December 2019

POTD: Little Landscapes #1

Little Landscapes #1
Cathedral Gorge, Nevada

Hiking around Cathedral Gorge, I was reminded of how often closeups of desert terrain can look just like large-scale landscapes that one might see from the air. I’m sure at least a passing explanation for this can be found by appealing to the recursive quality of the Mandelbrot set (a special set of complex numbers) and more generally, fractals. Per Wikipedia:

…a fractal is a subset of a Euclidean space for which the fractal dimension strictly exceeds the topological dimension. Fractals appear the same at different levels, as illustrated in successive magnifications of the Mandelbrot set; because of this, fractals are encountered ubiquitously in nature. Fractals exhibit similar patterns at increasingly small scales called self similarity,[5] also known as expanding symmetry or unfolding symmetry; if this replication is exactly the same at every scale, as in the Menger sponge, it is called affine self-similar.

(The relevant part of this quote is in the second sentence. I threw in the rest for the math majors out there–and just to spread the confusion around that I experience every time I try to delve into this level of theoretical mathematics or physics!)

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POTD: Inside Out

Inside Out
Cathedral Gorge, Nevada

Standing inside the “cathedrals” at Cathedral Gorge, looking out. The meltwater from the recent snow they had made for muddy walking in the wet areas. That’s not usually a problem in the desert.


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POTD: Braking Power

Braking Power
Death Valley, California

The brake pad bar on this wagon wheel is nearly as tall as I am. It had to be big because it’s a big wheel (7 feet in diameter) on a big wagon, part of one of the famous 20-mule team wagon rigs that hauled borax out of Death Valley back in the day. The complete rig consisted of two wagons carrying 10 tons of borax plus the tank wagon which held 12,000 gallons of water used to water the mules on 165 mile trip across the Mojave Desert. The entire setup, when fully loaded weighed 33 tons.

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