Category: Fun with Science

Image credit http://nextranks.com/dogs-breeds/pomeranian.html

I have always believed in experiential learning. As a kid, I was totally and completely into learning everything possible through experiments. Which is of course the reason that at the age of nine, I put a wet paper on a burning bulb, thereby making it explode, necessitating a quick retreat under the bed to avoid my mother’s investigative eyes. It was also the reason for me to try and measure the temperature of water being boiled in a bucket by an immersion heater, adopting the ingenious method of dipping my index finger into the water. That was a rather electric experience. Very shocking to be precise. I abandoned further experiments using electricity for quite some time and took it up again only that night when studying in XLRI, I was invited into the ladies hostel to fix the fuse.

Electricity continued to fascinate me – especially its effect on the body of stupid boys who dip their finger into water at 240V. So when I was asked (by myself as the Editor of ‘I wonder…’, a science magazine) to write an article on electricity that is interdisciplinary, the first thing that came to my mind was that moment in my life when my entire body had convulsed, even while my brain had been busy kicking my ass for idiotically trying to end my life in a flash of glory.

That is how I decided to write this article – ‘The biology of Electricity’.

If you want to find out why your body is the most complex and intricate electrically powered machine in the universe, please click on this link and read page 17-24. Also please read all other pages – as the first issue of ‘i wonder…’, I am sure there are glaring gaps in it. But I can promise you we will keep improving.

Here is the link to the magazine i wonder

And now, if you want to read a totally wacky, humorous science fiction novel I have written, please click here oops the mighty gurgle

God was delighted. It was during these times of intense creativity that he found himself happiest. The pleasure of creating something from completely nothing was incomparable. It was way more interesting than maintaining and managing a running system.

He had a lot of plans for this cycle of the universe; things he had been planning for eons during the last cycle. In fact, it was with a lot of glee that he had embarked on the last Big Crunch- take it all back to nothing and start building again.

The previous day, he had given shape to the basic structure. He had decided on what percentage of the universe should be matter and what percentage energy. Then with a wicked grin, he had made 78% of it invisible – let them try and figure that out! They might call it dark energy and dark matter for all he knew!

Later on, he put in his latest inventions – protons. He liked their positive nature. But then he also had to add equal number of electrons. He did that reluctantly, frowning at their negativity. Once the basic building blocks were ready, he had wound up for the first day.

It was on the second day that he added shapes- all the potential shapes that could exist in this cycle of the universe. The easiest was the triangle. He liked the three-sides-three-angles shape. Quite simple and basic. Besides, he liked the number three.  The rectangle was a tad more complex but logical after the creation of the triangle. Step by step, he created the pentagon, the hexagon etc. As he created each shape, he fed that into the production server.

It was right at the end that he had the brainwave. He had visualized a completely new shape. It was more symmetrical than any shape before that. It was simple, elegant and curvaceous. It was a masterpiece of creation. Its sheer symmetry and beauty took his breath away. As he created the prototype, he looked at the properties on his computer – it was perfect. The perimeter was always proportional to a straight line drawn between any two points of the shape, passing through the center. He decided to call such a line the diameter. In fact, what delighted him most was that the perimeter to diameter ratio was a perfect number – three – irrespective of the size of the shape. God permitted himself the luxury of rubbing his hands in glee (thereby inadvertently also creating electricity).

He would now upload this perfect shape into the production server. He looked at the console – the magic ratio, 3, was visible on the screen. He hesitated a moment before pressing the button, drinking in the number.

It was at that precise moment that his pesky little brother, Devil barged into the workshop.

‘Dude, what is this amazing shape?’ he asked lunging at the perfect shape. As God’s finger pressed the button, devil touched the shape, which immediately lost its perfection.

God stared at the screen aghast. It said…


Shape – Circle

Perimeter to Diameter ratio – 3.1415926535… Oh damn, it doesn’t stop!!

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24th August 2006 will go down in the annals of history of the Solar System as the most shameful day in its 4.6 Billion years of existence. In an act of blatant insensitivity and cruelty, a group of astronomers, calling themselves International Astronomical Union (IAU) humiliated and excommunicated Pluto from the elite core group of the Solar system- the Planets.

Pluto, who had attained the coveted position by sheer grit and perseverance- in spite of being small in stature- was understandably crushed.

But it takes enormous inner strength to attain Planethood, and Pluto, who had fought hard all his life to attain this distinction is not planning to give up without a fight.

When this correspondent met Pluto’s lawyer, Ai Yam Anass, he was livid about the public humiliation meted out to his client.

‘We have directly approached the supreme court for legal redressal,’ said Anass. ‘This act by the self-proclaimed Astrological Union is most unfortunate. In this country, we believe in equality. Just because my client is different, it is no reason to have him summarily booted out. Granted, he has an orbit more elliptical than normal and that it is tilted 17 degrees from the rest. But since when has this country started being so opposed to individual differences? Also, remember, he has managed to grab and retain five satellites- one of them almost as big as himself. This whole thing is a conspiracy by the big bullies in the club- Jupiter and Saturn- to discredit my client. They had even conspired to make him appear to be a dog. But let me tell you, my client is better that either of them. At least he is solid through and through, unlike those two who are full of gas.’

I gently pointed out that the biggest reason cited for the demotion was not these, but that Pluto had been unsuccessful in clearing the smaller objects from his path.

Ai Yam Anass bristled at this. Clearly he felt deeply for his client’s unfair treatment ‘Hello! Do you know how far away the rest of those cowards are from the Kuiper belt? While my client is battling the strays from the frozen outbacks of the solar system, freezing his backside off, the rest of those morons are warming their posteriors around the sun. Give him some time, I say. Another billion years and he would have cleared all the Debris. Do you know how many rounds it takes to clear all debris in the path? My client takes 248 years to make each round. So Earth has had 248 times the opportunity to clear all other objects in the path’

I asked him what he felt his chances are in the Supreme Court.

‘It is a matter of fundamental rights. Once you discriminate based on size, there is no stopping. Next they will throw out Mercury, then Mars, then Venus. Finally you will all wake up when Earth has ceased to be a planet. Pretty silly humanity will look- being the inhabitants of a Dwarf Planet. Can you imagine the religious repercussions? The Catholic Church will go nuts. Just four centuries back, they claimed Earth was the centre of the Universe. From that, coming down to Dwarf Planet? I tell you, this is the time to take a stand.’

‘Any comments from your Client that I can quote?’

‘No comments. The matter is sub judice. But take it from me, he is a great fighter. The Supreme Court has ordered a probe based on our request. The probe- New Horizons- will send the pictures back by July 2015. Then we will see. The stupid morons of IAU will have to eat their words,’ said Ai Yam Anass.

I wished him all the best. My heart is with Pluto. After all, no civilised society should tolerate bullies picking on someone just because of his size. I silently vowed to get a million Facebook votes for Pluto- the true Planet.