Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

My shadow project

[A little introduction by Marathon: ]

We were talking about solar eclipse phenomena recently. I told the kids about my memories from eclipses that I experienced as a boy, especially about how all the leaves of a tree would take on the shape of the eclipse.

After the conversation, I did some image searches so I could show them what I remembered.

I was stunned to find that the truth was nothing like I remembered it!

Instead, there are thousands of images showing pinhole-camera effects. That is, the light from the sun passes through tight squeezes between the leaves and casts itself on the ground as an inversion of the sun's distorted shape. Here is a typical example (Photo by torbakhopper):

backwards in time -- leaves as a natural pinhole camera during solar eclipse : san francisco (2012)

I couldn't find a single picture to support what I remembered!

But I couldn't seem to let go of it either. Without being able to explain very well why, it just seemed to me that there would be an eclipse shadow effect separate from the well-known pinhole effect.

I muttered something to the effect of, "We'd need some fancy lighting or a computer program to know if there was any truth to what I was thinking."

Little did I know that wheels had been set in motion...

Over the past week, I have been working on a project. A coding project.

Sometimes we would play games with light during supper, when the light from the sun would reflect off glass buildings. I noticed that the shadows were almost perfectly crisp, even though our shadows fell on a wall that was 15-20 feet away.

That isn't the case when the light is coming straight from the sun.

In the morning's direct sunlight, the shadows are all fuzzy, and they would do all kinds of crazy stuff, like jumping over to other shadows, or some shadow that is a lot thinner than it should be...

A week ago, I had a realization about why shadows seem to warp sometimes.

I had always assumed that it was from the light of the sun bending, slightly.

But that isn't the case. I realized that if you have a small slit letting sunlight through, there will be a light spot on the ground that is a good bit wider than the small slit. I realized this was because of the light from the right side of the sun shining through to the left of the slit, and vice versa.

During an eclipse, also, a tree shows many mini eclipses on the ground, on it's shadow. This, we found out, is due to the pinhole effect.

Marathon still felt that a normal object, without a pinhole might also give an eclipse-like shadow. We made this big sketch, we kept messing up, but finally, we were pretty sure that any object would give a slightly eclipse-like shape.

It would take a long time to explain it all in writing. It's pretty complicated.

So, instead, I did this coding project to make it easier to understand:

https://www.khanacademy.org/computer-programming/eclipses-shadow/5898189205209088

I consider ~150 inches from the ground to be the best distance for seeing the eclipse-like shadow.

Hope you like it!

[Marathon: So, thanks to Doodle's javascript program, we can see how a shadow of basically anything leaf-sized, that is positioned around 12 feet above the ground, gets distorted by parallax effects to look vaguely like the crescent of the eclipse.

Here's a leaf-like shape's shadow at 10 inches above the ground during an ~80% solar eclipse:

Now here's the same shape's shadow at the same moment if it was 12 feet off the ground:

Totally different!

Even the staple shape, that already is a crescent of sorts, will bend to roughly become a crescent in the opposite direction! Try it for yourself.

Here's another neat effect we found. If you set the moon's size to be slightly smaller than the sun so that it allows for a "ring of fire" at the point of complete eclipse, here's what the shadow of a ping-pong sized ball looks like.

Another symmetrical shape that gets bent into a crescent:

 

 

 

Andinismo

Doodle is quite the enthusiastic outdoorsman

 

The locals use the word "Andinismo" to mean "exploring the Andes Mountains". So far our experience of the Andes has been limited to areas in close proximity to civilization.

I felt it was time to do something more, and summer was almost gone.

Following a two day scouting trip by Doodle and I a few weeks ago, Sudoku joined us this past Sunday for a three day attempt to reach the La Paloma glacier, the lesser of the two glaciers visible from downtown Santiago.

streams through needle-like tundra grass

We picked the warmest sequence of days we could find, but the temperature still dropped below freezing at night where we slept.

The 20 km trail toward the glacier was quite busy on Sunday afternoon, but once night came at our base camp around 9000 feet, it would not be until midday Tuesday that we would see another human being.

It's safe to drink the water at certain places along the hike. Here's a little log of that for those interested:

  • At 1.5 hours of ascent, you'll cross the potable Agua Larga, marked with a wooden sign.
  • At four hours, you'll reach La Lata, a marshy pasture area with horses. The water here is said to be safe to drink, but I didn't trust it because of the presence of horse and hiker feces in the area. However, just above La Lata, there is a stream much like Agua Larga which shows none of the copper/ sulfur discoloration indicative of the non-potable waterways. We took water at that stream.
  • At six hours, you'll reach Las Cascadas, where two major waterways join, but none of the water in that area is considered potable due to the high concentration of metals.
  • At seven hours, Piedra Carvajal appears to be a former glacier lake, but now filled with tundra and very clear streams of water running through it. This water is said to be safe, and it's your last chance for water before the glacier. [Sudoku: The grass here was so tough that some spots of blood appeared on my hand when I touched it!]

The hike was hot and dusty and we had some boot problems and other difficulties with our cobbled-together gear. Fortunately, the three of us are all fairly close on shoe size right now, so we were able to swap around to mitigate the effects of boot irritations.

[Sudoku: My toes only came within about 2.5" of the end of Dad's boots, but they were pretty comfortable.]

By the time we reached our intended overnight spot, La Lata, the air had grown noticeably thin.

The peaks ahead of us were amazing under light of sunset. The stars would have been great (Doodle saw five shooting stars on our scouting trip), but we had a dusk that seemed to last forever and a full moon.

Here in Chile, we've grown quite accustomed to having grazing animals around us when we slept outside in the countryside. Nonetheless, it was a bit unnerving to have horses nonchalantly grazing right up against our tent all through the night.

[Sudoku: I woke up several times to hear Dad shooing the horses away from our tent again.]

We woke feeling good on Monday morning and went for the glacier. It was clear and dry. (there was no dew on the tent.) I couldn't keep up with the kids, so I stopped about an hour short of the glacier's scree-field base and they went to the glacier without me. (And I had the camera with me. Hence no actual pictures of Paloma glacier. Sorry! Here are some.)

camping with grazing animals

On the way down we had the thrill of watching a pair of soaring/gliding condors -- practically stationary in the air just above us -- as we approached one of the steepest sections of the trail.

I never saw a mouse, but I did see a hole in a bag of cheese left inside a backpack we hid in the rocks back at the camp site.

the enchanted tundra field at Casa Piedra Carvajal

Here are some of my takeaways regarding Andinismo:

  • we form a route by connecting water points like camels in the desert and those water points are often glorious
  • the tremendous scale of everything boggles the mind, and the lack of vegetation makes it very difficult to tell how far way things are because there is no reference object
  • managing the sun and the cold is difficult but doable, even for lightly-equipped folk like us
  • appreciating the tenacious plants and sometimes invisible mountain creatures

a wall of ice, but not actually as vertical as it appears

 

The animals we saw over 3 days: Horses, cows, snakes, lizards, mice, foxes, toads, and condors.

[Sudoku: The boys did a great job making sure we had everything we needed for the trip. They have short hair though, and weren't able to warn me about the big tangle I had by the end of our trip!]

[Doodle: Once, when we were hanging out around some small pools of red water, I noticed that it wasn't the water that was red, but that there were hundreds of tiny, red bugs, all crawling over each other.]

Rosebud plays “Battle of Jericho”

“Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse

The skies were cloudy in Santiago this morning, but in the south of Chile, a rare sight occurred in the sky: a "ring of fire" solar eclipse. We watched it online. 🙂  And even on our computer monitors it was breathtaking.

Here it is, seconds before the "ring of fire" eclipse was complete...

And here it is complete...

Here are those images again, lightened so it's easier to see the red.

The Bicibahn

Dad and I have been going out every morning to ride our bikes since Sunday.

We started going out more often because a really nice bike path, wide and smooth, was recently made.

There's this long section with no stops, slightly sloped because it goes along the river. We call it the Bicibahn, named after the Autobahn in Germany.

On the way back down the bike path, I normally draft off Dad. If I can keep up with him, he'll "torque out". He has a mirror on his helmet, so he can see how I'm doing.

Early in the week, it was a little scary, but now it's fun and exciting.

Most of the time, I have to mouth-breathe to keep up with him. Sometimes I'll even get little pebbles in my mouth, thrown up by his tire.

Anyway, this morning, I was struggling to keep up with him when I thought, "I wonder how fast we're going?" I was in my top gear, and pedaling at 100-120 RPM. I was close to out-spinning my top gear.

Photo by YoVivoMapocho.

 

He who teaches his own child

is twice educated.

Snapshot of a Saturday morning

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-7-41-05-amThe sun will be up soon, and everyone but Rosebud is up and at it.

Sudoku and I are coding. She doesn't have any freelance work this morning, so she's working on some of our family projects, as am I.

Milkmaid is cleaning up around the apartment and washing the produce brought yesterday by "Wonderful Man Jr".

Carman's off work today, as usual on Saturday. He's been working from home most of the time now, but spending lots of time on the phone with his boss. His freelancing is starting to click. He got the "rising talent" status recently on one platform. But no coding for this morning; he's working out the chords for "Downeaster Alexa" on the guitar.

Rosebud just woke up and gave everyone their morning hug. Let's see ... Yup, she got bigger overnight again.

And finally, Doodle is hard at work on the farm, trying to get in his chores before the sun comes up. Yes, we're starting to do some farming, right here in the city. Doodle is doing the physical work for our top-secret pilot project and, later today, Rosebud will be doing the data collection.

And now the room begins to brighten. Here comes the sun.

My Spanish is Really Good!

Today I was in 'San Diego' (that's a neighborhood/street in Santiago) getting bike parts. At one store I bought a set of pedals, and had the following conversation with the 60-something clerk.

Clerk: Where are you from?

Me: Where do you think I'm from?

Clerk: Talk a bit.

Me: I moved to Santiago four years ago with my family. I started...

Clerk: Venezuela?

Me: Nope.

Clerk: Colombia?

Me: United States.

Wow! I pass for a Latin American foreigner!

 

Max Ventilla on modern education

I would argue that you’ve had one big trick that humans figured out over the last 500 years. Before computers, it was fossil fuels.

But now we’re discovering how to pull free mental work out of the ground. That’s going to be a huge trick over the next 50 years.

The idea that you can pull free physical work out of the ground, that was a really good trick, and it resulted in all of these exponential curves. But now we’re discovering how to pull free mental work out of the ground. [using Artificial Intelligence]

That’s going to be an equivalent, huge trick over the next 50 years. It’s going to create that same kind of inflection point, and it’s going to create even more opportunity and much more displacement.

I have a hard time understanding how the way that we best prepare the next generation for that future, is to have literally all of education policy, all of education decisions determined by folks that don’t really have a foot in that world.

I’m not saying that all of the sudden, “Oh, it’s about software.” The worst use of software in technology is in replacement of humans. This whole, “Oh, I give an iPad to a kid, and I walk away.” That’s craziness. AR and VR, that’s not going to be it, either.

It’s about human beings. It’s about the relationship that kids have with their peers, with adults. That’s what creates the motivation that creates the learning, but it seems odd to me that the purpose of school is to prepare kids for the future, and you don’t have people in the mix thinking about education or education policy, who are very familiar with the future at all.

[In a typical school setting] you say, “OK, well, I can’t grade 20 different demonstrations of knowledge that come back from 20 different kids, so I’m going to standardize, I’m going to say, ‘This is the way I’m going to test you, so that I can grade it quickly,’” you’re essentially training kids to think like computers. There’s an irony ... you’re training humans to do the kind of thinking that computers are getting better and better and better at doing.

You have an education system that was created for a mass production era, and now we’re in a mass customization era. You have a traditional education system that’s all about turning generalist agrarian producers into specialized consumers of goods and information. We’re entering an era where being a producer of knowledge, being a producer of goods, being a producer of jobs is the way to be successful. It is the way to be happy, and it’s possible because you have these unbelievable platforms that have been created that elevate the individual through the combination of digital technology and society.

Taxi battles of Santiago

The taxi battles are in full swing here in Santiago, including mass protests and even violence against some Uber drivers and, in a few cases, riders. What follows is an editorial from La Tercera (from around April 16th) that does a good job of capturing some of the nuances of the situation.

AGRESIONES A CONDUCTORES DE UBER

La ciudadania ha sido fuertemente impactada por las imagenes de taxistas agrediendo a conductores de la empresa Uber. Algunos de los casos reportados dan cuenta de altos niveles de violencia y amedrentamiento, que incluso han alcanzado a los propios pasajeros de estos servicios. Se trata de hechos inaceptables, respecto de los cuales se ha extranado una actitud de mayor firmeza por parte de la autoridad, la que se ha limitado a condenar el vandalismo.

No resulto apropiado que el ministro de Transportes calificara inicialmente de "piratas" a este tipo de vehiculos, porque con ello enlodo injustamente la imagen de estas empresas y dio pie para cuestionamientos que previsiblemente podian derivar en violencia. Es saludable que con posterioridad haya templado sus juicios y se abriera a buscar una regulacion para estos nuevos servicios. Pero frente al vandalismo el gobierno no puede ser indeferente, y cabe dar senales nitidas de que la integridad de la ciudadania no esta en entredicho. En tal sentido, es indispensable preservar el principio de que la protesta legitima no puede confundirse con la violencia.

El gremio de los taxistas debe asumir que este nuevo tipo de servicios basados en aplicaciones de ultima generacion, con un modelo de flotas flexibles y de altos estandares, con tarifas competitivas, no se podra detener, porque responde genuinamente a demandas de la ciudadania que el actual sistema no logra satisfacer. Su actitud amenazante de que estas aplicaiones "deben ser dadas de baja" en tanto no se alcance una solucion que las regule, solo contribuye a su propio desprestigio. La discusion debe orientarse hacia la apertura del parque de taxis y la incorporacion de las nuevas tecnologias que faciliten el servicio de transporte. Cualquier diferencia o reproche debe ser canalizado por las vias institucionales, ya sea ante el Ministerio o ante los tribunales.

 

My translation:

Aggression Toward Uber Drivers

The citizenry has been heavily impacted by the images of taxi drivers assaulting Uber drivers. Some of the reported cases include high levels of violence and intimidation, and have even been directed toward the passengers of these services themselves. These are unacceptable acts, for which is needed an attitude of greater firmness by the authority, which has been limited to condemning the vandalism.

It was not appropriate that the Minister of Transport would initially qualify as "pirates" these type of drivers, because this unfairly muddies the image of these companies and gave rise to questions that likely could lead to violence. It is healthy that the government subsequently has tempered its judgments and is open to seek a regulation for these new services. But against vandalism government can not be indifferent, and it should give sharp signals that the integrity of citizenship is not in question. In this regard, it is essential to preserve the principle that legitimate protest can not be confused with violence.

The union of taxi drivers must assume that this new type of application-based service, with a model of flexible fleet and high standards, with competitive rates, will not be able to be stopped, because it responds genuinely to citizen demands that the current system fails to satisfy. The union's threatening attitude, that these services "must be written off" as a solution, only contributes to their own discredit. The discussion should be oriented towards the taxi park opening and integration of new technologies that facilitate the transport service. Any difference or blame should be channeled through institutional channels, either to the Ministry or to the courts.

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