Photo by Martha Blanchfield / Renegade Sailing
Sailing Science Center News
February 2021
Vol. 4, No. 6
Welcome to the February issue of the Sailing Science Center News! Here we are, heading into Black History Month, Presidents' Day, and Valentine's Day, with a full month of 2021 already behind us. It can seem like a blur, which makes this month's theme of Focus all the more apropos. If you have been paying attention, you might also have noticed that we are moving to increase the newsletter's focus on science topics. Check out this month's video on wave-making resistance for a small dose of layman-level hydrodynamics. But be forewarned, that when YouTube got ahold of our razor sharp video, it somehow ended up being out of focus!
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
― Stephen R. Covey
February Spotlight - Lars Anderson
Lars Anderson - SSC Exhibits Lead

Two years ago, Lars Anderson reached out to the SSC after reading about us in Latitude 38. Today he is leading our Exhibits Team and we couldn’t be happier. Lars was born in Pasadena, the third of four children. As a youth he was transfixed by a fishpond in his family’s backyard, fascinated by the fish, the water hyacinth, the frogs, and other plants. While not obvious at the time, the fishpond foretold his future.

Lars also spent much of his youth at the ocean, where he liked the tide pools. His mother enjoyed sailing and passed that joy on to her husband and to Lars and his siblings. At age 6, that joy was almost extinguished during a stormy sail that scared the heck out of him. He got over it, and by age eight was skippering an 8’ Sabot dinghy. Meanwhile, his parents bought a 17’ Thistle planing dinghy. Today, Lars has his own Thistle and a Ranger 26 he keeps in Benicia. He tells a harrowing story involving the Thistle, a non-sailing couple, strong wind, a jibe gone bad, a capsize near Martinez, and a rescue by the Coast Guard. The story ends happily, thanks to Lars’ insistence on everyone wearing lifejackets.
School - an Ant Eating Gaucho
Lars went to San Diego State as a biology major, where he studied for two years before transferring to UC Irvine during the school’s first year of operation. He continued his study of biology, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, benefiting from the sharp young scientists he had as professors. His area of study was the buoyancy of diatoms, a form of microscopic phytoplankton. This last tidbit gives background to the Water Column Density Drop exhibit Lars created for the SSC (see the January newsletter). Lars completed his academic studies at UC Santa Barbara, where he received his PhD in 1974.
Lars Anderson sailing a Thistle
Lars "Thistle'n" at Lake Tahoe

Leaving Santa Barbara, with a wife, a son, and a daughter, Lars was ready for work. The EPA had just been formed, and after two phone interviews he and his family were on their way to Washington DC. Lars was promoted three times in his first two years but was looking to get into a lab. That chance came when a lab opened in Denver that was dedicated to controlling aquatic weeds. Lars ran that lab from 1976 to 1980 before moving to UC Davis to run the USDA Agricultural Research Service Aquatic and Invasive Weed Laboratory, which he did until retirement in 2012.
Explorit Science Center
Explorit Science Center Logo
Two years into his position at UC Davis, Lars was invited to a board meeting of a new science museum called the Davis Science Center (now the Explorit Science Center). Within an hour he knew he wanted to get involved. He joined the board in 1983 and served as its president on three occasions, eventually serving as the volunteer Executive Director until he left in 2017. Today, Lars brings that 30+ years of experience, plus a gentle and humble nature, to the SSC; and as I said in the beginning, we couldn’t be happier.

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
― Winston Churchill
January Volunteer Event - Trivia Night
1st row: Jim Hancock, Preston Thomas, Victoria Marcus
2nd row: Dan Truong, Charlie Deist, Rick Waltonsmith
3rd row: Steve Flisler
January Event - Trivia Night
By Preston Thomas

On January 21st, SSC hosted a new kind of volunteer event: Trivia night! Unlike a normal pub quiz full of sports and TV facts, these trivia questions were written specifically for the occasion by Quiz Mistress Victoria Marcus, with help from Jim Hancock, Pip Ziman, and Rick Waltonsmith.

Five volunteers teamed up to tackle a quiz that ranged over the many topics that team members might encounter in the course of SSC outreach, from vital statistics about the organization to Treasure Island history to sailing practicum from the introductory to the obscure. Do you know what decade Treasure Island was built? (Are you sure?) And what was Clipper Cove named for? (Hint: Not a boat!) If you missed the event but want to test yourself, you can see the 35 questions here, then review the Trivia Night Presentation for answers.
Success in any endeavor is very closely related to how much focus we can bring to that endeavor.
― Dr. Andrew D. Huberman, Stanford Neuroscientist
Sailing Science Corner
Wake Me Up!
Wave Resistance (3:37)
Last month we dove into hull resistancethe resistance of a boat to moving through the watercovering frictional resistance resulting from the water's viscosity. At low speeds frictional resistance is the dominant component of overall resistance, but for conventional vessels the resistance that comes from making waves starts to dominate in the middle speed ranges.

Fluid dynamics practitioners like to use dimensionless numbers to help with scaling, and for frictional resistance the number they like to use is called the Reynolds number, usually abbreviated Re. For wave-making resistance the number we like to use is called the Froude number, and is often abbreviated as Fr = u/(gL), where:

u = Speed
g = Gravitational Constant
L = Characteristic Length

The use of dimensionless numbers like the Reynolds number and Froude number give us a way to compare forces and other parameters between geometrically similar models at different scales. A challenge of this approach is that Reynolds number scaling and Froude number scaling can't generally be satisfied simultaneously. Today, these difficulties have largely gone away with accurate numerical models that can be run on computers. To get a glimpse of how it was done fifty years ago check out the video from MIT later in this newsletter. To learn more about wave-making resistance check out the video above.
In the News
What's Old is New!
Our social media czar, Charlie Deist, shared this 1966 video from the MIT archives. It's all about the science of sailing, and how they were using computers to design better boats. The only thing is, in those days computers took up entire rooms, required elaborate cooling systems, and stored data on reels of magnetic tape. This is a great video if you want a little retro nostalgia.
SSC Palette Colors
Speaker Series on Pause
In last month's newsletter we announced that we would be starting a speaker series. Unfortunately, due to staffing issues, and a need to stay focused on our primary vision of creating great exhibits, we are temporarily pressing the pause button on this initiative. We apologize for the change in course. We will be back to you when this is ready to go.
This Month's Newsletter Banner
Sailors focusing intensely on a mark as they round it in the 2015 Moseley Regatta. Whether in sailing, in baseball, or in business, keeping your eye on the ball is essential for success.
Photo by Martha Blanchfield / Renegade Sailing
SSC Logo - Light Background
Wanted for the SSC

Do you have photos you want to share? The SSC is looking for great shots to use on our newsletter banner and elsewhere. Photographer attribution will be given.

Email your inquiries to
Small Stuff
Man scanning the horizon with binoculars
On the Horizon
The SSC is re-focusing and redoubling our efforts on our main goal of creating fun, interactive, and educational exhibits. For the time being, this is what we will be doing, but in communicating with other organizations we are hearing plans similar to our own of resuming in-person activities as soon as this spring or early summer, as long as people are outdoors and everyone is physically distanced and wearing masks.
Move the Needle!
These are things YOU can do to move the SSC vision forward:

Make a difference. Move the needle!
Leadership Corner - Focus
In my early thirties an epiphany emerged from my training log that shaped the arc of my life. I was competing in age group triathlons and as a natural record keeper I carefully logged every workout, every race, and every personal best. One day, while flipping through the pages of my logbook, a startling revelation jumped out at me. Read more...
New Volunteers
We want to give a big shout out to Dan Truong, who raised his hand in January to offer his help. Dan comes from a pro bono consulting group we worked with in the fall. He will be helping with volunteer events and social media. Welcome Dan!
That's all for this month.


Jim Hancock
President and Founder
The San Francisco Sailing Science Center is a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation recognized under IRS Section 501(c)(3), Tax ID 82-3631165. Your donation to the Sailing Science Center is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.



*STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math

Victoria Marcus

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