Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Road I Walked

iPhoneOgraphy – 31 Jan 2016 (Day 31/366)

Road surface marking is any kind of device or material that is used on a road surface in order to convey official information. They can also be applied in other facilities used by vehicles to mark parking spaces or designate areas for other uses.

Road surface markings are used on paved roadways to provide guidance and information to drivers and pedestrians. Uniformity of the markings is an important factor in minimizing confusion and uncertainty about their meaning, and efforts exist to standardize such markings across borders. However, countries and areas categorize and specify road surface markings in different ways.

Road surface markings are either mechanical, non-mechanical, or temporary. They can be used to delineate traffic lanes, inform motorists and pedestrians or serve as noise generators when run across a road, or attempt to wake a sleeping driver when installed in the shoulders of a road. Road surface marking can also indicate regulation for parking and stopping.

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Cover Me Up…

iPhoneOgraphy – 30 Jan 2016 (Day 30/366)

A manhole cover is a removable plate forming the lid over the opening of a manhole, to prevent anyone or anything from falling in, and to keep out unauthorized persons and material.

Manhole covers date back at least to the era of ancient Rome, which had sewer grates made from stone.

Manhole covers are often made out of cast iron, concrete or a combination of the two. This makes them inexpensive, strong, and heavy, usually weighing more than 50 kilograms (110 lb). The weight helps to keep them in place when traffic passes over them, and makes it difficult for unauthorised people not having suitable tools to remove them.

Manhole covers may also be constructed from glass-reinforced plastic or other composite material (especially in Europe, or where cover theft is of concern). Because of legislation restricting acceptable manual handling weights, Europe has seen a move towards lighter weight composite manhole cover materials, which also have the benefits of greater slip resistance and electrical insulating properties.

A manhole cover sits on metal base, with a smaller inset rim which fits the cover. The base and cover are sometimes called “castings”, because they are usually made by a casting process, typically sand-casting techniques.

The covers usually feature “pick holes”, into which a hook handle tool is inserted to lift them. Pick holes can be concealed for a more watertight lid, or can allow light to shine through. A manhole pick or hook is typically used to lift them, though other tools can be used as well, including electromagnets.

Although the covers are too large to be easily collectible, their ubiquity and the many patterns and descriptions printed on them has led some people to collect pictures of covers from around the world. According to Remo Camerota, the author of a book on the subject titled Drainspotting, 95% of Japanese municipalities have their own cover design, often with colorful inlaid paint.

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The Thing on My Wrist

iPhoneOgraphy – 29 Jan 2016 (Day 29/366)

Most of the 500 year history of watches consisted of the development of the mechanical watch. Watches evolved from portable spring driven clocks, which first appeared in 15th-century Europe. Portable timepieces were made possible by the invention of the mainspring in the early 15th century. Nuremberg clockmaker Peter Henlein (or Henle or Hele) (1485-1542) is often credited as the inventor of the watch. He was one of the first German craftsman who made “clock-watches” (taschenuhr), ornamental timepieces worn as pendants, which were the first timepieces to be worn on the body. His fame is based on a passage by Johann Cochläus in 1511:

“Peter Hele, still a young man, fashions works which even the most learned mathematicians admire. He shapes many-wheeled clocks out of small bits of iron, which run and chime the hours without weights for forty hours, whether carried at the breast or in a handbag”

However, other German clockmakers were creating miniature timepieces during this period, and there is no evidence Henlein was the first.

The watch which developed from the 16th century to the mid 20th century was a mechanical device, powered by winding a mainspring which turned gears and then moved the hands, and kept time with a rotating balance wheel. The invention of the quartz watch in the 1960s, which ran on electricity and kept time with a vibrating quartz crystal, proved a radical departure for the industry. During the 1980s quartz watches took over the market from mechanical watches, an event referred to as the “quartz crisis”. Although mechanical watches still sell at the high end of the market, the vast majority of watches now have quartz movements.

One account of the origin of the word “watch” is that it came from the Old English word woecce which meant “watchman”, because it was used by town watchmen to keep track of their shifts. Another says that the term came from 17th century sailors, who used the new mechanisms to time the length of their shipboard watches (duty shifts).

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Relishing The Aroma of The Tea

iPhoneOgraphy – 28 Jan 2016 (Day 28/366)

A teapot is a vessel used for steeping tea leaves or an herbal mix in boiling or near-boiling water, and for serving the resulting infusion which is called tea. Dry tea is available either in tea bags or as loose tea, in which case a tea infuser or tea strainer may be of some assistance, either to hold the leaves as they steep or to catch the leaves inside the teapot when the tea is poured. Teapots usually have an opening with a lid at their top, where the dry tea and hot water are added, a handle for holding by hand and a spout through which the tea is served. Some teapots have a strainer built-in on the inner edge of the spout. A small air hole in the lid is often created to stop the spout from dripping and splashing when tea is poured. In modern times, a thermal cover called a tea cosy may be used to enhance the steeping process or to prevent the contents of the teapot from cooling too rapidly.

The teapot was invented in China during the Yuan Dynasty. It was probably derived from ceramic kettles and wine pots, which were made of bronze and other metals and were a feature of Chinese life for thousands of years. Tea preparation during previous dynasties did not use a teapot. In the Tang Dynasty, a cauldron was used to boil ground tea, which was served in bowls. Song Dynasty tea was made by boiling water in a kettle then pouring the water into a bowl with finely ground tea leaves. A brush was then used to stir the tea. Written evidence of a teapot appears in the Yuan Dynasty text Jiyuan Conghua, which describes a teapot that the author, Cai Shizhan, bought from the scholar Sun Daoming. By the Ming Dynasty, teapots were widespread in China. The earliest example of a teapot that has survived to this day seems to be the one in the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware; it has been dated to 1513 and is attributed to Gongchun.

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“TIME” Before We Were Born

iPhoneOgraphy – 27 Jan 2016 (Day 27/366)

For thousands of years, devices have been used to measure and keep track of time. The current sexagesimal system of time measurement dates to approximately 2000 BC, in Sumer. The Ancient Egyptians divided the day into two 12-hour periods, and used large obelisks to track the movement of the Sun. They also developed water clocks, which were probably first used in the Precinct of Amun-Re, and later outside Egypt as well; they were employed frequently by the Ancient Greeks, who called them clepsydrae. The Cho Dynasty is believed to have used the outflow water clock around the same time, devices which were introduced from Mesopotamia as early as 2000 BC. Other ancient timekeeping devices include the candle clock, used in China, Japan, England and Iraq; the timestick, widely used in India and Tibet, as well as some parts of Europe; and the hourglass, which functioned similarly to a water clock. The sundial, an early clock, relies on shadows to provide a good estimate of the hour on a sunny day. It is not so useful in cloudy weather or at night and requires recalibration as the seasons change (if the gnomon was not aligned with the Earth’s axis). The earliest known clock with a water-powered escapement mechanism, which transferred rotational energy into intermittent motions, dates back to 3rd century BC Ancient Greece; Chinese engineers later invented clocks incorporating mercury-powered escapement mechanisms in the 10th century, followed by Arabic engineers inventing water clocks driven by gears and weights in the 11th century.

The first mechanical clocks, employing the verge escapement mechanism with a foliot or balance wheel timekeeper, were invented in Europe at around the start of the 14th century, and became the standard timekeeping device until the pendulum clock was invented in 1656. The invention of the mainspring in the early 15th century allowed portable clocks to be built, evolving into the first pocketwatches by the 17th century, but these were not very accurate until the balance spring was added to the balance wheel in the mid 17th century. The pendulum clock remained the most accurate timekeeper until the 1930s, when quartz oscillators were invented, followed by atomic clocks after World War 2. Although initially limited to laboratories, the development of microelectronics in the 1960s made quartz clocks both compact and cheap to produce, and by the 1980s they became the world’s dominant timekeeping technology in both clocks and wristwatches. Atomic clocks are far more accurate than any previous timekeeping device, and are used to calibrate other clocks and to calculate the proper time on Earth; a standardized civil system, Coordinated Universal Time, is based on atomic time.

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The Beans Story

iPhoneOgraphy – 26 Jan 2016 (Day 26/366)

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. Broad beans, also called fava beans, in their wild state the size of a small fingernail, were gathered in Afghanistan and the Himalayan foothills. In a form improved from naturally occurring types, they were grown in Thailand since the early seventh millennium BCE, predating ceramics. They were deposited with the dead in ancient Egypt. Not until the second millennium BCE did cultivated, large-seeded broad beans appear in the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe. In the lliad (8th century BCE) is a passing mention of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor.

Beans were an important source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today.

The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.

Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh or dried, those of the genus Phaseolus, come originally from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus, during his exploration of what may have been the Bahamas, found them growing in fields. Five kinds of Phaseolus beans were domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples: common beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris) grown from Chile to the northern part of what is now the United States, and lima and sieva beans (Phaseolus Lunatus), as well as the less widely distributed teparies (Phaseolus Acutifolius), scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus Coccineus) and polyanthus beans (Phaseolus Polyanthus) One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people as far north as the Atlantic seaboard is the “Three Sisters” method of companion plant cultivation:

In the New World, many tribes would grow beans together with maize (corn), and squash. The corn would not be planted in rows as is done by European agriculture, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to six stalks each.

Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, “bush beans” having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.

Squash would be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, would shade the soil and reduce evaporation, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.

Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot).

Beans are a heliotropic plant, meaning that the leaves tilt throughout the day to face the sun. At night, they go into a folded “sleep” position.

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Light Me Up

iPhoneOgraphy – 25 Jan 2016 (Day 25/366)

A halogen lamp, also known as a tungsten halogen, quartz-halogen or quartz iodine lamp, is an incandescent lamp that has a small amount of a halogen such as iodine or bromine added. The combination of the halogen gas and the tungsten filament produces a halogen cycle chemical reaction which redeposits evaporated tungsten back onto the filament, increasing its life and maintaining the clarity of the envelope. Because of this, a halogen lamp can be operated at a higher temperature than a standard gas-filled lamp of similar power and operating life, producing light of a higher luminous efficacy and color temperature. The small size of halogen lamps permits their use in compact optical systems for projectors and illumination.

A carbon filament lamp using chlorine to prevent darkening of the envelope was patented in 1882, and chlorine-filled “NoVak” lamps were marketed in 1892. The use of iodine was proposed in a 1933 patent, which also described the cyclic redeposition of tungsten back onto the filament. In 1959, General Electric patented a practical lamp using iodine.

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Don’t Poke Me…

iPhoneOgraphy – 24 Jan 2016 (Day 24/366)

A syringe is a simple pump consisting of a plunger that fits tightly in a tube. The plunger can be pulled and pushed along inside a cylindrical tube (called a barrel), allowing the syringe to take in and expel a liquid or gas through an orifice at the open end of the tube. The open end of the syringe may be fitted with a hypodermic needle, a nozzle, or tubing to help direct the flow into and out of the barrel.

Syringes are often used to administer injections, insert intravenous drugs into the bloodstream, apply compounds such as glue or lubricant, and measure liquids.

The word “syringe” is derived from the Greek (syrinx, meaning “tube”) via back-formation of a new singular from its Greek-type plural “syringes”.

The ancient Greeks and Romans knew injection as a method of medicinal delivery from observations of snakebites and poisoned weapons. There are also references to “anointing” and “inunction” in the Old Testament as well as the works of Homer, but injection as a legitimate medical tool was not truly explored until the 17th century. Christopher Wren performed the earliest confirmed experiments with crude hypodermic needles, performing intravenous injection into dogs in 1656. These experiments consisted of using animal bladders (as the syringe) and goose quills (as the needle) to administer drugs such as opium intravenously to dogs. Wren and others’ main interest was to learn if medicines traditionally administered orally would be effective intravenously. In the 1660s, J.D. Major of Kiel and J.S. Elsholtz of Berlin were the first to experiment with injections in humans. These early experiments were generally ineffective and in some cases fatal. Injection fell out of favor for two centuries.

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Don’t Ever Telling Lies

iPhoneOgraphy – 23 Jan 2016 (Day 23/366)

The Adventures of Pinocchio, Italian: Le avventure di Pinocchio is a novel for children by Italian author Carlo Collodi, written in Florence. The first half was originally a serial in 1881 and 1882, and then later completed as a book for children in February 1883. It is about the mischievous adventures of an animated marionette named Pinocchio and his father, a poor woodcarver named Geppetto. It is considered a canonical piece of children’s literature and has inspired hundreds of new editions, stage plays, merchandising and movies, such as Walt Disney’s iconic animated version and commonplace ideas such as a liar’s long nose.

The Adventures of Pinocchio is a story about an animated puppet, boys who turn into donkeys and other fairy tale devices. The setting of the story is the Tuscan area of Italy. It was a unique literary marriage of genres for its time. The story’s Italian language is peppered with Florentine dialect features, such as the protagonist’s Florentine name.

In the 1850s, Collodi began to have a variety of both fiction and non-fiction books published. Once, he translated some French fairy-tales so well that he was asked whether he would like to write some of his own. In 1881, he sent a short episode in the life of a wooden puppet to a friend who edited a newspaper in Rome, wondering whether the editor would be interested in publishing this “bit of foolishness” in his children’s section. The editor did, and the children loved it. The Adventures of Pinocchio were serialized in the paper in 1881–2, and then published in 1883 with huge success.

In the original, serialized version, Pinocchio dies a gruesome death: hanged for his innumerable faults, at the end of Chapter 15. At the request of his editor, Collodi added chapters 16–36, in which the Fairy with Turquoise Hair (or “Blue Fairy”, as the Disney version names her) rescues Pinocchio and eventually transforms him into a real boy, when he acquires a deeper understanding of himself, making the story more suitable for children. In the second half of the book, the maternal figure of the Blue-haired Fairy is the dominant character, versus the paternal figure of Geppetto in the first part.

Children’s literature was a new idea in Collodi’s time, an innovation in the 19th century. Thus in content and style it was new and modern, opening the way to many writers of the following century.

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Simple Machines

iPhoneOgraphy – 22 Jan 2016 (Day 22/366)

The screw was one of the last of the simple machines to be invented. It first appeared in Ancient Greece, and by the first century BC was used in the form of the screw press and the Archimedes’ screw, but when it was invented is unknown. Greek philosopher Archytas of Tarrentum (428 – 347 BC) was said by the Greeks to have invented the screw. The Greek philosopher Archimedes is credited with inventing the Archimedes’ screw water pump around 234 BC, although there is evidence it may have come from Egypt. Archimedes was first to study the screw as a machine, so he is sometimes considered the inventor of the screw.

Greek philosophers defined the screw as one of the simple machines and could calculate its (ideal) mechanical advantage. For example, Heron of Alexandria (52 AD) listed the screw as one of the five mechanisms that could “set a load in motion”, defined it as an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder, and described its fabrication and uses, including describing a tap for cutting female screw threads.

Because they had to be laboriously cut by hand, screws were only used as linkages in a few machines in the ancient world. Screw fasteners only began to be used in the 15th century in clocks, after screw-cutting lathes were developed. The screw was also apparently applied to drilling and moving materials (besides water) around this time, when images of augers and drills began to appear in European paintings.

The complete dynamic theory of simple machines, including the screw, was worked out by Italian scientist Galileo Galilei in 1600 in Le Meccaniche (“On Mechanics”).

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