BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘science’

#365daysofbiking Defying gravity

Sunday January 31st 2021 – Some trees have a property, and it’s mostly, but not exclusively oak trees – that they do not drop their leaves when they die off in autumn.

Instead, the tree keeps the dead leaf attached, shedding it the following spring.

The behaviour is called ‘Marcescence’ and scientists don’t really know why it occurs. It may be to protect leaf buds from browsing animals like deer, or to faster recover nutrients from the dead leaves by absorbing them back into the tree directly, rather than through the soil.

Whatever the reason, it’s very curious.

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#365daysofbiking A shot in the arm

Tuesday January 12th 2021 – If we’re ever to escape the awful pandemic sweeping through the world, we need mass inoculation and fast – and for once, it’s good to see the UK government responding faster than the rest of the world.

The Oak Park Active Living Centre in Walsall Wood – what used to be termed a leisure centre – is open again in lockdown, but not for swimming or gym activities. It’s open for business as a mass vaccination centre.

When I passed in the evening all was quiet, but it had already been in use for some days, with the elderly and vulnerable arriving by appointment for a swift and courteous vaccination.

I’m not daft enough to think this will bring back normality quickly, but it’s certainly the beginning of the fight back and I salute it. I too will be there when called with my boots blacked.

My thanks to all working on this program, a true demonstration of the power of science.

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#365daysofbiking Approaching equity

March 14th – One of the nice but pointlessly geeky things about riding with a GPS bike computer is the ability to see sunrise and sunset times change every day.

That’s not so great when nights are closing in, but when they’re opening out, it’s lovely to watch; and one of the things that always makes me happy is the spring equinox.

The science of the equinox/equilux is basically beyond me but the equinox is when the length of day is equal to the length of night, and the difference between sunset and sunrise is 12 hours. I always find it intriguing that thins’t smack bang at 6pm and 6pm, which would be neat, but usually around 6:15.

Every year this gets me, and every year I’m as delighted and inspired by it.

Find out more about the science of the equinox here.

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#365daysofbiking The world spins

March 18th – I keep banging on about equinoxes, and like the idiot I surely am, I thought I knew about them. It turns out like many things I think I understand, there’s so much more to it than I knew.

Today, the length of the daylight was near as damn it 12 hours: the sunrise was 6:16am and sunset a 6:15pm. Tomorrow, the daylight will be longer than night.

But this is not the equinox (when the sun crosses the equator). This is the equilux – equal light. Although, it’s not really equal at all: A number of factors including how we might use the three definitions of twilight complicate this.

I looked it up tonight and was fascinated. The equinox actually happens on March 20th this year – that’s Wednesday.

You can find out all the gory detail of how this stuff works at this excellent blog post here – the comments are worth a read too if you have time to spare.

You learn something new every day.

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#365daysofbiking Unshed

February 4th – I’ve always been puzzled why it might be that some deciduous trees don’t shed their dead leaves in autumn; the summer growth dies and goes brown, but doesn’t drop.

Someone asked the same question on social media over the weekend, so I thought I’d look into it.

The characteristic is called marcescence, and is exhibited mainly by oak, beech and hornbeam in the UK. It’s not clear what the evolutionary purpose of this curious feature is; it could be to shelter leaf buds from browsing animals like deer, and indeed, some oaks are only marcescent on lower boughs. Another theory says that the leaves attached to the beaches have their goodness absorbed back into the tree over winter, which is more efficient than them dropping and relying on conversion from leaf litter.

So I’m not really much wiser, but at least it has a name – and this marcescant oak was showing it’s dead leaves well beside the cycleway in Telford as I passed this morning, making me smile.

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June 16th – By the old mill on the canal in Pleck, there’s a narrowboat undergoing renovation. I noticed today that you could clearly see the anodes, the silver ingots of (usually magnesium or zinc) fixed to the hull, under what would be the waterline.

The idea is pure science: the ingots form an electrical pairing with the hull and metalwork of the boat, and as a consequence, are depleted in preference to it – thus preventing corrosion on the boat itself.

The ingots are called ‘sacrificial anodes’ and are common on boats, pipework and other water-exposed metal items: galvanising is a good example of this science in action. Different metals are used in different environments.

You can read more here.

Real science – it works, folks…

November 28th – Oh my, this is a geeky thing. I spotted on the pavement near the Warwick Road near Sparkbrook. It’s a small, orange box with a radio antenna, and some kind of display. From it, there’s a signal cable popped through the access cover of a fire hydrant. There was nobody in sight and it just sat there, protected by a road cone.

This is actually part of a very clever water leak detection system made by SebaKMT, a measurement technology company. This rechargeable device is one of two recorders placed near a suspected water leak. An audio sensor is attached to the pipe beneath the cover from each recorder, and both units ‘listen’ to the noise made by the escaping water transmitted up the pipework.

The data from each is broadcast wirelessly to a third device, held by a technician, and that calculates the exact distance of the leak down the pipe from the sensors, by time lag in the audio signals recorded.

By taking several measurements, it can pinpoint within centimeters the place where engineers should dig to fix a leak that may not e evident on the surface. Such devices can save a huge amount of time and money to utility companies.