Tag Archives: science

On Simplicity

I just watched a YouTube video on P vs. NP and the computational complexity zoo inspired by the Complexity Zoo Wiki. Despite the title, the video ended with a couple of quotes about simplicity. The first was Attributed to Frederic Chopin:

Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.

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STEM Channels on YouTube

I have my own channel on YouTube where I have uploaded a dozen videos (all taken by me). Over the years I have also subscribed to a lot of other channels so that as of today I have 86 subscriptions. Each day when I go online, as well as checking my email and Facebook feed, I go to YouTube and look at the list of new videos on my subscribed channels. There is some really excellent content out there.

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Tara Oceans in London

I have a friend in the United States who has been involved in phytoplankton research for a while and spent a lot of time aboard ships sampling off Maine. About a week ago she recommended that I visit the sailing vessel Tara, which is currently docked in London having just completed a two and a half year, 70,000 mile voyage called Tara Oceans, investigating marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Tara at St Katherine Docks

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Supercooled Pond

This morning I had a walk round my back garden and noticed something strange about the pond. It was covered in hundreds of floating needles of ice, all roughly the same length, about 40mm. I put my hand in and fished a few out. The ice must have covered less than 1% of the surface at this point. The pond was in sunshine and although it had clearly been below freezing during the night I guess the air temperature was now approximately two degrees celsius, certainly above freezing at any rate. I assumed that the needles would soon melt and I went back in the house. I think it was about half an hour later when I went out again, and to my great surprise the pond was entirely frozen over! The ice was no more than 1mm thick but it formed a continuous layer. My only explanation is that the surface layer of water had supercooled during the night and something had caused nucleation to occur just before I first went out. I wish I had stayed and watched because presumably the needles were growing when I saw them and I could have watched the freezing process.