Dentists, Cranes, and Optics

I won’t say that getting me to venture into the Centre of this Ville is like pulling teeth, but it’s true that one of my primary reasons for heading that way is dental appointments. By contrast, visitors from out-of-town have no bad feelings about our down-town, unencumbered as they are by repetitive-strain injuries from parking, avoiding street protests or street people, or navigating narrow-to-start streets made even more narrow by blocking off space for bicycle traffic.

Houseguests over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend decided that the ideal place for brunch would be a classic deli/diner in the heart of the Byward Market–and it’s hard to argue the point–and so I found myself down-town on a cold and grey Ottawa Sunday. And thus it was that I was reminded that nothing is all good or all bad. Down-town may have its down-sides, but it also has great reflections.

I’ve never figured out why straight-on reflections of indubitably straight buildings end up all wavy-like, but they do. I’d like to say that it’s because I haven’t tried to understand; I suspect the lack of attempt is not the lack that is the problem.



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14 Responses to Dentists, Cranes, and Optics

  1. Tom Watson says:

    If you don’t like your dentist, I can recommend a great one. All you have to do is make a trip to Guelph. I actually enjoy going there. My dentist hums while she works on my teeth…we’ve pondered the idea of doing a duet sometime.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Hum-along in Guelph, eh? I actually like my dental hygienist (who does not hum) and I am at the stage where I see the dentist once a year, which suits me fine. But I’ll keep your offer in mind. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

  2. Better a brunch and Photo Ops, than the dental appointments

    Nice (wavy) reflections

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I agree 100% about which is better. I’m almost surprised that no one leads photo-op wanders downtown on sunny weekends.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – the waves you refer to are probably caused by imperfection in the glass that the light rays have first passed through. Glass is after all a solid liquid, i.e. it appears solid at normal ambient temperatures, but is still actually a liquid, or so I was told in one of my high school chemistry classes.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Ah, that could be. I was thinking it had something to do with the angle at which the initial light struck, but that doesn’t really explain why part of it looks wavy and parts right close by look straight. Given a timespan of decades, old glass used to “settle”, being noticeably thicker at the bottom of the pane than at the top. Another reminder that the human scale of perception is not all-encompassing.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    The manufacture of float glass that makes reflections wavy began 30-40 years ago. It has anti-UV properties or something. It’s called Float (Something) Float Glass — can’t remember, just that it has float 2x in its trademark. It will come to me… I will set my brain on FIND FILE…

    It is quite wonderful whatever it is.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – So, are the wavy lines a happy byproduct of the UV protection? Or did they plan it all for me?

  5. barbara carlson says:

    It’s called Float Spectrum Float, but I can’t find it via Google. It was perhaps an architectural term used by students I knew back then. Very expensive then, too, but fashionable.

  6. Judith Umbach says:

    Regardless or maybe because of the imperfections, I have always like architectural details reflected in other architectural details. Oddly, because I have just been looking at my photos of Lac Beauvert, photography loves almost perfect reflections in lakes.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – That’s a good point. The target in water reflections is, by and large, perfection, but I’m with you: I like the distortions in reflective surfaces other than water.

  7. “Float glass is a sheet of glass made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal of a low melting point, typically tin, although lead was used for the process in the past. This method gives the sheet uniform thickness and a very flat surface. Modern windows are usually made from float glass.” Wikipedia. Most contemporary buildings use float glass, so I think we have not solved the waviness mystery by that way of explanation. Unless “flat” is a relative term?

    The photo of the crane would be arresting, waviness aside, for the way it continues the image of the crane on the far side of the brick pillar onto another window. The second photo looks as though the Spanish architect Antony Gaudi had a hand in the building reflected in its windows. I am curious to know why.

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