No two Christmas cards are alike

December 25, 2008 at 1:07 am | Posted in Chatting, Wheater | 1 Comment
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After a very unpolite break, I am happy to announce that “Melting the ice” is back. And I’m not goinna start posting without wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I chose this image as a Christmas card because, despite is not stylish, since I was a child I found it quite amazing how snowflakes can really look like that. I mean, this is the coolest design ever, isn’t it? And a but of scientific chatting before going to complete the daily knowledgement dose:

Ice crystals formed in the appropriate conditions can often be thin and flat. These planar crystals may be simple hexagons, or if the supersaturation is high enough, develop branches and dendritic (fern-like) features and have six approximately identical arms, as per the iconic ‘snowflake’ popularised by Wilson Bentley. The 6-fold symmetry arises from the hexagonal crystal structure of ordinary ice, the branch formation is produced by unstable growth, with deposition occurring preferentially near the tips of branches.

The shape of the snowflake is determined broadly by the temperature, and humidity at which it forms. Rarely, at a temperature of around −2 °C (28 °F), snowflakes can form in threefold symmetry — triangular snowflakes. The most common snow particles are visibly irregular, although near-perfect snowflakes may be more common in pictures because they are more visually appealing.

Planar crystals (thin and flat) grow in air between 0 °C (32 °F) and −3 °C (27 °F). Between −3 °C (27 °F) and −8 °C (18 °F), the crystals will form needles or hollow columns or prisms (long thin pencil-like shapes). From −8 °C (18 °F) to −22 °C (−8 °F) the habit goes back to plate like, often with branched or dendritic features. Note that the maximum difference in vapour pressure between liquid and ice is at approx. −15 °C (5 °F) where crystals grow most rapidly at the expense of the liquid droplets. At temperatures below −22 °C (−8 °F), the crystal habit again becomes column-like again, although many more complex habits also form such as side-planes, bullet-rosettes and also planar types depending on the conditions and ice nuclei.

Interestingly, if a crystal has started forming in a column growth regime, say at around −5 °C (23 °F), and then falls into the warmer plate-like regime, plate or dendritic crystals sprout at the end of the column producing so called ‘capped columns’.

There is a widely held belief that no two snowflakes are alike. Strictly speaking, it is extremely unlikely for any two macroscopic objects in the universe to contain an identical molecular structure; but there are, nonetheless, no known scientific laws that prevent it. In a more pragmatic sense, it’s more likely—albeit not much more—that two snowflakes are virtually identical if their environments were similar enough, either because they grew very near one another, or simply by chance.

See you soon, and thanks for waiting.

Some tiding up

October 1, 2008 at 3:32 am | Posted in Chatting, Naming | Leave a comment
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When I started this blog more than six months ago my knowledge of Arctic peoples was weak, very weak. I was starting almost from zero, so the firsts posts where uncertain and maybe a bit vague, not to mention I categorized and tagged them intuitively, without a previous planning. This lead to a bit of chaos in the categories system, which I have just tried to partially solve. I have been reorganizing the categories for the location of the information.

There were two evident problems:

1) A mixed system was used, with some categories (Innu, Na-Dene), referring to tribes or ethnicities and another ones (Scandinavia, Alaska) referring to geographical places.
2) The categories for the places where not well-established, coexisting denominations such as Russia/Siberia, or Scandinavia/Sápmi which refer to similar places.

So some decisions where made, and now the new categories to locate the entries are the following:

Alaska, Canada, Greenland Scandinavia, Siberia, Japan

Of course, this system has problems. In some cases it existed a decision to be made between the native name (Sápmi instead of Scandinavia for the Saamis, or Kalaallit Nunaat for Greenland) and the general or English one. Though n those cases my personal preference and tendency is to use the native name, I finally opted for the general name in order to keep the blog usable and accessible to more people.

My decision for avoiding the tribe or ethnicities name is because for me it is very difficult to create a closed list right now. Furthermore, the number of categories would be too high, making more difficult the navigation through the blog. The name of the tribes has been used when tagging, so it should not by difficult to find it anyway.

Of course good-intentioned criticism is always welcomed, as the list is like a trial for next months.

Photo by curiousyellow under Creative Commons

Snowballs, dominos and butterflies

March 8, 2008 at 12:28 am | Posted in Chatting | Leave a comment
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When I started bugging everybody about my Nordic plans and ideas -that was like half a year ago- I had no idea that that would became a kind of prompt for attracting Nordic things to me, as an magnet. One day, I was in a cafe with a friend chatting about my recent trip to Iceland, and the woman next to us resulted to be an Icelandic. Taking into account that I live in Barcelona (that’s one million and a half of people), that they are three hundred thousand people, and that the distance between the to places is almost 3,000 quilometers, that was a coincidence. Then my friend explained to me the:

Law of Attraction: has been used by many esoteric writers, although the actual definition varies greatly. Most authors associate the Law of Attraction with the saying, “like attracts like”, usually as applied to the mental life of human beings: that a person’s thoughts (conscious and unconscious), emotions, beliefs and actions attract corresponding positive or negative experiences. This process has been described as “harmonious vibrations of the law of attraction”, or “you get what you think about; your thoughts determine your experience. [Wikipedia]

That was a pretty funny theory, but it sticked on me. Some months ago, I started receiving “Nordic information” from friends. Everytime they found something both closely or distantly related with my interest (that could be a pic of a reindeer or a map of the Inuit dialects), they say it or emailed me about it. Then a workmate told me about the:

Snowball effect: is a figurative term for a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger (graver, more serious), and perhaps potentially dangerous or disastrous (a vicious circle, a “spiral of decline”), though it might be beneficial instead (a virtuous circle). [Wikipedia]

Searching the Wikipedia, I’ve founded some more interesting effects.

Domino effect: occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence, by analogy to a falling row of dominoes standing on end. The domino effect also relates to a chain of events.

Butterfly effect: is a phrase which encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory. Small variations of the initial condition of a nonlinear dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. So this is sometimes presented as esoteric behavior, but can be exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position.

I don’t know which one causes what, but the fact is that something is working. Snowballs, dominos, butterflies whatsoever, it works.

Electric ideas

March 6, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Chatting | Leave a comment
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It was Thursday the 12th of February at 11AM and the buses where on strike. As an absent-minded person, I didn’t know it, so I wait for my bus more than 20 minutes reading a magazine near the bus stop, until the two chatting ladies that waited besides me made me understand what was happening. But such a long wait, surprisingly, wasn’t unproductive. Seconds later, walking along Balmes street, something awoke my brain, and an electric current ran down my spine; an idea. An special idea, a very special one. The kind of idea that only occurs once or twice a year, if you’re lucky.

With an idea like that my head was about to explode, so after bugging my workmate i quickly opened Twitter and started explaining it. After a bit of surprise and some kidding, somebody came with the idea of writing a blog about it.

Usually the ideas don’t have date and time, at least mines. And this one, that has almost no concrete shape, has it, and that makes it even more special. Right now is just a sort of sum:

But this is a pretty trashy travel planning. There’s missing information everywhere: which communities? which languages do they speak? where do they live? which culture do they have? how they survive in a world that doesn’t understand them? what would they like to say to us, if they’re given the chance? what could they teach to us? I don’t know how to answer all those questions; organizing the trip, traveling. But this blog will be the place where I’ll collect, organize everything. And, above all sharing it, if you want it.

Hello world!

February 18, 2008 at 11:16 pm | Posted in Chatting | 1 Comment

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