On a Beech Walk: #67 (The Hidden World)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Eyes allow us to see much – the powdery sand, the waves moving toward shore then gliding across the sandy upslope, the blue sky, the shiny sun and its reflections, plus much more.

When we concentrate to look carefully and closely, we notice so much more. Oh the wonderful details that nature offers us – the designs, patterns, colors – not only here where I walk, but throughout the natural world.

However, today I wonder about the hidden world – the world that we cannot see with the unaided eye. The world that is too small, too far away, too fast, too slow, or even covered or enclosed.

The hummingbird’s wings move fast and appear to us as a blur – yet technology can slow the video enough to capture the elegance of the wing motion and to notice similarities and differences with other winged creatures. The same video technology allows us to analyze fast human motions as running, skiing, skating, swinging a golf club, tennis racket, or baseball bat.

At the opposite end of the scale, technology can capture slow movements of massive structures as glaciers and tectonic plates. Movements that we measure in inches or centimeters per year.

As I peer across the sea, the water covers much that is below. Many things that are large enough to see with the unaided eye, but they are below the water. From ashore we cannot see the mountains, ridges, and canyons below – let alone all the aquatic life. The ocean’s depth is a world without light, so our vision is limited. This is a world of yet-to-be-discovered life. A world containing the lost-then-found; such as the Titanic and other sunken treasures.

Thinking about the water covering all that is below the surface, my mind sees a parallel to what is below the land’s surface. The life – minerals – signs of humanity’s past are not only below, but they are layered with the youngest closer to the top. Technology allows to see whatever is covered.

Whereas our skin and hair cover the internal world within us, various scans and imagery give medical professionals a closer look. The X-ray showing a bone fracture or a tumor. The MRI being able to visualize the brain by peeling it layer by layer like an onion. Laboratory tests that provide a view of much activity in the blood.

I look at my arm thinking about the invisible world that is too small to see with the unaided eye – a world that simple microscopes take us into – the world of single cells. The world of 2 or more groups of like cells organizing into tissues. The world being able to see various parts of a single cell. Parts that work together as a complex machine known as a life form.

Other technologies take us into the world of atoms and molecules that make up those cell parts. Atoms and molecules that are in constant motion – let alone comparing the motion of solids, liquids, and gases.

Telescopes allows us to explore the heavens above. That world has expanded with fly-by exploring missions as Voyager, Cassini, and others give us a closer view of our celestial neighbors, whereas the Hubble telescope delivers fascinating and mystical views of deep space.

It seems my brain hurts as I think about the hidden world that I cannot see because it is too small, too far away, too fast, too slow, or even covered or enclosed – but all of which technology allows us to see or at least understand. Maybe the hidden world is like a secret – that is unknown – but unlike a secret, one to be known.

For me, thinking is about making connections, which helps me understand and wonder about the world. Both of which are important as I walk the beach, after all, I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Time to Play

In lieu of a Saturday Morning Classic Cartoon post, here is a wonderful interactive site for you to enjoy – and probably learn something. Special thanks to Alex for finding this gem earlier this year.

A couple of notes for you before you get to play. The image below is what you probably will see first after clicking the link. Notice the following on the image:

  • The Scroll bar, which located at the bottom of the interactive field (at within as shown), is for zooming in and out
  • Click any image to learn more
  • It may take time to load, and the Start button will display the loading status
  • Once loaded, click Start

Universe2scale

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The universe is a wonderful place, so enjoy and savor. To start your exploration, click here.

On Fractalicious

This week’s posts have been a diversion from my routine while focusing on small things – and as we know, the microscopic world is detailed and fascinating.

Fractals are a geometry concept. In simple terms, a fractal is a shape within an object that takes the shape of the entire object. A piece of a rock from a mountain that looks like the entire mountain; a part of a tree branch that when magnified looking like the entire tree; or in section of a coastline that looks similar to the entire coast. Yes, fractals are about shapes.

The mathematics for fractals goes back into the 1800s, but Benoît Mandelbrot paper about the coast of Great Britain in the 1960s brought fractals into modern light. Today, artists use fractals and fractal-like patterns in art create fractal art by using mathematical algorithms to created objects, images, animations, and other visual representations most commonly through fractal software.

Once you see this fascinating video, it will not take long to see how fractals fit into this week’s theme. Enjoy the images.

On a Scope

Yesterday’s post provided a snapshot of the microscopic world in the human body. It’s amazing to think that we transport along a wonderland no matter where we go. So that gave me an idea – another trip journey.

Today’s trip is a bit more advanced because besides regular microscope views, this video offers one of my favorites – electron micrographs. Enjoy the journey. Any favorite stops along the way?

On a Close Look

Another weekend is in the books. How was yours?

Cincinnati weather has been July-mode muggy, but also soggy. My yard is so wet and the grass is so high, by the time it dries out I will need a combine to cut and bail!

Nonetheless, we had a good weekend. Besides our normal Friday night ballroom, it was Flying Pig Marathon weekend, which means a lot of activity downtown. No – we aren’t runners, but we walked 4-5 miles along the riverfront parks Saturday, enjoyed a late lunch at a unique restaurant, and played pool Saturday night. We haven’t played in a while – yep –  my wife won the first two games. My form was coming back in game 3 until I scratched on the 8-ball. Ouch! Since I won game 4, my wife decided to retire as champion for the night.

Alright – for your Monday Morning Entertainment, here’s a short look at the incredible small world. Enjoy – but more importantly, have a good week.