Daniel Collins

WOMAD passes the Crikey Creek test - Crikey Creek

Mar 18, 2010

I was enjoying the tunes at WOMAD last weekend, presided over by the Fuji-like volcano Mount Taranaki. When I heard Ojos be Brujo was going to be there, I was sold, but Calexico, The Skatalites and Babylon Circus pushed the gig beyond great. Several of the songs I heard not only rocked musically, but also hydrologically, winning the Crikey Creek Glass Harp of Honour. Calexico, alt-country group from Arizona, sang about their artificial urban landscape set amidst a desert in ‘Man Made Lake’: “I’m gonna walk these streets Of cold concrete Like I’m a ghost Searching for its grave Then I’ll dwell by the edge of this man made lake And descend into the city That holds no place for me” The chorus of Scottish folk musician Eddi Reader‘s ‘Follow … Read More

Happy St Patrick’s Day! - Crikey Creek

Mar 17, 2010

With Guinness in hand, let us toast the technical advancements of the Irish. Robert Manning – Origin of the Manning Equation for describing water flow in channels. Robert Boyle – Father of chemistry. So, who was the mother? Francis Beaufort – Beaufort scale for indicating wind force. George Boole – Boolean algebra. You either love it or you hate it. George Stoney – Introduced the idea of the electron. John Tyndall – Why is the sky blue? Lord Kelvin – Set “infinite cold” to zero. Let us also wonder how much green dye is used to turn the Chicago River green, or whether phosphorus runoff would achieve the same effect. Read More

Improving on-farm water management: Lessons from California - Crikey Creek

Mar 17, 2010

The Pacific Institute, based on Oakland, CA, has recently released a report describing seven case studies of how farmers in CA have improved water management. They illustrate… “…diverse strategies for innovative water planning, use of technology, institutional management, economic incentives, and environmental protection and restoration.” And they serve as lessons for other farmers in CA, but also in other water-challenged regions of similar socioeconomic and technical standing – New Zealand included. The crops included in the stories number more than just seven: corn, rice, pasture, tomatoes, artichokes, lettuce, almonds, grapes, etc etc. The approaches used to improve water management are also varied. Peter Gleick summarises several of the conclusions thus: “Managing for multiple benefits. Each of the case studies offers multiple benefits and collaborations among diverse sectors of the economy. Accurately measuring and monitoring water use. The most … Read More

Nothing to see here - Crikey Creek

Mar 16, 2010

Unless you’re Technorati, in which case you want to read the string 67YTV55CAU9U to verify this blog. Ah, good old verification – crucible of fire – with one hand you pour praise on claims and hypotheses, and with the other you pour scorn. Your ends are unseen, because what matters are your means. Read More

El Nino brings drought to Venezeula, and exposes a flooded town - Crikey Creek

Mar 16, 2010

El Nino means different things to different people. “The boy”, in Spanish, in weather-related circles it is the warm phase of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern. The cold phase is La Nina (“the girl”). To Venezeulans, El Nino means a little more: drought. But this year’s drought brought a blast from the past – bitter-sweet memories. Water levels in the Uribante-Caparo reservoir have dropped so low, people can visit the Andean town of Potosi that was flooded in 1985 when the reservoir was first filled. “Former town resident Josefa Garcia, 74, is grateful for the drought, even though it has triggered Venezuela’s worst-ever electricity crisis. Standing in the shadow of a usually submerged 85-foot-high (26-meter-high) high church here, Garcia vividly recalls when then-President Carlos Andres Perez swooped in by helicopter to tell residents the town would soon … Read More

Why water is so weird - Crikey Creek

Mar 15, 2010

I judged a book by its cover. There was this blue, amorphous blob in the throes of metamorphosis – yet frozen in time. The heading above it read: “The strangest liquid: Why water is so weird”. It was the Feb 6 2010 edition of New Scientist, which I spied when buying the Jan-Fen 2010 edition of New Zealand Geographic. I had that consumeristic impulse. I bought it. A month later, when I got round to reading the article, I was not disappointed. The article told the story of Anders Nilsson of Stanford University and Lars Pettersson of Stockholm University in their efforts to explain why water is indeed so weird. What is common knowledge is that ice floats and water freezes first at the top. This is because water is the densest at 4°C. Very few other liquids … Read More

Happy pi day! - Crikey Creek

Mar 14, 2010

Hop over to Circle of Blue. See how radial symmetry makes measuring stuff easier. And don’t get depressed when things start to suck. Read More

World water crisis: Myth or reality? - Crikey Creek

Mar 13, 2010

Asit Biswas, an expert in international water resource management, has changed his mind. He no longer believes a world water crisis is a crisis of physical supply. It is, instead, a crisis of management. He also does not believe wars will be fought over water. What gives? Have a listen. Read More

Bubble-shaped, water-filtering skyscraper - Crikey Creek

Mar 12, 2010

French firm Design Crew for Architecture has designed a novel water purifying tower. It consists of a series of large spheres attached to pillars. Brackish water is pumped up the tower, taken up by mangroves growing in the spheres, and transpired. Purified condensation is then collected for drinking or irrigation. Mangroves are chosen because of their tolerance of saline and brackish water. The design sure looks cool. And if it wasn’t for creative thinking we’d be stuck back in the 1980s. But the commenters at BoingBoing are roundly panning the design, myself included. The designers really don’t understand botany or engineering. “And it is in this shape, because??? Because it looks neato in the illustration and the designer has no intention of ever building or, heaven forfend, maintaining such a thing?” “What’s the purpose of the … Read More

Hippo surfs flood waters to freedom - Crikey Creek

Mar 12, 2010

From flooded elephant research sites to flooded zoos… Back in January heavy rains flooded a private zoo in Plavinca, Montenegro. 2-ton and 11-year old hippopotamus Nikica flew the coop by swimming over her submerged cage. The natural disasters commission wasn’t happy, and thought they might be able to shoot her. The state veterinary authorities thought otherwise, saying she wasn’t threatening. Apparently when Nikica escapes, she wanders over to the folks in the nearby village but would return of her own accord: “When the water warms up and does not seem so threatening, she will return of her own free will,”… “She loves mud more than life itself.” Nonetheless, zoo security were on the case. Food was left out for her. And when flood waters receded, she apparently [was] returned to her enclosure. Read More