Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Search Challenge (Sep 29, 2010): Finding the name of a thing...

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted anything--it's been busy.  Burning Man was a hoot (and I came back with a notebook full of questions that I'll write about later), and then it's been non-stop writing papers for upcoming conferences, giving talks, running my research... generally having way too much fun.  Prediction:  October will be a better month for updating the blog!  

But I want to go into October with an interesting search challenge.  

I just returned from New York where I gave a talk at the Ithaka 2010 conference on the "Future of Search."  I made a bunch of points that will be familiar to readers (a bit about new modes and ways to create queries, how much people know about searching, a call to action around teaching search literacy).  

And somewhere along the way, I started talking to someone about Butte, Montana.  We both remembered seeing a large body of water near the town, but neither of us could remember was it was called.  We both remembered it was interesting because it was so heavily polluted, but the name escaped us.  (Of course, for searching out more about this place, it would be essential to know what it's called.)  

       Can you figure out what this largish body of water is that's near Butte, MT?  
       And, for extra credit, how badly polluted is it?  

As usual, show your work so we can all learn from your search method.  

(FWIW, one of the things I talked about at the Ithaka conference was how people generally learn to search.  A few learn from classes at libraries, but strikingly few.  Most learn over-the-shoulder of a friend.  That's what this blog is really about: scalable over-the-shoulder experiences!)  


  1. I recently heard a podcast where scientists talked about this. As a query, I used: mine butte water pollluted. The 2nd hit on the results was a Wikipedia entry on the Berkeley Pit. Links in that entry take you to articles and web pages detailing the depth of the pollution of the lake that has formed in the pit.

  2. Okay here's my method:
    1. "polluted butte" - I got some great snippets talking about how polluted Butte, Montana really is.

    2. "epa polluted butte" - I decided to throw in a more official keyword because the first results were too varied (forums, news, random sites, etc.) You will notice from my above word order that I am not using instant

    3. AHA! The third result for the above search was "Berkeley Pit (Butte) — Montana Environmental Information Center"

    4. I start typing "Berkeley Pit" into Google and Suggest confirms my suspicions and finishes my work by suggesting "berkeley pit lake butte montana"

    5. So, fellow searcher, I believe your polluted lake is called "Berkeley Pit"

  3. Similar searches to the above got me to Berkeley Pit. Didn't use the Wikipedia article though.

    Extra credit - The ph level of the water in the pit is around 2.4 making it acidic. This is allowing the leaching of heavy metals from the rock bed such as arsenic to pollute the water. They are watching the water rise to point where it will contaminate ground water and then entering a major creek. Water level is predicted to hit this level around 2022.

    Here is my search story