Snowflake Photography

Snowflakes are tiny works of art, and the science of snowflake photography gives us a unique insight to that world. The man who developed snowflake photography was Wilson Alwyn Bentley, known in his later years as Snowflake Bentley. Born in 1865 in Jericho, Vermont, Bentley’s research of snow and weather patterns started as a teenager, studying snowflakes under a microscope on his parents’ farm. He drew sketch after sketch of his snowflakes, but when he stumbled upon information of microscope photography, he convinced his father, who was practical to a fault, to purchase a camera with the appropriate equipment for his next endeavor. 

Snowflake Bentley photographing snow crystals. He worked quickly in a cold room or outside to keep the snowflakes from melting before he could get the photomicrograph.

It would take Bentley more than a year to find success. The ice crystals would melt quickly, and the photo developing process took a lot of time and effort, especially considering that Bentley was a newcomer to photography. After much trial and error, Bentley had success on February 15, 1885 when he got his first clear image, also known as a photomicrograph. He is quoted as saying “The day that I developed the first negative made by this method, and found it good, I felt almost like falling on my knees beside that apparatus and worshiping it! It was the greatest moment of my life.” Because of his lack of education, Bentley felt his contributions were unworthy of note. Eventually, he met a local professor, who convinced him to submit his first article “A Study of Snow Crystals,” which was published in 1898 in Popular Scientific Monthly.  This opened to floodgates, and soon he was publishing articles and traveling the country to give presentations. 

Even living in snowy New England, he couldn’t work with snowflakes year-round. He eventually expanded his studies to include other precipitation, including rainfall, mist, and dew, but snow remained his passion. In 1931, he published his life’s work Snow Crystals. This book included almost 2,500 photomicrographs of snowflakes. If you’re interested in seeing Bentley’s work, you can see some of his photomicrographs through the Smithsonian’s online collections, or you find a copy of Snow Crystals at the Science Library. Later that year, Bentley caught pneumonia and passed away at home on December 23rd, 1931. 

A photomicrograph taken by Bentley

Bentley created his photomicrographs by capturing the snowflakes on white velvet, then scratching the emulsion off the plate to create the back background. This allowed Bentley to edit out non-symmetrical parts, which contributed to the myth that all snowflakes are completely symmetrical. Our current technology allows for more accurate images of snowflakes. With a willingness to stand outside and a DSLR camera (which you can check out from our tool library), and a macro lens, you too can take your own stunning snowflake photographs! If you follow photographer Craig Goodwin’s advice, the process of snowflake photography hasn’t changed much from Bentley’s time. If you want to read more about Goodwin’s process, you can find his blog post here. If you’re not a photographer, or aren’t interested in sitting outside to catch snowflakes, you can see some great flakes in The Art of the Snowflake: a photograph album by Kenneth Libbrecht, available here at the Engineering Library.  

A snowflake photograph by Kenneth Libbrecht.

 

Works Cited

Goodwin, C. (2019, March 2). How to Photograph Snowflakes (and Blow Your Mind). Craig Goodwin Photography. https://www.craiggoodwin.com/blog/2019/2/21/how-to-photograph-snowflakes

Jericho Historical Society. (n.d.). Snowflake Bentley. Snowflake Bentley. https://snowflakebentley.com/

Jones, P. A. (2017, December 23). Wilson A. Bentley: The Man Who Photographed Snowflakes. Mental Floss. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/89924/wilson-bentley-man-who-photographed-snowflakes

Smithsonian Institution. (2021, December 20). How do you photograph a single snowflake? https://www.si.edu/stories/how-do-you-photograph-single-snowflake

Snow Engineering

Now that we have entered the snowy time in the year, we might as well embrace the snow. Although we may not see snow as a positive thing, there are many cultures that take advantage of its unique properties. The Inuit peoples of North America and Greenland use snow to create igloos, also spelled “iglu.” This form of shelter is also sometimes known as an aputiak. These temporary buildings are built entirely of snow, and are usually used as hunting lodges.

 

Inuit Village, Oopungnewing, near Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island in the Mid-19th century

 

While a structure made out of snow may seem like a chilly prospect, but they Inuit hunters could stay in their igloos for entire winters quite comfortably. Not only does the igloo block cold wind, the densely packed snow acts as an insulator to keep those inside warm. In fact, the longer an igloo is used, the more durable it becomes! As people move around inside the structure, the snow melts but refreezes as temperatures drop, creating thin layers of ice. In fact, a well built igloo can support the weight of an entire person. 

But how are igloos built? The main component needed is packed snow. Most snow that falls from the sky in Iowa isn’t going to be dense enough. If you want the appropriate building material you’ll either have to move north – at least to Northern Minnesota. If you find a snow bank that has been packed by wind, you may be able to cut it out and use it, but you will likely need to put in some extra work to pack snow to make blocks. 

Once you choose how large you would like your structure to be, you can begin building. These blocks should not be completely square, but wedge-shaped. This, combined with building in a spiral allows for a self-supported dome. If your dome is completely semi-circular, not all of the blocks share compressive forces, making it more likely to fall. Instead, build your igloo to be a parabolic or catenary arch, more egg-shaped than the dome on the Old Capitol. If you want all the ins and outs of the project, come in and check out How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters by Norbert E. Yankielun.

If you don’t think you can make your own igloo from scratch, you don’t have to be completely kept out of the fun. A Canadian company called PlaySnow makes igloo-shaped support structures that can be covered in snow to make a structure that is sturdy and safe from collapse. They are designed for children, so take that into consideration before you purchase one for your wintertime fun, since a too-small igloo is uncomfortable.  

Inuit Village, Oopungnewing, near Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island in the Mid-19th century
A PlaySnow structure

 

Works Cited

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). igloo | dwelling. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/technology/igloo

Hoyt, A. (2021, February 20). How Igloos Work. HowStuffWorks. https://people.howstuffworks.com/igloo.htm

New World Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Igloo. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Igloo

Santa’s Lapland. (n.d.). Interesting Facts About Igloos | Santa’s Lapland. https://www.santaslapland.com/more-magic/7-interesting-facts-about-igloos/

Yankielun, N. E., & Bauer, A. (2007). How to Build an Igloo: And Other Snow Shelters (Illustrated ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

Coast into Winter Fun

You’re almost done with the semester, and soon you’ll have time to go outside and enjoy the snow. Have you ever thought about the history of sleds? 

Sled race, anyone?

Sleds have a very long history, helping us to work and play. You may have spent your snow days gliding downhill on a plastic saucer or an innertube style sled. The story of the Flexible Flyer is one of engineering, redesigning, and risk.

The Flexible Flyer

Samuel Leeds Allen loved winter activities. From “coasting” (the term used for downhill sledding in the Victorian  era), to ice skating, it was difficult to keep him inside during the Philadelphia winter. During his childhood, toboggans were the most common version of a sled. Having no runners or brakes, riders had to dig a heel into the snow to turn or stop. He was also a tinkerer from a young age. His mother was quoted as saying “I never saw anyone with such perseverance. He never seemed to give up on an idea.” Allen’s teachers believed him to be lazy because he didn’t engage well with the lessons, preferring experiential learning over rote learning. 

After leaving school, Allen moved to live with a relative on a farm in New Jersey. It was there that he started making improvements to farming implements. Eventually he created his own company, S.L. Allen & Co., which made seeders, hoes, plows, harrows, corn shellers, feed grinders, and lawn mowers, among other things. He worked hard to cultivate relationships with buyers, and utilized advertisements in existing publications as well as creating his own. Allen also thrived because of patents and the protection of intellectual property they provided. 

While enjoying sledding with his daughters, Allen’s mind turned to improving the experience. His daughter remembers having to sled down hills again and again and reporting every thought about the ride. Eventually, he would patent his first sled in 1887 called the “Fairy Coaster.” It was large enough to hold three riders on its padded seat, and was steerable with a braking system. However, at $50, the price point was out of reach for most consumers. It was an absolute failure. 

Patent 408,681, the Flexible Flyer

Allen learned from this episode, and worked to improve his design. In 1889 he would be awarded his second patent, this time known as the Flexible Flyer. Again, it looked like the product would be a failure. For several years, Allen’s sled would again fail to sell significant numbers. It wasn’t until people started getting more free time in the mid 1890’s that they had time to enjoy sledding. By 1910, the Flexible Flyer would become the most popular brand, with distinctive branding and features. You can even get your own Flexible Flyer today! 

Sledding on Sand

Maybe your winter plans include more tropical climates – you can still sled! Did you know that some of the first sleds were used on wet sand? There is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians used sleds to efficiently move large blocks of stone. I’m sure you could also take a snow saucer down a sand dune.

The native peoples of Hawaii also have their own version of sledding, called hee holua, or “sled riding.” 12-foot long wooden sleds are ridden down a kahua holua (sledding course), which is made out of lava-gravel. Riders usually ride the sled lying down face first, standing up, or kneeling. Speeds can reach 50-80 miles per hour! 

Sledding on Flat Land

Sleds are also helpful tools to move across flat snow-covered land, but you’ll need some extra power. Dogsledding is one method, utilizing special breeds of dogs who have strong legs and thick coats. Today most of us are most familiar with the Iditarod, a race between Anchorage to Nome, a distance of 938 miles that typically takes 8 to 15 days. This race commemorates the “Great Race of Mercy,” a rush to get diphtheria antitoxin to an ice-bound Nome in the winter of 1925. The serum was transported by relay, and most of the dogs in the original effort ran an average of 31 miles. 

Balto was the lead dog when his owner Leonhard Seppala delivered the serum to Nome

If you don’t have a team of dogs, you can simply kick yourself to your destination. Resembling dogsleds, kicksleds are found in Northern Europe, and work exactly how you think they would. The user stands on the back, and simply kicks to create forward momentum. They were most popular in the mid-2oth century, but you may see some around if you visit during kicksledding weather. Because the runners are very narrow (think ice-skates), they work best on ice or very hard snow.

This model looks like she’s getting some real speed using her kicksled.

What do you think now? Will you be sledding this winter? Share your tips and tricks with us below!

 

Works Referenced:

Bisno, A. (2021, December). The sled that steers. United States Patent and Trademark Office. https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/journeys-innovation/historical-stories/sled-steers

Green, A. (2013, December 24). A Brief History of the Sled. Popular Mechanics. https://www.popularmechanics.com/adventure/sports/g1377/a-brief-history-of-the-sled/

Leonard, D. (2020, December 10). The history of sledding. Grunge.Com. https://www.grunge.com/293350/the-history-of-sledding/

McCarthy, E. (2012, December 28). 25 Things You Might Not Know About Sledding. Mental Floss. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/32044/25-things-you-might-not-know-about-sledding

Meredith, D. (2016, January 12). Dogsledding. The Canadian Encyclopedia. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/dog-sledding

Murray, M. M. (2021, January 5). Holua sledding, the death-defying sport of Hawaiian chiefs. Hawaii Magazine. https://www.hawaiimagazine.com/holua-sledding-the-death-defying-sport-of-hawaiian-chiefs/

A short history of the kick sled. (2010, February 1). The Accidental Hermit. https://theaccidentalhermit.blogspot.com/2010/02/short-history-of-kick-sled.html

Tribou, D. (2013, January 5). Flexible Flyer: A Sledding Tradition Continues | Only A Game. WBUR.Org. https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2013/01/05/flexible-flyer-sled-history

Happy Native American Heritage Month!

November is Native American Heritage Month, so let’s celebrate some Native American Engineers!

Ely S. Parker (1828-1895)

Ely S. Parker (1828-1895) – Seneca, Civil and Military Engineer

Born in 1828 on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Ely S. Parker lived up to his Seneca name of Do-ne-ho-ga-wa, which means “Open Door.” When doors were closed to him because of his background, he found ways to open them. After unsuccessfully lobbying for the rights of his people to stay on their reservation, Parker began to study law in the hopes of advocating for the Seneca. However, when he applied for admission to the bar, he was denied because he was Seneca, and was therefore not considered a citizen in the eyes of New York State law (a law that would stand until the Indian Citizenship Act was passed in 1924). 

Never one to wait for an opportunity, Parker began to study civil engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. This gave him the skills to work on maintenance work for the Erie Canal, and eventually move to Galena, IL to work for the Treasury Department building a custom house and marine hospital. It was there that he became friends with Ulysses S. Grant. When the Civil War began, Parker gathered a group of Iroquois volunteers for the Union, but they were turned away by the Governor of New York, Edwin Morgan. Parker then attempted to enlist by himself as an engineer, but was again denied because of his race. Finally, Parker reached out to his friend Grant, who brought Parker onto his staff in 1963. He would go on to make major contributions at several battles, including Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Petersburg, and would help in drafting the surrender documents at the Appomattox Court House in 1965. 

After his military service, Parker became the first Native American to hold the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1869 to 1871. He would eventually return to engineering with a position in the New York City Police Department, where he served until 1895.

Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008)

Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008) – Cherokee, Aerospace Engineer

Mary Golda Ross was born in 1908 and grew up in Park Hill, OK. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Ross grew up in a tradition that prized equal education for both boys and girls. Because of this, she was not intimidated by her surroundings when she entered male-dominated fields. She started college at the age of 16 at Northeastern State Teacher’s College in Tahlequah, OK where she studied mathematics. Following graduation, she would spend several years teaching math and science in rural Oklahoma, using her summers to attend classes at Colorado State College of Teaching where she was earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 1938.

In 1942 she was hired at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as a computer where she completed complicated mathematical equations using only a pencil, paper, and slide rule, and was assigned to the team that designed the P-38 Lightning. After the war, many of the female computers were laid off and returned to their traditional roles. Ross had drawn special attention for her ambition and abilities, and as a result was kept on and began to take courses at the UCLA to earn her professional certification in engineering. This course included classes in math, engineering, and aeronautics. During peacetime, the Advanced Development Projects team with whom Ross worked, turned to loftier goals. Also known as Skunk Works, many of this team’s projects are classified even today. Ross was a founding engineer of this team, as well as the only woman besides the team’s secretary, and the only Native American. It is known that during this time Ross worked on the Space Race, developing preliminary requirements for spacecraft, which laid the groundwork for the Apollo program. While Ross always had a fascination with space and was an advocate for female astronauts she had little interest in being one herself. She said “I’d rather stay down here and analyze the data.” 

Ross retired from Lockheed at the age of 65, but would work for many years to encourage women and Native Americans to enter STEM fields. In 2004 she was honored at the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which she attended wearing a traditional Cherokee dress that was made for her by her niece. She died in 2008, just three months shy of her 100th birthday.

Do you know some Native American engineers you think need some recognition? Drop them in the comments below!

 

Works Cited

 

Historical Society of the New York Courts. (2019, January 24). Ely S. Parker. https://history.nycourts.gov/figure/ely-parker/

Smith, Y. (2019, November 12). Mary Ross: A Hidden Figure. NASA. https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/mary-ross-a-hidden-figure/

Vergun, D. (2021, November 19). Engineer became highest ranking Native American in Union Army. Www.Army.Mil. https://www.army.mil/article/252126/engineer_became_highest_ranking_native_american_in_union_army

Viola, H. (2018). Mary Golda Ross: She Reached for the Stars. NMAI Magazine. https://www.americanindianmagazine.org/story/mary-golda-ross-she-reached-stars

Wallace, R. (2021, November 19). Mary Golda Ross and the Skunk Works. The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/mary-golda-ross-and-skunk-works

Watson, D. (n.d.). Biography of Ely S. Parker – Galena History Museum. Galena & U.S. Grant Museum. https://www.galenahistory.org/research/bio-sketches-of-famous-galenians/biography-of-ely-s-parker/

New Interlibrary Loan Interface Goes Live!

Have you ever used interlibrary loan? If you haven’t, now is a great time to check it out! A new interface has been launched making it even easier for you to request the items you need. First, visit the website of any University of Iowa library, this can be your branch library (like Engineering) or Main Library. At the top, hover over “My Library” and select “My Interlibrary Loan.” Click the button that says “Log in to Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery” and enter your Hawk ID. You are now ready to request any book, chapter, article, or other material you need. This updated interface removes any additional clicking or typing, so you can make your request or check in on any existing ones and move on with your day. Try it out for yourself and if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Interlibrary Loan Office at 319-335-5917 or lib-ill@uiowa.edu 

New and Improved Interlibrary Loan Interface!

Open Education Resources and the 5 R’s

One of the best kept secrets of education are Open Educational Resources. The University of Iowa’s adopted definition is: “Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use. Generally, this permission is granted by use of an open license (for example, Creative Commons licenses)” These can be videos, images, and audio recordings that can be used to enhance your teaching. You may already be using them – like TED Talks, or images from Flickr! 

OER make teaching accessible, but you aren’t limited to using resources in the way they are found. Because of their public domain or creative copyright licenses, users are able to use them for the 5 R’s: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute. From the UI LibGuide on OER these are defined as:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

By contributing your remixed work to OER resources, you can help further the cycle of Open Access. What are some ways you have used OER? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for following along for our celebration of Open Access Week. We hope you have learned something that will help you to further your learning, research, and life. If you have any questions about Open Access, don’t hesitate to  reach out. You can find us through our contact page.

Open Science

In 2019, UNESCO created their Recommendation on Open Science, a set of guidelines to help encourage collaboration across national boarders, language barriers, and institutional divides. Open Science advocates for Open Access, but widens the scope to include Open Data, Research, Evaluation, Policies, and Tools. 

A taxonomy of Open Science from the Foster Open Science initiative (click to see in detail!)

Open Science leads to more collaborative and democratic discoveries. Institutions that lack funding may not be able to access the expensive databases that can be the only point of access for important papers and other resources. Removing hurdles is good for everyone! By following Open Science guidelines, publishing in Open Access journals, and making their processes widely available, scientists can ensure that their results are accurate by making their tests easily reproducible. Expanded access means more diverse worldviews are contributing to the science. Learn more about the development of Open Science with the resources below!

UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. Available: https://en.unesco.org/science-sustainable-future/open-science/recommendation 

UNESCO. (2019). Preliminary study of the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a UNESCO recommendation on Open Science. 40th Session of UNESCO General Conference, Paris. Available: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370291  

UNESCO Director-General. (2020). Preliminary report on the first draft of the Recommendation on Open Science. Available: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000374409  

 

Library to Help You Publish for FREE in Open Access

UI corresponding authors can now publish their journal articles Open Access and free of cost to them with 8 different publishers! The University Libraries have entered into “transformative agreements” covering the cost if you want your article to be open access. 

  • American Chemical Society(ACS): UI corresponding authors can publish open access in any ACS journals without a fee. Under this agreement, UI authors can publish 34 articles per year OA, it is part of a first come pool and not unlimited. 
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM): Any UI corresponding author can publish open access in ACM journals with no fee. The publisher’s website contains additional information 
  • Cambridge University Press (CUP): There will be no charge for UI corresponding authors who publish open access in CUP’s gold (40 titles) and hybrid journals (330 titles). See CUP’s announcement for more details. 
  • Cogitatio Press: UI corresponding authors can publish in Cogitatio’s four journals without a cost. This announcement provides more detail. 
  • Microbiology Society: Articles published in this society’s journals will be OA by default for UI corresponding authors. 
  • PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology: UI corresponding authors can publish in these two PLOS journals with no fee. PLOS’ announcement provides more detail. 
  • Royal Society: No-fee OA publishing in the society’s nine journals for UI corresponding authors. Royal Society’s read and publish page contains more information. 
  • The Electrochemical Society (ECS): UI authors can publish open access in ECS journals free of charge.

This will not only broaden access to UI articles, but will meet the requirement of some granting agencies to publish OA without embargo. These articles can be immediately read by anyone, anywhere, without the paywalls that traditionally accompany academic journals. 

Learn More at:  https://guides.lib.uiowa.edu/c.php?g=1119367&p=8163705

These programs are only for new papers/articles. It is not retroactive to previously published   

If you have any questions, please contact Kari Kozak (kari-kozak@uiowa.edu) 

ORCiD and Open Access

What is ORCID and why does it matter to Open Access? 

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a personal identifier that helps to make sure that work gets attributed to the correct person. To learn more about ORCID and to get started with your own, visit ORCID @ The University of Iowa.

What does this have to do with Open Access?

ORCID is founded on principles of open access and works to build networks between researchers through expanding access. They back this up in practice, since their own software is open access. 

Have you ever started searching for an article by searching an author’s name only to find in the results that there are multiple authors by the same name, or can’t tell if the author of two papers is the same person because their associated institution has changed? By creating unique searchable ID’s for researchers, ORCID helps overcome both of these problems. If properly maintained, ORCID records can also be full lists of work that a researcher has done. If you can’t access a paper because it is behind a paywall, check the author’s ORCID! You may find they wrote a similar paper that is published in an open access journal.

Want even more information? Watch this short video for more explanation. If you are ready to get started, use the UI ORCID Planter tool to claim your ID today! 

Celebrate Open Access Week with us!

Happy Open Access Week! 

What is Open Access? 

According to UNESCO, Open Access is “free access to information and unrestricted use of electronic resources for everyone.” The hope of Open Access is that increased access to research will lead to more collaborative projects and that the removal barriers will create a more equitable research environment.

We’ll be putting up mini blogs every day, so check in here to learn about ORCID, Open Educational Resources, and more. Also follow along on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you don’t miss anything!

 

Works Cited:

What is Open Access? | UNESCO