Lenticular Clouds

Weather Watchers from Argyll and Bute in Scotland captured some stunning photos of lenticular clouds, otherwise known as UFO clouds.

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These clouds are rare and also unusual, because they appear stationary even when it’s windy. They get their name from the Latin word lenticularis, meaning “lens-shaped” and are often mistaken for UFOs. They are formed near mountains when the air is both stable and humid. As air is blown over the mountain, it produces a standing-wave pattern and these clouds form in the crest of the waves.

 

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Here are your artistic results of the easterly wind that blew over parts of Scotland.

Irish Sun

The 17th-century Beaulieu House in Co Louth is one of the first country houses built in Ireland without fortification. Now it’s the site of Ireland’s first solar farm. The estate’s first owner was the Plunkett family and in 1666 Sir Henry Tichborne was granted a patent by Charles II.

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The present house was designed by Dutch artist Willem van der Hagen, who settled in Ireland in the 1720s.

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K. O’Sullivan reports in The Irish Times that the present owner is installing 20,000 solar panels, a five-megawatt, fixed-array solar farm spread across 23 acres that can generate enough electricity to power 1,500 homes a year.

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Photovoltaic cells are becoming more efficient in such applications.

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Mass or Weight?

Mass, by J. Baggott, was published in June 2017 by Oxford University Press.

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The Ancient Greeks visualised geometric atoms and now we have quantum physics.

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This book tells the history, from atomist Leucippus, through Newton to Einstein.

But the fundamental structure of physical reality remains difficult to follow. The book shows how this stuff of the universe is proving more elusive and uncertain than we ever imagined, whether we will ever reconcile the inner structures of the weight and mass of atoms.

 

8 Minutes

Alexander Whitley is the choreographer of 8 Minutes on the main stage of Sadler’s Wells, London during the summer.

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It is done in collaboration with solar scientists from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the title refers to the length of time it takes for the sun’s light to reach the Earth.

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Whitley has incorporated quotes about astrophysics into the soundtrack, and has managed to create something that feels concrete and ungraspable at the same time, much like the universe.

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London’s Evening Standard praises the way 8 Minutes merges dance, visuals and music as equal partners. Daniel Wohl’s score pulsates with solar energy while Tal Rosner’s hypnotic digital projections feature lava-like waves, inky black views from space and a sizzling red sun.

By Jupiter

Some early findings from NASA’s Juno mission are published today in Science magazine (papers by SJ Bolton et al and JEP Connerney et al). They present some of the pictures from the orbiter that arrived at Jupiter last July. The familiar stripes appear to be hot bands seen through layers of cloud:

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The top and bottom of Jupiter are pockmarked with a chaotic mélange of swirls that are immense storms hundreds of miles across.

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The planet’s interior core appears bigger than expected, and swirling electric currents are generating surprisingly strong magnetic fields.

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Auroral lights shining in Jupiter’s polar regions seem to operate in a reverse way to those on Earth. There appears not to be an entirely solid or gaseous core to the planet. One clue to what is at the core is a belt of ammonia that may be rising around the planet’s equator.

What they report is nothing like Jupiter Ascending, the 2015 film, written, produced and directed, by The Wachowskis.

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By Jupiter was a Rogers and Hart musical production in New York during 1942. Such human creativity is not a patch on what NASA is finding.

Clouds Over Islands

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What really happens in this picture is this: land heats up faster than water. When the sun comes out, the land heats quickly, forming an area of low pressure directly on the island. This results in an area of higher pressure offshore.

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Since air moves from high to low pressure, the marine moisture as well as moisture from the island gets drawn into the low pressure over the island. Low pressure creates upward vertical movement, causing the warm moist air to rise, cool and condense into a cloud directly over each island.

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Rorschach Tests

Nearly a century after Hermann Rorschach invented his ink blot test, a controversial assessment that he used in psychiatric clinics. Patients gave many different interpretations of the shapes and figures in Rorschach’s blots.

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Now, in the journal Plos One, R. Taylor et al at the University of Oregon, claim to have an answer. They analysed ten Rorschach ink blots and found that the five black and white patterns varied in their fractal complexity. The less complex the fractals in the blots, the more images people tended to see.

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Rorschach’s Blot Seven is shown at the top (a). Note the tell-tale fractal signatures of irregular curves or shapes at the edges of the symmetrical image. Some people see a woman’s head with a ponytail. Below (b) the inkblot has been altered with the fractal borders removed. The ability to see hidden patterns is reduced.

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Fractals are patterns that repeat themselves over different size scales. The most familiar ones appear in nature, in the branching of trees, the edges of clouds, and the contours of coastlines. When the ratio of fine to coarse details is high, scientists say the image has a high fractal complexity.

“Your eyes are amazing pattern detectors, but why are they getting fooled? It’s almost as if they are getting trigger happy, seeing things that aren’t there,” Taylor told The Guardian. His work on fractals began with studies of Jackson Pollock’s spectacular drip paintings