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Earth Science Technology

How Russia Transformed a Subtropical Beach Resort To Host the Winter Olympics 359

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Duncan Geere reports at The Verge that Russian resort as Sochi, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, is humid and subtropical with temperatures averaging about 52 degrees Fahrenheit (12 C) in the winter, and 75 degrees (24 C) in the summer. "There is almost no snow here — at the moment it's raining," says Olga Mironova, a local resident. It's estimated that the cost of staging the Olympics in Sochi has been greater than the previous three Winter Games combined — ballooning to a whopping $51 billion including the cost of implementing an extensive system of safeguards to ensure there'll be sufficient snow in Sochi for the games including the cost of implementing one of the largest snowmaking systems in Europe. The system includes two huge water reservoirs that feed 400 snow cannons installed along the slopes that can generate snow in temperatures of up to 60 degrees fahrenheit (16 C). If that snow isn't enough, then the authorities will fall back on 710,000 cubic meters of snow collected during the winters of previous years leading up to the games. To keep it from melting in the region's hot summers, 10 separate stockpiles have been kept packed tight under insulating covers high up in the mountains, safe from the sun's rays. Down in Sochi itself the other half of the games will be held in five indoor arenas that will host figure skating, speed skating, hockey, and curling, and an additional outdoor area will host the opening and closing ceremonies. In each of these indoor arenas, underfloor cooling systems are installed so that the ice stays frozen above it using propylene glycol, which doesn't freeze until temperatures reach 8.6 F (-13 C). Climatologists predict that even under a best-case scenario, almost half the venues that have hosted the Winter Olympics over the last century would be unable to do so by 2080 without resorting to extensive and expensive artificial snowmaking techniques.""
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How Russia Transformed a Subtropical Beach Resort To Host the Winter Olympics

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  • Celsius (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:06AM (#46209129)

    Temperatures are usually reported in degrees Celsius. Please fix this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:11AM (#46209153)

    Sort out your units, or you lose the right to use any of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:32AM (#46209281)

    Did Obama do something last night that we need to be distracted about. Usually don't pull out the Bush did it card til we need to distract from his actions.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:36AM (#46209305) Homepage

    Its down to the monumental institutionalised corruption in Russia where everyone from the highest level apparatchik down to the brick layer is on the take.

  • ridiculos! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:40AM (#46209321)

    Ok. I'm frankly sick and tired of all this media campaign of discrediting the Russian olympic games. I mean, this article is completely ridiculous.

    As a comparison, the weather in Sochi is similar to the one in Grenoble (at least from a temperature point of view). Now, the thing is that I live in Grenoble, which was also the location of the olympic games in the 60's. Like in Sochi, right now it is raining in Grenoble, and the temperatures are around 10 degrees Celsius. Despite this, just yesterday I went skiing at the resort which hosted the downhill event in the 60's and guess what? Perfect skiing conditions, all slopes were open and no artificial snow has been used in the last 4 weeks. How is this possible? Well, most of the events at the winter olympic games are hosted in the mountains, which in the case of Grenoble are 2000 meters above the level of the city. I don't know about Sochi but the Caucas mountains have peaks of over 5000 meters.

    Just comparing the temperatures in the biggest city which happens to be located near the actual mountains which host the games is completely stupid!

  • Re:Celsius (Score:1, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:53AM (#46209413) Journal

    American website reporting largely to Americans is going to use American measures.

    You want to report in Celsius, start your own?

    Anyway, people who want a genuinely objective temperature scale use Kelvin.

  • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:53AM (#46209415) Homepage

    This is the comment I am forced to type.

  • by Trachman ( 3499895 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:56AM (#46209439) Journal
    Yeah, making snow in Russia... Only in Russia... The cost of Olympic games is more than $50 Billion, or approximately $500 per Russian citizen, that is including babies and retired people. Had most of Russians been asked whether they agree to donate $500 per person they would have told "No". So they blew $50 billion... That is not entirely correct since this $50 billion has transformed to the salaries of the workers, organizers and security, cost of construction materials and the profits for organizers. So it is not all gone to waste. However Olympic games has always been a classic and favorite way of spreading the wealth... upwards. in 50 years we will hear about Russia's summer Olympic games in Arctic pole.
  • Re:Putin's Games (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:58AM (#46209447)

    These games are also a show of the absolutely incredible depth of corruption in Russia. The initial budget of $12 billion has ballooned to over four times to some $50 billion – the most expensive winter or summer Olympics in the history. The 45-kilometre road from Sochi to the outdoor venues alone cost $8 billion, enough to pave the finished road with 5-millimetre thick gold. It was a common arrangement in the Olympic construction projects to use the money as follows: 30% for the actual construction work, 35% to the officials and 35% to the "oligarchs" who oversaw the project. And let's not forget how the Sochi locals who happened to live near the coming Olympic venues have been brutally forced on the streets without any compensation for their expropriated property, thanks to a special law that Putin had passed in Duma. You should see the documentary Putin's Games [] for some background on the mind-boggling amounts of corruption in these games.

    Sounds like business as usual for every modern-day Olympics in every host country. What's your point? Besides did the POTUS ever playing with a Siberian Tiger on his lap?

  • by Fishchip ( 1203964 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:15AM (#46209555)
    Right up until the end when GLOBAL WARMING.
  • Re:Celsius (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:59AM (#46209771) Homepage

    reporting largely to Americans

    Are you sure about that?

  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @11:05AM (#46209813) Journal
    2080? heh. Reminds me of Disraeli saying (and I am paraphrasing) that politicians enjoy a the privilege heretofore only afforded to whores - power without responsibility. I guess climatologists, too, now. Making predictions not verifiable until after their retirement? Check.
  • Re:Celsius (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Monday February 10, 2014 @12:06PM (#46210191) Homepage

    You can easily divide a foot, for example, into thirds, halves, quarters. Not so much with base 10.

    If you can't easily divide the number ten into two equal halves, then perhaps you have bigger problems than just which set of units to use.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ericloewe ( 2129490 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @12:14PM (#46210251)

    Allow me to divide one meter by the amounts you mentioned:

    3 - 0,333mm (use as much precision as you'd like)
    2 - 0,500mm
    4 - 0,250mm

    Now, allow me to do something you can't do trivially with imperial units:

    How many centimeters does a kilometer have?

    1km = 1000m = 100.000cm

    Try doing that under 5 seconds with imperial units.

    You only insult yourself by using such stupid arguments. SI is better.

  • by ericloewe ( 2129490 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @12:22PM (#46210309)

    All systems of measurements are based on arbitrary references.

    The difference is that SI is a coherent system of base and derived units with very simple relationships between them, all based on the number 10 and a series of greek prefixes.

    Nobody ever asks themselves (*kids still learning the basics excepted) how many meters are in a kilometer. Knowing that, nobody is going to be left wondering how many grams there are in a kilogram or how many newtons in a kilonewton. The keyword is coherency.

    SI is coherent within itself and with the numerical system used by nearly everyone on this planet (base 10). Imperial units are neither.

    Also, SI is used in all but three countries. Don't you think those three countries might have done things wrong?

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @12:24PM (#46210335)

    SI is better, but ease of unit conversions is at best a minor advantage. You know when the last time I had to convert between centimeters and kilometers was? Probably when I was in school, learning about using metric. I don't convert between inches and miles either -- there's just no point in most people's lives.

    In fact, the only units that I have to convert between regularly are time units, and metric doesn't help you there.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @02:22PM (#46211153) Homepage Journal

    Also, SI is used in all but three countries. Don't you think those three countries might have done things wrong?

    The only thing we (I'm an American) did wrong was to not convert to metric before the world was plunged into WWII. During the war, we produced millions of fabricating tools and machines to create war materiel - tanks, planes, guns, etc. After the war, all those micrometers, calipers, lathes, grinders, mills, and drills remained in metalworking shops across America. They all still had Imperial units stamped on their scales. They were held together with screw threads based on ANSI standards and Imperial measurements. They were build around drive screws that would move the table precisely one inch of throw for every ten revolutions of the drive worm. They had cams that would move a tool precisely .001 inches per revolution. The Imperial measurement system was literally cast in steel throughout America during the war.

    These tools then fueled the expansion of the American economy throughout the postwar period. (Many of them are still working today, and still power today's machine shops -- it turns out that a 5 ton cast iron lathe bed doesn't wear out very fast.) Imperial units were then and still are deeply embedded in American manufacturing.

    Along came the 1970s, and along came a big push for metrification. Schoolchildren were taught the metric system was the Best System Ever, while their parents told them the that metric was foreign nonsense and was stealing American jobs. The Pentagon actually tried to lead the way across the country, and fully adopted the metric system in order to interoperate with NATO forces. But the rest of the US manufacturers who were not producing mil-spec parts continued to crank out Imperial based products. Why? Because conversion isn't easy or cheap. Even if they could replace the lead screw in their lathes to move a metric-friendly 1 cm for every four turns of the shaft so they could make metric parts, they still needed Imperial capabilities to make replacement parts for old machinery. That would have meant needing two lathes, two micrometers, two calipers, and two sets of tools, all increasing the cost of conversion. It also would have meant extra inventories of all kinds of materials: 50cm tubing next to 2" tubing, etc. This was at a time when machine shops across America were shutting down as production was shipped overseas to Asia, so increasing their capital investment was simply not possible. So Imperial measurements remained.

    Ironically, many of the American machine shops that managed to survive globalization did so by entering the CNC age. My old shop retrofitted their old change gear boxes with servomotor based systems. And CNC equipment can work on either metric or Imperial measurements with the flick of a configuration setting. Now that the survivors have modernized, it might be time to try again.

  • And... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @02:55PM (#46211419)

    Fuck Beta!

The opulence of the front office door varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.