Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Composition in Menisci


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: On Tuesday, in responding to "Paints and Painters," my friend Gary praised my meniscus. A meniscus forms at the margins where the pond water turns up to meet a lily leaf, a blade of swamp grass or any object on its surface. Often the meniscus will be revealed by the interesting way it catches the light. The Greek root is the diminutive form of moon and refers to the moon's crescent.

In the photo in question there is also water lying on the surface of the lily leaf. The surface of the lily leaf is designed to repel water (As I also learned from Gary, it is, "superhydrophobic," a condition known as, "the lotus effect."), and so the surface tension of the water curves downward at its edge. As a result, unlike the water in the pond that turns up to meet the lily leaf forming a concave surface or lens, the puddle on top of the leaf turning down forms a convex surface. Although the term meniscus is also used to describe this effect, I wonder if there isn't a better term; the moon's crescent seems less appropriate to describe this convex phenomenon.

I thought this might be an antimeniscus. Artie suggested descibing the phenomenon as imbricosity; the thing itself would be an imbriscus. Jane thought it might be an oobleckus, clearly caused by Suessian oobleckosity.

Clearly, there is still room for improvement. Is there a word maven out there who can invent a word to describe the downturn phenomenon described on the surface of the lily leaf?