Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MC Escher, Circular Thinking and America’s Water

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Current mood: thoughtful

So we started watching Dora's Pirate adventure 20 minutes ago, and it made me think of the last time I watched a Dora movie with a boat and how they came to a waterfall in the middle of the ocean.

Which led my mind to the edge of the world theory you see in Sinbad and the Seven Seas, Pirates of the Carribean (forget exactly which one), and in prevalent belief of the middle ages before world travel changed the "flat" thinking. Which made me wonder, if they thought the world was flat, with a waterfall over the edge...where did they think the water went and where did they think the water they were using -came- from? So I started wondering if, in our world, MC Escher may have had it right when he made the print of his Waterfall.

So I started with the most popular waterfall I could think of-- Niagara Falls.

Turns out, the source for those are the Great Lakes. Which it turns out, provides 95% of the United States Fresh water! How's that possible?
Rivers. And man made channels. See, The Great Lakes are connected to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois River (from Chicago), to the Mississippi, to the Gulf. An alternate track is via the Illinois River (from Chicago), to the Mississippi, to the Ohio, up the Ohio, and then through the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (combination of a series of rivers and lakes and canals), to Mobile Bay and the Gulf. And directly connected to drain into the Atlantic Ocean. On an aside, something else to keep in mind is that water doesn't always flow SOUTH on earth-- there are several instances where it flows NORTH. This is the part where we have to keep in mind that North and South don't actually mean -up- and -down-....So where's the water coming from that goes into the Great Lakes before coming down to the rest of us?

Tributaries-- And Drainage Basins.

A drainage basin is an extent of land where water from rain or snow melt drains downhill into a body of water, such as a river, lake, reservior, wetland, sea or ocean.The drainage basin acts like a funnel, collecting all the water within the area covered by the basin and channelling it into a waterway. Each drainage basin is separated topographically from adjacent basins by a geographical barrier such as ahill or mountain.

And that right there is the 'original' source-- rain and snow melt. Which leads to a brief science lesson in The Water Cycle.

the water cycle funny Pictures, Images and Photos

This cycle is made up of a few main parts:

  • evaporation--when the sun heats up water in rivers or lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air.
  • condensation-- Water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds.
  • precipitation--when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore. The clouds get heavy and water falls back to the earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow.
  • collection--When water falls back to earth as precipitation, it may fall back in the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land. When it ends up on land, it will either soak into the earth and become part of the "ground water" that plants and animals use to drink or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts...all over again.
So Escher was right, it's just that the water doesn't stay in water form the whole time (;.... which is making me think evaporation doesn't pay much attention to gravity, now does it?.... But that's a different musing (;

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