Monday, November 26, 2007

math review

It had been years since I last factored a polynomial. I had forgotten how to derive the quadratic formula. Clearly it was time for a math review. I picked up Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell from the Boulder Labs Library; it was just what I needed. The book by George F. Simmons zips through geometry, algebra, and trigonometry in about a hundred pages of amazingly complete and readable prose. Each section is independent of the others, so it is perfect for a quick review of any of the three topics alone. The book is sparsely populated with exercises, just enough to get a solid grasp of each topic. The exercises, as in any good math book, reveal insights beyond those illustrated in the text. I can't imagine a better tool for review, but the book probably wouldn't serve well as a first introduction to the subjects (except perhaps in the hands of the right teacher).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

a good book

Yukio Matsuo's Ice Sculpture is a marvelous book, really two books in one. The first is filled with full-color photographs of the master's work, ranging from traditional culinary pieces to original abstract sculptures. Many of them demonstrate the sculptor's distinctive style. The second is a series of sketches, diagrams, and notes that concisely illustrate how to carve each of the depicted pieces. Wonderful!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

just one word: plastics

I stopped by Colorado Plastic Products in Boulder today. They sell scraps of all sorts of materials, including high density polyethylene (HDPE), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE/Teflon), and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), all of which are attractive for making ice carving tools.

I needed a low friction surface for a new hot wire ice cutter I'm working on, so I picked out a nice sheet of UHMWPE. It has terrific properties for the application, including a low coefficient of friction, low water absorption, and a wide operating temperature range. Lars had suggested the stuff because it is used for ski bases and dog sled runners, so it should work very well.

Friday, November 02, 2007

October visit

Lars and Sharon visited us in Colorado a couple weeks ago as a part of a post-wedding tour of the lower 48. We took full advantage of the opportunity to start planning for Ice Art 2008.

After touring Celestial Seasonings (Sharon's favorite part of the trip), we enjoyed an Ethiopian dinner with Keith and Andy, both ice scientists! It was an excellent opportunity to explore ideas for ice machines, but, more importantly, it was a good time in good company.

rumblings from the deep

The first snow has come and gone. The days are getting shorter. It's the time of year when Lars and I start talking about ice. It must be time to revive the blog.