December 9, 2013
If there’s a front page of the internet, it’s probably Google. They manage to pack quite a lot into a spare layout. Today would have been computer science pioneer Grace Hopper’s 107th birthday, and in addition to a tribute doodle, Google is featuring a ridiculously star-packed video about An Hour of Code.
An Hour of Code is a project of Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and under-represented students of color. The state of Michigan has 13,484 open computing jobs (growing at 4.1x the state job growth average), 1,930 annual computer science graduates and just 78 schools teach computer science. You can get all the details on how you can help encourage schools to require more computer programming from code.org!
December 7, 2013
Waaaay back when I started out on the capital “I” Internet with an online publication called the Northern Michigan Journal. For over five years I edited NMJ, producing around 4 issues a year that featured some interesting work from a wide range of writers & artists.
Two of these were my friends Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff, a writer/artist duo who collaborated on several books. Their first was called It’s Raining Frogs & Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky, a fascinating romp through the oddities and beauties of the natural world through Jerry’s captivating prose and Glenn’s engaging drawings. You can click that link to learn more about the book from Jerry’s website. Trust me, it’s the perfect gift for the nature lover or scientist in your life!
There is more to the birth of a snowflake than Aristotle’s assertion that “when a cloud freezes there is snow.” Snow is not merely frozen rain. Rain occasionally freezes, falling to the ground as sleet or freezing rain, but snow originates independent of atmospheric drops of water. Individual ice crystals for high in the atmosphere when water vapor freezes around dust or other particulates. Without particles to serve as condensation nuclei, water vapor can be cooled to -40 degrees Fahrenheit before freezing occurs. A supercooled cloud of this sort seeded with a few particles often escalates into a snowstorm. The individual crystals collect additional molecules of water vapor one at a time, building on one another symmetrically in a rapidly growing, widening circle. Temperature, wind, humidity, and even barometric pressure will determine the growth and ultimate form of the crystal. Large and elaborate crystals for at higher temperatures and humidity while, while the small, basic crystals such as those common in polar regions form when temperature and humidity are very low. As the crystals fall they bump against each other, breaking off pieces of ice that in turn serve as nuclei for new crystals. As they pass through warmer layers of air they adhere to one another, congregating into snowflakes that may contain a thousand or more crystals.
Snowflakes, then, are aggregates of snow crystals. When the temperature is near or slightly above freezing, snowflakes become wet, adhere to other flakes, and grow to two or three inches in diameter. On very rare occasions, they can grow larger yet. According to a report in a 1915 issue of Monthly Weather Review, a snowfall on January 28, 1887 dropped flakes “larger than milk pans,” measuring fifteen inches in diameter by eight inches thick across several square miles near Fort Keogh, Montana.
Only when the temperature remains consistently below freezing will complete, individual crystals fall to the ground. If the temperature of the cloud they form in and the air they descend through is warmer than 27 degrees Fahrenheit, the crystals tend to be flat and hexagonal. Between 27 and 23 degrees, they tend to be needle-shaped. Between 23 and 18 they are likely to be hollow and columnar, with prismatic sides. At temperatures below 18 they can be columnar, hexagonal, or fernlike. Virtually all have six sides. That hexagonal tendency is something of a mystery, although some scientists suggest it is produced by electrical charges in the crystals, while others say it is basic to the molecular structure of water molecules. The atoms in a molecule of H20 are arranged, in physicist Hans C. von Baeyer’s graphic description, “with two little hydrogens stuck onto a big oxygen like ears on a Mickey Mouse’s head.” Scientists like von Baeyer believe that the angle at which the hydrogen molecules protrude from the oxygen atom–about 120 degrees–causes snow crystals to grow to a six-pointed symmetry that repeats the molecular structure of water.
Read on for much more including whether or not two snow crystals are alike, heavy snowfalls and snow words & myths.
December 5, 2013
The Weather Notebook has this to say about Ice Volcanoes:
Ice volcanoes can form during winter on the Great Lakes. They are not lava-spewing mountains of ice, but water-spouting ice cones.
As winter ice begins to build along the shores of large lakes such as Lake Superior, it is jostled, broken, and shifted by the winds and wave motions on the waters. When winds blow onshore, they can build an ice shelf, a jumble of ice chunks that anchors on the shore but extends some distance back into the water. Amongst the numerous ice blocks comprising a shelf, many open tunnels lead back to the lake waters.
To build a good ice volcano cone, the surface air temperature must be several degrees below freezing and lake waves should be several feet high and breaking onshore. As the waves strike the edge of the ice shelf, pulses of wave energy flow beneath the ice. Upon reaching the open end of a tunnel, the wave forces water to erupt out through the ice. If the hole has been covered with snow, the eruption may spray snow outward like a volcanic gas cloud.
As the ejected water falls back onto the ice, it quickly freezes and begins the formation of an ice cone, a process very similar to the building of a lava cone surrounding a geologic volcanic vent. A study of ice volcanoes on Lake Superior’s southern shore by students from Michigan Tech measured ice cones ranging from three to 25 feet in height.
Like rock volcanoes, ice volcano vents can heal over and become dormant during periods of low wave action. They lie in wait for a strong wave surge to awaken them back to explosive activity.
More icy goodness on Michigan in Pictures.
December 4, 2013
December 3, 2013
Every year, the Steam Train Railroading Institute in Owosso operates an annual North Pole Express that takes you to the North Pole and back. Over on Absolute Michigan, The Polar Express Comes to Michigan from Michigan History Magazine explains that author Chris Van Allsburg his well-known children’s book, The Polar Express, on train experiences he had as a boy in Grand Rapids:
The book’s popularity led to a movie released in November 2004. Michigan railroad buffs recognize the sound of the movie’s train whistle, which comes from one of the nation’s few working steam locomotives.
Built in 1941, the Pere Marquette 1225 is an enormous steam locomotive, measuring one hundred feet long and sixteen feet high. Replaced in 1951 by a more efficient diesel engine, the 1225 was saved from the scrap heap and decades later, ended up in Owosso as the star of the Steam Railroading Institute (SRI). Shortly thereafter, the 1225 was restored to its former glory.
As researchers prepared the movie version of Van Allsburg popular book, they were drawn to Owosso and the 1225. Technicians recorded the sound of the whistle, the clatter of the wheels and the rumble of the four-hundred-ton locomotive rolling down the tracks. The sounds were merged with the animated Polar Express.
December 2, 2013
If there’s a King of Flickr, it’s probably Thomas Hawk. One of his projects is to document the 100 Largest American Cities, and back in June of 2010 he visited Detroit. His massive #11 Detroit, MI slideshow is heavy on the ruin of the Motor City but I think you’ll really appreciate it!
November 30, 2013
Small Business Saturday is a campaign backed by American Express to keep your holiday dollars local. It really seems to have some traction this year (unlike most of the cars in the pic above). I hope you’re shopping with your neighbors where you can!
creed’s grandfather took this photo on Monroe Center in Downtown Grand Rapids in 1978. While I couldn’t find a photo from the same vantage, a look at his pics on Monroe Center will tell you that this is a vibrant area today. View this photo background big and see more in his Grandpa Molt’s slides slideshow!
November 29, 2013
The Pinnacle Falls entry at GoWaterfalling.com explains that:
Pinnacle Falls is located on a wild stretch of the Yellow Dog River, roughly 8 miles south west of Big Bay. The Yellow Dog has carved out an impressive gorge that must be around 200 feet deep. The falls is about 25 feet high, and is a steep cascade like many of the falls in the area. The falls is named for the large pinnacle of rock on the right side of the falls.
This was I think the most remote Michigan waterfall I have been to. The only directions we had was an article written in 2006 from some guy who found it on his mountain bike. He included the GPS way-points but when we reached it there was no falls or trail around. We went down one last two-track with the jeep after trying for a couple of hours, and finally found the trail to the falls. It was about a 25 minute hike. The Yellow Dog has carved out an impressive gorge back there. This would be a great place to pack in and pitch a a tent for a night or two. Very beautiful Waterfall. The photo doesn’t do this area justice.
That’s a pretty deep hole right below the falls, I couldn’t resist stripping down and swimming for awhile. :)
Many (many) more waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures.
November 28, 2013
I hope that everyone is gearing up for an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of you who take the time to check out and share Michigan in Pictures every day, and I am hoping to be thankful this afternoon for the Lions beating the Packers … though I suppose many of you U.P. readers would be happy with a Green Bay victory.
In any case, Happy Thanksgiving , and if you want a happy memory, here’s a great post on the 1962 Thanksgiving Day Massacre where the Lions handed the Pack their only loss of the season.
More Thanksgiving on Michigan in Pictures.