On Friday, three storm chasers were killed in Oklahoma when a tornado they were following made an unexpected turn in their direction.
Comedian Ralphie May on Sunday dishonored their deaths by tweeting, "Sometimes God just cleans the gene pool up":
Stars of the Weather Channel's 'Storm Chasers' were killed in a tornado in Oklahoma. Sometimes God just cleans the gene pool up.— Ralphie May (@Ralphie_May) June 2, 2013
Honestly, should a comedian actually make gene pool jokes about scientists?
Consider that one of the storm chasers killed was Tim Samaras. Here's what the bio at the Discovery Channel website says about him:
Chasing has been a part of Tim's life for over 25 years. Ten years ago, he developed his own tornado probes to record meteorological data inside of tornadoes. On June 24, 2003, Tim dropped a probe in the path of an F-4 tornado where it measured an astounding 100 millibar pressure drop — a record that still stands today. Tim runs the scientific field program, TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, www.twistex.org). Their mission is to help understand why tornadoes form in order to increase warning times in Tornado Alley.
Last year, Tim had a successful probe deployment on the last chase of the season in Grand Island, Nebraska. This year, TWISTEX is introducing new instruments to help them meet their scientific goals, including a new probe called TOWER. This new probe features multiple anemometers to measure wind speed and direction, cans of smoke to track circulation, and a brand new 360-degree camera mount. In addition, Tim is conducting research for Boeing, testing the effects of large hail on the company's new aircraft.
His National Geographic bio reads:
As families scramble to avoid deadly tornadoes, Tim Samaras races straight toward them. He careens across the United States' notorious Tornado Alley on a mission: Predict the exact coordinates of an unborn tornado, arrive before it does, and place a weather-measurement probe directly in the twister's violent, swirling path.
"Data from the probes helps us understand tornado dynamics and how they form. With that piece of the puzzle we can make more precise forecasts and ultimately give people earlier warnings," Samaras explains. Since current warnings average a slim 13 minutes, every extra second of warning can be a lifesaver for residents facing a twister's wrath. [...]
"About five years ago, as an engineer," he noted, "I designed the next generation of probe to measure pressure drops inside tornadoes." A history-making instrument, Samaras's "turtle" probe has recorded record-breaking drops in pressure—the condition that triggers a tornado's extreme wind speeds. "This information is especially crucial, because it provides data about the lowest 10 meters of a tornado, where houses, vehicles, and people are."
Carl Young, Samaras's partner, was also killed Friday. Here's his Discovery Channel bio:
Although Carl is a native Californian, he was called east in 2000 after a spell working on Hollywood film crews. He decided to take off on a two month storm chasing adventure in the Great Plains hoping to catch a glimpse of a few tornadoes but ending up with over a dozen twister encounters. Experiencing the raw force of nature in Nebraska was unlike any pyrotechnic display on a high-tech Hollywood set! This inspiration led Carl to the study of tornado dynamics and ultimately a masters degree in atmospheric science from the University of Nevada, Reno. While attending a meteorological conference, Carl met Tim Samaras who encouraged him to collect meteorological data from inside tornadoes as the principal focus of his thesis research. Every spring since 2003, Carl has headed out with Tim, and together the team has tracked down over 125 tornadoes.
The third person killed in this tragedy was Samaras's son Paul.
Is the gene pool for species homo sapiens better off without these three men of science who gave their lives trying to learn more about tornadoes so that advanced warning systems can be created to save those in storms' paths?
I don't think so.
Hours before his untimely death Friday, Samaras was interviewed on MSNBC (HT Mediaite):
This appears to be the final video Samaras's team took before they were killed Friday:
As you might imagine, May is taking a lot of heat for his comments. Our good friends at Twitchy have a recap.
Please also read some of Tim Samaras's final tweets.