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A Mathematical Nature Walk by John A. Adam

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images In the shadows

 

 

Q.34: How high is that tree? (An estimate using elliptical light patches)

Using figures 34.1(a) and (b), we may establish a result stated by Minnaert in his delightful book Light and Colour in the Outdoors concerning what I call “tree pinhole cameras.” The essential idea is that the small spaces between the leaves act as “pinholes,” giving rise to the approximately elliptically shaped light patches on the ground. The fact that there is so much shade under a tree, incidentally, is testimony to the effectivness of the foliage; after all, part of its job description is to intercept light and use it in photosynthesis to provide ...

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