Tag Archives: nature

Happy Summer Solstice! — Eratosthenes’ Inspiration

Seasonal changes are such a delight to the senses. The summer solstice marks longer days, if you live in the northern hemisphere, and ushers in fragrant blooming plants, delicious summer fruit, and adventures with friends and family. But the summer solstice also shares an anniversary of a scientific achievement. Here’s an excerpt from “Summer solstice: the perfect day to bask in a dazzling scientific feat” by Stuart Clark posted on The Guardian:

The summer solstice is the anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of the human mind: it marks the day we first calculated the size of the Earth.

This spectacular feat took place not in the modern technological age, but way back, over 2000 years ago, in the time of the classical Greeks.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene was the chief librarian at the great library of Alexandria in the third century BC. So the story goes, he read in one of the library’s many manuscripts an account of the sun being directly overhead on the summer solstice as seen from Syene (now Aswan, Egypt). This was known because the shadows disappeared at noon, when the sun was directly overhead. This sparked his curiosity and he set out to make the same observation in Alexandria. On the next solstice, he watched as the shadows grew small – but did not disappear, even at noon.

The length of the shadows in Alexandria indicated that the sun was seven degrees away from being directly overhead. Eratosthenes realised that the only way for the shadow to disappear at Syene but not at Alexandria was if the Earth’s surface was curved. Since a full circle contains 360 degrees, it meant that Syene and Alexandria were roughly one fiftieth of the Earth’s circumference away from each other.

Knowing that Syene is roughly 5000 stadia away from Alexandria, Eratosthenes calculated that the circumference of the Earth was about 250,000 stadia. In modern distance measurements, that’s about 44,000km – which is remarkably close to today’s measurement of 40,075km.

I first heard the story when it was told by Carl Sagan in his masterpiece TV series, Cosmos. I still marvel at Eratosthenes’s achievement – a stunning piece of deduction, based only on a few simple observations and an ocean of clear thinking.

So as you revel in the joys of the season, perhaps you can pause to marvel at the inspiration of Eratosthenes. 🌞


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Desktop Wallpaper Calendar — July 2016 — Free to Download

Whole new month! Whole new month! Welcome July! We hope you enjoy this desktop calendar image for the month of July.

AmberLotus-wallpaper-July-2016-comp

Click thumbnail image above to see a preview of the downloadable graphic. See download tips and system instructions below. Continue reading

Artist Spotlight — Rob Kesseler: Microscopic Photography

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge “Treat,” we’re thrilled to share more from Rob about his fascination with seeds and his process in capturing these stunning images – treats and mysterious wonders of nature. ~ Amber Lotus

Images from our Pollen Seeds Fruit 2016 wall calendar. Click image for more info.

Images from our Pollen Seeds Fruit 2016 wall calendar. Click image for more info.

From childhood, my love of flowers has always been an instinctive response to the sheer diversity of colors and shapes, and I think this is reinforced by the cyclical nature of the way they appear and are transformed throughout the seasons. There is a reassuring regenerative spirit of familiarity to see a tiny shoot emerge from the ground into full-blown blossom, and I never get tired of looking at the annual spring spectacle.

Looking is a somewhat undervalued skill rooted in our primitive needs to identify pattern, form, and shape in order to facilitate secure passage through life. The more intensely we look, the better our cognitive powers to interpret and translate our response into new physical form.

A lens, in both its physical and contextual form, gives a point of focus that enhances clarity of observation and nourishes our vision. It is both the lens of my own eyes and those of the various microscopes I use that nourish my creative drive and provide me with the stimulus to share my passion with others.

Process

The images are created using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). I prepare the specimens by coating them with a micro-fine layer of gold before bombarding them with a beam of electron particles and focusing them through powerful magnets onto a screen. The resulting images have phenomenal resolution at high magnification, anything up to X 10,000. But I often work with larger specimens at low magnification, taking up to fifty shots that are subsequently pieced together in the post-production phase. Continue reading

World Record Tree Hugging – UPDATE!

It’s official; the Guinness Book of World Records emailed to confirm that Portland Parks & Recreation‘s Hoyt Arboretum and Treecology NOW OWN the new world record for tree hugging with 951 people simultaneously giving minute-long hugs to the arboretum’s trees last July! Congrats to the nearly 1000 folks who took part!

Amber Lotus staff help create history at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon.

It was a bright sunny day in July. Hoyt Arboretum and Treecology were hosting an attempt to break the Guiness World Record for the most people simultaneously hugging trees in one place at one time.This fun event, and others like it, are a way to raise awareness of the ancient souls that clean our air and feed our environment. Amber Lotus had donated a box of 2014 Tree Huggers calendars to help raise funds for the Arboretum. It seemed only right that we, as diehard tree huggers, help make history.

Tree Huggers 2014 Wall Calendar

Tree Huggers 2014 Wall Calendar

Although we intended to arrive by the 2 pm start time, we wound up distracted and delayed by live music and sand sculptures at Pioneer Square. Fortunately, the Arboretum is just a short train ride from downtown Portland. Thus, we casually strolled up to registration around 2:45, just 15 minutes before the grand tree hug. Being among the last arrivals, my companions and I found a large tree to share in the nearby stand of Douglas Fir reserved for the chronically late. We leaned back to wait.

With only five minutes to go, we heard the registration folks announce that we were just 35 people short of achieving the world record. Volunteers ran out in every direction to beg, bully and cajole passersby into joining the effort. We watched in bemusement as people trotted up the path, proving that Portlanders are always willing to help—especially when trees are involved. As each newcomer signed in, the registrars called out numbers: 30, 25, 20. We were down to just 5 people short as 3 pm rolled around.

A tree hugger at the edge of the copse noticed a wedding party being photographed down the hill and shouted to one of the volunteers, who sprinted down the hill towards the party. A few moments later a cheer rose up as the wedding party, official photographer in tow, crested the hill, rushed to registration and signed in to hug a tree.

 keefeklicker.com

Some of the Huggers that participated in the Guiness World Record Tree Hugging event at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon, summer 2013. Photograph by John Klicker. keefeklicker.com

Now we had enough people but not enough nearby trees. The rules stated that multiple people could share a tree, but that we could not touch each other. So we all squeezed in. Tall people hugged high, short people hugged low. As we rearranged ourselves, more people wandered in to join. Finally, at 6 minutes past the appointed time, the whistle sounded and we all grabbed our trees and hung on. Videographers ran through the forests filming the minute-long simultaneous hug. And then we were done.

Final count? 951 people, handily beating the previous world record of 702 in the UK and just squeaking by an earlier attempt (not yet certified) of 935 tree huggers in Minnesota.

— Aleta Florentin, Production Manager, Amber Lotus Publishing

Other Hugging products by Amber Lotus:

Holiday Tree Hugger Card

Tree Hugging Santa – Holiday Cards

Spring Equinox

The Sacred Marriage:

The Spring Equinox celebrates both Earth and Sun, both growth and light. At this point in the solar calendar, the length of daylight equals the length of the night – the male sun balances out the female moon. After the Equinox, the balance will shift in favor of the growing Sun as he begins to make the day longer than the night.
In the lunar calendar that relates to the seasons, the Equinox also signals an important phase for the female Earth for this is the time she opens herself, ready to receive the new seed and to bring forth the plant life that has overwintered inside her. The month of April, which arrives shortly after the Equinox, derives its name from the Latin aperio, to open (as in the word aperture).
At the Spring Equinox, different threads from the solar and seasonal calendars are woven together into a single strand….daylight is equal to darkness, so the God and Goddess make a well-matched couple.
From The Magickal Year by Diana Ferguson