Monday, December 2, 2013

National Radio Quiet Zone...and Ultrarunning

Via AP News this day:

Seemingly off the beaten path, this community of fewer than two hundred residents is the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area where state and federal laws discourage the use of everyday devices that emit electromagnetic waves. The quiet zone aims to protect sensitive radio telescopes at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, as well as a nearby Naval research facility, from man-made interference. This silence enables the observatory to detect energy in outer space that is equivalent to the energy emitted by a single snowflake hitting the ground.
This area is largely in a mountainous area of east central West Virginia.  The fact that residents voluntarily consent to a semi-vow of electronic silence is kinda cool.  And here is the radio telescope that requires all that electromagnetic quiet:
[Image credit here]
This area of WV has always been a fav of mine since my high school and early adult years days as a caver and climber (see here for a stunning cave shot of a memorable place I've been).  It's lovely and wild, and, well, just had and still has a mystique that comes from being a special place in my formative years.  All of us--I hope--have places like that.
Anyway, for the railfans, Cass Scenic Railroad is here.  I've been there but it's been years.  More recently this fall the bride and I and two other couples took a tourist rail trip from nearby Elkins on the New Tygart Flyer, where there were waterfalls and wine (image credits Gary).  What's not to like?:


And so, at long last, we get to the Ultrarunning part.  Getting back to the initial premise of the story about radio silence that triggered all this happy reminiscing, the curmudgeon in me feels obliged to point out again his personal opposition to music devices while running.  Many--perhaps most--long distance runners do listen to music while on the trails, but I always take special pleasure from just listening to Nature.
Yeah, I'm a purist, being judgemental, your mileage may vary, and all that, but if you are habituated to music on the trails, try a run music-free.  Just try it.

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