• Three Watery Wonderments

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    May 14th, 2013ImogenUncategorized

    Wonderful Water Thing #1

    From my previous post, you may have realised that my house isn’t that warm. The place I’m living in was built in the 18th Century and isn’t exactly airtight, but water vapour from cooking and breathing still builds up inside the house. The thing is, cooler air holds less water, so when the air reaches a cooler surface, water falls out of the air and sticks to the cold surface. This appears as condensation on windows.

    This is how clouds are made too. Air gets cooler as you get further away from ground level, so at a certain distance from the ground the air will reach a temperature where it can no longer hold the water vapour dissolved in the air, and the bits of water that had been dispersed in the air start to stick together and reflect light. This makes them appear white. The height at which this happens is known as the cloud base. Window condensation is basically a cloud stuck to your window, so that’s actually pretty exciting.

    Watery Wonderful Thing #2

    I was driving home from work today and there was a humungous rainstorm. I was seriously glad I was not on my bicycle, or I think I would have dissolved in it. The sunshine with the rain made a rainbow pop up but it was so low in the sky I could see both ends through my windscreen. This realisation did nothing for my concentration. The thought of pots of gold hiding on the golf course is enough to make a girl lose her hubcap.
    It turns out that the height a rainbow will occur at is linked to the time of day. A rainbow is essentially a circle, and the circle’s centre is at the opposite point in the sky from the sun. At sunrise or sunset, this point will be on the horizon, so the rainbow will be at its highest. As the sun rises, the bow’s centre gets lower so that its centre is below the horizon and to us it looks smaller. The rainbow always appears to have the same radius of 42˚, so when the sun is 42˚ high only the top of the rainbow is visible over the horizon.

    I say appears, because the rainbow is not fixed in space, as you will know if you’ve ever tried to reach the end of one. It really is just a mirage, you can never get any closer to it because it’s not really there.

    Wonderful Watery Whatsit #3

    The third amazing thing is very simple and I noticed it when I was soaking my rice this evening in a few centimetres of water (this is pretty low tech). I was moving the saucepan back and forth waiting for the kettle to boil and I realised that as the water moved, the base of the saucepan appeared to be rocking up and down.

    Rainbow over the park

    Today's rainbow from the same window

    As the bigger mass of water came over a spot, the water refracted the light more. The effect of this is make the distance between us and the object appear smaller, so the base of the saucepan appears closer the more water is over it. As the water rocks away the light is refracted less and the base appears further away again. Wibbly wobbly saucepan! It’s like magic. I recommend a big saucepan for the best effect.

    There are like a zillion more amazing things that water does. This is just the tip of the iceberg (ahahaha).

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