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calendar   Saturday - December 14, 2013

Static Soliton

A soliton is a standing wave. Defined in Wiki as

a self-reinforcing solitary wave (a wave packet or pulse) that maintains its shape while it travels at constant speed. Solitons are caused by a cancellation of nonlinear and dispersive effects in the medium. (The term “dispersive effects” refers to a property of certain systems where the speed of the waves vary according to frequency.) Solitons arise as the solutions of a widespread class of weakly nonlinear dispersive partial differential equations describing physical systems.

these things are actually quite common.

It’s not just waves in water, or radio waves on an oscilloscope. You see them on the highway frequently, especially during rush hour when there is heavy traffic. Somebody jams on the brakes for some reason, and all the cars behind him have to brake as well. And so on, and so on: if there is sufficient traffic, half an hour later the cars are still jumping on the brakes at that spot, for no reason other than that the cars in front of them are doing it too. That’s a soliton.

I didn’t realize that they can also live in parking lots, but they do! Somebody parks stupidly in a busy lot, and the next person to park next to them has to park the same way, and so on, and so on. Hours after the first vehicle has left!

We’re having snow storm, round 3. So the white stuff is coming down. Plus it’s Saturday afternoon. So everyone is going to the grocery store “just in case”, right? And you know how people are ... they’ll drive their big SUVs around and around the parking lot for 10 minutes, time after time, until they get a “premier” spot right in front so that they don’t have to spend an extra 30 seconds walking.

So I turn into the lot, cruise down the front row, and see two cars backing out in front of me. Sweet. My choice of two decent spots, and nobody coming the other way. You know I’m going for the one closer to the entrance. So would you. So I get to that spot, and it’s between two massive mega-things, both parked halfway over the adjoining spot at an angle. But I can mostly squeeze in between, though that puts me at an angle across the parking spot lines myself. Whatever, I’m just running in for a couple things. I’ll be back before they’re gone.

Ok, zoom into the store, cheap steak, onion, masala sauce ... gonna make curried beef tonight. Hit the express lane, and I’m out. In the store 5, maybe 8 minutes tops. Get out to the parking lot - which is usually an abode of monster trucks, major SUVs, and full size mommy vans - and find 3 small cars parked closely in around my little red skateboard, all nice and straight. A Prius and two of those micro Honda things.

And a smarmy note on my windshield.  “Stellar parking, bro”.

Eh! Soliton, dude!! 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/14/2013 at 06:08 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesDaily Life •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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