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October 2000

Delphi Questions: Smoking on the trails, exhibit noise

Question #457 (received 15 August):

What does NCAR do to guard against wildfires? There seem to be a lot of cigarette butts on the path from the parking lot. Are visitors allowed to smoke on trails around NCAR?

Response (18 August):

UCAR has adopted the same rules for trail use as those formulated by the Boulder Open Space department. Smoking is not allowed on the trail system, and Boulder Open Space is in the process of posting No Smoking signs on and near the trails. Boulder Open Space personnel and UCAR security enforce the rules whenever possible, but given the extensive trail system it is not possible to observe every user. Given the severe consequences of a wildfire, please be assured that our security force is making observation and enforcement a priority. If employees observe violators, they should immediately report the situation to UCAR security, ext. 1139.

—Steve Sadler, director
Safety and Site Services

Question #453 (received 19 June):

I am a long-time NCAR employee who remembers the days before the wonderful exhibit involving a fan used to generate a vortex was installed in the entry area of the Mesa Lab. In spite of the pleasure I take from that exhibit, I miss the peace and quiet of those days. It is now necessary to have the library doors closed to avoid distraction by the noise, which also pervades the entire visitor area of the building. One only has to come in after hours, when the fan is not in use, to be reminded of how pleasant that area and the library can be.

I am wondering whether it would be possible to use a quieter fan, or whether the exhibit could be started by a visitor, using a button, and run on a timer for a few minutes whenever someone wants to see the exhibit in operation. The rest of the time it would be off, and hence quiet.

Response (18 August):

In 1994 we received funding from NSF and a number of local foundations for the specific purpose of enhancing the visitor and exhibits program. Through the Exploratorium in San Francisco, we acquired seven highly interactive exhibits that demonstrate scientific principles underlying many of the research activities at NCAR. While the new exhibits created the intended stimulating environment for visitors, we were aware that the tornado, in particular, created some new problems, due primarily to the lack of acoustic materials on surrounding surfaces. We worked closely with the designer from the Exploratorium to investigate alternatives, and we replaced the fan with a lower-powered one. The alternatives were limited by both our altitude and Boulder's relatively low humidity levels, which affect the creation of the vortex.

In response to the concerns of the questioner, we contacted the designer again. After an extensive investigation, he was unable to find any new alternative fans with quieter motors. However, he recalled the acoustic reflectivity of the surrounding floors, walls, and ceiling and has suggested some other actions that may reduce the noise level. A variety of possible solutions include surrounding the fan with acoustic materials or hanging such materials above the fan. We intend to pursue these suggestions as soon as possible.

–Karon Kelly, director
Information Support Services

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the coordinator, Janet Evans (ext. 1114, ML room 517). They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential; they must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2. Questions and answers of general interest to staff are submitted to Staff Notes Monthly by Janet. They may be edited for publication. For more information, including links to questions and answers published in Staff Notes Monthly and a log of all questions submitted since 1995, see the Delphi Service Web page.

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Tue Sep 26 12:38:56 MDT 2000