At the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, researchers use wind tunnels, combustion chambers, fire-whirl generators and high-speed cameras to study the start, structure and spread of one of nature's most bewildering phenomena: the wildfire.
In "Fire, In Slow Motion," The Atlantic's Katherine Wells and Sam Price-Waldman introduce us to some of the researchers working to make sense of wildfires at the Fire Lab, and provide us with a glimpse of what it's like to play with fire professionally. It's a captivating segment. Not only is it full of top-notch, pyro-friendly footage, it also gets at an unsettling truth about our relationship with this deadly, expensive and counterintuitive force of nature.
"We have...centuries of experience with fire," says Jack Cohen, a research physical scientist at the lab, but "one of the problems we have in general as humans is we tend to think that because we experience something we understand it. And that's not really true."
Read more on the science, study, and societal impacts of wildfires in Brian Mockenhaupt's feature "Fire on the Mountain," currently running at The Atlantic.