Miracle. All of it.

duck-cold-winter

A small child next to us looked down at her snow-covered boots, then pointed to a duck that stood on the ice on the bank and asked her mother an extremely good question: “Why don’t his feet get cold?”…

It’s this: The bigger the temperature difference between two objects when they touch, the faster heat will flow from one to the other. Another way of putting that is to say that the more similar the temperatures of the two objects are, the more slowly heat will flow from one to the other. And that’s what really helps the ducks. As all that frantic paddling was going on, warm blood was flowing down the arteries of each duck’s legs. But those arteries were right next to the veins carrying blood back from the feet. The blood in the veins was cool. So the molecules in the warm blood jostled the blood vessel walls, which then jostled the cooler blood. The warm blood going to the feet got a bit cooler, and the blood going back into the body was warmed up a bit. Slightly farther down the duck’s leg, the arteries and the veins are both cooler overall, but the arteries are still warmer. So heat flows across from the arteries to the veins. All the way down the duck’s legs, heat that came from the duck’s body is being transferred to the blood that’s going back the other way, without going near the duck’s feet. But the blood itself goes all the way around. By the time the duck’s blood reaches its webbed feet, it’s pretty much the same temperature as the water. Because its feet aren’t much hotter than the water, they lose very little heat. And then as the blood travels back up toward the middle of the duck, it gets heated up by the blood coming down. This is called a countercurrent heat exchanger, and it’s a fantastically ingenious way of avoiding heat loss. If the duck can make sure that the heat doesn’t get to its feet, it has almost eliminated the possibility of losing energy that way.

So ducks can happily stand on the ice precisely because their feet are cold. And they don’t care.

~ Helen Czerski, from “Why Ducks Don’t Get Cold Feet” in  Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life

 


Notes:

  • Image Credit: wsj.com – Agence France Presse / Getty Images
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Miracle. All of it.

comet-45p-honda-mrkos-pajdusakova

Comet 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková was first discovered 13 orbits ago in 1948 and has returned to the inner Solar System. It is physically ancient. It spends most of its time near the orbit of Jupiter and last neared the Sun in 2011. Over the past few months, Comet 45P’s new sunward plummet has brightened it considerably. The comet is currently visible with binoculars over the western horizon just after sunset, not far from the much brighter planet Venus. Comet 45P was captured last week sporting a long ion tailwith impressive structure. It will pass relatively close to the Earth early next month.”


Notes:

Miracle? All of it.

HongBo-Drawing

Fashionable descriptions of the inevitable triumph of machine intelligence (over man) contain many critical biases and assumptions that could derail them from turning into reality. […]

Our brains use energy at a rate of about 20 watts. If you wanted to upload yourself intact into a machine using current computing technology, you’d need a power supply roughly the same as that generated by the Three Gorges Dam hydroelectric plant in China, the biggest in the world. To take our species, all 7.3 billion living minds, to machine form would require an energy flow of at least 140,000 petawatts. That’s about 800 times the total solar power hitting the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Clearly human transcendence might be a way off.

~ Caleb Scharf, Where Do Minds Belong

Find more at Steve Layman’s Blog: A Power Shortage. (Thank you Steve)

Notes:

  • Related Posts: Miracle? All of it.
  • Drawing: HongBo 洪波 (Chinese, Shanghai, China) – Untitled, 2011 – Drawings: Pastels. Source: Thank you Your Eyes Blaze Out
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Miracle? All of it.

universe-sky-blue-tree

NY Times Letter to the Editor:

The Chirp Heard Across the Universe” (editorial, Feb. 16), about the recent discovery of the gravitational waves that were predicted by Einstein a century ago, asks, “Does science, or knowledge, really need a justification?”

The answer, of course, is no. But in a culture that has become saturated with the idea that only commercial value matters, we’ve become afraid of expressing an impulse as natural and basic as this.

Much like literature, music, philosophy and art, enjoyment of the natural sciences — and of nature itself — has intrinsic value. No further justification is required. Curiosity, wonder and beauty are enough.

~ Mark Bessoudo, Toronto


Notes:

  • Related Posts: Miracle? All of it.
  • Photo: Aberrant Beauty
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Mondays, Miracles & Musings

Boy-That-Escalated-Quickly-Anchorman

You wake up and body parts are functioning.
Turn the key in the ignition and all systems are go.
Until they don’t.
Two eyes on Sunday.
1.5 on Monday.
Painfully nagging recurring eye disorder. Detailed here.
Blurred vision. Tear ducts flowing.
Nasal passages oozing goop.
Nausea rolling tummy.
Hip bone connected to the thigh bone.
Thigh bone connected to every bloody thing.

And as for Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones’s Diary and for me:

Once get on tack of thinking about aging there is no escape. Life suddenly seems like a holiday where, halfway through, everything starts accelerating to the end.

“Boy, that accelerated quickly.”

Which led me to thinking about Einstein and miracles.
I’m driving from the office to the Ophthalmologist.
And those of you scolding me about driving with impaired vision, one of my working eyes is better than most of the maniacs with two working eyes on the road today. So relax… [Read more…]

5:29am and Inspired…

We’re kicking off Hump Day with John Mayer & “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room.”    And then on to inspirational posts by my favorite bloggers.

[Read more…]

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