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Atoms and other matter that created Namitha

Every one of you must have heard about the LHC scientific experiment. In case, if you have not then you must be hiding under the ground somewhere, say, back of the beyond as the forlorn border between France and Switzerland.

Wait. It is precisely there where the LHC experiment is happening right now as some of the best scientific minds in the world are working on the dramatic idea of seeing colliding sub-atomic particles suck several billion dollars with apparent ease.

This ‘path-breaking’ experiment has already brought about a change in the world, namely getting to see indecipherable science reports on page one of newspapers which otherwise feature them in corners and pages where there is no possibility of human gaze.

The LHC experiment has established with clinical finality, which is possible only in scientific endeavours, that newspaper articles on nuclear things are not radioactive.

Naturally, this week’s subject is science. Whenever there is a debate between rational science and irrational religion, I am always on the side of the former.

It is not as if I am a non-believer. But religion has merely provided us festivals, it is science that has delivered us TV, a remote control and many channels to watch on festival days.

Science also gave us Einstein, who proved beyond doubt that it is possible for people to take you seriously even when you seem to have not used the comb even once in your lifetime.

Ha, Ha, no doubt I am kidding. It is Einstein, and his much talked of relativity theory, that confirmed to the world that E=mc2. If not for Einstein, many of us would have been under the mistaken notion of E being something that came after D in the alphabet.

E=mc2 may be a small formula, but it lucidly explains whatever it seeks to, and has helped to densely fill several physic textbooks from the higher secondary level to engineering college and in the process cure several students from being afflicted with terminal insomnia.

Had there been no E=mc2 and sundry other similar heterosexual intercourse of numerals and alphabet, what is there for our physics tutors to teach? How could they possibly stretch engineering courses beyond two weeks?

But with E=mc2, it is not only possible for engineering courses to be extended for four years, but also charge a hefty fee for them (E=mc2 is actually the handy formula to arrive at the course fee with E standing for engineering and m and c signifying the many currencies in exponential form).

But scientists are not just about science. They are so handy that you can figure them in history books too. An Edison can be accommodated where they teach you that Henry VII was the brother of Edward III who was actually the stepson of Louis Philippe XL (44 cm).

But can you ever put Shahjahan in a science primer, except perhaps as an example to prove Newton’s laws of thermodynamics and the Taj Mahal are two different things or establish the fact that if you are making Mughalai chicken the right temperature setting in the oven should be in Celsius and not Fahrenheit?

Scientists have also helped in geography and meteorology and provided us wonderfully fuzzy pictures taken from satellites sent at enormous cost to show whether it is raining in your place or not. Were it not for these pictures, you might have to do the dangerous thing of putting your arm out of the window and check whether it becomes moist or not.

Whatever your views may be on science, you cannot but agree to the fact that the world started to develop only after scientists  —— identified by their abnormality —— got down to figuring out that other people are fools.

This naturally led to the industrial revolution and the creation of marketing departments, stock markets and after sales service. For instance, scientists told the world there is something called sodium and should be represented by the symbol ‘Na’.

Nobody confronted the scientists and asked the most elementary question, which is, why not Wk. After all, if ‘n’ and ‘a’ don’t figure in sodium, neither does w or k.

But we are not only stuck with ‘Na’ for sodium but also have to endure the anomaly of ‘K’ representing potassium and ‘Sn’ standing for Tin. If Crank’s Corner had been part of the Periodic Table, it is fair to think that it would be represented by Qz, the two letters that have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

This kind of deduction is what the experts call scientific reasoning. By the way, I know most of you are wondering what the heck is this Periodic Table. Well, it is an elementary table that you encounter in every chemistry period. Hence the name.

Anyway, were it not for the scientists none of us would ever know that everything in this world is made up of atoms. Not one or two atoms. But billions, billions and billions of them teeming around in impossible profusion even on the head of an infinitesimal pin.  Imagine how many atoms it would take to create, say, a Namitha.

But atoms apparently fall under highly classified matter. Beyond the scientific community, nobody, I mean nobody, has ever encountered them anywhere.

Ask a scientist to show an atom, he will immediately helpfully tell you that they are visible only through a high-precision microscope, the likes of which are available only at labs, a place, needless to say, under the control of scientists.

But don’t for a moment start thinking that the scientific community made up all this matter (Reader alert: If you espied some nifty puns on the word ‘matter’ in the previous paragraph, it doesn’t prove a thing.

But if you have not spotted it, it means that apart from not knowing science, you hardly have any grasp on English. And that makes two of us. Does that make us isotopes or what?). History, geography, Crank’s Corner, you name it, everything is full of science.

Now that is good news. At least now, scientists should get down to finding a cure for common cold and explaining why when you age hair on your head falls and begins to grow in the ears. And whether they are through with finding water in Mars, they can devote some time to get some water in Vadapalani, which is where I live.

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