Thursday, December 1, 2011

Surface Layer and Air-Sea Interaction Processes

This is about the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere and my master's degree. 

When the interview committee asked me about the possible topic of my thesis, I told them that I'm interested in the dynamics of the near surface layer of the ocean, in this case, the Caribbean Sea.

Within this topic, there are 5 subtopics I proposed to explore during my stay at the university:

1. Intensive mixing produced by wind and waves
2. Intensive mixing produced by heat transfer (convection)
3. Mild mixing due to wind-driven helix circulation (Langmuir Circulation)
4. Mixing due to intensive solar radiation absorption in calm weather
5. Changes in heat content, salinity and density due to freshening induced by rain over the ocean. 

These 5 items correspond to the Fedorov-Ginzburg Classification of Mixing Processes, which has been used worldwide since 1988. Hopefully in the future, I will propose to the scientific community the study of a mixing process not considered before, who knows. But the latter is a theoretical approach more suitable for a Doctoral Dissertation rather than for a master's thesis. For now, I must focus on learning what has been done and how it has been done. 

Current scholarly readings:

Right now I'm doing some review of the literature related to the topic I proposed, namely more on Fedorov and Ginzburg, and what other people have done after them. I'm skimming the following books:
·         The near-surface layer of the ocean By Konstantin Nikolaevich Fedorov, A. I. Ginzburg
·         The near-surface layer of the ocean: structure, dynamics and applications by Alexander Soloviev, Roger Lukas
·         An introduction to Ocean Turbulence by S. A. Thorpe.
·         Environmental Fluid Mechanics by Hillel Rubin, Joseph F. Atkinson.

Quotes from Baudelaire's "The Painter of Modern Life"

In Charles Baudelaire, a flâneur is a man who walks the city in order to experience it. Because of the term's usage and theorization by Baudelaire and numerous thinkers in economic, cultural, literary and historical fields, the idea of a flâneur has accumulated significant meaning as a referent for understanding the urban phenomena and modernity.

It is perhaps in his 1964 book The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays that the flâneur comes to life, and is understood as someone who experiences the city while being incognito. In other words, this passionate observer is at the very center of the world, and is yet unseen of the world.

Some quotations:

On the passionate idler:
For the perfect idler, for the passionate observer, it becomes an immense source of enjoyment to establish his dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle, the fleeting and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel at home anywhere; to see the world, to be at the very center of the world, and yet to be unseen of the world. Such are some of the minor pleasures of those independent, intense and impartial spirits, who do not lend themselves easily to linguistic definitions. 
On childhood recaptured at will:
But genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man's physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed.
On the cup of oblivion:
But the evening comes. The witching hour, the uncertain light, when the sky draws its curtains and the city lights go on. The gaslight stands out on the purple background of the setting sun. Honest men or crooked customers, wise of irresponsible, all are saying to themselves: 'The day is gone at last!". Good men and bad turn their thoughts to pleasure, and each hurries to his favorite haunt to drink the cup of oblivion. 



Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Philosophical Morning

Today I had a Philosophical morning.

With a cup of coffee on my left hand and the keys on the other, I silently walked out of the green and yellow building where I live, with a desire to retreat before giving a two hour lecture on linear algebra. At that time, the Sunday morning still had most of my neighbors caught in undisturbed reveries, except from a middle aged man that was cheerfully jogging along with his puppy, who seemed equally inspirited for motion. Albeit I had noticed his presence in the beginning, I did not keep up the sight so as to exchange glances, which would have preceded a courteous, however cold salutation.

I deliberately let him walk in front, as I slowly made my way to the end of the street to witness once again the transformation of a place that used to be a beach with gray sands and marine debris, into a landscape that Godfrey Reggio himself would have captured for a movie like Koyaanisqatsi. The vast and infertile monochromatic landscape was only discontinued by the presence of bright orange, robust and metallic caterpillars in rest position, but that would keep delving the soil the next day at a time no later than the sunrise. The sky, however, was rather clear and poorly populated by puffy clouds at the distant horizon; a picture that Baudelaire would have not been fond of, but that would have awakened the muse of painting to inspire Piero Della Francesca.

I sipped again my cup of decaf which was almost empty, while I graciously acknowledged how lucky I was to be alone in front of the thought provoking scenery. My feet were hanging from a small cliff, and my position in front of the void was similar to that of fishing. Then I thought to myself: here I am, in words of Deresiewicz and Thoreau, fishing in the Walden pond of my own nature, baiting hooks with darkness. Contrary to common intuition, there were no trout or bass bites (or their metaphorical counterparts for that matter) in this fanciful recreation. I would say it was rather the idle receptiveness to the world the actual scene produced in my head that betrayed the impulse of providing peace and tranquility. The latter did not last much, as a loafer suddenly parked her bike close to me, probably to quench her whim for contemplation, or to take a quick look to the latest works in the neighborhood regarding coastal geotechnics.

Perhaps I should not have blamed the slight interruption of her bike brakes for pinching the bubble of my temporary absent mindedness, as a snowball of petty concerns was only seconds away from jostling me with extraordinary vim. The reason for this intermission is something I have yet to fish, but I am prone to believe it is due to a learned awareness of the world, where the sensitive attention is demanded at all times, in other words, an idea of control. At this time there was no coffee left, and I decided that it was about time to head back to the normal course of the day. Quickly, I found myself putting my feet back to the ground, and turning around facing the street where I had come from. I realized that only a few minutes had really passed, and that it was about time to walk to the house where I was going to give the lecture on the fundamentals of vector analysis. Apparently, the tight agenda of four Business Management students and their understandable aversion to geometry, were the factors that exhorted them to hire this engineer who never thought of doing this      kind of work, after being on an oceanographic expedition in the Artic Circle.    

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On recommended readings

I strongly recommend the following readings:

  • The art of travel by Alain de Botton: An awesome book on introspection while traveling. De Botton creates trips where the tour guides are thinkers or writers such as Baudelaire (one of my all time favorites), Flaubert, Van Gogh and Ruskin.
  • The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing by Richard Dawkins: This is a collection of good writing by professional scientists, not excursions into science by professional writers. Contains very small, nontechnical articles.
  • The disadvantages of an Elite Education by William Deresiewicz. "Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers" This is a highly recommended reading.
  • Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science
    by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. He starts with Heisenberg's definition of beauty as “the proper conformity of the parts to one another and the whole”, and then ponders about the value this concept of beauty has in science. (Simplex sigillum veri. Pulchritudo splendor veritatis)
  • Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar – Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. My rating for this book 5/5. I love reading it and writing important ideas on my moleskine.
I have gotten all the items from the list online for free: Google with patience ( being a good site)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flying over hurricanes

Hurricane Irene is about to reach the Bahamas. This is a satellite picture (current as of AUG 23rd 09:39pm ET)

I was curious about current passenger airplane pathlines across this hurricane. I wanted to see if there was a significant deviation from a regular (loxodromic) path. Turns out that there isn't, as this picture shows for the flight from American Airlines (Boeing 737-800 AAL 1555), scheduled from Miami Intl (MIA) to Luis Muñoz Marín (SJU), retrieved also at the same time of the previous screenshot:

What is intriguing is that even though airplanes can fly above the hurricane, there are unusually high clouds associated with hurricanes (namely Hot towers, pic below) that can protrude from the troposphere.

I don't know Aeronautical Meteorology, but I would not be comfortable on that plane.

Edit: Introverted intuition at its best.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pitfalls on phone instant messaging

I am truly impressed to see the amount of people here subscribed to Blackberry products. I think that the main attraction of this is the Blackberry Messenger that uses a Personal Identification Number or PIN. While I like the idea of instant messaging, I find its connection to a specific device quite enslaving. I wonder why most people, after having instant messaging with MSN messenger, Yahoo, or Google Talk which are independent of the device, just open a new Blackberry account that they cannot retrieve from another non Blackberry phone. For me, it seems that belonging to the BB network for the sake of belonging stems probably from a desire of a sense of importance, and an attempt to fit in. 

I am not against Blackberry per se though. I do not have one, but if I had, I would keep using the instant messaging I have used before. Besides, I am not sure if I want to be available 24 hours to everybody, unless it's nuclear family or so... just weird to me.

Far from surprising, the new Live Profile PIN has been launched to do the same with non-Blackberry phones. Now Androids and iPhones have more chatting options available for them, and most of the Blackberry users I know also use this new PIN. All this seems counterproductive for me. I think that belonging to a plethora of social networks and using multiple instant messaging options may create a false idea of being connected and engaged, when in reality the attention is being dispersed and the communication channels, in the best case, are duplicated. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Sand Clock effect

I wrote this some time ago...

Yesterday was just another day; my sand clock was full again, but it was getting ready to turn around and count more time. It was one of those days in which the winds, the rain, the water droplets and all that is lovely in my meteorological mind, did not even attempt to rescue me from going under.
Not even a raindrop.

It was around six in the afternoon, another sunset I don’t see. People were getting ready to leave their offices and workplaces to welcome a deserved weekend. As I walked on the crowded avenue, I saw some of them standing on the sidewalks, staring at all the curious things some people put on sale on a blanket on the street because there’s no traffic after 6. Other people stand on line waiting for the woman who sells phone calls, $0.10 dollars a minute. She was relatively young, pregnant, standing up leaning to a light post. She looks tired. A man lasts 2 minutes or so talking to the other person he’s going to meet… I looked his face… he hangs up as he gives her some coins; then she gets back the phone that is tied to a belt on her waist with chains.

An octopus.

I witnessed all this as I kept walking; trying again to find the reason for my way of thinking, trying to figure out why is it that I am not comfortable or happy. No answers. Then I get to the traffic lights on red that made me stop on the edge of the sidewalk. Good chance to see to the other side of the street and look at people standing, waiting… like me, a bizarre mirror.

Once lights turn yellow, some adventure to run across, some of us stay standing; we get hit by the Friday dusk rushing crowd.

It’s alright.

In the middle of the street, my music player finished another song and then started to play the other. Every three minutes or four, I remember that I have to study statics, and wastewater, and prepare a report about the same clouds that betrayed me that afternoon.

I still like them though.

After having walked more than ten blocks away from my building, I got hungry, or at least I thought so. Then started thinking about the mouth, and how it moves. Then started asking myself about the way the skull finds balance on the beginning of my vertebral column, and then remembered again that I had to study. It’s getting late; it’s time to go back.

This is when the sand clock turns around. I don’t know why I felt better by 7pm. I stopped using my earphones and I put my hands in my pocket. I think that I have to get home and take a pill, or drink some milk and go sleep. Remembered again about statics and wastewater and got anxious. I have to keep showing people good grades, that’s my totem, my fortress. It doesn’t give me anything back though.

Now, Saturday afternoon I am having a coffee and cookies as I write this.

Chocolate chip cookies, the ones than mom used to buy in a box, waiting for my full smile and hug.

I don’t know why I write this, I haven’t studied statics, or prepared my report… it’s fake, isn’t it? I need a grade printed on a paper, then I’ll get happier, and then get ready for another grade.

That’s it.

Today at night, there’s a meeting at a friend’s house. I don’t even know how to get there, but I’m sure I’ll find a way. Someone will tell me.

They want to see me.

I will sit down and talk, of course being aware of how the building stands still or how the breeze hits the window. It’s all set. At the end of it, I’ll say good bye and thanks, minutes before telling the cab driver my favorite sentence of the night: 2nd avenue, 16th street, Building 5 please.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Elevation (Charles Baudelaire)

This is one of my all time favorites from Baudelaire (He invented the word flâneur, btw)
I can't describe what I feel when I read this!

Above the lakes, above the vales,
The mountains and the woods, the clouds, the seas,
Beyond the sun, beyond the ether,
Beyond the confines of the starry spheres,
My soul, you move with ease,

And like a strong swimmer in rapture in the wave
You wing your way blithely through boundless space
With virile joy unspeakable.
Fly far, far away from this baneful miasma
And purify yourself in the celestial air,
Drink the ethereal fire of those limpid regions
As you would the purest of heavenly nectars.
Beyond the vast sorrows and all the vexations
That weigh upon our lives and obscure our vision,
Happy is he who can with his vigorous wing
Soar up towards those fields luminous and serene,
He whose thoughts, like skylarks,
Toward the morning sky take flight
Who hovers over life and understands with ease

The language of flowers and silent things! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Around the World in 80 days map

This is the map of the trip around the world in 80 days. It is just awesome how some people loved the story that much that they found the accurate path followed by Phileas Fogg, Jean Passepartout, Detective Fix, and a big part with the beautiful Aouda. 

You can click on it to see the places they visited. Seems unreal for eighty days. The schedule was:
London to Suez: rail and steamer in 7 days
Suez to Bombay: steamer in 13 days
Bombay to Calcutta: rail in 3 days
Calcutta to Hong Kong: steamer in 13 days
Hong Kong to Yokohama: steamer in 6 days
Yokohama to San Francisco: steamer in 22 days
San Francisco to New York City: rail in 7 days
New York to London: steamer and rail in 9 days
Total: 80 days

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What irks me to no end


It's been a while since I last posted, but it's because I have been quite busy with papers, bureaucracy and whatnot. Now that I'm a little free, I will continue the blog and my flâneurie activities that are similarly abandoned.

It's about time for a sweet rant. In my opinion, most rants portray creativity, and with the appropriate tone they can be fun. They can provide food for thought by considering unpopular positions about stuff and they trigger arguments sometimes.

This particular rant is particularly about what irks me to no end, or those things that make me draw a huge WTF? sign in my mind.

Important notes that I consider are naturally implied, but I will list them:
-This is not meant to come across as disrespectful
-If you don't like rants, do not read them. Seriously.

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
I can't really put too much air to this red balloon. Seems like it won't get any bigger than a 25cm diameter though.
And I get this type of response:

Stop complaining at the balloon. The fact that you are worrying about the centimeters of the balloon only reflects your need to relax and have more fun in life. If you understood the meaning of the vibrant color red, then maybe you could dance a little better and, therefore, be a happier person. As a matter of fact, my aunt recently bought a little puppy named DooDoo

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
Employment opportunities are really scarce nowadays. I am tired of sending copious amounts of copies of my CV and get nothing in return. I really want to get the hell out of the country and look for other opportunities where my field is considered more important.
And I get this type of response:
Seriously? And completely skip the fact that we are number 1 in frog biodiversity? Where are you going to find another place in the world where you walk in the street and have this random person waving hello at you from some random window? Considering that <insert nosy statistical factoid here>, and knowing that <insert yet another hackneyed shibboleth> you should really stay and <copy-pasted United Nations motto that contains at least one of the following words: sustainable development, peace, change, future, warming, generation>.

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
It has been raining a lot. This must be caused by either regional scale phenomena, or just some local atmospheric disturbance.
And I get this type of response:
As was announced, have mercy, Lord, on us: <insert bible quotation #1 here>, <insert bible quotation #2 here>; <insert bible quotation #3 here>. That's why I <insert last, this time lengthy bible quotation  #4 here>. This is why I love myself and all of us should go to the street holding hands because as it as previously said, said was in the realm of the said, and what is said should be interpreted as said. <Additional nonsensical word labyrinth optional here>. Moreover, the feet that touch the ground are indeed the feet the touch the ground and, they will ultimately lead you to a paradise.*    

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
Okay, so I am definitely going to read this. Can't wait! 
And I get this type of response:
There will be a time when you grow up to become a successful individual. When this happens, you won't even read books. This will be the ultimate sign of your openness and positive outlook in life.   
No words for this one.

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
Hello Good Morning. My name is... I am .. years old. I work in... 
And I get this type of response: 
Seriously? On that note, provide now a list your previous romantic relationships. Don't forget to include date, length, experiences, way and causes of breaking up if any, consequences of breaking up if any, your bank account number including credit card number and CVN, a 1000-word monologue about your morning toilet and a why for each item. Next, provide 15 minutes of laundromat chat on the mundane and morose. When you are done, then you will (sorry, not optional) come to a weekly 9pm-4am party for yet another 7 hours of chit chat while your throat literally explodes for attempting to talk with glassbreaking music in the background. This is, you know, to maintain a nice work environment.  
Bravo! Any other request? Some people can't grasp the concept of privacy.

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
Mmm, I really like this white t-shirt. I think I will buy it! (smile on my face)
And I get this type of response:
If you're not willing to use it for flirting, it's pointless. There is so little time in life so we have to do the right stuff today in order to avoid regrets tomorrow. 
Hahaha! Lamest reason ever invented to buy clothes.

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
This brewery astonishes me. They don't only have seasonal beers, but also have nice types that range from cherry beer to the regular pale ale.    
And I get this type of response:
Flavors are for sissies, seriously. Really, anything that gets me wasted is okay. When you drink beer that's all you want.
 Yeah, right. Why didn't I think about that before?

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
Oh, that's a very exotic place!. What did you like about it? 
And I get this type of response:
Actually we were SO wasted like LOLZ. We were throwing up nonstop since monday until the night before the flight back home! And this random person threw up on me LOLZ. And also, in the airport I was like so drunk I had to eat like 12 cups of ramen to stand up.  
Actually, that response is like being forced to watch this nonstop for 12 hours:

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
 Ok I'll meet you at the bar at 8pm. See you there!
And I get this type of response:
And arrive just by yourself? You are nuts, aren't you? What if you meet with X and wait in their house for like an hour and then I'll pick you up for another 20min commute. Then we can see if Y is ready but we have to make sure we pick up Z before 6:30pm because that's when his/her permission to go out expires. Having accomplished this, we are free to go for T, but we have to call first because he/she works just by the bar so he/she may go with Q instead. On the go, we can pick some balloons for my little brother's school project real quick in the supermarket; and then get a little wasted on a park bench before getting to the bar so that we don't spend a lot of money inside. If we get to the bar and there are people of our group that have not arrived yet, we will wait outside until the place is fucked up full, to then spend another 20 min deciding where else we're gonna go. When we finally get there, then the task is to find someone that wants to drink the same thing you want, to split the Happy Hour drink cost and not pay the extra $0.50 choosing a regular drink represents.

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
 Tsunamis are real concerns for coastal areas. 
And I get this type of response:
I follow. Not only they're a clear impact of human industry on the earth's nucleus but a real consequence of bad energies, both from evil people that don't care about the environment and the ones that escaped, according to studies, from Pandora's box in <insert ridiculous date here>. Knowing that air is at least 6% energy, we can make legendary midgets wave their hammers in the air, catch that benevolent energy and hit the floor with them to transmit good waves to the earth, ultimately causing the calm we all want.    

 Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
  I really wanna try this foreign coffee blend. 
And I get this type of response:
Snob, Traitor. In 191X when the war exploded we experienced <insert factoid about politics> and <insert factoid about economics>. What you are attempting to do is clearly <insult here>. We need to support <particular group of people> because <unrelated emotional rattle>. Moreover <World history quotes and qualia>...

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
  What's up for the weekend?  
And I get this type of response:
Dog, I'm gonna go mad shopping and like MAD driving. Then I'm gonna get mad drinks in a mad bar with mad beeddies. You know, mad birdies dog, mad hooka, mad drinks. Later I'll meet up with ma' sons: <insert up to seven people here> to even get more mad <drinks, food and whatnot>
*Seriously, wtf with the mad thing?

Irks me to NO end:

When for example I say: 
  Ok I had a good time, I guess I'm leaving now guys take care!  
And I get this type of response:

Seriously? Why don't you wait until X dances with Y, the song is almost over.
Oh wait!, Z has just paid the strongest drink ever. We need to watch this! 
Why don't you wait until P,Q amd R come. They're up the block, seriously! 
What are you gonna do locked in your house now?! (I particularly hate this one) 
Omg! They're bringing Spots (dog) over here! lol C'mon you have not seen that dog yet!
And aren't you gonna try THE ultimate drink? One cannot visit this place WITHOUT having this drink! But let's wait to order it all together for a picture of all of us doing cheers with it! 
Actually we're gonna change the place, we're gonna go to this new bar around the block but we have to wait for X to go.ThenCome on say goodbye to everyone!  
Then.... endless. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm a Mastermind! (INTJ)

So this is my personality profile. Turns out that I'm an INTJ (Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging) aka: The Mastermind! 

This is a form of the worldwide known and thoroughly studied MBTI Myers Briggs Type Indicator (If this was hogwash I wouldn't do it) . 

I pretty much agree with the results (Not like the Goal 5 one which was a bit inaccurate). I think it is definitely worth it to take the test and read more about our personality types. However, it is vital to note that the intention of the test is not to establish a series of strict labels and pigeonholes in order to justify certain kind of behavior (I am just paraphrasing what I have read on the books written after this method). 

In a nutshell, this is the way it works:
-After you take the test you get 4 letters

-The first letter is about how you replenish your energy and you can get an E if you are an Extrovert (you're energized by interaction), or an I if you are an Introvert (energized by ideas).  

-The second letter is about how you take in information. Letter S stands for Sensing and this means you focus on individual facts and details before seeing underlying patterns or whole concepts. Letter N stands for iNtuition and this means that you focus on what facts mean and how they fit together; paying more attention to implications, possibilities, and relationships between ideas than to facts and details alone. 

-The third letter is about decision making. Letter T means Thinking (focus more on logic and analysis), while letter F means Feeling (focus more on personal values and effects).

-Last but not least is the letter that talks about how you deal with the external world. Letter J means Judging (not literally means you are judgmental) and it's the kind of person that organize their worlds, likes to complete tasks and dislike ambiguity (Just do something!). Letter P means Perceiving and it's the kind of person that is more flexible and become frustrated with closure, rules and routines. They tend do leave things to the last minute sometimes.

Important: Everybody has amounts of these letters, but within each of the four groups one is clearly dominant. All words are equally good. 

Don't forget to make your guess before taking the test!

This is my badge:

Click to view my Personality Profile page

You can take the test clicking here! 
(Free, yes-no questions, straightforward, no account sign up required)

PD: The badge embedded in this post is from the test version in this website.
You can do it for free as well in this other site, but you will need to create a (painless) account, or login with your Facebook account. Results will pretty much be the same it's only worth it if you really want the fancy badge I posted.

Thanks for reading. I wish you a happy introspection time!


Any thoughts?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tom Sawyer

Took this test: What literary character are you?

Your result for The Literary Character Test...

Tom Sawyer

Good, Human, Side Thinker

You are basically good.  Overcoming selfish desires or cruel ways, you focus on doing the right thing, when possible, and acting in a way to benefit everyone.  You recognize your human weaknesses and imperfections, and are able to respond to them in well balanced ways.  You are clever and analytical.  You think about various angles of something, and you calculate the best way to achieve goals.
Tom Sawyer is the youth in all of us; he biggest desire is to laugh and play all day, and pure adventure is his biggest vice.  His cleverness can get him into plenty of mischief and trouble, but even those who must punish him, also must admit that it is also what endears him so much to so many people.  He is admired and enjoyed by all, and even when his sense of fun dictates he must take advantage of them, he has a sense of honor and nobility that cannot be denied, even if he tries at times.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

When the ocean talks to the sea

Scientific Flâneurie at the beach

Part of the fun when I'm outside is about walking in a complex and theoretical labyrinth. I like to think fast and deep, and I love to ask questions and what-ifs.

This particular phenomenon kept me really busy thinking: In a warm an nice summer day, why do we have a refreshing breeze coming from the sea and reverses at night? I immediately thought that this had to do something with heat in the water and in the land, and how it escaped to the air.

Reading about it later, I learned that the absorption of heat is remarkably faster across the land that it is across the sea... Then the air above the ground is heated rapidly and becomes lighter, so it rises! (If its colder, it's "heavier" then it sinks. If it's hot, then it's "lighter" so it goes up like a balloon (this is also why we should have our air conditioners up on our walls and not down, because cold air needs to sink and circulate).

So far so good. now, in this train of thought the question is about air movement... What happens when the hot packet of air rises above the soil? Something needs to replace this hole! well... the air that is over the sea is, as you know, colder... so it spreads like butter towards the beach to fill the hole the rising air left.

This is awesome for the inquisitive mind, but are we done yet? Nope. Turns out that the air that went up is now cold and heavy, so it's not surprising if it needs to go down again... the thing is that it's not going to do it right above the place it came from, because this air aloft also spreads like butter, but way up high towards the sea! Above the sea it goes down. As you can see now, we do have a cycle: air heats up and rises over the land while cool air crawls over the beach (this is why it's so refreshing and people like it).

So when I eventually go to the beach with company, this is when the nerd comment comes from: "Did you know that we're experiencing the thermally-induced air displacement due to a natural thermal machine?" Some people prefer not to think too much about it and some won't even consider it (and this is completely fine!). On the other hand, for the people who prefer depth of knowledge instead of breadth of knowledge it is absurd to avoid thinking a little further because of some irrational fear of becoming crazy or being looked at as a nerd. "There's an occasion for everything!" some reply to me, but hey: This is the occasion because I'm witnessing it, I'm living it, and I'm enjoying thinking about it! "You should rest your mind a bit"

Very well, here's my rest:

After analyzing the cycle, I remembered that the idea of air moving, rising and sinking is in other words a force caused by a gradient in pressure. I'm naming x the axis perpendicular to the shoreline, then the force that experiences the air block that forms the sea breeze is:


Here I multiplied the specific volume of air with the change of pressure between the land and the sea. We said this is a cycle and that air circulates in a closed path, so I'll use the definition of circulation from Kelvin-Bjerknes theorem from Vector Calculus:


Line integrals are very elegant indeed! Here I named u the horizontal flow (the breeze that we feel) and w is the air that sinks or rises. Now let's compute how the horizontal and vertical winds moves in time. What are the obstacles for horizontal flow relevant for this case? friction of course, so let's include it via Newton's second law:


The vertical is the same thing, but gravity is important here:


The problem now is that I have partial derivatives and not the expressions for each velocity component. It's easier to calculate the derivative of circulation and then plug the last two equations in:


Then plug in the equation of ideal gas and Eureka! We have an expression for sea breeze acceleration over time:


Who knew we'd have a natural log in the beach? This is my share of what I call the excitement of discovery!
This is very nice! I can say that the beach can also be a wonderful laboratory of all the sciences!

Thanks for reading!



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The City of Solitudes and Isle of Revenants

The following texts are not of my authorship but I really want to share them here.

What about them?

The famous singer Enya and her lyricist Roma Ryan have been working on a project of a new Language: Loxian.

One of the first songs written in this language is called "Water shows the hidden heart" in which she tells the story of a man in his quest for love and his restless nature. The song depicts a lot of places, including The City of Solitudes and the Isle of Revenants. These beautiful excerpts are absolutely worth reading, I hope you enjoy them.
Thanks for reading!
The City of Solitudes 

What can be said of the City of Solitudes other than that each man is alone in his heart. That each man, though he stands in the midst of a million other men, is a solitude unto himself. And in this solitude there are those who put out their hands. They build bridges. They make roads. They carve pathways into even the most difficult terrains. All of these bridges and roads and pathways lead away from themselves. Yet they lead to other solitudes. All needing somewhere to go, someone to go to. There are those who raise their voice so that the wind will carry their words into the aloneness of another heart, and that heart will hear them and come searching, calling to them, answering. There are those who spell their hearts into existence, who write the deeper desire of their being, so that all will know their solitude. There are those who do not know their aloneness, who are not fully aware, and yet hear the faint echo of voices, or glance at the shapes indigo makes on a page, or sing when others sing, so there is no sound of aloneness. 

And there are those who know their own solitude, and know each man’s solitude, and know that even the wind loses itself and the mountains come and go as every other in this span of time. One always enters this city alone, even though there may be others to greet them. One always leaves this city alone. Within its walls, all life happens. Yet it is as if the one-who-is-looking-for-whom-he-loves has always been in this city, has never left it, even though he has travelled mile upon mile, has put his foot in the places love fell, has existed in another’s heart. As if through years of distance all those miles pull themselves back into this one inch of earth, back to this place. He, too, had built bridges. Not with his hands, not with brick or mortar or steel, but with his eyes open and his heart stretched out until it could go no further.
He, too, had made roads, not with sweat falling from his brow, but with his understanding. He, too, had forged pathways through many difficult terrains, not with axe or saw, but with his hope. And these roads and bridges and pathways had followed routes he did not know of, had not dreamt of, never knew existed. Until he had arrived. For all roads lead somewhere, to someone. And his roads lead to her. How often they had let go their words into the winds, not understanding life, not understanding death. How often they had taken the flow of indigo into their hands and told each other of their deeper desires. 

Echo of voices, shapes on pages. Singing. And those moments of knowing: the epiphanies of mountain, wind, cloud, ocean. The song of the sands sung by a million, million different voices, their hearts broken and broken again, until the one heart had become many and their wanderings that of each man in this city of solitudes. This is truly the City of Cities. It is a place alone, yet it covers the atlas of the world and further.

The Isle of Revenants 

The waves are getting ready for everywhere and all at the same time. They do not know what gives them their restless nature, but they cannot stop themselves in their endless quest. They do not know what they are looking for, only that it has not yet been found. Sometimes they feel as if they have grasped the reason for their anxious departures, only to have it wash through their fingers and lose itself. They feel as if they are nowhere, and must keep going, until they are somewhere they do not know, but they know they will recognise it when they have arrived. But they never arrive. They just keep going to and fro, to and fro, back and forth, back and forth, much like those who find themselves on the Isle of Revenants. 

They too travel back and forth, to and fro, east and west, west and east, east and west. When those on the island stand at its eastern shore looking out over the sea, over the restless waves, waves as restless as their own souls, they see the beauty of the sun as it lies down on the hillside and as it brightens the grass. They see green as they have never seen it before. They hear the barking of dogs in the distance and the laughter of children ripple the air. They hear the echo of a bell, which echoes against itself until it sounds like a host of bells ringing. They remember when the berries brought forth their beautiful colours and became jewels in the sun. They remember the scent of the purple hyacinth, the flower of sorrow, seeking to be forgiven. They remember the white hyacinth, the flower of beauty. 

The blue hyacinth, which embodies constancy. They remember both sadness and joy but their hearts are unsettled. And they say to themselves: "What I seek must be in the west". When those on the island stand on its western shore looking out over the sea, over the restless waves, waves as restless as their own souls, they see a canvas of ever changing colour. They see the reflection of the sky looking down into blue eyes, the warm chaos of gold and yellow and orange as the sun falls into the sea, the gray tones of sadness that covers the waves. They see the stars mesmerized by the sea which is mesmerized by the stars. They see the moon looking for love and, in its madness, letting the ocean pull its heart apart, until it dawns upon the moon, and the moon pulls its heart back from the ocean. They see the immensity of night as it tries to find itself. In all of these episodes there is no sound other than the sea. And those on the island who stand looking out, see and hear these wonders, but their hearts are unsettled. And they say to themselves: "What I seek must be on the eastern shore"

This is the way it always was; that which was distant was worthy and desirable because it was distant, that which they have here, which they hold in their hands, is nothing, because it is here, in their hands. Without the great journey to seek what is not known, they cannot be fulfilled. The leaf of a tree with an exotic name must surely be more prized than this one green leaf that falls before them as the autumn approaches. Besides, where the sun lies down on the hill is much more beautiful than this shore they now stand on. They search for what cannot be, and they cannot stop searching. To be at peace they must give themselves up to what is, the way the waves must let themselves be at peace with the sea. But it does not happen.

For further information about Enya's work click here.
To listen the original song "Water shows the hidden heart" in Loxian, click here


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Flâneurie 101: Saint Petersburg


This was an academic thing. I went to present my research about cyclone physics in a university located on the Baltic Sea. I have a remarkable grasp on bureaucracy and paperwork, but this endeavor was particularly exhausting! Deadlines, signatures and flight booking were real nightmares, but hey, I got away with it! At the end of the day I was extremely lucky that the university covered the whole thing via New York City, so I could take some little vacations before and after Russia!

I traveled alone (literally) with no knowledge of Russian language whatsoever... I took a suitcase, laptop, backpack and that's it. Take off!

Traveling to Moscow-Saint Petersburg last summer made me feel like singing a Poliushko Polie, which is a traditional song dedicated to the soldiers that left home to fight in the fields. This was one of the best flâneurie experiences in my life because I was not only able to know about a completely different culture, but I felt the joy of being really incognito.

I love traveling overseas! The trip was very long and with several stops, the longest flight was from JFK Airport in New York City (via Aeroflot) to Moscow's International Airport (Sheremetyevo - SVO). Once in Moscow I literally faced a linguistic challenge to change from Terminal F to Terminal D, and take the next plane to the Venice of the North, or the former Leningrad: Saint Petersburg.

I was petrified when I got there! Once we landed on Pulkova-1 (LED) I thought: Where the heck am I? I don't even know Russian, and I don't even have the name or the phone number of anybody... plus my laptop has no battery. I must admit that within my angst, the excitement was enthralling! I felt at the end of the world and I had a strong desire to go back, but I was already far from my tropical side home... I was close to Siberia.

You're right if you think that I walked way too much in the city, I just learned to be careful with the metro system because we were in the White Nights (i.e no dark nights because it's summer and it's very far north).

A couple of blocks away from Gostiny D'vor metro station, there was this beautiful building, it's called Khram Spasa Na Krovi and reflects the unique Russian architecture. I love the tops that look like ice creams, in fact the whole thing looks as if you could eat it, very beautiful! 

Walking more toward the bridges (мост) I discovered the extremely beautiful Hermitage Palace (Winter Palace). I wish I knew more about Russian History by the way, so that I could tell you more about this. I promise I'll research more and I'll talk to a friend that knows a lot about this. I like this picture a lot, Leidy is indeed a good photographer!

There's always a time for relaxation so after a very long long walk, three bridges and a castle, I fell asleep on the grass! My friends know that I have no trouble at all when it comes to just crawl and sit down wherever. Music is always a must, and a backpack.... (I don't do the big backpack thing though). I leave a lot of things at home, but almost always I bring a compass, thermometer, whistle, Advil, bottle of water, snacks and two books (minimum two): One about physical sciences and the other about literature or art because my reading mood changes during the day.

So basically, my days in Russia were just like this. Some University in the morning, and in the afternoon, either some flâneurie or going out with friends to know the city a little more (plus they're the ones that speak Russian and can ask for my meal in McDonald's and Subway) -which was basically my nutrition over there haha!

We did have an awesome experience on the university's ship in the Gulf of Finland. I learned about pollution problems after World War II, the poor water exchange in the strait of Kattegat in Denmark and more issues regarding Meteorology and Oceanography.

I do recommend the experience, very nice friends and professors, but I'm not sure about living there for a long time... probably I did not get used to how things work over there, or the culture and of course, the language! I could not make a phone call home, all I did was going to MacDac (Russian abbreviation for McDonald's) to get some free WiFi!

Thanks for reading,


Intellectually Curious

Yet another test, the Global 5... It seems popular though...

Well, to be honest, I'm not that bad! But some things are accurate. Well, in the long run tests must not be taken seriously, they're fun, and they make us think sometimes.

I have yet to post the MBTI!

Thanks for reading,


Big Five Test Results
Extroversion (24%) low which suggests you are very reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.
Accommodation (44%) moderately low which suggests you are, at times, overly selfish, uncooperative, and difficult at the expense of the well being of others.
Orderliness (72%) high which suggests you are overly organized, neat, structured and restrained at the expense too often of flexibility, variety, spontaneity, and fun.
Emotional Stability (26%) low which suggests you are very worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.
Inquisitiveness (84%) very high which suggests you are extremely intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm a Generous Visionary

This is my Personal DNA Result! The last time I did it, I was a "Concerned Artist" and now I'm a "Generous visionary". You can roll your mouse over the squares to see my strong and weak points.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Flâneurie 101: Sailing on the Bay

On an island in the sun
we'll be playing and having fun
and it makes me feel so fine
I can't control my brain

Island in the Sun. Weezer

Anchors aweigh! This time I had the opportunity to with a group of friends to a vacation island (I needed it already after long exams and essays -ugh). Don't get me wrong, I am very excited about the sea! It's just about abandoning the dock and we were sailing in the coastal ocean!

I was quite happy to know that in the island there was the perfect setting for a wonderful, quiet and peaceful retreat. On the go, I was talking with friends (I don't get to see them too often) about what were the plans once we arrive. As the motorboat increased it speed, I moved towards the back to appreciate waves (Environmental Fluid Dynamics!). My inquisitive mind was nurtured by local rainbows on the sides (by the way, they form when light strikes at 42° in the water droplet), as well as geometrically intricate waves and eddies. This is part of my scientific flâneurie, to analytically explore my surroundings.

Aren't engines the best? The excitement of abandoning the city in order to arrive to an incognito place is unparalleled, people need to literally take a boat to reach me!. Buildings, lighthouses, industries, small islands are just small parts of a collage I loved.

I cannot believe we passed over the submarine wall... it was built as a trap for pirate ships in the past (and may I add another nerdy factoid, it's the clearest application of the continuity equation).

With the next picture we were out of sight of the city, and we passed the wall strait. Actually if we navigate nonstop in that direction we'd reach some place in Central America (very far, but not impossible).

As pirates would say, We're in sea o' no return! (well, not that dramatically), but we were already very far from home. Absolutely worth it! Meaningful interaction with breaks for my retreats (I asked for them -this makes me proud) surfing, food, sunset watching, late night games, pool, dinner, geology, oceanography, math talk, looking for coral fossils and rocks! Unforgettable holidays in the sun.

Leaving and staying both sound appealing and terrifying.

To my standards this is not written properly, I am writing what I am thinking at the moment.

I feel like I'm walking a long walk on a short pier.

I wake up in the morning with sun on my face and a gentle breeze blowing to my bedroom. I feel awesome and lucky, but one minute later my mind starts drifting away in a foreign land. Where? I wish I knew, the only thing I know is that it's a feeling I can't classify yet. It arises from the awareness of liberty and maturity of mind, yet it brings the uneasy sensation of walking towards a cliff, as if I was not able to feel completely the peace of the moment. Whether it is a natural feature of my personality or something I should pay attention to, the answer is a riddle I am not even close of solving.

The little grasp I have on this is related to raw ideas that have been in my mind for quite a while, but now I am able to talk about them in a more elaborate way. The first problem is based on a huge fear that consists of challenging deep rooted clichés: school, high school, university (if so), work, marriage, reproduce and repeat. If this is the backbone of society, then I am glad to be a knee bone. For me, there's nothing worse to life than pigeonholes and the presence of apparent empty spaces that people must fill at their own whim. Then what about  people that love to wander, or the ones that have found in roaming the world the purpose of their lives?

I'm not going to say now that this is my case, but in the last couple of years I have experienced this. I have been living out of a suitcase and traveling every two months so I am starting to lose the sense of "steady state". From one place to the other, I got used to the fact that what I want is scattered in a lot of far away places that I just can't hold together. Leaving sounds both appealing and terrifying, staying sounds both appealing and terrifying. I feel like everything happens so fast that I can't even see!