26 Comments
Dec 10, 2021Liked by Mike Sowden

The reason for the bump was someone suggested your substack as respite from all the political #&?#. I'm grateful to you

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author

That is absolutely the nicest reason I've heard for anyone reading my stuff. Whoever said that is very kind. As are you. :)

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I'm a science idiot, Mike, so I'm going to believe you regardless, especially because I don't think it will do harm. Interesting stuff!

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Hooray for science idiocy! (If it feels tediously sensible, relentlessly logical and depressingly dull, it's either not good science, or it is but what it actually *means* hasn't sunk in yet.) I promise none of this post is a misguided April Fool's. It's all exactly that mad.

(And a thing I was delighted to discover in my research: not only is the oscillation of ice crystals as they settle into a mostly horizontal airborne state called a "flutter" (so nice), but also the study of light pillars isn't trivial. Knowing the optical properties of ice crystals is important for modelling climate change: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2008GL036413 So even the most idiotic science has a way of becoming useful in wholly unexpected ways. I love that. Mainly because I aspire to something similar...)

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Stunning collection of pix. Reminds me of the Augsburg Book of Miracles, but with science!

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Yes! And when I first read about them a couple of weeks ago, and started flipping through all the photographs, I was skeptical. "This looks...*too* photogenic. Come on. Nature's lovely and all that, but it's not an illuminated manuscript!"

(Re. loight pillars as Art, it didn't escape my notice that many of the photographers were selling prints of their light pillar images as full-size wall-mounted artwork. Imagine one of those across an entire wall, rendered in high detail! Yes please.)

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Beautiful pics and a fantastic explanation. Now I just need to see for myself!

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Me too! I'll be keeping an eye out - I mean, Glasgow's only 40 miles away and it's getting *really* cold at the moment (by Scottish standards). Fingers crossed.

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Wow, that moon pillar is magical! Thank you for sharing.

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And thank you for reading, Silvia! Yeah, seeing something that looked like that, in the middle of the profound emptiness of Antarctica? What an incredible thing. And now we get to see it too. Photos can be such a gift to everyone who wasn't there...

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Feb 12, 2022Liked by Mike Sowden

This is so interesting! Do you have any insight on what could have caused the spiral anomaly in Norway? https://dubaikhalifas.com/what-is-this-mysterious-spiral-anomaly-in-the-norwegian-sky/

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Yes! I remember that - and it was down to the third booster of a Russian rocket launch going out of control: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18262-strange-norway-spiral-was-an-out-of-control-missile/

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Jan 22, 2022Liked by Mike Sowden

😜

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Jan 21, 2022Liked by Mike Sowden

Articulated with panache, honesty and more than a dash of humility - superb..!

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That is a remarkably kind thing to say, and I thank you for it. But also I'm British, so I need to go and shuffle my feet and look at the floor and say "um" and "gosh" for a couple of hours now, so I'll go and do that. (Thank you.)

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Sticking with diamond dust, wowing, and awing.

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founding

So fun to read about this! That sun halo + sundogs (which auto-correct wants to turn into "sundaes"; I'll take one of those, too) was truly overwhelming. I've seen a few since, but not as distinct and definitely not that big. And you are absolutely correct -- learning the science of why they happen made them *much* cooler and more mysterious, not less.

Would love to read more about the "learning science makes everything more mysterious" effect, actually. I don't think I'll ever not be an atheist, but deeply researching millions of years of bipedal evolution got me closer to believing in a creator than church ever did. Everything really is amazing!

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If I ever stumble across a new atmospheric phenomenon, I'm calling it a Sundae...

>>"Would love to read more about the "learning science makes everything more mysterious" effect, actually..."

And I think I'd like to learn & write more about it. Hmmm. This whole thing is feeling a bit my-long-dreamed-of-pitch-to-Aeon-y. I think I need to do some digging on this. It was a bit of a throwaway digression, but the more I think about it, the more important a point it feels, to curiosity and to the spirit of scientific enquiry. Hmm. Hmmmmmm. (Thank you! You're the best.)

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founding

Yes you should! (think about an Aeon pitch on that subject as well as call a new atmospheric phenomenon Sundae). I love that idea, and Aeon would be a lovely place for that kind of thinking.

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Re. that Aeon pitch: challenge accepted. Because I'm so lacking in self-discipline that I need it to be a formal challenge to get it done. And now it will. 😀 Thank you.

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founding

Happy to give you a deadline if it helps 🤓

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author

Haha. I KNEW THIS WAS A BAD IDEA. *hears the sound of a whip cracking* I think I need to get the first 2 chapters of my How To Be Rained On book finished first, because they're going in my newsletter. But after that? You have a deal.

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founding

Always here to be a bad influence! 😂 Or to workshop a pitch if you need it :)

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Bit like arguing that God doesn't exist. If I believe He exists, He exists. If I don't, He doesn't ... sorry: "*h*e doesn't."

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Is this phenomenon related to Steve?

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Forget I asked that. It just raises another phenomenon you'll have to explain: i.e. I got diverted here from the first line on a post about -you guessed it - Steve. That's the problem with alluring links. You go off on a cahin of "I didn't know that"s.

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