Absolutely fascinating to watch: The German Maritime Search and Rescue Service’s tug driving up on one of their larger vessels. Good thing I volunteered to watch all our equipment at the Port of Maasholm when we were driving back from the teacher training at Lotseninsel and everybody else was on a later boat… ;-)

I only realized too late what was going on, so I didn’t get a movie, but the small boat sped up and just drove up the stern of the other boat. So cool!






Teacher training at Lotseninsel

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently contributed to a teacher training on Lotseninsel, a tiny island on the Baltic Sea coast. The training was run by the Ozean:Labor of the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt, and we spent Friday to Sunday there. I’m going to show you some impressions of that weekend here.

At first, it did not look promising:


We had to pack A LOT of equipment on a small boat in pouring rain to bring everything over to the island.


After unpacking all that stuff, we went to test some instrumentation in the pouring rain. This is our cute ROV:


In the evening, when all the teachers had arrived, we started with the workshops and continued until late in the night. Below you see two groups of teachers working on 3×3 m stretches of the beach, collecting plastic to map the pollution of the beach.


The next day, the group was split up in two parallel groups. One doing stuff like this:





The other group, in which I was involved, doing stuff like this:


Obviously we had to do the melting ice cube experiment in a workshop on ocean physics!



But Johanna and Dennis did tons of other cool stuff, too, like for example this demonstration of salt inflow events into the Baltic Sea:


And again, the second time that same workshop was run in the afternoon for the second group of teachers. Amazing how quickly the weather changed!



But of course our group also did some field work: Water sampling and then analysing nutrients, salinity, oxygen concentration…


The next day, I got to see my first fish dissection. I know why I studied physics…


I am not showing you the gory pics here because that’s not what we do on this blog ;-)


Also really cool: Those are baleens, those filters that whales use! Never touched them before.


But we also got some time to enjoy the weather and play with our equipment: Those are Jeannine, Dennis and Johanna, who I had the pleasure to work with. It was great fun!


Even though the amazing weather only lasted for a short while, this is them arriving back on the main land with the last of three tours to shuttle everything back…


But I had a great weekend! And if you haven’t yet, go back and look at the lighthouse on Lotseninsel. I could spend years there, taking pictures from different angles and in different weathers… So pretty :-)

I love lighthouses <3

I love lighthouses. And here I am showing you a couple of pics of one of my favourite lighthouses: The one at Lotseninsel on the Baltic Sea coast. I spent only a weekend there to run a workshop at a teacher training by the Ozean:Labor, but the weather changed so much over those three days that I have plenty of very different pics. Enjoy! :-)




















The blogging hiatus


You may or may not have noticed that my usually very regular blogging has been sporadic at best for a while, and that currently I am blogging a lot more again. Do you want to know why?

You might know that I am currently working in science communication research. And one of my current research interests is how science blogs contribute to science outreach, specifically what motivation bloggers have for writing blog posts, what their goals are with their blogs, and how they determine whether their blogging is successful.
And while doing a literature review on that topic and thinking more and more deeply about it, I have come to realize all the ways in which my blog doesn’t match the design criteria from the literature, nor my goals as a science communicator guide my writing style or my choice of topics. For a while I struggled with that — if I am thinking about blogging so much anyway, shouldn’t this blog be a best practice example so that other people don’t have to read scientific literature about blogs as I do, but can just read my blog and take on whatever they like about it? And shouldn’t I have clear goals in terms of learning outcomes connected to my blog? Or define a persona, a typical user, that I am writing for? And, seeing that I spend quite a lot of time on this blog, shouldn’t it have an impact, spark thoughts or discussions, make the world a better place?
When I started thinking about the persona thing, I realised that I know who is reading this, and who I picture when I am writing. Hence I know who I am writing for: For my oceanographer friends, who like looking at oceanography from my perspective and who enjoy seeing the wonders of oceanography on a puddle or in a plastic cup. For my non-oceanographer friends who find it interesting that there are people weird enough to be this fascinated by water. For my family who is still reading this.
And finally I realised that I don’t really care that this blog isn’t a best practice example for science outreach. Because that’s not my motivation for blogging on this blog (though it is on others). And that not every minute of my waking time has to have a tangible outcome — sometimes it’s ok to just do something as a hobby with no purpose other than enjoying the process.
I am writing here because I enjoy writing and curating a collection of my photos, because I want to have an easily-accessible archive of my thoughts on and pictures of water, and because I like sharing this with my friends and everybody else who is as fascinated by water as I am. But first and foremost, even though I am happy to share it with anyone who enjoys it and even though I am super excited to discuss water with anyone who is interested, this is my blog that I write for myself, not for any audience and for no other purpose than that I enjoy doing it.
And I guess once the pressure of writing a best-practice example blog was off, it became so much more fun again, and now we are back with full force! :-)

Asymmetric propeller blades

On a recent flight to Copenhagen (actually, to Bergen, but that’s another story) I happened to sit with a great view of one of the plane’s propellers. And it struck me how asymmetrical the dark areas caused by the moving propeller above and below the axis looked!

I guessed the explanation would have to be that the propellers were asymmetric in some way, too. Kept me entertained until I saw this:

What could have happened there? Why would there be a seam between completely different patterns of clouds?

I guess there is no reason there shouldn’t be, especially since the cloud / no cloud border is often quite sharp, too. But still, pretty intriguing!

But then a pretty approach to Cph:

And finally: a good view of the propellers. Ha!

And now that I am writing this I am wondering. What’s the difference between asymmetric and asymmetrical? Googling has to wait, I have a plane to catch…

Playing with a ROV

The KiFo owns a ROV that — until now — has never been fully operational. But since I like a challenge (and have a really skilled research assistant who really deserves all the credit) it’s working again!

We first went to test it in a tiny lake on campus.

This was exciting enough, since it seemed to have been leaking on previous attempts.

But this time round it did not, and the lake wasn’t deep enough to test whether it was actually water proof even at increasing pressure.

So off to the Kiel Fjord we went!

And after some careful preparations…

…and a careful launch…

…it worked! :-)

Well, at least until the laptop battery died. But it’s a start! Thanks again for the great work, Nico!!!

Fictitious forces (2/5): Experiencing frames of reference on a playground

How can you be moving in one frame of reference, yet not moving in another?

We talked about the difficulty of different frames of reference recently, so today I want to show you a quick movie on how the seemingly paradox situation of moving in one frame of reference, yet not moving in another, can be experienced on a playground.

My dad on a playground rotator. Moving relative to the rotating disk, yet staying in the same spot relative to the playground.

This is maybe not what you would do with a bunch of university students, but on the other hand – why not?

Playing with water

Sometimes playing with water is all you need to make you happy.

Like on this gorgeous day last December at Möhne Reservoir, the largest artificial lake in western Germany:


That was my godson, btw.. Throwing something, that is, not falling in…

And this was me:


And because I am so happy that I learned how to do that (thank you, Elsa!) I’ll show you a video, too. Maybe some day I’ll talk about the physics behind it, too, but today playing is enough :-)

Refraction of light in moving water — why stuff seems to be jumping around

I was waking along Kiel fjord one morning and noticed a stone “jump” on the ground as waves went over it (and actually, that observation was the motivation to dive into stuff from the last post, too).

I think the stone only looked so curious because the rest of the ground was uniformly sandy and hence didn’t seem to move.


So seeing that jumping stone made me want to draw the optical path, which I’ve animated for you here:


Funny. I think in physics class in school, I would absolutely have hated it had I gotten the task to draw all those different diagrams, and here I really enjoyed it. Maybe because of that jumping stone? Would the right motivation have helped me as a kid to get interested in this? I think it wasn’t that I was not interested in physics, but it would never have occurred to me to sit down on my own to sketch optical paths or anything like that. Now if I could figure out what changed for me, maybe we could use that to make other people interested in physics, too?