January 29, 2008
Thoughts on Surface and Volume
After reading Prof. Moss' post on the introduction to the Atlas of the Limited Fork Navigational system, the one part of the post that stuck out to me was the mention of surface and volume, the interaction between the two, and surface-based rendering. Surface-based rendering is an amazing thing, that is extremely widely used in medicine. Think x-rays. X-rays are one of the quickest and easiest tools that doctors have for diagnosing an illness. I personally do not know how to read an x-ray, but for anyone that has had one taken for something, it is very easy to understand how much doctors can tell from an x-ray. The idea presented in Prof. Moss' post follows perfectly here. An x-ray is just a picture, something that is 2D, but to find out the real information that they x-ray can tell you, you must look below 'the surface.' Yes, the doctor may be looking at the same picture that you are, but they are looking at it in more detail, and understanding what every little difference in shading or any lines or marks on the x-ray mean in terms of what is happening in your bone, lung, etc. This is an excellent example of something where there is more to be found, 'below the surface,' an idea that I will try and apply to all of the poems (and poams) that I come across in this class. I feel as though I started to do this a little bit at the end of English 240, but hadn't fully understood the concept yet. I will try throughout the class to apply this concept to everything that I pass, and to truly see what 'lies below the surface.'
The Falkirk Wheel
The href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falkirk_Wheel"target="_blank">Falkirk Wheel is a piece of architecture that I first came across in my freshman year at the University. The second semester of my freshman year I took an Engineering Survey course, Engineering 110, where each lecture day a professor from a different department from the School of Engineering came in and talked a little bit about their type of Engineering. One of our professors that was in charge of the class was from the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department. One of the last emails he sent us, which I have still have save to this day, was about the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland. The Falkirk Wheel is a unique way of creating a lock that connects two bodies of water at different heights. When I was first introduced to this, I at first thought that it was something that looked nice aestheically, but that there was not much more to it than how cool it looked. The picture below is amazing, and gives an idea of how visually appealing the Falkirk Wheel is.
Image Source: cellar.org
So how is this relevant to, and where is the connection with English 340? The connection lies in the volume that is behind the aesthetically pleasing surface. I at first thought that this machine was just as simple as something that rotated and took a lot of energy to transport boats but did its job of connecting two different waterways. As it turns out, the process of rotating the wheel takes a very small amount of energy. When it was being designed the architect that created it took advantage of two things: balance between the two ends and Archimedes principle. Since anything that is placed in water will always displace its weight of water, the two sides of the wheel will remain balanced, even if there is not a boat on each side of the wheel. While this is also amazing to me from an engineering perspective, it has to be looked at from a 'volume' perspective. Most people would look at the wheel and understand only the basics, that it rotated and transported boats between the two bodies of water. Not until you look underneath the surface, and look at the volume, do you discover the true workings of the wheel, and how magnificent by taking advantage of a principle that has been known for hundreds of years.
Posted by ndjames at January 29, 2008 11:08 AM
Several other details that are described in this mechanism that I feel are relevant to the course, and to learning about the allness of this poam. There are many different entry points, 4 as I see it, to different parts related to this Falkirk Wheel. You can enter both the upper and lower channel, and enter the upper and lower portion of the Wheel. Each of these entry points will yield a different outcome that is unique to one's perspective. The Wheel was also made to be perceived from one direction. If the Wheel had been designed to be multi-directional, it would not have the swept back design at each end of the Wheel, but since it does that leads to one perceiving the direction of the Wheel only in the direction that it goes. No matter how you experience the Wheel, the pointed end will either be: the end that reaches you second, meaning that you first see the curved end coming toward you; see the pointed end as the last thing leaving you, almost like pointing to the direction it has come from or the direction that a ship would be leaving its wake; or the end that is following you, if you were to be on one of the carrying ends of the Wheel. The structure was specifically designed with this thought in mind, there is always a leading and trailing end to the Wheel and it is only meant to be encountered from this viewpoint.
Posted by: ndjames at March 3, 2008 08:03 PMLogin to leave a comment. Create a new account.