by Kim Pederson…….
I tend to have instances of jealousy frequently but not about what you might expect. I am jealous of brilliant people. I am jealous, for example, of someone intelligent enough to think up and understand the “sinuosity index.” Such individuals write papers with titles like “Hydrogeomorphic Significance of Sinuosity Index in Relation to River Instability.”
I came across the term in a Poem-a-Day email. The idea of sinuosity is simple enough. The word simply means a curve, bend, or turn. Thus, something sinuous is curvy or bendy. Or, if you are more mathematically inclined (which, as you may already know, I am not), the sinuosity index or sinuosity coefficient of a continuously derivable curve having at least one inflection point is the ratio of the curvilinear length (along the curve) and the Euclidean distance (straight line) between the endpoints of the curve. But let’s ignore that for now, shall we?
The poem mentioned the term in relation to how a river flows. Water and hence rivers take, as you might imagine, the path of least resistance as they rush or meander downstream. A meander in noun form in a river is equivalent to a sinuosity, a bend formed “when moving water in a stream erodes the outer banks and widens its valley, and the inner part of the river has less energy and deposits silt.” In some instances, the river moves such that the bend is cut off from the main stream and becomes an oxbow lake, known in Australia as a “billabong.” (Thank heavens that mystery is finally solved!)
Unless controlled by human efforts (which often fail, as New Orleans and other river dwelling communities know too well), rivers tend to wend their way rather mindlessly in accordance with the level of resistance the terra firm over which they flow puts up. This can result in a deep channel, as in the Grand Canyon, or in a wide alluvial plain, as in the Nile River or Mississippi deltas.
It has just struck me that I am somewhat jealous of rivers. Most go with the flow no matter where they end up or, as this blog seems to be doing, if they end up going nowhere at all. But, as one of my favorite book titles proclaims, “wherever you go, there you are.” I have half a mind (don’t say it!) to put this motto on one of those brightly colored plastic bracelets and start wearing it. That way, whenever I get lost, I won’t be.
*”Rio-cauto-cuba.” Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.