Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year's Day Haikus

Wet coal in the hearth,
I wonder will it ever dry
And come alight?

The old year ending,
In the sea the setting sun
Appears like sunrise.

A dusting of snow
Sprinkled in the deep of night
Marks the New Year white.

Behold the full moon!
Because its surface is rough,
Its light is so smooth.




  1. The final haiku might need a bit of explanation.

    If you imagine light reflecting off a surface, the closer to right angles that the light reflects, the brighter the reflection. So as you look at the beautiful full moon, the sun is "behind" you, reflecting its rays off half its surface (instead of glancing off one side as when the moon is a crescent). But the light that bounces off the edge of the moon is coming back at a really oblique angle, so you'd expect it to be much dimmer than the centre which reflects directly... and yet it isn't! The light is so close to uniform, which is counter-intuitive and the only explanation, deducible with the naked eye, is that the moon's surface must be rough so that it scatters light in all directions so well.

  2. Well done Okei, I especially love the second one.

    The final is brilliant too

  3. Thank you Cyn! The second one was inspired by an experience of Titou on Yahoo Answers as he watched the sun set in Miami Beach, Florida.

    It was funny because I'd just asked a pretty crazy question about the possibility of "spiritual time going backwards".

  4. Just adding to my explanation below about the moon... the image on the left is an Oren-Nayar computer-graphics model of what the moon would look like if it were smooth, the second and third images the same model with increasing roughness, and on the right the actual moon.–Nayar_Reflectance_Model

    The sun by contrast should be evenly bright because the light is coming to us directly and the area of light coming from the edge of the sun is greater which should make up for the fact that it is coming to us at a more oblique angle. Yet the edge of the sun is in fact darker than its centre.

    Apparently this is partly because the sun is less dense at the extremities and also partly because it is less hot there.

  5. That was so well written, dude!
    Loved this part the most:
    "The old year ending,
    In the sea the setting sun
    Appears like sunrise. "

  6. okei okei okei...must you explain everything in such great details, and make it sound like a Science Class ;))

    You know some of us are just too dimwit to grasp all that jazz, LOL.

    Let us be...we'll make something of it anyway...we always do!

    Now, while still on topic...why would a cut diamond shine brighter than an uncut?!?

    Don't put wet coals if you have the dry ones. They will take an eternity to smoulder.

    Loved you haikus! Just teasing you :))

  7. Jach, thank you! Everyone likes that one most. :^) And I have titou to thank on Y!A as I said below...

    Param, yes, a little bit of a science class, lol. As for the links, they were way over my head too. But it's amazing isn't it? That just by looking at the moon with the naked eye we can make that deduction that it isn't smooth, and you can "see" it just from that picture I posted.

    As for the diamond, I imagine it's the same reason as why a mirror would reflect better than rough glass. Does it actually shine brighter, or does it just focus the light in cool ways creating that sparkle?

  8. Yes, for sure it shines brighter... it just occurred to me the difference between the diamond and the moon is that the diamond is semi-transparent (or translucent or whatever the word is), it lets light in. Each time light bounces off a surface, there's a chance that it gets converted into heat like sunlight on the Earth. The uncut diamond lets light in and it gets trapped inside. By cutting the diamond, you probably minimize the number of bounces before the light leaves the diamond again.

    So I think that's what it is... but I'm wondering now why it is that an octagonal shape does so much better at not trapping the light than say a perfect sphere... or what other effects come into play to create the sparkle effect. Time for Google, Wikipedia & Y!A, eh!

    Re: wet coals, that was metaphorical of course. It was inspired by a quote I read by Maharshi, the fire symbolizing enlightenment.

  9. Thanks for explanations :)

    Now, how does moon reflect light? Is its surface shiny as a glass or facets of a diamond?

    I would prefer learning from you than impersonal Google or Wikipedia, if you don't mind!

    I think wet coals will turn to cinders in the fire...without much enlightenment. Like rotten minds, I guess! No actual experience in coals deptt., LOL!

  10. Well, you make a good point Param. If you imagine a matte black surface, if you were to magnify it, it would be really rough, lots of zig-zags, so lots of light gets trapped in wedges and it all turns to heat. A shiny black surface on the other hand reflects a little better. (Actually, it's a pretty strange thing if you think about it why objects have different colours, but it's something to do with them "absorbing" all the other colours in the spectrum as heat, but why this should be is pretty mysterious to me.)

    So the point you're making is that a really rough surface should be less bright... whereas we all know how bright the moon is. Perhaps it's only "quite" rough, and if we wanted to measure exactly, we could do so from its brightness instead of from the distribution of light as I was showing in the pictures below. Think of the moon like a billiard ball. If it were perfectly smooth, it would look like the first image on the left, whereas it actually looks much more like the third. It's different from diamond or glass though because the light never enters below the surface, so a billiard ball is a better comparison. Diamonds on the other hand have much cooler light-effects... and then there are some materials with even cooler reflective properties which could one day perhaps be used to make invisibility cloaks.

    I need to be checking Google myself at some point to make sure I'm not talking complete nonsense.

    I think the idea with wet coals is that the fire eventually dries them out, and only then can they join the party and burn. But it takes a lot of patience, lol.

  11. "There are 3 factors that determine diamond cut.

    Brightness (Brilliance)- the combination of all white light reflecting from the surface and interior of a diamond.

    Fire- the colored flashes that can be seen in a diamond. Mostly from the angled crown facets.

    Scintillation- the flashes of light seen in a diamond when you move it from side to side....the "sparkle"."

  12. Nice Pictures. When I was by the sea often there was such a reflection to the moon with different lights.

    Love the part --Because its surface is rough,
    Its light is so smooth.

  13. Hi Had, good to see you!

    So that would have been when you were on the East Coast, the full moon rising opposite the setting sun. (See my powers of deduction, lol, the alternative is less likely - that you were on the West Coast and going down to the sea before dawn.)

    When you say different lights, do you mean lots of colours? I'm now thinking back myself, and maybe you mean the curve of light you get in a bay from city lights and also the ships at sea, as well as of course the silver rippling of the moon. The latter makes me think of the second verse of Enya's "Anywhere Is".

    "The moon upon the ocean
    Is swept around in motion
    But without ever knowing
    The reason for its flowing.

    In motion on the ocean,
    The moon still keeps on moving,
    The waves still keep on waving
    And I still keep on going."

    (this is truncated... it seems the full music video for her song isn't on youtube)

    Delighted you enjoyed. :^) And oh, I was trying to explain that haiku in my first comment down below. Param's right (and I've been told before) that poetry's probably better not explained, but personally I like things all clear and simple. And also it helps me remember if I ever come back to it in the future.