there is no random

hail on the wellington waterfront, june 2006Recently, while taking my usual lunchtime exploration along the waterfront, I decided not to brave the light hail shower. While taking refuge I got to thinking about the action on the hail stones as they bounced off the tarmac surfaced walkway. You can see from the streaks in the image the angle of the strike is fairly consistent.

It occurred to me how ‘random’ the hail should be.

But it really wasn’t. If you look at the pattern of the hail on the ground it seems fairly evenly distributed. Hail doesn’t stick; it hits, bounces and rolls. In a fairly consistent manner. As I was standing there, no hail bounced off the ground and then off the roof and then hit me on the head. None bounced up and hit my eye. None hit my knee. At best, some might’ve landed on the top of my shoe. Maybe.

So the hail seemed to fall at a reasonably consistent angle, and then respond to the impact by bouncing in a reasonably consistent way. Once it had bounced, it then may’ve bounced again, and then rolled. A finite height. And rolled a finite distance.

I concluded this was anything but random. Random should’ve had some ice explode into bluebirds a la Disney, and other hail to drill holes through to China. I agree the numbers required to predict the impact site of the next lump of ice may be quite large, but it is finite. And the action of that ice will be consistent, because of the nature of the material.

If we could somehow reproduce the cloud with ice crystals at exactly the temperature, wind velocity, location of source and the other variables I can only guess at, the then-Lynsey would see the then-hail behave in exactly the same way. I just hope he remembers his camera so we can get a photo to check.

I suspect there’s nothing we call random that can’t be reasonably explained using chaos theory, a pocket calculator, and if needs be, all your fingers and toes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *