12 February 2012

Bending ice spike

One morning last week I found an ice spike about 45mm high growing in a small plastic tray of water which I had left outside.

This is nothing unusual (see our website ), but the behavior it exhibited later was new to me.

This ice spike was narrow in the middle, but widened out towards the top, terminating in a point. By lunchtime it was melting, and the narrow waist in the middle had become extremely thin. I decided to take some photos, so I picked it up, fearing it would break, and took a couple of shots.

Then I was completely astonished to see the spike BEND in the middle. Over a period of about 4 or 5 seconds, the top folded over until it touched the ice below.

It remained bent like this while I put it back on the ground. So this hinge survived bending through an angle of about 110 degrees. I believe ice can become less brittle with the addition of certain other substances, but this was not even tap water. It was de-ionized water into which some rain had fallen, so it was about as pure as you can get.

I have written to several scientists about it, and will let you know if I find an answer as to why this happened. After all, ice doesn't bend. Does it...?

07 February 2012

In memory of a tree

"Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather. "

William Shakespeare

Do you have favourite trees?

I have several. The huge beech tree that grows in the park by our house. The beech tree that grows in an open space in the middle of the forest about 5 miles from here. The tree we used to climb when we were children.

One of my favourites was the first Chilean Firebush (Embothrium coccineum) I ever saw. It grew in the grounds of the Lodge on the Isle of Eigg. After my first sight of it I even tried (unsuccessfully) to grow one in our garden. When we walked past, I would pick up fallen flowers and wear them as jewellery.

It flowered at the end of May and the beginning of June, and last summer it was flowering profusely when we passed by on a sunny day.

This year, along with many other trees on Eigg, it was a casualty of the January gales.

RIP, Chilean Firebush.