Posts Tagged‘sand’

A River of Ice in the Desert.

Climate change is happening, there’s no doubt about that, and the main factor at play here is us. The last decade has seen an increase in the frequency and severity of weather events all of which can be traced to the amount of carbon we dump into the atmosphere. Thankfully the Paris climate deal is a good first step towards remediating the problem, even if the majority of the provisions in there aren’t legally enforceable. Until we start true action though extreme weather events will lead to things like below, where a river of ice flows through the middle of a desert:

The river, which on first glance appears to be a flow of sand, was caused by extreme weather in Iraq that saw the country blanketed in heavy rain and hail. The ice then overflowed rivers and ended up creating this incredible phenomenon. It’s also the second freak weather event to hit Iraq since its last summer, when the country experienced an extraordinary heat wave where temperatures hit 52°C in Baghdad. Whilst things like this are interesting they’re a symptom of a much larger issue, one that we all need to work together to solve.

Science Powered Zen Garden.

I’ve always appreciated the simple beauty of Zen gardens, mostly from afar as my natural instinct is to run directly to the perfectly groomed sand and mess it all up. That being whilst I may have kindled an interest in gardening recently (thanks to my wife giving me some chilli plants for Christmas) I have very little interest in creating one of these myself, even of the desktop variety. The video below however demonstrates a kind of Zen garden that I could very well see myself spending numerous hours, mostly because it’s driven by some simple, but incredibly cool, science.

On the surface it seems like a relatively simple mechanism of action, two steel balls roll their away across the sand and produce all sorts of patterns along the way. The reality of it is quite a bit more interesting however as, if you watch closely, you can see that the two steel balls’ motion is linked together around a single point of motion. This is because, as Core77’s post shows, there’s only a single arm underneath the table which most likely houses 2 independent magnets that are able to slide up and down its length. In all honesty this is far more impressive to me than how I would’ve approached the problem as it makes producing the complex patterns that much more challenging. If it was left to me I would’ve had a huge array of magnets underneath the surface, but that seems like cheating after seeing this.