Hold That Thought!

– What a wonderful world

“The atoms like each other to different degrees” he’d open with.

There’s beauty in simplicity. A writer does not necessarily express her brilliance by how many complicated words she can put into her work, but rather, how much she can say in as few words as possible. Beauty lies in the obvious, beauty lies in the mundane everyday world around us. You’d be surprised just how remarkable our world is if you’d simply stop to look. As 2019 slowly ticks towards its end, it’s time for reflection, indeed, it’s a great time to stop and think of what the world really is like, when examined closer.

One of the biggest influences on my life philosophy is Richard P. Feynman, a theoretical physicist famous for his work on the A-bomb, pioneering Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) and having been awarded the Nobel prize in ‘65. However, it’s not his achievements that are inspiring to me, it’s his unique way of turning the seemingly dull into the obviously exciting, even when the subject is very simple. With his Brooklyn accent, expertise, and quirky humor, he makes for me, as he did for Bill Gates, the best teacher I never had. Through the few videos that exist of him on YouTube, such as his lecture series, or his “Fun to Imagine” series, Feynman teaches the listener about how interesting the world can be if one were to simply stop and look, closer, for some aspects of your life are truly remarkable. Even if you haven’t thought about them. So buckle up! Let’s examine a few worldly phenomena:It’s 06:00 and your alarm starts shouting, it’s time to get up and start your day. You often have different appointments planned for specific times of the day, Appointments you have no trouble (usually) to show up for. But have you ever thought about the concept of time? Perhaps one of mankind’s greatest inventions, no invention has saved as much time as the invention of the clock itself. Before the 16th century, clocks were unreliable and it was difficult to do even the simplest forms of planning, such as scheduling a meeting, or deciding when your employees should get off their shifts. Not even within city limits could the people hope to be precise, as the large mechanical clock towers were horribly inaccurate – planning a trip to another city for a meeting at a specific time was impossible. Fast forward a few centuries and we’ve arrived at the post-electrical revolution. You’ve probably seen a wall clock in your school that had the word “quartz” spelled on it. Somehow, we managed to figure out that when an electrical circuit runs through the crystal quartz it vibrates at a frequency of exactly 32768 times a second. If one configures the time peace in the clock to account for this then boom, you’ve got one of the most accurate devices for tracking time ever invented. Along with the older pendulum clock, it helped to pave the way for society’s ant-like efficiency. (With the pendulum clock’s invention in 1656 you could for the first time tell someone to be at a specific location, at a specific time and they’d actually be there [wow]). Inventions such as these clocks are beautiful, but nature can be quite awe-inspiring as well.

For some reason, water, when it solidifies, expands. It does this at a temperature that is common in nature, 0 degrees Celsius. Ever wondered why ice is slippery? While you’ve probably slipped on it a million times before it has probably never occurred to you why the damn stuff can launch you off your feet so easily, its quite humorous, really. There are not many things in the universe that in themselves are as slippery as ice. – It turns out that when you stand on it, the molecules melt as a result of the pressure, de-expansion from your boot and you’re left with a molecular waterslide to glide on – brilliant.

Speaking of water, whales are strange creatures.  Although the title of the world’s weirdest easily goes to the Sperm whale. It dives hundreds of meters multiple times a day, one of its main prey is the colossal squid – a real-life sea monster. And this weird mammal also( for some reason) unlike its baleen relatives, sports a set of gigantic, razor-like teeth. Even more, astonishing though, the sperm whale is the loudest organism in the animal kingdom. “That’s phenomenally boring!” you might be thinking. Well, I’d like to counter with a “hah!” It’s difficult to grasp just how loud 200+ decibels really is Or what a sound of that magnitude does to your muscle tissue and internal organs. In short, if a Sperm Whale gets close to you and uses its echolocation “click” beam at full power – you are no more because you’re dead, vibrated into oblivion. (200 dB is about 100000x the sound energy of a rock concert speaker.) – spectacular.

Power, death, oblivion – sounds like an ample opportunity to talk about black holes! It is quite the event when a massive star dies, it meets its end because its fuel has run out, thus the fusion reaction which makes the star “burn” can no longer sustain itself. This means that an energy source from within the star no longer helps to hold the celestial body stable. The result? Gravity happily exerts its influence and starts a brutal compression. Without fuel, a star is like an empire state building without any supporting pillars – it’s going to capsize, its going down. There is nothing in the known universe that can stop this. The collapse starts and compresses the star into an ever tinier object, smaller, and smaller, and smaller… Eventually, the star becomes very dense. Obscenely dense. At this point, the star’s gravitational pull is so great that not even light, despite its speed of roughly 299,792,458 meters/s can escape. A singularity has formed. if you’d fall into a black hole, you’d be stuck (and very dead) for all eternity – how truly wonderful

While admittedly strange, It’s refreshing to give a thought or two for the world.  No fiction ever beats the obscene reality we live in. Thinking in these terms, of even the most dull aspects of your life is something I strongly recommend, it’s better than any mindfulness exercise I’ve ever tried and it also brings a great deal of pleasure – and a few chuckles the world is interesting, terrifying, beautiful and wonderful, as long as you stop to look. Now this isn’t anything pioneering, or revolutionary, it’s certainly nothing new. But if you find life depressing, I strongly recommend: try to look at it from another point of view (And perhaps learn a thing or two along the way!)

Godspeed.

mm

Rasmus Engström

Reporter

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