Apr 03 Reblogged
Singing Sand Dunes
But there is a marvellous thing related of this Desert, which is that when travellers are on the move by night, and one of them chances to lag behind or to fall asleep or the like, when he tries to gain his company again he will hear spirits talking, and will suppose them to be his comrades. Sometimes the spirits will call him by name; and thus shall a traveller ofttimes be led astray so that he never finds his party. And in this way many have perished. [Sometimes the stray travellers will hear as it were the tramp and hum of a great cavalcade of people away from the real line of road, and taking this to be their own company they will follow the sound; and when day breaks they find that a cheat has been put on them and that they are in an ill plight. Even in the day-time one hears those spirits talking. And sometimes you shall hear the sound of a variety of musical instruments, and still more commonly the sound of drums.
Travellers in the desert have long known that shifting sand can make an eerie noise, ranging from a bass boom to a baritone bark and a soprano whistle. The sound occurs when the ridge of a sand dune builds up and eventually topples. This shear effect causes a mini-avalanche of sand in which millions of grains rub against each other as they fall. But different materials and different conditions make different songs.
Lab experiments show that synchronicity plays a vital role. Put simply, enough grains have to be flowing at the same rate in order to create and amplify the oscillation. In turn, the factors behind synchronicity are wind speed, humidity, the size of the sand grain and the smoothness of its coating, too.
Much of the scientific fascination surrounding booming dunes stems from the fact that their properties are so hard to pin down. Booming doesn’t occur on all desert dunes. And on those that do boom, the phenomenon doesn’t occur throughout the entire year or everywhere across the dune. The frequency can vary too – from roughly 65 to 120 Hertz – while the volume can reach 110 decibels — just 20 dB short of the pain threshold.
The sound is not related to the type of dune or its location. And while it’s mostly at a pitch akin to the drone of a low-flying aeroplane, its timbre ranges from a rough brass-like clamour of Oman’s dunes, on the Arabian Peninsula, to the pure vocal sound of Morocco’s. Scientists agree that the noise only arises from a dune’s upper slip face (the leeward side), never from the shallow, windward face. What’s more, booming only happens when conditions are hot and dry and when the sand grains are clean, round and polished.
Despite these clues, the most fundamental question remains: what does make the dunes sing?
Sources: [x] [x] [x]
Audio: Physicist Simon Dagois-Bohy and his fellow researchers at Paris Diderot University in France recorded two different dunes: one near Al-Askharah, a coastal town in southeastern Oman, and one near Tarfaya, a port town in southwestern Morocco..
Feb 25 Reblogged
Oct 23 Reblogged
Nov 27 Reblogged
This time lapse of the French countryside is just beautiful. But you know what is more beautiful? The fact that they were taken with a DIY motion control rig based on LEGO Mindstorm brick. Yes, LEGO.
The breathtaking Fingal’s Cave in Scotland gives you impression that someone has built it. The perfect hexagonally jointed basalt columns were formed during many years when the hot lava was cracked into perfect hexagonal patterns in a similar way to drying mud cracking as it shrinks, and these cracks gradually extended down into the mass of lava as it cooled and shrank to form the columns, which were subsequently exposed by erosion. There are similar phenomenon in Northern Ireland and Ulva in Scotland.
The reality of airborne environments, suspended loftily above, amid clouds, has always inhabited our dreams but always exceeded the scope of present technologies, until the twentieth century. Then, several theoretical propositions and experiments were devised, which either failed to get off the ground or came crashing back to it in a ball of fire. But the prospect of taking up residence in the skies may now not only be possible (which it is), but a legitimate ambition, as architect and designer Tiago Barros suggests in his project Passing Cloud, a floating assemblage of zeppelin-like spheres on which passengers stroll for the duration of their travel.
Visually, the project is reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s “Cloud Nine” project, a theoretical proposal for an airborne habitat whereby several thousand people would be contained housed within the space of mile-wide floating spheres. Polyethelyne would cover a geodesic dome structure, which strengthens as it grows in scale. Fuller asserted that the possibility of these floating cities was contingent on their “recycling and maintaining weight,” by which he meant that the weight of the structure–and everything in it, including buildings–would be negligible compared to the air it enclosed. When this displaced air were heated by only degree higher than the outside air, the structure would rise up into the sky, like a giant hot air balloon.
Jul 07 Reblogged
May 10 Reblogged
While I have my doubts that Proust would have been enthusiastic about social media (it would take at least 80,000 Tweets to narrate In Search of Lost Time), I do think he would understand why I lately have been “reading Google Earth” before I fall asleep each night. Google Earth for the iPad is an opiate for the geo-curious. Some nights I spend in Yemen, others in Siberia. I spent one night re-tracing a day-long walk I took over ten years ago along the southern coastline of Easter Island – from Hanga Roa to Orongo to Ahu Vinapu and then cutting back through the barren hills that overlook the island’s airport and its weekly departures to Chile and Polynesia. I return to Caracas and Sao Paulo and spend hours exploring all the neighborhoods that I am forever told to never enter
Feb 07 Reblogged
I was filled with joy and imagination while watching this. Two guys build a balloon that takes a small HD camera INTO SPACE.
I’m always amazed at what young people can do… particularly guys in their early 20s. Sometimes “worthless punks” can create incredible things.
*bonus: Popcorn and the middle section sounds like something from a James Horner soundtrack <3