Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Really Cool Little Things

Some of the littlest things can demonstrate the biggest ideas.

I really enjoy those little things I find on my hikes and rides. One flower I've been coming across for a few years now, surprised me a couple of weeks ago. It's called jewelweed, monkeyface flower, and snapdragon, depending on who you talk to. I love how they hang around, their lips open like a choir singing:


The plants have seed pods, which when the seeds grow big enough, pop out of the shell and are flung up to 8 feet away. This was pointed out to me just recently, and since then I've been going around popping the little pods at every chance and giggling at every mini-explosion I create. I even took a pod home and popped it under the microscope to watch it up close and controlled. Take a gander at the film at the bottom of the post and ignore the first attempt at popping with a pen (it wouldn't quite fit into the dish).

Next up, a close up of a caterpillar's hair with little specks of dirt. The little hairs would fall out when touched, perhaps acting like splinters, thus encouraging whatever creature was trying to eat it, to spit it out.



Last weekend, the Wookie and I went for a drive to check out a couple of spots and ended up at his dad's place. I will refer to his dad as Mr. Magoo, because that's who he reminds me of. Mr. Magoo and his wife live on the ocean; it's in their backyard, so of course I couldn't resist going to the little patch of beach they have, looking for rocks and interesting things. I laughed as I disturbed a great number of sand fleas, digging into the sand for a stone or pebble. I gathered several pieces of beach glass, a couple of quartz samples, plus one piece of calcium carbonate and several tiny snail shells of varying colours. Once I got the shells under the microscope I was pretty amazed. Snails are a pretty cool example of the Golden Ratio. But I really hooted at the outward appearance of this orange shell. A small piece of dirt (or lint from my pocket) makes it look like a nipple piercing. Really....it's a shell....under a microscope.



Here's the film of the seed popping:

video

The mechanism of action for the seed popping involves the properties of tensile strength and elasticity.

A bunch of little things. Really cool little things with huge ideas. The laws of physics, art and architecture, self-defense...and you thought this blog was about bugs, bikes, and brains....

6 comments:

kmilyun said...

Caterpillar hair! So way cool.
Now I have to figure out how to photography caterpillar hair without a microscope umm . ... I am thinking reverse lens setup LOL

Watching the pods a look into the awesome sometimes over looked world details - so beautiful -

Jan

Have Myelin? said...

Wow. The little things in life we do not notice...

Thanks for showing us. =)

Shauna said...

Kmilyun:
The microscope is a Digital Blue QX5 and you can get them online if you can't find one in a store near you. It is very cool.

Have Myelin:
I'm afraid I spend so much time with my head down I may miss some of the bigger things. But that's what the 6 o'clock news is for.

S.

Lisa Emrich said...

Very neat stuff, Shauna. So glad that you bring more than just bugs, bikes, and brains to our world. :-)

Shauna said...

Lisa,
My pleasure!
S.

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