Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Socioeconomic Ecosystems

Plants and Sunlight

We used to study at school that plants need water, air and sunlight in order to live and grow. This information was hardwired in my brain so that when I grew up I just figured out plants need direct sunlight and the more you provide it the better. I was later astonished to find the leaves of my young plants withering under the harsh sunlight of summer during noon in Egypt. I then realized that yes plants do need sunlight but that too much of it can actually harm them. Of course it depends on the type of plant as well as the developmental phase in which the plant is. Some plants tolerate higher intensities of sunlight than others. As a plant matures, it can also tolerate higher intensities of sunlight. [story]

Computer Simulation

When designing a garden for landscaping purposes, it is essential to check out the incident light radiation at the location where the garden would exist. Using calculations from lat and long (gathered via GPS) as well as shade from existing structures (buildings) a computer simulation can tell us what kind of plants can be grown and where.

It would be interesting to devise a computer program, if such program does not already exist (which I doubt it does not), that would use artificial intelligence, perhaps a combination of genetic algorithms and neural networks, to propose some garden designs for a given location. You provide the program with the lat/long and altitude (GPS coordinates) of the location and a 3D sketch of the structures available in addition to some other variables related to preferences and constraints related to the desired garden and the program proposes to you a number of garden designs. The program can 'learn' by you feeding it with information about the various plants and their interactions with one another providing it with indigenous varieties to grow gardens in a permaculture way. It wold be interesting to design such program.

Such program would need the development of a computer model in order to simulate plant growth and interactions between plants. Such would be a very complex model. It can use neural networks in order to learn and develop such model or make it more accurate.

It would be nice if such program would also provide a maintenance plan for the garden providing instructions on how to care for it, when to water and so on. [do]

Ward El Neel

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia), which in Arabic is called "ward el neel" or literally "flowers of the Nile", presents a big problem in Egypt as it grown wild in the River Nile consuming a lot of water and blocking waterways. One reason given for such enormous growth of water hyacinth is the clarity of the Nile River water in Egypt that resulted from the building of the Aswan High Dam which prevents clay from entering the water stream. As a result of that, sunlight is able to reach into more depths of the water this breathing more life into the invasive plant. Before the building of the High Dam, an annual influx of fine sand, silt and clay used to enter the water stream darkening the color of the water and making it more or less opaque thus preventing sun rays from reaching into the depths of the river consequently preventing the invasive water hyacinth from having its current invasive behavior. [solution]

Evergreen and Deciduous

When designing a garden, one should take into account the deciduous and evergreen trees. It would be good to plan so that during autumn deciduous trees would shed their leaves bringing more sunlight to the evergreen trees if the latter were planted in the shade of the former. Moreover, the phases in which the garden will go through should also be taken into consideration. Plants will grow and develop and the garden will take a new shape as the years go by. This growth and development should be taken into account.

Prediction

Interactions between plants are so intricate and complex that it is difficult to create a simulation of it using a computer model. It is thus not easy to predict with precision what takes place in the future for many plants growing together particularly so if the conditions in which they live are not being controlled. It would be still interesting to try to predict with precision how a tree would look like as it develops, which branches would grow, how many of them and in which directions. That would be an interesting exercise to work on.

Socioeconomic Ecosystems

The study of ecology and in particular ecosystems can provide useful insight into how interactions among natural systems works. Learnings from this field can then be used to provide more understanding of human social and economic interactions in the socioeconomic ecosystem.

Plankton

It would be interesting to go visit places containing organism that one reads about in ecology. For instance, it would be nice to go visit water bodies where plankton exist and see and touch them in order to have a feel of what they really are and see them in their natural environment.

Algae

It would be nice to checkout the algae on the shores of Alexandria, Egypt and see what kind they are. They tend to be found on stones and rocks near the seashore.

Explaining Science

One good way to understand anything, no matter how complex, is to explain it using a story. If there is a scientific concepts that seems very difficult to explain and understand then one can just tell the story of how such concept was first discovered and how it developed till it reached its current state. By tracing the steps of scientists and their explorations and by revealing their journeys into reaching such concepts the human brain can easily understand and digest the most complex scientific concepts ever. Contrastingly, hiding such intermediary steps in the journey of discovery can make complex scientific concepts very tough to comprehend.

Shade Plants

It is good to study shade plants and sun plants. When growing plants indoors one should take care about such distinction. Sun plants grown indoors should best be kept near a window. Shade plants can be kept indoors with little incident light reaching them. The knowledge about sun and shade plants is essential for landscapers and garden designers.