Blooming energy

Today I saw that the tree outside my office window had blossomed over the weekend:tree

So I got to wondering how much energy it had used to do that. I asked the question on twitter

and got a lot of interesting answers involving mass/energy, carbon bond energy, etc.

I’m not sure what the answer is, so I thought I’d post about it to see what other answers I could get. I’m really interested in what happened over the weekend, and I have a hazy memory of seeing tiny green buds before the weekend. So really I figured the buds all existed and just had to be forced out. I figured something had to move a few centimeters with, say, a kg-weight worth of force. That’s just me guessing though.

Of course with that approach (and really all the approaches people were using on twitter), you have to have an estimate of how many blooms there are. So I decided to see if Mathematica could help me with that.

I imported the image and used the image mouse-over tools to find the color of the blooms. Then I set all pixels that weren’t within a ColorDistance of 0.2 (found empirically) of that color to black. Then I did a DistanceTransform of that to replace all pixel values with the distance to the nearest black pixel. Then I used MaxDetect on that to find the centers of all of the blooms. Then I used MorphologicalComponents and ComponentMeasurements to count them (just under 3000) and HighlightImage to make this image:treehighlight

I think it did a pretty good job of finding all the blooms that way.

So, with roughly 3000 blooms in a period of 3 days, how much energy did it take? I’m not sure but I hope you can help.

Here are some starters for you:

  • What’s wrong with a mass/energy approach?
  • Just cut some off, burn them, and see how much you raise the temperature of water. Then multiply!
  • Why didn’t you use ImageJ for this? (here’s the link to the original image if you want to try)
  • The way you calculated the number of blooms is dumb, a much better way is . . .
  • Why do you care about the energy, I thought you said energy doesn’t exist?
  • Why can’t you just enjoy the view instead of ruining it with all this science?
  • On twitter you said that the tree sprouted. What are you, an idiot?
  • If you’re asking about energy, why does the three days part matter?
  • You didn’t say anything about seeing some green before the weekend on Twitter, thanks for having me waste my day.

About Andy Rundquist

Professor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN
This entry was posted in fun, mathematica, physics, technology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Blooming energy

  1. bretbenesh says:

    I couldn’t find the answer by Googling, so I think that the answer to this question is unknowable.

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