. If the stars appear dim, however, they expect a smaller harvest and delay planting in order to reduce the adverse impact of late and meager precipitation.

In a paper published in the Jan. 6 issue of Nature, a team of scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory examine this centuries-old practice to reveal the science behind the folklore. Not only does the technique work reasonably well, it turns out that the farmers have in effect been forecasting El NiƱo for at least 400 years, a capability modern science achieved less than 20 years ago.

Read the Rest here.


REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English is brought to you by the Newfoundland based audio book publisher Rattling Books.

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