April 27, 2013

Freely-associated Earth Day and Outdoor Adventure-related Content

This is being cross-posted to my micro-blog, Tumbld Thoughts.

Here is a recent story on how 70,000 ladybugs have been released in the Mall of America to combat aphid infestations of the interior foliage. At 4.2 million square feet, the Mall of America has developed an incipient ecosystem [1]. The dynamics of this ecosystem will interesting to observe, particularly in light of the work that has been done in the field of biospherics (e.g. Biosphere 2, which is sponsored by the University of Arizona) [2]. Speaking of self-sustaining ecosystems.......

Nice ecosystem animation for Earth Day, courtesy of Google Doodle. Surf the web to find the true meaning of Earth Day, I guess. Speaking of surfing.....

Why it pays to Surf Michigan. No, really! There is a thriving (albeit obscure) surf culture in the US state of Michigan [3]. Lake Michigan surfing (inset on the left, picture from the St. Joseph Pier on Lake Michigan) has been going on for years, usually in the Fall and Spring when gales present waves large enough for surfing on.

When there is significant rainfall (such as during the past few weeks) or Spring snowmelt, the inland rivers (inset on the right, picture from the Red Cedar River in front of the Administration Building at Michigan State University) allow for interesting surf conditions.

Rincon Beach Park, Santa Barbara County, CA. There is also beachfront right across the street from the UCSB campus.

Surfing at Michigan State is a bit like a cold UC Santa Barbara with ducks on a river (odd mental image, I'm sure). Speaking of academically-oriented surfing [4], here is a profile on the "Physics of Surfing" class offered at UC San Diego [5]. Happy outdoor adventuring!

Scenes from the "Physics of Surfing" class, which combines lessons in instrumentation, oceanography, and of course surfing.


[3] Pictures of wetsuit adventurers in interesting conditions courtesy of Matuli Surf Company (Matulis brothers, Midland, MI).

[4] Here is a list of the top 10 surf colleges from Surfer magazine. Michigan State (nor any other Michigan University) is on it. The only odd duck here is NYU, which offers you the opportunity to surf Long Island (and perhaps the sewers). I might add Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to the list, at least during hurricane season.

[5] A few more links about those skeptical of the academic value of studying surfing: 1) a video on the physics of surfing by Kevin Stahl and friends, 2) a white paper called "The Physics of Ocean Waves" by Michael Twardos (courtesy of Snake Gabrielson's Surflibrary.org), 3) a story by John Jeka at the University of Maryland in the "Neuromorphic Engineer" called "Light touch-contact: not just for surfers". The article profiles the role of touch (e.g. somatosensory information) in helping people and other animals keep their balance when moving across a surface.

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