What’s the Difference Between Static Electricity and ‘Regular’ Electricity?

Electrical, Meteorology
[caption id="attachment_26762" align="alignright" width="480"] A thunderstorm - Image by Felix Mittermeier[/caption]Is static electricity different from regular electricity, or is there simply something different about how it is formed and how it behaves? What, for that matter, is electricity? Obviously it involves electrons. Electricity, Your Ordinary Household Variety A household circuit is just that. It's a circuit - a kind of conductive circle that allows electrons to flow through a device that uses some of them to function. Flow is the key. Flow is the word. Consider a water hose. When you turn the water on, does it trickle out or burst out? The amperage, like the water in the hose, represents the amount of electrons. The voltage is comparable to the pressure of the flow. Finally, flow suggests dynamic energy,…
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Diamond Dust Not From Diamonds – What’s That?

Meteorology, Transportation
[caption id="attachment_26565" align="alignright" width="480"] A halo produced by diamond dust. Image by Oimheidi[/caption]The words "diamond dust" are likely to bring to mind either very tiny jewels or the industrial grinding medium. However, there is another, entirely different kind of diamond dust. It involves weather. A Weatherman Speaks For a quick description, watch the first 1 minute 15 seconds of this 3-minute video... Sounds interesting? But what does DD look like? Diamond Dust - Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder This 26-second video shows DD falling in Japan... Diamond Dust: Filling in a Few Blanks Fog is a common occurrence. It's like clouds descended to Earth's surface. It consists of miniscule liquid water droplets coating particles of dust¹. Diamond dust is somewhat similar in its description, except the droplets…
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Hazardous Black Ice – One Source You May Not Anticipate

Meteorology, Transportation
[caption id="attachment_26551" align="alignright" width="480"] It's night. It's foggy. Is it freezing fog?[/caption]Life is good. Nevertheless, dangers affect everyone - seasonal dangers. In Summer, we may face bees, snakes, rabid animals, poison ivy, deer on the road, chain saw incidents. To name a few. In Winter In winter, the elements become especially problematic. Something as beautiful as snow can sometimes kill. Blinding blizzards, excessive drifts, snow-blinded drivers, even avalanches. One particular danger is not so dramatic. In fact, it is downright sneaky. Black ice. Black Ice Black ice is not actually black, of course, but the word black suggests darkness. Darkness so deep a person with the best of vision can see nothing. One may go outside and fall or drive and have an accident, simply because he does not take…
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Clouds from Space: Noctilucent AKA Polar Mesospheric Clouds

Astronomy, Meteorology
[caption id="attachment_24116" align="alignright" width="480"] An International Space Station image of noctilucent clouds. Image by ISS/NASA[/caption] A cloud is a visible collection of condensed water vapor or ice crystals located within the atmosphere. Clouds form only when there is sufficient humidity to form droplets or crystals upon a suitable quantity of microscopic particles (called an aerosol). Particle types include sand, pollen, spores, smoke, exhaust pollutants, and sea salt. But the formation of so-called “night shining” or ‘noctilucent’ clouds (NLCs) requires something special. Noctilucent clouds are sometimes (especially in scientific circles) called polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs) – their appearance is striking. Their altitude is remarkable. They reside an amazing 50 miles above Earth’s surface. By comparison, cumulonimbus (storm) clouds reach elevations of only approximately 15 miles, and cumulus (fair weather) clouds are…
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Vinyl Alcohol, Tautomerism, and Earth’s Atmosphere

Chemistry, Meteorology
[caption id="attachment_16229" align="alignright" width="480"] Sea spray salt aerosol[/caption] The simplest alcohols contain only carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Whereas water contains a hydrogen atom attached to a hydroxyl group, a simple alcohol consists of a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms attached to a hydroxyl group. Vinyl alcohol is one of the simplest. In fact, it differs by just two hydrogen atoms from ordinary ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is written, CH₃CH₂–OH. Vinyl alcohol or ethenol is CH₂=CH–OH. Though very similar, ethyl alcohol exhibits very ordinary, straightforward behavior, typical of an alcohol. Ethenol, however, due to its double bond, behaves differently. Tautomerization Vinyl alcohol rearranges slightly under ordinary conditions. It tautomerizes to the more stable species acetaldehyde. This variety of tautomerization is termed keto-enol tautomerism. The keto part refers to…
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Natural Snow Removal – How?

Meteorology, Physics
[caption id="attachment_12185" align="alignright" width="480"] Snow - It's a Natural[/caption] What is natural snow removal? It doesn't involve vitamins or minerals. It doesn't involve mulch or compost. From December to March, throughout the United States, sizable snow falls are no surprise. Some are delighted by snow. Others dread it. Neither speeds up or prevents a snow fall. Except through hard work on streets, sidewalks, and such, snow only goes go away by natural means. Natural Snow Removal One natural factor that removes snow is an increase in outdoor temperature. The greater the temperature, the faster snow melts. Of course it melts from the top down or the outside in. But temperature is not the only factor involved in natural snow removal. Sunlight The sun can shine brightly. Snow disappears more quickly…
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Too Quirky Even for Me: The Mathematics of a Tornado

Meteorology
[caption id="attachment_7424" align="alignright" width="440"] The tornado spiral should be a fascinating topic for the mathematical meteorologist![/caption] I would love for someone to write an article on the mathematics of a tornado. A tornado is rather like a spiral, affected by the media and media parameters surrounding it. Doubtless, scale plays a role as well, even as scale causes the aeronautics equations of a jet to vary from those of a paper airplane. Download Mathematics of a Tornado I know of one publicly downloadable article on the subject of the mathematics of a tornado. It is written in broken English, but it was removed from its original online location. The good news is that it has been archived on Archive.org. Can you fully understand the piece and then in understandable terms,…
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Surprising Insights on Global Warming by Meteorologist Jon Plotkin

Meteorology
[caption id="attachment_7412" align="alignright" width="480"] Contrails (high-moisture exhaust) by aircraft.[/caption] I’m very active since my retirement from the rat-race. I don’t have lots of time to watch or read about the weather. But I do manage to keep up. One of the better ten-minute periods I spent was on a global warming written by meteorologist Jon Plotkin of the former science site Decoded Science. What a Difference a Day Makes Some mistakenly think each day should be degrees warmer “if there is such a thing as global warming.” They want to think they know what it is without reading any scientific explanation. The global warming article is special in that it does not focus on high temperature, but temperature difference—the high temperature of the day minus the low temperature of the…
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Which Weighs More – Wet Air or Dry Air?

Meteorology
[caption id="attachment_5407" align="alignright" width="440"] CCA Share Alike 3.0 Unported by Santhosh kumar[/caption] Air is mostly a mixture of gases and plus water vapor. The primary two gases are nitrogen and oxygen. We will state up front that the traces of other substances in air don’t affect the outcome of whether wet air or dry air is heavier. It all has to do with molecular weights. Nitrogen Nitrogen is a diatomic gas—chemical formula N₂. Its atomic weight is 14, therefore its molecular weight is 28. Nitrogen constitutes 78% of the atmosphere. [caption id="attachment_14807" align="alignright" width="280"] Barometer[/caption] Oxygen Oxygen is also a diatomic gas—chemical formula O₂. Its atomic weight is 16, therefore its molecular weight is 32. Oxygen constitutes 21% of the atmosphere. Dry Air Again, not considering the traces of other…
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