BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘science’

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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.