Indoor Clouds

Berndnaut Smilde is a Dutch artist living and working in Amsterdam. Born in Groningen in 1978, Smilde received his BFA at Minverva Academy and his Masters in Fine Art from the Frank Mohr Institute.

In his Nimbus clouds series, Smilde creates actual clouds, typically inside empty gallery spaces, and then photographs the results. The process is scientific, as he carefully regulates the temperature and humidity of a space to create ideal conditions for a cloud. After misting an area, he then sprays a short burst of fog to create a fluffy, albeit brief, cloud.

Smilde uses strategically placed lighting installations to enhance the dramatic effect of the cloud’s appearance. As he explains to Probe, an online gallery:

“I imagined walking into a museum hall with just empty walls. The place even looked deserted. On the one hand I wanted to create an ominous situation. You could see the cloud as a sign of misfortune. You could also read it as an element out of the Dutch landscape paintings in a physical form in a classical museum hall. At the same time I wanted to make (for once) a very clear image, an almost cliché and cartoon like visualisation of having bad luck: ‘Indeed, there nothing here and bullocks, it’s starting to rain!’”

1. Nimbus Cukurcuma Hamam II, 2012

2. Nimbus Minerva, 2012

3. Nimbus D’Aspremont, 2012

4. Nimbus II, 2012



Strange Double Helix Cloud over Moscow

On December 24, 2012, a strange double helix cloud was spotted just outside Moscow, Russia. A series of amateur photographs were submitted to a Russian site called on the morning of the occurrence.

While it is not entirely known what caused such a phenomenon, there is a fairly extensive investigation under way on the website which believes it to be some kind of contrail.

Contrails or vapour trails are long thin artificial clouds that sometimes form behind aircraft. Their formation is most often triggered by the water vapour in the exhaust of aircraft engines, but can also be triggered by the changes in air pressure in wingtip vortices or in the air over the entire wing surface. Like all clouds, contrails are made of water, in the form of a suspension of billions of liquid droplets or ice crystals. Depending on the temperature and humidity at the altitude the contrail forms, they may be visible for only a few seconds or minutes, or may persist for hours and spread to be several miles wide.

The images were submitted the following day to Reddit by aphexsm, who believes it has something to do with a local liquid propellant rocket engine manufacturer called NPO Energomash which is a design bureau based in Khimki, a city just northwest of Moscow.

The strange cloud has drawn many comparisons to the double helix structure of DNA, one of the three major macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life (along with RNA and proteins).


Marketplace With a Railway Track Through it

Maeklong Railway Market, located in Samut Songkhram, Thailand, around 37 miles west of Bangkok, looks like any other open-air market in Asia. There are tropical fruits and vegetables such as lychee, durian, and mango in big brightly colored piles, variety of dried spices, pastes and herbs, freshly caught seafood and other local foods. The crowd weave their way around in between vendors, picking up whatever they need for the day. The market is sheltered by low-hanging awnings/umbrellas and if you look closely, you will notice that you are actually walking on train rails.

Then a piercing siren sounds and in a flash the market transforms - the shoppers disappear and the stallholders whip away their produce. One moment you see the locals shopping for their vegetables and the next moment the vendors will scoop up their baskets and boxes and anything that lies over the track. The market comes to a standstill as all the vendors hold on to the poles supporting their awnings to make way for the train to pass. It is such a tight squeeze that the train travelling at about 15mph almost touches the fruits, vegetables and everything else at the marketplace as it passes through.

Once the train is gone, the vendors push back the stalls and awnings into position and everything goes back to normal as if nothing has happened. After all the market has been here for generations way before when the railway was set up in 1905.

Thais call this place Talad Rom Hoop Market which literally translates to “Market Umbrella Pulldown”. You will understand the name once you see the video.

Trains runs through the Maeklong Railway Market 7 times a day, 7 days a week. In the morning, the train passes by the market 4 times. The train arrives at 0840hrs from Ban Laem Station and departs from Maeklong (Samut Songkram) Railway Station at 0900hrs. The next train arrives at 1120hrs from Ban Laem and depart from Maeklong (Samut Songkram) Railway Station at 1130hrs. In the afternoon, the train passes by the market 3-4 times. The train arrives at 1430hrs from Ban Laem and departs from Maeklong (Samut Songkram) Railway Station at 1530hrs. The next train arrives at 1740hrs from Ban Laem and may or may not depart from Maeklong (Samut Songkram) Railway Station. Do note that the train schedule is subject to change so check the schedules with the train station before planning your journey to Maeklong.



Snow Roller

Snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large cylinders of snow are naturally formed as chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind, picking up material along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made. But unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and are often hollow. The inner layers, which are the first layers to form, are weak and thin compared to the outer layers and can easily be blown away, leaving what looks like a doughnut or Swiss roll.

Snow rollers happen with the combination of lying snow and high wind speeds, mostly in North America and Northern Europe, and they can be as small as a tennis ball or they can be as large as two feet across – depending on how strong the wind is and how smooth the surface of the snow is. Gravity can also assist snow roller formation. An inclined surface often needs just a little shove from the wind to get snow rollers in motion.

Frank Barrow, a lecturer in meteorology at the Met Office, described the exact science behind the formations.

They start off with a nice thick layer of snow, with the top snow just on the point of melting either because of general temperature or sunshine on the surface. The top snow layer becomes a bit sticky and you then need a fairly strong wind. The sticky layer can be peeled off the colder and more powdery snow underneath by the wind, forming a roll.

The rolls are not hollow to begin with, as a number of layers build up as the roll gets larger the further it is blown. However, the inner layers are weaker as they are formed first and are easily blown away. Eventually the rolls become too big to be blown any further or come to rest against vegetation or at the bottom of a hill.