The "Daily Planet" program showed civil engineering professor Ed Adams and David Walters of Wixom, Mich., a master's degree student in civil engineering, working in MSU's cold lab to simulate conditions that contribute to avalanches. It's difficult to determine how a specific change in the weather affects the snow in a specific way, but the researchers build snow crystals and "layer cakes" of snow in the lab to help them find out. They also adjust humidity, temperature and other conditions to see how those changes affect the snow.
The ultimate goal is to help predict avalanches, Adams said.
Besides the lab, the Daily Planet showed historic footage of Adams and former students inside a shed during a small avalanche they set off in the Bridger Mountains for research purposes.
The Subzero Lab opened in October 2008 and occupies 2,700 square feet in the first floor of Cobleigh Hall. It contains several laboratories and equipment that are used for education, as well as cross-discipline research into state, national and international issues. Several labs have the ability to simulate radiation from the sun and sky. One lab is designated as a germ-free clean room for sensitive biological work.
The Daily Planet is a one-hour daily science show that's a mix of documentaries and features.
To watch the segment that features MSU, go to http://watch.discoverychannel.ca/#clip619037
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org