Otherwordly Time-Lapse Video: The Fog Rolls in for "Adrift"

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Sept. 11 2013 10:45 AM

Time-Lapse Video: “Adrift”

Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge towers over the fog in "Adrift".

Photo by Simon Christen, from the video

Every now and again, you just need a moment to watch an incredibly soothing time-lapse video of fog rolling in over the San Francisco Bay. Well, today is your lucky day.

“Adrift” was shot by photographer Simon Christen over the course of two years (!). I lived in the North Bay for many years, and saw the fog rolling in like a living thing many times. Christen has really captured the essence of it. There were times I would see it moving over the tops of cliffs and hills so quickly that time-lapse wasn’t really needed. It was astonishing.

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This video is a strong reminder that air is, by definition, a fluid: It flows. Watching it bump and roil and surge reminds me too of the fiercely complicated field of hydrodynamics; the mathematical modeling of how fluids flow. The equations are intensely complex, and made all the worse by being subject to turbulence, which is fiendishly difficult to model. The final blow is that understanding the real behavior of fluids means having to use three dimensions in the calculations, all of which interact with other. The complexity is immense.

Nature, of course, solves these equations naturally. I’d accept that as an axiom, in fact. The rules of nature are physics, and the language is mathematics. Together, they create amazing complexity, and out of that comes beauty.

Tip o’ the Rice-A-Roni to Dawn Sumner.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies!