Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Do we share molecules with Magellan?

First recorded circum-navigator, Ferdinand Magellan
(Credit: Wikipedia)

There is a question that gives rise to a lot of debate which is "what are the odds that we breath, eat, drink molecules of matter that have gone through someone else before?"  Here is a correct approach to the question, but a little confusing the way it is presented.

The reasoning is quite simple: for example, water is an important part of anyone's life.  So in the case of Magellan (pictured above) what are the chances for his water molecules (that he used in his life-time) to be found in a glass of water we drink, or a drop of rain from the sky?

We need to solve 2 questions,
(Q1) How many molecules circulate in anyone's body in their entire life-time?
- We know that our body regenerates entirely in 7 years.
- 60% of our body is made of water.
- We assume that our avg body weight is 50 kg in a life-time (linear increase from 0 to 20, steady weight of 80kg till 70)
- average life-time of 70 years.

H2O  (kg/life-time) = (60% x 50kg) x(70 yrs / 7yr to regenerate completely)

300 kg of water in 1 life-time.  18gm of water represents 1 mol of water molecules (6 x 1023)
300 kg = 1028 molecules of water will circulate in the body in the entire life-time of an average person.

(Q2) How many water drops are there on earth?
- A recent survey by the US Ocean Survey concluded that there is about 1.3 x1021 litres of water on Earth (oceans, lakes,rivers).
- 1 drop of water is about 10mm3, or 10-5 litre (assuming the average density of water of 1gm/cm3).

So we can calculate 1.3x1026 drops of water on Earth.

Then IF we assume that all 1028 molecules of Magellan's life-time are spread evenly in the entire water reserve of Earth, we can calculate how many of these molecules are present in each drop of water on earth:

1028  / 1.3 x1026 = about 80 molecules in each drop of water.

Note: This is a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation and therefore full of assumptions.  There are 2 main ones which would affect considerably the above number.  The first is that we assume that the 1028 in a life-time are unique molecules, however this is simply wrong, because the chances are that someone will ingest their own water molecules (localised ocean, rain, river cycle), so this number would in reality be lower.
The 2nd main assumption is that these molecules are evenly spread throughout the world, and again this is not quite right.  Possibly in time our climate and ocean currents would carry water molecules across the world, but there would always be pockets of higher concentration.  However, this is somewhat offset by the fact that in this specific example, Magellan went round the world and spent a major part of his life in India and other Portuguese colonies around the world, so his molecules of water where naturally disseminated in various places around the world.

Friday, 31 January 2014

India Awaken! The world needs you...

 A recent article (in French) from Belgian news site "L'Express" summarises a growing acceptance in the scientific community that India is the cradle of humanity as we know it. Prof. Tejraj M. Aminabhavi, winner of the Nikkei Asia 2013 prize, summarises the various contributions that have been fundamental to the evolution of humanity.  Briefly,

Maths: India is where Zero, Infinity and Pi (Indian mathematician to first estimate pi correctly using infinite series known today as the Leibniz series) where discovered, it also set the basis for algebra, arithmetic, trigonometry, and many other concepts crucial to modern technology.

Medicine: Ayurveda is the most ancient medical practice in the world, it's ancient text detail advanced notions in Anatomy, Embryology, Physiology, Genetics, Psychology, as well as information on the Immune system, the digestive apparatus and metabolism.   Furthermore, Sushruta is the first surgeon to operate with anaesthetics

Metaphysics & Astronomy:  Did you think gravity was discovered by Isaac Newton?  I did, that is what I was thought at school, at college, and everywhere really... well not quite, it was known to the Indians 1000 years earlier, mathematician Brahmagupta noted that "Bodies fall towards the earth as it is in the nature of the earth to attract bodies, just as it is in the nature of water to flow." The Earth's circumference, that it revolves around the Sun, the origin of the Universe as well as some modern Cosmological theories for the Universe... the list just goes on.
Astronomical tables for stellar movements across the skies may have already been computed 4500 years before they where discovered by western astronomers. Indian Astronomy has many first to its name, something hard to believe today.

Languages: India is not only the repository of the first languages spoken by mankind, but it gave the world many of its modern language concepts.

And much more... from religion (4 major world religions come from India, possibly even Jesus Christ may have got his teaching from India.  Yoga, Meditation, modern concept of  Consciousness.

India was the largest economy in the World for over a 1000 years before its colonisation and eventual cultural and economic destruction by Britain.

There once was a land, today known as India, source of knowledge, source of growth and development, power-house of economic strength and beacon of light for humanity.  This fact is no longer a question.  So today we can only ask, What if she awakens again from her slumber?  Imagine what India's revival could gift the world?  A world torn by strife, hunger, war, and divided and in need to enlightenment. 

India Awaken! Indian Awaken! India Awaken!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Stop Acid Attacks on Women

Stop Acid Attacks.org is fighting to raise more awareness for this horrendous crime on women. Shame on our society to raise and harbour such coward men.
Spot  of Shame is a yearly campaign to remember women that have succumbed to such attacks.  Here are the next events  in various towns and cities across India:

Delhi: Khan Market, 22 Jan 2014
Mumbai: Bandra Station, 25 Jan 2014
Kanpur: Nawabganj, 27 Jan 2014
Unnao: 28 Jan 2014
Lucknow: 29 jan
Chennai: 30 Jan (At Eliot's beach, Besant Nagar, opposite Barista coffee shop).
Agara : 01 Feb
Panipat : 03 Feb.
Meerut : 05 Feb.