Koch Snowflake

Yesterday work found me on a luxury yacht, a 60th wedding anniversary celebration with finicky moving parts. As chefs began plating passed canapes I voiced dissatisfaction with presentation – no symmetry please! Later that night one of the chefs, a close friend and co-worker of nine years messaged – in all our years working together why haven’t you corrected my symmetrical arrangements? Adding, “Google informs me  “Symmetry in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance”. He asked “what would you call your preference? Randomness, disorder or perhaps asymmetry “. I replied, “Ask any staff member what makes me crazy, I guarantee one of two answers – symmetry or bartenders who put caps on empty wine bottles.” My preference? Asymmetry of course!

Why asymmetry? What compels me to hammer notions of symmetry out of new staff? Why do long-time staff members laugh out load when they hear me train new staff, “pay attention” they chime, “she hates symmetry, no bookends, twos or fours, only threes and fives”. Cheekier staff punctuate with “relax, as long as it’s random she’ll be happy”.

Random? Asymmetry isn’t random, it’s pleasing and calculated to my eye! Without warning a fractal bomb went off – wait a minute, fractal symmetry is absolute perfection!

Ponders scurried from Mandelbrot Sets to Koch Snowflakes.  From https://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-are-fractals/ “A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. Geometrically, they exist in between our familiar dimensions. Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc. Abstract fractals – such as the Mandelbrot Set – can be generated by a computer calculating a simple equation over and over.”

In 1904 Swedish mathematician Helge von Koch published a paper titled “On a Continuous Curve Without Tangents, Constructible from Elementary Geometry” – translation, one of the first published fractal theories. Koch Snowflake is an elaboration of the Koch Curve. Be it curve or snowflake, fractal mathematics are the same – whenever you see a straight line divide it in thirds, build a equilateral triangle on the middle third, erase the base of the triangle so it looks like the shape to the right.

Animation of the first seven Koch Snowflake iterations –

Koch Snowflake

Shortly after his first query, my friend reminded me of mutual affinity for Mandelbrot sets (example below). So why asymmetry, he pressed. Why, indeed?


Oh man, I replied! It’s too late for this ponder! Obviously fractal symmetry warms my heart, but until the day chefs definitively represent fractal perfection with smoked beet tartare on a passing platter – asymmetry remains an art form, symmetry makes me cringe. Go figure.


If apex means “top”, the world’s apex predator might just be a tiny spider. Meet Euophrys Omnisuperstes, ( Latin for “standing above everything” ) the Himalayan Jumping Spider,  highest known permanent resident life form on Earth. This quarter inch long, eight eyed, claw footed jumping spider capable of leaping distances 50 times its body length, thrives at elevations of 22,000 feet above sea level. Himalayan Jumping Spiders inhabit a realm so improbable, their only food source is insects carried by the wind.

Meet the Spider that Lives On Top of the World: the Himalayan Jumping Spider

For perspective, Mt. Everest south base camp in Nepal sits at 17,598 feet. At this elevation oxygen levels are 50% that of sea level. Worlds above the tree line, far beyond the domain of Snow Leopards, high above clusters of Nepalese Snub Nose Monkeys https://www.newscientist.com/article/2101954-secrets-of-how-primates-can-live-at-extreme-altitude-revealed/ whose only sustenance is lichen or rare thermal pool prisoners of high altitude hot springs, the Bailey’s snake https://reptiles.fandom.com/wiki/Thermophis_baileyi – tiny eight eyed jumping spiders wait for lunch to blow in on the wind. Why spider, why?

Make no mistake, spiders rule. Sure cockroaches survive underwater for half an hour, monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles to a miniscule patch of Mexican forest, but it’s the spider who stands above everything.

Geomagnetic Storm Aurora Alert

Tonight into tomorrow, northern hemisphere sky watchers as far south as Iowa or Michigan to Washington State are on aurora alert. Auroras are caused by charged particles hitching a ride on solar wind, dark skies turn undulating curtains of mischievous colour when charged particles interact with molecules in our atmosphere. Usually, our magnetosphere acts as a planetary shield preventing geomagnetic interaction of charged particles. Every so often fast moving particles overwhelm our magnetic field, create an opening and light up night skies.

On May 12, a magnetic filament on the sun, seen here, became unstable and erupted. (NASA/SDO)

Since Monday, 3 additional solar eruptions sent fast moving charged particles our way. As a result the auroral oval (doughnut shaped ring around the pole where charged particles follow magnetic field lines, reason why far northern latitudes regularly witness geomagnetic storms), has shifted far to the south.

The northern lights as seen looking eastward from just east of Penzance, Sask., at 1:21 a.m. local time Tuesday morning. (Submitted by Notanee Bourassa)

The colour of that light depends on the kind of molecule and the altitude of the collision.

Green is the most common colour, produced when the particles collide with oxygen at an altitude of around 100 to 300 km. At about 300 to 400 km, the interaction with oxygen produces red. Pink occurs below 100 km when nitrogen atoms are struck.

This link – https://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/solar-flares/index.html is worth a ponder. One of the best I’ve found in terms of understanding what makes space weather tick.

Bottom line – Space Weather Prediction Centre forecasters say there’s a 75% chance of geomagnetic storm activity tonight. If your skies are clear, go outside. If she’s willing, Aurora will find you. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day.


Noctilucent Timelapse by Adrien Mauduit

Noctilucent clouds are a weather phenomenon unique to summer months at latitudes between 50 and 70 degrees north and south of the equator. Inhabiting the mesosphere at altitudes of 75-86 kilometers, science regards noctilucent as highest clouds in Earth’s atmosphere. Too faint to be seen in daylight, there’s good reason why they’re known as luminous or night shining clouds. Noctilucent clouds can only be illuminated by sunlight below the horizon at astronomical twilight when lower levels of the atmosphere are in Earth’s shadow. Learn more at – https://www.almanac.com/news/weather-news/it-came-outer-space

For immediate noctilucent gratification, ponder noctilucent perfection by Adrien Mauduit of Night Lights Films –


197 Myths, Ice Melt And Conservative Apathy


Remember when wannabe president Trump tweeted –

How about Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, Republican chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, tossing a snowball in February 2015?

“God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.”

“The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” he said.

Inhofe mocked Obama for saying climate change was a greater threat to Americans than terrorism. He spewed lists of terrorist atrocities and enemy nations, accusing the Obama administration of trivializing national security threats in favour of climate propaganda. Inhofe accused liberal news media of using climate propaganda to create fear.

Trump blames China, Inhofe calls on God – how does a reasonable person crack these nuts? Visual aides?

Image courtesy – https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/4/graphic-dramatic-glacier-melt/

Stunning video documentation?

Gone are the days when skepticism demanded verifiable truth. Collective denial is a modern reality perpetuated by numskulls with money, power and political agendas oblivious to ramifications of climate apathy. That said, I stumbled upon a list of 197 climate myths at Skeptical Science. I challenge anyone to find a more complete, user friendly resource –



Biblical Anti-Vaxxer Jibber-Jabber

Meet anti-vaxxer extraordinaire Brittney Kara. According to her Amazon bio, Brittney is a master NLP practitioner (Neuro Linguistic Programming) hypnotherapist, nutrition coach, author and mother.  https://www.amazon.com/Brittney-Kara/e/B00EJS3FEM

Anti-vaxxer jibber-jabber has Brittney to thank for a naturopathic epiphany of Biblical proportion – Vaccines are bad because God never mentioned them in the Bible. Seems Brittney decided to Google vaccines in the Bible, when no reference was found she went public. Watch a short video from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNxt-Npm5rNEJ4ySRsilF1A


Chemically Enhanced Aurora

On April 5 NASA scientists launched sounding rocket mission AZURE (Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment) from Norway’s Andoya Space Center. Twin rockets deployed chemical tracers capable of allowing researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles during an active geomagnetic storm. Emergency service switchboards were inundated with UFO sighting hysteria – seems no one bothered to alert residents of AZURE’s chemical meddling.

Lights over Lapland  webcam operator Chad Blakely captured the first chemical puffs. Video below from Adrien Mauduit documents the spectacle.