Saturday, December 30, 2017

Favorite Ships

Here are my favorite ships and boats - a light-hearted appreciation for spectacular craft for a variety of reasons.

Gokstad, built just right for the times. Hopefully more for cargo than raiding.

The Stag Hound was an extreme clipper, maybe not as famous as Flying Cloud but what a beautiful revolution!

The Normandie was an Art Deco inspired transport with an amazing attention to design details that made this a grand floating experience. I love the poster too!

The Jahre Viking went under different names but what a beast she was, made during a time of  the gigantism of the Boeing 747 and Sears Tower.  564,000 dwt, 1500 feet long (458 m), draft of 80 feet (24.6 m). Wow!

I always loved the "snekke". A double-ender as she should be in this North Sea environment - and appropriate for their slow speed.

This is my Malaysian fishing boat design. Beautiful in my eyes....

Friday, December 22, 2017

Colorful Words

The meeting of blue and red on the color wheel has always bothered me because it is illogical in terms of light frequencies. The relationships described by the color wheel are helpful but I don’t think people think about color enough.

The sky is blue because of Rayleigh scattering. But that is the type of physics “instruction” I hate – just give a name to a phenomenon and move on. What does that do for me? Now I have a name, I still don’t understand what is going on. Descriptive not explanatory - very unsatisfying.

Sunrises and sunsets provide beautiful colors because of the distinctive colored photons produces by the Sun. The Sun produces tons of photons at distinctive frequencies like in a rainbow.  We call them colors if they fall in the frequencies to which our eyes happen to be sensitive. White light is produced by the mixture of these colors, the Sun is not generating white light. Although from space it looks white, just like any other star, because we mentally recombine the distinctive colors.

Why does the Sun appear yellow to us? It appears this way because the shorter frequency (blue) light gets scattered more in the atmosphere than lower frequency colors. The blue is subtracted from the light produced by the Sun as it makes its way to your eyes. Because it is missing some blue – stolen to make the blue sky—the Sun appears yellow.

The physiology of our eye is such that we see a range of frequencies with a peak in the middle as the typically three types of photoreceptors have peak sensitivity above at and below the green frequency. A tiny percentage of people are tetrachromats and have four photoreceptors. There view of the world is so rich that they don’t have language to describe it. A tiny percentage of the people have various types of colorblindness and they too see the world differently than most.

The blueness of the sky changes with how much atmosphere you are looking through, that is why it is darkest straight overhead. The atmosphere is a blue filter. When painting a sky, you lay down white paint at the horizon and blue at the top of the canvas and blend them together.

Our eyes are picking out frequencies and our brain combines them so we don’t see reddish green but we do see yellow. What we see is illuminated by incoming light, from the Sun, the sky, a lamp and reflections from all sorts of surface. This makes the study of color and its portrayal in art very interesting. And humbling. Our physiology is different so we might be seeing different things. When Monet when through his “blue period”, he may have been less able to see blue and therefore intensified that hue. How do we use words to explain the colors we see? Why is the sky darker outside a rainbow than inside? What I see in my painting might not be what you see.

The color pictures from Mars Rover are a spectacular reminder that the sky is not blue on Mars. Instead, it has colors that have been described as everything from "orange-pink" to "gray-tan", as was discovered in the 1970s by the Viking landers. This is because the atmosphere of Mars is very thin and dusty, and atmospheric light scattering is dominated not by the molecules of gas (in the case of Mars, mostly carbon dioxide) but by suspended dust particles. These are larger than the wavelengths of visible light, and they are reddened by iron oxide, like Martian soil. It's not just Rayleigh scattering, so the power spectrum is different.