Category Archives: Wednesday Wow

Guitar Wow

There are, firstly, the unique sort of jaw-droppers I usually have in mind for Wednesday Wow. Secondly, there are the little, almost hidden, daily wonders with so much behind them. But it occurred to me there is yet another category, one that is both daily and also jaw-dropping.

It has to do with the human mind and the kind of art it can create. It also has to do with how we respond to that art. What is it that an artist puts into their best work, and what is it that we take from it? Whatever it is, profound or mundane, it can touch us deeply.

As with the greatest guitar solo, ever:

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Small Wonders

Two things that get me out of bed every day and keep me going through a world I often find brutish, mean, and stupid, are my sense of curiosity and my sense of wonder. It’s another Yin-Yang thing: the Yin of the world’s crap balanced by the Yang of so many neat things to discover and explore.

Those neat things exist on all scales, from the vast to the tiny. (The crap, on the other hand, tends to come in human-sized, in fact in human-shaped, packages.) From quarks to galaxies, the universe is an interesting place.

For today’s Wednesday Wow, I bring you some smaller wonders…

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Reflections in a Mirror

I’m feeling lazy today and not at all like working on a post. But since I’m shooting for 899 by year’s end, and have 16 15 to go, I’m returning to an idea I had long ago but never really pursued. The idea, called Wednesday Wow, is writing posts (on Wednesdays, obviously) about things that really wowed me.

The truth is, lots of things do. For all my cynicism and misanthropy, life and people still fascinate and enthrall me. The various mysteries of physics and consciousness are engaging on their own, but life — for all its ups and downs — is one hell of a ride. (And, of course, I’ve been both blessed and lucky.)

Anyway, here are some wow things and a nice Christmas tune…

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Fourier Curves

Fourier Curve 1

Don’t let the title put you off — this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. It’s because of math, but there’s no need to get all mathy to enjoy this, you just need to think about clocks. Or even wheels that spin ’round and ’round.

The fun thing is what happens when we connect one wheel to another in a chain of wheels of different sizes and turn rates. If we use the last wheel to trace out a pattern, we get something that resembles the Spirograph toy of old (which worked on a similar principle of turning wheels).

And if we pick the wheel sizes and spin rates just right, we can draw just about any picture we want.

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2018: Hawaii Gets Bigger!

The Goddess Pele, by Arthur Johnsen

The Goddess Pele
by Arthur Johnsen

The previous year was an interesting one for me. Last July marked five years of retirement, which has been great, but part of me misses the high information content and challenges work threw at me daily. I’ve tried to keep busy with my own pursuits, one of which was a temporary obsession with the Kīlauea volcano on the Big Island, Hawai‘i.

I wrote about this back in August, just after the (unprecedented) activity subsided. At the time, no one knew if the volcano was just taking a breath, or if the lava flow was really over. At this point we know it was over; there has been no activity since.

For two-and-a-half months, though, it was an impressive display of the undeniable power of Mother Earth and, in particular, her fiery daughter Pele.

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Kilauea, Hawaii, USA: Wow!

Infamous Fissure #8!

I’ve been semi-obsessed the last few weeks by the Kīlauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Back in early May there was a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in the volcanic system, and then things got interesting (in the curse sense). By late May a fissure in the east rift zone was emitting lava at a rate (100 cubic meters per second) not recorded in our history of recording things like that.

All that lava came from a reservoir — the magma chamber — in the volcano, so Kīlauea began experiencing “collapse events” as the summit subsided into the space left by the departed magma. These collapse events resulted in magnitude 5.3 (or so) earthquakes roughly every 32 hours (plus or minus a lot).

And a bunch of us interested parties were online chatting, watching, and waiting for the next collapse event!

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180 Years of Venn

John VennIn my family, we were rather casual about birthdays and other event days. It wasn’t  unusual to celebrate a birthday, not on the exact day, but on a nearby day. We were fairly poor, so birthdays mostly consisted of a cake and a token present of some sort. (Put it this way: I can’t recall a single birthday present I ever got. We just weren’t that into birthdays.)

But I don’t recall ever not celebrating Christmas or Easter on the day. That may be as much due to my father being a pastor and having to do his thing at church on those days. The religious upbringing — and the strong streak of anti-materialism that went with it — likely accounts for downplaying birthdays and other gift-giving occasions.

Which is all to say that I missed posting on John Venn‘s birthday!

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Wednesday Wow!

A very simple Wednesday Wow for today: a glorious picture of the Space Shuttle’s last flight as it flies low over Los Angeles on its way to land at LAX.

As a life-long fan of space and space-flight, and as a long-time former resident of Los Angeles, this both wonderful and poignant. It’s sad that the shuttles will fly no more and even sadder that we’ve bowed out to the space program as much as we have.

As least we’re still exploring Mars.

And the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn was wonderful.

And the New Horizons is halfway to (former planet) Pluto.

But the space shuttle has made its last flight.

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Wednesday Wow!

Time to lighten the mood!

This edition of Wednesday Wow features a Japanese island that looks like the perfect setting for retirement or for the secret base of a James Bond villain! It also features a nifty way to grow food and art at the same time.

After we visit Japan, we’ll zip out to Saturn for one of my very favorite space photos. It’s one of my more frequent desktop wallpapers. Then, back on Earth, we’ll zoom in close for a microscopic look at a couple of common items and finally end on the real star of today’s Wowishnessosity: a piece of video that’s a ton of fun.

Ready? Let’s go!

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Wednesday Wow!

Welcome to Wednesday Wow, an irregular series appearing from time to time when I want to write about something that made me say, “Wow!” Or which made me say, “Weird!” Or, “Wonderful!” Or possibly even, “Wild!!”

There may also be posts about Widgets, Whirligigs, Wiccans, Waffles, Wallpaper, Whimsy, Wisdom, Wit, Weather, Wind, Winter, Wushu, Wackos, Whatnots, Wherefores or Whatever.

But not about Women, Wenches or Wahines; they’re too special to be limited to a day, even though they often make me say, “Wow! Wonderful!”

Nor will it be about Work, War or Woodlands. Also, no Whining, Whipping, Whispers, Whistling, Windows, Wine or Whiskey. And I’ll try to not be Wanton, Wonky, Whistful or Worrisome. I can’t guarantee I won’t wander into being a Wry Wiseass. And I hope my Words won’t be Wrong, Wasted or a Wreck.

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